Each day for the rest of the week, Kate ventured outside, walking a little further down the laneway from the house, but leaving the door unlocked, knowing that she would run back inside when she couldn’t stand her anxiety any further. Each day she got a little further, almost reaching the the junction that the lane adjoined. When she thought she would reach the junction a large lorry rumbled past and like a startled wild animal, Kate ran back to the safety of the house, slamming the door shut behind her.
By Friday she was able to stand on the corner of the busy street and the lane way, she looked at the street signs, King’s Terrace and Plender Street. When she looked over her shoulder she was sure she saw Camden High Street. How long would it take her to get there. Just then a garbage truck came up the lane, it’s tyres crunching loudly on the road as it drove in her direction. Kate turned and ran, fumbling with the front door in the porch before slamming it shut behind her, breathing heavily as she leant against it.
+ + +
“I haven’t heard from Kate for two weeks.” Ellie said to Mike over breakfast on Sunday morning. She had prepared the only breakfast she could stomach, toast and tea and placed it on the small breakfast table between herself and Mike.
“Well Jo says he’s hit a brick wall. Kate has not been in rehab in the UK. The cigarette ends you gave him were from one donor but there’s no record of him on the police system. The Mercedes number plates all belonged to up standing citizens. I’m not sure where we can go from here?” Mike offered, biting into his toast.
“She’s pregnant and married? That’s not the Kate I know, I mean she was certainly not planning to do those things before she went missing. She was still getting over the abortion of Rhys’ baby.” Ellie added. “I hope she calls soon. Do you think we could tap our line to trace her call?”
“Jo said she is calling from her phone, in the London area but it’s turned off most of the time.” Mike added.
“So why isn’t she in touch with me? London, come on? I can’t imagine Kate being this close and not getting in touch with me more regularly.”
“Ellie, you said you would let it go after the butts got tested. You have someone else to think about now.” Mike said reaching down to her still flat stomach.
“I’ve booked you in for your first checkup and scan next Wednesday, don’t forget. The first time we get to see our budding footie star.” Mike said, beaming.
“Or ballet dancer.” Ellie added.
+ + +
“Hey, Kate. You haven’t told your mother about the baby yet,” Ryder said over his Sunday paper, “do you want to call?”
“Yeah, I can try her again, she’s usually back from Majorca by now.” Kate answered
Ryder got up and unlocked the study door and a few seconds later he was back with her mobile, “here you go babe.”
Kate pressed her Mother’s number, Harold answered after only two rings, “hi Harold, is mum back yet?”
“Oh, Miss Kate, yes. She arrived late last night. I’ll go and get her.” Harold’s footsteps echoed across the parquetry flooring, she could imagine Harold disappearing into the kitchen. A few short seconds later she could hear heels approaching.
“Kate, Kate. Where are you?” her mother asked slightly breathlessly into the phone.
Kate had a sudden urge to call out the address and ask her to come and get her, but her eyes met Ryder’s, “I’m okay. Look mum I wanted to let you know that I’m pregnant and married.”
“Oh, my? Same guy?”
“Yes!” Kate looked at Ryder.
“Well that’s interesting news. Have I met the chap?” She said rather officiously.
“So when do I meet him?” Lady Stane asked, sternly.
“Um, I’m not sure. We’ll have to arrange something and get back to you.” Kate stammered.
“Okay. Well don’t keep me waiting too long. I’ll withhold my congratulations until we meet this mystery man.”
“I’ll call you once we’ve arranged something,” Kate watched Ryder mime the cut signal, “bye mum.”
“Can I call Ellie now?” Kate asked, immediately after hanging up.
“Okay, but keep it short.” Ryder answered.
“Hey Ellie,” Kate said as she heard Ellie answer her phone.
“Oh my, Kate.” Ellie’s voice filled the kitchen. “We were just talking about you. How are you?”
“I’m good. How about you?”
“Not bad, bloody morning sickness. It’s a crime, I am losing weight but I know I’m going to be the size of a hippo in a few months.”
“Yeah, it’s a bitch.” Kate looked up at Ryder, he was half listening and half reading the newspaper.
Kate shared some small talk with Ellie when Ryder’s work phone began to bounce around on the kitchen counter. He picked it up and stepped out of the kitchen. Kate immediately hung up and began to text Ellie, ‘Meet me on cnr kings tce and plender st tmz 10am’
She watched the text message send and then deleted it, placing the phone on the bench.
Ryder came in, still on his phone, he gave her a peck on the cheek as he picked up the mobile and returned it to the study.
Kate began to pace the kitchen, her anxiety beginning to take over. What if he catches her? What if she can’t get to the corner or Ryder is home and she can’t leave the house?
She became anxious and walked past the study, the door was open and Kate saw Ryder speaking loudly into his phone, his back to her. Kate glimpsed past Ryder to the large wooden desk, it had three large computers screens on it, each showing a number of images of rooms of the house, including the basement.
So that was how he managed to record them in the basement. She stood frozen, staring, before she saw herself staring out from one of the images. Kate immediately looked at Ryder.
“Look I told you, not now. I’ll call a little later and resolve this. It can wait.” Ryder continued on his phone, oblivious to Kate.
She quickly moved away returning to the kitchen, wringing her hands.
Picking up a paper, she attempted to look like she was earnestly reading it when Ryder returned a few minutes later.
Her hands shook slightly, slick with sweat. She peered at him across the top of the paper, and caught his eye.
+ + +
Ellie stared into her phone when she realised Kate had hung up on her, wondering why the abrupt ending to their conversation. And then saw the message ping onto the screen.
She showed it to Mike.
“What do you think?” Ellie asked, her eyes wide.
“You won’t be going on your own.” He answered immediately. “We’ll go together, I’m on nights this week.”
“Should we call the police?” Ellie asked.
“What for? She’s not missing.”
“No. As long as you’re there.” Ellie said, staring at the message.