Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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19. SCHOOL

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN - SCHOOL

LUCAS

They searched through the house until they were blue in the face. They knew she had struggled and put up a fight, they had even checked for any head injuries of a male figure being admitted into the local hospitals but nothing concrete had turned up. Nothing that looked like being bashed in the head with a baseball bat. Lucas proposed that where the NCR were staying had a doctor or a nurse that meant that anyone with injuries wouldn’t need to go to a hospital. A crime ring that went to the hospital was a crime ring under risk of being caught. The NCR were too clever for that.

Lucas felt sick and unable to glare at the many things in the room which told him of Eva’s fight, the now fixed attic hatch; the bloodied baseball bat; the police markers; the blown off wardrobe doors; and the police tape littering the front door, telling every passerby that this was a crime scene.

The police tape would stay that way until the families of the victims told the police that they didn’t want it on the door anymore. It was then that they gave up all hope that their daughter was coming home to them, back to their arms.

It was a sad revelation and Lucas hoped that the police tape stayed on Eva’s door for a while: he needed the hope now more than ever.

But hope was just a four letter word and sometimes it was useless in the time of war.

“We’ve been here for hours,” James muttered, throwing an arm over his eyes. Checking his watch Lucas found it to be nearing four o'clock in the afternoon. He needed more information than what they had, he needed something which didn’t make him feel sick to the core.

“We have time to go to Eva’s school,” Lucas mentioned ignoring the way that James groaned and pretended to faint back onto the cream carpet of Eva’s bedroom.

“Eh, this is all evidence,” Shawna berated him and chided James immediately got to his feet once more. “The more evidence we collect the easier it will be to analyse and create deductions.”

“We can create deductions with what we already have,” Edward complained, tapping away at the phone which held their digital notes from today’s findings.

“Did you know that there isn’t such a thing as too much evidence?” Shawna asked, her arm reaching out to tug on the overturned collar of Edward’s shirt. The other man squawked at being manhandled. Lucas noted the old phrase of Mr. McClellan and he smiled inwardly; he didn’t have the strength to actually smile properly in front of his team right now.

“I can just take Shawna if you want?” Lucas asked, quirking an eyebrow when the males of his team both tried to hide their pleasure at that statement.

“We’ll be back at the hotel analysing this data, and writing it up properly,” Edward motioned, moving to pack up his bag and the camera from where the team were taking photos so that they didn’t have to disrupt the crime scene again.

Lucas hoped that the next time he would be in Eva’s home it would not be surrounded in crime scene tape and evidence, it would be with Eva by his side and it would be tidy and wonderful. That wouldn’t happen though if he didn’t put his whole body into finding her and that meant going to the school even when he was feeling mentally exhausted.

“You two do that,” Lucas laughed and quirked his lips when James appeared visibly relieved at the fact that he could go back to the hotel without a burden on his shoulders.

They packed up their things and made their way out of the house, which Lucas was very much glad for. He sealed the police tape, the yellow stark against the dark brown wood. His back was to the house, to the possibility that Eva was not going to come back because of the man that had slept in her attic, and his front was to the possibility of finding her.

While Edward and James separated from the pair to go back to the hotel, Lucas and Shawna made their way in silence to Yendale Primary, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. That was a good walk and for a good portion it was spent in silence.

 

SHAWNA

“How are you dealing with all of this?” Shawna asked into the quiet of the afternoon air.

Lucas didn’t answer. Maybe he didn’t have to answer for her to tell how he was feeling, and how he was really feeling. Because she knew Lucas well enough now to tell that his words could be false positives just to give her incentive on his wellbeing.

She had been there from the very beginning, reared when her Uncle McClellan created the business and employed Farren. She was fourteen and Farren had just finished college and the business was just out of their phase of where all of her Uncles cousins had decided that the Private Eye life was not enough for them.

Her Uncle brought her up on case files and she was curious enough to love the gruesome picks just as well as the recovery stories. She started on the books, balancing the finances because her Uncle had been useless at it and that was what she always did, knowing that she was the best person possible to do them even when her Uncle retired.

