Spotless white nurse shoes squeaked past Aames and Kazad as they waited in plastic chairs across from the examination room, paper cups of coffee between their feet. They had been at St. Anne’s Hospital for more than an hour and had yet to see Jacob.
At the other end of the hall, elevator doors opened, releasing a thin brunette wearing a tweed jacket and dark slacks. She walked briskly toward them offering a courteous smile.
“I’m Tabitha Mills. Child Protective Services,” she said, extending her hand. “I’ve been assigned to Jacob Bettington. Any word on his condition?”
“Not yet. So far, things seem pretty routine,” Kazad said. “The exam should be finished any time now. Would you like some coffee?”
Mills declined with a wave of her hand. “Caffeine triggers my PMS.”
Kazad and Aames exchanged glances as Mills took a seat, unclipping a barrette and releasing folds of thick hair. “It was a joke, boys,” she said, gathering her hair into a ponytail. “So, what can you tell me about Jacob?”
“Missing since Wednesday night. Probable kidnapping,” said Kazad.
“Noted,” said Mills. “Now can you tell me anything I haven’t already read in the paper or seen on the news?”
“I can speculate,” said Kazad. “Then again, the news seems to be full of that, too.”
Mills slipped a pen and legal pad from her courier bag with fleeting amusement. “I’m not the enemy, detective. I need information — speculative or otherwise — that can help me help that little boy in there,” she said, pointing her pen at the exam room.
Kazad began to reply but Aames broke in. “Please forgive my partner. He’s had a long day,” he said, patting Kazad’s shoulder. “He’s usually in bed before 7 p.m.”
A bleary-eyed doctor emerged from the exam room and crossed the narrow hall. “I’m Dr. Freely. You must be with the 8th Precinct,” he said as all three stood and exchanged introductions.
“How is he doing?” asked Kazad.
“Well, other than the need for a bath, some supper and a good night’s sleep, he seems to be in good shape,” said Dr. Freely, who then added: “Come to think of it, that’s about all I need, too.”
“Any idea how long he’s been on the street?” Mills asked.
“It’s only a guess, but judging from his condition and what little he told me, maybe ten to twelve hours,” said Dr. Freely.
“Did he say anything to you about where he’s been?” Kazad asked. “Or has he mentioned any names?”
“No. The conversation has been very limited,” said Dr. Freely. “You have a very frightened little boy in there.”
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