Home > Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(6)

Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(6)
Author: Melinda Leigh

Both her tone and the determination in her big blue eyes told him there was no point arguing with her. And if he were being honest with himself, he was grateful for her support.

“OK.” Lance headed for the door.

Morgan was right behind him. She grabbed her coat from her office on the way out.

The ride out to Grey Lake took thirty minutes. The road became more and more rural as they drove. It was full dark when Lance parked on the side of the road behind two sheriff’s department vehicles. He and Morgan got out of the Jeep. Crime scene tape fluttered between trees. On the bank of the lake, under stadium-bright portable lights, a rusted vehicle had just been loaded onto a flatbed truck.

The sight of the ruined vehicle filled Lance’s throat. Next to him, Morgan took his hand and held it in a tight grip.

Sharp spotted the Jeep and broke away from the group of uniformed men. He met them halfway across the weedy ground.

“The medical examiner just left. The car is being taken to the county impound garage.” Sharp narrowed critical eyes on him. “You all right?”

Afraid he’d choke on his voice, Lance nodded.

“The sheriff is handling the case?” Morgan asked.

“Yes,” Sharp said. “The original missing person report was filed with the SFPD, but Police Chief Horner isn’t going to fight the sheriff for a case this cold, and Grey Lake isn’t in Horner’s jurisdiction.”

Lance didn’t know if he should be relieved or disappointed that Horner wouldn’t be handling the case. Horner was more politician than cop, but the sheriff wasn’t any easier to deal with.

“Horner will send a copy of the case file over and wash his hands of the whole thing. The department is always shorthanded, and cold cases are notorious for racking up man-hours.”

“But it isn’t a simple missing adult case with no evidence of foul play anymore,” Sharp said.

“No.” Lance swallowed the truth. “It’s murder. But will the sheriff be able to solve it? You tried to find my dad for years.”

“I never had any physical evidence,” Sharp said. “But now we do.”

His dad had been in the trunk of his car on the bottom of the lake all these years.

Someone put him there. Had he been dead before the trunk filled up with water?

A sick feeling crawled over Lance.

Sheriff King gave Lance a solemn nod as they approached.

“What can you tell me?” Lance asked, his eyes fixed on the old Buick, memories of riding in it with his dad flashing in his mind. He pushed them away.

Not now.

“There isn’t much to say at this point,” the sheriff said. “The medical examiner took charge of the remains.”

“Have you sent the divers back down to search the bottom of the lake?” Lance asked.

The sheriff shook his head. “Not yet. We’ll evaluate the vehicle first. Whatever is down there has been sitting for twenty-three years. Another day or two isn’t going to make any difference.”

Underwater crime scenes presented unique challenges and costs. The crime had taken place too long ago to find any evidence on the lakeshore. Even the bottom of the lake was a long shot after all this time. The car and the bones were the keys to the puzzle. Lance understood, but he didn’t like the sheriff’s lack of urgency. But what could he do? He wasn’t a cop anymore, and even if he were, Grey Lake was in Grey’s Hollow, part of Sheriff King’s fiefdom.

“I’ll let you and your mother know when the ME officially identifies the remains,” the sheriff said.

“I’d appreciate a heads-up when you want to talk to my mother.” Lance debated how much information to give the sheriff and decided on, “She isn’t well. The news could affect her health.”

“Noted. Sharp mentioned the same thing,” the sheriff said, which was not the affirmative response Lance would have liked.

“Does anyone in particular frequent this area?” Lance’s gaze swept the lake, trees, and scrub grass.

“Only during hunting season. Most swimming and camping happens at the south end of the lake where the public boat ramp is. There are some good spots to catch bullhead down there.” The sheriff pointed toward the water. “This end of the lake is muddy, which is probably why no one noticed the car all these years.”

Lance backed away from the Buick. Staring at it wasn’t serving any purpose, other than sledge-hammering home the reality that his father was dead, and had been dead for a long time.

The flatbed started up with a roar and pulled away.

The sheriff nodded and headed for his vehicle.

After he was out of earshot, Sharp said, “I’ll talk to the ME tomorrow and see how long he expects the official identification to take.”

“No. I’ll do it,” Lance said. “It’s my father.”

Memories gathered in a ball beneath his breastbone. Pushing the past away was getting harder.

Lance slipped his hand out of Morgan’s. “I have to go see my mother. The sheriff said he’d give me advance notice, but I don’t trust him.”

“Do you want one of us to go with you?” Sharp waved a hand between him and Morgan.

Lance shook his head. “I think it might be best if it’s just me.”

He didn’t know how his mother was going to react. Morgan had never seen Jenny Kruger in the throes of her illness. Lance’s mother had been stable over the past few months. Morgan had no idea how bad it could get.

And Lance wanted it to stay that way.

He didn’t want to drag Morgan into the unpredictable reality of his mother’s mental illness. He wished he didn’t have to tell his mother about his father’s car. But he had no choice. An agoraphobic, she literally lived online. If he didn’t tell her, she’d find out on her own. The news would be far better coming from him.

“All right.” Sharp turned toward the road, his movements slow and weary, as if the events of the day had sapped his strength. Usually, he had more energy than most twentysomethings.

Lance rubbed a hand across his scalp. After he visited his mother, he had only one thing on his plate: find out who had killed his father.

Chapter Five

Morgan watched Lance struggle, her heart breaking for him. On one hand, she wanted the closure for him and his mother. On the other, closure had a price. Old wounds would be reopened. The pain would be fresh. But hopefully, short-lived.

Lance turned to Sharp. “I’m kicking myself for not opening the case file when you gave it to me back in September.”

“It was the right decision at the time,” Sharp said. “You didn’t want to dredge up the past when there was little chance you could solve the crime, but now there’s physical evidence.”

And the past was going to be stirred up no matter what Lance did.

He crossed his arms over his chest and stared out over the lake. Morgan followed his gaze for a few seconds. With no visible moon, the water undulated in shades of black in the darkness. She shifted her gaze back to his face, now shuttered.

A short while ago, they’d been embracing, happy and intimate.

Now everything had changed.

“Would you give Morgan a lift back to the office?” Lance asked. “Her minivan is there.”

“Of course,” Sharp said.

“Can you give us a minute, Sharp?” Morgan asked.

“I’ll be in the car.” Sharp walked toward his vehicle, allowing Morgan and Lance a moment of privacy.

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