Lucas came into their trio four years after Farren and he fit like a glove, handling her Uncle in a way like he was a younger McClellan himself. Her Uncle adored Lucas enough to hand the business over to him and Shawna was more than happy to be under a man that she hadn’t known as much as Farren.

So she knew now that Lucas was broken hearted to learn that his long lost lover was now in the terrible state that she was in. She could tell that he was crumbling and begging himself to keep it together for the team. Lucas had to be the leader and now he had to be strong and capable of leading them to victory.

They didn’t want to have a case like the last one with the unfortunate death of someone so young and fragile.

They hated cases like that, and especially with the big case that they were now taken on it meant that the chances of losing was so much higher than the case of an individual.

She hoped that Eva came home safe and well otherwise picking Lucas up would be a storm.

“I’m dealing,” came Lucas’s quiet voice, quiet enough to be like the man was scared of admitting his feelings, “I’m doing what I can.”

“And so are we.” Shawna had to make sure that Lucas knew that the team would stand by him, no matter how much Farren protested against it.

“I appreciate that.”

 

LUCAS

The school was exposed brick and red doors, designed to look child friendly and fun. Lucas had to swallow his nerves, he was going to find out what Eva was truly like, how adulthood had shaped her entire being, and how his absence impacted her life.

Eva had wanted to be a teacher since she was small, influencing other’s lives in the only way that her parents didn’t really do so for her. She wanted to teacher younger children as well because instead of the hormonal swearing and kicking off that teenagers loved, she could sit down and play with paint with smiles and laughter. He wanted to know this Eva, the kind of Eva that he didn’t get to see when he himself was younger.

He hadn’t even informed the school that he was coming, he was that nervous. He was just hoping that they would see him and tell him what he needed to know.

There were only the nursery children who wouldn’t be picked up until five and there was a kind looking receptionist at the front desk. “Hello dearies, what can I do for you?”

Lucas dug out his badge from his wallet and showed it to the woman, “Hi I’m Lucas Tweedle with Left Hand Private Investigators and this is my college Shawna, we’re investigating Eva Grey’s disappearance and we were hoping to talk to the headmistress about Miss. Grey's job here?”

Talking about Eva like he had never known her was hurtful but he had to be professional and objective about this.

“It was very sad when we found out about that girl, such a wonderful woman as well,” the receptionist clicked her tongue, “I’ll ring through to Headmistress Donahue and see if she’s free to see you.”

They were directed towards a seating area, and all they could hear was the sound of children’s laughter mixed with their yells and screams. Shawna was tense, she wasn’t really a children person. She was excellent with adults and teenagers, able to get through hormonal angst at the best of times but no, the pale ginger woman was not good with kids. She could handle them if they were put on her suddenly but she preferred if they weren’t.

The receptionist then pulled her head over the desk and towards them, “She has a free half an hour slot for you before the staff meeting.” The two private investigators nodded their thanks and the woman directed them to an oval room not far from the reception area.

The room was painted in browns and accented in red to appear warm, there was a circular carpet in the middle with orange and brown rings. Lucas could imagine Eva there, in one of the padded chairs sitting opposite to the big desk where a stern woman sat. Her blonde hair was in plaits and she wore a black and white suit, of which the black stilettos showed from the bottom of the desk.

She stood when they entered the room and the receptionist left, closing the door behind her.

“I understand that you’re here to talk about Eva Grey?” Headmistress Donahue said formally and ushered them to sit in front of the desk.

“Yes, we’ve been hired by her parents to help find her after her kidnapping,” Shawna introduced, noticing how the other woman’s lips thinned at the last word.

“I appreciate you not saying kidnapping in the reception, little ears can be sensitive to things like this,” Donahue said, “I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have.”

“That’s great, thank you for agreeing to see us on such short notice, do you mind if I record this conversation for evidence?” Lucas asked and set his phone to record once Donahue waved a hand in compliance. “We’ll start from the top, when did Eva start working for you?”

