Sawyer finished fueling the plane. He could see Sam talking on the phone inside the little terminal. She hung up and walked toward the plane shaking her head. “So...” he asked? “What did you tell her?”
“What could I tell her? She wasn’t too happy to hear we were down to our last option. I swear she’s as stubborn as her husband. She told me she wasn’t giving up. If we don’t find him in Guam, Then she wants me to start looking between Hawaii and Japan.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Sawyer looking surprised. “Doesn’t she realize it’s hopeless by now. The guy just didn’t make it.”
Sam shook her head again. “She said she would know if he was dead. She convinced he’s out there. So the question is, if we strike out in Guam, are you willing to keep looking in the other direction?”
“Sweetheart, I’ll go wherever you want. The perks are fantastic,” he pulled Sam in for a smoldering kiss, then released her and helped her into the plane. As he entered after her he continued. “Besides, she’s paying the bills and thanks to her, this baby is now all mine.” He patted the side of his plane and moved to the cockpit. Moments later they took off for Guam.
“Sure Sweetheart, if that’s how you want it. I’ll call you and let you know the hotel and find us someplace nice for dinner. See you later.” Sawyer started to move away but stopped and turned back. “Sam, Good Luck.” He nodded and gave her a thumbs up for encouragement and left.
Sam looked around. This was her last chance of finding Todd in Guam. She walked to the information desk.
An older woman with curly gray hair was sitting behind the counter, rearranging papers. Her name tag indicated she was a volunteer. She saw Sam headed her way. “May I help you?”
“Excuse me. My name is Sam Vance and I’m a private detective. I’ve been searching for a man the last couple of months and I’m running out of places to look. I’m hoping he might have been admitted here.”
The volunteer looked up. “Do you have a name, Dearie?”
“Yes, his name is Todd Manning. Please if you can help, I know a little girl who would be very happy.”
“Oh, the poor dear. Well, let me see if we have anyone by that name here.” The volunteer opened the admissions file on her computer. “No, we don’t have anyone by that name, I’m sorry.”
Sam leaned over the counter. “Could you check and see if anyone by that name was admitted a couple of months back?”
The volunteer looked further back in the records and then shook her head no. “I’m afraid we can’t help you.”
It was the same answer Sam had gotten everywhere she turned, and like all the other times, Sam pulled the picture from her pocket. “He might have been here under another name. Would you please look at this picture and tell me if there was a patient here that might have looked like this.”
“But Dearie, I’m just a volunteer. I’ve only worked a few of the wards in the last couple of months, I highly doubt I would have seen the person you’re looking for.”
“Please, for me, could you just look at the picture?”
“Very well, let me see your picture. I must confess, though, I don’t have much of a memory for faces.” She took the picture. “Well it’s surprising but he does look a little familiar. Oh, of course. He looks a lot like the young man who works on the children’s ward. He’s such a dear, always flirting and teasing me when I’m on the floor. It makes me feel like a schoolgirl again.”
Sam’s heart rate speeded up. Was it possible? “You say this man looks a little like my picture. Can you tell me his name and where I might be able to find him?”
“But you said you were looking for a patient.”
“I’m not sure, but I need to see this man for myself. Maybe he just looks like the man I’m searching for, but I have to know.”
The volunteer pushed her glasses up on her nose and smiled. “Oh of course. I understand Dearie. You’re trying hard to find that little girl’s daddy. Like I said, the young man works in the Children’s Ward. I don’t know if he’s working now, but the nurses there might be able to help you. Just go down that hallway, Dearie and turn left. That will take you to the ward.”
Sam hurried down the hall. She didn’t want to get her hopes up, but she prayed for Starr’s sake she was right. Turning the corner she saw the door to the ward ahead of her. Was Todd just on the other side? Go ahead Sam. What are you waiting for? Her steps slowed. If the volunteer was right, and the picture matched the man working here, then that meant Todd was here because he wanted to be. Which meant he didn’t want to be found. That’s not your problem Sam. You were hired to find him. At least, Blair will know he’s alive. She took out the picture and pushed opened the door to the ward and went up to the Nurses Station. “Pardon me, I was told there was a man working here that looked like my picture. Can you tell me if this man works here?” She handed the picture to the nurse.
