It shouldn’t be on any list of mine.
He should be concerned solely with finding out who’d killed his uncle. If he learned that, he’d also know who’d killed the other preppers. Guilt poked at him for putting his uncle first, but he wasn’t neglecting the other deaths. Jefferson Biggs’s death occupied a huge part of his heart; it made him work harder on every case.
Speaking of which . . .
He called Ben Cooley, hoping his older officer had returned from his vacation. He was on the schedule for Monday morning.
“Hello, Truman!” Ben’s voice boomed through the line. He didn’t yell in person, but he’d somehow gotten it in his head that he needed to yell when he talked on his cell phone. Truman was thankful he didn’t yell on the office phone at the police department.
“Are you back in town, Ben?” He fought the urge to yell back.
“Just got in around noon. You need some help? I’d be happy to let Sharon handle the unpacking if you need me to come in for something.” The hopefulness in his voice made Truman smile.
“No. You give your wife a hand. I just have some questions about a case that occurred before my time.”
“Which one?” Ben hollered.
The line was silent for a moment. “What do you want to know about that girl?” His volume dropped. “I can tell you right now, that case has stuck with me for a long time. Not many pretty young things end up murdered in Eagle’s Nest, thank the Lord.”
“I reviewed the file, since it’s never been solved,” hedged Truman. “Were there really no other suspects?”
“Well, we looked at the boyfriend first. His alibi was backed up by a half-dozen people, and I’m telling you, he was an absolute wreck. He’d been planning to propose as soon as he saved up enough money for a ring. I thought his interview was honest. Parents checked out clean too.”
“But no other suspects?” Truman repeated.
“The evidence didn’t give us any new leads to follow. The interviews of her friends and family didn’t turn up any leads either. The case went cold really fast. You saw it was tied to the Jennifer Sanders death too, right? Lots of similarities that made us sure it was the same person. Both went cold.”
“What do you think happened, Ben?”
The line was silent for so long, Truman glanced at the phone screen to see if he was still connected.
“Dunno,” Ben finally said. “I think someone was passing through town and kept going. Those attacks were about two weeks apart, and then nothin’. People who do that sort of thing don’t just give it up, you know.”
“I agree.” Truman took a deep breath. “We think there’s a possibility that Jefferson’s death might be related to these two cold cases. The other three preppers too. You heard we found another one today?”
“I heard,” Ben said gruffly. “Anders Beebe knew how to try my patience, but it doesn’t mean I wanted him dead.”
“How are some old preppers tied to the two girls’ cases?”
A hiss sounded in Truman’s ear as Ben sucked in his breath. “Holy Bruce Almighty. I’d totally forgotten about that part. You got broken mirrors in all of the recent cases?”
“I’ll be goddamned. I can’t believe it.”
“Were the broken mirrors big news back then? Could someone have heard about it and decided to copy?”
“Well now, I don’t know. I seem to remember we kept it to ourselves, since it was one of the things we used to tie the cases together. But you know how hard it is to keep things quiet in this kind of town.”
“Don’t seem possible to be the same person all these years later,” Ben muttered. “It doesn’t fit.”
“I agree. But the mirrors are making us take another look.”
“Well, I’ll think on it,” Ben said. “Maybe I’ll come in and read over my notes on the case. That might kick something loose in my brain.”
“I’d appreciate it,” said Truman. He ended the call with Ben and checked the clock.
Mercy should arrive any moment, and he couldn’t sit still. He felt like a middle school student waiting for his crush to enter the classroom.
Shit. Not cool. He was growing more and more attracted to the FBI agent.
Fucking bad timing. Plus she doesn’t even live near here.
As if location were the biggest hurdle. How about working on the same case?
Green eyes and dark hair popped into his mind. She was stubborn and nearly impossible to get to talk about herself. Maybe it was the air of mystery about her that’d hooked him. He’d always been interested in the unobtainable. He remembered how her face had lit up at his uncle’s home as she gazed at the results of his uncle’s obsession.
He wanted her to look like that at him. Not at a bunch of baking supplies.
The door out front opened and shut.
Please be Lucas. He strode down the hall and spotted Mercy in a light jacket. She turned and smiled at him and he swore his heart skipped a beat.
Get over yourself. It’s not happening.
She seemed to have perked up since they parted an hour ago. Maybe she simply didn’t function well on an empty stomach.
“Ready to go?” she asked. “Did you call Cooley?”
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