Erik Eastlake wasn’t entirely sure how he felt as he faced the balding man across from him. His outlook on this entire matter had been growing more off-balance as time drew on and he had gotten to know something more about Lois Lane-Kent. She was an intriguing woman, more dynamic than any woman his age, as well as quite attractive, and that made what he had done all the more distasteful. But business was business. A part of him was relieved that the Daily Planet’s assistant editor hadn’t taken the bait, her integrity remaining intact, especially when he considered what was being planned.
Another part of him knew what the alternative plans in these circumstances might turn out to be and he didn’t particularly envy her for what might come next. “Sir, I really don’t think she’s going to play ball. We should rethink our approach on this.”
“No,” the man in the chair before him said with a patronizing smile. A smile from which you expect to see canary feathers flowing. “The plans have been in place for several months, and so far the only roadblock to our progress is you. You haven’t completed your assignment to our satisfaction.”
The young investor frowned at that. “And I’m telling you, that is not possible,” Eastlake replied testily. “You don’t know Lois Lane – she won’t agree to your proposal.”
“Oh, I think you’ll find we know Lois Lane rather better than you do, young man,” came the chuckled answer. “In any case, even if you’re correct in your assumptions, her cooperation is not necessary to the plan.” The older man leaned back in his expensive leather chair and regarded Eastlake through narrow, cold eyes. “In fact, it may be more profitable overall if she is simply … removed from the equation.”
Usually, it was a cross to bear in the reporting world if you had friends in the police department, most especially if they had no problems pointing you out to other cops when you tried to sneak through a barricade. Or when you had managed to sneak evidence of a cover-up out of a company’s headquarters and it was no hardship to figure out who the culprit was, Lois thought with a little amusement at the memory. It would have helped if her vendetta against Newstime hadn’t been a matter of public record quite that early in her career. She’d been sloppy when making her get-away; the fingerprints she had left behind when she rifled through the CEO’s personal files had made it impossible for Mags to ignore the theft, had had to arrest her, and had yet to let her live it down for doing something so dumb. But the upside of having a high-ranking police inspector as one of your closest friends was quickly becoming apparent once again.
Maggie Sawyer was at the apartment a few minutes after the call first came in, barely missing Clark as he left to search for his daughter. It was Lois who quickly briefed her; the cop was sure that the reporter seemed cool, calm, and collected to the three teenagers’ gazes, but Maggie saw her too-wide eyes and abrupt gestures.
Once Lois finished summarizing the morning’s events in that too-controlled voice, Maggie paused to flip open her cell phone and speed-dialed. “Tobe, relay this to the others. Kala has a little over three thousand dollars cash on her. Send someone to the airport and the train station, just in case.”
“The airport?” Giselle asked, bewildered. She was sitting on the sofa beside Jason, holding his hand, and Elise was in the chair nearby. All three kids had been listening closely; they’d finished calling all of Kala’s friends and were waiting for orders from the grownups. “Inspector Sawyer, can a sixteen-year-old even buy a plane ticket without her parents’ permission?”
“All of you are forgetting something. She doesn’t look sixteen,” Maggie said quietly. She looked at Lois to add, “And I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a false ID.”
Jason squared his jaw at that, as if Maggie had gravely insulted his twin sister. “Not Kal,” he said stubbornly, his eyes accusing. “I’d know if she did.”
Lois gave an exasperated sigh before saying softly, “Jason, honey, we have to face facts. None of us knew about her boyfriend, not even your dad. I know you don’t want to hear it, hell, I don’t want to hear it, either. But Maggie’s got a point; no one in this family is really sure what she’s actually been up to…”
The front door was flung open then, and both Lois and Maggie rose to their feet fluidly, the reporter immediately reaching for her purse as the policewoman dropped her hand to her hip. There was a tense moment while they all waited to see what would come next.
And when it came, it was a relief. “All right, Jason, you’re not picking up that damn phone and I’ve had about enough of this,” they heard Sebast yell from the doorway. “Muchacho, you better be here, and you better listen to me this time, or I’m gonna…”
The young Latino man stormed in, his dark hair flying with the briskness of his stride, then skidded to an abrupt halt, seeing Jason, Giselle, and Elise. His dark eyes turned briefly furious at the sight of the black-haired girl, but since she was holding Jason’s hand and rubbing his back, Sebast opened his mouth to say something and thought better of it for the moment. This wasn’t the time or the place, not if they were going to find his mamita.
