“I knew him as Cliff, but it was a few weeks ago. He came up and talked to me at a local bar.” She glanced at Ava. “He first mistook me for you. He told me he knew you.”
Ava had already heard this from Jayne and had decided Reuben had said it as a ruse to approach her twin. No doubt it had been easy for Reuben to discover she had a twin. Jayne had been arrested several times in the past, and there were plenty of articles online about the crimes. Once Reuben discovered her twin, Jayne’s Instagram account made her easy to find. She’d created the account to showcase her art, but Jayne also posted pictures of the gorgeous scenery, frequently linking the photos to her location.
That Reuben had decided Jayne was worth a trip to Costa Rica didn’t seem logical, but Ava figured Jayne’s arrests indicated a person who made reckless decisions. And the recent Instagram images of Jayne had shown they were identical twins.
If Reuben had been obsessed with Ava, the idea of meeting her twin must have been very tempting.
“After we met, I bumped into him all the time in our little town.”
He stalked her.
“He was a big flirt.” Jayne looked at her hands in her lap. “I’m sorry, Brady,” she whispered.
Brady took one of her hands. “It’s okay. You were lonely. I shouldn’t have been gone so much.”
“You had been flying back and forth to Portland?” Mason asked.
“Yes. Mom and Dad are cutting back how much time they put into the dealerships. I’ve been trying to pick up the slack and get ready for a bigger role in the business. Jayne and I had planned to move back this coming fall.”
“He was gone for weeks at a time,” Jayne added. “Reuben showered me with the attention I was missing.”
“You were pregnant,” Ava pointed out.
“He didn’t mind.”
Ava hid a shudder. “Were you going to leave Brady?”
“No, it was just a fling. Both Reuben and I knew that.”
She’s so matter-of-fact about it.
“We flew into San Diego and drove up the coast.”
Ava decided not to ask where she’d gotten the fake passport.
“I’d told Reuben about David’s birthday party at the coast. He convinced me I shouldn’t tell them I was coming and make a surprise entrance.”
Reuben figured out how to appeal to her ego.
“Why use the stolen driver’s license?” Mason asked. “Why didn’t Reuben put the rooms under his name?”
A thoughtful look crossed Jayne’s face. “He said he didn’t want any trace of us being together in case Brady came looking for me. That made sense at the time, but now it seems kinda lame. I think I was too excited to really care.”
Brady’s throat moved as he swallowed. Ava ached for the young man.
“Before David’s birthday, we stayed in a little house in Seaside for a few days. Reuben got phone call after phone call from his brother. All they did was argue. I knew Shawn didn’t want him to go through with something, but I didn’t know what it was . . . I guess I do now.”
The courthouse shooting.
“Reuben said he had to go to Portland for a little bit to meet with his brother. I stayed at the beach. He promised he’d be back in time to go to David’s party.”
“He was going with you?” Ava asked, shocked that Jayne would show off her fling to that family.
“Oh no. He would just drive me.”
“So Reuben left for Portland,” Mason said to get Jayne’s story back on track.
“Yes. He was stressed. He told me that Shawn had changed his mind about something and Reuben was determined to change it back.”
“Shawn stuck to his guns,” Ava said. “Reuben killed him for it. Shawn must have threatened to go to the police.”
“Reuben was furious with Shawn,” Jayne said. “He told me he’d always hated his brother, but the two of them did see eye to eye on the role of police.” She glanced nervously at Ava. “He alluded to a plan to make a statement to the leaders of our country. I thought he was all talk. I ignored it.”
The same way Gillian did.
“How long was Reuben gone when he went to Portland?” asked Mason.
“One night. He came back late the next evening.”
“Shawn was killed that first night,” said Mason. “Reuben disfigured the body and left his driver’s license behind to make us assume it was him. We wouldn’t search for a dead man.”
“That’s why he used the mallet on the jaw and cut off the fingers,” Ava said. “Didn’t want us to quickly figure out it was Shawn.”
“Shawn’s fingerprints aren’t on file. He’s never been arrested,” Mason said. “I guess Reuben didn’t know that about his brother. I don’t know what it would take to make me cut off my brother’s fingers.”
“There was some deep hatred on both brothers’ parts,” Ava said. “But why leave the fingers and teeth behind?”
“My guess is he panicked when he heard Gillian freaking out at his back door.”
“He knew she’d call the police,” Ava surmised. “He had to act fast to write the statement to lead the police to the courthouse. I wonder if he and Shawn had actually planned a different day for the attack? But Shawn’s refusal to follow through changed the plan?”
“We’ll never know,” said Mason. “Two dead brothers.”
Ava studied Jayne. What does it take to kill a sibling? She’d lost patience and been angry with Jayne more times than she could count. She had never considered killing her. Not literally, anyway.
“Reuben wasn’t right in the head,” Ava said. It wasn’t a medical diagnosis or definition, but something had definitely been off.
“I think he may have killed his father,” Mason said slowly.
“What?” Ava was startled. Brady and Jayne both turned their attention to Mason.
“I gathered from his sister and her husband that the festering anger was present in their father. It was possibly passed to Reuben through genetics or simply a brutal childhood. The report on his father’s suicide doesn’t read like a suicide to me. Reuben may have acted on pent-up anger. Anger for his father’s treatment of his mother and of her children. The police were called several times to his childhood home. From the reports I read, they talked to the parents, but no one would press charges. They noted they saw bruises on his mother.”
Ava stilled as something clicked into place in her brain. “The police never helped his mother?”
“It doesn’t appear so. But she has to want the help. It wouldn’t surprise me if she turned them away. It happens a lot with violence in families.”
“Reuben questioned me on how to handle a domestic violence situation for a ‘friend,’” Ava said. “His friend wasn’t getting the help expected from the authorities. It’s odd that he brought it up years after his parents died. He must have still carried resentment about the situation.” She grimaced. “I think my answers and unexpected sympathy are part of what made him see me as different from other law enforcement. I listened and offered solutions. As a child, he probably saw the police come and leave, but nothing ever changed. He witnessed his father do brutal things to his mother and possibly transferred a lot of his anger to the police,” said Ava. “Those poor kids.”
“Veronica has her head on straight,” said Mason. “I think.” He took a deep breath. “Where were we? Oh. What Reuben did after the courthouse shooting. At some point he dumped his truck at the airport and was driving Shawn’s car, but he used a rental car to get away from the courthouse shooting.”
“He was driving the Mustang when he came back to the beach,” said Jayne. “The rental car we picked up in San Diego.”
“And he stole plates for it in Medford,” Ava added. “He was planning ahead.”
“We did stop in Medford,” Jayne said. “I went shopping while he watched a baseball game at a bar.”
And stole license plates.
“We saw security footage of him hitting you in Cannon Beach the morning after the courthouse shooting.”
“We had been arguing for most of the night by then. He had been stressed out of his head when he came back the evening after the shooting happened. I asked how it went with his brother, and he got angry with me. I’d seen the news about the courthouse and brought it up.” Jayne shrugged. “I thought it was just a topic of conversation, but he absolutely lost it. That’s when he first hit me. I accused him of being the shooter—I didn’t mean it. It just came out. But when I saw his face after my accusation, I knew he’d done it.” She took a deep breath. “I told him I wanted to go home, and it went downhill from there.
“By morning he said he had something to show me, and we went to Cannon Beach. I was a wreck.” Her voice cracked. “That’s when he killed David right in front of me. He said that if I told the police anything about the courthouse, he’d do the same to Brady and Ava.” She wiped her eyes and sniffed. “I believed him.” Brady tightened his grip on her hand, sympathy on his face.