Bella clicked the end button hard enough that she could swear that she could hear a faint snap before slamming the landline down onto its receiver. She paced her living room, something she always did when she could feel her emotions swelling up inside her. The conversation she had with the police department in Candlewood Valley only left her with further questions rather than any answers to the ones she already had. Three months prior Bella's sister had disappeared overnight. When the police scanned the house, it was empty. No furniture, no clothes, not even food left in the cabinets or refrigerator.
The words that the officer she spoke to over the phone just now burned in her head.
"Maybe she just doesn't want to be found."
Bella knew her sister though. She knew that her sister wouldn't just pack up and not tell Bella that she was moving or where she was going.
But the officer insisted that was what had happened. After all, why would the house had been completely empty when it was investigated.
"Did you maybe get into a fight with your sister?" The officer had asked.
"Maybe she just wanted to get away." He has suggested.
It didn't matter how much Bella had insisted that wasn't how her sister was, the man had been adamant on her sister just not wanting to be found. Bella felt like he was just writing it off so that he didn't have to deal with the case anymore, or so that he didn't have to deal with Bella herself any further. She had called almost every day, hoping and pleading that they find more information and help in locating her sister.
Allie is the only one I have left. Bella stopped in front of her sofa, plopping down and resting her head on the cushion. The hard material from the couch arm pressed into Bella's face uncomfortably, but at this moment she didn't care. There was a lump appearing in her throat, making it feel like her throat was closing in on itself.
Bella closed her eyes, a warm tear rolling down her face and dripping onto the hand that she rested beside her. If the police department in Candlewood Valley wasn't going to help, she didn't know what else she was going to do. She missed her sister so much and wanted to make sure that she was safe. Even if what the officer had said was true and her sister didn't want her to know where she had gone, it still left the question of if Allie was okay.
What if she had moved to get away from someone or something?
If that was the case, why hadn't she confided in Bella first?
Nothing made sense, and the more she spoke to the police department the more she felt that she was going in circles. Bella didn't know what else to do at this point, not when even the authorities in Candlewood Valley wouldn't take Allie's disappearance seriously.
I can't lose you too, Allie. Not like we lost dad. Bella's chest seemed to tighten and the knot inside of her throat seemed to grow larger as her thoughts wandered to her father, Ryan. Her and Allie had grown up with him as a single father, the two's mother disappearing when Bella was only three years old. Her dad was one of the kindest and most loving people that Bella ever knew, and he loved both her and Allie so much. Bella remembered when she grew up, he would always pull extra hours and even worked two jobs to make she that they both kept a roof over their head and had food on the table.
They would try to wait up every night, huddled together on the couch under a warm blanket. Their babysitter, a nice girl from down the street, would always sit in the rocking chair and read quietly to them from a big storybook that she always brought with her as they waited. No matter how hard they tried to stay awake to greet their father at the door, they would always fall asleep only to wake up in his warm arms as he gently carried them to bed.
On rare occasions he would even bring home gifts, having pulled more hours at work to provide them with something. The one she remembered the fondest a soft plush bear with light brown fur, big brown eyes, and a black nose.
It may not have been anything special to anyone else, but to Bella it was one of the nicest gifts she ever received. The bear, to this day, rested on her bed where she would hug it close to her chest each night when she slept.
Bella and Allie didn't come from a rich family by any means, but she was always happy and grateful for what she had growing up. The happy times didn't last though. When Bella was ten, her father was hit head on by a drunk driver. He survived the initial crash and spent the next few days in the hospital with the two girls by his side.
Bella had gripped his hand tightly as she pleaded for him to get better, begging for him to wake up so that they could go home and be the happy family that they always were.
Despite Bella and Allie both pleading for their dad to be okay, he passed away while in the hospital. With there being no other relatives willing or able to take Bella and her sister, they were sent to live in a foster home.
The foster provided them with a place to live and never outright mistreated them, but it was never the same. They never treated Bella and Allie the same as they treated their own children. Bella would often notice her foster siblings receiving gifts and praises for their work. While there was never mean words spoken, their foster parents never provided the same level of excitement and joy when Bella would bring home good report cards or when Allie would come home with news of winning a big game when she had joined the school's basketball team in high school.
