“Sara.” Chantal’s voice rattles along my raw nerve endings, her very existence a reminder of Ella’s sweet, trusting nature, and neither of them would stand a chance against Ava.

My gaze darts to Chantal and I blurt, “I need to know if the investigation involves Ella. I need to know if they mean Ella.


Ask them now.”

Fifteen

Is Ella dead?

I hug myself, trying to control the shaking my adrenaline rush has created, holding my breath as I listen to the French exchanges erupting around me. For an eternal moment, I listen to the murmurs, understanding nothing but a random reference to “Ella”, and still I don’t get an answer to my question. IsElla dead? Is she dead? No one is talking to me. No one is talking in English. I can’t take it. My heart is going to explode in my chest.

“Is Ella dead?” I all but shout. The room is instantly silent, all eyes on me, and I think maybe I actually didshout, but I don’t care. “Is she dead?” This time I whisper. This time I have their attention.

The irst man I’d spoken to leans across his desk, ists pressed on the steel surface, to bring himself eye level to me.

“We don’t know who Ella is, but we intend to ind out.”

The accusation in his voice is pure acid, but I process only what is important. They have no clue who Ella is or where she is. Ella isn’t dead. The men in this department don’t know who she is.

“We have questions for you, Mademoiselle McMillan,” the man adds, and I swear the other three men are hovering behind him worse than Rey does with me.

Before I can stop myself, I reply, “And I have questions about the missing-persons report on Ella.” It’s been weeks since Blake contacted the embassy about her. Weeks!

He gives me a piercing look before glowering at Rey and Chantal, speaking to them in French. I have the overwhelming urge to yell again. I’m really getting damn tired of people speaking French when they know I don’t understand it.

Rey glares at whatever the man has said, responding in a rough, fast rampage of French. I might not know the language but I recognize “pissed of ” when I hear it.

Chantal’s hand comes down on my shoulder; a gentle, comforting touch. “They say we have to wait outside, Sara. I don’t want to leave you.”

These men have told her they want to question me regarding an investigation I’m attached to in some way, and she doesn’t want to leave my side. I can only hope that means they didn’t use the word “murder.” Still, she should be running. I’d be running. But she, like Ella, is too naïve to know this. She, like Ella, could too easily end up vulnerable and in trouble.

Protectiveness rises in me and I rest my hand on her shoulder, promising myself I will soon do the same with Ella. “I’m okay. You go with Rey and get out of here. Thank you for all you’ve done today.”

“We’ll be outside the door,” Rey states, and I ind him in a glare with the man behind the desk. “Right outside the door if she needs us.” His attention shifts back to me, his tone softening for my ears only. “I can’t risk being escorted out of the building by refusing to leave or I would, but don’t talk to them until Chris gets here.”

“I won’t,” I assure him, and my phone rings. “That’s probably Chris now.”

“Mademoiselle—” the man begins, and Rey immediately cuts him of with some sharply spoken statement in French, and, intended or not, he’s created a window for me to take my call. I climb through.

I dart toward the opposite side of the room and perch in an empty chair. “Chris,” I answer and glance up to watch Rey and Chantal being escorted from the room.

“Stephen says not to talk to anyone.”

“Does he know what’s going on?”

“He doesn’t have any answers yet, but his answer would be the same. Tell them you aren’t at liberty to talk without counsel, or simply buy time and I’ll tell them.”

“Mademoiselle McMillan,” the man behind the desk says, a sharp bite to his words.

I hold up a inger. “One more minute.”

He grinds his teeth. “One only.”

“I heard that,” Chris says. “He’s just trying to intimidate you. Pretend he’s Mark trying to get under your skin. Lift that little chin of yours and stand tall.”

Mark couldn’t put me behind bars. I change the subject before I run out of time. “Please tell Rey to take Chantal home.”

“Not until I get there.”

“Please. I don’t want them to hear the accusations against me. How can I make a life here with you if everyone you know thinks I’m a . . .”—I can’t say murderer—“criminal?”

“No one is going to know about this.”

“They already told Chantal there’s an investigation in the States. Please. Get them to leave.”

“I have to know if they take you somewhere, Sara. And I’m almost there. I’m hanging up to focus getting to you.

Don’t speak to them about anything.” He hangs up before I can argue.

I squeeze my eyes shut and draw in a thick, hard-earned breath, before sliding my phone into my purse and turning toward the men on the other side of the room. Crossing the distance between us, I pause in front of his desk. “Monsieur . . . ?”

“Bernard,” he supplies.

“Monsieur Bernard,” I repeat. “Can you direct me to the toilette?”

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