Leanna would have been just as satisfied with an errand to the Sunder Lake Post Office, but today Ronnie let her venture to the bakery where she relished the sights and smells of fresh baked goods.
Leanna hesitated before facing the familiar voice. “Hi, Christine.”
“Where have you been, woman?” Christine grabbed Leanna and gave her a squeeze. “I haven’t seen you around the church in so long.”
“Well, Ronnie likes me at home.” Leanna averted her eyes.
“Yeah, I kind of noticed.” Christine’s voice revealed a hint of irritation. She peeked at Leanna’s purchase. “Your banana bread is amazing. Why are you buying it here?”
“Ronnie wanted some, but the oven isn’t working.”
“Ah, so he let you out of your cage. Hey, you wanna come over for some coffee?”
“Oh, I can’t. Ronnie is expecting me back soon.”
“Oh, come on. Have a life. Have a cup of coffee with a friend.”
At that moment it occurred to Leanna that she had the power to choose.
“You’re right, I do need a life. Let’s have coffee.” Leanna grinned, dismissing the guilt as best she could.
Blue jays whistled amid the pine trees as the two women lounged on Christine’s deck overlooking Sunder Lake. Leanna inhaled the aromatic scent of French roast coffee and basked in the warmth of the sun.
“I wish I could stay all day.”
“Why don’t you? Oh, right. Ronnie. Call him and tell him you’re hanging out with me today.”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that. Besides, we don’t have a phone anymore.”
“What? No phone? No cell either?
“We’ve never had a cell phone.”
“What, are you in the Dark Ages? I suppose you don’t have a TV or computer either.”
“Nope. Ronnie likes things simple.”
“I’ll be right back.” Christine stood, sauntered into the house and returned with a laptop. “When’s the last time you had access to a computer?”
Leanna eyed the slim device. “Um, well I used my parent’s desktop for school, but they never had Internet access.”
“Then you’re gonna love this.”
Opening the laptop, Christine began to show Leanna the wonders of technology, the ease of buying anything you want with a click, and a world of information at your fingertips.
Christine handed the laptop to Leanna. “Why don’t you search for something?”
“Anything. Put in your name and see what comes up.”
Leanna typed her name and hit enter. What she saw puzzled her. “I don’t understand.”
“Let me see.” Christine looked at the screen and furrowed her eyebrows. “Click on it.”
A webpage opened with the heading Missing Persons Network. Under the heading was the name, Leanna Raye Callahan Brewer, and below that, a photo.
Leanna drew in a sharp breath as she saw her own eyes staring back at her.
“Why … how … ?”
Christine read aloud. “Missing since March 10, 2007.
“That’s when Ronnie and I moved here.”
Christine continued. “It says here, ‘Leanna was last seen by her parents at Leanna’s apartment in Boise, Idaho.’”
“Yeah, we had a falling out over Ronnie and me eloping. They didn’t trust him. Later that night Ronnie came home and announced we were leaving. He said he tried to reason with my parents, but they never wanted to see me again.”
“So you believed him and just up and left? You didn’t try to talk to them again?”
“I wanted to, but he insisted it was pointless. I was with him now and he said we needed to start our own life.”
“And then he isolated you from the rest of the world.”
Leanna stood. Placing her hands on her head she paced and mulled everything over. This was incomprehensible. Did Ronnie really isolate her?
“I wrote them letters letting them know where I was. I asked him to mail them for me.”
“And he never mailed them. You know that, right?”
“How could I be so stupid?” A tear trailed down her cheek.
“You were young and in love, Leanna. Ronnie is very charming. He’s also very manipulative.”
Christine stood and touched her friend’s shoulder. “Your parents are only a few hours away, right? Why don’t you let me drive you there?”
Leanna wiped her tears and pulled her shoulder’s back. “No … thank you, I can drive myself. I need to do this on my own. But … can I borrow your phone?”
Taking the phone from Christine, Leanna bit her lip and dialed the familiar number.
“Mom? … It’s me. Leanna.”
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