Cheryl Colleridge is a foreboding woman. She sits behind her desk, fielding interruptions from staff, the phone, and the damn ping of constant emails, begrudging the time these pesky irritations take from her actual work. The stuff that got her to the top of the game.
Right now, she’s watching Missy Miller, a newly employed office assistant, on the verge of tears mutter an outlandish reason why she needs a few days off.
‘So, perhaps tomorrow and Wednesday?’ Missy swallows a lump in her throat, but it stays there. Water. She needs a glass of water. That’ll make this dry clumpiness slide right down.
‘Well, that is an interesting turn of events.’ Cheryl’s instinct tells her Missy is lying. She stares with ice-cold detachment. There’s been nothing reported in the papers of such an event. ‘Your daughter’s been kidnapped, you say?’
‘We were asked to keep them out.’
‘Right.’ Cheryl stands behind her desk, clasps her hands behind her back. ‘You’re going to take time off work to hunt for this monster, find your daughter, unharmed, and then return, as if you’ve just been for a mini-break to the Otways?’
‘My husband has a plan.’
‘Is there a ransom?’
‘You can access this amount of cash?’ Cheryl’s tone is cutting. She’s incredulous. How can this office assistant produce quarter of a million in a few days.
None of your business, Missy almost blurts. Instead, she says, ‘Yes, my husband’s family can…’ her voice trails off, then, almost with embarrassment she continues, ‘The Millers.’
Of course. Cheryl makes the connection. The trucking tycoon. Cheryl moves to the window and looks at the activity on the street below. She understands why it’s been kept out of the press. And, it dawns on her: it wouldn’t be in her own best interests to cross the daughter-in-law of Murray Miller. He’d likely arrange for one of his trucks to run her down on a cold, dark night.
‘Very well. Take the rest of the week.’ It’s Monday morning. ‘Go now. You might as well.’
‘Thank you, Cheryl. I appreciate this.’
‘Good luck. I hope you find her,’ Cheryl adds feebly. A shiver jerks through her body as Missy leaves, followed by a foreboding chill.