Home > Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(3)

Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(3)
Author: Melinda Leigh

The sheriff swept a broad hand in the air. “Go ahead.”

The deputy stepped up with a crowbar. The heavily rusted hinges gave way with a horror-film-worthy creak.

Staring inside the trunk, the sheriff grimaced. “Shit.”

Sharp joined the sheriff behind the vehicle. His heart dropped. Inside the rusted trunk lay the disjointed bones of a human skeleton, the pieces scattered like Pick-Up Sticks. The skull rested against the spare tire well, next to what Sharp suspected was a humerus from its size and thickness. His trained eye also spotted some fabric too filthy to identify and a zipper. Vic had been wearing cargo shorts when he’d gone missing.

How would Lance take the news? Was it better to know your father had probably been locked in his trunk and drowned in a lake or would it be better to assume that he’d been willing to walk out of your young life?

Sadly, the best outcome would be to discover that Vic Kruger had already been dead when he’d been locked in his trunk.

Not that there was an option in this case. It was what it was. At least Lance would have closure. He’d spent most of his life living under the weight of his father’s disappearance. He’d taken on adult responsibilities at the age of ten. He’d stayed in Scarlet Falls to take care of his mother, passing up possible promotions elsewhere for the sake of family responsibility.

But last summer, Lance had met Morgan Dane, and everything had changed. Lance had just begun to develop an actual personal life.

And now this . . .

This was going to leave a fresh mark.

Victor Kruger hadn’t left his family or committed suicide.

He’d been murdered.

Chapter Three

Morgan weaved through the crowded courthouse. At the other end of the hall, Private Investigator Lance Kruger stood with a woman in her early forties. Tall and jacked, Lance towered over her. The woman raised a crumpled tissue to her tear-streaked eyes.

Lance’s blue eyes locked on Morgan’s as she approached. He gestured between Morgan and the woman. “Nina, this is Morgan Dane, the attorney I told you about.”

“Thank you for coming.” Nina stifled a sob with her hand. “I didn’t know what to do.”

“Nina’s son is Eric McCain, from my hockey team.” Lance coached a group of at-risk kids. “Eric and six other boys were arrested last night. I don’t have the specific charge, but it involved a video depicting classmates engaged in a sex act.”

Most teens either didn’t know that messaging explicit images of each other technically violated child pornography laws, or they just didn’t think about it.

Nina sniffed and blotted her nose. “They held him in jail overnight.”

Morgan pressed a hand to Nina’s forearm. “I’ll call the prosecutor’s office, talk to Eric, and see what I can find out. Try not to worry. Today is just the arraignment. Eric will plead guilty or not guilty, and the judge will set bail. Our goal is to get him out of jail.”

Last night, Eric would have been kept in a holding cell. Morgan did not want him in the jail’s general population. Her last young client, who had been innocent, had been gravely injured there.

“Thank you,” Nina said.

Morgan found a quiet corner. Her call to the prosecutor’s office did nothing to allay her concern. In New York, in the absence of maliciousness, kids caught sexting were normally sent to educational programs. But Eric was facing a felony possession charge with a maximum four-year prison sentence. Was the prosecutor trying to scare him?

She did not condone boys-will-be-boys excuses. But sending teens to prison seemed like an overcorrection. She favored mandatory education and many hours of community service.

As her grandfather always said, Tired teens have less time for shenanigans.

Morgan made her way to the holding area near the courtroom where Eric would have been transferred this morning to await his arraignment. She requested to speak to her client and then settled on an empty bench in the corridor to wait until an interview booth became available. She removed a legal pad from her tote. Flipping to the second sheet, she made some general notes.

“Ms. Dane?”

Morgan looked up from her notes. A man in a well-cut gray suit stared down at her. He was thirtyish, with thick black hair, an olive complexion, and hard-to-read black eyes.

“I’m Anthony Esposito, the new ADA,” he said. “I hear you’re representing Eric McCain.”

She knew from her phone call with the prosecutor’s office that the new assistant district attorney had been assigned Eric’s case. She flipped the top blank sheet of paper down over her notes and stood. “Yes. I’m Mr. McCain’s attorney.”

Her heels brought her to six feet tall and gave her a few inches on him.

He frowned up at her. “This case is straightforward, but we’re willing to offer a deal in the interests of saving time and money. If McCain pleads guilty, we’ll agree to probation.”

Ninety percent of cases ended in plea bargains, so Morgan wasn’t surprised. “Would he still have to register as a sex offender?”


“Since I don’t have the details yet, perhaps you could enlighten me,” she said.

Esposito nodded. “Mr. McCain received an e-mail three days ago. Attached was a video of two minors engaged in a sex act. As I said, the case is very straightforward.”

Maybe. Then again, Esposito wouldn’t point out any holes in his case.

“I’ll relay your offer to my client and get back to you.” Morgan picked up the tote bag at her feet and moved to walk around him.

Esposito’s mouth tightened, and he sidestepped to block her path. “This is a onetime offer. If your client enters a not guilty plea today, I’ll withdraw the deal.”

“I haven’t even met with my client yet.” Morgan wanted Eric’s side of the story. Esposito could claim his case was as solid as Mount Rushmore. That didn’t mean it was.

Esposito leaned into her personal space. “Your client will go to prison. Did I mention I have a signed confession?”


How was she going to keep this kid out of prison and off the sex offender registry?

“I’ll be in touch after I meet with my client.” She took a deliberate step toward him, giving him no choice but to move out of her way. In her former career as a prosecutor, she’d interviewed rapists and murderers. She’d be damned if she’d let an ADA with a Manhattan-size ego intimidate her.

He backed up a step, his posture stiff.

Morgan blew past him, not yielding an inch of hallway. He was the sort you couldn’t give a millimeter to. She made her way to the interview booth. Resembling a cubicle, it was open at the front and back for access with walls on both sides for privacy.

A guard delivered Eric, who plopped into the chair on the other side of the table. The overhead fluorescents highlighted a darkening bruise on his cheekbone. He’d likely have a black eye by tomorrow. “Ms. Dane? What are you doing here? They told me I’d have some random lawyer just for the arraignment.”

“Lance called me,” Morgan said. “How did you get that bruise on your face?”

Eric blew hair off his forehead. “My face hit the floor when the sheriff handcuffed me.”

“Did you resist arrest?” Morgan asked.

Eric looked away. “Not really.”

Which was not exactly a no.

Morgan moved on. “We don’t have much time. The ADA has offered you a deal. If you plead guilty, you’ll receive probation.”

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