My pulse leaps. “Denied? What does that mean?”
“Denied is denied. No reissue. You want answers, go see Special Services.”
“Where is Special Services?”
She points to my left and I see a “Special Services” sign over a door. Blind to the rest of the room, my heart thundering loudly in my ears, I rush toward the sign and ind a small oice with four steel desks, only one of which is occupied.
A man in a dress shirt and solid navy tie, with streaks of gray in his neatly trimmed brown hair, gives me an expectant look.
“English?” I ask hopefully.
“Yes, madame.” He sets down his pen and rests an elbow on the desk, looking rather mifed at the interruption. “What can I do for you?”
I cross to his desk and hand him my paperwork. He glances at it and then at me. There is a new sharpness to the way he looks at me, cutting and almost . . . accusing. I tell myself I’m 176
being paranoid, but adrenaline is pouring through me and I barely keep my voice normal. “What’s the problem?” I demand, when he says nothing.
He picks up the phone, using his other hand to point me into a chair in front of his desk. The silent command provokes another surge of adrenaline and I have to inhale slowly to calm myself before I sit down.
I’ve barely settled into the seat when he hangs up the receiver. “Please stay here, Mademoiselle McMillan. We need to ask you some questions.”
My heart skips a beat. “About what?”
But I know. This has to do with Rebecca.
“Just wait here.” He delivers his clipped command as he pushes to his feet and walks away, exiting out of a back door several feet behind his desk.
I spring into instant action, unsure how long I have to enlist help before he returns. Fumbling with my purse, I pull out my cell and dial Chris’s number.
The three rings feel like a dozen before he answers, “Sara?”
His voice is rich, warm, soothing, and oh so welcome.
“I need you here,” I breathe out. “I need you at the embassy.”
Chris immediately starts speaking in French to someone else and I hear several voices communicate with him before he’s back on the line with me. “I’m already walking to my car.”
I close my eyes in relief. He hasn’t asked why I need him.
He’s simply leaving a meeting without an idea why. Guiltily, I think of how I’d allowed Amber to rattle me earlier and I’m reminded of all the reasons I shouldn’t worry about Chris shutting me out. All of the reasons why I should, and can, count on this wonderful, amazing man.
“Talk to me, Sara. What’s happening?”
“They denied my passport and said they need to ask me questions.”
He curses under his breath. “Don’t answer anything until I get there. I’m calling Stephen. I’ll call you back.”
“Sara. It’s going to be ine. It’s an administrative lag, nothing more. A misunderstanding we’ll clear up.”
But I’d heard his initial reaction, his curse, and we both know it’s more than an administrative lag. “Just hurry, please. I need you, Chris.”
“And I’m here for you. I’ll call you back after I talk to Stephen.”
We hang up and I sit, my foot tapping nervously. Chris wouldn’t have to call the attorney if he truly believed this was just a passport lag. And what does that even mean? Why is my passport lagged?
“There you are!” Chantal exclaims, and I turn to ind her and Rey headed toward me. I’d forgotten about them completely, and I cringe at the idea of them discovering me being accused of murder. What will they think of me? Or worse, of Chris?
I push to my feet and step around the chair to meet them, trying to hide the trembling of my hands by running them over my hips.
“What’s going on?” Rey asks, and he doesn’t look pleased.
“And why didn’t you tell me you were coming in here?”
“They need to ask me some questions. I’ll be out as soon as I’m done.”
“Questions?” Rey looks baled. “About the pickpocket?”
I hesitate and almost laugh. Could it be as simple as that?
Could I be overreacting? Oh, please let it be about the pickpocket. “Maybe.”
“Maybe it’s about Ella,” Chantal suggests, and she glances at Rey.
The door behind the desk opens, and Rey’s gaze goes past me. I turn to ind three men entering and, before I can stop her, Chantal charges toward them.
Rey steps to my side and whispers, “What’s really going on, Sara?”
“Chris is on his way here now. Please, if you want to help, get Chantal out of here.”
He shakes his head. “I can’t leave you.”
“Sara,” Chantal says, and I turn to ind her standing beside me, looking exceedingly pale.
“What is it?”
She whispers, “Is there some kind of investigation in the States?”
“I . . .” I do not want Chantal to know about this. “What did they say?”
“I didn’t understand, really. I asked about Ella, and they started questioning me about some investigation in the States.”
My hand goes to my throat. “Were they . . . talking about Ella?”
“I . . .” She looks lustered. “I don’t know.”
I grab her arm, my ingers digging into her delicate skin, and the room spins around me, fading in and out. What if Ella had returned to San Francisco after we checked her passport and Ava had killed her to spite me? It seems impossible, but then so does Ava really killing Rebecca.