She parked and stepped carefully across the muddy, empty space to his home. She’d lifted a hand to knock when she saw the door had been left open a crack for her. She pushed it in. “Anders?”

Silence greeted her.

“Are you ready to go? We’ve got a long drive.”

She wiped her feet on the worn mat and stepped in the home. “Anders!”

Maybe he stepped outside for something. That’s why the door was open.

She headed toward the kitchen, smelling coffee and planning to pour herself a quick cup to enjoy until her brother was ready to go.

The odor of urine and worse stopped her at the kitchen doorway.

Anders was faceup on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood.

Jane dropped her purse and dived to her knees next to her brother. “Anders!” She grabbed his face, turning it toward her, but his eyes were blank. She pressed a shaking hand against his warm neck, searching for a pulse. She held her breath as she tried to find a vein beating in his neck.

Nothing.

She clawed at his blood-soaked shirt and saw the seeping holes in his chest.

Sitting back on her heels, she knelt silently with one hand resting gently on his chest. No heartbeat. No breaths.

She waited longer.

Nothing.

“Oh, Anders. I thought your mutterings about the cave man were a bunch of bull.”

Regret and shame flooded through her for not taking her brother more seriously.

One of his hands clenched a revolver. She looked over her shoulder and saw bullet holes in the wall near where she’d entered the kitchen.

“I hope you got the asshole.”

TWENTY-THREE

Truman was tired of seeing murdered old men.

Three days ago he’d hauled Anders Beebe into a holding cell for driving drunk.

Today he was dead.

He stood in the kitchen doorway of Anders’s home and kept his anger in check as the county’s crime tech photographed every element of the scene. Across the room, Mercy and Eddie watched the photographer move about the area. A county deputy had called Truman at six this morning, and he’d immediately called Mercy to share the news of the Beebe murder.

Her voice had been full of sleep when she answered her cell phone. But she’d come to her senses instantly. “Why are you calling us, Truman? This sounds like it’s a county case.”

“It is. Let’s just say the sheriff is a little slow to see the connection to your other cases, so he hasn’t called the FBI yet. Consider my phone call a favor to him.”

“Eddie and I will be there in thirty minutes.”

Sheriff Ward Rhodes had covered his ass as the agents showed up at the Beebe home, telling Mercy and Eddie he was just about to call them. He was on the phone and waved his hand at the house. “Take a look.” And went back to his phone call.

Mercy had smiled to the sheriff’s face, but rolled her eyes behind his back. Eddie had spotted it and poked her in the ribs. She’d batted his hand away.

Their casual closeness made Truman envious. When was the last time I had someone to banter with like that?

Mercy had caught him watching them and winked.

His breath caught.

Special Agent Kilpatrick had amazing eyes.

She’s rather amazing all around. Sharp. Driven. Intelligent.

Yesterday she’d shown an emotional side that’d raised his concerns, but he still believed she was as motivated as he to find the killer.

Someone who’d now killed four men within a few weeks.

Anders Beebe had been shot several times in the chest. His blood covered the floor of the kitchen, and faint spray coated several cabinets.

“This scene seems different than the other scenes,” said Mercy. “It feels rushed. Like he didn’t find what he expected when he entered the house. No one else was shot to death in their kitchen. Even with Jefferson Biggs, it appeared they had a drink before he became suspicious.”

“I agree,” said Eddie. “Especially since Anders fired a weapon at our suspect. Our guy was the aggressor in our other scenes. What went wrong this time?”

“Come look back here.” Truman gestured for the agents to follow him. They trailed him down a long hallway to a small room at the back of the house. In the closet a gun safe stood wide open. And full of guns.

“He didn’t take the weapons.” Mercy looked stunned. “Was he scared off?”

“Anders Beebe’s sister showed up at five this morning to drive him to Portland for a doctor’s visit later this morning.”

“All the way in Portland?” asked Eddie.

“A cancer specialist.”

“Oh.” Agent Peterson pushed on the nose of his glasses. “So it’s possible she interrupted something.”

“She said her brother was warm when she found him, but she didn’t hear anyone else or see anyone leave.”

“How about another vehicle?”

Truman shook his head. “Did you see the number of cars out front? Most of them look like they haven’t run in thirty years.” Anders Beebe had liked to tinker with vehicles, and he’d never turned away a car that someone wanted to simply drop off and forget. The front acre of his property was a vehicle graveyard. “His sister said it was dark, and she didn’t even look at the other vehicles. She’s used to driving around several dozen cars to make her way to his home.”

“Perfect camouflage to park his car,” muttered Mercy. “Is anything missing from the home?”

“The sister said she doesn’t know. She comes to Anders’s home about once every other month, and she claims it’s always a mess.” Truman looked around the room and agreed. Boxes and bins were haphazardly stacked along every wall. Mercy flipped open the lid of the one closest to her and glanced inside.

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