Clara did call back saying she could do lunch, especially if I bought. I got some money from the modeling funds and arranged to meet her at a taco place near Union Station. I knew it was good and she didn’t object.
She never showed up. I immediately suspected retaliation, although the first thing I did was call her.
The call went straight to voice mail. Taking a deep breath, I called her house.
“Is Clara there? This is Jane.”
“I thought she was with you.”
“…she isn’t. Maybe she’s on a broken down train.” Always a possibility – the aging Metro system wasn’t always as reliable as it could be. And that might explain the phone.
“I’ll call her.”
“Already tried that. She seems to have her phone turned off.”
My thoughts were already going to the fyrhund. I really did need to name him or work out what his name was. He could find Clara for me easily enough; I was sure of that.
“I’ll try again anyway. If I get through I’ll ask her to call you.” A pause. “Thanks for being on the ball.”
He sounded worried. I couldn’t blame him. I was worried myself. The fyrhund emerged from the restaurant’s grill.
I willed him not to manifest in here, or I’d get thrown out for bringing a dog in. Instead, I got up and got outside as quickly as I could, before the red-furred coonhound came into full existence. “You should just stay with me. Can you find Clara?”
He sniffed the air a few times, then started to pad down the street. I resigned myself to what could be quite a long walk – I couldn’t take the bus without him losing the scent. As I walked, I called Mike. “Clara didn’t show up and isn’t at home.”
Mike’s voice sounded grim. “I’ll call it in. They probably won’t do anything this quickly, but at least we can get the process moving.”
Which meant if I couldn’t find her this could turn into an Amber Alert. She was under 16, she was still eligible for that. “I’ll try and find her before you have to file the paperwork.”
I knew what had happened, of course. Retaliation. Having failed magically, I bet they’d resorted to physical. And a witch could be restrained from casting spells. They had to, from what I’d seen, do something. Some word, some gesture. Bound and gagged, she’d be helpless. And they’d turned off her phone.
Or she’d turned it off for some reason and they’d taken advantage. Either way, I intended to find her.
Pretty soon I wouldn’t be the only one looking.