Chapter 59: Waiting

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After about a half-hour of searching, Lex found what she thought must be the right website. She nodded as she found Serena's name on the list of company officers, and then found someone named Chris Stengler listed as her associate. As much as she racked her brains, Lex couldn't remember the name of the college friend that Serena had roped into helping her take over her father's company, but she couldn't see anyone else as closely linked to Serena, so she decided that should be him.

Copying the website link, she drafted a quick e-mail to Riss, one that she hoped her friend would see once she woke up, and asked that Riss help her get the man's phone number, as well as the number for Serena's father, also still listed as a company officer. After she sent it, Lex combed through all of the e-mail she'd received that afternoon, trying to keep her mind off the fact that Riss might not respond until she got to the building for her shift. She had started to work on some of the paperwork in the response queue when she saw a response from Riss.

Give me an hour or two and I should have something for you.

Lex wrote a fast reply. Aren't you supposed to be sleeping? I didn't mean to interrupt your sleep for this.

Riss' response came back a few seconds later. I couldn't get back to sleep after everything that happened. Is Serena all right?

As much as we can tell for now, Lex explained. We've got her at the Special Forces building and Lily is keeping an eye on her. We'll need some help from her next of kin in order to get her into a hospital officially.

I'm right on it, Riss sent back.

Lex hadn't expected to hear from Riss again that afternoon, at least until she arrived in the office, so Lex continued to review the paperwork in the queue, trying to respond or update as many as possible to close them out. After about an hour, however, her new e-mail icon popped up with Riss' name on it.

Try this one first, Riss suggested, and the line showed Chris Stengler's name followed by a cell number. If you can't reach anyone there, here are her father's numbers.

There seemed to be a cell phone and home number after Serena's father's name. Lex sent a quick thank you to Riss, then tried to figure out what time it would be in America at around 4 p.m. in Europe. After looking it up and deciding it would be fine, she dialed the number and tapped on the surface of her desk with the rubber eraser end of a pencil, trying not to hold her breath.

As it turned out, it hadn't really been necessary since a precise male voice got on the line, informing her in clipped syllables that Chris wasn't available and to leave her name, number, and message after the beep. Clearing her throat, Lex started, "Er, hello. My name is Jane Kaiser, and I'm calling because I have news about Serena Vitalé. It's urgent, actually, there's been a problem and she isn't well. Please phone me back as soon as you can."

She left her work and cell numbers and hung up, disappointed and worried, wondering if she should phone Serena's parents. After a few minutes of consideration, while also remembering how much at odds Serena seemed to be with her parents, Lex straightened up in surprise as her phone rang.

"Hello," she said after a moment, trying not to sound too breathless after fumbling with the phone as she'd tried to pick it up.

"Is this the Ms. Kaiser who called earlier?" The voice seemed to be the same one from the answering message Lex had heard, sounding both curious and guarded.

"Yes, Mr. Stengler, thank you for calling me back so quickly," she replied, heart seeming to pound in her throat. "I called because-"

"If you're calling because you think you can get some money out of her, think again," he said, interrupting Lex in an angry tone.

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