“Nice home.” An understatement.

The other man glanced back at him. “It is. Wait here and I’ll get Christian.” He pointed at a sitting area and then jogged up a curving wood staircase.

Mercy would love this.

Actually, she’d say it was too big to maintain in an emergency. Although she’d like the remote location.

Truman suddenly looked at the home with new eyes, wondering about power and heat for the home if society collapsed. He didn’t know whether to appreciate or be annoyed that he viewed the world a bit differently since Mercy had come into his life.

But he could still acknowledge an incredible home.

The interior was ornate but welcoming and casual. The overstuffed furniture had been arranged to create several different seating areas that begged for conversation and friends and wine. Scents of coffee and cinnamon created a homey ambiance, softening the fact that the room was devoid of people. Except Truman.

Instead of sitting, he walked over to the tall windows and looked out at the lake. Standing closer, he realized they weren’t just windows . . . they were glass panels that slid to the sides when the owner wished to open the entire back wall to the outdoors. I’d love to see this during the summer.

Footsteps sounded, and two men came down the stairs. Christian Lake was around forty and tall and clearly spent time in a gym, the muscle definition in his arms showing through his long-sleeved shirt. Truman wasn’t one to judge another man’s looks, but he suspected Mercy would do a double take if Christian Lake walked by. If the first guy looked like Jason Stratham, Lake resembled Ryan Reynolds.

Truman felt as if he were on a movie set.

Christian Lake’s brown eyes were bloodshot, and he looked exhausted. He held out his hand to Truman. “I’m Christian, Chief Daly. I understand you found one of my vehicles?”

His handshake was solid and his gaze direct. The man Truman had met outside hovered several feet behind Christian, his arms loose at his sides, his gaze watchful and assessing. Bodyguard? He could easily hide a weapon under his heavy coat. Truman studied Christian Lake. Why does this man need protection?

“I found a black Lexus SUV registered to you out on Goose Hollow Road. It’s been sitting there for a few days.”

Christian briefly closed his eyes. “Oh crap. I loaned it to Rob Murray a while back. I’d forgotten with all the—” He turned to the man behind him. “Rollins, can you give Rob a call?” Christian looked back at Truman. “Was it wrecked?”

“No. It looked fine.” If I owned an SUV like that, I wouldn’t loan it to anyone.

Relief crossed Christian’s face.

“I didn’t call for a tow yet,” Truman said. “I’ll leave that to you since you seem to know what happened.”

“I’ll get to the bottom of this, but I’m surprised he’d just abandon it. That’s not like him. I hope he’s okay.”

“He’s a friend?” Truman asked.

“He works for me.”

“No answer,” Rollins said, sliding his phone into his pocket.

Frustration crossed Christian’s face. “Do you mind taking care of the car?” he asked Rollins. “I’ve got an appointment in a few minutes.” Rollins nodded, took a hard look at Truman, and then disappeared down a hallway on the other side of the stairs.

“Rollins works for you too?” Truman hadn’t cared for Rollins’s parting look. It’d warned him to toe the line.

“He does. Thanks for driving out here, Chief Daly. I know I’m out of your way.”

“Do I need to look for your friend?”

Christian frowned. “I’ll call him again later. I’m sure it’s nothing. His car was having issues, so I loaned him mine for a few days. I’ve been distracted since—” The man looked away, swallowing hard.

Truman studied the bloodshot eyes and decided to ask the question that’d been ricocheting through his brain. “Are you related to Malcolm Lake?”

As Christian’s face fell, Truman instantly wished he hadn’t asked. “I’m sorry for your loss. I’d heard about his death, but I wasn’t sure you were related.”

“He was my father . . . and thank you.”

Truman paused, wanting to ask if Christian was aware of the similarity between his father’s death and Olivia Sabin’s. None of my business. His gaze fell on a series of award plaques behind Christian on the wall. Even at this distance, he could see LAKE SKI AND SPORTS engraved in the metal.

“You’re Lake Ski and Sports?” he blurted before thinking.


The protective actions of Rollins made a little more sense now. Christian Lake was a very, very wealthy man . . . although Truman had been clued into that fact as he drove up to the house. Truman had heard the owner of Lake Ski and Sports was developing a new type of ski that might rock the entire industry, along with several other new sports equipment–related improvements. He’d been hailed as an innovator by the media and condemned as a disrupter by manufacturers because his inventions threatened to make their products obsolete.

Lake was sort of a smaller-scale Bill Gates or Elon Musk of sporting goods.

Truman held out his hand, feeling he’d overstayed his welcome. “I’m sorry about your father.”

“Thank you. I’ll show you out.” He led the way to the front door, giving Truman new mind-boggling views of the home’s elaborate interior. Out front a huge covered porch overlooked the grounds. Even though it was covered in snow, Truman suspected the extensive property was perfectly landscaped. As he went down the steps, a small SUV came up the long drive and parked.

He blinked as Mercy stepped out of the back door on the driver’s side. A dark-haired woman emerged from the passenger’s side, and Eddie slammed the driver’s door, instantly spotting Truman. “Hey, Truman!”

Christian Lake’s appointment was with the FBI.

Truman glanced back at Christian, who now curiously eyed him.

How can I convince them to let me sit in on their interview?

Hiding her pleasure at unexpectedly running into Truman, Mercy introduced him to Ava as they stood in the snow in front of the giant cabin.

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” the Portland FBI agent told him with a wink and warm grin.

Mercy elbowed her. “Stop it.”

Truman’s smile indicated he found Ava amusing.

“What are you doing here?” Mercy asked Truman.

He jerked his head toward a man who waited several yards away on the front porch. Christian Lake. He looked good. Long gone was the geek she’d worked with at the steak house. Now he was movie-star handsome. And rich.

Will he remember me?

“I found an abandoned car,” Truman said. “Turned out to be his, so I came out to let him know about it.”

Eddie eyed the big vehicle in front of the garage. “That old Hummer?”

“No. A Lexus SUV. It’s still on the side of the road.”

“Where is it?”

“Goose Hollow Road.”

The three agents exchanged a glance. “Did he leave it there?” asked Ava. “Was it damaged?”

It was Truman’s turn to frown. “No and no. He said he loaned it to an employee. Why?”

Mercy bit her lip. “We need to know where Christian has been for the last few days. An abandoned vehicle is interesting.”

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