“Caroline, what the hell is going on?” Sarah demanded.
“He’s so striking—Caleb Anderson, I mean. And I admit I’ve been trying to throw you at him. It’s time for you to start dating. I mean, your fiancé’s been gone for longer than you knew him….”
“Caroline! What are you trying to tell me?”
“All right. Remember how I told you I was sure I’d seen Caleb Anderson before, and you thought he looked familiar, too?”
“Yes,” Sarah said warily.
Caroline looked around again, then reached into the pocket of her homespun cotton skirt and produced an old photograph.
It had been framed and placed under glass to preserve it—the museum was careful with all its artifacts. It was dusty, probably from being in the storeroom, since they rotated exhibits.
“Okay, it’s a photograph. An old photograph,” Sarah said, taking a quick glance, then looking back at Caroline. “I think it’s a Brady, and since it’s in good condition, probably very valuable.”
“Look at it,” Caroline insisted.
Sarah did—and nearly dropped it.
It was the same man she’d seen standing at the foot of her bed.
It was Caleb.
In nineteenth-century garb, complete with one of the sweeping plumed hats that had been in vogue at the time.
“The name is on the back,” Caroline said. “It’s Cato MacTavish. MacTavish. This guy owned your house, Sarah, and Caleb Anderson is his spitting image!”
“I ’ve had my men cruising every street, we’ve searched in the water, and we’ve questioned every kid that was at the beach party before Winona Hart disappeared,” Tim Jamison told Caleb. “We’ve checked out the parents—because when a kid disappears, right or wrong, we look at the parents first. We’ve interviewed every ex-boyfriend and all her girlfriends—we never kid ourselves. Girls can be jealous and vicious.” He was sitting behind his desk at the station, and now he leaned back, looking weary. “We were on this faster than a brushfire. If she was there to be found, we would have found her. Here’s what’s really sad,” he admitted, leaning forward and folding his hands on his desk. “Last year, when we started the search for Jennie Lawson, it was impersonal—we just didn’t believe that it had anything to do with us. Unlike you, we couldn’t find anyone who saw her after she picked up her car in Jacksonville, so we assumed she never got here, that she went somewhere else or was taken before she got this far. As time went by, we assumed it was a random crime, tragic, but a one-off. You and I both know that the percentage of violent crimes that go unsolved is staggering. Old cases get shoved to the back burner when new crimes are committed. But now…now we’ve got two women who’ve as good as vanished—into thin air.”
There was a tap on the door. A young officer came in at Jamison’s bidding, handing him a file, which he in turn handed to Caleb. “Take it with my blessing. Anything you can find, we’ll be grateful to hear about.”
Caleb nodded. “Thanks. I’m really hoping I can find something here, because I think we’re looking for someone who’s going after a certain physical type, and that the two cases are related.”
Jamison shook his head. “I don’t know. I’ve only taken a few classes in behavioral crime, but you’d think this guy would escalate, not snatch one girl a year.”
“Maybe he was somewhere else in between, or maybe there’s a method to his madness,” Caleb suggested.
“No one sees anything, and we’ve got nothing at all to go on,” Jamison said glumly. “They say there’s no perfect crime, but this guy seems to be getting away with what he’s doing pretty fucking well. No bodies, no blood, no signs of a fight or fingerprints, footprints, no witnesses—nada.”
“Criminals are often strangely brilliant,” Caleb reminded him. “This guy may study people. Follow them, watch them, looking for the perfect victim, making the perfect plan to get her. But sooner or later—and I hope like hell it’s sooner—he’ll make a mistake. I’m going to start by talking to the kids from the beach. You never know what will jar a memory, or what little overlooked piece of information might come out.”
“Like I said, you have my blessing,” Jamison told him. It looked to Caleb as if Jamison hadn’t been sleeping. As if there were more on his mind than just the missing girl.
Caleb stood and thanked him. For a moment he toyed with the idea of mentioning that someone might have broken in to Sarah’s carriage house, but he refrained, seeing as she still seemed to half believe that that someone had been him.
He left the police station, leafing through the file he had been given. He was completely convinced that the parents had nothing to do with Winona Hart’s disappearance. He was working on the theory that the same person or persons had abducted both girls.
