Chapter Thirty Five
(Fifteen Years Later)
"Is this Jordan Tanner?" The voice on the other end of the line asked. Jordan scowled.
"If you're a cold caller, I'm hanging up." He snapped.
"No, please don't…" The voice sighed. "It's Bailey… Bailey McIntyre." Jordan frowned, about to tell the person he didn't know anyone of that name and hang up, when he recalled the name. His already bad mood turned decidedly thunderous.
"What do you want?" He growled.
"I'm ringing about Gabe… I… have you got a few minutes? It's a rather long story." Jordan sighed, before flopping down on the sofa and telling Bailey to go ahead. He hadn't let himself think about Gabe for many years. "Well… fifteen years ago, Gabe disappeared. He went to speak to you after we had dinner one night, and never came back. I never managed to find out what happened to him. I tried to look after the kids, but a couple of weeks after he disappeared, social services turned up. Apparently, someone at your school told his parents about Gabe, and they called social services." Jordan hissed angrily.
"Billy Cartwright." He said grimly. "I got into a fight with him for defending Gabe. He threatened to tell the entire school what Gabe… did."
"Well, I don't know if it was him, but someone did tell… anyway, the kids were taken into care, the house was sold and… well, I guess everyone moved on. I never found out what happened to him. I moved away about a year later, and found someone else. The thing is… I went back to town for a conference yesterday, and I'm sure I saw Gabe while I was there. He was close to that old diner he used to go to, near the abandoned pub. The diner's been closed for years, but I'm certain it was him. He didn't look so good. The thing is, I'm at the airport; I'm going away for six months on a business trip, and I was wondering if you could go and look for him. I swear it was him, Jordan." Jordan sighed.
"Do you have any information about him at all?" He asked.
"Nothing… Just a gut feeling that it was him." Bailey hesitated. "Please." He begged finally. "You're the seventeenth Jordan Tanner I've called in two hours. I'd look for him myself, but I've got to board in a couple of minutes. I… I know you care about him. Even though you left, I know you still care. Please, Jordan."
"Alright. I'll drive down tonight and look for him."
"Thank you." Jordan could hear the relief in Bailey's voice. "I'd look for him myself, but… well, I'm going away. And I have Jacob to think about. I don't think he'd be too impressed if I went roaming the streets for my ex." They talked a few moments more, before Jordan hung up.
"Who was that on the phone?" His girlfriend of four years, Ellen, came out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a towel.
"It was… an old friend." Jordan said after thinking for a moment. "I have to… There's something I have to do."
"Don't argue, Ellen." He said firmly. "I have to do this. I don't know when I'll be back, but I'll call you, okay?"
"Where are you going?" She demanded. "We're supposed to be going away for the weekend, tomorrow afternoon."
"Yeah, well, I can't now." Jordan said. "It's my brother, okay? I have to help him."
"You don't have a brother."
"Yeah, I do, actually. Two of them." Jordan pulled on his jacket and grabbed his keys and mobile phone from the sideboard. He kissed her cheek, promised to call her when he could, and left before she could protest again.
He went out to his car, started the engine and sped off down his long driveway. He joined the motorway half an hour later, and settled in for a long journey.