“I can tell,” she told the young man. “They’re lucky to have you.”

“And no, I don’t want to be a cop,” Lucas said. “That’s everyone’s next question. I like keeping the station’s stuff organized and doing what I can to make their day go easier. I’d much rather sit at this desk, answer the phone, and delegate than ride around in a patrol car.”

“You’re a born manager,” said Mercy.

“Yep.” Lucas beamed.

“If you’re done managing the FBI, can you get them some coffee and bring it to my office so we can talk?” a familiar voice asked.

Truman Daly had silently appeared in the reception area. “Morning, Agents,” he said with a nod to Mercy and Eddie.

“Good morning, Chief,” said Eddie as Mercy nodded back.

The chief looked as if he’d barely slept, and Mercy wondered if his uncle’s death or the pressures of the job had kept him awake at night. Surely it wasn’t too demanding to keep watch over Eagle’s Nest.

“Sheriff Rhodes already dropped off Toby Cox. He’ll be back in a half hour for him, so I suggest we get started.” He turned and headed down a narrow hallway, leaving Mercy and Eddie to follow.

“He’s been cranky this morning. Don’t let it get to you,” Lucas whispered conspiratorially. “How would you like your coffee?” he asked in a louder voice.

“Black,” Mercy said in unison with Eddie, bypassing her usual heavy cream in favor of being easy. The two of them followed the chief to his office. The hallway was lined with photos. Mercy wanted to stop and study them, positive she’d recognize some faces, but she kept her gaze on the chief’s back. As they moved into his office, another young man waited patiently in a folding chair. He looked up as they entered.

Toby Cox had Down syndrome.

Mercy wondered why Sheriff Rhodes hadn’t been more specific in his report, but maybe he didn’t know the difference. Some people were ignorant. Or assholes.

“Toby, this is Mercy and Eddie from the FBI. They’re the ones with the questions about Ned Fahey.”

The boy stood and shook their hands. Close up, Mercy realized he wasn’t a boy and wondered how old he was. His grip was tight on her hand.

“Don’t I know you?” he asked Mercy, hanging on to her hand.

Her mind raced. She didn’t remember a Cox family or a boy with Down syndrome.

“I don’t think s-so,” she stuttered. “How long have you lived in Eagle’s Nest?”

He peered closer at her, ignoring her question. “The coffee shop. You look like Kaylie,” he said in satisfaction. “You look like Kaylie a lot. Except she’s not old,” he added triumphantly.

Eddie coughed. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Truman grin.

“I’ve lived in Eagle’s Nest since I was twenty. We moved here ten years ago,” he answered, clearly pleased that he’d solved his mystery. “I knew you looked like someone.”

“I see the resemblance too, Toby,” Truman answered. “Have a seat, folks.”

Mercy abruptly wondered if Toby’s parents should be present. She was unclear on his rights. Of course, she had no idea of his mental capacity yet. To her limited knowledge, people with Down syndrome varied widely in their abilities. She looked to Truman, who sat in his chair and watched Toby with confidence. She decided that if he’d felt there was an issue, he wouldn’t have allowed the meeting.

“How often did you help Ned Fahey around his place?” Mercy asked, pulling out her pen and small notebook, jumping into the interview. “Do you live close to him?”

“I live a quarter mile from Ned. If he doesn’t call and tell me not to come, I go there every Monday and Wednesday to help for three hours.” Toby’s eye contact was good . . . well, partially good. He was slightly cross-eyed in one eye, but his answers were direct. Mercy smiled, pleased they had a good witness.

“Did you help last Wednesday?” Toby had been the one to find Ned on the following Monday.

“Yes. It was wood-chopping day. Wednesdays is almost always wood-chopping day. He chops, I pick it up and stack it. He didn’t call to cancel, so I went back on Monday.” He looked down at his clenched hands in his lap.

“That must have been horrible for you,” Mercy said gently. “He was a good friend, right?”

“Oh no. Ned was my boss, not a friend. He was very crabby. Even my parents say he was crabby.”

Mercy bit her lip at his blunt reply. “Did you like working for Ned?”

“I did. He needed help because his back and knees always hurt. It was the right thing to do.”

“Did he pay you?” Eddie asked.


Mercy and Eddie waited to hear how much, but Toby didn’t volunteer the information. Mercy wondered if he didn’t know or if he’d been raised not to discuss money matters. Her parents had never told her how much money they earned or paid for anything. The only time money had been mentioned was when it wasn’t available. Which was often.

“When you got there yesterday, was the front door unlocked?” Eddie asked.

Toby turned to look at him and intently studied his face. “I like your glasses. Those are cool.”

“Thank you,” said Eddie, blinking rapidly. “Ummm . . . what was my question?”

“You asked if the door was unlocked,” said Toby. “It was. I knocked several times first. I always knock, but Ned didn’t answer this time. I opened the door and went in.” He looked down again. “I hope that was okay.”


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