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Rowley
stood up for a moment and then lurched back down. “I’m waiting right here,” he
insisted.

“Did
you have a fight before Kara left?” Cindy was prompted to ask gently.

“No,
not at all.” Rowley seemed put off by the question. “Why would you ask
something like that?”

“Just
trying to understand what might have happened,” Cindy replied. “Even when
things are going wonderfully, honeymooners can argue at times.”

“We
didn’t argue, we were happy, it was perfect,” Rowley murmured. “She told me
there was nothing more she could have ever dreamt of in a honeymoon.”

“That’s
good to hear,” said Cindy.

“So,
where is she now?” Rowley’s voice rose to a chilling pitch. “Why didn’t she
come back from her swim?”

The
sound of the waves crashed harder on the rocks at that moment, as if to answer
his helpless question.

“Tell
me why she didn’t return. Tell me,” Rowley pleaded. “Wherever she went,
whatever happened, Kara always came back home before.”

CHAPTER 4

 

By
the time Cindy and Mattheus got Rowley back to the hotel most of the police
were gone. Fortunately, to his credit, Abe had remained at the hotel, waiting
to see what Cindy and Mattheus had found. He was especially pleased to see
Rowley walk in with them.

“So
glad to see you.” Abe ran over to them, reaching out for Rowley, who jumped
away. “We’re picking up the search first thing in the morning,” Abe went on.
“And I’ve arranged to have someone stay with you, Rowley , during the night.”

“That’s
presumptuous.” The idea bothered Rowley. “I don’t want anyone staying with me.
I’ve got calls to make, things to do.”

“Both
families have been notified,” Abe filled him in. “From what I hear they’re all
on their way down and will probably arrive sometime tomorrow.”

Now
Rowley became irate. “It was my job to tell them, not yours,” he insisted.

“We’re
just trying to help out,” Abe spoke softly.

“What
did you tell them?” Rowley was beside himself. “That Kara was gone forever?
That I’d never see her again?”

“Of
course not,” said Abe. “There’s no reason to assume something like that yet.”

Cindy
was relieved to see that the police down here seemed to be handling things
well.

“Abe
is right,” Mattheus chimed in, “it’s not a good idea for you to be alone
tonight, Rowley.”

“Would
you like to stay in our suite?” Cindy offered. “You can sleep on the couch in
the main room.”

Rowley
seemed touched by the offer and quieted down. “I have no intention of
sleeping,” Rowley replied, “but thanks anyway. There are important things for
me to do. I have to find Kara tonight. I’m not leaving her alone out there in
the dark.”

Chills
ran through Cindy’s body at the thought of Kara alone in the dark. Where was
she? Could she actually still be alive somewhere out there?

“We
have a team out already searching for her,” Abe reminded Rowley. “They know
just where to look. It won’t help for you to become overtired. It’s better for
you to rest tonight.”

Rowley
stared at Abe strangely. “How can I rest until Kara comes home?”

“You
might want to take something to help you sleep tonight,” Cindy suggested. “This
way you won’t be exhausted and you’ll be able to help tomorrow.”

“I’m
not exhausted,” Rowley remarked in a strange tone. “I’m ready for anything, and
I’m going to search all night long.”

Cindy
and Mattheus looked at each other. “I don’t know what you plan to do, Rowley,”
said Mattheus, “but you could inadvertently make things worse without wanting
to.”

“What
can be worse than this?” Rowley suddenly called out in an awful, broken tone.

Things
could be worse, thought Cindy. Hope could be entirely gone. You could find your
wife’s body up on the shore, mangled by the ocean. Or you could find she ran
away on her own, had no other way to say good-bye. Worst of all, you could find
that someone harmed her and then live in the grip of revenge for the rest of
your life.

“Do
me a favor,” Abe interjected softly, “just give us tonight for the police to
search on our own. Trust us for a little while. Cindy and Mattheus are right,
get some rest for yourself. Everything will look different tomorrow.”

Rowley
suddenly dropped his head into his hands and cried out, “Tomorrow? There’s no
tomorrow for me until Kara walks in the door.”

Just
at that moment a middle-aged woman, sedately dressed with her hair pulled back,
approached.

“I’m
here to help,” she spoke in a soothing tone. “I’m on staff at the hotel, and
trained to take care of emergency matters.”

“Are
you a nurse?” asked Cindy.

“A
trained practical nurse,” the woman replied, putting a kind hand on Rowley.

Rowley
jerked away from her abruptly.

