Authors: Kimberly Readnour
“Heather,” Detective Tanner said as soon as they became aware of my approach. Mom stepped back and turned away, her face flaming pink. Hmmm…evidently, I inherited my tendency to blush from her.
I nodded in acknowledgement, unable to speak. My mouth suddenly dried as my heart pounded against my chest, knowing another reason—aside from charming my mother—was behind his visit. Soon, I’d incur another vision, and I didn’t know what it would entail. What horrid things would I see? Whatever bad things had happened, I didn’t want to relive any of them.
Was I really volunteering
? Unfortunately, my fears would have to be placed on hold, because I didn’t have a choice if someone needed my help.
“We need to get moving on the case, so I’ll explain everything in the car,” Detective Tanner said to me. The seriousness in his tone caused the knot in my stomach to tighten. Nodding, I bid Mom good–bye and followed him outside.
Once we were settled in the car, I snapped the seatbelt into place and sucked in a breath, bracing myself for the worst.
“We have a missing person; his name is Nicholas Canter, a twenty year old white male. He was last seen by Canter’s girlfriend when he left her house last night. According to her, they’d been at a party where Nicholas had too much to drink. His dad called this morning, insisting he’s missing since nobody knows his whereabouts,” he said as he backed out of the driveway.
“Last night? Don’t people have to be gone for twenty–four hours before they’re considered missing?” I asked.
“No, not exactly. People believe that, but that twenty–four hour wait time isn’t entirely true. Besides, this case is
Special? What did he mean by that? I stared at Tanner, waiting for him to continue.
“Nicholas Canter’s father is well–versed in the judicial system and knows the law. He’s called in several favors and considers Nicholas endangered. Besides, the police chief is vouching for his character, and he’s certain that he hasn’t run away. But his truck is also missing, which indicates a runner. I know the family personally, and Nicholas isn’t the type to throw away his life like that. We placed an APB on his license plate in case it turns up somewhere, but he seems to have simply disappeared.”
He glanced over at me. “This is where you could help. Maybe you’ll be able to see something we’re incapable of. We’re desperate because there just isn’t enough evidence to formulate a plan. Right now, I’m taking you to the Canters residence to work your magic,” he added with a smirk and a wink.
Detective Tanner cracked a smile?
His joke fell flat, but it brought a slight shimmer of hope to his eyes. I gulped, hoping to pull this off.
After nodding back, I wondered where my voice went. I hardly said anything since talking to him on the phone. All I’d done so far in the car was nod, turning me into a bobble head doll. Moved by his faith in me, I mustered up enough voice to squeak out, “I would love to help.”
With a sideways glance, he sincerely added, “Thanks.”
After passing through a gated entrance, we drove down a long, paved driveway. Tall evergreens lined the path as we snaked our way around the curves. When the trees gave way to an opening, my mouth fell open. I stared in awe, astounded by their property, or should I say estate. A white stucco mansion sat atop a small incline. The main section of the house stretched across, portraying two oversized picture windows paired on each side of the main entryway. Two wings jutted off the ends of the midsection, each sporting a pair of arched windows. Tall, fluted pillars supported three, arched entryways leading to the massive front porch. Molded into the same architectural shape, the mahogany double–doors set off the esthetic appeal. Beautiful. My eyes widened by the number of steps leading up to the porch. There were at least twenty steps. Running alongside the expanded staircase was a classical style railing, made from the same stucco material as the house. A fountain sat in the circular, brick landing, preceding the stairs. To say the Canters had money would be an understatement. The place was enormous.
“What does his dad do for a living?” I asked, my pitch high. I couldn’t even imagine living in a place like this, it looked straight out of a magazine.
With a chuckle, Tanner answered, “They come from money, but his dad, Robert, is also a big shot, corporate lawyer for one of the banks in downtown St. Louis. He’s well–known in the court system there, which is another reason we’re considering this case our top priority. When your inner circle of friends consists of moneyed men and socialites, you have the ability to get a few strings pulled.” In a somber voice, he added, “But I know Nick, and I don’t think he would just take off and leave. He’s a good kid.”
