“I saw a flash of it. So I was pretty certain Craig had been there too, but I couldn’t believe he’d hurt my sisters.”
“And that’s who you called to help you get rid of the body?” asked Truman. “The accomplice? What the hell made you do that?”
“I figured he’d have a good reason to keep his mouth shut,” said Levi. “I loaded Kenny into the back of my truck and went to Craig’s. He was shocked as hell to see me and was totally rattled by Kenny’s death. He said Kenny and he were just stopping by when Kenny attacked Rose. Craig freaked out and ran. He was scared shitless and I trusted what he said. Then he told me he thought Kenny might have killed those other two women.”
“Craig claimed he wasn’t with Kenny at Jennifer’s and Gwen’s?” Mercy asked. “Liar.”
“I believed him at the time. I told him I’d keep my mouth shut about his involvement at our home if he’d help me get rid of the body. He wanted assurance that you and Rose hadn’t seen him and wouldn’t tell anyone. I told him Rose had heard a second voice, but we’d already agreed to keep it quiet.”
“Wait.” Mercy’s spinning brain locked on to one thought. “How did you assure him Rose and I wouldn’t go to the police?”
Levi’s face crumpled. “I told him I’d make certain Dad wouldn’t let you. That you’d do whatever Dad decreed.”
“I had to leave town because of my arguments with Dad!” Truman’s hand caught her elbow as she fell back a step. Her vision tunneled; the only thing she could see was Levi’s guilt-stricken face. How could he promise such a thing? Were Rose and I simply pawns to him? “You took Dad’s side! But you were just protecting your own ass!”
“I was protecting yours too! Who knows what would have happened if you’d gone to the police? We both could have ended up in prison. Or what if Rose had identified Craig’s voice at the Bevins ranch? That could have ratcheted up the conflict between Dad and Joziah to who knows what level. A full-out war.”
“OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod.” Mercy turned away from Levi. The brother she’d always trusted . . . his betrayal had stripped her bare, and she strove to keep from falling to her knees. Leaving home had been the hardest thing she’d ever done. Learning Levi had helped push her out the door rubbed salt in her old wound. “Damn you, Levi,” she whispered. She wanted to vomit.
How did he do this to me? To Rose and me?
“You’ve got to believe me that I thought the killer was dead when Kenny died. I didn’t believe Craig had anything to do with the attacks,” Levi said earnestly. He touched her arm and she shook it off, unable to look at him. “It wasn’t until you mentioned the mirrors that I started to have doubts.”
“Why didn’t you say something then?” Truman sounded ready to rip off her brother’s head.
“The cases were too different! Women were raped and murdered back then. Not old men shot in the head! Craig told me that Kenny was some sort of sexual pervert and I thought we were doing the right thing by keeping his death quiet.”
“I bet Craig was with him the whole time,” Mercy stated quietly.
“I don’t know,” Levi said. “But he might have been.”
A thought struck her. “Could Craig have been the one who stole the prom photos, since he actually knew both women? I don’t see Kenny stealing them, as the women were strangers to him.” She looked at Levi. “Does mom still have Pearl’s old prom photos?”
Levi thought for a moment. “There are some old albums in Dad’s office. Our high school stuff. Hang on.” He jogged up the porch stairs.
“Pearl was at the same prom as Jennifer and Gwen, correct?” Truman asked.
“Right. It was a big deal in our house. Dad was firmly against Pearl going, but Mom convinced him since Pearl was going with a group of girls, not with a date.”
“What are you hoping to see in the pictures?”
“A very tall young man named Craig.”
“It won’t prove anything.”
“I agree,” said Mercy. “But it’s one common thread that might tighten things up.”
Levi came outside, flipping through a fat album. “Here.” He tapped an open page and showed the two of them a few candid shots of Pearl in her prom dress, standing in front of her parents’ wood stove. Another shot showed her and Jennifer in the same spot.
Mercy blinked, stunned that the dresses and hairstyles were so dated. That night she’d believed her sister was movie-star fashionable. She turned a page and found a formal group picture shot by the prom photographer.
A Night in Italy. The group stood in front of an image of an Italian palace.
Craig Rafferty stood in the back row. Five girls. Three guys.
They all looked incredibly happy.
“Think this is the picture that’s missing from both scenes?” Truman asked.
“I do,” said Mercy. “I wonder why he took them.”
“Souvenirs,” mumbled Levi.
What drove the nice young man in this picture to kill women he knew?
I’m jumping to conclusions.
“So Craig said he and Kenny were coming for a social call the night they attacked us?” Mercy spit the words as she shut the album.
“He said they were stopping by to see me and he didn’t know what Kenny was going to do until he suddenly attacked.”
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com