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“How many police are at Robin’s parents’ with the little girls?” Lucas asked. Robin paled.

“We’ve got two Clackamas County deputies at their home. One outside and one inside at all times.”

“Are they safe?” Robin asked. She rubbed her eyes in frustration. “I want to bring them home, but I don’t think they should be around this stress and agents and police coming in and out of the house constantly.”

“They’re just fine,” Lucas reassured her. “When I talked to them on the phone last night, they barely slowed down to say hi. They wanted to get back to baking cookies with your mom. They’re in the right place for now.”

“I know.” Robin wiped a tear. “They didn’t even blink when I got up to leave after visiting them this morning, but I miss them.”

“I think you made the right decision,” added Sanford. “Kids are perceptive. They’d know something was up. What are your thoughts on going to the vigil tonight?”

“I want to go,” said Robin, looking at Lucas and Lilian, who both nodded in agreement. “But maybe Jake should stay home.”

“Aww, Mom!” Jake wanted to be there for Henley. He looked at Sanford. “There will be police everywhere, right? I’m sure it’ll be safe. Who would try anything in plain view of the cops? And we don’t know that someone tried to get me, right? It could be a coincidence.”

The adults looked at Sanford, who shrugged. “He’s right. He’ll be protected whether he goes or stays. I’m sure Special Agent McLane would stay at his side the whole time. I’ll talk to her about it.”

Jake nodded and sat back in his chair. He knew McLane would support his decision. He wasn’t going to hide in his bedroom while the community prayed for his sister.

Mason stood in the center of his garage and waited for Detective Duff Morales to answer his phone.

Don’t think about it. Just say it.

Ava was in deep discussion with Wells. They’d immediately contacted Sanford to inform him of the missing bat and called the forensics team back to process the garage. Mason watched them carefully examining his cabinets.

Shit. The garage was going to take forever. And he needed to see if anything else was missing. In his gut, he knew the only missing item would be the metal bat.

“Morales,” he answered his phone.

“It’s Callahan. You got a minute?”

“Yep. What’s up?”

Mason heard the instant cooling in Morales’s tone and closed his eyes. I’m not the enemy.

“I know why my prints are on the bat that was used in Josie’s murder.”

“Why is that?” Morales’s voice perked up.

“Because it’s mine. The FBI and I discovered it missing from my garage twenty minutes ago. It’ll probably have my son’s prints on it, too. He handled it more than I ever did.”

“I’ve got the report on the bat right here,” Morales answered. “There’re no other prints except yours.”

“That’s impossible.” Mason was stunned. He remembered picking up the bat and putting it in the garage last spring. Jake had left all the bats, several mitts, and a number of balls in the backyard after he’d had some friends over. “It has to have more. Possibly even some of his friends’ prints.”

“Just yours.”

Someone wiped it down and placed my prints. Why?

Mason closed his eyes, mentally crossing his fingers that Ray would answer his phone. The two FBI agents were in his home with the forensics team. He’d escaped to the front yard, needing some air after reporting the missing bat.

Who? Who would do this?

“Mase? What’s up?” Ray finally answered just as Mason was about to give up.

Mason couldn’t speak. His mind was blank.

“Mason?” Loud background cheers came through the line.

“Ray,” Mason forced out. “I was about to hang up.”

“Sorry. We’re at my son’s soccer game. I didn’t hear my phone.”

“Shit, sorry. I’ll let you go.”

“No. It’s good. What’s going on?” Ray’s voice intensified, and the background noise faded a bit.

Mason paused. What did he want to say? Help me, Ray. My life is going down the shitter?

“Are you at the Fairbankses’?” Ray asked. His voice grew sharper, pressing for information.

This was why he’d called Ray. He needed someone who knew him. Someone who knew the right questions to ask, because he was lousy when it came to expressing how he felt. Ray knew him better than any wife ever could.

“No. I’m at home. Someone was here. Looks like Henley’s kidnapper may have left a note under my dog’s dish.”


“And someone was in my garage. One of Jake’s bats is missing. And it’s the bat that was used on Josie. The one with my fingerprints.” It all spilled out. He took a deep breath, his emotional load suddenly lighter.

“Holy fuck.” Ray paused. “That was your silver bat? Are you sure?”

Mason knew Ray was recalling the sight of Josie’s abused corpse. Just as he had a few thousand times.

“Mine is missing and my prints are on the one at the scene. But Jake’s prints aren’t on it. That’s what’s weird. He should at least have some partials on it. I just talked to Morales. Told him what I’d discovered.”