The nurse took the picture and studied it. “Well it could be Mr. Drake, but I couldn’t say for certain.”
“Could you tell me if he’s working now?” Sam looked around, but only saw some nurses moving in and out of the rooms.”
“I think he called it a day, but you might find him out on the balcony. I thought I saw him head that way a little while ago. It’s just down that hallway.” The nurse pointed to her left.
“Thank you.” Sam started to walk away and paused turning back. “This is a Children’s Ward, right? Can you tell me what ... Mr. Drake, that’s the name you said?” The nurse nodded. “What does Mr. Drake do here?” For the life of her, Sam couldn’t figure out why Todd would be working there.
The nurse smiled broadly. “He’s the best thing that’s happened here in a long time. Most of our children are terminally ill and he’s managed to bring a lot of joy into their lives since he’s been here. The children love him.”
Sam thanked the nurse. She mulled over all the latest information as she walked slowly down the hallway leading to the outside balcony. The name was weird, Mr. Drake, where on earth had he come up with that name? The man had millions and yet he was in Guam working with sick kids. It just didn’t fit with the image of Todd she had in her head. The man the nurse talked about didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would abandon his wife and kids either. She came to the door leading out onto the balcony. It was large and seemed to wrap around the whole hospital. She exited the ward and began walking around. She noticed other doorways leading out onto the balcony. Damn, he could have gone back in through any one of them. She was about ready to go back in when she saw a man and woman sitting near the outside rail. From the back, she wasn’t sure if it was him, so she hugged the building and pulled out the camera she used to take pictures for clients. The man and woman seemed to be having a deep conversation.
Sam moved along the wall until she could get a good view of the man’s face. Using her camera she zoomed in on his face. It was Todd. She recognized his scar immediately. She snapped a picture and was about to approach him when she saw the woman lay a hand on his leg. She took a good look at the woman. She was certainly a looker. Sam took another picture of the two of them together. Could the woman be the reason for Todd staying in Guam? Sam watched as Todd took the woman’s hand into his own. She couldn’t hear what he said, but the woman smiled and got up to leave. Todd didn’t move but looked out across the lawn towards the beach. Sam watched the woman go in one of the entrances. She thought about approaching Todd, then decided to wait and see what Blair wanted her to do. She had found Todd, but would Blair be happy about the other woman. She turned and left.
Unknown to her, Todd had turned his chair and was watching her. He had seen her out of the corner of his eye when he was talking to Miguela and had noted her taking pictures. As he watched her leave, there seemed something familiar about her. Who was she and why the hell did she take pictures of him and the doctor?
Blair was fit to be tied. She hadn’t heard anything for days from Sam Vance and then finally, just that morning Sam had called asking if they should keep looking. It drove her nuts that Sam wanted to call it quits. Now Starr had begun to act out at school. She had been mortified when Starr’s teacher called and said Starr had been fighting. A short while after the call, Blair and Starr left her school and headed for home.
Starr looked at her mom, she could tell her mother was upset by how tightly she was holding onto the steering wheel. “Mommy, I’m sorry, but when Susie said my Daddy wasn’t coming home because he would go to jail. Well, I just lost it. I know what Daddy did was wrong but he would never stay away from me because of that. He loves me and you and Jack.”
Blair bit her lower lip. How could she tell Starr that maybe her Daddy was staying away because of that? Todd hated being in jail. Only one time had he been ready to go to jail to show her how much he loved her and she had turned around and crushed him by saying she was carrying Max’s baby.
