15.21 David Bell The Forgotten Girl

ISBN 13: 9780451417527

The Forgotten Girl

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9780451417527: The Forgotten Girl

The bestselling author of Bring Her Home and Cemetery Girl presents a twist filled thriller about a troubled family whose secrets should be taken to the grave...

The past has arrived uninvited at Jason Danvers’s door in the form of his younger sister, Hayden, a former addict who severed all contact with her family as her life spiraled out of control. Now she’s clean and sober but in need of a desperate favor—she asks Jason and his wife to take care of her teenage daughter for forty-eight hours while she handles some business in town.

But Hayden never returns.

And her disappearance brings up more unresolved problems from Jason’s past, including the abrupt departure of his best friend on their high school graduation night twenty-seven years earlier. When a body is discovered in the woods, the mysteries of his sister’s life—and possible death—deepen. And one by one these events will shatter every expectation Jason has ever had about families, about the awful truths that bind them.

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About the Author:

David Bell is a bestselling and award-winning author whose work has been translated into six languages. He’s currently an associate professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He received an MA in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a PhD in American literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. His novels include Bring Her HomeSince She Went AwaySomebody I Used to KnowThe Forgotten GirlNever Come BackThe Hiding Place, and Cemetery Girl.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF DAVID BELL

ALSO BY DAVID BELL

For Molly

Prologue

The detective came into the room. He wore a sport coat and tie, the collar of his shirt open. He didn’t look at Jason. He tossed a small notebook onto the table, pulled a chair out, and sat down. He flipped the notebook open and scanned one of the pages.

“Can I go yet?” Jason asked. “You said this wouldn’t take long.”

“Easy,” the detective said.

“You said this would be a friendly chat, that I didn’t need a lawyer or my parents.”

The detective looked up. “Haven’t I been friendly?” He pointed to the empty Coke can on the table. “I got you a soda.” He flipped the notebook closed and smiled, but it looked forced. “We’re almost finished here. I just want to go over some things we talked about before. Now, you said you and your friend, Logan Shaw, fought pretty hard the other night. You told me you landed a couple of good ones against the side of his head.”

“One,” Jason said. “One good one.”

“One good one,” the detective said. “Sometimes that’s all it takes. And you were fighting over a girl?”

“Yes. Regan.”

“Regan Maines.” The detective nodded. “So you two guys fight over a girl. Okay, no big deal, right? Boys will be boys and all that. And you end up clocking your friend pretty good. Again, no big deal. Who hasn’t gotten into a little dustup with one of their friends? Happens all the time, right?”

“I’ve never been in a fight before.”

“Never?”

“Never.”

The detective made a disapproving face. “Okay. Not all guys fight with their friends. Okay. So you fight with your friend, and you deck him, and then he goes off into the woods because he’s pissed at you. In fact, you said he was crying a little, right?”

“Yes.”

“Were you crying too?” the detective asked, the corner of his mouth rising into a little sneer.

“I might have been. Yes.”

“And you’re eighteen?”

“I’d like to call my dad,” Jason said.

“Easy. We’re almost finished here. I know your old man. He’s a good guy.” The detective scratched his head. “Okay, all of this stuff you’ve done seems pretty normal to me, except maybe for the crying. But after that, after your friend goes off into the woods and you don’t see him anymore, that’s where it gets tricky for me. You see, here’s what I don’t understand. Your friend disappears after you have a fight with him, and you know everyone’s looking for him. By the way, his father, Mr. Shaw, he’s very upset about his son being missing. Very upset.”

“He didn’t care much about Logan when he was here.”

“Hey,” the detective said. “Don’t be smart. That man’s a good father. He’s a pillar of this community. He always does the right thing. And speaking of the right thing . . . you knew all these people were looking for Logan, the guy you punched upside the head, and yet, you didn’t tell us about that fight you had. Did you? Not the first time we talked to you. You said everything seemed normal when you last saw him. But then a few hours later, after we’d talked to some other people and came back to you again, you decided to tell us about this fight. Do you see why that doesn’t make sense to me?”

“I told you—I was angry with Logan.”

“That’s why you decked him. Because he wanted your girl—”

“No, that’s why I didn’t say anything about the fight the first time you came by the house. Logan can be . . .”

