I scramble to think of an answer, anything that might explain what the hell I’m doing here with all of these confidential files and — as a quick glance to the side tells me — the locked cabinet standing wide open. “I don’t really have anything to say,” I say lamely.
“I should imagine not,” he says. “Want me to venture a guess?”
Not really. I shrug. I pretty well figure I’m scuppered no matter what.
To my surprise, Owen comes into the office and shuts the door behind him. I eye him warily, though I don’t really think he’s about to hurt me. I’m really thrown off guard, though, when he sits down cross-legged across from me and rests his hands on his knees, gazing steadily at me. And then he throws me completely when he opens his mouth.
“You’re going after your family, aren’t you.”
I swallow hard. “I want to. Yes.”
His fingers move restlessly over the fabric of his trousers. “Is this why you came here?” He gestures at the files spread across the floor between us. “To find out if Larett knew where your father and sister had been sent?”
“Yes,” I say, and bite my lip.
“And did you?”
As I study him, it seems to me that he’s more anxious than upset. Or, rather, that he seems nervous and upset, like he’s waiting to hear my answer but isn’t sure if he wants to know what I have to say. It’s weird, because I can’t quite work out what it is that’s bothering him, and what’s really bothering me is that even though I like Owen and he’s always been super nice to me, I would have expected him to react differently. To be cross that I’d been going through Uncle Larett’s things. I don’t know. Not…ugh. This is just weird.
So I say, “Yes.”
And he says, “Where?”
“Um,” I say. “Well.” I look down at the files in my hands and shuffle them until I find Dad’s. “Dad was sent south to Diego,” I say. “And then back north more recently to Red Rock Valley when Diego closed.” I flip through to Kit’s. “Kit went to Shasta and then was transferred to Red Rock Valley.” I close the files and balance them on my knee. “All of the newer files say people have been sent to Red Rock Valley, and I think a lot of other people have been sent there as well, people who were taken a long time ago. But I haven’t had a chance to look into it enough to be sure.”
“Do you know where Red Rock Valley is?” he asks.
For a minute all I can do is blink in surprise. I’m not sure why he cares, but all I say is, “I found a map. But I couldn’t say for sure where it is from here.”
“But you’re going to go,” he says. “You and Daka.”
“Yeah,” I say. “That’s the plan. If you don’t tell Uncle Larett, that is.” Please don’t tell Uncle Larett.
Owen is silent, staring straight through me, his jaw working as he seems to be working through something. Finally he says, “I’ll make you a deal.”
“What kind of deal?”
His eyes meet mine. “You look for my daughter when you go on your search for your dad and sister, and I won’t say a thing to your uncle. Hell, I’ll even get you into shape so you might actually survive the trip.”
My mind is reeling. “You got a daughter?”
“Yeah,” he says. “Her mother was my wife, if that’s what you’re wondering.” It was. “And she’s dead now. Killed herself after Kira was taken.”
Well, that would explain how Owen ended up here with Uncle Larett. Kind of. Not really. Ugh.