Chapter 5

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Art couldn't believe he had agreed to meet Natalya Henson at her apartment. Why was he allowing her to suck him into whatever scheme she had in mind? His son, Steven, would go ballistic after warning him to stay away. What if she called the police while he was at her place and accused him of stalking or intimidation?

A possibility, but his years of experience reading people led Art to believe she wouldn't do that. Mrs. Henson had told him she had something to show him, something that would explain why she needed to hire him. She said it with such conviction, she had to be telling the truth, or at least she believed she was telling the truth. Besides, he was curious. The good-looking woman intrigued him. He wanted to figure out what made her tick.

Her apartment complex, located outside of Harrisburg off the interstate loop had seen better days. The vinyl siding had faded, and the decorative trim needed a fresh coat of paint. The lines marking parking spaces had faded, so Art hogged two spaces hoping to prevent door dings to his Mustang.

She met him at the bottom of the staircase leading up to her unit. On the way to her, Art walked past a Dumpster. Trash lay strewn about. The tenants were too lazy to lift the lid to toss in their rubbish. What was wrong with people these days? Shameful. Something crunched under his foot, a discarded hypodermic needle. Marvelous. Why would a classy lady like Mrs. Henson choose to live and raise a young child in a dump like this?

"It's all I can afford," she said after he asked her. "I had to quit work when I had Joey, because of his being special, he needs full-time care. Since Vince went missing, I have no income. I had to sell our house. I've been living on my savings and am burning through my funds scary fast."

"Vince is your husband?"

"Yes."

Vince died in the bus accident. Why had she said, Since Vince went missing?

He followed as she led him to her second-story garden apartment. She unlocked her door and ushered him in. A tornado of a little boy burst from a backroom, screeching, and waving his arms. He jumped into his mother's arms. "Mama, mama!"

Mrs. Henson kissed him on the forehead and ruffled his hair. She giggled. "Were you a good little brother for your big sister?"

"Good little monster is more like it." A younger version of Mrs. Henson emerged from the back. Art figured she had to be the thirty-year-old daughter.

When Mrs. Henson put down her little boy, he ran to Art, arms wide, his face open and accepting with a huge smile, typical of a Downs child. Art bent to hug him. "What's your name?"

"Joey"

He shook the boy's little hand. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Joey."

Joey tried to climb onto Art's shoulders, but his mother pulled him away. "Sorry, he gets wound up when meeting strangers."

"Don't be sorry," Art said. "He's adorable."

Mrs. Henson picked up Joey and held him. She nodded toward her daughter. "This is Anya."

"Pleased to meet you." Art extended his hand.

Mrs. Henson completed the introduction. "This is Art Presley."

Anya's smile turned to a frown. She pulled her hand away. "Wait a sec. Isn't this the guy who harassed you?"

Art sighed. "For the record, I did not harass your mother. I was preventing her from—"

"—Yes, it's him," Mrs. Henson interrupted, "and I need you to do me a favor."

Anya's face twisted in confusion. "Wait, what?"

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