“Dr.
Flynn,” she said softly, “I have warm tea for you, pastries, anything you
need.”

At
the sound of his name, Rowley looked up quickly. Her addressing him as doctor
seemed to spark something in him.

“Yes,
yes, of course,” he replied, in a somewhat professional tone.

“Let
me accompany you to your room and make you comfortable,” she went on. “Whatever
you need, we’re here for you.”

 

*

 

Cindy
watched with surprise as Rowley allowed the woman to walk him away, back to his
room.

“They’re
good here,” Abe mumbled, “they’ve got it all covered. We’ll have police in his
room first thing in the morning. As it is, they’re watching everything
carefully now.”

“Go
easy on him,” Cindy murmured. She knew that the last one to see someone alive
was always the main suspect. Obviously the police planned to question Rowley
tomorrow.

“No
one’s jumping on his back,” Abe quickly replied. “We have no idea yet what
happened. It’s awful when they go missing out of nowhere and you have no idea
why.”

“There’s
always a reason and we’ll find it fast.” Mattheus’s jaw set firmly.

“You
think so?” asked Abe, startled.

“Absolutely,”
said Mattheus. “Cindy and I have been up against worse than this before.
There’s no case that doesn’t have an answer. Nobody goes missing for no reason
at all.”

Abe
wasn’t jumping on the bandwagon, though. “Well,” he spoke slowly, “I like to
look at what is obvious first. To me simple answers make the most sense. The
ocean can be rough down here on this part of the island, especially at this
time of year. The simplest explanation is that she went swimming and got caught
in an undertow. From what we see so far, it seems unlikely that someone wanted
to do her or her husband harm.”

“Murders
always seem unlikely,” Mattheus gruffly replied. “The most surprising people
get killed, but there’s always a way to trace it. If she drowned, hopefully her
body will surface. Dead bodies give up a lot of information.”

“It’s
the best-case scenario, that the body will surface,” Abe answered methodically.
“Most of the time it doesn’t. The body gets pulled out into the ocean and
that’s that.”

“That
happens a lot in St. Lucia?” Mattheus asked in a heavy tone. “People just get
sucked into the water and never surface?”

Abe
took exception. “It doesn’t happen here more than anywhere else in the
Caribbean, but it does happen. And in a situation like this, we can’t rule it
out. She went swimming alone as the tides were changing.”

“We
can’t rule anything in or out yet,” Cindy agreed, trying to soothe the jangled
nerves that were developing. It was late, and they were all tired and on edge.
“It’s good that the family’s coming down tomorrow. You guys go out and search
for all you’re worth and first thing in the morning Mattheus and I will start
investigating. Once we know more about Kara and Rowley’s lives and what went on
behind the scenes we’ll have a better idea of where to look.”

“Great,”
Abe murmured. “I already called Darrin and told him about you guys. He’s happy
to have you on board. We can use all the hands we can get. Crime has risen on
the island these past few years.” Abe’s voice lowered. “It’s like a cancer that
spreads from island to island.”

“Sure
is,” replied Mattheus. “I’m glad we’re down here to help now.”

 

*

 

Cindy
and Mattheus went up in the elevator to their room silently.

“I
can’t believe this is happening,” Mattheus said as they got out and walked down
the hallway to their room. “The timing is nuts.”

“Thank
God we’re here,” said Cindy.

Mattheus
opened the door to the room and they walked inside. Cindy, exhausted,
practically fell down on sofa, limp. So much had happened in such a short time,
she hardly knew where she was. The day went from being incredibly beautiful and
filled with joy to the shock of what greeted them when they came back to the
hotel.

Mattheus
came over, sat down beside Cindy, and put his arm around her.

“Listen,
Cindy, I don’t know what to say about this.” He sounded fretful. “I know this
is our time, but—”

Cindy
shook her head. “Time doesn’t belong to anyone, Mattheus. I wish it did. I wish
we could grip it and plan it, but we can’t.”

Mattheus
relaxed a bit then. “This is my friend’s daughter,” he went on.

Cindy
lifted her hands to his face. “Mattheus,” she whispered, “there are no
explanations needed. This is a beautiful young woman who’s suddenly gone. This
is a young man who’s facing a night of agony that could go on his whole life
long.”

“We
are gonna have our honeymoon after this is all over.” Mattheus’s jaw set again.

“Do
you see me complaining for one minute?” asked Cindy.

“No,
but I wish you would,” he said. “I wish you were more upset that our time
together has been cut short like this.”

