When Auggie arrived for his third day of interrogation, he asked the question that he had been dreading.
"What did you tell Danielle?" He asked the seventh floor representative of the day.
"Car accident here in DC." The man responded.
"She's as smart as her sister, and she's been read-in. She'll see through that." Auggie replied.
"Doesn't matter. It's the story she's getting. She is being sent the ashes."
Auggie was silent a moment.
"You are advised not to reach out to her, Anderson." The man added.
"She knows me. I can't keep her from reaching out to me."
"You've shown us this week that you are perfectly good at evading."
"I have no idea what you are talking about." He replied with a cold tone.
"So what is our topic of discussion today?" Auggie asked, settling back. "Or, as a courtesy, how about you tell me who my interviewer is, today?" He gave a pointed look toward the man he had been speaking with.
"Today we will discuss your trip to Amsterdam..."
Auggie fought a grin. He was feeling more like his old self, but he didn't need them to know that.
Auggie waited another day before using one of his burner phones to dial Michael Brookes' work number. He left a message regarding Chloe Brookes' school records, asking for one of the parents to call back.
Within the hour, Danielle called from her home line. She sounded horrible.
"Misses Brookes, I'm afraid some of Chloe's vaccination records aren't on file."
"Really." The word was full of hate, accusation, and aknowledgement. She recognized his voice.
"I'm incredibly sorry for the inconvenience. If you have a copy, could you please fax them to us?"
"Whatever you say." She replied with false cheer.
Auggie gave her the number and hung up.
About ten minutes later, the burner phone with the number Auggie gave Danielle rang from a different number.
"Hey." Auggie answered.
"Explain." Danielle replied.
"Is this phone linked to you at all?" Auggie asked.
"Other than the fact I bought it and some prepaid minutes for Chloe's birthday with my credit card, no."
"That will do for now, but if you need to get in touch with me again, buy another with cash."
"What is going on, Auggie?"
"I was told I'm not allowed to call you, and I'm sure your lines are bugged."
"You are a smart enough to figure that out." Auggie replied.
"I was told my sister died in a car crash in DC, but the same day this supposedly happened, she sent me a cryptic postcard from Germany."
"That is troubling."Auggie responded.
"Why are you calling me, Auggie?"
"I wanted to send my condolences. I'm not exactly a Hallmark card kind of guy."
"Everybody else seems to think flowers are appropriate. I have flowers here from people I haven't talked to in a decade, who barely knew her."
Auggie took a relaxed breath. "I actually received some flowers, too."
"Why would somebody send you flowers?" Danielle asked.
"As a show of sympathy." He replied.
"I didn't mean. I'm sorry, I just, I thought..." Danielle was stumbling over her words.
"They smell nice." Auggie said with a smile that came through.
"It's not that. I didn't know how close you two were. At least not really. I mean..."
"We were close." Auggie said.
"Co-worker close?" Danielle asked. "Best friend close?"
Auggie took a deep breath. "Recently we became intimate."
"Oh. OH." Danielle's tone went through a mix of emotions. "She didn't tell me."
Auggie could hear Danielle break down on the other end of the line. "It was very new." He reassured her. "And she was very busy. From the moment we crossed that line, we hardly saw each other. I'm sure she was waiting until things settled down to tell you."
"She used to tell me everything." Danielle squeaked out.
"There wasn't much to tell." Auggie said, hoping to calm her somehow.
"Humph." Danielle responded.
"What? Surely Annie, of all people, wouldn't be one to kiss and tell." He tried to make her laugh.
"I thought she would when you finally came around." Danielle said, still choking back tears.
"How much did you two talk about me?" Auggie's voice actually squeaked as he asked.
This actually got a laugh out of Danielle. "Don't worry. Just when we were in Stockholm. It's the closest I came to seeing you two work together."
"Oh. Yeah." He sounded more solemn.
"She really trusted you."
"We went through a lot."
"Tell me what happened." Danielle prodded softly.
"Almost three months ago, I finally went over to tell her how I felt-"
"Stop. Yes, I want that story. But first I want to know what happened to my sister in Germany."
Auggie sighed. "Danielle, if I could, I would tell you every little detail. But I can't."
"Did she suffer?"
"No." Auggie replied without hesitation.
"But she knew it was coming. The postcard she sent me was a good-bye."
"Danielle, a lot of good will come as a result of her actions. Hopefully none of it will see the light of day. She is a truly remarkable woman."
Auggie sighed. "Was. This is hard for me, too."
"Well, thanks for calling. I appreciate getting to chat."
"Anytime, Danielle. I mean it. Use this number."
"Thanks, Auggie. She was lucky to have you on the other end of the phone. I'll talk to you some other time about... the other story."