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“Yes, he seemed to know that already.”

Mason exchanged a glance with Ava and Duncan, who both nodded. It looked more and more like the same man who had approached Jake near campus. His arms ached to wrap around his son and never let go again.

“Did he talk about Henley?” Ava asked.

“He asked Jake if he wanted to know what he’d done to his sister, but then he wouldn’t say if she was alive or not. He kept taunting Jake about her fate. He told Jake he’d slit my throat if he didn’t do what he said.” She shuddered. “I thought it meant he’d done that to Henley. I think Jake thought the same thing.”

A Clackamas County deputy stepped in the room. “None of the neighbors noticed a strange vehicle here today. One neighbor noticed when the parents left, but no one else spotted a car or truck nearby.”

“He parked it in our garage while we waited for Jake,” McKenzie told Mason.

“How’d he know your parents would be gone for that long of a time period?” Mason asked.

She blinked. “He asked me. I told him they were going to a party for a few hours. But he couldn’t have known that before he came in.”

“How were they dressed?” Duncan asked McKenzie.

“Nice. Dad had on a tie and mom a dress. They were clearly going to something.”

“He was willing to take a chance they’d be gone,” Mason mused, focusing on McKenzie’s words instead of racing out the door to blindly search for Jake. “Did he seem stressed over the fact that they might walk in any second?”

McKenzie thought for a moment. “He seemed stressed the entire time. He was more focused on getting Jake over here. Over and over, he asked if I thought he’d come. I think he only asked about my parents once or twice.”

“Did he have anything besides a knife?” Ava asked.

McKenzie nodded. “He had a gun.”

Mason’s heart stopped.

“She’s described a revolver to us,” Duncan added. “Kept it in a coat pocket most of the time.”

“He kept touching it through his pocket,” she added. “Like to make certain it was still there. He seemed more comfortable with the knife.” She gestured at her neck, and Mason realized she had a thick bandage under her ear, hidden by her hair.

The man who did that has Jake.

Mason gritted his teeth. “I’m sorry you had to go through this.”

“This? This was nothing,” McKenzie’s eyes sparked with anger. “He had Henley for days, and now he’s got Jake. Who knows what he’s got planned? I was tied up for a few hours. Big deal. We need to find out where he’s taking Jake.”

Mason admired her spunk but knew she’d feel the shock of her experience later. He glanced at the female deputy, who nodded back at him. She knew it, too. McKenzie would suffer emotional consequences for the rest of her life.

His cell vibrated in his pocket. Jake? His heart sank when he saw it wasn’t his son’s number. Of course it wasn’t. Jake’s phone was in an evidence bag on the coffee table in front of Ben Duncan.

He moved a few steps away from the small group and turned his back for some privacy. “Callahan.”

“Hello, Mason. It’s been a very long time.”

Mason froze. He slowly turned back to the group and met Ava’s curious gaze. He stared at her and saw understanding click in her blue eyes. She gestured at Duncan, who stood up, watching Mason carefully.

Mason didn’t know the voice. “Who is this?”

“Someone who’s made your life miserable. Just as you made mine.”

His mind raced and a roaring rang in his ears. “Who are you? Where’s Jake?”

The man laughed. “You don’t remember me yet? You will soon. Very soon.”

“What have you done with Jake?”

“I haven’t done anything yet. I’m waiting for you.”

“What? Waiting for me for what?” Mason watched Duncan have a hurried discussion with another agent, gesturing at Mason’s phone. The other agent was shaking his head. They hadn’t set up his phone to be tapped. The most they could do now was contact his carrier and triangulate the location of the call’s origin. Not a quick process.

“I’ve been waiting for you for a long time, Mason. You ripped up my life and tore it apart.”

“I did? You better remind me how I did that.”

Ava moved closer, and Mason tipped the phone slightly for her to hear. His heart pounded, making his rib cage hurt.

“You’ll remember soon enough.”

Mason heard faint Christmas music on the other end of the call. Was he in a public place? Or in a vehicle with the radio on? “You didn’t hurt Henley,” he stated. “We found her. She’s fine.”

“Oh good. I don’t have the heart to injure small, innocent girls. Naughty big ones are another story. They usually get what’s coming to them.”

Mason couldn’t breathe. “Josie?” He forced the name out.

The man snorted. “She was worthless. But she served my purpose.”

“What purpose was that?” Keep him talking.

“You haven’t figured that out yet?” The man sounded surprised. “You’re probably too focused on the small things. You haven’t looked at the bigger picture.”

What the hell is he talking about? Mason couldn’t think straight. Next to him, Ava frowned as she listened to the call, leaning against Mason’s arm with her hand on his shoulder.