It was only then that he noticed the two adults. Maggie and Lois had eased down from their tense ready-to-draw-weapons posture, but both women were looking at him with exasperated disbelief. “Uh, the door was unlocked, Mom,” he said hesitantly, flashing Lois a weak grin. Heaving a huge sigh and rolling her eyes expressively, the dark-haired woman pressed a palm to her forehead.
Maggie’s reaction was a mirror of Lois’. Leave it to Sebastian Velez to make a dramatic entrance that would nearly get him shot. “Well, Mr. Velez, I take it you haven’t seen Kala?” the blonde-haired woman asked calmly, and the boy just shook his head. “All right then, what were you saying about ‘this time’?”
Sebast sighed, looking from the adults to the other three teenagers. His gaze lingered on Giselle again, and she glanced away, looking miserable. His hesitation made Lois shift her weight nervously, but before the reporter could say anything, Maggie spoke up again. “I’ve got family friends and off-duty cops canvassing the bus stations, train stations, and air ports. Jason and the girls here have called all Kala’s friends and let them know we need to find her – not to drag her home kicking and screaming, but to make sure she’s safe. If you know anything, I give you my personal assurance what you tell us won’t get Kala in any more trouble than she already is.” Maggie cut Lois a significant look, mostly for Sebast’s benefit.
“It’s not that,” Sebast said, sitting down and rubbing his hands over his face briskly. “It’s just… I only found out today that she went to Fuel last night without me. See, my grandmother broke her hip last night, and I had to watch Michael while mis padres took her to the hospital, and I forgot to tell Kala I couldn’t go. When she showed up, I told her, and she left, but she didn’t tell me she was gonna go to the club anyway.” He looked up at Lois then, and added, “I don’t think she’d made that decision yet; I got the impression she was going home.”
“Go on, Sebast. What happened then?” It was Jason who urged him this time, watching him with a puzzled expression.
“Abuelita’s gonna be fine,” Sebast continued, trying to sound calm. “I went up to Fuel this morning, and the guy behind the counter, Brandon, couldn’t wait to tell me all about Kala singing last night. She was really, really good … and then he mentioned that she left with some guy he didn’t know, and Brandon knows pretty much our whole crew.”
“The guy who left the hickies on her,” Maggie said then, matter-of-factly. “Do you know who Kala’s been seeing, Sebast?”
That agitated the boy to the point that his words came out in the kind of rush you get with a shaken-up soda. “That’s just the thing! I didn’t know she was with anybody! This is the first I even heard of there being someone! The last one she was even seriously messing with was Caleb, and that was just to freak him out at the birthday party. The only guy she’s been spending time with since then is me, so far as I know. Quarter finals were coming up, and we were all studying real hard.” He caught himself before he could drift off into a tangent, and said, “Anyway, I don’t know who her boyfriend is, and if anybody would know, it’d be me.”
“That’s what I said,” Jason said in a small voice. He was pale and haunted-looking around the eyes, but the other boy offered Sebast a weak smile. “I guess she put one over on us both, huh?”
It was obvious to all around just how hard this was hitting Jason, so it was hard for Sebast to disagree. “Forgive me, amigo, but I think I know a little more about the details of what your sister’s doing than you do,” he said in a gentle tone. “She tries not to tell you things she knows you’re gonna disapprove of. I mean, I know she got a Brazilian last summer, and you sure as hell didn’t know that.” At the face Jason made then, Sebast turned to look at the rest of the assembled group. “This guy, he’s a total mystery if I’ve never heard of him. You guys all know that. He’s gotta be someone she just met last night, and no matter what rumors certain people are spreading, I know damn well she didn’t let him get very far.”
It was Lois that noticed that Elise had looked more and more uncomfortable the longer Sebast talked. Catching the reporter’s intense gaze, she finally spoke up, already wincing at what she had to say. “I … I think I know who it was,” she said carefully, and that turned the rest around to look at her. “Kala’s kinda known him a while, but they weren’t really, exactly, um, dating. It was more like just flirting.”
The reporter’s lips thinned then. This had been exactly what she’d been worried about. “If you’d seen her neck last night, you’d know it was more than flirting,” Lois said, and her voice had gotten very quiet and controlled.
