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I could cut through our silence with a knife if I had one. Reece didn't bother paying me any mind as I tried my best to avoid him. Maybe I had cut too deep into old wounds—made them fresh again. I should've kept my big mouth closed. Or maybe this was good. It'd help to ease the tension between us if we just threw everything out into the open.

Ha, who am I kidding? Easier said than done.

"Hey, excuse me!" As soon as I saw a woman approaching the entrance of the karaoke bar, I practically jumped out of my seat after her. She turned her body, her eyes narrowing in confusion.

"I'm sorry, I just need to ask you a question." By now, I felt like a broken stereo, repeating the same words over and over. Each person I came across received the same service. It was all I had to offer at this point. I needed answers; they were the only ones who could give them to me.

"Who are you?" She tilted her head, studying me closely. The way her gaze lingered on me made me feel like I was unworthy of living beside her. I couldn't tell if it had been the high-strung attitude she carried or her naturally arched eyebrows, displaying as a "don't fuck with me" warning.

"My name is Hope Cohen. My mom went missing yesterday, and there might be a chance she was here last night," I said.

Her eyes studied me some more, questioning every little detail. I had to keep control of my aggravation or else I wouldn't get anywhere. She was only being cautious.

"Hmm, I don't know. You'll have to be specific . . . we do tend to get a lot of people in and out of here every night." The woman shrugged.

"How about her?" I showed her the picture on my phone. "Does she look familiar to you?"

Suddenly, there was a change in her demeanor. Her eyes widened and her eyebrows relaxed.

"Diana? That's Diana! Your mom is Diana Cohen? Wow, I never knew she had another daughter . . . especially one so young."

"You know my mom?" I asked. Wait, what did she mean by another daughter? There's only one of me to go around.

"Yeah, she used to be a regular. She stopped coming to sing over a few years ago because of personal issues, but she'd still come to visit my father and I whenever she had the chance," The woman said.

It seems the confusion was clear on my face, because she continued.

"Joe is my father—the owner of this place. Diana and I grew up together when she started coming here. She was my best friend before we lost touch over the years. We still talked from time to time, we just weren't as close as before," she finished her story with a sigh.

"Oh! Wow."

Suddenly, everything made sense. She'd been here so many times, she practically grew up with these people. And the woman in front of me looked nowhere near my mom's age. In fact, she looked younger, as if she was just reaching her mid-forties.

"Wait, she's missing?" My words had finally dawned on her as a frown crossed her lips.

"I wasn't here yesterday, I was at work, so I don't know if she stopped by or not. But I can ask my dad for you when he gets here. He's on his way, so you shouldn't have to wait for too long. You can make yourself comfortable inside while I start preparing to open this place." She nodded towards the front doors.

"Really? Thank you so much! That'd be great, um. . ."

"Xavier," she answered for me. I smiled and nodded. Glancing back at Reece's car, I waited for him to see my hand. Once he did, I gestured for him to come out.

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