Digesting my father’s words, I started my rental SUV. “You’re shitting me.”
I said the words, but Graves being a Fed made a lot of sense. He sure as shit didn’t act like a regular cop.
“Nope. I need to make a few calls, but I figure you might have more backup than you think. But just in case I’m wrong, send me that recording. I’ll see if I can get anything from it.”
I nodded even though he couldn’t see me, debating with myself if I wanted to inform him about my mother’s actions prior to the meeting with the police captain from Hell. If I didn’t tell him, he’d likely find out anyway and be pissed I kept it from him.
“The meeting isn’t all that happened. Mom showed up at the police station, and let’s just say she’ll be spending the night.”
My father’s voice turned into a growl. “What happened.”
Not a question. An order.
I sighed, gathering the courage. “She hit me hard enough to bloody my nose and mouth. In front of three cops. She was drunk as a skunk wearing the clothes she had on last night. Said I had no right to order the autopsy. Well…” I paused, thinking about it. “She said I had no right. I’m just assuming she means the autopsy.”
I could tell my father was practically seething on the other end of the line, and if I didn’t say something else, he’d explode like a powder keg.
“Your favorite Fed was there to watch me take her down. It seems these Connecticut women don’t know how we do it in Texas because they seemed shocked as hell when I put her down like you showed me.”
Dad sighed into the phone. “Sport.”
He said only the one word but in it was all the things he couldn’t possibly say. It was shame and pain, and so much more. It was a lifetime of regret – regret he shouldn’t feel because he didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t cheat. He didn’t fall into addiction. He didn’t neglect us.
And he fought so hard to keep Vivi and me – even though she wasn’t biologically his. My father wasn’t in the wrong. Darcy was.
“I know. But hey, if I was going to burn that bridge, at least I got to put her on her ass, right?”
“I guess. I can’t believe she hit you, Sport. Even for her, that’s fucked up.”
I shrugged even though he couldn’t see me. “What’s one more strike against her? Really, at the rate she’s been heading, I’m amazed I hadn’t gotten slapped before. But enough about Mom. If Noah is a Fed, maybe you can call Uncle Rich and see what he’ll cough up. It’s possible he’s investigating the Captain, but I don’t think we’re that lucky.”
Uncle Rich wasn’t really my uncle but a longtime buddy of my father’s. If Dad told him what happened to Vivi, he’d have the cavalry here in a day, tops.
“I’ll see what I can do. And send me that recording, Sport.”
“On it. Love you, Dad.”
“Love you, too. Be safe.”
I disconnected and then promptly sent my father the voice recording. I wasn’t taking any chances.
I’d just hit the send button when the back, driver’s side door to the SUV flew open, and a man dove in. Before I could do anything more than catch sight of his face, I was staring down the barrel of a gun.
Carson Westwood was pointing a gun at me, and there was nothing I could do about it.
“Drive,” he barked as he situated himself on the seat so he couldn’t be seen from the outside.
A cold shiver of fear trailed its deathly finger down my spine. I was going to die in this town. Just like Vivi had. I was going to die before I could honor her memory, and my father was never going to know what happened to me.
“Did you hear me? I said drive!” he hissed, and the menace in Carson’s voice got me moving as rage replaced the fear.
Were our lives worth so little? Were women just disposable to them?
These thoughts hammered my brain as I threw the SUV into drive and merged into traffic.
“Where I am I going, Carson?” I asked, kind of hoping he would kill me in public so at least someone would post it on social media and get him arrested.
He sighed like I was irritating the shit out of him. Well, fuck you too, buddy.
“West. The edge of town. And move it, will you? I don’t have all day.”
“Golly gee. Why, yes, I’ll totally speed to my death. That seems just jim-dandy,” I scoffed, crawling at the speed limit even though the Texan driver in me really wanted to go ten over.
“I’m not going to kill you.”
“Hate to break it to you, buddy, but that gun you’re holding on me doesn’t support that theory.”
I heard a click and the tell-tale sound of a gun being re-holstered.
“I’m not going to kill you,” he repeated, “I just needed you to take me seriously, and you weren’t going to do that unless I made you.”
Well, he wasn’t wrong.
“Okay, I’m listening, Carson. You have my undivided attention.”
He sighed again, and this time, I heard the weight of whatever he was carrying. “I know you think I’m some jackass hot shot rube with a mental deficiency, which is good because that means I haven’t blown my cover. Yet. But if you keep digging into the Captain and his ties, you will blow my cover. And probably Graves’ cover too.”
I peeked behind me to catch a glimpse of his face. Yeah, Carson Westwood just shocked the shit out of me.
“Yeah, I know Graves is a Fed. But it's harder for him to hide what he is than me. Being a Westwood means no one looks too closely if I act like an asshole. This has been one of my easier undercovers until you walked into town. I swear to Christ, as soon as you landed the whole goddamn family has been in an uproar.”
I had to smile at that bit of gossip even if I loathed that I’d been made so easily. “I have a reputation that apparently crosses state lines.”
I could attribute my celebrity status to the Shapiro case. The case no one would bring up in polite company. The case that brought in ninety percent of my business because it made the national news. It should have been my father’s name on those headlines, but it was his daughter’s instead. It was pure luck I found Rosalind Shapiro’s body that day. I was a little less lucky when I found her killer, but that was my nightmare to bear.
“The Shapiro case,” he muttered, and I nodded. “I always hated that they put you on the front page.”
“Nothing I could do about it once I turned eighteen,” I muttered, still irritated that the whole shebang with finding Rosalind’s killer happened just three days after my eighteenth birthday. No privacy law was going to keep my name out of the papers then. “And what’s more newsworthy than an eighteen-year-old girl catching a serial killer?”
Carson harrumphed before directing me where he wanted me to go. We ended up at the site of my sister’s car accident, and likely, her murder. The sight of the poor, scarred tree made my stomach flip. I didn’t want to be here – I didn’t want to be within a mile of here.
When I stopped the SUV, Carson hopped out, examining the barren oak. Reluctantly, I followed.
“Why are we here, Carson? I’m going to blow your cover. Got it. If you and Graves are on the case, I don’t need to be here. Hell, the way this is shaping up, I could be on the next fucking plane if I need to be. Why drag me out here?”
He turned, facing me as he shuddered under his jacket. “I needed you to know in case…” he trailed off, “This is bigger than just your sister, Gemini. This is bigger than… In case something happens to me, I need you to know where I kept evidence. I need you to know where Vivi was the night she died.”
I had a feeling I knew where she was. If Carson was using his Westwood ties as a cover, then he had to be looking into his own damn family.
“She was at Madison’s house,” he said, confirming my suspicions. “And I think I know—”
Carson cut himself off, and before he could say another word, he wrapped his hands around my upper arms and threw me to the ground. I landed hard on the icy road, the shock of my hip meeting pavement rocking through me. Finally, the echo of the shot filtered into my brain as Carson’s body hit the road right next to me.
Blood poured from the wound in his upper chest, his panicked eyes meeting mine before they rolled back into his head. Another shot rang out, and the pavement exploded right next to my hand. Shrapnel stung my cheek as I screamed, but it got me moving. Before I thought better of it, I grabbed ahold of Carson’s collar, dragging him with me into the tree line just a few feet away to hide.
But it didn’t feel like a few feet, and his blood left a bright red arrow in the snow that would lead the gun-toting psychopath right to us.
Worse yet? I left my cell phone in the car.
Help wasn’t coming.
Thank you for reading this chapter of Seek You Find Me! New episodes will release on the last Tuesday of each month. If you enjoy this story, you should check out the Shelter Me Series.