Chapter 6

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The Feliza-Char café was a quaint, hole in the wall only locals inhabited. It's red door was tucked away behind a mid-grade clothing boutique down the adjacent short alleyway. It smelled of sweet donuts and wet stone from the mornings early rain as Sydney and Miles found their way inside the cavernous space. They found two short-backed leather chairs around a scratched wooden table and dropped their bags to settle in. They needed to talk about all the things they'd learned over the past week. They nursed their hot chocolate in the nearly empty café as Sydney scanned the space feeling overwhelmed with Miles' new information from her visit with Adele's dad.

"So do you think this is a good lead?" Sydney said again. He'd recognized on the way over that the name Valva was linked to the yellow house on Rampert and the name Ronnie Martin gave Miles for the healer Rosemary was meeting.

"Looks to be. I just don't know how a healer fits in with what happened to Adele." Miles took a short sip of her cocoa and perused the notes Sydney had written in his 'Dreams Do Come True' imprinted journal. She stopped on Valva Dubois' name with an ink circle around it.

"Well, we have a forwarding address and it's in the quarter like Mr. Martin said. Think we should check it out?"

Sydney's eyes shadowed with unease. Miles could feel he was ready to turn everything over to the police but she also knew they'd do nothing about it. If they couldn't make the connection between Valva Dubois and Adele Martin's death already, she doubted the police would take the time to connect the dots if two teenagers handed it to them.

Miles put her mug down and searched Sydney's lowered gaze, "We have to do this, Syd".

"No. We don't." He responded, "it's really dangerous. We could get killed like those girls." Sydney's voice shook and his eyes darted around the café. She could feel his leg bouncing up and down beneath the table, the rhythm slightly shook the liquid in her mug.

"We won't just waltz in and ask about Adele." Miles stressed, "Valva Dubois is a healer. We can just go and ask her to help us with something. Doesn't matter what, really. It'll let us look around and if we don't get murderer vibes then we chalk it up as a dead end, okay?"

"And what if we do get murderer vibes, Miles?" Sydney stared at her until the silence grew thick. Miles didn't know what she'd do. She didn't think the healer was the actual murderer, just a lead. 

Sydney interrupted her thoughts, "Why are you doing this? You don't even know Adele." 

She knew she could say that she didn't want Adele to be forgotten by the police and that would placate Sydney for a while longer. But it wasn't the truth. She was running from a home she no longer felt a part of. She hated not knowing where her life was going after graduation. Adele's murder was a distraction. A distraction she needed to feel okay with her life right now. She also knew Sydney wouldn't understand. He looked suspiciously at her from across the table.

"I haven't been completely honest with you, Syd." Miles breathed in heavily, clasping her hands around the warm mug.

Sydney leaned back in his chair, his leg momentarily still. The silence was jarring.

"I found Adele in the bushes that morning." She blurted.

"What? What do you mean you found her?" Sydney leaned forward abruptly, his voice an octave higher than was natural.

"I was walking home and I saw this flash of pink in the bushes. So I wanted to see what it was. I didn't know it would be –" Miles felt her voice tremble thinking of the girl's body juxtaposed against the pictures in her bedroom, so happy and full of life. What could have done that to her body?

"You should have gone to the police! What the hell were you thinking? You just left her there to be found by someone else?" Sydney's normally playful demeanor was masked by disappointment and shock.

"I didn't want to get involved at first."

"But now you do?! After there's been another murder? I can't believe you." He shook his head, "I could sense you were a little self-centered but I would have never thought in a million years you'd leave a girl's lonely body to rot." Sydney grabbed his backpack from the floor in a huff of anger. "I'm done with this, Miles. And I really don't want to see or talk to you right now."

He stalked out the café door and Miles dropped her head to the table as the entry bell rang out into the nearly empty room. What was she thinking? Was she really as self-centered as he thought? Maybe her actions were...strange. She just didn't want to get involved. Well, not at first. But now, now she needed to find Adele's killer. Know what happened to her and why. It was the only thing keeping her going. And she figured Valva Dubois might be able to help her.     

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