Ericka looked at the young girl standing on her porch. Her raven hair was pulled back from her face, and her piercing blue eyes stared at Ericka, pleading for answers. “I was told that I could find Deidre Kirkpatrick here,” the girl said.
“I’m afraid that whoever told you that was sadly mistaken,” Ericka said, stepping out onto the porch and closing the door behind her. “There is no one here by that name.”
The girl reached into her back pocket and pulled out an old photo. Holding it out to Ericka, she said, “Take a look at this, please. Are you sure she isn’t here?”
Taking the photo from her, Ericka looked at it. Two young women, arms wrapped around each other, grinned for the camera. Both had raven hair and blue eyes. They were wearing university T-shirts and jeans. Ericka felt her stomach roll as she stared at the photo.
She gave it back to the girl. “I’m sorry, I don’t recognize anyone in that picture.”
Tears formed in the girl’s eyes, and for a moment, Ericka’s steel heart almost gave way. But the consequences would be severe if she did. There was no way that she could reveal the truth to this girl…or anyone.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to help you,” she told the girl. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m in the middle of a meeting.” She gently closed the door in the girl’s face.
“Are you all right?” Grayson asked when Ericka returned to the living room. “You look a little pale.”
“I’m fine,” Ericka lied.
“Who was at the door?”
“Just a child selling something for school.”
Grayson chuckled. “You’d think the kids would know better than to come here. You don’t give money for frivolous things like that. But I wish you had let me know; I would have bought something from her.”
“That’s because you’re a big softie,” Ericka said, walking over to him and giving him a kiss on the cheek.
He looked at her for a moment. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” she assured him. “Let’s get back to work, shall we? I want to get this boring business stuff out of the way so we can play.”
As Grayson started going over the next item on his list, Ericka’s thoughts wandered back to her college days. No one could know the terrible things that happened there.
Not even teenage girls who came looking for answers that she would never get.