“I lived on McLane Street when I knew your mother,” said David. “I think that she selected it to be your new last name says a lot.”
“She’s always been McLane,” Ava repeated.
“No, it was originally Ryder.”
Colleen Ryder? Ava shook her head. “You’re wrong. She had no reason to change her name.”
“What did she tell you girls about her own parents?” Glen asked gently. “That they’d died before you were born?”
Ava couldn’t feel her hands or feet. “Yes.”
“Did you ever look for records of them or your mother?” Glen asked. “I know you have access to a lot of databanks.”
“I never felt the need,” she whispered. How many times had she started to look and stopped?
“Let’s sit down,” Glen suggested. Ava blindly followed him and David to an outdoor table under the eaves.
What is happening?
Glen handed her a business card, and she stared at it without comprehension. “David hired me last summer. He’d been in Portland and seen your face in the local newspaper after you were . . . injured. You look a lot like your mother, you know.”
Ava nodded silently. She’d known there’d been media coverage of her near-deadly encounter with the mastermind of the mass shootings in the Portland area last summer. But she’d been too ill to care.
“He hired me to find out if you were his daughter. All he had for me to start with was your mother’s original name, your name from the paper, and a guess of when she’d given birth.”
Ava looked at David. “She told us you didn’t want anything to do with us.” Glen’s part of the story sounded plausible, but she didn’t believe David.
“I was married. I’m not proud of it.” His eye contact was strong, his face solemn. “Your mother called it quits and let me know two weeks later that she was pregnant. She said she didn’t need anything from me but wanted to let me know. I think it was her way of twisting the knife a little bit. I hadn’t told her I was married when we started seeing each other.”
“You were a cheating asshole,” Ava snapped.
“I was.” He took a deep breath. “Then she vanished. She left town within days and never contacted me again. I always wondered if she’d lied about the pregnancy. I searched for her a time or two but never found anything.”
“Where do you live?” Ava asked.
“San Diego. Glen managed to track her to Northern California once I gave him your name.”
“You initiated a search based on seeing me in the paper?”
He gave a half smile. “A one in a million chance, wasn’t it? It was easy to find out more information about you. But then Glen stumbled over the fact that Colleen gave birth to twin girls. Your sister has been harder to track down.”
“Her records on the Internet and in various databanks are much different than yours,” Glen said delicately.
“That’s because she’s a drug addict,” Ava said shortly.
“I gathered that,” answered Glen. “But I couldn’t find a current residence. I just found out about the treatment center yesterday. Before that, the most current mention I’d found was an announcement about an art show. I passed that on to David, assuming she’d show up.”
“Instead I met you.” David smiled, a pleased look in his eyes.
“Wait a minute.” Ava placed her hands on the table and stood. She wanted to slap the smile off David’s face. “This isn’t a happy family reunion. I don’t know you and I don’t plan to get to know you. My mother left you behind and it sounds like she had a good reason. I don’t need to know my roots,” she lied. “You creeped me the fuck out by showing up everywhere I went, and why the hell were you at a murder scene?” She’d planted her hands on the table to hide their shaking, but every muscle quivered under her skin.
“That was on me,” said Glen. “I keep my finger on what’s going on with my old department. When I found out the FBI had an interest in the case and you were one of the assigned agents, I let David know. I didn’t know he’d actually go to the scene.” He glared at David. “I just thought he’d like to know what sort of work you did.”
“I’m done here,” Ava said, adjusting the strap of her purse on her shoulder. “Stay away from me and my sister. Even if you are our father, we don’t need this sort of fucked-up-ness in our lives right now.”
She pushed in her chair and turned away, her feet shaking in her boots. She spotted the brown puddle from her latte and debated buying another.
What I really want is wine.
“Ava,” called David’s voice from behind her. “Glen tracked where Jayne went when she left the treatment center.”
Mason knew by the tone of Nora’s voice that some shit had hit the fan. He halted in the hallway outside the detectives’ corral and waited for her to catch up. Her face was grim.
“What happened?” he asked. Who ratted me out?
“I just spent a few pleasant moments with the assistant chief.”
Aw crap. “No moments with him are pleasant.”
“No they’re not. He got a call from a reporter who wanted to know why a witness was working on the task force to solve these murders. They’d seen you at the Fujioka scene. I just lied through my teeth, saying that you’d simply accompanied the FBI agents because they’d been interviewing you when the call came in.”