Cindy
understood what Mattheus was saying, but didn’t feel as though anything had
been cut short, except possibly Kara’s life. That was more important than
anything else right now.

“It’s
all working out the way it has to, Mattheus,” Cindy whispered. “I love working
on cases with you.”

I
love it, too,” he answered.

“And
there’s nothing more important than finding Kara right now,” Cindy continued.
“It’s possible she’s still alive.”

“You’re
right, nothing’s more important,” agreed Mattheus, “but this one’s gonna be
rough. I feel it in my bones.”

 

*

 

Cindy
and Mattheus got into bed then and said nothing further, just slipped
comfortably into each other’s arms.

“I’m
exhausted,” Mattheus whispered finally.

“Me,
too,” agreed Cindy.

They
lay there silently, breathing together as Cindy closed her eyes.

“Do
you think there’s something working against us, Cindy?” Mattheus finally asked.

Cindy
opened her eyes slowly. She’d almost been asleep and didn’t quite get what he
meant. “What did you say?” she asked, her voice hushed.

“Do
you believe there are forces out there that are determined to keep us apart?”
Mattheus asked more forcefully.

Cindy’s
eyes opened wide suddenly. “That’s a strange question to ask,” she said. “What
kind of forces? What are you talking about?”

“I’m
not sure,” he mumbled, “just wondering. Every time we get closer, it seems,
something comes and gets in the way.”

Cindy
felt distressed by that. “This case isn’t getting in the way,” she said
emphatically.

“It
is though,” Mattheus insisted. “We’re back as working partners again.”

“We’re
everything, Mattheus,” Cindy responded. “We’re fortunate to be down here at this
moment and if it’s time for us to solve another case, what choice do we have?
There’s no way I can step aside from this, can you?”

“Of
course not,” Mattheus quietly admitted. “But I hope you know I love you, too.”

“I
know that,” Cindy murmured softly as she closed her eyes, and exhausted,
immediately fell into a deep sleep.

CHAPTER 5

 

Both
Cindy and Mattheus awoke at the crack of dawn and jumped out of bed. The
reality of what lay ahead flashed upon them mercilessly. Kara’s dad, Mattheus’s
friend Rod, would be arriving soon along with his wife. Rowley’s family was
also on their way. Not only did Cindy and Mattheus have to speak with them,
they had to go online and spend time finding out more about Kara and Rowley,
see if anything lingered in their backgrounds that could explain Kara’s sudden
disappearance.

“We
have to take the time to eat a good breakfast first before we get going,”
Mattheus called out as Cindy dashed to the bathroom to wash up.

“Absolutely,”
Cindy called back. “Order up in the room, so we can plan our day while we’re
eating.”

“Right,”
Mattheus answered, and Cindy soon heard him on the phone, placing their usual
order of orange juice, eggs over light, muffins, marmalade, and coffee.

By
the time Cindy was dressed and breezed into the main room, Mattheus was still
getting ready. Cindy took a moment to open the latticed French doors that led
to the outdoor patio and walked outside. The day was balmy with a perfect light
breeze and the air smelled fresh and delicious. Cindy thought about the
vacation they had planned on and looked out ahead of her at the azure water,
rippling softly without a care in the world. How lovely it would have been to
spend the day wandering on the island, she thought in passing. Cindy had hoped
to go snorkeling with Mattheus at the Anse Chastanet Reef in the southwest of
the island. It not only offered some of the best diving in St. Lucia, with a
number of shipwrecks to explore, but reef itself wound into a unique coral wall
for around 140 feet.

But,
whether or not she’d expected the vacation to be suddenly cut short, that’s
what happened. And this was where she and Mattheus were needed now. The water
that stretched out in front of her now seemed more threatening as Cindy
wondered if Kara had drowned in it. Was the search for her just routine with
little hope of recovery?

Mattheus
suddenly came out behind Cindy on the terrace, put his hands on her shoulders,
and gently kissed the back of her neck.

“Breakfast
has been delivered,” he said softly. “I know you love your coffee hot first
thing in the morning.”

Cindy
smiled; she hadn’t heard the bell ring or the food being brought in.

“You’re
absolutely right, I do,” she said, turning around and going back inside with
Mattheus to get the day going.

 

*

 

This
was a working breakfast. Mattheus had a pad on his lap as they ate, and made
rough notes on it from time to time.

“Let’s
brainstorm this,” he started. “Where do we go from here?”

“The
family’s coming today. We have to talk to them in depth,” Cindy started,
quickly drinking down most of her steaming coffee.

