Keeping Her Warm(6)

By: Alexa Riley

I know who will have all the information I’ll need. I push up from my chair and head back toward the front of the building. Pam is clicking away at her computer. I lean up against the wall, and she stops typing and looks over at me.

“Sheriff?” She tucks a piece of loose hair behind her ear.

“Mark Young,” I say simply.

She shakes her head, a sad smile pulling at her lips. “Haven't heard that name in a while. He up to no good? I thought Tom banned him from the Snowdin?”

I don’t answer her question but ask one of my own. “When’s the last time you saw him?”

Pam’s eyebrows scrunch together like she’s thinking. “God, it’s been a while now that I think on it. I’ve seen his daughter at the store a few times. I’d heard something about him being laid up. That his leg finally gave out on him.”

“Daughter?” My mind gets stuck on the one word. I knew he had to have a daughter, with that bedroom, but the question is, where are they? Because my gut is telling me that girl is still staying in that house. Living in her bedroom.

“Yeah, pretty little thing. Looks just like her mama.”

I feel a little relief at the mention of a mother. Maybe the girl is with her. “His file said he was married, but I couldn't find anything on the wife.”

“You probably won’t. She disappeared about ten years ago. Just up and left. Guess she got sick of Mark’s shenanigans. Still, how could a mother leave her little girl like that? Especially with a father that couldn't even take care of himself.”

“How old is the daughter?” I ask.

Pam ponders for a second. “I think eighteen now. Pretty sure she’s a senior over at the high school. I see her walking to school sometimes. See her over at the grocery store every now and then picking stuff up, but that's about it. Real quiet girl. Keeps to herself. Heck, most of the time she’s got her head down and her hair in her face so you can’t really see her.”

I breathe a little easier knowing she’s eighteen. The idea of having to call social services put a pit in my stomach. We don't have anything in our county to handle that. Our town isn’t tiny, but it isn’t big either. It’s just big enough to see new faces pass through but small enough that people still get into everyone’s business and gossip spreads easily.

“His record had a long list of arrests. How’d he keep custody of the daughter?” One would have thought someone would have called child services before.

Pam gives a little shrug. “They did get called. She got pulled in once and was gone for about a month. Mark got his crap together and got her back. It didn't last long, though. He was back off the wagon pretty soon after, but child services could never catch her. She wouldn't let them, and after a while they kinda gave up and, well, you know how Sherriff Frank was.” She rolls her eyes as she says his name. Yeah, I know how the lazy fuck was.

I run my hands through my hair trying to take this all in.

“Catherine was the only one who could really get her father under control. She’d often come down to the bar to get him to calm down and leave. Even the sheriff would call her to come get him sometimes, even when the girl was only, like, thirteen.” She shakes her head in disgust. “It wasn't right, but like I said, she was the only one who could calm him down.”

I bite back the string of curses I want to let loose.

“Catherine Young, I take it, is her name?”

Pam nods. “Did something happen? Are Mark and Catherine okay? Crap, I feel bad I haven't thought about them in so long.”

“Not sure yet, but if you see the girl walking around, you call me,” I tell her. She nods again at me. Maybe I could go up to the school and check on her. I glance at the clock and see with the early dismissal school has already let out. Fuck.

Pam reaches in her drawer and pulls out my keys.

“Chains are on.” She hands them to me. I put them into my pocket. “I think I’m going to stay here tonight, too. Field any calls.”

I raise my eyebrows at her, because Asher could handle it if need be. Her cheeks turn a light shade of pink.

“All right,” I agree. Maybe these two will finally get on with it and become a couple and stop skirting around each other.

“Oh!” She reaches for a sheet of paper and hands it to me. “Mrs. Lemon called.”

Now I have to fight an eye roll. “She said she can’t find Fluffy and she’s worried the cat will die in the storm if he’s not found.”

Mrs. Lemon calls at least three times a week about something. From people driving down her street too fast, to someone walking on her lawn, to even a car she’s never seen before being parked on her street. Half the time when I get over there she brushes off whatever reason she called and then makes me do some kind of handiwork around her house. Most of the time I don’t care. If we’re not busy, that is, but right now I don’t have the patience for it.