He had a list of the kids who had been at the party. A well-organized list, with notes by each name, and the names weren’t in alphabetical order, but in an order based on who among those who had seen her last had the closest relationships with Winona.
One of the boys she knew well worked at an open-fronted ice-cream shop along the pedestrian mall. Nigel Mason. According to the notes, he should be working now, and that meant he had a place to start.
Feeling newly invigorated, Caleb headed down the street.
“That’s…amazing,” Sarah said to Caroline.
“Amazing? It’s uncanny,” Caroline countered.
Sarah felt as if the air had been knocked out of her.
The picture depicted the man she had seen at the foot of her bed—exactly.
Chills raced through her. Her throat was dry. She didn’t want to show Caroline just how much the photograph disturbed her, but her knees were buckling. She pretended to be studying the old photograph with keen interest as she headed for a chair and sat.
For some reason—maybe to preserve her own reputation for sanity—Sarah didn’t want Caroline to know anything about the night’s strange events, at least not yet.
“Now I understand why Caleb looked so familiar when we first saw him,” Caroline said, following her and perching on the sofa by the chair. “We both saw this photograph before when it was part of that display on how the city was divided during the Civil War. You and I took down that exhibit when we replaced it with the one on Henry Flagler’s wives.”
Sarah let out a long breath and almost laughed aloud as she handed the photo back to Caroline. Of course. That was it. She had seen the photograph before, and that was why she had thought Caleb looked familiar. She just hadn’t put the two together. And of course this was why she’d been so sure Caleb himself had been in her room. Now, with a fair amount of time having passed between the morning and this revelation, it all made sense. In a way, at least. She’d had the photograph catalogued neatly somewhere in memory. She’d met Caleb. Mr. Griffin had come into her house and given her quite a jolt with his crazy fantasies. And then she had dreamed, and in her dream, she had dredged up her memory of the photograph and put the Caleb she knew into the body of a man who had lived long ago.
“Caroline, I could kiss you!” she said.
Caroline stared at her as if she’d gone nuts. “What?”
She decided she still didn’t feel ready to share what was proving to be only a nightmare, however terrifying, with anyone else. She’d already made a fool of herself in front of Caleb.
“This photograph. It explains everything,” Sarah said. Caroline was still looking at her blankly, so Sarah smiled and went on. “Don’t you see—I’ve been wary of him because somewhere in my subconscious I remembered this photo. Now I understand why he seemed so familiar, so…” She faltered, at a loss for a way to pull things together. “Now it all just makes so much sense,” she finished lamely.
“That’s all you can think of to say? You’ve got to be kidding,” Caroline said.
“No, I’m not kidding. Why?”
“Didn’t you hear me? This is uncanny.”
“I admit, the resemblance is startling.”
“It’s more than a resemblance. There’s got to be a genetic connection. I mean, how else could Caleb possibly look so much like Cato? His great, great, great…whatever grandfather must have been Cato MacTavish, who used to own your house. Maybe it’s destiny that Caleb’s here now. We have to show him the picture. We have to tell him about it,” Caroline said excitedly, and then her smile faded. “Although I have to admit, when I came across the picture today, my…mind went a little crazy. For a minute there I actually thought maybe Cato was back from the dead to take vengeance on the people who drove him away.”
“Well…you have to admit it’s pretty weird. I mean, Cato’s double shows up in the city when all this…stuff is happening.”
“Caroline, Caleb is here searching for a girl who disappeared a year ago, and then he plunged right into the efforts to look for the girl who only just disappeared, but be reasonable. He wasn’t here when either one of them disappeared,” Sarah said, then looked away for a moment. She’d been scared for a minute herself when she first saw the photograph, yet here she was, completely prepared to defend Caleb Anderson with all the passion she had.
And it wasn’t because he was good-looking and articulate, not to mention capable, charming and charismatic.
He worked for Adam Harrison, and that meant he was the one thing that really mattered: a good man.
“I know. I realized right away that I was being ridiculous. I can’t wait to show the picture to him, though. There’s obviously some connection here. He has to be related somehow to Cato MacTavish. I know—when Cato MacTavish left St. Augustine, he changed his name to Anderson.”
Sarah shook her head, smiling. “Even if he is somehow related—and I admit it looks likely—the connection might have come down through the maternal line.”