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Ava wondered how long it would take. “We don’t have anything like that from the Weldon scene, right?”

Nora shook her head. “Dr. Rutledge did tell me he’s taking another close look at what he has from Vance Weldon’s autopsy. I don’t think the presence of a long hair will turn up. He also told me the early tox screens on Denny and Louis didn’t reveal anything interesting. We’ll have more in-depth results in a few weeks.”

“This can’t go on for a few weeks,” said Ava.

“Agreed,” said Nora. “That’s why we’re going to find him. Or her.”


Mason mindlessly shuffled papers at his desk. Across from him, Ray did the same. The detectives’ corral was oddly empty, everyone out in the field except for the two of them.

And except for Nora and Henry upstairs in the task force room.

Mason’s brain told his muscles to get up, head for the stairs, and listen in on their meeting. It took all his focus to stay seated and address his cases.

Ray appeared to have a hangover. Mason hadn’t seen Ray hungover in two years. The last time had been after a bachelor party for . . . Mason paused. He couldn’t remember the guy’s name. All Mason could remember was that the guy had left OSP to join his new father-in-law’s real estate company. Now he drove a Lexus.

The Realtor didn’t feel the public wanted to shoot him in the back.

“Did you take some aspirin? And drink lots of water?” Mason asked.

“Yes, Dad,” Ray answered, not looking up.

“I feel fine,” Mason stated.

“Good for you.”

“You should have stuck to beer.”

“Morales was the one who ordered the tequila shots,” Ray complained.

“Tequila gives you hangovers. Even I know that.”

“I forgot.”

Mason didn’t answer that one. His desk phone rang.

“Detective Callahan? I’m Heidi Lain. I work with Dr. Kersey and help her treat Jayne McLane.”

“I remember you, Heidi.” He’d met the woman during one of his trips to the center with Ava. He couldn’t remember what she did exactly, but he knew she wasn’t a doctor. When Jayne had entered the center, she’d given written permission for all her medical records and medical discussions to be shared with both Mason and Ava.

“It’s been recommended that phone calls go to you first instead of Ava, correct?”

“That’s right. She gets emails only. She needs to have a filter between herself and anything to do with Jayne. That filter is me.”

“During our team meeting this morning, Dr. Kersey shared the conversation she had with you yesterday.”

“Does she think we’re nuts?” Mason asked bluntly.

Heidi laughed politely. “She didn’t say that. I will say the staff here is evenly divided on how much progress Jayne has made. Some of us share a more skeptical view. Dr. Kersey is fabulous, but sometimes sees the world through rose-colored glasses.”

Mason wanted to cheer.

“You see Jayne for the liar that she is,” he said.

Heidi paused. “That’s one way of phrasing it. I prefer to say I don’t take everything Jayne says at face value. I’ve learned that patients frequently tell you what they believe you want to hear. Oftentimes it’s hard to tell the difference between truth and lies. Some of them are very skilled at it.”

“Jayne’s the best I’ve ever seen,” Mason said. “And I’ve been a cop for over two decades.”

“I agree.”

“I appreciate you calling to tell me this,” said Mason. “We were worried she’d fooled everyone out there.”

“That’s not the only reason I’ve called.”


“I’ve been watching Jayne interact with another patient and I have concerns. I’ve brought my concerns to the staff and the other patient’s family and now I’m taking them to you.”

“Oh, crap.” He gripped his phone tighter, and Ray looked up at his change in tone. “What’s going on? Is it a man?”

“It is,” Heidi answered.

Mason didn’t vocalize the string of swear words that shot through his brain. Jayne had mentioned a man in one of her emails, and he knew Ava believed she was fixated on him.

“You need to separate them. Today,” Mason said. Men and Jayne didn’t mix well. She’d convinced one boyfriend to break into Mason’s home, and she’d nearly died in a meth lab explosion because of the same man. According to Ava she latched on to a man, got what she wanted, and then went on her merry way, leaving bodies in her wake. The stories Ava told about Jayne and her past boyfriends made his hair curl.

He wasn’t overreacting.

“I agree, but the center has rules in place and neither of them have broken any rules. They’re only in each other’s presence during some downtime in the common area. We have separate wings for the men and women but a shared public space.”

“I remember,” said Mason. He’d toured the center. It’d felt sterile and welcoming at the same time. The common area was the part that had felt like someone’s home.

“They talk quietly nonstop,” said Heidi. “Nothing else. But she’s acting different. She smiles like she has secrets from everyone . . . not the type of smile that she’s having a good day. It’s a malicious smile—if that makes sense.”