Home > The Last Move(3)

The Last Move(3)
Author: Mary Burton

“Thanks, Chief.” He studied the phone. “Have you checked it for incoming calls?”

“It has received eight calls from one phone.”

One number.

“Maybe she was having an affair?” he asked.

“I’d say definitely hiding something.”

Again he puzzled over the car. It was five or six years old. No scrapes or dents or signs of any kind of accident. But not the flashy kind of car Gloria Sanchez sold. She could have pulled any car from the lot, and she chose this one.

Mazur held out his index finger and thumb, mimicking a gun. “The shooter wasn’t more than two feet away when he fired. Judging by the blood spatter, he was standing right here.”

“One shot. The medical examiner will make the final call, but I’d say the bullet shredded her heart.”

“He didn’t try to take her jewelry or money.”

“Something may be missing. Her husband might know.”

There was an open bag of peanut-chocolate clusters on the seat and beside it a bloodstained, rumpled receipt. In the cup holder was a to-go cup. “Is the receipt from a local store?”

“It’s going to take me a little time to figure that one out. Soaked in blood.”

He leaned in and tested the weight of the coffee cup. It was full, and there was none of the victim’s red lipstick on the cup lid.

“Any signs of sexual assault?” he asked.

“Not that I can see, but again, the autopsy will tell you more.”

He popped the trunk, moved to the back of the car, and found the tire and jack in place. Nothing else.

He knelt by the back right tire, now resting on its rim, and ran his hand over the tread. No screw or nail. Likely the puncture was small enough to get her onto the interstate before the tire deflated. “Punctured just enough so that it didn’t flatten right away?”

“Best guess.”

“Once you’ve finished up here, we’ll talk.”

“You know where to find me.”

Mazur crossed to the patrol car that contained a sturdy man with a thick mustache and tussled gray hair. He wore a gray T-shirt stained with blood, sweats, and expensive loafers with no socks. His head was tipped back against the seat, eyes closed, and his hands were balled into tight fists.

Mazur knocked on the window, and the man opened his eyes and sat taller. Briefly his gaze was lost as if he didn’t know where he was, and then realization chased off the wild-eyed expression and replaced it with a scowl. Mazur opened the door and motioned for the man to get out.

“I’m Detective Theo Mazur,” he said.

The man straightened and was almost as tall as Mazur’s six-foot-four frame. “I’m Martin Sanchez.”

“Gloria Sanchez was your wife?”


“I’m sorry for all this.” He always started off nice. He wanted witnesses and suspects to like him because people, even murderers, opened up to those who felt like a friend.

“It’s been a nightmare,” he said in a thick Texas drawl.

Mazur angled his head down, and dropped his voice a notch. “Mind telling me what happened?”

Martin touched a thick cross that dangled around his neck. “She called me at one a.m. Woke me up out of a sound sleep. She told me she was having car trouble and asked me to come get her. She told me the exit before the line went dead.”

“What was your wife doing out here in the middle of the night?”

“She was driving down to Laredo to see her mother, who’s in a nursing home. Gloria drives to Laredo at least three times a month. Yesterday was very busy at the dealership, and she couldn’t get away from the showroom until after eleven.”

“Is that her regular car?”

“No. She drives a silver Mercedes. She texted me yesterday and said her Mercedes was being serviced and that she’d find a loaner for the trip.”

“No disrespect, but this car is kind of plain and ordinary.” With a chagrined smile he leaned in a bit as though they were friends. “It’s the kind of car that I would drive, but not the Queen of Cars.”

Martin looked back toward the vehicle but quickly shuddered and glanced away. “I don’t know why she took that car. She usually goes for the luxury models. I guess she was in a rush, and it was available. She’s always in a rush. Always so busy.” He rubbed the back of his neck with his hand.

“How far is the dealership from here?”

“Thirty miles.”

Mazur scanned the horizon before looking back at Sanchez. “So she takes a loaner, stops for chocolate and coffee, and ends up here with a sabotaged tire.”

Sanchez looked the part of a grieving husband, but a lot of murderers were talented actors.

“I can’t . . . I can’t think about it.” The anguish and disbelief that threaded around the words sounded genuine.

“And then she’s shot point-blank in the chest. Hell of a bullet hole.” The comment was intentionally blunt. He wanted to shock Sanchez, who as the victim’s husband was top on the suspect list right now.

Tears glistened in Sanchez’s eyes. “I’ll never forget what she looked like when I came up to the car. So much blood. It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Anyone have a beef with your wife?”

“She was a tough businesswoman. There were people who didn’t like her, but I can’t think of anyone who would have gunned her down like this. This killing had to be random. Someone who happened upon her.”

“Her window was open. Whoever shot her won her confidence.” She definitely would have lowered the window for her husband.

“That’s not like her. She’s not a trusting sort.”

“The flat tire wasn’t by chance. It was intentional. And the longer I’m a cop, the less I buy into coincidence. Most people know their killers. It’s rarely random.”

Dark eyes narrowed as Sanchez ran his hand over the gray stubble on his chin. No wedding band. “What are you saying?”

“Were you and your wife having marital problems?”


He nodded toward Sanchez’s rough, calloused hands. “You don’t wear a wedding band?”

The man didn’t look down. “I’m a mechanic. I often take it off. It’s a hazard. I just forgot to put it back on.”

“How much older are you than your wife?”

“Fifteen years.”

“That’s one heck of an age gap.”

Sanchez lifted his chin. “The years didn’t matter to us.”

“You two have any financial problems? I mean, she’s dressed real nice, but all that glitters is not gold.”

“I run the garage. She took care of the sales and numbers. We always had highs and lows. That’s the nature of business. But in the last year, she said it was all going well, so I didn’t question her.”

“How many phones does she carry?”

His brow wrinkled. “One.”

“There was a second phone in the car. Know about that?” Mazur understood something about having a spouse with a wandering eye. The sad-sack husband was the last to know.

“I’ve never seen a second phone.”

“Maybe it belonged to someone else.”

Heavy brows knotted. “My wife loved me. And I loved her.”

“You mind giving a DNA sample to Officer Calhoun over there?” His tone was always casual and keeping it friendly until the situation required a different approach.

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