Levi snorted. “I guess we both screwed up.”
She blew out a huge breath and summoned her courage. “Can we start over? Levi, I’m so happy to see you.” She stared at him, leaving the ball in his court, her heart in his hands. Will he shoot me down?
He tossed the cloth on the counter and came out from behind the coffee bar. Before she could move, he’d wrapped both his arms around her and lifted her off the ground, spinning in a circle. “Baby Mercy, you don’t know how much I’ve missed you.”
“Don’t call me baby,” she choked out. Her heart felt like the Grinch’s as it expanded to three times its size and relief shot through her.
In a way, reconnecting with Levi was better than with her sisters. Part of her had always known her sisters would take her back. But men were a different story.
He set her down and his eyes glistened.
“What about Owen?” she whispered.
“Fuck him. If he wants to hold a grudge the rest of his life, let him. He can grow old and sour like Dad.” He paused. “It’s the only way he knows how to behave.”
She knew that. Owen had always been a follower, unable to make his own decisions. He was more comfortable doing what other people dictated, and apparently nothing had changed.
“We need to talk about that night,” she said in a low voice.
He took a half step back and looked her in the eye. “Why? It’s in the past. It’s over.”
She bit her lip as she wondered how much to share with him. “He’s dead, right?”
Levi stared at her. “Why are you asking that now?”
“Because something’s come up that’s made me question it.”
“How do you know?”
He seemed to shrink in front of her eyes. “Because I’ve checked,” he said quietly. “Three times I’ve gone back to see if he’d been found. No one has disturbed him.”
“Where is he?”
His face drained. “I think it’s best only I know that information. You need to take my word for it. I found a good place to stash the body. It’s just bones now.”
Some of her stress drained away, and she swayed slightly in her boots.
One down. What about the second man?
Levi scowled. “You need coffee.” He directed her to a tall stool at a close table. “What can I make you?”
“Americano. Heavy cream.”
He clanked some things behind the counter, and the machine started to hiss as the water was pressed through the grounds. “I need to know why you’re asking if he’s dead,” he said without looking up from his task.
“Remember the mirrors?”
His gaze shot to hers. “Yes.”
“They’re happening again. Here.”
“No, older men. The preppers.”
He frowned as he worked on her drink. “It’s a coincidence. It’s clearly different.”
“It is and it isn’t. That’s why I had to ask if he was still dead.”
Levi brought her the drink in a bright-turquoise cup with matching saucer. He settled himself on a stool next to her. “He wasn’t alone that night.”
Mercy’s anxiety came back. “Rose is having doubts about whether she heard a second voice that night.”
“Well, no one came looking for the dead man and no one reported the shooting at our place. I expected the police to show up the next day. And then when that didn’t happen, I expected it every day after,” said Levi. Stress lined his face, and he appeared older than when she’d first entered the shop.
“I remember. For years I’ve waited for someone to tap me on the shoulder and say they know what happened that night.”
They sat in silence for a moment as Mercy sipped at her drink.
“How come no one ever came looking for him?” she whispered. “People don’t disappear without questions being asked.”
Levi took a deep breath and blew it out. “I didn’t recognize him. None of us did. I don’t think he was from around here.”
“And the second person didn’t report it—”
“Because he knew he was just as guilty. It would have been like calling the police to complain that your heroin was stolen.”
The two of them and Rose had often repeated this logic to calm their nerves when stress and guilt from the murder threatened to overtake their lives.
“We ended the cycle of attacks back then,” Levi pointed out, leaning toward her across the table. “You or Rose were going to be next. We stopped him.”
“Did we? Because someone is breaking mirrors and killing again.” Mercy stared at him.
“They aren’t after young women. It has to be someone different.”
“I think it’s the second guy. The one who got away,” she whispered.
“You’re jumping to conclusions.”
“Did you know weapons were stolen in the Sanders and Vargas murders? It didn’t stand out back then, but it seems relevant now with the weapons missing from the current three murders.”
Levi rubbed at his beard. “Anyone would have stolen the weapons back then. Have you traced sales of the current weapons?”
“No.” Her shoulders sagged. “We have an analyst working on it. It’s hard when the weapons were probably bought illegally to start with. And I bet some of the purchases go back forty years.”
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