Home > Her Last Goodbye (Morgan Dane #2)(4)

Her Last Goodbye (Morgan Dane #2)(4)
Author: Melinda Leigh

The air seeped out of Morgan’s lungs, leaving her hollow. She had no way of knowing if Tim was guilty or not. He wouldn’t be the first husband to kill his wife and then report her missing.

What if the sheriff was right? One of her greatest fears in practicing private law was that she could be responsible for keeping a criminal out on the street. She knew it would happen eventually. Criminals lied. It was what they did.

Morgan’s family sent criminals to jail. They didn’t keep them out. But last month’s case had eliminated any opportunity of her working in the prosecutor’s office. That bridge hadn’t been burned. It had been incinerated. She’d been hoping to work mostly civil litigation, but small-town lawyers couldn’t afford to be too picky. She could not pay her bills without clients.

The baby made another little noise.

The daylight pouring through the window showcased the deep bags under Tim’s eyes. He hadn’t slept in a while. Morgan clearly remembered her youngest child’s colic. It had seemed endless, even though John had been home to help for most of it. Poor Tim was doing it alone.

And he clearly did need her help.

Every defendant deserved good counsel, and her job as a defense attorney was to represent her clients to the best of her ability. She needed to have faith in the legal system.

She folded her hands in her lap. “So the sheriff has not officially cleared you?”

“I don’t know.” Tim lifted a shoulder. “He says he’s investigating other people, but I don’t believe him. They don’t seem to have any clues. Maybe if they’d actually tried, if they’d actually investigated someone besides me in the very beginning, they would have found her by now.”

Tim’s eyes glistened with moisture. He turned away and closed them for a few seconds.

Morgan doubted the sheriff hadn’t investigated anyone except Tim, but the spouse was always the primary suspect. Sadly, nearly one half of all female homicide victims were killed by their intimate partners. When Chelsea wasn’t found within the critical twenty-four- to forty-eight-hour period, any cop holding the case would have investigated Tim.

“Where were you Friday night?” Morgan was blunt.

But Tim didn’t miss a beat. “I was at home with the kids.”

“Can anyone verify that?” she asked.

“Bella and I had a video call with my in-laws around eight thirty for about fifteen minutes or so. After that, it was just me and the kids.”

“How old is Bella?”


Too young to provide an alibi.

“So you’ll help me?” Tim looked hopeful.

Morgan shared glances with Sharp and Lance. They were both on board. She looked down at the baby. He needed his parents. “Yes.”

The decision felt right. Better that she take the risk of representing the wrong client than turn her back on someone who needs her.

“Oh, thank God.” Tim relaxed as if the strength had gone out of his body.

“Now, tell us what happened Friday night.” Morgan gestured to a legal pad on Sharp’s blotter. He handed it and a pen to her.

Tim repeated his opening statement.

“Who was she supposed to meet?” Morgan asked.

“Her friend Fiona West,” Tim said. “They’ve been close since we moved here two years ago.”

“How did they meet?” Morgan made careful notes.

“Yoga class,” Tim said. “Before Chelsea had William, she went to yoga twice a week. Balanced Yoga. It’s next to the bank on Second Street.”

Tim took a shaky breath and continued. “When she didn’t come home, I called her. She didn’t answer. I sent texts and left messages. When she didn’t respond, I called her friend. Fiona said Chelsea never showed up at the restaurant. She assumed something had come up like the last time they’d had plans. Then I tracked Chelsea’s cell phone to her car. It was parked down the road from the train station in Grey’s Hollow. I called 911, then drove up and down that road until the sheriff’s deputy came. I didn’t see anything. As soon as it got light out, I searched again.” He struggled to hold back a tear as he glanced down at his son. “Good thing William likes car rides.”

“Is there any reason your wife would have gone to Grey’s Hollow or taken the train somewhere else?” Sharp asked.

“No.” Tim’s face tightened with frustration.

“Why is the county sheriff handling the case and not the Scarlet Falls PD?” Sharp asked.

“I called 911 from Grey’s Hollow,” Tim explained. “The sheriff’s department responded.”

Grey’s Hollow didn’t have a police force. Crimes in that section of the county were investigated by the sheriff’s office. Typically, once a department had a case, they kept it.

Tim continued. “Sheriff King says there’s no sign of foul play, and it isn’t against the law for an adult to leave home. That’s why I came to you.”

Lance shifted his position. “Has the sheriff’s department looked at her phone and computer?”

“Yes,” Tim answered. “They have both her laptop and phone. But I already looked at both devices and found nothing. I doubt the sheriff’s office has anyone more qualified than me.” Arrogance laced Tim’s tone.

“They have a protocol to follow,” Morgan said.

Tim wasn’t giving the county forensics techs enough credit. They were highly qualified.

“What exactly do you do, Tim?” Lance asked.

“I’m a wireless telecommunication engineer,” Tim said. “My employer, Speed Net, is working with the university on research to develop the next generation Wi-Fi.”

Maybe Tim had a reason to be a little arrogant about his tech skills.

“Must be interesting to work on the cutting edge,” Sharp said.

Tim shrugged. “It is. It’s also demanding.”

“We’ll need your employer’s contact information,” Lance said. “And we’ll want to interview your boss and coworkers.”

“All the information is in here.” Tim slid a file from his diaper bag and set it on the desk.

“I doubt the sheriff will give you her electronics back just yet,” Sharp said. “That’s too bad. I know you’re a computer expert, but we’d still like to look at your wife’s digital history. I’m sure you’re great with computers, but we know what to look for.”

“I’m willing to try anything,” Tim said. “Chelsea’s laptop and phone both backup to a cloud account every twenty-four hours. I can access everything that was on her computer from mine.”

“Perfect. Do you know what kind of initial physical search the sheriff conducted of the area where you found your wife’s car?” Lance asked.

Tim sniffed and reeled in his emotions. “The police searched the neighborhood. They drove along all the roads for a few miles in each direction. They put out some sort of alert to other police departments. They brought in a dog.”

Sharp rubbed his buzz cut with a palm. “The dog didn’t pick up anything?”

Tim shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Do you know what the sheriff is doing now?” Sharp asked.

Tim shook his head. “He doesn’t tell me much.”

“We’ll contact the sheriff and get an update,” Morgan assured him. “Do you know if the sheriff’s department interviewed any of your neighbors?”

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