Maggie headed her off with a warning look. “Elise, we need to know who he is. If Kala’s run off with him, at least we’ll know where she is. But right now, she could be anywhere. I won’t get him in trouble unless he’s done something illegal.”
“That could be a problem. See, he’s a college guy, and I don’t know if he even knows she’s only sixteen…”
The words were just barely out of Elise’s mouth before Lois swore suddenly and graphically, making all four teens jump and stare at her. Her diatribe ended with “…and she says she doesn’t wanna be anything like me! Goddammit, Kala!” Elise winced again at that.
“Lois, ease down,” Maggie told her, giving the reporter a stern look. “Elise, do you have a name for this guy? Or know what college he goes to?”
“Nick Powell.” Jason, Sebast, and Giselle were all staring at her. Sebast looked almost comical, his dark eyes so wide with shock, but Jason’s expression wounded Elise far more than it should have. She took a deep breath and continued, “I’d assume he goes to U of M.”
“Assume nothing,” Maggie said. “I’m not even going to take it as fact that he’s actually attending a college here, or that he gave his real name. But it’s a lead, anyway.” Blue eyes going to Lois, she continued in a firm tone, “My lead, Lane. I don’t want you rolling up to this boy with guns blazing, understand?”
The dark-haired reporter’s expression was down-right mutinous at this point. “I’m not gonna shoot the sonofabitch for making out with my daughter.”
Maggie couldn’t help the slightest smirk. “Yeah, I know that, but your mouth’s deadlier than that Ladysmith when you’re mad,” Maggie replied grimly. “And at least the gun’s a fairly quick death.”
“After how many years as a reporter, I know how to cultivate a source,” Lois shot back, crossing her arms and glaring at her friend. “I have no intention of pissing him off – or scaring him senseless – until my daughter’s home. Then his little jailbait-stalking ass is mine.”
The two women had momentarily forgotten that the four teenagers were in the room, but Sebast reminded them by clearing his throat. “Can I have the next spot in the line to kick his ass?” he asked.
“You can have third, once we’re done,” Jason said with uncharacteristic bluntness, his expression as deadly serious as his mother’s. “I’m her brother.”
That was enough to make Inspector Sawyer heave a heavy sigh. It was to be expected from this family. “Don’t leave any marks,” Maggie muttered. “I might have an inside lead on this guy, if we’re lucky. In the meantime, we’ll check everything else…”
Kal-El flew along the subway, listening intently and ignoring the shocked expressions on people’s faces when he darted out of the tunnel right before a train. He’d thought he would find Kala here, for sure; she practiced her super-hearing on the subway precisely because it was such a difficult environment for that power. Even he needed to concentrate down here…
…and anything that intruded on that concentration was decidedly unwelcome. His cell phone was silenced, but the sound of electrical relays firing as a text message came in still distracted him at this level of concentration. Irritated at the interruption but hoping it was Lois with good news, Kal-El soared out of the subway and sought the sky.
It wasn’t Lois. The message was from Barbara Gordon, also known as Oracle: anyone up for penny-ante poker? call back if you’re free. The JLA used codes for all communications that could possibly be intercepted, no matter how unlikely that was. At the moment, they were using the pretense of seeking more players in a card game to solicit help from other members of the team.
Fortunately, ‘penny ante’ meant trouble that could easily be handled by junior members of the League, if they worked together. On the other hand, if Oracle had included the phrase ‘five-card stud’, it would have indicated the kind of emergency that Kal-El needed to look into. If she’d said ‘bridge’ instead, it was serious but not critical. ‘Blackjack’ indicated that everyone available should respond immediately; the event was of worldwide consequence. The nuclear reactor would have been a ‘blackjack’, but so very few of them could even approach it…
The distraction had cost him time, however, and Kal-El didn’t have time to waste. He flipped open his phone and dialed Oracle’s secure line. As soon as she answered, he said shortly, “I’m afraid I won’t be coming to any card games in the near future.”
“Sorry to hear that,” she replied, each word heavy with curiosity. “Any particular reason?”
They had codes for all sorts of potential stumbling blocks. Saying your spouse didn’t want you out late was the standard euphemism for ‘this may compromise my identity’. But there was no code for ‘my child is missing’, and in any case, Kal-El had not been particularly careful about learning the code words for getting out of duty. He considered himself to be on-call nearly all the time.
He was left with the truth. “My daughter ran away from home,” he said simply, and listened to a beat of shocked silence before adding, “I need to find her.”