“Agreed,”
Mattheus grunted. “I’ll talk to Rod, of course, and his wife. You can spend
time talking to Rowley and his family. He seemed to like you.”

“I
liked him too,” Cindy agreed. “And we’ve got to meet the Chief of Police,
Darrin, and also keep in touch with Abe.”

Mattheus
glanced at his watch off-handedly. “The search team’s got to be at it again by
now,” he murmured. “Unless, of course, they found something last night.”

Cindy
and Mattheus looked at each other for a dreaded second. Cindy saw the fear of
finding Kara’s body flash through Mattheus’s eyes. How could he ever tell his
friend Rod what happened?

“You
don’t think they’re going to find her right away, do you, Mattheus?” Cindy
asked.

“Actually,
I don’t.” Mattheus sounded glum. “How many missing persons surface in the first
twenty-four hours, anyway?”

Cindy
nodded. It made a difference though. She knew that time was of the essence in
finding a missing person. The longer they were gone, the less the chance of
finding them alive.

Mattheus
stood up swiftly, clearly uneasy. “I’m going to call Abe, check in and see what
turned up last night. It can’t be anything much or Abe would have called and
left word.”

“What
kind of resources do they have down here for a search?” asked Cindy.

“Let’s
find that out right away.” Mattheus reached for his phone quickly, dialed, and
perked up as someone picked up right away. Cindy watched him listening
intently, saying nothing for a while.

“No,
of course I didn’t expect you to find her by now,” Mattheus finally uttered.
“How’s the search is going?” Mattheus listened for a while and then nodded
somberly. “Good, very good, Abe. I’m impressed.”

“What?”
Cindy mouthed, wanting to hear what Abe was saying.

“Okay,
I get it,” Mattheus responded. “The guys got the dogs out on the hiking trails
sniffing, the Coast Guard have boats searching the water, and helicopters are
over the rain forests as we speak. Yes, it’s good that the papers have the
news. Plaster her face all over, and let me know when more flyers will be
ready. The police are doing a fantastic job, I’m impressed.”

Cindy
nodded in agreement as she listened.

“I
know, I know,” Mattheus continued into the phone. “Of course something like
this is lousy PR for the island, but when people see how you handle it, they’ll
feel better about everything. This has nothing to do with St. Lucia, either.
Something like this could happen anywhere, and it does.”

Mattheus
grew quiet then for a few minutes, listening. “Sure, we’ll be glad to meet
Darrin Frank soon and coordinate efforts. That would be great. For now Cindy
and I will go on the computer to look into their backgrounds. We’ll work from
our room. Have Darrin call us as soon as he gets to the hotel and we’ll go
downstairs to meet him right away.”

Cindy
ran her hands through her hair, pushing it back from her face. She would have
to put the coral reef out of her mind. Rowley and Kara had had plans of their
own as well. What happened to those plans now? And how much did the plans even
matter in light of what happened to Kara?

Mattheus
hung the phone up and placed it on the table. “The guys down here are good,” he
remarked, surprised. “Very good. They’re on top of everything.”

“They
have to be,” Cindy mused. “This is one of the most expensive, luxurious wedding
and honeymoon destinations. They can’t let something like this go unchecked.”

“Even
if it just happened to be an accident,” Mattheus murmured. “Even if Kara just
went swimming at the wrong time and got in over her head, they’ve got to put a
good public face on this and search every nook and cranny.”

“Is
that what you think, Mattheus, that it was just an accident?” Cindy wanted to
know.

“I’m
really not sure,” Mattheus replied. “I will be soon though. Once I speak to Rod
and get a feel for Kara’s life, things will begin to become more clear.”

 

*

 

 Cindy
and Mattheus went back out onto the patio with their computers to dig into Kara
and Rowley’s background. Who was she, really? Cindy wondered. How had her life
gone up until now? Even though she’d seemed on top of the world, was she
secretly anxious or depressed back at home? Had she left signs somewhere that
deep down she was living on the edge and that something like this could have
been lurking in her future? Cindy noticed that no one had mentioned the
possibility of suicide, but how could it be ruled out? It was entirely possible
that Kara might have gone into the ocean and drowned of her own free will.
Every possibility had to be explored. The truth often lay in the most
unexpected places, or in an accidental chance encounter. By now Cindy had
learned though that there was no such thing as chance. And nothing could be
ignored in an investigation of this kind. Nothing at all.