Because of her lie, Todd had done the unforgivable. He had given Jack away and told her he died. Now she missed him more than ever and she wanted him back as much as her daughter. Blair looked over at Starr. She was staring out the window but Blair saw the tear running down her cheek. “Baby Girl, I understand why you got angry, but you’ve got to stop being so impulsive. Susie was just repeating what her Mom and Dad said and you know we Mannings never let gossip get to us. Daddy is not going to jail because I told Uncle Sam I wouldn’t press charges.”
Starr brushed the tear off her cheek and turned gleefully to face her Mother. “Ooh, is that why you were fighting with him? He was pretty mad when he left. I’m glad you won’t make Daddy go to jail. I wish he would come home so we could tell him.”
“So do I, Starr, so do I.” Blair parked the car and they entered La Boulaie. Heddy was about to take Jack upstairs as they opened the door and Bair reached out and took her son. “Were there any calls, while I was gone?”
“Yes, there was a call from a woman named Sam Vance. I told her you had gone to get Ms. Starr and she said she’d call back. Oh, there‘s the phone, would you like me to get it?
Blair hugged Jack and gave him a kiss, then handed him back to Heddy. “No, I’ll get it. You go ahead and take him upstairs and I’ll be up to see him in a few minutes.“ Blair ran to the phone hoping the caller wouldn’t hang up.
A little breathless, she answered. "Hello?"
"Hello, Blair." Sam could barely hear Blair. "I found him."
Blair shook her phone as static crackled in her ear. "Sam, I can hardly hear you. Did you say you found him?" Once again she got static. "Sam talk to me. Did you find him?" the static died down and Sam's voice came through clearly.
"Yes, I found him. He's on the island of Guam."
Blair clutched the phone to her chest and took some deep breaths. He was alive. She put the phone back up to her ear. "He's alright. Where did you find him?" Unfortunately, the interference interrupted the next few words, but Blair was able to make out the word 'hospital'. "Sam, stay there. The children and I will take the next flight out. We should be there in a couple of days." Blair hung up. She dashed up the stairs shouting."Heddy, pack some bags for the children." As she got to the top of the stairs, Starr came running to meet her.
"Mommy, where are we going?"
"We're going to get Daddy." Blair picked up her little girl and swung her around as Starr screamed, "Hooray!"
Todd watched as the woman disappeared back into the hospital. Then he shook his head. You’re pathetic Todd, now you're seeing strangers and thinking you know them, not to mention you think they're taking pictures of you. God, you really do think the world revolves around you, first Miguela and now that woman. Get a grip. He turned his chair back around and looked out at the ocean.
He reached into his pocket and pulled the picture back out. "Damn. Why can't I remember why I was carrying this?" For months, he had studied the picture. They were a beautiful family. His finger again traced the little girl's face. Miguela had suggested they might be his, but it didn't make sense. Surely he would have remembered that? Maybe the truth was just that simple. He had seen the picture and had wanted a family like that. From the things he was remembering about himself, he obviously hadn’t deserved a family. Todd thought back to the terrible memory of losing his daughter. Had it been real? Todd fingered the thread tying the woman to the children. Whoever they were, someone had been mad enough to tear the woman away and then had repaired it. Who could have done that?
“Okay Todd, say this is your family. Why aren’t they looking for you? Why were you on a raft, of all things, in the middle of a Goddamn ocean? You’ve got to stop. This is stupid. You told Miguela you were ready to get on with your life. It makes no sense to keep hanging onto something that has no meaning to you.” He rolled his chair to the corner of the deck, where a trash can set, and dropped the picture in. Then he turned and began rolling to the door that led to his ward. He pulled the door open and started to enter. He was halfway through the door when he stopped. “Shit” He backed out and let the door close. Turning around he rolled back to the trash can and rescued the picture. He brushed some sand off of it and put it back into his pocket. The anxiety he had felt that moment as he was about to enter the ward eased up as he put his hand over it. “You might not be my family but you’re all I have from my previous life. I guess I’m just stuck with you.” The sun was setting as he entered the ward, strangely at peace.
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