“Ah, could you … would you like some help? I’m sure some of the guys…”
“No, thank you,” Kal-El said curtly. “This is a family matter. I don’t want to trouble anyone else with it. Just take me off the call list until I get back to you, please. Obviously my family takes priority over everything else.”
“Of course,” she replied. Kal-El flipped the phone shut, and hung there in midair, eyes closed, straining for the faintest sound of Kala’s heartbeat. He knew it as well as Lois’ or Jason’s, better than the beat of his own heart, in fact. He still couldn’t find it anywhere.
He wasn’t sure why he had been so brusque with Oracle. Gut instinct told him to get off the phone quickly, and to keep the rest of the JLA out of this. Flying at super-speed had taught Kal-El to trust his intuition, to react instinctively, because he could fly faster than he could consciously think about his route. And for now, that hunch was enough – he didn’t want to examine his own motives.
Deep down, Kal-El believed that all of this was his fault, proof of his failures as a father. He’d never felt as though he took naturally to the role; Richard had an instantaneous rapport with most kids, and an easygoing manner that charmed even his own children into confidences. He was much better at fatherhood, in Kal-El’s opinion, and the fact that Richard had had three years more practice with the twins didn’t matter. Richard surely didn’t lie awake at night, worrying over the decisions he’d made that day, wondering if he’d chosen the right path, if he was being a good father, if he was somehow ruining his kids’ psyches and lives.
No, Richard just did whatever the heck sounded good to him at the time, whether it was taking the kids to a new museum exhibit or just lying on the roof watching planes go by, and it all seemed to work out perfectly. If he were perfectly honest with himself, Kal-El would’ve admitted that he envied the other man’s nonchalance. In this case, though, he couldn’t see that he was over-thinking the whole situation, worrying far too much.
Kal-El had forgotten his own father’s advice, which he’d accidentally overheard when Ma was fretting over his teenage years. “He’s fine,” Pa had said with a chuckle. “Lord, when I was his age, I was into everything. Me and a few of the gang decided to sneak into Ellzey’s orchard for a lark one time. We didn’t know old man Ellzey kept a 410 shotgun loaded with rock salt – wow! I had to eat standing up for a week. And I never told my pa, ‘cause he’d have whupped me on top of it. Other boys we knew were playing cowboys and Indians with real bows and pellet guns, shootin’ each other. But we all survived and turned out mostly right, for all our foolishness. Clark will be fine – kids are resilient.”
Kal-El sighed heavily, and headed back down into the subways to continue the search.
“Have you seen this girl?” Cat Grant asked, flashing her winning smile – and a little cleavage – at the ticker seller. He leaned forward, peering through the glass window, and the blonde held her breath. Maybe this time…
“Nah,” the young man said. “I’d’ve remembered her. Sorry.”
“Thanks anyway.” Cat gave him a sad smile and slid her business card through the slot in the window. “If you do see her, please call and tell me which bus she got on? She’s only sixteen, and her family’s worried sick.”
He assured her he would, and Cat left to go meet up with Ian, who’d also been pressed into the search. Every one of Lois’ family and friends was out looking; according to the gossip from WGBS the last time Cat had called in, a certain cape-wearing friend had even taken up the search.
No one was talking about what might happen if they couldn’t find Kala. Could a sixteen-year-old girl really manage to hide from a bunch of reporters and cops – and a superhero who’d never quite gotten over her mom? It didn’t seem possible.
But it was happening. They should’ve found a lead by now, and so far, nothing. Ignoring the chill that skittered down her back, Cat hurried to Ian’s side, hoping he’d learned something.
“Just heard from Richard White,” he said, flipping his phone closed. “He’s in the search, too – had to leave his wife home, but her assistant’s on it. They’re taking three of our subway stations, so we can head further south.”
“Poor Richard,” Cat murmured, frowning slightly. “He must be frantic – and Lana too. But they can’t exactly leave Kristin, and Kala might just go to Lana. She gets along better with her than she does with her mother.”
“How’d that happen?” Ian asked, as they headed out of the train station. Between them, they’d shown Kala’s photo to every ticket-seller in the place. “I mean, she likes her stepmom better than her mom?”
