With a growing sense of horror, I turned and--quite literally--leapt on to Blitz.
Shocked at the sudden unknown weight on his back, Blitz bucked. I sat heavily into my seat, dug my heels into the stirrups, and pulled on his reins.
Blitz stopped fighting me once he realized who I was.
"That's right," I said under my breath, kicking Blitz into a gallop. "It's me. . ."
"He's gone?" Wester repeated, pulling a paper from a file.
"Yes. Do you think I'd call wolf for fun?" I asked, exasperated. "You raised me better than that, Pa."
Wester ran a hand over his face, picking up an inkwell and a pen. "This is the third one this month. . ." he muttered, writing on a sheet of paper something Eliot couldn't read from his side of the table.
"You mean there's been more than one?" I asked, slamming my hands on my father's desk. "Then you should be all over this case!" I shouted, standing up abruptly and causing the chair to fall over.
A few officers stopped what they were doing and looked at me.
I felt my face turn red as I sheepishly picked the chair back up and sat down.
"This is the problem with letting my guard down near my kid. . ." Wester muttered. He set down his pen and looked at me. "Eliot, we're doing our best. But there's not much we can do when someone goes missing without a trace."
"Fine then. Show me what you have. I'll find Jon!" I persisted.
Wester blinked, then smiled at me, as if I were a young buck who had just shown him that they could spin without falling over.
"Right," he said, chuckling. "I'd let my fourteen-year-old West son do my own job." He stopped laughing and looked at me seriously. "Like hell I would!"
My fists trembled with rage. I knew my father's job. I knew there was hardly anything he could do. I also knew that I was being unreasonable. My father was a senior officer who'd served on the force for sixteen years--ever since he turned twenty--and even he couldn't do anything about the situation.
My father looked down helplessly, and continued writing.
"I'll do what I can," he said softly. "But you can't go. All the kids who have been taken have been around your age. Don't bite off more than you can chew, Eliot." He looked at me with those puppy-eyes, his usual joyous twinkle nowhere to be found.
I mentally prepared myself.
"Fine," I lied. "I'll see you at dinner."
Wester smiled. "All right then, laddie."
Dayse was sewing when I got home.
"Hey Ma," I said, stamping the dust off my boots in front door.
She nodded her head in my direction in recognition of my entrance, then went back to her sewing.
I went upstairs and prepared a satchel with some basic supplies and filled my canteen.
"Goin' out for a long hunt?" she asked. I'd left on a hunt for two or three days more than once--it was usually because I was tired of the same old rabbit every night. "Gonna bring Ma home a doe?"
"Something like that," I said absent-mindedly. "See ya." I lifted my rifle over my shoulder and left.
I'm coming to find you, old friend. . . I thought.