“He’s gone nowhere in fifteen years. Has worked at the same job all this time. Good thing you didn’t hook up back then, because you’d be the wife of a ranch hand. How’s that sound, Special Agent Kilpatrick?”
“Some days that sounds good.”
“I don’t believe that. That coat you’re wearing probably costs two weeks of his salary.”
Her coat was an investment. A quality that’d last forever. “Your fashion knowledge has greatly expanded.”
“I have a teenage daughter.”
Studying her sibling, Mercy finally relaxed. A bridge had spanned their fifteen years of silence, and the enormity of the long years faded away. His face was again familiar; the crinkles at the corners of his eyes felt normal. He was her brother.
Optimism filled her. She wanted to know everything about her brother and Kaylie.
His teeth flashed in a big grin. “What are you thinking?” he asked.
“For the first time, I’m glad I’m back.”
Truman sat at his desk, looking at the broken-mirrors photos from Ned Fahey’s and Enoch Finch’s homes. He’d memorized the photos from Uncle Jefferson’s home. Now he stared at the others, searching for something in common and wondering if he could figure out what had been used to break the mirrors.
Bullets had destroyed the mirrors in Jefferson’s home. Just as they’d destroyed his uncle.
But no bullets had been found behind the mirrors in the other two homes.
Why hadn’t anyone else connected the mirrors from the old cases yet? Surely there was a police officer or county deputy who recalled that detail. Why had it been pointed out by someone who’d been a teenager at the time?
If Mercy Kilpatrick hadn’t been assigned to the murders, would those two old cases still be sitting in the file room? Waiting for Lucas to run a duster over their box?
Truman didn’t believe in coincidences. Not yet, anyway.
He laid out all the broken-mirror pictures on his desk. Five different cases. Fourteen different pictures. The glass of each small accessory mirror had fallen out of its frame, but the bathroom mirrors had stayed glued in place. Except for in one of the Vargas bathrooms, where the mirror had been a medicine cabinet door and it’d crumbled to pieces across the counter.
Did the same person cause all this destruction?
Truman wanted to bang his head on his desk. It would be as helpful as staring at pictures.
“Chief?” Royce Gibson stepped into his office. “You wanted an update on the agents?”
A pang of guilt struck Truman’s chest. “Sure.”
“Special Agent Peterson headed in the direction of Bend. I assume he’s going to the FBI office. Special Agent Kilpatrick headed out on Route Eighty-Two this morning. I didn’t follow either of them outside the city limits.”
Truman thought for a minute. “Rick Turner lives off Eighty-Two, right?”
Mercy had been headed toward her sister’s house. Truman wondered if she was nervous. She hadn’t said much about her sister that morning, but Truman had put enough pieces together to know it wasn’t going to be an easy visit.
The cop lingered in the doorway, shifting from one foot to another and letting his gaze roam about the room.
“Is there something else?” Suspicion prickled at the back of Truman’s neck.
“It might be stupid.”
“Let me be the judge of that.”
Royce fidgeted some more. “There’re rumors going about. Not a lot, but I’ve heard it three times now. And everyone says they don’t know if it’s true.”
“What is it, Royce?” Eagle’s Nest thrived on rumor. Truman got some of his best information from the gossip chain. Along with a lot of garbage.
“Ever hear of the cave man?” he asked in a wavering voice.
Truman raised a brow. Ina’s cave man?
Royce’s face turned red and he studied his shoes. “You said to tell you everything.”
“Spit it out.”
The cop managed to look him in the eye. “I heard some hunters spotted weapons near a cave along with signs of someone living there. They left quickly, afraid they’d stumbled onto personal property.”
“When? What hunters?” Truman barked.
“Don’t know. The hunters were from the other side of the Cascades. They mentioned it in passing somewhere in town, asking if anyone lived in a cave around here. With all the talk about the weapons stolen lately, I thought it might be important.”
Truman sat silently. Hunters? Telling stories in the bar? “Anyone else ever mention a cave man?”
Royce looked at his shoes again.
“There were always stories passed around. Someone would say they’d seen some creepy guy who lived in the forest. No one ever claimed he had a bunch of weapons. But they always said he’d shoot at you.”
“Stories? Like rumors you tell in high school?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
Truman counted to ten. “Can you be more specific, Royce? Can you remember the name of someone who actually saw this cave man or his weapons?”
Royce looked miserable. “Like I said, it’s just rumors. But I thought the hunters saying they’d seen the same thing added some credibility.”
“Is the hunter story recent?”
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