Mattheus
started grimacing as he opened his computer, looking into Rowley’s background.
Cindy went straight to Kara’s Facebook page. As expected, the page showed a
beautiful young woman in the prime of her life, surrounded by friends and
family, preparing for a magnificent wedding and honeymoon. Good wishes were
posted from every possible corner. Photos of Kara and Rowley portrayed a
delightful couple to the world, much as they seemed in person. The couple and
their families belonged to the best country club and photos of them all
together were splashed over the pages. Cindy wondered briefly about the job
that Kara had mentioned that she’d liked so much, but saw nothing about it
online. Something about the job had been jarring to Rowley. Cindy had to find
out more about that now. She wanted to talk to Mattheus about it, but at the
moment he was deep into his search.

 “Find
anything yet?” Cindy called to him.

“Come
on, give this a chance, we’ve just gotten going,” Mattheus called back.

Cindy
got up from her chair, suddenly restless, though. She wasn’t going to find
anything helpful on Kara’s Facebook page, she felt it in her bones. Everything
was too sanitized. The page was just a perfect picture, created for the world
to see. Cindy walked over to the edge of the patio and leaned over.

“What
are you doing?” Mattheus got up and came over to her.

“Just
stretching a little, taking a break,” said Cindy.

“Taking
a break? We’ve barely started,” Mattheus said.

“I’m
restless, Mattheus,” Cindy remarked. “This isn’t the best way to get going. I’d
rather talk to people in person now. How about Rowley?”

Just
then, as if hearing her wishes, the phone rang, startling both of them. They
jumped, as if shocking news about Kara was waiting on the other end.

“I’ll
get that,” said Mattheus, racing to pick the phone up.

For
a few moments Mattheus was quiet. Then he spoke. “Yup,” he finally said, his
voice deflated. “Sure we’ll come down. We’d love to talk to him.”

“Chief
Darrin Frank?” asked Cindy.

“You
got it,” said Mattheus. “He’s downstairs waiting for us. Otherwise, nothing
yet.”

 

*

 

Cindy
was extremely relieved to get out of the room and mill around with people. As
soon as they walked into the lobby, a large, imposing Caribbean police officer
approached them immediately.

“Darrin
Frank,” Mattheus exclaimed, extending his hand.

“Good
to have you guys on board.” Darrin offered a broad smile.

“Mattheus
here and my partner, Cindy,” Mattheus said, warming right up to him.

“We’re
searching full out,” Darrin said immediately, “no sight of anything yet.” Then
he rubbed his large palm over his face. “If you want to come down to the
station you can use whatever we have to do your part.”

“I
appreciate that,” said Mattheus.

‘If
you asked me, this was an accident. Something happened when she was swimming
and she’ll probably never be found.”

That
was simplest explanation, thought Cindy, and the easiest for the police.

“They
were a terrific couple, no shadows that I can see,” Darrin added for good
measure.

“Rowley
has no ties with the island?” Mattheus asked just to be sure. “He doesn’t work
down here at all?”

“Not
that I know,” Darrin answered quickly, “but until you check you never can tell.
Look, we got local crime down here, like anywhere else. Robbery usually, or a
drug deal gone bad. People get drunk and fights break out all the time. So,
there’s plenty of cases of assault. Go up a notch and you’ll find white collar
crime. People come down here to do offshore banking and get into trouble.”

Darrin
spoke authoritatively with a sense of finality in his voice. Right now it
seemed to Cindy that he was going through the motions of the search so things
would look good to the world.

“If
you ask me what happened, I’d bet dollars that this young woman was either high
or drunk when she went for the swim,” Darrin continued. “The tides washed in
before she knew what was happening and she couldn’t fight her way out. It’s a
lousy story, but it makes sense.”

“Cindy
and I are looking into her background carefully,” Mattheus said, unwilling to
let it be wrapped up so glibly.

“Why?
Any reason to believe the husband did something to her?” Darrin seemed mildly
curious.

“No,
not at all,” said Mattheus, “I just want to see if someone else possibly had
something against them.”

Darrin
looked skeptical. “If you want to find out more about that, why not go upstairs
to the husband’s room? The wife’s family arrived a little while ago, and his
are only a few minutes away.”

“Great
suggestion,” said Mattheus, “we’re on the way.”

“Well,
it’s nice meeting you both,” said Darrin. “Let me know what turns up on your
end and I’ll do the same.”

 

*

 

The
door was open to Rowley’s room when Cindy and Mattheus arrived. Mattheus,
nervous, knocked on the door anyway, just to let them know someone was there.

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