What kind of chain reactions would he set off if he approached the girl with her flyaway red hair and multi-colored, patchwork jacket and that huge dog, and asked if she knew what had happened to Annie? Was she still at Quarry Hall? Had she gotten her life put back together? Had she finished college? Was she happy? Had she fallen in love, had she found a man she could love, who could touch her and not remind her each time of the man who had molested and tortured her?
"Get a grip," he scolded himself as he approached the steps of the boarding house. "Natalia is your focus. One job at a time."
Natalia and her friends were visible in the big picture window of the front room of the boarding house. McAllistair made eye contact with the director, Bollander, who settled into a rocking chair next to the registration desk. The man nodded to him, heaved himself back to his feet, and left the room. A few minutes later, he came outside, still shrugging into his coat, and walked across the street, to where McAllistair had found a sheltered spot to sit and keep watch. Natalia was very good at keeping herself in places where he could see her, he had to give the girl credit for that. Bollander had two steaming cardboard cups of coffee.
"Appreciate it," McAllistair said, taking it. "Please tell me your kids are going to rest up before their next performance."
"Nope. They made a new friend and some of them are going around, seeing the sights. Not sure if Natalia is going with them, but you won't be able to miss them. Su-Ma has this enormous black-and-white dog. Never seen a Great Dane that coloring before." He turned, looking back at the house, where the students still seemed to be excitedly talking about something. "It's hard to believe Natalia could be in danger in a place like this. It's a Christmas card come to life."
"She won't be in any danger, no matter what happens. You have my word on it."