Home > Say You're Sorry (Morgan Dane #1)(12)

Say You're Sorry (Morgan Dane #1)(12)
Author: Melinda Leigh

Red rolled his eyes. “It’s on YouTube. You can do whatever you want with it.”

Lance copied the URL and handed over the cash.

“Thanks.” Red took the fifty and his phone.

As the kid got into his Toyota, Lance memorized his license plate information. It would take him five minutes to identify Mr. Red Noneofyourfuckingbusiness.

Lance drove to the office. Sharp was at his desk, working on his computer. Lance headed for the empty room and his laptop. He settled in the folding chair.

“Aren’t you uncomfortable in that tiny chair?” Sharp called across the hall.

“I’m fine. I like minimalism.” The computer screen glowed, and Lance opened the browser and went to YouTube. He found the video in twenty seconds. “Come watch this.”

Sharp crossed the hall and watched over Lance’s shoulder. Lance stopped the video at the same point Red had. “Jamie Lewis?”

“I’ll be damned.”

“So much for the assumption that she left town.”

“When was that video taken?” Sharp asked.

“Thursday night.” Lance played the video from the beginning again. He didn’t see Red, nor did he spot Tony’s Mohawk in the crowd, but then even enlarged, the background images were a little grainy.

Sharp leaned closer. “Is that the party Tessa Palmer was last seen at?”

“It is.” Lance froze the video again. “There’s Tessa.”

“Do the police have this video?” Sharp eased back, scratching his chin.

“I don’t know. I’ll call Brody.”

“You should. It’s good to stay in the good graces of local law enforcement. Horner’s a necessary evil and makes a really bad enemy.”

“You forgot ‘asshole.’ I hope the mayor loses the election. Then maybe Horner will get canned.” Having worked for the man for ten years, Lance had tired of his politics over policing.

“It can always be worse. Better the devil you know, and all that.”

“This is true,” Lance admitted.

“Do you recognize the two boys fighting?” Sharp asked.

“The dark-haired kid lives across the street from Morgan. His name is Nick. He was Tessa’s boyfriend. I don’t know the other boy.” Lance pointed to the screen. “It looks like the video was just uploaded to YouTube today.”

Lance ran the clip one more time. He turned the sound up, but all he could hear was the crowd of kids chanting, “Fight, fight, fight.”

Nick was the aggressor, his face red with rage as he went at the other boy with a two-handed shove.

“I’d like to know what led to the fight,” Sharp said. “I wish the video started earlier.”

Tessa moved into the scene, wedging herself between the two boys. Nick backed off, but the second kid went around her, knocking her to the ground in his haste to get at Nick. Tessa ran out of view. A few more boys moved in to break up the fight and the video ended with a long shot of the ground.

“At least we know Jamie was still in town as of last Thursday night.” Sharp turned toward the doorway. On his way out, he called over his shoulder, “I’ll call her parents. Give me a few minutes to download a copy of that video in case the cops have it taken down from YouTube.”

“I’m sure Jamie’s parents will be relieved to see her alive,” Lance said.

After Sharp went back to his own office, Lance called Brody, but he didn’t answer and his mailbox was full. He went out into the hall and leaned into Sharp’s office. “I can’t get Brody on the phone. I’m going to stop at the station. Did you get that video downloaded?”

Sharp looked up from his keyboard. “Got it.”

Lance went outside, climbed into his Jeep, and drove to the township municipal building. The SFPD occupied the ground floor of a two-story colonial-style building. The tax collector, zoning office, and town clerk were located upstairs. He crossed the gray-tiled lobby and entered the reception area. From the outside, the building looked homey and quaint, with blue, New Englandish siding and barn-red shutters, but inside, the space had needed a facelift twenty years ago.

The desk sergeant greeted him with a smile that creased his face like a bulldog’s. “Hey, Lance. How’s the new PI gig?”

“It’s not bad.” Lance leaned on the counter.

“Sharp treating you all right?”

“He is.”

“Tell him he’d better, or I’ll kick his ass.” The sergeant grinned.

“Is Brody around? I tried to leave him a message, but his mailbox is full.”

Lowering his voice, the sergeant said, “Horner held another press conference, so Brody is tied up with citizens calling in tips.” Ninety-nine percent of which would turn out to be a complete waste of time.

“Poor Brody,” Lance said.

“We’re trying to filter them the best we can, but we’re shorthanded as it is.”

Weren’t they always?

The sergeant sighed. “And you know how it is. All the citizens want to talk to the detective.”

“How about Stella? Is she here?” Lance asked. “I might have some information about the Palmer case.”

The sergeant shook his bald head. “No. She’s not working the Palmer case anyway.”



“Then who’s working with Brody?” When Lance had worn a uniform, he’d assisted the detectives when they’d needed help.

The sergeant glanced around. The lobby was empty. “Horner.”

“Wha-at?” Of all the names Lance had expected to hear, that wasn’t one of them.

“I know,” the sergeant agreed. “Anyway. Maybe you should talk to him.”

“Good idea.” Lance would rather have a root canal.

“I’ll tell him you’re here.” The sergeant picked up the phone and spoke with Horner’s secretary for a few seconds. “Go on back.”

“Thanks.” Lance bypassed the counter and went through the doorway into a long open room filled with rows of metal filing cabinets and clusters of cubicles. Uniforms sat at desks typing reports. They greeted Lance as he walked through to Horner’s office.

Horner’s blonde secretary waved him through with a manicured hand. “Go on in.”

Lance gave the door a polite knuckle rap before going in. Even at the end of the day, not a single wrinkle dared mar Horner’s starched, navy-blue uniform, and his precision haircut looked just as perfect as always.

“Lance, have a seat.” Horner gestured to one of the two chairs that faced his desk. “You’re looking fit. How are you?”

“Very well. Thank you.” Lance eased into the seat. “It was a long recovery.”

In June, seven months after the shooting, Lance had briefly returned to the force, but his leg hadn’t been ready. His inability to keep up had placed his fellow officers in danger. He wouldn’t carry a badge again unless he was completely fit.

“Glad to hear it. I wish you’d have gone back on disability instead of quitting.” Horner’s hair gleamed in the light as if it were varnished, or maybe plastic. The chief did bear a certain resemblance to Ava’s Ken doll.

“At the time, I didn’t know if I was ever going to get back to a hundred percent, and staying on disability didn’t appeal. I’d rather work.”

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