Jase drove slowly down the road, searching for his old home.
He knew twilight was a great equalizer, but the neighborhood sure looked a lot better than it had ten years go when he'd come back to town after Growler drowned in the Bosque River after a night of heavy drinking. In fact, it looked downright respectable--without a single junk pile, broken-down car or scavenging dog pack in sight,
Thank God that Lolly would never know the squalor he'd grown up in. "Poor but honest" was the picture he'd always painted of his family--he'd sugar-coated his childhood and said squat about why he'd left town.
His high beam cut across the front of the house as he turned into the drive, but there was no forlorn teenager sitting on the front steps.
His mouth went dry and his chest tightened.
What if . . .
No, he refused to go down that road. He was Lolly’s father. He’d know if something had happened to her--wouldn’t he?
He ran his eyes over the shadowed porch again
Goddamn--where was she? If she wasn't at Kinkaid House, she had to be here.
He backed the Cadillac into the driveway--if there was an emergency, he needed to be able to haul ass. Easing himself out of the car, he leaned against the side of it for a long moment, gazing into the sky and trying to be logical while his heart raced like the Indianapolis 500. .
Maybe she'd found a way to get into the house. Girl Child had been an expert at picking locks ever since she was two, when she'd shrieked "Me do it!" and unbuckled her own carseat belt, which, of course, meant he had to spend half the night on the internet, searching for a tamperproof model. Truth be told, he was proud of her willfulness, even encouraged it, As far as he was concerned, it was a survival trait.
But there was a big difference between a willful toddler unlocking her seat belt and a willful fifteen-year-old taking off down I-35 on her own.
And, oh God, I love her so much.
He shoved off the had to car and walked up onto the porch, took one last look around, and flipped on the lights.
His voice echoed in the empty house.
Maybe she hadn't heard him.
He made a swift search of every room, opening every closet, then checked out back.
A chill crept over him.
He walked into his old room at the front of the house, raised the blind on the lone window, and looked up at the evening star--the wishing star, as Aunt Maxie called it--and wished his daughter to miraculously appear.