From the book
Friday, February 18 St. Louis, Missouri
Willow Harris shifted the car into Park and turned off the engine. She drew in a slow, deep breath and ordered herself to remain calm.
This particular part of the east side of St. Louis wasn't exactly the kind of place a woman wanted to find herself in at dusk, but she had no choice.
She'd had to come, no matter the time of day or night. The man she'd driven here to see didn't keep the usual business hours.
Before getting out of the car she said one last prayer. Please, God, let the news be good. She wasn't sure she could take any more bad news.
She'd been fighting to get her son back for eight long months. An eternity. Hurt welled up inside her at the idea that she'd missed his second birthday. Just last week. She'd missed so much already. All those evolving toddler moments. Precious changes that no mother should miss.
Nothing would bring those moments back. Closing her eyes, she forced the painful thoughts away. She had to be strong. She would never be able to bring her baby home again if she couldn't hold herself together better than this.
"Whatever it takes," she murmured as she opened her eyes and firmed her resolve. No weakness, no fear. "I will do whatever it takes."
Willow emerged from her car and headed for the office of Davenport Investigations. She'd been here several times before. But this time was different. This time she would be given an update on the man who'd actually managed to get close enough to send back pictures of her son.
No one had gotten that close before.
Anticipation fluttered in her chest.
She couldn't wait to see the pictures of her baby. Eight endless months had passed since she'd last seen him.
She hadn't been able to hold him--to kiss his sweet little head. Maybe if she were really lucky, this man would be able to reunite her with her precious child.
After numerous failures he could be the one. The bell over the door jingled as she entered the suite of offices that sat tucked between a dry cleaning service and a small chain drug store, both of which had long ago gone out of business. The small waiting room was empty and absolutely silent as usual. Not once during her four previous visits had she encountered another client. Mr. Davenport explained that he carefully arranged appointments to ensure complete privacy. As much as she understood that need, walking into his office alone this close to dark made her a little uneasy.
Whatever it takes, she reminded herself.
She passed two upholstered chairs flanking an end table, the magazine-cluttered top highlighted by the dim glow showering down from a ceramic lamp. No desk, no chair, no telephone and, evidently, no receptionist. Just a space-challenged room designed for waiting.
Since she'd timed her arrival to the minute-- experience had taught her not to bother coming early--she strode up to the door that led into Davenport's private office and knocked. He should be waiting for her to show up about now.
"Come in, Ms. Harris," he called through the closed door.
Willow moistened her lips, took another deep breath and entered his office.
He sat behind his massive wooden desk, didn't bother standing as he gestured for her to have a seat. She'd wondered at his lack of social etiquette at first, but the hope that he could help her had overridden any second thoughts. Desperation had a way of doing that.
His desk, credenza and file cabinets were clear of clutter as if he'd taken care to lock away every single scrap of paper...