“N-nowhere,” stammered Naomi, dropping her shoelaces and looking up at Emily. “I’m not going anywhere. I was just…” She stopped. “Well, fine. I guess I’ve got no real reason to lie to you. I’m going to talk Mrs. Leighton out of seeing Ian Innis.”
Emily wrinkled her forehead. “What?”
“Look, there isn’t much time… She’s already on her way.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Wait, you don’t know about the business card, do you?”
“The one the guy gave you on the bus?”
“No, the one Detective Callahan gave the Leightons.” Naomi quickly explained.
The furrows in Emily’s forehead grew deeper. “So you think Candace’s mom is putting herself in danger?”
Naomi nodded. “I’ve just got a really bad feeling about the whole thing. And I don’t the cops should know what she’s doing. I mean, the rest of the cops.”
“Okay, then let’s go.”
“You don’t have to—”
“You’re not going alone, Naomi.”
“…Fine.” Naomi handed over Emily’s shoes and finished tying her own. “She might listen to the two of us together more than she’d listen to just me, anyways.”
“What’s your plan for getting there?” asked Emily. “We left my car at my house, remember?”
“Yeah, I know. I was going to borrow my mom’s car.” Naomi grabbed the keys off of a hook on the wall. “See? Come on.” She put her hand on the doorknob.
“How do you think your parents are going to feel about this?”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me you haven’t even thought that far ahead… Your dad’s still outside. What if he sees us? What are you going to tell him?”
“I guess I figured I’d just explain things when I got back,” said Naomi.
“Oh, sure, and what are they going to do in the meantime? You think they’ll just sit here and twiddle their thumbs? Best case scenario, they’ll end up even more stressed and freaked out than they already are. What if they call the cops again? You said you don’t want to expose what Candace’s mom is trying to do. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?”
“You’re right,” admitted Naomi. “But we don’t have time to sit them down and explain everything. We have to beat Mrs. Leighton there!”
“I have an idea,” said Emily. “Wait here a sec.”
“Em, what are you—”
But Emily had already rushed off down the hallway towards the guest bedroom. Naomi heard her friend speak a few soft words, and her mother’s voice replied, and then Emily was back. “Off we go.” She shoved through the front door onto the porch before Naomi had a chance to ask her what she’d done, but Naomi got the answer to her unasked question a moment later.
Dad was standing at the foot of the porch, and frowned as he saw them emerge. “What’s going on, girls?”
“Nothing!” said Naomi.
“Everything’s fine, Mr. Tucker,” declared Emily, fixing Naomi’s dad with a steady stare.
Dad’s look of concern melted away into a smile that was so peaceful it was almost goofy. He stifled a yawn. “Don’t be out too late, you two!” He stepped past them into the house.
“Did you just make my dad sleepy?” said Naomi.
“No; you know I can’t do that. I made him content,” said Emily. “He was already sleepy. I am, too, for that matter.”
“How long is that dopeyness going to last?”
“I don’t know. A while, I hope. An hour maybe? I hit them pretty hard. But they’ll be fine. Better than fine, really. Let’s just make sure we’re back before they wake up and start putting the pieces together.”
Naomi didn’t feel good about it, but admittedly she’d used her own ability to mess with her parents in the past—less dramatically than this, maybe, but still. It was too late now, anyways. What was done was done.
The girls hopped into the car and Naomi started it up and pulled out.
“So where are we going, exactly?” asked Emily.
“Oh, the card is in my purse,” said Naomi. “It’s a street in the Gordon Head area somewhere. A little bit north of here.”
“What part of Gordon Head?”
“I’m not sure. All the streets are a maze up there…”
“So you didn’t even have a plan for finding the place?”
“I was going to look it up on my phone!,” snapped Naomi. “Get off my case.”
“Sorry,” said Emily. Digging through Naomi’s purse, Emily produced the business card. “Oh, I know this street. Some friends of mine from school live near it. Go up Shelbourne and take a right on Feltham.”
Naomi followed Emily’s directions, and ten minutes later they were approaching Ian Innis’s office. “What’s the number, again?” asked Naomi.
Emily read it off. “So it should be on the left, coming up… There.”
It was an anonymous off-white house, a classic representative of 80s suburbia, with two floors, a single-car garage, and a small, poorly kept lawn. There was a light on in a ground-floor window, and a car in the shadowed driveway.
Naomi pulled over across the street and peered at the car. “Is that…?”
“No,” said Emily. “It’s too old. Mrs. Leighton drives a blue Mercedes, I think.”
“Like that one?”
They watched Candace’s mother turn into Ian Innis’s driveway.
“Here we go!” said Naomi. She shut off the engine and jumped out of the car.