The Brew was the place that we ate lunch every day and where Sam and I had our Sunday brunches. They knew us too well. They knew our meals and drinks for each and every occasion, so we didn't really have to worry about that.
Sam and I met Sean, James and Angie inside with our usual table in the back. Our seats were open so we slid into them. "As you know, we don't have that much time." I looked at everyone and they already had their game faces planted on. "We have one hour with you guys, but we have two hours before the cops begin to suspect anything."
James looked at his watch. "Alright, fill us in on everything."
"These are the places that Andrea would visit and these are the people that she knows." I laid both lists down and the three of them were quick to take picture. "I say we split up and try to find these places. Angie could you take the Freckles restaurant, James could you try the Yellowborne Park and Sean could you pick up the mall that's in Milton. It's a big one so if you need our help to scope we wouldn't mind. Sam and I are going over to Rona. There's a thrift shop that she likes there."
Everyone nodded and began to stand up and got to work. James turned and looked at Sam. "How you holding up Sammy?"
Everyone paused from what they were doing and we turned to look at Sam for her reaction. She took a deep breath in and stood up. "I'll be much better once we find my sister."
We all split up and drove off in our separate directions. Sammy leaned against the passenger's window as I took the driver's seat. She was exhausted and there was no way that she could have drove. I could continue to tell her that we would find Andrea, but giving her false hope wasn't nice of me. She didn't want to hear it either. She expected results and that's what I would give to her.
She leaned over and turned on the radio, hating the silence that erupted between the both of us. Paramore blasted through the car and she sighed and leaned back against the window.
I continued down the road and made a right down the street that would lead us to our destination. Rona wasn't that far from us. It was just another add on to our small town along with Milton. The thrift store that Andrea loved so much is one that I also loved. Samantha had gotten us both hooked there a couple of summers ago. We traded in our clothes and gathered new ones. It was our secret hobby.
I pulled into the parking zone and turned to look at Sammy. She had the saddest face on and she wasn't even registering the fact that we were at our destination.
"You wanna know the last thing that she told me?" She glared at me. "She told me that she actually liked Brad and that she had a nice evening." Sam shrugged. "And then she's gone the same night? It doesn't make any kind of sense to me."
I leaned back against the seat. "The years being a preteen are weird stuff. You and I both know this very well. Sometimes what they do cannot be explained."
Sam shrugged and unbuckled her seat belt. "You're totally right." She looked at me. "Let's go find our girl."
I smiled because in that brief moment I realized, my Sammy was back.
Exiting the car, Sammy and I both made our way inside the little thrift shop. We looked around and noticed people all around the place. Sammy left my side to go scope out the place and I went to the front desk. There was a short woman there with a bored face and scraggly red hair.
"Hi..." I glanced at her nametag and smiled, "Sharon." She gave me an uninterested look as I began to pull out my phone. I scrolled to a picture of Sam, Andrea and I and showed it to her. "Have you seen this girl in here today?" I pointed to the picture of Andrea.
Sharon raised an eyebrow and leaned in to get a closer look. "No, I didn't see her in here today. I totally did see her in here yesterday around noon-ish. Sundays we get our new shipments of clothing in."
I pressed the lock button on my phone and stuck it in my pocket. "Anything out of the ordinary?"
Sharon nodded. "She was with this girl that had pink streaks in her hair, but get this." I raised an eyebrow. "The girl totally tried to make her shoplift. Can you believe that?" I squinted my eyebrows at her. "The girl you're looking for is a total angel. I see her in here all the time.
Yesterday, she just wasn't feeling it. I had been nearby and could actually hear the whole thing taking place. Before the pink streak girl could steal, your friend told her off and then stormed out of here. The other girl followed right after her."
I smiled. "Thanks so much Sharon."
I met Sammy in the jewelry isle. "She's not in here."
"But she was in here yesterday." As Sam and I walked out, I relayed to her the whole story about the pink hair girl and the shoplifting. "And she said that she stormed out when she noticed that she was trying to steal. At least we know Angie isn't as rebellious as we think she is."
Sam looked up in thought. "The girl that she's talking about, her name is Victoria. They actually aren't friends so I'm confused." I looked at Sam as she continued to look up, trying to piece this all together. "This Victoria girl is a bully."
I stopped and thought about it. "Do you think Andrea was trying to make amends? That's the only reason I could think of for her hanging out with Victoria."
Sam shook her head. "No, it's something else. It's something that she told me about Victoria, but I can't put my finger on it." Sam turned and looked at me. "I think I know where Andie is."
"Betrayal." I looked at Sam. She was very perked up from her thoughts. She took the wheel and I sat in the passenger's seat and watched as her mind went to work. "Andie and Victoria were friends once upon a time, but Victoria betrayed my sister. She, of course, was betrayed when my father left the house. But she was going on this new thing. She felt that since my mother could move on and find happiness, she should try to also."
I raised an eyebrow as she continued stealing glances at me. "Okay, so since she felt that her mother could move on and forgive her father, she could try to forgive those that betrayed her starting with Victoria?"
"And when Andrea realized that Victoria wouldn't be the easiest to make amends with at this very moment, she decided that she would go to the easiest person which would be-"
"Your mother," I said filling in the blank. "Which is why she gave the family brunch a chance because she wanted to be able to forgive your mother."
"Right and since she forgave my mother with this silly brunch, her next stop would be the next person on the list who betrayed her which would be-"
"Bingo." She smiled. "That's where she is."
