After reuniting Naomi with Emily, Detective Callahan brought the girls to the police station for further processing. During the car ride, Emily explained what had happened to her in the time during Naomi’s skipping—what had really happened, not what she’d told the paramedics. She’d seen Naomi disappear, along with Candace and the kidnapper, and the other two masked men, upon recovering from their surprise, had come straight after her. Realizing that she wouldn’t be able to outrun them for long—and seeing their drawn guns—Emily had put her ability to good use, making eye contact with the kidnappers and hammering them with sensations of fear and loss. They had both collapsed, moaning in anguish, and she’d taken the opportunity to put as much distance between herself and them as possible. Not long later, she had heard the police arriving and followed the sirens to safety.
Detective Callahan was clearly interested in both girls’ special abilities and applied his curiosity through a long series of related questions—off the record, he assured them. “Your secrets are safe with me. You two don’t need the kind of treatment you’d get if people like Jacklin and Waddins found out what you could do.” His friendly, sympathetic smile and reassuring promises quickly put Emily at ease, and Naomi felt inclined to trust him, too, but then she remembered the business card she’d seen him hand to the Leightons, and it made her wonder… Did that card say what she thought it said? Had Callahan really referred the Leightons to that creep, Ian Innis? And if so, did that make Callahan a dirty cop, or had she just misinterpreted Innis from the start? Maybe he wasn’t really a criminal after all. Maybe his business was legitimate and he was just creepy.
Naomi had been given far too much to think about today, from Innis to the blue car and the crows to the kidnappers… Stuff like this really came in waves, didn’t it? This morning her life had been normal. A little directionless, maybe, and a little boring, but normal. Would it ever be that way again?
The next two hours were an exercise in tedium. Naomi’s parents met her at the police station and waited while the girls were fingerprinted, photographed, made to sit on uncomfortable chairs in empty briefing rooms, and formally questioned (by Callahan, who had compassionately instructed them during their car ride about what they did and didn’t need to say for the benefit of the cameras and microphones). When her round of questioning was finally over, Naomi rejoined her parents in the lobby.
“Ready to go, dear?” asked Mom.
Naomi nodded. “Oh, Emily’s dad is gone on a business trip for a few more days. Can she stay with us until he gets back? Detective Callahan said it would be better if she wasn’t alone overnight right now.”
“Of course,” said Mom. “We can swing by her place and grab some clothes and things on the way home.”
A couple of minutes later, Emily was finished, too, and an officer escorted her out into the lobby to clear the overnight arrangements between her and the Tuckers and offer an escort home, which Naomi’s mother politely declined. “I think they’ll feel more comfortable with a quicker return to normalcy,” Naomi heard her mother explain, but she was only half-listening, because she’d just seen the Leightons outside in the parking lot, walking from a side door towards their car. Mr. Leighton looked grim and was staring blankly straight ahead, but Mrs. Leighton’s eyes traced the ground just in front of her feet, and she had one hand in her purse. Naomi could guess what the woman’s fidgeting fingers were probably grasping in there: if she wasn’t careful, she might rub the ink right off of that business card. That might be for the best, of course. Unless somehow Innis really was their only good option at getting Candace back…
It took another 45 minutes to drop Dad off in the parking lot of the Empress Hotel with Emily’s car keys (Mom wouldn’t hear of Emily driving herself home after what the girls had been through), meet up with him at Emily’s parents’ house, fill a backpack with some of Emily’s clothes and toiletries, and arrive, worn out, worried, and hungry, at the Tuckers’ home.
Naomi could feel her stomach revving itself up for a good, solid bout of complaining. She’d been far too distracted at the police station to think about asking for something to eat. Even now, she wasn’t sure if food would be the best idea: her stomach was churning with nausea, brought on not only by the stress of the day but also by the amount of skipping she’d done in the last six hours or so. Naomi hadn’t felt this sick to her stomach since she was thirteen years old, when she’d skipped back-to-back all the way through from 10 PM on Christmas Eve to 6 AM on Christmas morning, and spent the entirety of Christmas Day alternately sleeping and puking.
Besides, Naomi still had a world of worry driving laps through her head. Food was only a background process; this situation was important. Should she let the Leightons call Innis and get themselves mixed up with a criminal? Would the price—not only financially, but also in terms of legal risk—be worth it? Maybe she should warn them. The police could handle things. They would find Candace back the right way. Detective Callahan seemed like a pretty strong ally to have. Then again, he was the one who had given them the business card, and the way his partner had described Candace’s scenario…
What should she do?
Dad stepped outside to take a lap around the house and make sure all of the doors and windows were secure, while Mom took Emily to set up the guest bedroom. Naomi ducked into the bathroom, locked the door, took out her cell phone, and dialled the Leightons’ home phone number.
Naomi sat down on the edge of the bathtub as the phone rang, and she realized she still didn’t know what she was going to say.