Despite Our Shadows excerpt


cover of Despite Our Shadows“The guys you’re after are into bondage?”

“No… or, I don’t know that they are. It’s… hmm.” Alain considered his next words carefully. “The people I’m trying to find may have information about the real subject of my investigation. A girl who ran away from home about four years ago.” He took out his photo of Ellen, and handed it to Val. “Look familiar at all?”

Val looked at the photo, and made a face that was somewhere between wry and disgusted. “Like every high school bimbo I’ve ever seen.” After a moment, she shook her head. “But no.”

“Well,” Alain continued, “as I said, she ran away from home, and no one knows exactly why. And the girl once had a bondage episode that somehow didn’t work out. The guys I’m tracking know about that. So I thought—”

“You know,” Val interrupted him, handing back the photo, “you might be surprised how many girls have had a ‘bondage episode’ (she clawed at the air with her fingers to put the quotes into her reply), but never got into it. Most of them are forced into it by their boyfriends, and generally those girls dump the guy soon afterward, and go looking for nice straight boys to settle down with.”

After a moment, Alain nodded. “I’m sure. It’s just that, with this girl, it turned out badly, and put her into therapy for awhile.”

“She freaked so bad, she had to see a shrink? Then how likely is it that she’s still into bondage?”

“Probably not very,” Alain admitted. “But she ran away under… unknown circumstances. I’ve been trying to figure out if what little I know about her might help me figure out what happened to her, where she ended up, and what she’s doing.”

“So you end up having dinner with a girl who’s into bondage,” Val finished for him, and smiled wryly. “And they say I use men…”

“No, it’s not like that,” Alain stated emphatically. “I invited you to dinner, to thank you for helping me. But I am still on this job… stupid as it seems, now.”

“Why stupid?”

“Because I doubt she wants to be found by her father,” Alain said. “Wherever she is, I think she’s perfectly happy to be there.”

“So why bother looking for her?”

“Well,” Alain replied, “there’s still the matter of someone blackmailing her father over her. We’re hoping they are in contact with her, though we don’t know for sure. If I can at least find her and report on what state she’s in, her father may be able to figure out what to do about the blackmailers.”

“That’s some job,” Val mused. “You’re trying to find a girl who may or may not want to be found, through blackmailers that may or may not be in contact with her. Plus, they may already be on to you.”

“It’s a possibility,” Alain admitted sadly. “It’s like playing Hide and Seek, with one player who doesn’t want to be found, and another I’d rather not find.”

“That’s not Hide and Seek… you’re playing Marco Polo,” Val pointed out. “And the problem with Marco Polo is, the person who’s ‘it’ is the only one who’s blindfolded.”


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