“It’s not a matter of who she likes. Kala loves Lois, you’d better believe it, and no one will ever take her place. But you can’t have two women that strong-willed in the same house without them fighting.” Cat chuckled a little, and added, “Trust me on that. I used to share an apartment with Lois and Tobie. You think they squabble now…”
“Must’ve been interesting,” Ian said, and placed his hand gently on the small of her back as they went out the doors. The wind had picked up, and its icy fingers found their way down collars and up cuffs. Cat shivered from more than just the temperature; without another word, she and Ian hurried to their next destination.
Jason stood staring out the French doors, a post he had taken up some time ago and showed no sign of leaving. Every line of his body spoke of utter misery. His voice was low, emotion flooding the slightest word. “It’s gonna snow tonight. I hope…”
Standing beside him, Giselle could only watch him worriedly, rubbing his shoulders. “She’ll be okay,” she whispered, trying to comfort. “She’s got money for a hotel room – assuming we don’t find her first, which we might.” She had stayed by his side through every moment.
Lois had been making a third pot of coffee when she overheard them, needing something to do so she didn’t slowly go mad. She couldn’t think of her daughter out there alone, thinking she wasn’t wanted, knowing that she wasn’t protected. Why had that stupid fight have to happen last night? And why did Kala have to be so damned willful? Especially since Luthor was slinking around? Her blood ran cold at that thought and she turned her thoughts away from that one, forcing herself to focus on something else. “Any news?” she asked Maggie, knowing full-well she’d never heard the phone go off.
“Nothing yet. They’re still searching,” the policewoman replied, glancing at her phone. Both of them were aware that the phone hadn’t rung, but the notion consoled Lois, so neither of them spoke of it. “No word yet from the folks on foot; either she’s still in town, or we missed her. Any idea where she might go if she does leave the city?”
Lois had paused in her attention to the coffee to place her hands over her face, rubbing her temples brusquely. It was clear that the day was wearing on her. “Clark called Martha and Ben. I didn’t have the guts; how do you call and tell someone that their only granddaughter’s run off?” She gave a sigh that spoke of heartache and regret, expression hidden, before continuing in a tired voice. “They’re gonna warn the Langs and the Carmichaels. I had Richard call his parents, too – I can’t see Kala going down to Florida, but she might do it just because I wouldn’t expect it.”
Sawyer leaned back in the dining chair she had commandeered, pensive as she considered the evidence in front of them. “It’s a bitch hunting down someone who knows how you think.”
Lois groaned then, dropping her hands to glare at her with wounded aggravation. God, not this again. “Please, Mags. If I never hear anyone say how much alike we are again… That’s what started all this mess.”
This was one of those times when the length of their friendship was apparent, simply in the way that the cop didn’t react to her friend’s attitude. Maggie knew Lois well enough to know that it was just her guilt talking. “I didn’t say you were alike,” Maggie replied evenly. “Just that you both know how the other thinks. Living together for sixteen years will do that to anyone, not just mother and daughter. Anyway, the whole point is that she knows exactly where and how you’d look for her.”
“Thanks, Mags.” The four teenagers winced at the sharpness of Lois’ tone. “Just what I need to hear this late in day. That totally helps. Thanks.”
Jason sighed, his expression fraught at his mother’s obvious anxious state and his own helplessness. The boy allowed Giselle to lead him back to the couch then. He sat down as if the weight of the world were crushing him. No one saw the pained way Elise watched him.
“She’s also sixteen, and no matter how gutsy she is or how much money she has, Kala’s not prepared to live on her own,” Maggie pointed out, not missing a beat. “Sooner or later, she’ll go to someone for help. And once she gets the message that we’re all worried about her, she’ll come home.”
Lois snorted, her shoulders tense; Clark was out searching, and with his powers, he should’ve found their daughter by now. Hadn’t he told her he could recognize the kids’ heartbeats just as easily as Lois’ own? So why the hell were their depressing speculations not being suddenly interrupted by a sheepish Kala dropped onto the balcony by Superman?
Bagel, who had never been able to tolerate tension among the humans in her family, had at first hidden under furniture. As silence fell on the group while they apprehensively waited for replies, the beagle wandered into the living room, her forehead wrinkled into a fretful expression and her tail wagging restlessly. Jason seemed the most distraught of all, but he was leaned forward, his head cradled in his hands, and she couldn’t jump into his lap. In the end, desperate to comfort her boy, Bagel settled for Giselle’s lap instead, giving the girl a couple of anxious (and quite unappreciated) licks around the mouth before snuggling up to Jason’s side. She managed to wedge her nose under his arm, and from there wiggled most of her body into his lap.
