“I’m not really sure when I’ll be back, but you know the kids’ routine, and if you need to, you can crash here tonight. Do you work tomorrow?”
The kids were eating pizza at the table while Geni stood in the doorway talking to Lex. She didn’t want to explain why she wasn’t sure how long she’d be gone, and she really didn’t want to tell Lex who had shown up at her doorstep.
“Wow, Geni! Are you planning a midnight tryst I should know about?” Lex nudged Geni’s shoulder playfully, “Is he cute?”
How to answer that?
“No, I don’t have a tryst,” Geni whisper shouted, and glanced at her kiddos to make sure they couldn’t hear the conversation taking place a few feet away. “I’m just not sure how long I’ll be gone. So do you or do you not work tomorrow?”
Lex rolled her eyes, “No, I do not work tomorrow. It’s Thanksgiving, remember? The holiday where you eat till you pop and then watch Hallmark movies till you can’t keep your eyes open anymore.”
“Yeah, that’s the best holiday,” Geni said with a smile. “Anyway, I’ll call you if I won’t make it home by bedtime.”
“Fine. Now go and enjoy your me time,” Lex pushed her out the door and shut it in her face.
Geni frowned as she turned toward her car--her kids hadn’t even noticed she’d left. She opened her car door when the front door of the house burst open and Lex, with all three of her kiddos gathered around her, waved and yelled “love you!”
“Thank you,” she mouthed to Lex who nodded back and gently closed the door.
That’s why Lex was her best friend. Who else knew her so well? Todd had been that in tune to Geni’s emotions. He’d show up after work with flowers, not even knowing she’d had a rough day with the kids, or he’d surprise her with a night out while Lex and Danny watched the kids. Thoughts of Danny brought her back to the situation she was driving into. Detective Danny Wolfe was the last man on earth she wanted to be working with, but sometimes--most of the time--you had to do things you didn’t want to do for the greater good. In this case, for the good of a missing little boy.
Danni, Lex, Todd, and Geni had been inseparable in college. Lex, Geni and Todd went to high school together, and they met Danny at freshman orientation in college. It was obvious from the beginning that there was a spark between Lex and Danny. Danny had been the best man at Geni and Todd’s wedding their sophomore year, while Lex had been her maid of honor. They had tried dating other people for the first year of college, but it soon became apparent that the only ones they really wanted to date were each other. By the middle of sophomore year, Lex and Danny were “going steady”. Everyone said they’d be married to each other before they’d been out of college a year. Obviously that hadn’t happened.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Geni jerked her head toward the car window to see Detective Wolfe standing there with a concerned look on his face. She’d been so lost in the past she hadn’t realized she’d made it to the rendezvous place until Wolfe tapped on her window.
“Hi,” she said as she climbed from the car.
“Are you okay, Geni?”
“I’m fine,” she snapped, and then regretted it. Being rude to him wasn’t going to make this work scenario easier, and there was a little boy depending on them.
“Sorry, that was rude. What do you want to show me, Detective?”
He looked at her for a while and for a brief moment Geni thought she caught a flash of sadness on his face, but it was gone in a second as he said, “We found Luke’s bike in this foliage and as you can tell by all the officers still here, we haven’t moved it to the station yet. Newman told me to bring you down here when we saw what was on it.”
Flood lights had been set up all around the area making it feel as if it was still daytime even though the sun had gone down over an hour ago. Detective Wolfe led Geni over to a kid’s red and blue Spiderman bike lying tangled in some bushes along the road. The bike looked like it’d been hit by a car with the front wheel turned sideways and the back tire bent in half.
“The look of that bike does not give me high hopes for Luke.”
“I know,” he said, “but I’m trying to remain positive. Believing he’s still alive is helping me focus on the case.”
“I understand. I keep imagining one of my kids instead of Luke.”
“I don’t know what I’d do if my daughter was taken like this.”
Geni had forgotten about his daughter. Lex had shown her a copy of the picture from New Haven Salon. It was hard for Geni to fathom Danny being a father without Lex being the child’s mother.
When she didn’t respond to his comment he continued, “This is what I want you to see.” He pointed to the rim of the bike. “This substance is all over the handlebars, rim and seat of the bike. Trace ran it, but they couldn’t find a hit so Newman told me to bring you in to identify it.”
She put plastic gloves on, ran her fingers along the rim of the bike and rubbed her fingers together. It was an oil based substance but it was thicker, more like a cream, and it was odorless and colorless. Geni had no idea what it was.
“So, what is it?”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Wolfe, but I don’t know what this is. It has an oil base, but looks more like a cream. I’ve never handled an odorless cream before so I can’t tell you what it is.”
He shoved to his feet and paced away. “So this has been a waste of time,” he sighed and looked at her. “Thanks for coming out here and trying to help, Geni, I appreciate it. I’ll call Newman and let him know we still don’t know what this substance is.”
He cut her off, “I am glad to see you again, and I hope you won’t keep me a stranger forever.”
“Geni, please. These two years have been hard for me--”
“Danny, stop! Just because I don’t know what this substance is, doesn’t mean I don’t know who might.”
“Seriously.” He crossed his arms. “You couldn’t have told me this sooner?”
Geni grinned, “I tried, but you wouldn’t stop talking long enough to let me get a word in edgewise. That just means you’ll get along great with the person I have in mind.”
“Funny. Who is this person? I’ll have an officer pick him up and bring him to the station.” He pulled out a notebook to write down the name.
“It would be better to meet with her at her home, and she’s a bit of an oil expert. Hold on tight, Danny Wolfe, you’re about to meet Shanna Burton.”
Written by Linsey Ernst