Now she had his full attention.
Mason stopped in the downstairs hallway to catch his breath before rejoining the group in the dining room. His talk with Jake had ripped open in him a deep place he hadn’t known existed. Jake had always been a likable kid and hadn’t struggled with bullies or sports, and Mason had never needed to protect his son; it was a new experience for him. Jake had weathered the divorce well. But five minutes ago, the emotions Mason saw in his son had destroyed him like nothing else. Part of him wanted to find Henley just to mend his son’s broken heart.
Family portraits lined the hall. Mason found the most recent-looking one and stepped closer to study it, his gaze going to his son. Jake looked tall and strong, and pride flowed through Mason which was immediately replaced by a familiar sense of dishonesty. Who’d made Jake the almost-man he was today? Lucas? Mason knew the man deserved some credit, but how much?
The two small dark-haired girls in the happy family picture were mini-Robins. They were painfully young in Mason’s eyes, one about three and the other around five. Mason could never remember which one was Kylie and which one was Kindy.
My Lord, he was an ass.
He couldn’t keep the girls straight, because it’d been weird to see Robin pregnant with another man’s child. So he’d blocked it out, never fully listening when Jake talked about his younger sisters. This morning Robin’s parents had taken the girls to their home for as long as was needed, and Mason had asked if Clackamas County was giving protection. If one daughter had been targeted, the others might be, too.
The county had already parked a deputy in front of the grandparents’ home.
Is Jake safe?
Mason had told him not to leave the house. A person who kidnapped an eleven-year-old girl probably wasn’t interested in an eighteen-year-old gangly man-boy, but Mason wasn’t taking chances or making assumptions. No one knew the motive behind the kidnapping.
If Lucas Fairbanks had pissed off a client who was now seeking revenge, no one in the family was safe.
Mason couldn’t see Lucas making anyone angry. The guy was too nice. But until the FBI knew why Henley was missing, law enforcement would stay close to all family members.
He moved into the dining room, the constant flow of uniforms and suits creating a comforting rhythm that returned him to work mode. Work was Mason’s comfort zone. Not soothing a teenage boy in his room. Upstairs with his son crying in his arms, he’d felt lost and helpless, uncertain if he was saying what Jake needed to hear. Down here, Mason could get something accomplished.
Lucas caught his eye and gestured to the chair next to him. Mason strode over and pulled out the chair, sizing up the two FBI agents at the table. In the far corner of the room, ASAC Ben Duncan, who was holding court with another agent, nodded at him. Mason knew Duncan from previous cases. He wondered if Lucas had already mentioned Mason’s request to be a liaison. If Lucas hadn’t, Mason figured Duncan had put two and two together. In his past experiences with the ASAC, Mason had recognized that they were cut from the same cloth. If Duncan were in Mason’s boots, he would do what Mason had planned. He was glad Duncan was the ASAC who’d been assigned the case.
Mason didn’t know the two agents at the table. The man was well dressed but lean, and his manner screamed computer geek even though he took notes on a legal pad. The woman was younger but emanated the authority at the table. Mason had been in the room long enough to realize she was asking the questions and guiding Lilian, Robin, and Lucas through their preliminary questioning. Her clear blue eyes studied him as he sat next to Lucas. She didn’t project any of the defensiveness Mason expected in response to his crashing her interview.
“This is Mason Callahan, the state police detective who’s offered to be our spokesperson,” Lucas said to the woman.
She stood a bit and leaned over the table, holding out her hand to Mason. “I’m Special Agent McLane. This is Special Agent Wells. Thank you for offering to help.”
Her voice was low and rich, making Mason nearly forget to take the offered hand. He stood, shook it, and then shook Wells’s hand. Mason watched Wells add his name to the notes in neat print.
“You’ve approved some time off with your commander, Detective Callahan?” McLane asked.
That voice. Before this moment, only voices that sang country music had ever captured Mason’s attention. Special Agent McLane sounded like she should be singing some bluesy soul song in a dim bar with a fine whiskey in her glass. He eyed her pressed white blouse, straight posture, and sleek, dark ponytail, wondering if she could sing. Or if she’d ever even stepped foot in a smoky bar. McLane looked more like the type to visit the gym. Or the library.
Mason eased back into his chair and noticed everyone looking at him expectantly.
What had she asked?
“I emailed him. Haven’t heard back. I don’t think it’ll be an issue. Please continue.” He gestured at the family members. “Don’t let me interrupt your interview.”
“Actually I think we’re at a good stopping point for the moment. Lilian needs to go pack a bag—she’s going to stay here tonight.” Special Agent McLane smiled at the woman. “I’ll drive you to your place.”
Mason noticed Lilian and Robin seemed very receptive to McLane. He wondered what happened to the first agent who’d been questioning them when he arrived. Both mothers had looked ready to fly off the handle while talking with him. Now Lilian and Robin were calm and determined, mimicking Special Agent McLane’s attitude. A harmony thrummed among the three women. Somehow Agent McLane had worked a spell.