“Where is he?”
Ben sat on the couch in James’ office, a blanket around his shoulders and shaking as if he was sitting in the middle of a snowstorm. When he heard Billy’s voice, he lifted his lowered head and the dried tears started to flow again the moment Billy pushed the door open and came running into the room, falling to his knees in front of Ben and wrapping his arms around him. Ben buried his face in his boyfriend’s shoulder, his fingers cramping in the shirt he was wearing and sobbing without shame.
Billy looked up from where he had been leaning his head against Ben’s. The man that stood next to James’ desk was a stranger, a dark skinned man who was well dressed in a suit and tie, a worried expression on his face.
“Yes?” Billy asked, stroking softly the back of Ben’s neck, who was still unable to say a single word.
“DI Scott,” the man said. “And you are?”
“Billy Manderly, I’m Ben’s, Mister Gunn’s boyfriend. We came as fast as we could,” he said but didn’t offer the detective his hand, too busy with taking care of Ben instead.
“Mister Flint’s husband, John, we came together.”
“What happened? We were only told that Emmy is gone? God, what happened,” Billy voice broke, but he tried to not show his weakness and that he himself was at the brink of breaking down. He had to be strong for Ben, had to be at his side and help him through this.
“Where have you been, Mister Manderly?”
Billy raised his brows.
“I was at work…,” he started.
“We know it was Mary,” Ben whispered sounding upset. “There’s no use in asking my boyfriend where he has been when that bitch took my daughter.”
A shocked expression went over Billy’s face.
“Mary Rogers, the child’s biological mother has come here around an hour ago, and has taken Emily-Grace with her,” Scott said.
Billy looked at Ben, who only nodded.
“How was that possible? She’s not in the file, she’s not allowed to pick Emmy up,” he said.
“There’s a new guy at the front desk, he didn’t know, and he didn’t check like he was supposed to. He…he let her take my baby. He let her take her away. Billy, what am I gonna do without her?”
Billy pulled Ben closer into his arms, the smaller man again starting to shake.
“Shhhh,” he made, kissing Ben’s hair. “We’re getting her back, baby. We are getting her back, I promise.” He looked back up at Scott. “Why are you standing there? Shouldn’t you be looking for her or something?”
“Mister Manderly, we have half of Scotland Yard searching for Mister Rogers’ daughter and the child. We have men at the airport and the train stations, a search for her car is out and we are contacting family and friends already. Only because I am here doesn’t mean we are not doing anything. We take this very seriously, and the child is only gone for less than two hours, there is a good chance she has not left the town yet.”
“Are you aware that she has money?” Billy hissed. “She can be on the continent already and from there, God knows where!”
“You are not helping your boyfriend when you yell, Mister Manderly,” Scott said, and indeed Ben had started to shake even more.
“Do you need a doctor, love?” Billy asked softly.
“He has gotten a light sedative,” James, who just came in with John following him, said. “It should work soon and calm him a little.”
John sat down next to Ben on the couch, wrapping an arm around his shoulder.
“How are you feeling?” He asked, but Ben only looked at him and shook his head. “Yeah, you’re right. That’s a stupid question. You gotta hold on, Ben. For Emmy. It’s no use if you fall apart. We need you. She needs you, okay?”
Ben nodded and sniffed, smiling a little helpless.
“Have you heard anything?” He asked Scott, his voice thin and silent.
The detective shook his head.
“Not yet, sir,” he replied.
Ben pressed his lips together.
“Do you have any idea where she might have gone?”
“No, we have no contact,” he said. “She can visit Emmy every fortnight, but she rarely keeps the schedule. She never cared. Why does she want her now?”
He looked helpless at Billy.
“I don’t understand why she took her. She never wanted her, Billy. Why did she take her?”
“I don’t know,” Billy said. “Do you want to go home?”
The thought of Emmy’s toys, of her bed, her food, her bottles, all the little things in his place that reminded him of her came to Ben’s mind.
“Can we go to your place?” He asked.
Billy nodded, not having the heart to tell Ben that he had meant his apartment and not even had thought of Ben’s for a moment.
“Where’s Percy?” He asked James.
“He’s with Gates and Abby,” he replied. “Want me to get him? I wanted to have Ben calm a little.”
At a gesture of confirmation, James left the room and returned a minute later with Percy at his hand. The boy looked confused and like he had cried, unable to understand what was going on and Billy asked himself what they had told his little boy.
“Daddy?” Percy asked with a thin voice. “Where’s Emmy?”
“Emmy is making a visit with someone. She will be home soon,” he replied for Billy, who nodded in affirmation.
“She forgot her bunny,” Percy said and held out the stuffed bunny toy, light blue terry cloth with floppy ears, the only toy she never left behind and got upset when she didn’t have it.
Ben took the toy from him and pressed his face to it, taking in the scent of baby powder and his daughter’s soap, forcing himself to not break out in tears again. He felt ashamed for being so weak, but he could not bring himself to be strong now.
