“Addressed to Bianca Lattimer, no return address.” I said, examining the envelope critically. “How’d it come? I don’t know any Bianca Lattimer.”

The student shrugged. “It was in your pile, I put your pile in your office.”

I shot him a poison arrow look–that’s what happens when you aren’t in charge of hiring your own office staff. “Wow, so very helpful. Take it back.”

“There’s no return address,” he said. “It’ll just end up at the dead letter office. Open it and see what’s inside.”

Ignoring him, I marched to my office, the size of a monastic cell but crammed with far more books and Chinese takeout containers. The letter sat on the corner of my desk as I graded papers for about two hours; in time, though, curiosity got the better of me and I groped for my letter opener.

The message that fell out was typed in bog-standard Times New Roman and dated midnight yesterday:

Bianca Lattimore,
We have your daughter. Bring the package to us within 48 hours of the marked date and time, or she dies. We are monitoring police scanner frequencies; any attempts to contact the authorities would be most unwise.
-SD

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