The loud sound of ringing caused Bella to jolt awake. She sat up cursing to herself as she rubbed the back of her neck before turning it to the right side and then the left, which only caused it to ache more. Bella got up from the couch and picked up her home phone, noticing that the number showing up on the caller ID was her boss's.
Bella had completely forgotten that she had work. She could feel the anxiety swelling up inside, tying her stomach into a knot. She took in a deep breath and clicked the green answer button. "H-Hello?"
"Hey Bella," the voice on the other end of the phone sounded a bit relieved to have gotten an answer. "You didn't show up to work today so I was just wondering what's going on." There was a few moments of silence before continuing. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Bella answered quickly, not wanting to admit that nothing was okay. She felt like she was breaking inside. "I'm sorry, I must have fallen asleep while watching TV. I'll get ready now and will be in as soon as I can."
"You sure everything is okay?"
"Yeah, everything's fine. I just thought I could make it through one more episode before going to bed." She forced herself to chuckle a little. "I am really sorry about that. I should have set an alarm beforehand. I will remember to do that in the future."
"No, no don't worry about it. Just make it in as soon as you can." Her boss responded back. That sounded a little out of character for him. He was a good boss, but he was also usually the no nonsense type of person. If anyone else would have not shown up for work they would have gotten in trouble or at least received a warning.
"Alright, thanks. I am getting ready right now," Bella promised. "Sorry again."
After hanging up the phone, Bella breathed another sigh before grabbing one of her work shirts, a light blue collared shirt with a small store logo on the pocket, and a pair of Khaki pants from the closet in her bedroom and getting dressed. Bella quickly slipped her shoes on and rushed out the door.
The traffic in downtown Hollyview was heavy this time of day. Bella waited in her car as the bumper to bumper traffic inched slowly down the road, stopping every few seconds.
Bella worked on the other side of town and usually had to leave an hour early in order to beat some of the morning traffic in the city and make it to work on time. She unfortunately didn't have that luxury today having fallen asleep on her couch.
The slow drive gave Bella more time to think about what her next move should be. Calling and urging the police force only got her shrugged off. Maybe she should go to Candlewood Valley herself to see if she could find anything, but she had no experience in such things. Surely it would be better than just sitting around and waiting for everyone else to do nothing though.
Money would be tight and it would be rough just packing up her entire life, but it would be worth it if there was any chance at all of locating Allie. Maybe the law enforcement in the area would even be a little more helpful if Bella was there herself to drive them further to continue investigating.
It took her a little over an hour and a half to inch her way across through downtown. By the time Bella pulled into the parking lot to the store that she worked, she only had about four hours left on the work day. She drove her car up and down the isles to the employee parking, scanning the area for an empty space to park. The customers had a habit of parking in the employee parking, making it harder for the actual employees to find a place to park. The store never did anything about this, seeing it as a potential money loss to confront the customers.
Bella finally found a place to park, quickly pulling into the spot. Her old sedan was a little lopsided, but it was inside the lines. Being pressed for time, she didn't really care as she rushed into the store. Bella practically speed walked to the back where the employee area was located and quickly slid her badge in the timecard machine to clock in.
Bella decided, standing there at the register while checking out the customers, that she would speak to her manager at the end of the shift. Maybe he could help her get transferred to another location in or near Candlewood Valley. She could maybe find a small apartment or a house to rent there for the time being. Being in the town would allow her to devote any free time that she received in hopefully finding Allie.
Maybe, Bella decided, she could even take out a loan to pay for most of the moving expenses. It wasn't ideal but the sooner that she could move the sooner she would be able to begin her own search.
Once her sister was found, everything could go back to normal.
But no matter how much Bella wanted to feel as though she would be able to locate her sister, the one thought remained. She didn't know where to start. The only detective work she even came close to knowing was what she had seen in shows and movies. The dramatized work on TV wouldn't be a realistic way to go.
Bella felt so hopeless. She felt that as far fetched and as bad of an idea as it was, moving to Candlewood Valley would be the best bet in finding Allie but she didn't even know where to begin with looking for Allie.
She just kept turning the idea over and over in her head. It was stupid, risky, and everything could go wrong. It may also be the only way that things would ever move forward.