Emma Jones, Teenage Daughter of Software Mogul Benjamin Jones, Was Found Missing from Her Bedroom
I scanned the article below, and it went on to say that based on the ransacked state of her room, the authorities suspected foul play, and they were reaching out to the public to see if anyone knew anything about where Emma might be. Worse still, her family said Emma had only been gone since the early morning.
My heart dropped to my stomach. “We missed her by a few hours.”
“Then maybe we haven’t missed her.” Ridley shoved his phone back in his pocket and stood up in a flash.
I threw a couple bills on the table, then pulled on my jacket as I hurried after Ridley. An icy drizzle had begun outside, but Ridley hardly seemed to notice.
“We should split up,” I suggested. “We can cover more ground that way.”
“Good. That’s smart. I’ll go back to her house, see if I can get a better sense of where she might be. You should go back to the hotel.”
“The hotel? Why?”
“You should get on your laptop, check out her Facebook, Tumblr, et cetera, see if her friends know anything and what people are saying online. You can also figure out what school she’s at, and then you can go down and talk to them.”
“All right,” I agreed reluctantly.
“If I can’t find anything at her house, I’ll head down to the police station. I might get them to tell me something.”
That wouldn’t have sounded likely except that Ridley had mild persuasion. He only used it for tracking, and usually on people like host families or school officials. Or in this case he could get a police officer to tell us everything they knew about a missing girl.
I didn’t like being stuck on desk duty, but it might give us a clue to what happened to her. If Konstantin Black was trailing her, her friends might have noticed, or Emma might have said something to someone.
She might have even left with Konstantin willingly—before he’d been on the Högdragen, he’d been a tracker just like Ridley and me, and he was just as capable of talking a changeling into leaving with him as we were. And if he had done that, maybe Emma had told someone about it or where she was going.
That didn’t seem likely, especially given how aggressive Konstantin and Bent had gotten with Ember and Charlotte, and given the alleged state of Emma’s room. But at this point we couldn’t rule anything out, and we had to work as quickly as possible to find Emma.
Ridley and I went our separate ways, and I jogged back to the hotel, holding my jacket up over my head to keep out the rain. By the time I reached the lobby, my jeans were soaked through, and the front of my shirt was damp and sticking to me.
The hotel was cool and modern, with complimentary bottled water and tea in the lobby and hipsters lounging around playing on their tablets in slick chairs and art deco sofas. We’d chosen it because of its proximity to Emma’s house, and the clash between our one-bedroom suite and my loft in Doldastam was staggering.
The view of downtown Calgary from the windows was amazing, but the shades were drawn when I came in, leaving the room in relative darkness. I tossed off my soaking jacket, and then I stumbled over an ottoman in the sitting room. Ridley had offered to take the pull-out sofa, so my things were in the bedroom, and I went into it to retrieve my laptop.
If I hadn’t been so distracted, hurrying in my worry that something bad had happened to Emma, I would’ve noticed that things weren’t right—that the shades had been open forty minutes ago when we’d dropped off our things but were closed now, and that the ottoman was now out of place, rather strategically placed in front of the bedroom doorway.
I doubt I could’ve seen him, though—his skin had changed color, blending in with his surroundings perfectly. But if I weren’t distracted I definitely would’ve heard footsteps behind me as I was bent over the bed, digging through my duffel bag. And I’d like to believe that I would’ve felt the presence of someone standing behind me.
But I didn’t. Not until I felt a strong hand covering my mouth, pulling me straight back against him, and a sharp cold blade pressed to my throat.
“Don’t make a sound,” Konstantin said into my ear, whispering like we were lovers.
I stood frozen against him. I could feel the hard contours of his chest pressed against my back, warming me through my wet shirt, and I tried to slow the rapid beating of my heart so he wouldn’t feel it. The whiskers from his beard tickled against my cheek and neck, and the skin of his hand felt rough on my lips. He smelled of cold, like ice and snow on the harshest days of winter.
“I know you’re devising all kinds of ways that you can kill me,” Konstantin murmured in my ear. “But I want to warn you that it won’t do you any good.”
I went limp in his arms. The blade scraped against my neck, but it didn’t slice anything open. He removed his hand from my mouth to wrap around my waist, catching me before I slipped to the floor, and now the knife was aimed at the tender skin under my chin. It would hurt if he sliced across, but it certainly wouldn’t lead to death.
In one quick move, I stood back up and thrust my head backward, head-butting him. He groaned, and I grabbed his wrist, twisting it sharply until he released the knife. His arm was still around me, and he squeezed tighter. I leaned forward and, pulling on his arm, I flipped him forward, and he landed on the bed on his back.
The knife was on the floor, so I grabbed it, and then I jumped on top of him. I straddled him and pressed the knife to his throat. His lip was bleeding from when I’d hit him, but he still managed to grin broadly up at me.
“You can’t kill me,” Konstantin said. “I’m the only one who knows where Emma Costar is.”
“How did you find her?” I demanded. “What do you want with her?”
His smile fell away, and his steel eyes looked pained. “I’m afraid that I want nothing with her anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“Did you ever read Of Mice and Men?” Konstantin asked. “Bent has always reminded me of Lennie. He even talks about rabbits all the time, but I blame that on his fascination with the Kanin.”
“I have a knife to your throat, and I’d like nothing more than to see you dead,” I told him, and I pressed the blade harder against his flesh, breaking the skin just slightly. “So you should really answer my questions.”
“I will. But maybe you should ask yourself a question first,” Konstantin said. “Like, where is my companion? I don’t usually work alone.”