With another nod, I wondered if my neck would become unhinged soon. I was unsure of how to reply to all the information Tanner had told me. When we pulled up to main entrance of the house, I slid out of Tanner’s car and waited for him before walking up the brick path that led to the stairs.
As we approached the steps, two men dressed in suits came out to escort us into the house. They were rather intimidating. The wind blew the bottom of one of their suit jackets back, revealing a gun nestled in a holster. I eyed them suspiciously because they didn’t seem like regular cops, but their confident stance gave them the appearance of law enforcement.
Tanner greeted the men in a friendly fashion, addressing them by their first names. I relaxed, since apparently these were colleagues of his. Well…I relaxed as much as the current situation allowed. I followed behind the detective and the guys led us through the entrance of the Canter mansion.
Upon entering, my eyes scanned across the vast foyer, taking in the room. The sun shone through the various sets of windows, causing a nice reflection that glimmered off the chandelier. It reminded me of the dancing sunbeams in my room earlier. If it wouldn’t have been totally inappropriate, I would have laughed aloud at the comparison between that glorious chandelier and my tiny crystal sun–catcher.
When we walked down the hallway, a middle–aged guy with salt–and–pepper hair came marching over to us. I assumed he was Mr. Canter.
“Steve, I’m so glad you came. I’m confident you’ll do everything in your power to see that my son is brought home safely,” Mr. Canter said, shaking Detective Tanner’s hand. He had prominent worry lines and his eyes looked hardened. This was the hard part, having to witness the victim’s parents’ dismay. I vowed that I would be conscious of my surrounding and make good decisions to keep Mom from experiencing this type of heartache.
“Robert,” Tanner said, returning the handshake. “You have my word that we won’t stop searching until Nick is found and brought back home.”
“Thanks,” Mr. Canter said warily. He shifted his gaze toward me and I inhaled deeply. His penetrating stare sized me up as skepticism burned in his eyes. But a deeper inspection revealed a tiny speck of hope.
He may not believe in what I can do, but he sure wants to.
“You must be Miss Reiner. It’s my sincere pleasure to meet you,” he said, extending his hand toward me.
I gave him a half–smile. I knew it would be rude to ignore his hand, but I didn’t want to touch him. His fancy suit and formal manner made it obvious that Robert Canter was an influential man. I hoped I didn’t have a vision that revealed any of his secrets; I was sure someone as prestigious as he would have some skeletons in his closets. I pulled together all of my confidence before returning his handshake. “The pleasure’s mine. I assure you, Mr. Canter, that I’ll do my best to find Nicholas.” To appear confident, my grip was strong, but I released his hand rather quickly. Thankfully, I didn’t go into a full vision, but the moment we touched a rush of energy surged through me, alerting me that I needed to put an end to the contact.
Mr. Canter must have experienced something too, because he withdrew his hand and squinted at me. A serious expression overtook his face. “I certainly hope so, Miss Reiner.”
Detective Tanner stood beside us, studying our exchange. After a short pause, he took charge of the conversation by drawing his hands together and stating, “We should get started.”
“Yes, time is certainly of the essence.” Mr. Canter turned, breaking eye contact, and walked imperiously down the hallway.
I puffed out my breath, questioning the strange interaction that had just transpired. My gaze shifted toward Tanner. He arched his eyebrows but remained silent. The shuffle of Mr. Canter’s receding footsteps broke the silence. Like me, Tanner didn’t seem to know what to make of my interaction with Mr. Canter either. Without a spoken word, we followed him down the hallway.
While we walked between more pillars (which I greatly admired), the enormity of the room floored me. It was overwhelmingly grand. My entire house could fit within this space and there would still be room to maneuver. The fireplace and décor were elaborate, with a marble hearthstone and a mantle made from the same marble. Oversized finials adorned the sides, adding just the right finishing touch. Wall–sized bookcases, filled with golden–cased books, lined both sides of the fireplace. I’d never seen so many hardcovers in one setting before. Well, except the library, but that was different…it was expected there. This was someone’s personal collection, which was rather elegant. The fancy bindings stood out in contrast to the white of the bookshelves, enhancing the scene’s richness.
