Visiting for the first time? You can start with day one here.
“Okay.” Dan rubs his temple. “Okay. This looks like something we can at least check.” His brow wrinkles. “Jasper, do you know this student?”
He shakes his head.
“I think I would know him if I saw him but when I say I walked in on the tail end of the conversation, I mean I wasn’t really paying attention to who she was talking with — it was only after everything happened that I thought it might be important.”
“Well. Two notes is something to consider, but not necessarily cause for opening up an entire investigation. If we found others, though — a reasonable trace that points to a relationship or something between the two…”
“My sister wasn’t involved with a student.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Well get it out of your head, and think of other possibilities. Juniper is a lot of things, but not someone who would get romantically involved with a minor.”
“I can vouch for her too,” Jasper says. “The conversation might have been awkward and weird, but it was not romantic. Looking back on it, Juniper was obviously comfortable and relieved when I walked through her door.”
Dan studies him.
“Whatever it was, it’s worth looking at — I agree — I just don’t think we’re looking at a sordid relationship here. She has a boyfriend.”
“Had,” I correct. Jasper looks at me in surprise. I offer a small smile. “They broke up again right before she disappeared. He was one of the first people I spoke with when I got here.”
He nods in understanding.
“Oh.” I whisper, something else clicking into place.
I stand up and read for my bag resting against the chair. Dan takes another look at the two notes side by side and places both back in the file on his desk. He looks up when I stand up suddenly and widens his eyes, expectant.
“I think I know the first place to look,” I say.
Jasper folds his hands in front of him and leans back in his chair to see me.
“It’s 5pm. School just got out. And my sister has a whiteboard full of notes. If the mystery student left her another note, it would be there.” I start walking out the door. “You can come if you want or not, but I’m headed to her classroom. There’s about 100 notes to look through and I’m betting this kid left something.”
They both decide to come. Dan reschedules his meeting with the district attorney and Jasper says he needs to go back to campus anyway for the Chess Club. I try to refrain from making any jokes about him being the sponsor for a game of strategy.
When we walk into her classroom, I pause for a moment, overwhelmed with the sense of Juniper that permeates the space. There’s her diplomas — a BS from Brown University and the M.Ed. she received from Stanford. Next to it is a bulletin board full of pictures of her travels — Paris, Hawaii, the Alaskan cruise we took two years ago. We loved it so much we decided to extend our stay and turned the second half of the cruise into an Alaskan vacation. Memories come quickly. Her wanting to read in the hotel, watching the snow fall while I wanted to hike, the quirky locals, the grizzly that roamed into the street as we were trying to make our way to the airport. I fight from grabbing the pictures for myself and focus on the notes left for her.
It doesn’t take long to find what we’re looking for - within minutes I hear Dan mutter under his breath, trying to get to a note in behind two others sprayed with some kind of pink glitter.
“This is going to be all over me by the time we leave, isn’t it?” He asks, wiping his hands on his jacket.
“Make sure and tell Tracey I appreciate you being able to visit some of the more nefarious places in town.” I mimic an explosion with my hands. “You look like a glitter bomb exploded all over you.”
He scowls and reaches again for gloves waiting for him on the desk and then the note that caught his attention. Jasper and I lean in, trying to get a good look at what captured his attention.
“It was the only one I saw in all caps. Made me think of those other notes.” He pulls it off the wall with his plastic gloves and lowers it for us to see.
Don’t worry. I’ll find you.
I suck in a breath.
“Damn,” Jasper whispers.
Dan slaps the note against his hand.
“Do we have a case again, detective?” I ask.
He looks again at the note and then back at me.
“Yeah. Yeah we have a case. I’ll get my guys to look into this as soon as possible.”
I close my eyes in relief, the weight leaving my shoulders for the first time all day.