Nick looked up from his desk as Billy walked back into the office. “Did you get Jack?”
Billy shook his head. “He’s not picking up…of course there’s no guarantee he’d answer my call. He thinks this is all some kind of scam anyway.”
“What?” He knew Jack was taking the affair hard, but when someone you loved was in trouble, you put all that aside—at least that’s what he thought.
“Yeah,” Billy sighed, “He thinks Phyllis is pulling some kind of scam to get him to admit he cares I guess and apparently he thinks I’m involved in it with her.”
Nick’s eyes widened. “I mean I know Phyllis has pulled some crazy stunts in the past but I there’s no reason for her to involve me in this.”
“To be fair, he doesn’t know you’re involved.” He took a breath, still more than a little disgusted by his brother’s reaction. “Were you able to get in touch with Summer?”
“Yeah. I didn’t really want to tell her something like this over the phone, but she said she’s planning on staying at the dorms for the weekend to cram for exams.”
Billy nodded. “That’s good. She’ll be around lots of people that way and I’m sure the dorms have good security.”
“Yeah…they do.” Nick stared down at the paper in front of him. “We need to get this to the police.”
“Are you sure that’s the best idea?” He saw Nick’s eyes narrow. “I mean I know the police are better equipped to handle it, but you see what this is—I just…I worry if we don’t do what they say…”
“If we don’t do what they say what?” Nick’s voice was harsh. “Look, I know you’re worried about Phyllis and I’m not even gonna begin to try and understand what the hell went on between the two of you, but you can’t honestly think that trying to handle this without the police is a good idea.”
“I think if the note says not to involve the police, we should at least consider what pissing off the people that have the woman I….” He took a deep breath… “If they have her and they don’t want the police involved, what do you think they’re gonna do if they realize we’ve gone against the very first direction they gave us.”
Nick grabbed his keys from the desk. “Look if you want to sit here and devise a plan to deal with these people on your own, you go ahead. I’m going to go talk to people who actually do this as a profession.”
“And if you get her killed?” Billy yelled as he watched him walk towards the door.
Nick turned around, his eyes full of anger as they stared back at him.
“What if something happens to Phyllis, Nick? How are you gonna explain that to Summer? How are you gonna tell her that it was your idea to involve the police? How are you gonna explain that your decision could have cost her mother her life?”
“Can you please sit down?” Phyllis brought her hand to her head. “Your pacing is making me dizzy.”
Curtis stopped, turning to look at her. “Sorry,” he mumbled before taking a seat in the chair near the sofa. “I just..I thought someone would have called by now.”
“Mornings are always crazy at the office. The fax machine may not even be cleared off yet,” she said quietly. She didn’t bother to tell him that her husband might not be overly anxious to pony up money to save her.
“That doesn’t explain Newman. What’s his excuse? The two of you have a kid, right? You’d think he’d want to make sure the mother of his daughter got home safe.”
“Someone will call,” she snapped. “You just have to give them some time.”
He was quiet for a moment, his eyes watching her face. “I know,” he said softly. He’d never thought of this from her perspective—how strange it must feel to sit and wait for a phone to ring, to hope someone would care enough to pay any price for your safe return, to secretly fear no one would.
“Are you hungry?” Curtis stood, walking towards the kitchen. “I know you said no earlier, but you haven’t eaten anything and I think you might feel better if you’d just…”
“I don’t want anything.” She couldn’t eat. The sick feeling in the pit of her stomach simply seemed to curb any appetite she ever thought of having.
A sigh escaped his lips as he walked back to the sofa, this time choosing to sit down beside her. “Look, I really am sorry,” he said quietly. “If I felt like there was another way—that I had another option.”
“You should have picked a better option. There may not be a single person willing to come through for me.” Phyllis felt her eyes burning and silently willed herself to pull it together. She could not let him see her break down.
“Don’t say that,” he whispered. God—He wasn’t built for this. She was supposed to be his hostage. He should look at her and see dollar signs and instead he had to fight the urge to pull her close to him and comfort her. It was something about her eyes, a deep sadness that resided in them, a sadness he understood, one he identified with. And then there was her voice—the tremor when she spoke, the anxiety and fear it conveyed—the one he himself felt in his quietest, darkest moments.
“Why not?” she asked, finally having the courage to look into his eyes. They were a grayish blue but softer and much kinder than the icy blue one that Jack used to stare at her with in recent weeks. “You were thinking the same thing. That’s why you’re worried no one has called.”
“That’s not true. I’m just anxious..that’s all.”
“You should be. My husband, Jack– He hates me. The entire town hates me. No one wants to help me. In fact, everyone would be very happy if I disappeared. So, congratulations Curtis, you’ve picked yourself a damn good hostage this time.”