Home > Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(9)

Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(9)
Author: Melinda Leigh


Lance rounded the desk, set a hand on his mother’s frail-thin shoulder, and kissed her on the cheek. The skin stretched over the bones on her hands was nearly translucent and streaked with blue veins. Years of chronic anxiety had aged her beyond chronological years. At sixty, she looked much older. But her smile had brightened over the past few months.

Today, he found her new happiness bittersweet.

“This is Kevin Munro.” His mom gestured toward her main computer monitor.

On the screen, a gray-haired man of sixty or seventy waved. “It’s nice to meet you, Lance.”

“Um. It’s nice to meet you too.” Lance had seen him before, when he’d dropped his mother at her weekly group therapy sessions. Therapy and visits to the psychiatrist were the only times his mom left her house.

Kevin flushed and adjusted the collar of his plaid button-up shirt.

The quiet in the room turned awkward, and Lance realized this was probably the equivalent of a date for his mom and Kevin.

Lance stepped back. He did not want to ruin this for her. “I didn’t mean to interrupt your conversation. I’ll be in the kitchen. I need to talk to you when you’re done.”

“Kevin, I’ll talk to you later,” she said. Kevin responded with goodbye, and his mother closed the computer window. She swiveled her chair to face Lance. Anxiety creased the corners of her eyes. “Did something happen to Morgan or Sharp?”

“No. Nothing like that.” Lance was bungling this. “It’s about Dad.”

She flinched. “What?”

Lance took a deep breath, crouched, and took both her hands in his. “The sheriff’s department pulled Dad’s car from Grey Lake.”

His mother’s face went white. But she didn’t flail or faint or throw a fit. Her expression was blank. Too emotionless. Was she even processing what he’d said? “Are you sure?”

“I saw the car myself.” He swallowed. “It’s Dad’s.”

She stared at their joined hands for a few seconds. When she looked up at him, her eyes were tentative. “Was he inside?”

Lance hesitated. How much should he tell her? “They think so.”

“So they’re not one hundred percent sure it’s Vic.” Her voice dropped to a whisper when she said his father’s name.

“No, but identifying him shouldn’t take long. Dad’s dental records are on file.” Lance rubbed her fingers with his thumbs. “Tell me what you’re feeling.”

“I don’t know exactly.” Her forehead wrinkled. “On one hand, it’s a surprise. After all these years, I never really expected to find out what happened. On the other, it’s not. I knew something terrible had happened to him. He wouldn’t have left us.”

“That’s what I always thought too.”

“Was it an accident?” A tear rolled down her cheek. “Did he drive off a bridge or something?”

“No. There are no bridges near where he was found. The car would have been driven or sent into the water from the bank.” Lance paused. Was she ready for this? Did he have a choice but to be honest with her? She was a very intelligent woman. If he didn’t tell her, she’d find the details on her own. “I think someone killed him.”

She pulled one hand free and covered her mouth. “You’re sure?”

“Not yet. The sheriff will investigate.” And so would Lance.

She wiped tears from her cheeks, her face frozen in a tragic smile. “I thought I was all cried out over your father. I guess not.”

“I’ll stay here tonight.” Lance kept the essentials in his old bedroom in case of an emergency. “Will you be all right by yourself for a few hours tomorrow?”

“Lance, I don’t want you to babysit me.”

“Mom . . .” he protested. “That’s not—”

“No.” Her voice was firm. “I’m sorry. I know you only want to help. But you’ve spent your whole life taking care of me.”

“I don’t mind.”

“I know you don’t.” A sad smile turned the corner of her mouth. “How much did I tell you about the new counselor who’s been running our group therapy session for the last two months?”

“You said she was pushy, and you didn’t like her.”

“At first I didn’t. I was used to the old one. He’d been running the group the same way for twelve years. Change is hard for me, and some of the things Dr. Blake is encouraging me to do are uncomfortable.” She blushed. “I’ve been meditating and doing yoga.”

Meditation? Yoga?

Is this even my mother?

“I’m not fooling myself. I’m never going to be able to grocery shop or go to the movies or run errands like other people, but I can be more independent. I don’t need to be mentally isolated even though I’m physically limited. It’s a choice, not an inevitability. I can connect with people right here in my house.”

“Like Kevin,” Lance said.

She nodded. “You have a job to do. A life to live. Seeing you with Morgan has made me realize how selfish I’ve been.”

“You’re not selfish—”

She held up a hand. “Like any patient with a chronic illness, I have to learn to manage it myself.” She straightened her frail shoulders. “I have to do it.”

She looked determined and as grounded as he’d ever seen her. Maybe she could gain some independence. But in the back of his mind, a little voice whispered if she failed, she’d lose all the progress—all the happiness—she’d gained in the past few months.

She reached up and touched his face. “Lance, I don’t want to be a burden on you. You’ve given up too much of your life for me already.”

“If you feel comfortable managing things yourself, I’m behind you all the way,” he said. “But I’m also here for you. What can I do to help?”

“Find out what really happened to your father.” His mother dropped her hand and hugged her arms, rubbing her biceps as if she were freezing. “I’d like to put this behind me. I know it’s asking a lot of you. He was your father. Maybe you don’t want to delve into his personal life.”

“I already intended to find Dad’s killer.”

“Then do it. I’ll be fine here.” His mother pressed a fist to her mouth and sniffed. Her shoulders curled forward, her posture projecting the distress her words denied. Lowering her hand, she swallowed. “We both loved him, but we need to move on. We need to put his death behind us.”

“All right,” Lance said. Tomorrow, he’d start by claiming his father’s remains.

Chapter Seven





NOV 14 1982

JUL 10 2015


Morgan stared at the headstone. Half of her wanted to throw herself on John’s grave. The other half wanted to run away as fast as possible in case the sadness she’d recently shed caught up with her again.

“Where’s Daddy?” Three-year-old Sophie frowned up at Morgan. “You said he’d be here.”

Sophie’s misunderstanding added fifty pounds to Morgan’s mood.

“I’m sorry, honey.” Morgan searched for the right words. Did she tell her daughter that John was in a box six feet under the grass? Thinking of his body decaying in a box, alone, all that time, she shuddered. Her grief turned claustrophobic.

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