“What? Can be what?”

“Manipulative, I guess. He has moods. I figured he was just mad and wanted to take it out on all of us by going away for a while. He knew we’d worry eventually. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of getting to me. When you came back to my house, and I found out people were really worried . . . his dad, for example . . . that’s when I told you about the fight. It was only a few hours later. And nothing’s changed since then. My story’s the same now as it was three days ago.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course—”

Someone knocked. The detective stood up and opened the door, revealing a uniformed police officer. The two men whispered about something, and the detective nodded his head. “Tell them we’ll be right out. We’re finished here.” He closed the door and came back to the table. “Your old man’s here.”

“Good.”

“Before you go, I want to ask you one more thing. Where do you think Logan Shaw is?”

Jason sat back in his chair. He looked at the detective’s face, the skin heavily lined, the eyes tired. He almost—almost—felt sorry for the guy.

“I don’t know,” Jason said. “He always talked about leaving.”

“Would he really do it?” the detective asked. “His dad and mom are here. His friends. The family has a bunch of money. Would he run off and leave all of that?”

Jason thought about the question, then said, “Sometimes I think Logan is capable of just about anything.”

Chapter One

Through the thick plate-glass window of the restaurant, and blinded slightly by the bright noon sun, Jason thought he saw his sister, Hayden.

A quick glimpse, something he couldn’t really trust or believe. A flash of her face, her distinctive brisk walk. Brown hair, big eyes—and then she was gone from his view. But Jason continued to stare. He leaned his face closer to the restaurant window, trying to see through the passing flow of people—working people in their suits and skirts, families with children—and decide if it had really been his sister. He hadn’t seen her since—

The voice of his companion brought him back to the restaurant.

“Are you still with me?” the man asked.

The man. Colton Rivers. A high school classmate and now a successful lawyer in Ednaville. They were finishing their meals, their business, and Jason wasn’t sure what had been said to him. The sounds of the restaurant filled the space. Clashing silverware and murmured conversation. Someone laughed loudly at the next table.

“Excuse me?” he asked.

“Something catch your eye out there?” Colton asked. “Or someone?” Colton winked.

“Sorry,” Jason said. “I was daydreaming, thinking about being a kid.” Jason looked out the window again, squinting against the light. People continued to walk around, carrying out their business. He didn’t see Hayden. He hadn’t seen her, he decided. Just another person, a woman about the same age with the same hair color. Hayden had no reason to be in Ednaville. He didn’t know where she was living, but it wasn’t in their hometown. “My parents used to like to eat here at O’Malley’s. We’d come as a family.”

“Mine too.” The waiter dropped the check on the table, and Colton reached for it. “I’ve got this. You’re doing me the favor, remember? The summer festival is a big deal in Ednaville, and with you designing the posters for the committee, we know they’re going to look good.”

“I’m glad I can help out,” Jason said. He tried not to sound as distracted as he felt. He forced himself not to look out the window again.

Hayden?

“How about a drink?” Colton asked. “Sometimes I have one before I go back to the office.”

Jason thought about it for a second. There was no strict provision against it in the America’s Best offices. Since he worked on the creative side of things, no one would really pay attention to what he did anyway.

“Sure,” he said.

Colton signaled the waiter again. He ordered a scotch, and Jason asked for an Old Fashioned. The drinks came, and Jason said, “Okay, Colton, you’ve built up enough suspense. What do you want to ask me? Do you have more work for the festival? Do you want me to sit in the dunking booth?”

Colton lifted his glass. “That’s good,” he said. He smacked his lips after putting the glass down. “You know my dad started our firm. He still comes in and piddles around. Gets in the way mostly.”

“I remember your dad.” The drink helped Jason. It brought an ease and a lightness to his mind. He hoped it would help him stop thinking about Hayden.

“Sure. A good man. He’s been handling wills and estates for a lot of families here in Ednaville for many, many years. Some of the biggest and richest families in town. He’s passed some of them on to me now. They deal with me, of course, but a lot of them, I can see the way they look at me. They’re thinking, ‘He’s not really as sharp as the old man, is he?’”

