As soon as Milo came in, he started making supper for Bobby. He still loved to cook, and it was a shame that hardly anybody around him could eat it anymore. When Milo asked what we’d been up to, Bobby made a point of not telling him about Jane. Apparently, we’d both decided that it’d be better if our respective boyfriends didn’t know what we were doing.
Jack had to go away for work the next day, so I spent the evening curled up with him. He’d been handling most of the business affairs by himself lately, since Ezra didn’t feel like doing much of anything, and I was really proud of Jack for stepping up. I just hated that he had to be away so much.
We went to bed early since he had an eight a.m. flight, and I still didn’t understand how he learned to handle himself so well in the daytime. I’d gotten much better about being in the sun, but it would never be anything I’d enjoy.
I woke up with him to see him off, and Matilda whimpered as soon as he was out the door. I tried to reassure her by telling her that he’d be back in a few days, but I’m not sure that she understood me. Or if she did, it still hurt too much to be away from him. I agreed with her on that point.
I crawled back into bed and began crying. I hated the empty space left behind when Jack went away. I felt lonelier than I had in a while, and everything felt off-kilter. Not just because Jack was gone, but everything with Ezra and Mae and Jane. Milo was busier with school, Jack was busy with work, and I was just here… doing nothing.
“Alice?” Bobby knocked on my bedroom door, and I hurried to wipe away the tears before he could see them. He opened the door without waiting for me to respond. “Are you awake?”
“Yeah. What do you need?” I sat up in bed and rubbed at my eyes, covering up my sadness by looking sleepy.
“Milo just went to school, and I saw that Jack left for work,” Bobby said, walking into the bedroom.
“So? Shouldn’t you be at school?” I asked, looking over at him once I felt certain my tears were gone.
“Yeah, but I decided to skip.” He bit his lip and shoved his hands in the pockets of his skinny jeans. “I’ve got an idea for a better way to spend the day.”
“Yeah? What’s that?”
“Let’s go find Jane’s killer.”
“Like now? Like right now? How?” I asked as I pushed off the covers. I’m pretty sure Bobby didn’t have a plan, but it already sounded better than anything else I would probably do today.
“Milo and Jack are gone, so it seems like the best time,” Bobby shrugged. “And I thought we could just go downtown, check out the crime scenes. I mean, I know stuff’s gone, but I thought we might find something. I wrote down all the addresses.” He held his hand out to me, and he’d written a couple locations on the back of it.
“Alright. Let me get dressed.”
Bobby smiled and went outside to wait for me. I’m not sure why exactly, but as I pulled on my jeans, I felt better than I had since I’d gotten back from Australia. I was actually doing something. And even if it was a long shot, it was something that actually mattered. Or it would, if we could catch the killer before another girl got hurt.
We stood on Eighth Street, with the buildings blocking out the morning sun. I’d donned a jacket, a hat, and giant sunglasses, so the sun wouldn’t be much of an issue for me anyway. As we walked away from the second crime scene, I felt queasy.
This time of the day, downtown was bustling, and I wasn’t used it. I’d gotten accustomed to the quiet of the night. We brushed past people, some of them bumping into me. Being in crowds didn’t bother me anymore, and the open air helped alleviate the scent of their blood. Lately, my bloodlust hadn’t been bad at all, and Ezra commended my ability to get it under control so quickly.
“I don’t think this is gonna work,” I told Bobby as we waited at a crosswalk for the light to turn green.
“I know we didn’t see much back there, but we still might find something,” Bobby said. “Anyway, it’s better than doing nothing.”
Other than a piece of battered police tape stuck to the side of a pole, there hadn’t been anything at the last scene. The one before had even less evidence than that. I’m not even sure what we were looking for, but we found nothing.
The closer we got to the spot where Jane had been found, the sicker I felt. My mouth and throat felt dry, and it was hard to swallow. The jacket and hat were making me too hot, and cold sweat broke out all over my skin.
“I don’t know.” I shook my head and stayed a step behind Bobby.
“It won’t hurt to look.”
He slipped on a patch of ice, and my arm shot out instinctively. I caught him, holding him by his arm for a second before he got his footing again. A man passing by gave me an odd look. I shoved my hands in my pocket and tried to look inconspicuous as Bobby straightened out his jacket.
“Thanks,” he said.
“No problem,” I mumbled and took his elbow to hurry him along. A few other people kept glancing over at us, and I didn’t like it.
If I hadn’t felt so nervous, I might’ve taken a moment to be proud that I moved quick enough to elicit weird stares. My reflexes were getting much quicker, and I didn’t slip on the ice anymore, not even when I hurried across it. I’d begun to feel really comfortable in my new skin.
“Is there a reason we’re jogging?” Bobby asked, giving me a sidelong glance.
“We’re not jogging.” I was going faster than I meant to, and I slowed down.
When we turned the corner onto Hennepin Avenue, I let go of Bobby’s arm, but I wished I’d hung onto him. I shoved my hands deep in my pockets and slowed down even more, so we were barely moving. We were getting close to V, and past that, I could see the empty space on the concrete where Jane had been found.
“Are you okay?” Bobby asked. “You look pale.”
“Yeah,” I lied, but I stopped walking. We were in the middle of the sidewalk, so people had to part around us, but I didn’t care. “Why are you doing this?”
“This. Helping me. Trying to solve this or whatever.”
“I’m from St. Joseph, Minnesota,” Bobby said, and I shrugged, not seeing any significance. “My mom was pregnant with me when Jacob Wetterling went missing. I have a brother nine years older than me, and he knew the Wetterling kids.”
I didn’t know a ton about the case, but I’d heard enough over the years to get the gist of it. Jacob had been eleven-years-old when he was abducted near his home in St. Joseph. Twenty years later, the police weren’t any closer to finding out what happened to him or who took him.