Having Bagel demand attention was enough to make Jason look up finally. His expression was determined as he rumpled the beagle’s ears, letting out a long sigh. “Aunt Maggie, there’s gotta be something we can do,” he said then, facing her sadly.
Sawyer stared at him with a thoughtful expression, not saying a word. She seemed to be considering something. “There is, actually,” the policewoman said after a moment, and all four kids perked up. “If she’s still in town, she’ll eventually go back to some place she’s familiar with. I bet you all know those spots, right?”
That was enough to bring Jason back to himself, the boy already moving toward the door. “Yeah. So we should hit Fuel first…”
But the policewoman blocked him before he could go out, moving with surprising speed. “Whoa, son. First of all, play it subtle. You don’t want to spook her out of her normal habits – this is a teenage girl we’re dealing with, not a hardened criminal, but she’s smart. Just leave messages with the staff that you need to talk to her, all right?”
“Sounds good,” Sebast opined. Elise was standing up now as well, both kids looking serious and determined. Being able to help and not just sit around worrying and waiting had energized them. Becoming more animated by the moment, the Latino boy glanced at all those present. “Let’s go in pairs, so if we see her, one can sneak off and call you guys while the other stalls for time. Elise, you’re with me.”
Sawyer nodded her approval. “Smart boy.”
“Listen,” Jason said, and then hesitated. He looked down at his interlaced fingers, sighed again, and forced himself to meet the adults’ eyes. “Sebast, Elise, when you leave the message, tell her she needs to call me because … I have to keep the Gertrude promise, and what she’s done won’t let me.”
The whole group looked at each other. “The Gertrude Promise?” Giselle said suspiciously. “What’s that, twin code?”
“Yes,” Jason said simply, and looked at Lois. She’d gone pale and her brow was furrowed with a mother’s pain; the only Gertrude in the twins’ lives was Luthor’s damn yacht. Whatever promise the twins had made to each other, it was serious.
“Mind cluing me in?” Maggie asked, her gaze going from mother to son. She also remembered The Gertrude, and how fiercely protective the twins had been of each other after their ordeal.
Never taking his eyes off his mother, Jason answered in a low voice, “We promised we’d never let anyone separate us, and we’d never keep secrets from each other.” He straightened up, and for a moment he looked so much like his father that Lois’ hand went over her mouth, her heart leaping in her chest. “I can’t keep her safe if I don’t know where she is.”
Sebast watched Jason, eyeing his friend warily. “So let’s go. It’s getting late and we only have a few hours before sundown. We’ve all got our phones; Mom, Inspector, call us if you get word. Jason, come on. Let’s get moving.”
“You do the same,” Maggie responded. She waited until the kids all left, Jason last and giving his mother one final pained look that she’d returned with an encouraging smile, before she turned to Lois with a worried expression. “We’re pretty much canvassing the city. There’s only one downside to that. Lois, I hate to say it, but if anyone’s listening for word of your family, they’re gonna know she’s out there alone.”
They both knew the ‘anyone’ in that statement was Luthor. “He hasn’t bothered me since,” Lois’ voice was husky when she said this, not willing to meet Maggie’s eyes. “Hopefully she’ll be home before he even catches word.”
“She’s not six anymore, Lois,” Maggie said with deliberate firmness, “and we both know that she’s not exactly helpless.” The reporter had to smile a little at the irony of her friend’s statement. Maggie wasn’t talking about the powers either, not being aware of the twins’ dual heritage. Jason and Kala had both taken martial arts classes for a while when they were thirteen, mostly to teach them self-discipline, but they’d eventually dropped out. Friends of the family had been told that their other extracurricular activities conflicted with the classes, but the real reason was the twins’ developing powers. By the time they were fourteen, it was no longer safe for either of them to spar with other students or instructors. Still, those lessons hadn’t been forgotten, and offered an additional layer of protection.
Knowing that didn’t stop Lois from feeling chilled. She’d crossed her arms a while ago, hands clasping her elbows, and now she shivered. Maggie put a hand on her shoulder, offering wordless comfort. Jamie had run away from home a few times in her teens, usually leaving her father’s house to try and get to her mom. Maggie understood the soul-deep horror of not knowing where your child was. Unfortunately, she was already doing everything she could think of to find Kala.