Donahue’s hands were folded on the desk, her lips quirking in a reminiscent smile as though the memory pleased her, “She’s been working for us for about five years now, but I understand that she had previous experience at a daycare before she came to us. She came in for an interview and she just blew me away with how enthusiastic and playful she was. Her atmosphere just lit up the room.”

Lucas could understand that. Once you got Eva on a topic that she liked she was away until someone forced her to shut up.

“How is she like with the kids?” These were the questions which build up a character profile for Eva from an impartial source who would not be biased about her. Lucas may have known her up until she was eighteen but he hadn’t known her up to her twenty eighth birthday, which would have been in the September.

“She’s excellent, many times I’ve saw her being thanked by parents who’ve had screaming kids and she can just calm them almost instantly. She can just sit them down and explain all of their problems in their childish blabber and she can understand them. There’s a thing around the office about her being our little psychological child whisper.” The words were laughed out, a positive memory as her eyes glowed from the experience.

“Why do you say ‘psychological’?” Shawna interrupted, picking up on the tiny speech pattern.

“She could solve any problem in any way, but most of them were solved in little psychological quirks, she even has child psychology books in her office. She told me once that she wanted to know as much as possible about children’s behaviour to give her best teaching experience.”

The psychology thing was something new, something that Lucas had never heard of before. She hadn’t had an interest in it before but maybe that was something that university had instilled in her.

“There was even one incident where she called the police for child neglect on a child before anyone ever picked up on it, and she was right too.”

“Can you explain that for us please?” Lucas asked and Donahue only complied.

“A child was coming in wearing two deviations of the same outfit for several weeks. The child was just changing how he wore the outfit to remain under the radar. But he had a nose bleed once and since the clothes weren’t being washed, it was more noticeable because the child, who was only six, tried to wash it himself.” Donahue took a breath, swallowing a drink of water from the bottle on her desk before continuing, “It turned out that the child lived on ham sandwiches and was left on his own for at least fourteen hours a day.”

How could parents do that to their own kid? Neglecting their own flesh and blood, it was preposterous.

“Eva noticed, called the police and while everything was being sorted, treated the child to fresh clothes, a good meal and a night of games and fun. She’s great like that.”

“Did she get any backlash from that?” Lucas asked because if she had then there were leads that they could follow.

“She got media attention certainly, and some threats from the family but nothing that she couldn’t handle.”

Lucas made a note of this media attention, promising himself that he’d come back to it on the hunt for articles.

“Anything recently? Anything like death threats, people lurking around the school or her house; anything that she came forward about?”

“Eva came to me recently about two weeks before she disappeared,” Donahue sighed, folding her hands more tightly, “She wouldn’t tell me what the matter was but she was spending more time here, coming in at odd early hours in the morning and staying until as late as possible. She said that she felt safer here, like this was her second home, but maybe the latter part of it was just to throw me off the scent.” Donahue’s forehead furrowed, “I asked her if the death threats had started again but shed denied it and I kept an eye on her. A week after that discussion she didn’t come into work.”

“Is that how you noticed she was missing, her missing work?” Shawna asked the other woman who nodded in response.

“Eva never missed a day off work, when she was ill we had to force her to go home just so that she wouldn’t pass out in a heap. So when she didn’t turn up nearly two months ago, everyone rang her phone and got voice mail or it wouldn’t ring through, we emailed her, I even went round the house as soon as I could.”

“What time was that?”

“It was in my lunch break so roughly about 1 o'clock in the afternoon? I saw the front door open, ajar really, and rang the police. She wasn’t there but…” Donahue trailed off, the words freezing where they met her tongue and lips. The private investigators knew what she was going to say, the state the house was in, the realisation of a friend not being around and knowing why she probably wasn’t there.

They knew what she saw and they didn’t need more from the woman who was obviously now in pain.

“Thank you Mrs Donahue, you’ve been a great help,” Lucas stopped the recording on his phone, smiling grimly in the face of bitter grief.

 

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