"What do you mean Kendra is missing?!" I stand up quickly, knocking my chair to the floor. My father sits calmly across from me, watching me loose my mind with panic. "Where was she seen last? Who was with her? We need to go help the Walkers!"
Dad laughs in a cold way that makes me hate him even more. "Now Matthew, no need to get so worked up. I'm sure that the police have got this covered. Head to bed, you have a football game tomorrow. We can talk about this in the morning."
I stare at him with both surprise and disgust. "Dad, my ex-girlfriend just went missing. I can't sleep without trying to help!" He doesn't react, which makes me even more upset. Without picking up my chair, I storm out of the dining room, heading for our heavy wood front door.
"Matthew! Get back here!"
I ignore him, pushing out into the night. The evening has brought pounding rain and my shirt is quickly soaked as I run to my car. Worry and anger are mixing in my brain and I feel so distressed. Throwing open the car door, I jump in and hit the gas.
I don't even care if someone sees me going fifteen miles over the speed limit. Maybe it would be better if they caught me. Dad would probably care more about the loss of a hundred bucks from his bank account than Kendra's disappearance.
Dad has never truly cared about anyone other than himself. Even when he says he's looking out for me, there is always something for him to gain from it. It's one of the reasons mom left. She couldn't stand the fact that he could shrug something so heavy off without another thought to how it might affect someone else. I wish I could get away from him too, but for now I'm stuck with my crazy excuse for a father.
When I get to the Walkers, I'm so busy cursing out my faulty windshield wipers (and dad) that I almost don't notice the girl sitting alone at the end of the driveway. I swerve, then park the car between two police cruisers.
"Berry!" I rush to the girl, who appears to be crying. The younger Walker stands up quickly, wiping the tears from her eyes. Berry is shorter than me with bright red hair and pretty green eyes. She looks so different from her sister, but I can still see Kendra in her rosy cheeks and defined jaw.
That thought makes my heart ache, knowing that I might never see my ex-girlfriend again.
"Hi Matt." Berry tries to smile, but her chin quivers and tear tracks mar her face. Rain has soaked her through, and she is kind of a mess.
"Are you okay?"
Berry laughs a little through her sobs, more maniacal than amused. "Kendra is gone, the police are here, and it's too much in there… I had a panic attack and had to leave before someone noticed. I don't want mom and dad to worry."
I put my arm around her shoulder and give her a hug. Even after Kendra and I had broken up, I remained on good terms with the Walkers. Berry was like my little sister and it hurt to see her in so much pain. "I need to go inside and talk to your parents. You can come with me if you're ready, or you can sit in my car to avoid the rain."
Berry is silent for a moment. "I'll come inside with you. It will be okay."
I think we both knew that nothing was really okay.
I lead the way to the house, opening the door for Berry. She guides me into the kitchen where four police officers, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Walker are standing around the island. All of them are talking loudly and the tension is obviously high.
Mrs. Walker turns to see us as we enter the room. Her face is etched with grief, but she tries to smile when she sees me. "Oh Matthew… Thank you for coming over so late. The officers wanted to talk to you both." She takes in Berry's disheveled appearance but doesn't make a comment.
One of the officers addresses me. "Are you Mr. Matthew Anderson?"
"Yes." Why would they want to hear from me? Maybe they thought I had some information about where Kendra was…
The officer puts on a pair of gloves before picking up a piece of lose leaf lined paper from the counter that I had failed to notice. The sheet has something written on it in purple ink, like the kind from Kendra's favorite type of pen. I don't recognize the looping handwriting of whoever wrote it.
From the paper the officer reads aloud:
"To whom it may concern: This letter was written by the person responsible for the disappearance of Miss Kendra Walker. I will inform you that she is unharmed, but in my possession. I will however give you a lead if you seek to get her back. Here is your list of suspects. I am one of them: Matthew Oliver Anderson, Amy Ruth Jackson, Elizabeth "Berry" Marie Walker, and David Justin Harrow"
I'm in shock. They suspect me of kidnapping Kendra? Did I hear that right?
He sets the paper down once again. "Since you have been referenced in a piece of relevant evidence, both you and the younger Miss Walker are considered suspects in this case. We advise you to call your legal guardians and explain that we will be taking you into custody."
Berry clutches my arm. They really suspect us? Not to mention Amy… and David? What did he have to do with Kendra? The questions were ringing through my head.
The police were going to believe this strange note… Should I believe it too? Was the person responsible for all of this really one of us four high school students?
Where was Kendra and what was going on?