“And were you?” Flynn says. “Friends, I mean.”


“So you liked them?”


“And you had no issues with them? No disagreements or fights?”

“No,” I say, stressing the word. “I told you, I liked them.”

Impatience nudges my ribs and shimmies down my legs. Why is he wasting all this time asking me questions when the girls are still out there, maybe hurt, definitely lost? Why doesn’t anyone seem to be searching? I glance out the mess hall window and see a couple of police cruisers and a smattering of state troopers milling about outside.

“Is someone looking for them?” I ask. “There’s going to be a search party, right?”

“There will be. We just need some more information from you.”

“How much more?”

“Well, for starters, is there anything about the girls you think I should know? Something about them that might aid in the search?”

“Um, Krystal is spelled with a K,” I say. “In case that helps.”

“It certainly will.”

Flynn doesn’t elaborate, leaving me to picture each of them on the sides of milk cartons, a noble public service that’s actually horrible when you think about it. Who wants to open their fridge and see the face of a missing child staring back at them?

“Anything else?” Flynn asks.

I close my eyes, rub my temples. My head is killing me.

“Let me think,” I say. “Sasha. She’s so smart. The downside is she knows so much it makes her a little scared. She’s afraid of bears. And snakes.”

It occurs to me that Sasha might be afraid right now, wherever she is. The others, too. It breaks my heart to think of them lost in the woods, terrified of their surroundings. I hope they’re all together, so they can comfort one another. Please, God, let them be together.

I keep talking, overcome with the urge to tell the detective everything I know about the girls. “Miranda’s the oldest. And the bravest. Her uncle is a cop, I think. Or maybe it was her dad. Although she lives with her grandmother. She never mentioned parents, come to think of it.”

A realization pops into my head, coming at me like a thunderclap.

“She took her phone.”

“Who did?”

“Miranda. I mean, I’m not certain she took it with her, but it wasn’t among her things. Could that be used to find her?”

Flynn, who had been sagging in his chair while I prattled on, suddenly perks up. “Yes, it definitely could. All cell phones come with a GPS. Do you know the carrier?”

“I don’t.”

“I’ll have someone contact her grandmother and ask,” Flynn says. “Now let’s talk about why you think the girls are gone.”

“I don’t know.”

“There has to be a reason, don’t you think? Like maybe they left because they were mad at you about something?”

“Nothing I can think of.”

That’s a lie. The latest in a long line of them. Because there is something that would make them want to leave Dogwood.


The way I acted.

Drunk and crying and still touching my bare wrist, which now has a red streak on its side where my thumb kept rubbing the skin. I wasn’t in my right mind last night, and it scared them. I saw it in their eyes.

“You think they ran away?” I ask.

“I’m saying that’s the most logical reason. On average, more than two million youth run away each year. The vast majority are quickly located and returned home.”

It sounds like another one of those statistics Sasha would have at the ready. But I don’t believe for a second the three of them ran away. They gave no indication of unhappiness in their home lives.

“What if they didn’t?” I say. “What would be another reason?”

“Foul play.”

Flynn says it so quickly it makes me gasp. “Like kidnapping?”

“Is it a possibility? Yes. Is it likely? No. Less than one percent of all missing children are abducted by strangers.”

“What if the kidnapper isn’t a stranger?”

Flynn quickly flips to another page of his notebook, pen poised over paper. “Do you know of such a person?”

I do. Maybe.

“Has anyone talked to the kitchen staff?” I say. “The other day, I caught one of them staring at the campers on the beach. Not a good stare, either. It was creepy.”


“Like he didn’t think it was wrong to ogle a sixteen-year-old girl.”

“So it was a male?”

I give a firm nod. “The tag on his apron said his name was Marvin. Two other kitchen workers were there. Women. They saw the whole thing.”

“I’ll be sure to ask around,” Flynn says, writing down everything.

Seeing his pen scurry over the paper pleases me. It means I’m helping. Energized, I grab the coffee and take another bitter gulp.

“Let’s talk about fifteen years ago,” Flynn says. “I’ve been informed you were here when three other girls went missing. Is that correct?”

I stare at him, slightly uneasy. “I assume you already know that it is.”