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“There’s another eyewitness placing a guy in cowboy boots and a hat at her place the day before the murder.”

“So? Schefte mentioned other people had seen something similar. I’m not the only one who dresses like that.” An odd buzz burned in his gut. Another sighting?


“Well, yeah, not many guys dress that way in downtown Portland,” Mason backtracked. “What of it?”

“Your fingerprints have turned up in three places in the apartment.”

Ice encased Mason’s spine, but he kept his tone neutral. “I’ve been there, remember? Hunsinger and Morales knew that. My prints shouldn’t surprise anyone. What’s the point here?”

“On the toilet handle?”

Mason sat up, alarms clanging in his head. “I didn’t touch that when we were there yesterday.”

“I know! But if you hadn’t been there for months, why would your prints show up there? They should be totally blurred out.”

“I never used Josie’s bathroom.” Mason thought hard, trying to remember what he’d done on his short visits to the woman’s apartment. He’d looked in the fridge, sat on the couch, put money under the saltshaker. “They might find my prints on the fridge handle and the saltshaker. I probably touched the front door handle, but surely that’s been touched several hundred times since I was there last.”

“This isn’t right,” Ray said. “Something’s up. You need to figure out when you were there last.”

“Christ.” Mason rubbed his eyes. “I’ll have to look back at my log. I know it was relatively hot, because I remember her complaining about not having air conditioning. Probably at the end of September, during one of those freaky hot weeks we get before the fall weather fully kicks in. I’ll have to look on my computer in the office.”

“Do you remember what cases we were working on? Does that help with the time period?”

Mason thought for a long moment. “No, I don’t remember. I only remember that it was really warm in her place and that I got a bottled water out of her fridge.” His mind jumped through hoops, searching for an explanation. Yes, he’d been there. But it’d been forever ago. There was no reason for his prints to show up. No reason at all.

Bile rose in his throat. What was happening?

“I’m going into the office for a few hours this morning. Want me to look back at your calendar?” Ray offered.

“Sure. I don’t know when I can get over there. Depends what’s happening here today.” Mason spoke through clenched teeth, fighting to project a nonchalant tone for Ray while his brain was flashing with red warning signs.

But why were his prints in Josie’s apartment?

It had to be a mistake in the evidence.

He hadn’t been there.

“No news?”

With a conscious effort, Mason shifted gears to Henley’s kidnapping. “Henley never made it to the bus, so they think she was snatched between here and the bus stop. And they found her lunch box not far from the bus stop.”

“That should help narrow things down. That’s the type of neighborhood where security cameras are kinda standard, right?”

“Eh. They’re looking through some footage. People don’t usually have camera views of the street or sidewalk in front of their homes.”

“How’s everyone holding up?”

“Running on adrenaline, prayers, and coffee. Lilian and Robin had a blowup last night. As you can imagine, tempers are short and emotions are high around here.” He set his thoughts about Josie’s murder to one side and stretched his jaw. The muscles felt like he’d been chewing thick gum all night. His dentist had asked if he ground his teeth in his sleep. How would he know? He was asleep. Going by the pain in his jaw, though, he estimated he’d ground off a good millimeter of enamel last night. “I assume you’re not watching the news broadcasts?” Ray asked.

“Hell, no.”

“Henley was the featured story on the dinnertime and late-night broadcasts. Saw you, too. A brief shot of you at the front door of the Fairbanks home.”

“Did the cameras zoom in on Jake? He’s the one who answered the door.”

“Not on the network I was watching.”

“Good. Hopefully, no one caught a view of his face. I don’t want him on the news.”

“The news reports have mentioned she has two sisters and an older brother. I don’t think they used his name. At least not yet. I haven’t looked at the paper this morning. That might have more detail.”

“Lucas doesn’t get a paper here, thank God. I don’t want to imagine what the papers might be speculating.”

“A lot of people don’t get papers anymore.” Ray coughed away from his phone. “And I haven’t caught any speculation yet. I’ll ask Jill to keep an eye on the news broadcasts and see what sort of twists they’re adding.”

“Robin and Lilian will be under the media microscope. Lucas, too.”

“Stranger abductions are rare,” Ray stated, even though Mason knew that.

“I firmly believe that none of the parents had anything to do with Henley’s disappearance. Someone that they know or someone angry at one of them could be a possibility, but it’s not one of these adults.”

“What about you? It could be someone striking out at you. You’ve pissed off enough people to fill a small town.”