“I’m sure it’s tough in a town like this,” Jason said. He wanted to be sympathetic, but he couldn’t see where Colton was going. Jason’s drink was good, and he swallowed more of it, hoping it wouldn’t cause him to doze off at his desk in the middle of the afternoon.

“My dad passed one family off to me, and they’ve proven to be a little thorny. The father’s sick and old and getting ready to . . . well, you know. Move on.”

“The big move on,” Jason said.

“Exactly. He’s divorced, never remarried, and he only has one child. Everything is supposed to go to that child, but there are some complications.”

The liquor had loosened Jason up enough that he simply said, “Colton, what the heck does any of this have to do with me?”

Colton picked up his glass and rattled the ice, but he didn’t drink. He put it back down, then leaned forward and spoke with his voice lowered. “You understand I really shouldn’t be discussing this with you.”

Jason looked around the restaurant. The lunch crowd was starting to thin, and there was no one close by. Jason leaned in closer to Colton. “So don’t tell me, then.”

Colton smiled without showing his teeth. “You were always a little bit of a wiseass. Most creative people are.” His face grew serious. “I figure if I can get this sorted out, my old man will get off my back, the other clients will see that I can do the job, and my life will hum along just a little more smoothly. And that’s what we all want, right? A smoothly humming life?”

“Sure,” Jason said. He thought of Nora and the progress they were making on their marriage. “Sure.”

“My client, the old man who is sick and dying, is Peter Shaw. His son, the heir we can’t locate, is of course—”

Jason finished the sentence for him. “Logan.”

Colton was nodding. He finished the rest of his drink. “Logan Shaw. Your best friend from high school.”

Jason felt his face flush. Not from the drink, but from the unexpected surprise of hearing Logan’s name mentioned again. He hadn’t expected the conversation to end up at that place, but he understood that Colton had wanted it to go there all along, that the summer festival was really just a pretense to get him out to lunch. Jason swallowed what remained in the glass.

First Hayden? And then Logan?

“You want another?” Colton asked. He waved to the waiter. “Two more here.”

“No, I’m fine.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

Colton dismissed the waiter, then turned back to Jason. “I’m sorry to spring this on you.”

“No, you’re not,” Jason said, trying to give Colton a dirty look but also feeling the temptation to laugh at his brazenness.

Colton didn’t blink. “Okay, I’m not sorry. I hoped the subject would naturally come up while we ate. We’re talking about the summer festival and graduation and high school. I figured we’d get there, but when it didn’t . . .” He shrugged. “I had to go for it.”

“I don’t know what you want me to do for you,” Jason said. “You’re trying to find Logan, right?”

“He’s in line for a lot of money,” Colton said. “A lot of money.” Colton shook his head and licked his lips as though he could taste the paper currency and silver coins. “Well? Can you help me?”

“You want to know if I know where Logan is?”

“I know there was that unpleasantness between the two of you on our graduation night. I know you fought up there on the Bluff. It was over a girl, right? Regan . . . what was her name?”

“Regan Maines. Now she’s Regan Kreider.”

“Did she marry Tim Kreider?”

“Divorced.”

“I know the cops got after you a little when they couldn’t find Logan.”

“A little?” Jason asked. “Have you ever been a murder suspect?”

“You probably weren’t really a suspect,” Colton said. “You were questioned. You were one of the last people to see him.”

“A fine point, I guess. It wasn’t pleasant.”

“Anyway, I know you had that happen. But the two of you were best friends since grade school. Have you ever heard anything from him? Have you seen him? A letter? An e-mail? A Christmas card? I figure he’s got to be in touch with somebody from his old high school crowd.”

Jason leaned back in his seat and looked out the window again. The clouds shifted above, obscuring the sun and casting a portion of the square into shadow. Jason reached up and scratched the back of his neck, his movements causing the leather of the booth to creak.

“I haven’t seen him since that night, Colton. As far as I know, he kept his promise. He told Regan he was leaving town, and he did. He and I said some things to each other when we fought, things we shouldn’t have said. I can understand if he wanted to put that night in his rearview mirror. I wanted to.”

Colton looked at Jason with sympathy. Jason almost believed Colton regretted bringing it all up.

Jason said, “He always wanted to go out west. He didn’t really care about his dad’s money. He used it in school, but he wasn’t hung up on it.”

