Missing for Christmas

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Missing for Christmas

6:04 p.m.

“Natalie, you’re still here?”

Natalie Flames hurled a silver dart at the board and the rubber tip hit with a thud. “Yeah.” She picked up another and aimed it as her cousin, Nathan, appeared in the doorway with a cup of eggnog in his hand.

“I thought you were going to the party with Mom and Dad.” Nathan said, taking a sip of the cool drink in his hand.

Natalie threw the last dart in her hand and then moved to remove the darts from the board. “Seeming how you’re their son and I’m just the niece, I really wouldn’t be talking.”

“Hey, I was at work.” Nathan said, defended himself.

“Really?” Natalie twisted the dart between her fingers and stared at her cousin. “Because your key to your locker is in your desk drawer.”

Nathan looked a bit shocked by my question. Quickly, he asked, “Back up a second. You were in my desk drawers?”

Natalie shrugged her shoulders. “Your mom asked me to get the Christmas card she told you to sign out of the drawers before she left, and the key happened to be in the same drawer.”

“I forgot the key.” Nathan said, waving it inside with his hand. “Besides, the only thing I need out of my lockers is my lunch, but since I already ate before I had left, it wasn’t a big deal.”

“Which leads us to another topic of why you have about twelve receipts to nearby restaurants at times you said you were working.” Natalie said.

“You don’t get the idea of personal space, do you?” Nathan rolled his eyes. “Maybe I went there on my lunch break.”

“You went to a sit-down restaurant during your, what, ten-minute lunch break? It would take at least twenty minutes to find a seat, not including the prepping of the food, ordering, and such. Come on, I’m not stupid.”

Nathan hesitated for a second, and then finally, but sheepishly admitted, “There’s a girl. My mom and dad don’t like her because her parents are ex-criminals, so we’ve been meeting in secret.” He rubbed the tip of his shoe against the carpet. “I was working those days, but they were only two hour shifts not four.”

Natalie took a sip of her coffee. “What’s her name?”

“Susan Crystal.”


“I can’t tell you that.”

Natalie crossed her arms and leaned against the edge of the wall. “And why not?”

“I’m not sure I can trust you not to call her or something.” Nathan answered.

Natalie gave him a flat look. “And why can’t I call her?”

“You just can’t.” Nathan told me. “Look I know during your career people lied to you and now you have issues trusting people, but I’m your cousin. I’m honest and I wouldn’t lie to you.” 

“So, then what do you call what you were just doing?” Natalie asked him, referring to the beginning of their conversation.

Nathan exhaled a deep breath. “It was for a good reason.”

“If your parents don’t approve of a girl you’re dating, it probably means you shouldn’t be dating her.” Natalie pinned each dart on the board. “And there’s never a good reason to lie.”

“Whatever.” Nathan walked back into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. “What was for dinner?”

“Pizza. Bottom shelf to the left.” Natalie told him, and then sipped her coffee again. There was definitely something else that Nathan was hiding. Question was, what was it?”

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