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“We could go inside and see if we find any pictures that might tell us for sure if Natasha Owens is our girl.”
“I think that’s called breaking and entering,” Della said.
“Just entering,” he said. “I saw an upstairs window that’s open. And we’d hear if a car pulled up.”
She considered Burnett’s parting words about Chase being a wild card. But the temptation lingered.
“It’s not as if we’re going to steal anything,” he added.
She backed up and looked up at the second-story window, raised a good four inches. Oh, hell, what was the worst that could happen?
You could get caught, arrested, and then for sure your dad will pull you from Shadow Falls.
Her mind flashed an image of Natasha and Liam. Okay, was that the ghost? Or was it just her accepting that sometimes you just had to take risks? “Let’s do it.”
Chapter Twenty-three
“Or maybe we shouldn’t do it,” Della added a second later, when she realized what they were about to do was really a crime. And at seventeen she could be tried as an adult.
Chase cut his eyes to her. “Do you want to wait outside?”
“No,” she snapped, feeling as if he was calling her a coward.
He looked around and tilted his head to the side as if to confirm no cars were coming.
“Then let’s do it.” He leapt up, caught the windowsill, let go with one hand, and then lifted the window up. Only after he’d climbed in did she jump up.
She caught the windowsill and Chase offered a hand. She ignored it and pulled herself into the room. A game room. A large brown leather sofa cornered the room and a large television sat in the other. A treadmill and a set of weights were set to the side, which she hoped explained why the scent of human was so strong.
Music, a Dido song, piped into the room from two speakers in the ceiling. Della looked around at the nice interior, feeling the sense of sadness even stronger in here than outside. She glanced around for any personal photos, but other than a few prints of wildlife, nothing hung on the wall.
Chase walked to the door, slowly opened it, and started moving down the hall. Della, feeling like a criminal, crept behind him. He appeared to be heading down the stairs, but her gaze shifted to the hall wall that was lined with what looked like family photos.
“Look,” Della whispered, still feeling edgy. Her gaze shifted from the two parents—one American and the father looked at least part Asian—to a young girl. Natasha. Her heart sang a little victory song.
“It’s her,” Della said. “I knew it.”
“Okay,” Chase said. “Now we know her name is Natasha Owen. Let’s see if we can find her bedroom and see if there are any clues in there that might help us.”
He moved to the first door on the right and opened it. A bedroom. Decorated in soft cream colors, the room looked devoid of personality. The bed appeared freshly made or perhaps never slept in. Guest bedroom, Della surmised, and both she and Chase stepped back at the same time. The door made a slight clink when he shut it.
The next room he opened sent a warm wash of emotion over Della. Painted and decorated in bright purple with whitewashed furniture, it had teen written all over it. Even the bedspread, a brighter purple, screamed that this room had been lived in by a young person. Someone who loved life and lived it with gusto.
This was it. Natasha’s room. Della knew it.
Three pairs of shoes were scattered around the room, jeans and some blouses were piled in one corner as if the last time Natasha was here, she hadn’t been sure what to wear and had changed clothes several times.
Had she been going on a date? Or going out for pizza with her friends? Oddly, standing in the room, Della felt bits and pieces of Natasha’s personality seep into her pores. A few CDs were on the dresser. She loved music. Maybe even to dance.
Pushing the crazy thoughts away, she started doing what they’d come in here to do: to see if they could find any clues.
The bed wasn’t made, as if the world had stopped the day she had gone missing—or as her parents saw it, the day she died.
For one second, Della remembered how her mom hadn’t touched her room after she left for Shadow Falls. Was that a sign of love?
On the bedside table was an eight-by-ten photo of Natasha and two other girls, all laughing and capturing a moment of happiness, of friendship.
Della moved closer to the picture and thought of her two friends Miranda and Kylie. Were these Natasha’s best friends? Had they too been devastated at what they thought was her death?
Picking up the frame, Della recalled the few friends she’d left behind in her old life. Oddly, they hadn’t been nearly as important to her as Miranda and Kylie.
Pulling herself out of her past, she noted another picture of the three girls with graduation caps sitting on all of the girls’ heads. Natasha was older than Della had originally thought. That, or she’d finished school early.
She put one picture down to pick up the other. Natasha’s face drew her attention. There was something … almost familiar about it. And it was more than just having seen it in the photo with Chan and her aunt.
The sound of Chase opening drawers and rummaging through things behind her called her attention. She got a big sensation that they were intruding on the parents’ personal shrine to their daughter, and she put the picture back down, almost wishing she hadn’t even touched them.
She glanced back at Chase. “Don’t move things around too much,” she said, sensing the mom or dad came in here often and had memorized the placement of all their daughter’s things. Things that told of her life.