“Really?” Colton said.

“Did you have a different impression?” Jason asked.

“I didn’t know him very well.”

“But?”

“You knew him better,” Colton said.

Jason decided he’d never know exactly what Colton meant, so he asked something else. “Couldn’t you just hire an investigator to track him down?”

“They’ve done that,” Colton said. “There were always a lot of rumors about what happened to him. You heard some of them, right?”

“Some. I went off to college.”

“People said the craziest stuff. That he joined a religious cult, for example. Others said he knocked a girl up, a poor girl in another county, and his father wouldn’t let them get married, so Logan ran off with her.” Colton shrugged. He lifted his glass and looked into the bottom wistfully as though he wished a drop of the scotch still remained. “Of course, some people just think he’s dead. Maybe he walked out to the highway and got picked up hitchhiking and whoever picked him up did him in. Maybe he got robbed and killed. You know, a rich kid might be a target. Maybe he had amnesia and wandered off. Lots of nonsense.”

“What happened when they hired an investigator?” Jason asked.

“The old man has done it a couple of times. Once, they got close. Must have been about fifteen years ago. Guy followed a trail to Arizona and then lost it across the border in Mexico. He found someone out there who swore she knew Logan, that some guy she dated told her the truth about leaving his hometown and his rich family and heading out west.”

“Really?” He felt hope rising, although he couldn’t have said why.

“The investigator could never pin anything down. He showed this girl a picture, and she couldn’t be certain it was Logan. Of course, time had passed. A photo of Logan at eighteen may not be what he looks like at thirty-five or so. And you never know with some investigators. They see an old guy with money desperate to find his son, and they figure they can string him along. It’s a gravy train. We’ll do it again if we have to. I just thought you could save us some time.”

“Sorry.” Jason looked at his watch. He had a meeting in thirty minutes, and the drink see...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The bestselling author of Bring Her Home and Cemetery Girl presents a twist filled thriller about a troubled family whose secrets should be taken to the grave. The past has arrived uninvited at Jason Danvers s door in the form of his younger sister, Hayden, a former addict who severed all contact with her family as her life spiraled out of control. Now she s clean and sober but in need of a desperate favor--she asks Jason and his wife to take care of her teenage daughter for forty-eight hours while she handles some business in town. But Hayden never returns. And her disappearance brings up more unresolved problems from Jason s past, including the abrupt departure of his best friend on their high school graduation night twenty-seven years earlier. When a body is discovered in the woods, the mysteries of his sister s life--and possible death--deepen. And one by one these events will shatter every expectation Jason has ever had about families, about the awful truths that bind them. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780451417527

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The bestselling author of Bring Her Home and Cemetery Girl presents a twist filled thriller about a troubled family whose secrets should be taken to the grave. The past has arrived uninvited at Jason Danvers s door in the form of his younger sister, Hayden, a former addict who severed all contact with her family as her life spiraled out of control. Now she s clean and sober but in need of a desperate favor--she asks Jason and his wife to take care of her teenage daughter for forty-eight hours while she handles some business in town. But Hayden never returns. And her disappearance brings up more unresolved problems from Jason s past, including the abrupt departure of his best friend on their high school graduation night twenty-seven years earlier. When a body is discovered in the woods, the mysteries of his sister s life--and possible death--deepen. And one by one these events will shatter every expectation Jason has ever had about families, about the awful truths that bind them. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780451417527

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The bestselling author of Bring Her Home and Cemetery Girl presents a twist filled thriller about a troubled family whose secrets should be taken to the grave. The past has arrived uninvited at Jason Danvers s door in the form of his younger sister, Hayden, a former addict who severed all contact with her family as her life spiraled out of control. Now she s clean and sober but in need of a desperate favor--she asks Jason and his wife to take care of her teenage daughter for forty-eight hours while she handles some business in town. But Hayden never returns. And her disappearance brings up more unresolved problems from Jason s past, including the abrupt departure of his best friend on their high school graduation night twenty-seven years earlier. When a body is discovered in the woods, the mysteries of his sister s life--and possible death--deepen. And one by one these events will shatter every expectation Jason has ever had about families, about the awful truths that bind them. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780451417527

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