She almost laughed with excitement and relief. Someone must have come into the building. Someone must be in one of the other rooms.
She rushed into the hallway, following the sound, hoping to find that Collin and Morgan had finally arrived. The noise ceased, but now she could see a dim light shining through frosted glass in a doorway farther down the hall. She tiptoed up to it, cautiously pulled the door open and peeked inside.
It was a small office. Sitting behind a cluttered wooden desk was a man with dark, curly hair that flew wildly about his head and made him look as if he'd been caught in a hurricane. He had a thick, droopy mustache that twitched as he puffed on his pipe. Behind him was a chalkboard with numbers scrawled everywhere. Before him were stacks of paper he was scribbling on. He seemed so caught up in his work, that he didn't notice Courtney until she knocked hesitantly on the door frame.
Looking up, the man squinted at her. "Ja?" he said. "What is it?"
She stepped inside timidly. "Excuse me, sir. I'm looking for my brother, Collin, and our friend, Morgan. We seem to have gotten separated."
With a scowl, the man looked under a piece of paper, then bent over and peered under his desk. He looked back at her and scratched his head seriously. "Hmm. They don't appear to be here."
His eyes crinkled and Courtney realized he was trying to be funny. She, however, wasn't in the mood for jokes. She hated being alone, having to solve the latest riddle all by herself. Most of all, she was afraid for her two missing friends.
"They were supposed to meet me here," she told him anxiously. "I'm very worried."
The man took a large round watch out of his vest pocket and looked at it. "Considering it's well after midnight, they are either very, very late, or you are very, very early."
Courtney's lip quivered as she tried not to cry. The man noticed and spoke more comfortingly to her. "There, there. If your friends said they would meet you, I'm sure they will. Soon.'