“So someone could have grabbed your bag.”
Jake nodded. “The airline thinks that’s what happened. They scanned it when it arrived, so they knew it should have been on the carousel. We waited a while to see if someone would bring it back if they’d grabbed it accidentally. It’s a black roller bag. Looks like every other bag except for the luggage tag with the Duke logo.”
Wells tapped on his computer. Ava would have been requesting camera views from the airport. She suspected he was doing just that. But was a suitcase related to Henley’s disappearance? Any unusual activity surrounding the immediate family had to be investigated. No matter how trivial it seemed.
“Give me a rundown of what you’ve done since you’ve been in town. People you’ve seen, places you’ve gone, who you’ve talked to online or via text.”
Jake surprised them all by pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket. He glanced at Ava. “Special Agent McLane asked me about that yesterday. I spent some time writing down everything I could think of.”
Ava mentally patted herself on the back. She met Wells’s gaze and smiled. You’re welcome.
Wells scanned the sheet. “Looks like the only time you’ve left the house was a grocery store run Thursday midmorning. And a stop at your friend McKenzie’s after the store. You were only there fifteen minutes?”
“Yeah, her parents were taking her somewhere. I went out because mom needed creamer for her coffee. I went to the little neighborhood store, not the bigger grocery store. Got one of those Hostess pie things, too. Chocolate. Ate it in the car on the way back. Mom doesn’t like to see me eating processed junk.”
Ava thought of all the fresh-baked items on Robin’s counter and agreed with his mom. Homemade junk was much better.
“Anyone else in the store besides the clerk?”
Jake shrugged. “I have no idea. Maybe. I want to say there was someone else by the cooler doors in the back of the store when I grabbed the creamer. I didn’t talk to anyone but the clerk.”
Wells made another note that probably asked about cameras at the store.
“Think about the conversations you’ve had with your friends since you’ve been back. Anyone ask about your sister? Talk about her school?”
“I’ve thought about this,” Jake offered. “I didn’t talk about Henley with anyone before she went missing. I let some people know I’d made it to town. Two of my friends aren’t getting in until tonight, so I don’t have anything to do until then. Yesterday I slept in until almost noon. I didn’t even know Henley was missing.” He blinked rapidly.
“Did you talk to Henley when you got home from the airport Wednesday?”
He nodded. “Yeah, she hugged me when I got home.” The teen gave a sheepish smile. “She’s cool for a little kid. Not a pest like some of my friends’ younger siblings. We watched The Princess Bride Wednesday night. Mom watched, too. I think Lucas was working late. Henley talks a lot, and she talked through the movie. She always wants to discuss what she’s seeing, you know? Keeps up an ongoing commentary about everything in front of her. I tune her out quite a bit. I mean, she doesn’t stop.” He looked at the three adults with wide eyes, asking for forgiveness for not listening to his little sister.
“Small kids can have a lot to say,” Ava said.
“Thursday, I didn’t see her until dinnertime. She had school, and I was in my room all afternoon. She sat by me at dinner and talked. As usual. She was excited for the last day of school, and there was going to be a used-gift exchange. She’d picked out a stuffed animal to give and was worried that the other kids would think it was a baby gift. Mom had told her it was fine and to add some candy to the present if she was concerned. No kid gets upset about getting candy.”
For someone who usually tuned out his sister, Ava noted, he’d listened to her concerns that night.
“I played games after dinner. I don’t remember seeing her anymore that evening,” the teen said quietly.
“Games online?” Wells asked.
“No. I signed out. Some games are better played alone.”
“What do you mean signed out?” Ava asked.
“Microsoft’s Xbox community. When I don’t want to be interrupted, I hide myself so no one pops in to talk or message me.”
“Your room overlooks the street. You see anything unusual since you’ve been home? I know you can’t recognize every car on your street.”
“It’s a quiet neighborhood,” Jake answered. “Cars drive by. I don’t look. The house sits pretty far back from the street.”
“How about UPS or FedEx? See or hear any of those trucks? It’s the week before Christmas; I’d imagine people are getting deliveries.”
Ava knew Wells was trying to prompt Jake’s memory. The roar of a delivery truck was a recognizable sound.
“Yeah, I remember hearing a truck. I don’t know if it was Thursday or Friday morning. The house next door got a delivery, and their dog went nuts. It could have been the house next to them getting a package, I guess. I was awake but still in bed. That dog next door always barks at strange vehicles in the driveway.” Jake looked surprised that he’d recalled the incident.
“Hear that dog any other times?” Wells prodded.
Jake stared in his direction, his eyes blinking rapidly as he thought. “Yesterday afternoon,” he said after a long pause. “Once all the media started showing up. They must have moved the dog in the house because I didn’t hear it last night. With all those strangers and vehicles out there, it should have been barking its head off.”