Twins are supposed to have an unbreakable bond, but Patti and Jamie have serious relationship issues. They haven’t spoken since Jamie ruined Patti’s upcoming nuptials years ago. When a niece she knows nothing about telephones, Patti must unravel the yarn of Jamie’s life and her mysterious disappearance. Detective Carter Caldwell takes his job seriously, and it's his job to keep Patti and her niece safe. But Patti is determined to help find her sister. As the investigation grows more dangerous, Carter begrudgingly admits the safest place for Patti is at his side. Each step in their journey leads them closer to the truth but pulls them further down a road filled with danger and deception, where each will battle for survival and the lives of countless Americans.
Patti Jakowski sat alone at her deck watching the drizzle from the leaky roof form an ever growing puddle on her picnic table. Taking another sip of the now cold coffee, she frowned. It would be the third time she’d contacted the roofers. She would never let herself be talked into a major house renovation from a door-to-door salesman again.
Great way to start summer vacation. Sitting and watching the rain.
The ringing of the phone brought her to her feet, and she ran into the kitchen. The scent of baking cinnamon rolls reminded her to check the oven after the call. "Hello.”
"Me want my aunt." It was a young girl. By the sound of her voice, maybe three, or four.
"Oh, I'm sorry, honey. You must have dialed the wrong number. Hang up and try again. OK, sweetie?" instructed Patti, slipping into her teacher voice.
"I need my aunt. Mommy’s not here," said the little girl. “I ‘sposed to call my aunt. I want my mommy.”
Her heart skipped a beat. Patti didn’t like the sound of that. Surely, her parents hadn’t left this little girl alone. "You're mommy's not home with you?" Concern edged into her voice.
"Just me. Can’t find Mommy. Where's Mommy?" The little girl’s voice trembled.
"I don't know, sweetie. How old are you?” Patti asked, while reaching for the pad and pen by the phone.
“I’m four.” The little girl’s voice was tinged with pride at the announcement.
"That’s very good. What's your name?"
"I not ‘spose to tell strangers." It came out more like a wail than words.
"That's a good girl. You're right, you shouldn’t tell strangers your name, but I’m not a stranger. You called me, remember?”
There was a pause as the little girl considered this new information. “Sabina.”
“Do you mean Sabrina?”
Patti smiled. She’d had a cat named Sabrina when she was young. Patti and her twin had played house with that silly animal for hours on end.
Her sister always said she would name her first daughter after...
Patti’s heart skipped a beat. It couldn’t be. Patti shook the thought away. This Sabrina had nothing to do with Patti’s twin. It was a coincidence, nothing more. There were lots of little girls with the name. A little voice told her there was no such thing as coincidences. Patti ignored the little voice. “That’s a pretty name, Sabrina. What’s your mommy’s name?”
Patti resisted the urge to sigh, glad she worked with high school students instead of younger children. “Does she have another name, Sabrina?”
“No, just Mommy.”
Patti looked up at the ceiling. This wasn’t going anywhere. The authorities needed to get to this little girl’s house. Why hadn’t she taken the time to get the caller ID on her phone set up?
“Can you tell me your aunt's name?”
"I forget." The girl’s whimpers turned into sobs.
"That's OK, Sabrina. Don’t cry. You're being very brave. What I want you to do is to hang up and wait by the phone until it rings. Then, make sure you pick it up, OK? It will be me calling you back."
"Otay," the little voice said.
Patti waited to hear the disconnection but nothing happened.
"Sabrina, hang up the phone. I promise to call you back."
This time Patti heard the disconnection. She hung up the phone, and then immediately picked it up and dialed *67.
A mechanical voice came on. “I’m sorry the number has been blocked.”
“Oh, perfect,” Patti mumbled. Her idea hadn’t been all that great. She flopped on a kitchen chair. What was she supposed to do? She had to help this little girl.
She jumped back up as a whiff of cinnamon scented the air. Opening the oven, she pulled out the cookie sheet, found a spatula and transferred the rolls onto a plate. Another idea popped into her head. She picked up the phone and hit 0.
“Operator. How can I help you?”
Patti explained the situation and was put on hold. She ran fingers through her hair in an attempt to comb it. A haircut was one of the first things on her to-do list now that school was over for the summer.
The operator came back on after several minutes. “We’d like your permission to access your phone records to find out where the little girl called from. Just a reminder, this call is being recorded.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” The operator hung up.
Patti squeezed vanilla icing out of the plastic container and munched on slightly burnt cinnamon rolls.
Just because her name was Sabrina didn’t mean she had anything to do with Jamie.
Patti hadn’t heard from her twin in years. Her foot tapped against the chair rail.
The phone rang again.
Relief flooded Patti’s soul as she heard Sabrina’s little voice. “This is Patti.”
"Aunt Patti. I called you. You didn’t call me back. You promised," Sabrina whined.
“I know I did, Sabrina, but my phone wouldn’t work. I’m not your aunt, but I’m going to find her for you.”
“But you Aunt Patti. Mommy told me to call you.”
Patti felt a chill at the little girl’s certainty. It couldn’t be…could it?
“Where do you live, sweetie?”
“Me live at home. Where you live?”
“I live in Cleveland, Sabrina. What’s the name of your city?” Patti didn’t know how to help without knowing where the girl was calling from.
“I gotta go potty. Bye.”
“Wait, don’t hang...” Patti groaned when she heard the click.