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“Read slowly,” Nora instructed. “Don’t skim. You’ll miss something.”

“When you find the cops’ names, list the child’s name and parent and year assigned underneath it,” Ava added. “I’ll keep digging through the boxes for the rest of the years.”

Zander and Nora each grabbed a few ledgers and took a seat. Ava quickly sorted out the rest of the notebooks and the room grew quiet. An hour ticked by as they read, and each of them occasionally added a new name to the whiteboard. Ava made herself read every line.

Mason Callahan.

She smiled at the sight of his name in a record from fifteen years ago. He was proud of the work he’d done for the organization. “Did Mason know we pulled the computer records when you talked to him this morning, Nora?”

“No. I saw him before that.”

Ava pressed her lips together, wondering what he’d think of the way they were digging through the company’s history. He’d approve. He’d asked a few times if she’d heard back from the director. She spotted Denny’s name a few pages after Mason’s and checked the board to see if that child had been listed under any of the other cops yet.

Dammit. She went to the board and wrote Scott Nickle under Denny’s name. He now had six names listed.

Are we going down a dead end?

She glanced around the room, wondering who else was thinking the same thing, questioning if they were wasting precious time reading through old logs.

Zander finished his stack and grabbed one of Ava’s books, determination on his face.

If Zander hasn’t given up on this lead, then it’s still a good one.

“Got a shared name,” Zander announced. “Finally.” He went to the board and pointed at Scott Nickle. “Samuelson mentored him the year after Denny.” He added the name and year under Louis Samuelson’s name.

Elation filled Ava. Now we’re getting somewhere.

“I’ll see what I can find on Scott Nickle and his parents,” said Zander. “These two records are nearly fifteen years old. Keep looking.” Zander moved to one of the computer stations in the room.

Ava noticed Keith looked enviously at Zander at the computer but turned his attention back to the written record in front of him. She did the same, hoping to find Scott Nickle’s name linked with Lucien Fujioka. Or anyone else. The fact that today was Halloween and their killer seemed preoccupied with horror movies weighed heavily on her mind. Will we have another murder tonight?

How could their killer let the popular, horror-filled holiday pass by?

I wish Halloween were another week away.

As she moved on to the records of another year, Ava spotted Mason’s name again. She continued reading down the page and froze, the letters jumbling together. Her gaze went back up to Mason’s name and checked the name of the child. She looked at the board, not seeing that child listed anywhere. She grabbed the ledger she’d just set aside and flipped pages until she found her first sighting of Mason’s name and read the name of the child from that year.

Scott Nickle.

“Has anyone heard from Mason since he left this morning?” She fought to keep a quaver out of her voice.

Zander looked sharply at her over his computer screen. “What’s wrong?”

She swallowed, a sense of unease settling in her bones. “Mason mentored Scott Nickle the year before Denny.” She leaned over and dug in her bag for her cell phone.

“Who?” Keith asked.

“Her fiancé,” Nora supplied. She spun in her seat to face Zander in the back of the room. “Zander, have you found anything on Scott Nickle?”

Ava listened to the ringing of Mason’s phone. Pick up, pick up, pick up.

I’m jumping to conclusions.

He’s fine.

Voice mail. She left a message for him to call her and then searched her contacts for Ray’s number.

He answered immediately. “Lusco.”

“It’s Ava. Have you heard from Mason today?”

“Not lately. I’ve been trying to stay off his back, knowing he was helping you guys.”

“Nora told him to keep away from the case this morning. He didn’t tell you?”

“No.” Ray’s tone grew concerned. “What’s wrong?”

“I haven’t heard from him all day. Do you know where he might be?”

“I don’t. I’ve barely talked to him since Denny’s funeral.”

“Ava,” said Nora. “Mason told me he was going over to Cops 4 Kidz this morning.”

She stared at the detective. “Why didn’t you say that earlier?”

“I forgot until right now. He was very vague, saying he hadn’t received his minutes from the last meeting and was going to go pick them up in person.”

“What’s going on?” Ray said forcibly in her ear.

Ava turned her attention back to her call. “I don’t know. His name has come up in some research we’re doing on the mask cases and now I’m concerned because I can’t reach him.”

“Shit,” said Ray. “Let me ask around a bit.” He ended their call.

Ava set down her phone. “Zander?”

He looked up from his computer and shook his head. “I’m still looking. It’s like Scott Nickle doesn’t exist. I’ve estimated his current age, based on fifteen-year-old records, to be anywhere between twenty and thirty-five, but I can’t find anyone with that name and in the right age range that lives in Oregon or Washington.”