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Did they want a change of scenery?

If Veronica had moved to Oregon, surely she had been in touch with her brother. Mason wondered how deep the estrangement went. Or maybe there was no estrangement . . . The information about her location had been wrong. This could be too.

He tapped a freshly sharpened pencil on his keyboard, mentally figuring the length of time it would take him to drive to Mosier. If traffic was decent, he’d be there by 6:00 p.m. He could send the local police to notify her of her brother’s death, but Mason had a strong urge to talk with the sister. She was relatively close by, and Mason liked to do as many interviews as possible face-to-face.

“Hey.” Nora Hawes approached his desk, her heels rapping on the cheap tile flooring. “The task force assigned me to dig into Reuben Braswell.”

“Thank God.” Mason meant it. He’d assumed someone from the task force would be working parallel to his investigation, and luck had shone on him. Working with Nora was a breeze. She was sharp and funny and worked her butt off.

“Can you catch me up?”

He tossed her a fat three-ring binder. The murder book he’d started on Reuben Braswell. So far it didn’t have many pages, but he knew it would fill up fast. “You can read that on the way to Mosier.”


“Mosier the town. Just past Hood River.”

“What’s in Mosier?”

“Braswell’s sister.”

Nora hefted the light binder in her hands. “These aren’t supposed to leave the building.”

Mason said nothing.

She gave him a side-eye. “Feels like we have a lot of work to do.” She tucked the notebook under her arm, clearly planning to take it with her. “I saw Ava at the task force meeting.”

“Then you’ve seen more of her today than I have.”

“She’s catching some crap for being a part of it. Her name turning up in Braswell’s documents isn’t doing her any favors.”

Mason’s gaze sharpened on Nora.

“Don’t worry. She handled it like the professional she is.”


Nora shrugged. “A lot of driven people were in that room today. The energy and anger were palpable. We’ll get the job done.”


“Reuben is at the core of that shooting.” Nora said. “He may be dead, but from what I’ve seen so far, it originates with him. Have you dug back further?”

“A bit. He didn’t hang out with the nicest people.” Mason stood and grabbed his hat. “I can tell you about it on the way. Ready to go?”

She rapped her knuckles against the binder. “Yep. Good thing reading doesn’t make me carsick.”

“Reading what? I don’t see a binder under your arm.”

“I’m blaming you if someone reports me walking out with it.”

“No one is going to protest. Not today.” He swallowed hard.

Five dead officers.

Nora caught her breath. “True. Let’s go.”


“There’s the camera,” Ava stated as she pointed through the windshield of Zander’s vehicle. He took a sharp left into a church parking lot. They’d been canvassing the area near the 7-Eleven in the direction in which the clerk had seen the white car turn. Zander had tried to get Ava to take the afternoon off even though Ray was out of danger, but she’d assured him she needed the distraction.

Past the 7-Eleven, the streets were lined with small homes. The roads were narrow, just wide enough for two cars to pass. There was no street parking. Most of the homes sat far back from the street and had skinny, long driveways that led to garages behind the homes.

Two blocks away from the 7-Eleven, Ava had spotted a white camera perched high on the corner of a small stone church. Its parking lot had several dozen spaces, but none were currently occupied.

“Looks like no one is here. The lot is empty,” said Zander. He parked as Ava checked the church address against the log of canvassed properties.

“An officer came by yesterday evening, but his knock went unanswered. He walked the building and noted two cameras.”

“That one doesn’t cover the street. Don’t know if it will help us,” Zander said, nodding toward the one that had caught Ava’s eye. “Let’s find the other one.”

“You check. I’ll see if anyone is here.” She headed toward the wide steps that led to the building’s front entrance. Zander nodded and went in the opposite direction. “This building is lovely,” she said under her breath, wondering how old it was.

It was made of rough square stones and had steep peaks that gave it a European feel. The windows were arched, as was the wide entrance to the covered area in front of the door. She stepped through the big arch and felt the temperature drop ten degrees inside the roomy alcove. She hesitated at the tall double doors. Do I knock? Do I go right in? She knocked.