“Thank you, Percy, that’s very sweet of you to take care of Bunny for her,” he said, trying hard to smile.
Percy looked at him.
“She didn’t want to go with the lady,” he then said, angry sounding.
All men in the room looked at the little boy.
“The lady?” Ben asked. “Did you see where they went?”
Percy shook his head.
“Emmy cried, heard her and wanted to give her Bunny cause she left it,” he said, looking at James with a little concern. “I was on the loo and I saw that a lady carried her out and Bunny was on the floor. I ran after them, but she didn’t care. Got into a car.”
“Percy, listen, this is very important,” Billy said. “Can you tell me what kind of car? Like we do when we play our game?”
Percy seemed to be deep in thought for a moment.
“T’was a blue, shiny car. A p…port?”
“A Porsche?” Billy asked and Percy’s eyes lit up.
“Yes!” He exclaimed. “Tha’s it.”
Detective Scott went to take out his cell phone and made a call, passing the information that they were looking for a blue Porsche to someone on the other end.
“Mary’s not driving a blue Porsche,” Ben said. “Last time I saw her she had a silver something.”
“We’re making some calls, Mister Gunn,” Scott said. “That was a good information, you paid attention very well, young man.”
Percy nodded, looking very serious, but was leaning against his father, his eyes on Ben, not able to understand why they all were so upset, yet feeling that something was very wrong.
“I insist to talk to him!” Came suddenly a voice from the hallway, and seconds later the door was pushed open and Mary’s father, Mister Rogers, stormed into the office, making James turn to him and shield Ben from him, but the politician pushed James to the side. “How dare you accuse my daughter of committing a crime, you vermin!?”
Ben flinched, and Billy got up, towering to his whole height in front of the man.
“How dare you come in here and yell at my boyfriend,” he hissed.
“Boyfriend?” Rogers laughed, actually laughed. “This gets better and better. A faggot now too? Did you get my Mary pregnant to press money out of her? Did you plan that from the beginning, you scum?”
Ben’s large blue eyes stared at the grandfather of his daughter, but before he could say anything, James had taken position between him and Rogers.
“You are not welcome in my house,” he hissed. “You take your arrogant attitude and leave this instant.”
“And who are you to give me commands?”
“Who are you to yell at a father who is fearing for his daughter’s safety?” James gave back, his tone sharp as a knife. “How dare you come in here, uninvited I may add, and make accusations at the man who loves and takes care of this little girl, who we all see every day being nothing but devoted to her?” James made a step towards Rogers, who was forced to make a step back. “I want you to leave. Now. And I want you to think for a moment what your daughter did today. She took a child out a place where she should have been safe. She must have watched for days and waited until the moment was right, until someone was at the front desk that is new here. She must have known when Emmy would be here and not in the care of her dad. She has planned this for a while. And we all ask ourselves one thing, Mister Rogers. Why?”
“I don’t understand,” Rogers said, a little stunned.
“From what I know, Mary was not interested for a single moment in caring or loving Emmy. You only didn’t want Ben to take custody of his baby because you hate losing, especially to a, how you put it so nicely, faggot, which I am sure you knew since you probably had your people run a background check on him. You only didn’t bring his orientation up in court because it would have made you look bad, Mister Rogers. How would it look if the future Prime Minister came out as a homophobic asshole who can’t control his own daughter?”
“What are you implying?”
“I am not implying anything. I am telling you that you give a shit about Emmy. I am telling you that you only wanted her because of your political career, and that is probably why Mary took her. To get back into your good graces, hasn’t she? Aren’t you upset with her for losing the custody battle? Haven’t you yelled at her and told her that she’s a failure?”
“Who the fuck are you?” Rogers growled.
Ben felt how John next to him chuckled despite the tense situation.
“Captain James McGraw Flint, my pleasure, Mister Rogers,” James said.
Ben saw how Rogers’ eyes widened a little and how the man pressed his lips together.
“You will hear from my lawyers,” he said. “This is not the end of it.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure, Mister Rogers,” James gave back. “If you now please leave my property before I forget my good manners?”
They all watched how Rogers left, looking significantly angry.
“What the fuck just happened?” Ben whispered, still confused at John’s chuckling next to him.
His friend leaned a little forward, his eyes on his husband, who had the hands balled into fists and held back the true anger that had almost made him lose control of his temper.
“Mister Rogers just met one of the most highly-decorated officers of the British Navy. My man is a fucking war hero. You don’t mess with the wearer of a Victoria Cross if you want to keep your balls,” he grinned.
Ben’s, and also Billy’s eyes widened a little, impressed.
“I’ll call Thomas,” James said. “I think we should get his opinion on all this too.”
“Can you take me home?” Ben asked Billy, who nodded. “To your place I mean?”
“I’ll take you home. To our place.”