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“What?”

“Apparently the judge granted him bail late yesterday. A high-powered attorney showed up and convinced the judge we didn’t have enough to deny bail. He’s filing a counter suit for excessive force, claiming he was pursued for no reason and had his face slammed into a brick wall.”

Stella winced. That actually did happen.

“Excessive force won’t be tolerated,” Horner said. “We’re lucky no one recorded the incident for YouTube.”

“This morning Mac and I learned that Spivak is a member of the White Survival Alliance. Let’s see if we can find other members. He might be hiding with them.” Stella’s phone buzzed. She glanced at the display. “It’s Mrs. Green. I have to take this.” Grateful for the moment to regroup, she stepped out of the conference room and answered the call.

“Stella?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Stella put her finger in her other ear to block out the hum of voices. She ducked into an empty interview room and closed the door. “What can I do for you?”

“This is going to sound silly, and I hate to bother you . . .”

“You’re not bothering me.”

“I went to the medical examiner’s office today.” Mrs. Green’s breath hitched then steadied. “I signed papers to have Missy picked up by a funeral home, and I picked up her things.”

Sorrow enveloped Stella. That poor woman. No one should have to bury her child. “I’m sorry you had to do that. I would have gone with you.”

“My sister is here. She took me.” Mrs. Green sniffed. “But they didn’t have Missy’s patron saint medal. She never took it off. I gave it to her the day she came out of rehab. St. Maximilian Kolbe is the patron saint of drug addicts. I was wondering if you had it.”

Stella froze, remembering the pendant in Spivak’s pocket. “Can you describe it?”

“I have a picture of Missy wearing it on my phone. I’ll text it to you.”

“I’ll check the evidence log.” Stella ended the call. She opened the message when it came in. In the photo, Missy was sitting in a restaurant wearing a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes, as if she pasted it on to make her mother happy. An oval pendant rested in the V of her white blouse. Stella enlarged the picture with her fingertips. It looked like the same medal they’d found in Spivak’s pocket.

She hurried back to the conference room and leafed through her reports.

“What is it?” Horner asked.

She pulled out her copy of Spivak’s arrest report and skimmed the list of personal effects: One patron saint medallion of St. Maximilian Kolbe. “Mrs. Green says Missy had one of these and it’s missing.”

“I knew it.” With a satisfied smirk, Horner folded his arms. “Spivak is our man. Get a warrant and search his room. Talk to his parents. Find a friend who will squeal on him. And find Spivak! I’ve assigned two uniforms to the investigation. Get one of them to research this White Survival Alliance.”

Horner turned to Lance. “Put out an alert. I want him back in custody before dark. Also, get a warrant to impound his vehicle and have the forensic team fine-tooth it. This guy is a registered sex offender. They always have high recidivism rates.” Horner’s eyes sparked with near glee. “All focus is on Spivak. Are my instructions clear?” He focused on Stella.

“Yes, sir,” she said. “What about the missing girl?”

“If we find Spivak, we’ll likely find her.” Horner blinked. “But let’s get a picture of her distributed to all local law enforcement.”

Brody walked into the room. Horner brought him up to speed.

“You’re not going to like what I found.” Brody leaned both palms on the table. “The business associate who alibied Adam Miller is his old fraternity friend. And while they were active members, someone at a frat party slipped a girl Rohypnol and she died.”

“Were any charges filed?” Horner asked.

Brody shook his head. “No. I checked with the police who handled the case. There was no evidence against any of the fraternity brothers. The boys stuck together.”

Horner clasped his hands behind his back and turned to Stella. “Then we proceed on the plan to get Noah Spivak back into custody before he kills your witness.”

“I have one more thing for you to consider.” Brody tossed a paper onto the table. “Remember Dena’s physical therapist, Lyle Jones? His ex-wife just filed for a restraining order. He’s been following her for weeks. Last night he showed up outside a restaurant as she was leaving with a date and busted her windshield with a baseball bat.”

Stella shuffled through the papers in his file and pulled up Lyle’s arrest report. “He had those two assault charges in Jersey, too. But assault and torture are two different things. Lyle’s problems are more likely attributed to ’roid rage.”

“Do we have anything to tie him to Missy Green?” Horner asked.

Brody shook his head. “No.”

“Then we go after Spivak.” Horner enunciated each word. “We can’t expect help from the county or state. Major flooding throughout the county has caused road and bridge closures.”

A uniform popped his head into the room. “Detective Dane, there’s a Mac Barrett here to see you.”

Stella went to the reception area. Mac held Gianna’s picture. The desire to walk into his arms and let him hold her nearly overwhelmed her. She held back. The two feet of space between them felt like twenty. “Thank you. I’ll be right back.”

She made a stack of copies and brought a few back to him.

Mac put the photos in his pocket. “I’m going to knock on doors in her neighborhood. Someone saw something. I just have to get them to talk.”

“I’d love to send an officer to do that,” Stella said. “But we don’t have enough uniformed bodies.”

“I think I have a better chance of getting information. Uniforms aren’t welcome in that area.”

“Probably.” Worry rose into her throat like a bobber on a pond. “Be careful. That’s not the best neighborhood.”

“I’ve seen worse,” he said. His hand curled at his side, the fist bumping his thigh. “We’ll find her. She’ll be all right.”

Stella didn’t respond. No one could make that claim. “I have to go. We have a couple of leads.”

“You be careful.” He lowered his voice, his gaze turning fierce. “Please.”

“I’m with Brody today.” But she wished she could be with Mac. The possession that rolled off his body was both intimidating and reassuring. No lover had ever made her feel as if he’d lay down his life for her in a heartbeat.

But he would. She knew that without a doubt. She was more worried that he’d take chances. He seemed to view himself as more dispensable than other people.

“It’s you I’m worried about,” she said. “You’ll be alone.”

“No need. I’m durable.” With a quick glance to make sure no one was in sight, he gave her a quick kiss. “I’ll call you.” Mac turned and left.

Stella returned to the conference room.

Lance was on his way out. “Come with me. We have a woman filing a missing persons report for her teenage daughter. The missing girl’s name is Janelle Hall.”

He led the way to an interview room. The woman was slumped at the table and didn’t look old enough to have a teenager. As they walked in, she jumped to her feet. Sniffing, she wiped bloodshot eyes and shook her red bob out of her face. “Do you know where she is?”

“Mrs. Hall?” Stella held out her hand. “I’m Detective Dane. How can I help?”

“I’m not married. You can call me Tonya,” the woman said. “My daughter is missing. She’s seventeen. She’s run off before, but she always comes back.”

Stella steered her back to a chair. “Has she ever been in trouble?”

Tonya sniffed. “Yeah. She got picked up for smoking pot in school before she dropped out. The judge let her off with some community service.”

A drug user. Strike one.

“What does Janelle look like?”

Tonya fished a photo out of her purse and handed it to Stella. Janelle was a slim girl with dark hair that fell to her shoulders.

Both Dena and Missy had dark hair. Strike two.

“When was the last time you saw her?” Stella asked.

“We had a fight Friday night. She walked out. I haven’t seen her since.” She patted her pockets as if looking for a pack of cigarettes. “She always comes back in the morning.”

Friday night. Strike three.

Stella softened her voice. “What did you fight about?”

“She’s dating another loser,” Tonya sniffed. “I don’t want her to end up like me. I had her at fifteen.”

“We’re going to take all your personal information and get copies of this picture out to our officers on patrol. We’ll need names and numbers of Janelle’s friends, places she likes to hang out, that sort of thing.” Stella rose. “I’ll get you some paper.”

Nodding, Tonya wiped her red nose on her sleeve.

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