Remember Me(10)

By: Ashlee Mallory

Mr. Williams. One of the best teachers Allie’d ever had. A teacher, a mentor, a confidant…and a friend. A man whom she’d mourned when he disappeared.

Who now, it appeared, had been murdered.

Sam pulled into the familiar driveway at his parents’ home and sat for a long moment, the engine still running. This day had not gone as he’d expected. Not by a long shot. Good lord. And he had thought the cute blonde in Jeremy’s office would be the surprise of the day.

Mr. Williams, murdered.

Sam could scarcely believe it.

Fourteen years ago, Mr. Williams’s car had turned up near a remote hiking trail in the Uinta Mountains. Everyone had presumed he’d gone hiking and ended up either lost or hurt, unable to get help. His body was never recovered.

But this was surreal.

A vacant lot next to the school seemed like an obvious place to search, and Sam wondered why the police hadn’t done so back when Mr. Williams was first reported missing. Maybe it was understandable, since there’d been no indication of foul play, and all evidence had pointed to an unfortunate accident or misadventure.

Sam thought back to all the praise and encouragement Jackson Williams had given him when he’d worked on the school paper, inspiring Sam to go into journalism in college. Mr. Williams had also been a supportive soccer coach and good friend, and when he’d disappeared, it had devastated Sam. But he’d also had other things on his mind at the time. Things that he’d rather not have dragged up and be forced to relive now. The same reasons why, a couple months after his teacher disappeared and Sam had graduated, he’d left home. He’d hoped for good.

The shrill ring of his cell phone on the passenger seat next to him interrupted his thoughts. He picked up the phone. It was Josh.

“Hey, Dad. Got your message. What’s up? Already calling for an emergency care package with those Trader Joe’s chips you like and some real beer?”

“Actually, wise guy, Salt Lake does have a Trader Joe’s, and I already have three bags stashed back at my room,” Sam said and smiled. “Plus, you’re only thirteen. Any care package you send better only have contraband coffee beans.” That earned a laugh, and some of the tension in Sam’s neck eased. Which was why he’d wanted to talk to his son. He needed the grounding. And the sound of his voice. “So, how are things going with you at your mom’s?”

There was a sigh. “The baby cries all night, so mom usually sleeps a lot during the day. But it’s all right. Steve took me to a basketball game last night to get me out of the house.”

Sam grunted at his son’s references to his new half-brother and stepfather. Sam’s ex-wife really had changed a lot since they were together—definitely for the better. After a few more minutes of listening to Josh’s bemoaned account of the baby’s schedule and how he couldn’t wait for Sam to get back so he could sleep in his own room—a baby-free zone—they said warm goodbyes and ended the call.

Sam glanced up at his own parents’ imposing two-story brick home and knew that now was the time to get this over with—while he was still heartened from talking with Josh.

At the front door, he wrestled with whether to ring the doorbell and wait or go ahead and walk in. He didn’t know if he still had the right to just enter when he wanted like when he was a kid. The last thing he wanted was to frighten his mom. But before he could make up his mind, the door swung open.

“Sam! I’m so glad you’re here.” His mother’s dark, black hair hung straight around her shoulders as usual—which comforted him more than he expected—but what was unusual was how pale and thin she looked. Even more so than when she’d been out to his place for Christmas.

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