Joseph hung up the phone quickly. He stood, trembling,staring at the phone, his hands braced against the kitchen counter on either side of the sleek modern telephone.
When the phone rang, he jumped about two feet into the air and in spite of himself, he let out a small yell. He let out a sigh of relief though when he saw it was Tory's mom. though it made no sense, he realized he'd been half fearing that the lady - or someone else - from CPS would call him back.
He placed a cool hand on his forehead and answered the phone.
"Hi Joe. How are you?" Suzanne sounded tired herself. He knew she hadn't been sleeping well and that she'd been a lot more busy than normal helping him with the boys and around the house too.
"Uhh. I'm okay." But his voice shook and he knew he didn't sound okay.
"Really? You know, it's perfectly normal for you to not be okay Joe. Do you want to talk?"
"No Suzanne. I don't." Joe moved the mouthpiece up and away from his mouth. With his free hand on his hip, Joe bent over to put his head between his knees. He was starting to hyperventilate. Suddenly he had an idea.
He stood up straight so quickly that he got stars popping in front of his eyes. He was going to have to watch his blood pressure with all the stress he was under.
"Actually Suzanne, I do have a question for you." He held his breath. Wait. He didn't know anything yet and if he wasn't careful he could ruin it all, right now. He had to figure out what the heck that woman at the agency meant, but he couldn't just go charging around like a bull in a china shop. Tory often said some situations required finesse. All of a sudden he was quite sure this was one of those moments.
"Sure, honey. What is it?"
"Umm, nothin' Suzanne. Nothing. I'm just ... " Oh man, his brain was in a fog. He had to think clearly. "I'm just not thinking clearly. Can you keep the boys at your place after school for a while? Maybe till after dinner?"
"Sure, honey. What's going on?"
"Nothing." He was feeling a bit more confident now. "I'm just hurting a bit more today and want a chance to compose myself before the boys get home." There, that ought to do it. He waited, holding his breath, while Suzanne answered.
"You bet Joe. Why don't you call me when you're ready and I'll bring them home."
"Great! Great, thanks Suzanne. Bye." He hung up the phone and let out his breath.
He whirled around to face the wide, open kitchen. It wasn't too messy, since Suzanne had been stopping by every day after school to feed them dinner. Joe hadn't been eating too much else.
He wondered if Suzanne knew anything about what Tory might have been in to. If she did, any clues that might be hiding in the house might already be gone. But there was only one way to find out and only about 8 hours to find out.
He'd start right here, in Tory's kitchen.