Lacey walked back to the kitchen, her brain spinning with thoughts of Suzanne, Amy, and Jack Harper.
Mason Callahan recognized big money when he saw it. And this guy had it. The décor of the Harper Developing offices was understated, but the kind of understated that cost a fortune. The colors were Northwest colors, strong gray-blues and earthy browns with fir-green accents. The office didn’t shout how successful the company was; it murmured it. Even Ray had been silent for thirty seconds, gaping as they waited for Jack Harper to spare a moment of his time.
The view was stunning. Mason held his cowboy hat in his hand as he looked out the east windows in the conference room and wondered if Harper had ordered Mt. Hood to pose for his guests. The white peak looked icy proud and crystalline behind the city. With a sky that blue and clear, it was hard to believe the temperature was twenty-five degrees outside.
Harper swung open the door, “Sorry to keep you waiting. What can I do for you? Is the apartment manager in Lakefield giving you what you need for your investigation?” He managed to shake both men’s hands, circle the table, and pour three cups of coffee before he finished speaking. The man controlled a room by simply entering it.
Efficient was the adjective that popped into Mason’s head. And smooth. He took a close look at Jack Harper, taking the offered coffee cup, reluctantly liking what he saw. The man’s eyes were honest and direct, his manner welcoming but businesslike.
Mason and Ray had been hard at work turning the man’s past inside out. Every person they spoke with sang the man’s praises. Except for a few ex-girlfriends, but that was to be expected. It was disconcerting that every rock of Harper’s they dug under, they found another connection to Dave DeCosta or some other aspect of their ever-widening case.
It wasn’t logical that Jack Harper was involved, but they had to take a look at him.
Ray started. “The apartment manager is fine. You must have put the fear of God in him, because he’s bending over backward to make us happy.” He snorted. “He even offered to get me a deal on the dent I’ve got in my rear fender.”
That brought a flash of a grin from Harper. “His brother owns a body shop. He’s actually quite good. I’ve used him myself.”
Mason saw Ray sip his hot coffee and unsuccessfully hide that he’d just burned his tongue, but the man managed to throw out another question. “We wanted to know what you were doing in Lakefield the morning the skeleton was found. You live here in Portland, right?”
Harper’s face closed. “I was visiting my dad. He doesn’t live too far from that complex. I’m often down there on the weekends.”
“We couldn’t find an address for your father in the public records. Jacob Harper, right? Is he renting?”
“No. Well, sort of.” Harper took a short walk to the window and stared at the mountain. “He’s in adult foster care.”
Reflected in the window, Mason watched impatience flash across Harper’s face. “A care home. A small, privately owned home specifically for the elderly with special needs. He lives there with four other men and a caretaker or two.” Harper’s voice was stiff, the words clipped.
His face reddening, Ray opened and closed his mouth, completely blindsided by what was obviously a personal and painful answer. Mason stepped in.
“I thought your father was still active in the company.”
Jack shook his head. “His name’s on the letterhead. That’s it. He doesn’t remember that he started this company, let alone have any input.”
Harper turned from the window and stared directly at Mason. “Yes. Most of the time he doesn’t remember that he has a son either.”
“That must be a bitch for you. It’s a shitty disease.”
One brow tilted slightly on Harper’s forehead. “What else do you need to know?”
“What else can you tell us about Hillary Roske?”
“We dated. We broke up. Long before she vanished. Didn’t you read the paper this morning?”
Ray pretended to write something on his little notepad, as if Harper had provided a vital detail. Harper’s history had been splashed across the front page today, and the article accurately matched the facts Mason had uncovered so far.
“Do you remember what you were doing or who you were with the night of Suzanne Mills’s abduction?”
Disbelief struck Harper’s features. “You’re kidding, right? It’s been over a decade! You remember who you were with that night?”
“Give me one name. A roommate or girlfriend you would have been hanging out with.” Mason pushed the issue.
“Dave Harris was my roommate. He lives in Bend now.”
Ray made a real notation this time.
“I understand you’ve contacted Dr. Campbell about this case. And apparently you already knew of her narrow escape eleven years ago.”
“What about it? What’d she say to you?” Harper’s back straightened, and he looked at the detectives with defensive eyes.
“I haven’t talked with her since then. This came from a third party.”
Ray looked up from his notebook and both detectives studied Harper curiously. Something about the little doctor bothered the man. He’d almost broken a sweat when Mason mentioned her. Exchanging a look, both detectives intensified their focus.
“How’d you know she was the one that got away from DeCosta? Her name’s never been in print.”