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“What?” asked Jake’s mom. “For something to be missing, you’re suggesting that he’s been in our homes!”

Lilian froze, her hands in midcycle on her coffee cup. “In my house?” she whispered.

Sanford lifted his hands in a “calm down” motion. “There’s been no evidence that he’s been in anyone’s home. Someone was on the porch of Detective Callahan’s home, but we haven’t had any police there watching over the house. You’ve had protection every hour since Henley was reported missing, and we don’t plan to end that any time soon.”

Lilian pushed back her chair. “I need to go look at my place. When I was there Friday, I didn’t look for that sort of thing.” Her voice shook, and Jake noticed that she hadn’t applied makeup that morning. Lilian always wore makeup. Without it, her eyes looked swollen and dark.

Or that could simply be from crying her eyes out over Henley. Jake knew he looked like hell. They all did. He’d heard that stress had physical effects on the body; today he was seeing it. Even Lucas looked older than usual.

His easygoing stepdad had become a hermit. Lucas would watch a movie with Jake if he asked, but Lucas didn’t talk and joke with him the way he had before Henley went missing. He was on the phone with people at work, in his home office alone, or sitting quietly with Robin. The two of them sat in easy chairs that looked out the big window over the backyard. Or else they went and sat outside in the cold. Their conversations low and private.

His mom had baked enough to start a large bakery. Jake noticed Robin didn’t eat her desserts, but she offered them to every person who came in the door. Every time an agent or cop walked out the door, they took a big bag of cakes or pastries with them. Right now Special Agent Sanford had a thick piece of lemon pound cake on a plate in front of him. Robin hadn’t asked him if he wanted it; she’d simply served it along with his coffee. That was typical of his mom. She liked to take care of people and feed them. Her stress about Henley was causing her need to nurture to expand exponentially.

“What about you, Jake?”

Jake blinked at Sanford. He’d clearly missed something important.

“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?” Jake cringed inside. He’d been caught daydreaming when he should have been listening.

Sanford gave a strained smile. “Have you noticed anything missing since you’ve been home? It must be a little hard to spot since you’ve been gone for a few months; things are bound to be out of place. But have you looked closely at the stuff that’s important to you? I noticed you have a ton of sports trophies in your room. Are they all there?”

“Uh, I think so. I’ll look, but I think it would stand out if one was missing. There’d be a hole.” Jake thought hard. Had he even looked at his shelves since he’d been home?

“What about out in the garage? Do you have sports equipment? I assume you haven’t used anything since summer. Would you notice if things were disturbed?” Sanford asked. His eyes had brightened, and he watched Jake closely.

Was this a trick question? The agent seemed highly interested in his answer.

“You’re right. I haven’t looked at that stuff since summer,” Jake answered, watching the agent for his reaction.

“It’s not exactly baseball season, right?” Sanford smiled.

No shit. “It’s been too cold,” said Jake. “And it hasn’t crossed my mind since I’ve been home. I pretty much just slept until Henley went missing.”

Sanford smiled and nodded as if Jake had confirmed what he was thinking.

What was going on? “Do you want me to go look?” Jake asked.

“Soon as we’re done.” Sanford smiled again.

Jake didn’t like his smile. It was fake. Judging by the frowns on his parents’ faces, they didn’t care for the agent’s smile, either.

“The woman who had her minivan stolen remembers chatting for a moment with an older man who’d sat on her bench at the park,” Sanford stated, abruptly changing the topic.

The adults at the table straightened in their seats, their focus rising ten notches. Jake felt the tension inflate the room.

“Could she give a good description of him?” Lucas asked. “What did he say to her?”

Sanford shuffled his papers, annoying Jake. The man had dropped a bomb in the room, then paused to make everyone wait to hear more. A jerk of a move in Jake’s book. Sanford studied a sheet from his pile.

“She says a man sat next to her for a few minutes reading a novel. He made some polite comments about the kids, asking if they were excited about Christmas, that sort of thing. It was a breezy, cold day, so he was bundled up. She said he wore jeans and a heavy wool black coat that reminded her of a sailor’s coat.”

“A peacoat,” Lilian offered. “Like with a wide collar and lapels and buttons down the front?”

Sanford nodded. “Exactly. He also wore a black knit cap and glasses. Our witness says she didn’t really look at him in the eye because he was beside her and her focus was on the kids. But she noticed what he was wearing. He was gray haired and he needed to shave. She mentioned thinking that he seemed like ‘an old sailor’ with the cap, coat, and day-old beard growth. He left before she did. She’d felt bad that the noise from the kids might have made it difficult for him to read.”

Something slid into place in Jake’s brain.

“Did he have an opportunity to get into her purse and get her keys?” Robin asked.