The next morning greeted Sophie with a sore back and morning light streaming through her front windows. She stretched and kicked off her blankets reaching for her phone on the coffee table, it read six AM on the dot. She lay back again and put her arm over her eyes. The night before had been an experience and a half, it would be interesting, she thought, if Cason remembered any of it.
Why he thought that they were married and she, carrying his baby, she had no idea. It could be repressed feelings for her, but he played the bad guy in her life so well. Someone who had feelings for her that ran that deep wouldn’t be able to return her contempt so easily, could he?
Sophie’s mind rolled over all the possibilities and yet it still came back to that one thought. Her own mind made a case for him, he’d pulled her from a burning car hadn’t he? He’d been at the Nigel Project as well, calling the police for her and holding her in his arms. Again.
Sophie pinched the bridge of her nose. “I am blind.”
She looked up from the couch toward her room. The door the bedroom was still shut, she’d let him sleep in as she made breakfast and coffee for them both.
Getting up she headed into the kitchen to get it started. As she reached for the refrigerator she remembered that the last time she’d shopped was a week ago. She’d been subsisting on coffee and random bites of food from her mother’s house since then. Yanking the door open, prepared to do creative compensation for her lack of goods, she was taken aback. The entire fridge had been cleaned out and all expired food had been replaced and additional microwaveable and oven ready casseroles were jammed in. Someone had stocked her refrigerator with a week’s worth of food. Or a few days worth with a swarthy hungry man. Included in the lot was an overnight coffee cake, prepped and ready for the oven.
Sophie slid it onto the counter and closed the fridge as she did so. The prep work was all her mother’s doing. Turning on the oven she realized that even her mother had seen their connection. Or rather the lack of one on her part and the addition of one on his. But it hadn’t made sense, she couldn’t have always known otherwise the situation she was in at the moment, Cason in her bed, would have come sooner. She remembered it then, the garage. She had motor oil on her face and shirt, her mother must have seen through her explanation. Or Cason told her? The thought of the tight lipped Cason telling her mother that he’d gotten into a bodily lip lock with her daughter up against the garage wall made her want to laugh. That, was not it.
She smiled anyway and went to work making coffee as she waited for the oven to heat up. How she was going to approach Cason that morning and what he’d remember of the day before she wasn’t sure. But, she was going to call in sick if she had to. The mystery of what Cason felt of their relationship, or lack there of, was going to get solved that morning.
The oven beeped telling her it was on temp, and Sophie placed the unbaked dish of her mother’s coffee cake into the oven. She set the timer as the first dribbles of aromatically rich coffee suffused the kitchen air. As she got down two mugs she felt a shimmer of something deep in her belly. A feeling of apprehension or excitement or both, she couldn’t tell. She filled both cups once the coffee maker perked its last drop.
Adding a touch of milk and sugar to hers she picked them both up and headed toward her bedroom. She paused outside her bedroom door and took a deep breath, “Now or never Sparling,” she whispered then gently pushed the door open.
The morning light had illuminated the back room with a bright shaded glow of the morning sun. Streaks of sunlight followed her in casting long beams across the polished floor and the empty bed. The sheets and duvee had both been militarily tucked under the mattress despite its fluffy bulk. She looked around the room, Cason’s clothes were gone and walking to the other side of the bed she made sure he hadn’t made the bed then somehow collapsed, clothes on, on the other side.
He was no where to be found. Sophie headed back out and dropping the mugs onto the counter top headed out her front door. From her front porch she was afforded a clear view of the parking lot. Cason’s truck, which had been there the day before, was gone.
Back inside she called her mother, “Well, hello darl—”
“Is Cason there?” Sophie interjected.
“Cason? No, I thought he was with you.”
“No. He and his truck are gone - mom he was in a weird state last night. I’m not sure he was any better when he left.”
“Oh.” Her mother said then added, “Hold on, I’ll just check his room—”
“Just look outside, is his truck there?”
“No, honey, it’s not. Just keep your britches on.”
Sophie took a deep breath, the morning was not going as planned.
“Ah. Oh.” She heard her mother say, “He’s gone.”
“Ok. So where would he have gone to? He didn’t go back to your place so does he have a friend that he stays with a lot? If, so we need to check there.”
There was a long line of silence on the phone.
Sophie closed her eyes and tried to calm her nerves, “I know mom. I’m trying to figure out where he would have wandered off to.”
“No honey. He was here this morning.”
Sophie’s nerves went silent, “What do you mean?”
“I mean, none of his things are in your brother’s room. Not a single item.” She said and Sophie could hear the closet door open, “Nothing. Not even a note.”
Both Sophie and her mother were quiet on the phone, letting it sink in. There was no note, nothing save for his absence. In the quiet though Sophie heard the hitch in her mother’s voice.
“I have to g-go.”
“Mom, he’s not dead, he’s just in his truck somewhere I’ll find him.”
“Awe, that’s ok.” She said, the congestion of tears becoming obvious in her voice. “Bye, honey.”
“Mom, I’ll find him.” Sophie said in a rush before her mother hung up.