Ava nodded.

Christian winced. “All I have for an alibi is Brent Rollins. He lives on the grounds and manages the estate. I didn’t see him that night, but he’s usually aware of my comings and goings. Ask him.”

“He lives in this house?” Eddie asked.

“No, he lives in one of the cabins about a hundred yards east of here. They’re blocked by the trees, so he may have not seen that I was home that night.”

Ava made a notation on her pad. “I know you said you’re estranged, but do you have any idea who’d kill your father?”

The son shook his head. “I don’t. When I heard about it, I assumed it was a random break-in or else related to one of his cases. I haven’t talked to him about his cases in a long time, but I know he’s put away some very angry people. I’m sorry, but I don’t recall any specifics.”

“We’re looking into his cases,” Eddie said.

“Do you know Olivia Sabin?” Ava asked.

“No, I don’t think I know the name,” Christian answered, his gaze holding Ava’s.

He hesitated. Mercy swore a small flash of surprise had lit his eyes. He knows who she is.

“Why?” he asked. “Is she a suspect?”

“No,” Ava stated. “She was murdered the night after your father. In a very similar manner.”

There’s that flash again.

“That’s horrible.” Christian looked nauseated. “Was she a neighbor or a friend of his?”

“Neither.” Ava didn’t expand.

Silence filled the room. Christian looked expectantly from Ava to Eddie and finally to Mercy. She bit her tongue, knowing Ava had a reason for her questions and explanations.

“But you think it’s related to my father’s death,” Christian finally stated.

“We’re considering that possibility.” Ava’s answer was vague.

“Is there evidence from her death that could help find my father’s killer?” he asked.

“We’re still collecting and examining the evidence.” Another noncommittal reply.

Frustration briefly filled his features. “I hope you can find who did this.” The look in his eyes told Mercy he knew the FBI was deliberately not giving him clear answers. “It doesn’t matter that we parted on bad terms. That was a horrible way to die. I don’t wish that on anyone.”

THIRTEEN

Truman strode from his office to the pizza parlor, his stomach growling. He’d offered to pick up a pizza and meet for dinner at Mercy’s apartment. It was just past five o’clock and he glared into the dark sky. He was ready for the sun to stick around longer each day. The early darkness made him crave his bed by 7:00 p.m., and then he still had to drive to work in the dark the next morning. But the idea of hot and melty pizza with Mercy and Kaylie cheered him up.

Eagle’s Nest was quiet. A few cars cruised through the city, no doubt heading home, their drivers thinking about dinner just as he was. The only open shops were the pizza parlor and the diner. Just ahead of him a car turned into the pizza place’s parking lot. He automatically looked at the rear of the vehicle, reading the plate and the make of the car.

Subaru. It was dark green.

Bolton had told him Salome Sabin drove a green Subaru Forester.

The car pulled into a space under a light in the lot and parked. The driver opened her door but stayed seated for a moment, focused on something in her lap.

His heart pounding, he crossed the lot, unable to look away from the car, worried that it would drive off before he got there. He walked around the rear of the vehicle and stopped several feet from the driver’s open door, not wanting to spook the woman. “Excuse me?” he asked. “Do you need help with something?”

The startled woman glanced at him and grabbed her door to yank it shut, but then she spotted the cloth police badge on the front of his winter coat and froze. Her gaze went to his cowboy hat, back to the badge, and then to his face. Her expression cleared as she decided he wasn’t a threat.

Salome Sabin stepped out of the green car. She was dressed in jeans, hiking boots, and a black jacket with a wide fur collar. Her long hair rested on her shoulders, nearly as dark as the fur. The sultry gaze from his memories blazed in front of him. She was older than he remembered and still as beautiful. A mesmerizing power radiated from her confidence and the angle of her chin. “I’m fine, Officer. I don’t need anything.” She tilted her head, her gaze traveling up his body, a small smile curving her lips.

“Are you Salome Sabin?” he asked, knowing the answer.

Caution shut down her confidence, and she drew back, dark eyes suspicious. “Why?”

“Have you been home today?”

“Why? Why would you ask me that?”

Truman searched for a gentle way to break the news to her. There wasn’t one. “There was an incident at your home yesterday. Your mother was murdered.”

Her hand went to her neck. “Morrigan?” she croaked, stepping back and bumping into her car.

“Your daughter wasn’t hurt. She’s absolutely fine.” Truman cursed himself for not stating that immediately.

“What happened?” she whispered. Panic had replaced her assurance, and her breaths deepened. She swallowed multiple times, trying to keep her control.

“We’re not sure.” I shouldn’t be the one informing her. He moved closer and placed a hand on her shoulder, his heart splitting at the devastation on her face. “I’m very sorry for your loss.” Useless words.

“Where is she? Where’s Morrigan?” Tears started down her cheeks. “Where’s my mother?” She grabbed the front of his jacket, terror stiffening her posture.

“Morrigan is staying with a foster family—”

“No! I want her with me.” Anger blazed in her eyes. “Not strangers!”

“It’s a good place,” Truman started. “One of the FBI agents went and—”

“FBI? Why the FBI?”

He paused, rattled and scrambling for the right words. “Your mother’s death resembles the murder of a Portland judge—”

“Who?”

“Judge Malcolm Lake, he’s—”

Salome whirled away and bent over. Her hands clutched her abdomen and she dry heaved, her long hair hiding her face. The retching sounds froze Truman in place. I fucked this up. He should have delivered the news in a softer way. And not blurted out the name of another victim.

Stupid.

He carefully placed a hand on her back, uncomfortable with touching the distraught woman, and his brain blank of words of comfort. “Let me try to get you in to see Morrigan tonight.” It was the first option he could think of to calm her.

Turning back to him, Salome brushed her hair out of her face and wiped her dry mouth. Her eyes were wet and angry. Very angry. “She’s my daughter. You damned well will let me see her! I want her out of there tonight! She should be home with me!” Her face paled. “My home . . .”

“You should find a hotel tonight.” Truman glanced at her car. “The investigators have been trying to reach you. Where have you been?”

Salome briefly closed her eyes, regret speeding across her features. “I lost my Goddamned phone. Fuck! I thought I’d be okay without it for a few days.” She turned a fierce gaze on him, her shoulders squared.

“Get me to my daughter. Now.”

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