A series of lengthy calls to Mercy, Ava, and the foster mom landed Truman the address of Morrigan’s foster home.

“She has the right to see her daughter,” he’d argued to Ava when she stated she wanted to interview Salome first. The protective heat in Salome’s eyes had reminded him of Mercy’s attitude about her niece. You don’t get between a mother and her child.

“Fine,” Ava finally said. “But we’re going to meet you there. I want to talk to Salome tonight.”

Truman wondered how the FBI would interview Salome with her daughter present, but it wasn’t his problem. Right now his goal was to reunite the mother with Morrigan. Salome was beside herself, agitated that her daughter was not in her sight. She couldn’t hold still, pacing in the parking lot, monitoring his conversations, and alternating between tears and anger.

Between his phone calls, she had peppered him with questions about Olivia’s death, unhappy with his lack of knowledge. He’d offered to drive her to the foster home, believing she shouldn’t be behind the wheel at that emotional moment, but Salome had surprised him. She abruptly locked down her emotions and turned her energy to reuniting with her daughter. “What’s done is done,” she’d stated. “I’ll get details about my mother later. Right now the only thing I can change is my daughter’s location. And you can be damned sure that is happening tonight.”

The drive to the home took fifteen minutes. He parked in front of the foster home and checked his rearview mirror. Salome’s car was right behind him.

She darted out of her vehicle and raced up the driveway before Truman could open his door. Shit!

She rang the doorbell and beat on the door several times. He caught up and grasped her upper arm, stopping the pounding. “Hang on. You’re going to terrify the mother. Not to mention the kids.”

“Don’t put your hands on me!” She jerked her arm out of his grasp and he backed up, both hands in the air.

“Sorry! I’m just trying to slow you down.”

Outrage flamed on her face. “Don’t touch me again!”

“Yell at me all you want, but have some respect for the family watching your daughter,” he snapped. “These are good people. They don’t deserve your anger.”

She froze, staring at him, and her expression cleared as she looked away. “I don’t like people touching me,” she said in a calmer voice.

“Understood.”

The door opened two inches, stopped by a chain, and a woman’s cautious eyes studied them. Truman pulled out his badge. “Hannah? I spoke to you on the phone. I’m Chief Daly. Sorry about the pounding.”

She closed the door and released the chain. Opening it wider, she sized up Salome with one hard look. “You’re lucky my toddler wasn’t sleeping.”

“I’m very sorry,” Salome said, trying to look over the woman’s shoulder. “I need to see Morrigan.”

“Mama?”

Hannah was pushed aside as Morrigan darted out the door and flung herself at her mother, wrapping her arms around her waist. Salome exhaled as she held her daughter, closing her eyes and burying her face in her daughter’s hair, murmuring words of comfort over and over. Hannah watched the pair with a small smile on her lips, but her eyes were sad.

Truman understood. He was relieved to reunite the pair, but there were a lot of questions to be answered and the murder of Olivia to face. The next few days wouldn’t be easy for the two of them. Maybe even months.

Three car doors slammed behind them. Salome was caught up in her daughter and didn’t turn around.

But Truman did. His heart sped up at the sight of Mercy but faltered as he spotted the determined look on Agent McLane’s face. Nothing would get in the way of her questioning the mother.

Salome didn’t answer when I asked where she’d been.

Will she tell the FBI?

Two minutes later he had his answer. Salome refused an interview, stating she needed to be alone with her daughter and demanding to contact her lawyer first. The three FBI agents weren’t happy.

“We’re trying to find out who murdered your mother.” Eddie tried to reason with her.

“I know. But nothing I tell you tonight is going to make any difference. She’s dead.” Salome glanced down with a guilty look, seeing Morrigan, who was listening and watching. “Right now I want to find a hotel room. Tomorrow I’ll tell you everything you want.”

“Mama, that lady was with Grandma.” Morrigan pointed at Mercy.

Salome gave Mercy a sharp look. “What do you mean?” she asked her daughter.

“I was there the night your mother died,” Mercy said softly.

Truman shifted his feet. This wasn’t a conversation to have on a front porch. With a child present.

“What do you mean you were there?” Salome’s focus zoomed in on Mercy. “What were you doing in my home?”

“She helped me. And she helped Grandma.” Morrigan’s voice quivered as she shot anxious looks between her mother and Mercy.

“Let’s do this somewhere else,” stated Ava.

“Tomorrow.”

Truman knew nothing would change Salome’s mind. Her chin was up, her voice full of steel.

Silence hung over the porch.

Hannah broke the tension. “I’ll get Morrigan’s things.” She closed the door behind her, leaving the tense group outside in the cold.

Truman didn’t blame her.

“All right,” Ava agreed. “Let’s get you into a hotel and then meet first thing in the morning.”

Salome nodded. “Agreed.”

Suspicion prickled at the base of Truman’s skull. I don’t believe she’ll be helpful. He glanced at Mercy, who was studying the woman, her lips pressed together.

She didn’t either.

FOURTEEN

Eddie marched into Mercy’s office the next morning. “They’re gone.”

She didn’t need to ask who he meant. “Completely gone?”

“Her car’s gone and the hotel room is empty. Ava is furious.”

“I suspected Salome wouldn’t answer any questions, but I didn’t know she’d split,” admitted Mercy. “I thought she’d lawyer up.”

“We put out another BOLO on her car. We’ll find her.”

“I don’t understand why she’d leave when we need her help to find out who killed her mother,” began Mercy. “Does she suspect someone? Why not tell us? What are we missing?”

“We’re missing everything because we haven’t found any damned answers!” Eddie paced in front of her desk. “I don’t know whether to be relieved or angry that she took Morrigan.”

“She won’t harm her daughter.”

“She’s making things worse for herself. No judge is going to appreciate her taking the child,” Eddie muttered.

“It’s her kid,” Mercy pointed out. “And Salome wasn’t under arrest.”

“Still pisses me off. Two people are dead and Salome was the best lead we’ve had.”

“I saw a desperate mother last night,” Mercy told him. “Whatever is going on, she believes she’s doing the right thing for Morrigan.”

“The right thing is to help us solve her mother’s murder. This doesn’t put her in a good light.”

Mercy agreed. By running, Salome made herself look guilty. “I can’t believe she’d kill her mother.”

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