It all made sense now. It made sense because Sam knew her sister and she filled in the blanks when she was supposed to. Andrea might have been a little rebel and did things like talk back when she wasn't supposed to, defied teacher's rules, got detention and stuff like that, but her heart was really big and she understood when things needed to be let go. She was maturing. It seemed as though she was letting go of this three year 'bad girl phase.'
"Sam you're a genius," I said looking at her.
"No, I'm totally not." She looked at me briefly with a smile upon her face before looking back at the road. "I am attentive and without being attentive, I wouldn't have been able to find her."
We approached our destination and she cut the car off. "Do you want me to stay in the car?"
Sam looked at the house that was staring back at us. It was in a quiet neighborhood where many of the elderly lived. Sam's dad had moved into a different house with another woman. Sam didn't agree with her father and she never forgave him for leaving. He would extend invitations to come and see her, but she blew him off. She hadn't seen him in the three years since he left. Andrea had just started to see him about a year ago. She enjoyed their visits.
Sam looked at me. "This will be the first time that I see him in three years. Would you really let me do that alone B?"
I shook my head. "No. We face every obstacle together Sammy."
She smiled at me. "That's what I like to hear."
We both got out of the car together and walked slowly towards the house. Sam looked at me briefly as we got to the front door and I looked at her. "Whenever you're ready."
She turned back to the front door and took a deep breath in. She placed her hand up to knock and at the same time, the door opened. We both stepped back, a bit shocked before we realized that her father had opened the door and was staring back at us.
It was a very quiet, awkward time. Sam and her dad stared at one another as I continued to glance back and forth between the both of them. Sam was very stunned, mostly because she had told me the previous times that she would never see her father again even if something big had happened in her life.
"Hello Sammy," were the first words that her father spoke to her. He was a tall, middle-aged man who was always sharply dressed and ready to go whenever it was deemed necessary. His hair was graying a bit on the sides, but he was still a very sharp man. He looked me over and smiled. "Briana, so nice to see you again."
"You too Mr. Westbrook," I muttered.
I glanced at Sam for a quick second and realized that she was still out of words. I slightly bumped her and it seemed as though she snapped back to reality. She took a deep breath and smiled. "Is she here?"
"She as in your sister?" Sam tilted her head. "She's here." Sam let out a deep breath and so did I. Her father looked from Sam to myself and then back. "Is there something that I'm missing?"
"Missing?" Sam's eyes bulged. "That's what Andrea was. We thought that she was missing this entire time. My mother had been worried sick! Don't you know how to use a telephone Garrett?!"
I clenched my jaw at Sam. When she was mad, believe that she was mad.
"First off Sammy, I'm just as surprised as you." He began to look around, realizing that we were outside still. "Maybe you both should come in."
Sam shot me a look and I gave her the same one. She turned and walked into her dad's house and I followed. He shut the door softly as we all stood in the foyer. It was pretty nice. It was a calm blue color and had a table stand with flowers right next to the entrance.
"Why didn't you let my mother know that she was here?" Sam muttered, starting up again.
"She told me that her mom had dropped her off here," her father continued. "She said that there was no need to call and confirm. She just knew that you would be by to get her today after the school day."
"And you didn't think it was weird? The whole story?"
"She was crying when she came." Sammy stopped abruptly. "Nothing else really mattered."
Sam's whole demeanor changed. She stepped toward her father. "Why was she crying?"
Her dad clenched his jaw. "Maybe she can tell you herself."
He turned and began to walk down the entryway and we followed him. He led us to the back of the house where he slid the sliding door opened. The backyard was pretty big and it had a patio table with a shade right above it. From where we stood, we spotted Andrea sitting there with her back to us.
Sam didn't miss a beat. She ran towards Andrea and turned her around. Andrea stood up and just hugged Sam. Sam looked at me, confused, but hugged her back despite the anger that seared through her.
"What happened?" I asked, crossing my arms.
Mr. Westbrook sighed and crossed his arms. "She had held a grudge since I left. She had never forgiven me, nor had she had the heart to forgive Diana, my girlfriend. She said that people move on and she has to accept that no matter what."
"She's smart." I watched as Sam sat down in front of Andrea. She was so happy to see her so I was pretty sure that she forgot about the fact that she was supposed to slap her. "She just wants things to go back to normal, but she realizes that won't happen unless she forgives and moves on."
It was quiet for a while until Mr. Westbrook looked at me. "How is she?"
I shrugged. "Sam is fine. She's great in school, even better at her extracurricular. She's just been same old Sammy." I looked at him. "She's never changed."
He smiled. "How's Beth?" Beth, aka Bethany, aka Sam's mother.
"She's good. She's happier. Speaking of, I need to make a phone call to her."
I turned to go back into the house. Pulling my phone out, I dialed her number and she answered on the first ring. "Please tell me you found her."
"Sammy did. She's safe."
I heard a loud sigh of relief. "Thank goodness. I cannot wait to get my hands on that girl so I can tell her how scared she made me. Where was she?"
I bit my lip and turned my back towards Mr. Westbrook. "She was at Garrett's house."
"Garrett?" She scoffed. "My ex-husband?"
"That's the one."
"And he didn't call me? He should have called me. He should have..." Her sentence trailed off and she sighed once more. "I'm glad she was there." And from the other end, I heard muffled crying sounds.
Jasmine Charms: Thank you for your criticism. It will be taken into consideration. I'm really glad that you love my story enough to help me. No one's perfect and it used to be very hard to listen when people would like tell me what was wrong with my story, but now it is way easier. So thank you!!
Miha: I hope you are as pleased with this chapter as well! Thanks for reading!!