There were more uniformed men congregating in here, including Bart, the chief of police. My heartbeat quickened, recalling my vision of him with the mayor. My thoughts didn’t need to stray, but I couldn’t escape the shadiness I felt associated with him.
“What do you need, specifically?” Mr. Canton asked me.
“I need something personal of his. Something he would have handled recently, or something meaningful to him,” I said.
His shoulders dropped slightly as he sighed. “Let’s go into his bedroom, he might have something in there.” Then he turned and walked toward a grand spiral staircase.
I stared at him for a moment before following him up the stairs. The sound of shuffling feet behind me proved that I wasn’t alone, and I hoped the footsteps were Detective Tanner’s and not Bart’s.
The sterility of Nicholas’s room surprised me; but then again, he’d been away at college and probably hadn’t had a chance to gather many belongings. With a quick scan of the room, I came up short on finding anything meaningful. There was nothing lying around that visually screamed “
I have special meaning
His bedroom matched the theme of the rest of the house—large. The bed, centered in the middle of the far wall, was made so properly it looked prepped for an army inspection. The covers were undisturbed, it appeared he hadn’t slept at home in days. His dresser drawers had a few expensive, decorative items displayed strategically on top, but nothing personal. I wondered if this was how it was being rich, this lack of personalization. If that was the case, count me out. I rather enjoyed my clutter.
Movement behind me caused me to glance back. Tanner, Bart, and two other policemen had followed us into the room. I turned my head around. Why had they followed Mr. Canter and me, and why the heck was Bart even here? I clamped my jaw shut and tried to focus as I started scanning the room again for items that would help spark a vision.
Noticing an alcove with a desk, I wandered over toward it. Besides normal items that would be on a desk, it contained nothing personal except a framed photograph of a girl.
Finally, something of importance.
I studied the picture for a moment. She appeared to be around my age. She looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t recognize her. The photograph didn’t give me a vision, so I moved on.
The bookshelves above the desk held various textbooks, but nothing out of the ordinary except a small, ornate metal box. Out of curiosity, I leaned over the desk for a closer inspection. It was rather peculiar, more like a piece of artwork than a jewelry box. It was dark gray with a slight sheen, gleaming dully in the reflected light. Pewter would be my guess for the type of material. The intricate, filigree designs etched into the metal, placed the time period in the twenties. I wasn’t an expert on designs, but my report I wrote a couple of years ago covered early twentieth century artifacts. Some of the pieces I studied mimicked this craftsmanship.
“This was his great–grandmother’s jewelry box,” Mr. Canter explained. “She had given it to Nicholas’s grandma, my mom, who gave it to Nick before she passed away,” Mr. Canter facial expressions softened when he picked up the unusual antique. He studied the piece, lost in some memory. “I’m surprised he still has it,” he murmured.
“May I?” I asked, holding out my hand.
“Yes, of course,” he agreed and handed over the box.
I took a deep breath to clear my mind before grabbing a hold of it. As my fingers encased the box, I closed my eyes. Flashes overcame my sight, and I let my body succumb to the vision.
The clinking sound of glass and the reverberations of laughter encircled my brain as a bar setting took shape. Nicholas trailed behind a burly, taller guy, keeping his head lowered. The six–foot tall guy strutted in front with a cocky swagger. Involuntarily flexing his arms, his biceps bulged, accentuated by his tight black muscle shirt. The stench of cigarettes lingered in the air as they continued along a darkened, narrow hallway. The dimmed sconces that hung against the blackened walls lent a soft light. They approached a door, and Nicholas threw back his shoulders and cocked his head as if refusing to succumb to the eerie setting.
The man stopped and pulled out a ring of keys to unlock the door before stepping aside to allow Nicholas to enter. A whoosh from the slammed door turned Nicholas’s head, and he flinched at the clicking of the lock. He obviously wasn’t leaving that tiny office until the man allowed him to.
Nicholas strolled over to a chair in front of a maple desk. Rather large in size, the desk consumed most of the room. He sat down and straightened himself, eyeing the broody man as he sat in the ergonomic black chair behind the desk. Leaning back, Nicholas crossed his legs. There was a familiarity about the place like he’d been there before.