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Chance
Author:Deborah Bladon

"That's what my contact at the police station told me." Her eyebrows dance around playfully, which is enough of a warning for me. I refuse to ask her about her contact. I can only imagine the details she'd gleefully supply to me.

"When was he released?" I glance down at my smartphone. It's almost six now which means that I have two hours before I need to be at Ivy's apartment.

"That I'm not sure about." She nods towards her desk phone. "If you give me three minutes and some privacy I can find out."

I sigh audibly as I turn on my heel to walk out of her office. I close the door behind me before I plop myself down on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs in the waiting room and wait.

***

"You didn't see him today at all?" I tap my hand on the small reception desk in the lobby of Asher's building. "He should have come home within the last two hours. Can you try and buzz him again?"

"You bet, Ms. Bell," Frank, the doorman who keeps a watchful eye over Asher, nods as he swipes his fingers along the screen of the tablet in his hand. "I've been here since three. I haven't left my post at all. Mr. Foster didn't come home."

Asher was released from custody more than two hours ago. He had been held at a police station near Wall Street. I'd raced down there when Devon told me the address. My hope, although short-lived, was that Asher would have been distraught and would have sat himself in one of the chairs in the lobby there. When I burst through the doors and scanned the faces, his was nowhere to be found. I'd tried to call him and it had immediately gone to voicemail. I'd tried twice more since then with exactly the same results.

"He's still not answering the buzzer. If you want, I'll let you up and you can knock on his door."

Before I can form a coherent response I'm walking towards the bank of elevators with Frank hot on my heel. I tip my chin in his direction as he follows me into one of the cars before he pushes a small silver key into the control panel. "This will take you up to the sixth floor. You know his apartment number, right?"

"I know it." I manage a weak grin as he steps back before the doors slam shut.

***

"Where's Caleb?" I pull in a deep breath as I step through the doorway. There is absolutely no mistaking the panic in my tone. I'd knocked on Asher's door for more than fifteen minutes before finally giving up. As I rode the elevator back down to the lobby of his building I realized that I only had one more place to go. I had to come back to Caleb's apartment so I hailed a taxi and headed straight over.

I don't consider myself influential but I'm hopeful that what I said to Caleb earlier resonated enough that he made the decision to help Asher. I want the younger Foster brother to be here, resting in bed or watching television. I want him to be safe.

"Who are you? Who let you up here?"

I turn to face the woman asking the questions. She's significantly older than me, which probably means she's not here in a capacity other than professional. I know Caleb's type and this woman isn't it.

"I'm Rowan Bell. I'm a friend of Caleb's." I stop to think about that last statement. "The doorman knows me. He let me up."

"You're a friend of Caleb's?" she parrots the words back to me. "I've never heard of you."

I should take some degree of offense at that but I can't. In a social sense, Caleb and I cross paths only several times a year at various benefit dinners or events. We don't share many of the same friends and while he's out trolling bars and clubs for his next bedmate, I'm generally home by ten going over work that I didn't have time for in the office. We don't travel in the same circles. Our friendship is typically focused on text messages, phone calls and the occasional lunch or drink after work.

"Are you one of his girls?" She eyes me closely. "A lot of you show up here."

Isn't that nice? This random stranger who is standing guard at Caleb's doorway thinks that I'm here because I can't resist him. "I'm not one of his girls."

"Do you think you're special to him?" She leans in so close that I can spot a few wayward dark hairs darting out of her nostrils. "You all think you're so special to him."

If resentment had a spokeswoman, I'd nominate this person for the job. What the hell is her problem? If I had to guess it's that she propositioned Caleb and he unceremoniously turned her down.

"Who are you?" I have just as might right to interrogate her, as she has to question me. "Caleb has never mentioned you before either."

She takes a step back before her tongue juts out to run over her bottom lip. "I'm Ruby. I'm the new house manager."

"Caleb has a house manager? Since when?" The bigger question is why. Caleb lives in this spacious apartment all alone. He may have a guest stay over from time-to-time, or more likely every night, but there's no reason for him to have someone to manage that. He's wasteful. It's just another reason why we're so utterly mismatched.

"I started last month." She glances down at the gold wristwatch on her arm.

"Where were you earlier?" I nod towards her. "I didn't see you here this afternoon."