After waiting a moment, she tried the large brass handle and was surprised when the door pulled open.

A church smell wafted out. Old carpet, wood polish, and history. And some guilt. Ava had been raised Catholic, but it hadn’t stuck after she left home. Although some of the clichéd Catholic guilt occasionally cropped up. Like now. It wasn’t a Catholic church, but the shame flared anyway.

Zander’s quick stride sounded on the stone steps behind her. “I found the camera in back. It only covers a back entrance and more of the parking lot.” He stopped beside her. “We going in?” he asked after a long pause.

“Of course,” Ava said quickly. “I was waiting to see if someone was coming first.” She stepped inside the vestibule and he followed.

“Gorgeous,” Zander stated. They’d stopped outside the sanctuary. It had high ceilings with wide beams, and the walls were filled with the lovely arched windows Ava had noticed outside. Ava eyed the front of the sanctuary, where three carpeted steps led up to a pulpit. A wedding scene flashed in her mind. She and Mason standing side by side in front of those steps. They had agreed not to have their wedding in a church.

Guilt hovered again. Sorry, Mom.

Zander’s phone rang, startling her. He frowned at the screen. “It’s a foreign number—oh!” He immediately answered. “Wells.”

Foreign number? Ava didn’t answer those.

“Thanks for getting back to me,” Zander said, holding Ava’s gaze. “What did you find out?”

“Who?” she mouthed at him.

He covered the microphone. “Costa Rica.”

She’d completely forgotten he’d called to see if anyone at the rehab clinic had lost their license or had their identity stolen.

“Uh-huh. Can you spell the name?” Zander said into the phone. His eyes darted from side to side, and Ava knew he was storing the information. He had amazing recall and could memorize pages in a short time.

She’d asked him once how he did it, hoping for some tips. But he’d shrugged and told her he saw the page in his head and simply read it back. That didn’t help her at all.

He ended the call. “One of their patients, Camila Guerrero from Los Angeles, had her wallet stolen a while back. It hasn’t turned up. Nothing was charged on her credit cards, but she immediately canceled them.”

“Jayne would want the ID, not the cards. Surprisingly,” Ava noted wryly. Jayne had done her share of stealing credit cards and going on shopping sprees, telling Ava that it wasn’t hurting anyone because the bank would cover the fraudulent charges. But now, with Brady Shurr in her pocket, Jayne apparently had access to plenty of cash and credit.

“I’ll email and have someone search to see if ‘Camila Guerrero’ has turned up in the area. Maybe at a hotel or car rental place.”

“She’d still need a credit card,” Ava pointed out.

“Depends on the place.” He raised a brow.

He was right. Some might accept a large cash deposit. Or bribe. Depending on the quality of the business.

“True.” Ava sighed. “Jayne is the least of my concerns at the moment.” Footsteps sounded, and she turned to see a man walking their way.

“Can I help you?” he asked as he approached. His jeans had several holes and he wore battered flip-flops. Ava guessed he was in his midthirties. His faded T-shirt had an image of actors from the TV show Portlandia, and his curly brown hair nearly covered one eye. She wanted to brush it out of his face.

Ava introduced herself and Zander while trying not to stare at the man’s broken front tooth. His name was Pat Arthur.

“Is this about the shooting yesterday?” he asked, tucking his thumbs in the front pockets of his jeans.

“Yes. We’d like to review your camera footage from yesterday. It’s possible it picked up something.”

“Like what?” Simple curiosity filled Pat’s dark eyes.

“Are you a church employee?” Zander countered with a question of his own.

Pat pushed his hair out of his face, to Ava’s great satisfaction. “Yeah. I’m sort of the do-it-all guy. A little maintenance, set up for meetings, basically I keep an eye on the place. I have a small room at the back. They wanted someone on the premises at night after a break-in several months ago. They also had a pipe burst last winter. A lot of damage could have been avoided if someone had been around.” He lifted one shoulder. “My parents attended here for years. When they told me what the church needed, I figured it was a good fit since I’m in school.”