The office for Florida Omni Search was located a block off the beach highway in Miami. Rachel Scott, the founder of the company, had converted an old souvenir shop into their office.
She walked through the door juggling her briefcase with one hand and three coffees and a bag of bagels in the other. “Good morning everyone,” Rachel said with a smile. She dropped everything onto the receptionist desk.
“Coffee. You are my savior,” said Janine.
“Good morning Ms. Scott.” Red Cooper reached into the white bakery bag and pulled out a bagel.
“I forgot to pick up a new coffee maker this weekend. I was too busy doing nothing.” Rachel said.
“I don’t blame you. After the hellish month we have had, you deserved a break.” Janine said.
Janine was the co-founder of Florida Omni Search and Rachel’s closest friend. She was a few years older than Rachel and wore her wavy hair shoulder length. Her blue eyes were heavily made up with lots of mascara and black eyeliner. She had a hippie look to her and favored long skirts with flip flops year round.
Rachel had been travelling the last month on two back to back difficult searches for missing persons. It kept her mind busy and her karma bank account full.
“Anything come in over the weekend?” Rachel inquired. She took a sip of her caramel flavored latte savoring the sweet taste and the hit of caffeine it gave her.
Florida Omni Search was a search and rescue company that specialized in finding missing people. It was a non-profit organization that was manned twenty four hours a day seven days a week. The toll free hotline was run by volunteers who took calls from law enforcement requesting assistance or from family members reporting a missing person.
“We only had a couple calls. One call about a runaway teen from south Florida but she was found safe and sound with her boyfriend at a hotel about an hour away from home. The other call you may want to look at. A firefighter was reported missing from Seaside, Florida after a warehouse fire.” Red said while looking at the call log.
Red Cooper was her top investigator at Florida Omni Search. He was also an ex-cop from Miami PD.
“Seaside is up in the north Florida panhandle right? Near Panama City Beach?”
“Yes. It is about a fourteen hour drive from here.”
“Who called it in?” Rachel asked while flipping through the call log. Most calls were routine. Runaway teenagers usually topped the list followed by adults who were thought to be missing but turned up a couple days later. Some calls were from law enforcement agencies. It wasn’t uncommon for the FBI or local law enforcement to request assistance from her since she worked with some pretty high profile cases. And she had sophisticated equipment that most local law enforcement agencies didn’t have the budget for.
“This came in from the missing firefighter’s mother. According to the mother, her daughter was on duty when a call came in for a warehouse fire. She went into the building with her crew to search for a victim and during the rescue she disappeared. The roof collapsed and she was presumed dead.” Red told her. “But here is the kicker. Her body was never found.”
“When did this happen?”
“The fire was early Sunday evening. The firefighter’s mom, Nadine, called it in just a couple hours ago. There is a little more to the story and I think you should hear it from her.” Red said as she handed her the number.
“Here’s to a busy morning!” Janine said raising her coffee cup.
“Enjoy. I will be in my office.” Rachel said.
Rachel’s office was covered with art work and letters from children of family members she helped find. She found that artwork motivated her more than any other motivational poster – like the ones she had in her old real estate office.
She had come a long way from the days when she was a Miami socialite and real estate mogul. Back then her days were filled with multi-million business deals, nightly parties and shopping. She was always dressed to the nines in outfits that cost several hundred dollars, and had weekly manicures and facials, and visits to the hair salon.
It took her four year daughter Mallory to change all that. The day she vanished was the day Rachel’s life changed forever.