My eyes hurt. My throat’s parched. It’s probably late morning or noon but I really don’t want to get out of bed. If I could just stay here forever in the dark, I’d do it.
But this is Curtis’s home. And I’m in his bed.
… I should get up.
Curtis apologised to me last night. I can’t remember why, but I think he blames himself for what happened to me.
I should be the one to apologize. He got hurt because of me. He warned me never to set foot in Mirage Park but I went anyway. Curtis was right. The Grim was right. I was ignorant. I’m such an idiot. It’s my fault what happened to me…
Ugh…! His books are a nightmare! They’re all related to understanding crime systems or law or self-improvement and building mental skills! Same goes for his CD collection. And everything’s way too complex for me.
There are no photos anywhere. Doesn’t he have family? Now that I think about it there doesn’t seem to be a second bedroom in this huge place.
Oh, I almost missed a door right in the back. Could this be his parent’s room? What an odd place for a master bedroom.
Before Athena could open it, she heard a rustling at the front door. Not wanting to look like a snoop, she quickly turned and headed towards it. Curtis flipped the light switch as she came into view.
“You’re still here,” Curtis breathed a sigh of relief. “Sorry I’m late.”
He looked so relieved to see her that she couldn’t help but smile softly. “What were you expecting?”
“My errands took longer than usual. So I thought maybe you woke up and left.”
“Did you go out for very long?”
“Only the whole morning.”
“What time is it?”
“Half past two. You just got up?”
He gave her a slight smile.
“I had time to browse your book and disc collection. So I didn’t wake up just!”
His cautious smile became warm as he gave a hearty chuckle. “Well, I’ll get you something to eat on my way back. I’ve got one more errand to run.”
“No… that’s okay! You’ve done so much for me!”
“It’s all good. You’re my guest.”
“Tell you what, I’ll make lunch for us while you complete your errand. I’m a pretty good cook. My food’s much better than any takeaway. What would you like?”
“Oh. That… sure.”
Athena thought Curtis’s cheeks flushed pink for a second. “Uhm.. what’s wrong?”
He hadn’t eaten a home-cooked meal in a long time, and now he was going to eat one personally made for him by the girl he likes, in his own kitchen, looking extremely cute in his jumper. Curtis tried not to picture it. Athena just went through a terrible ordeal. He shouldn’t be thinking about stuff like that. But the image was hard-stuck to his brain.
“Uh, lunch. Yeah. I’d like that. Make anything you want. I’m not picky.”
“What? Don’t leave the choosing to me! What if I make something you don’t like?”
“I’ll like anything you make. Let me know if you need ingredients from the store.”
“Pssh! If you don’t choose, I’ll make you a bowl of curry chocolate!” Athena warned.
Curtis laughed. “Flying llamas, no! That was weird! One time is enough.” Athena laughed too at his reaction.
The front door opened. “Hey Cal. I thought this is just a stopover- Oh.”
Jules rang the doorbell a second time, but no one was coming to the door. It might be broken, he thought as he rapped the door with his knuckles.
That seemed to do the trick. He heard footsteps thumping towards his direction. The door opened.
“Hey there! How can I help you?”
“Good afternoon Mrs Michael. I’m detective Ellis,” Jules flashed his badge. “How are you?”
The middle-aged woman blinked and looked at him curiously.
“I’d like to see your son Curtis Michael. Is he home?”
“Is he in trouble?” She furrowed her brow looking concerned.
“No trouble at all ma’am, we’re investigating a missing girl and we believe your son might have some information about her. They’re friends.”
“Curtis! Get down here, someone’s here to see you.” The woman yelled up the stairs. Someone yelled back.
“He’ll be down in a moment. He’s a good boy. Doesn’t cause trouble. Just plays a little too much games.”
“I see,” Jules replied.
“Also, its Curtis Walken. After we adopted Curtis, he agreed to take after our name. He’s such a sweet boy.”
“Sorry Mrs Walken, I wasn’t aware. ” Jules thought it strange. Curtis’s driving license wasn’t expired and it confirmed ‘Michael’ as his last name. How isn’t his license updated?
“Yo mom. Whatsup?”
“Curtis, this officer’s here to see you. Wants to ask about a missing girl. Says you know something.”
Jules stared. “You’re Curtis?”
Jules stared at the boy indefinitely. The boy fidgeted under his gaze.
“Officer, is there a problem?”
“Ma’am do you have another son?”
“We only have Curtis. We dont have children of our own.”
Jules glared at both of them. Mrs Walken looks incredibly confused, but ‘Curtis’ looks… worried. He wouldn’t look back either. Something’s up. The woman may be clueless or a great actress, but the boy knows something.
“Great. I just need to have a word with your son,” Jules said. “Can we talk in private? Out here’s fine with me.” He pointed at their fenced-in yard.
“Sure…” mom was skeptical, but trusting because Jules was an officer. The boy looked terrified. Yeah, definitely suspicious.
Jules motioned the boy to follow as he thought of the wisest approach. If he played his cards right, the boy might tell him what was going on without too much resistance. He began planning his second interrogation for the day.