Her Last Goodbye Page 14

“Tonight?” Sharp asked.

“It’s not an emergency.” Lance glanced back at the house.

“But—”

“She seemed . . . off.” Lance wanted another opinion. Sharp was less paranoid.

“I’ll go tonight,” Sharp said.

“Thanks.” Lance ended the call. He would check on his mom later too.

“What’s wrong?” Morgan asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe nothing.” Unease filled Lance’s gut.

“She seemed happy. She ate her pie.”

Lance turned and started toward the Jeep. “I know.”

“But you’re afraid the case will remind her of your father.” Morgan fell into step beside him.

“Yes.” Though his mom had seemed off even before he’d brought up the case.

“Do you want to stay with her? I can handle the interview with Fiona.”

He glanced at her. The scarf around her neck hid the bruises, but he knew they were there, darkening by the hour. After today’s incident, he wanted to keep Morgan close. Rationally he knew Tyler Green was safely in custody, but Lance’s feelings for Morgan weren’t always rational.

“No,” he said. “I’ll come back tonight and make sure she’s all right.”

They got into his Jeep, and Morgan read him the address of Fiona West’s apartment.

She fastened her seat belt. “How do you feel about working on a case so similar to your father’s disappearance?”

Lance almost brushed off her question then changed his mind. “I can definitely relate to how Tim’s feeling right now.”

“I’m sure you can.”

He backed out of the driveway and turned the Jeep back toward town. “I still haven’t opened Sharp’s case file on my dad’s investigation.”

A few weeks before, Sharp had turned over the information, saying that it was now up to Lance if he wanted to know the particulars of his father’s disappearance.

Morgan didn’t say anything, but she reached across the console and took his hand.

“I’m afraid I’ll be sucked in,” Lance said. “Or that my mom will somehow find out. The last thing she needs is anything to bring back memories of those years.”

“Do you know any of the details?”

Lance sighed. “I know the basic information. I was only ten when it happened. Sharp shared as much as he thought I could handle. Frankly, there wasn’t much to share. Not many leads ever turned up. Those were the days before cell phones, before surveillance cameras were everywhere, before E-ZPass and GPS made it hard to disappear. People still used cash in the nineties.”

“So why would you dig in to the case?” Morgan asked. “Was there DNA or other physical evidence that could be analyzed with more precision now?”

“I don’t think so.”

Her fingers squeezed his. “Sharp is a good detective, and you said he worked your father’s case for years. I doubt he would have overlooked anything.”

“I know.” But did he? Lance wouldn’t know for sure unless he reviewed the file.

“If anything, there will be less evidence now. Memories fade over time. People will have left their jobs. Twenty-three years is a long time.”

“You’re right.” But could he live with not even trying? Uncomfortable, Lance turned the conversation back to the case. “Tell me about Fiona.”

Morgan opened a file. “Fiona West is twenty-six years old. She works as a fitness instructor and teaches yoga. She’s lived in Scarlet Falls all her life. We don’t have our full background check yet, but the sheriff said they found nothing alarming in her history. King wasn’t the most forthcoming member of law enforcement I’ve dealt with. I have no doubt he held back information on the case, but I don’t think he’d outright lie.”

“Right,” Lance agreed. “King is cantankerous and tight-lipped, but he’s always been a straight shooter in my dealings with him.”

A few minutes later, Lance turned into the entrance to Fiona’s apartment complex and parked. He and Morgan walked to a door on the first floor of a plain brick building. Morgan had called ahead. Fiona was home and expecting them.

She opened her door on the first knock. “Come in.”

The apartment was a square. A small eat-in kitchen opened to a living room. A hallway presumably led to the single bedroom and bath. Through sliding glass doors, a tiny patio overlooked a strip of grass and the parking lot beyond. No fancy views.

The best word to describe Fiona was cute. Dressed in yoga pants and an oversize shirt, she was a little thing—maybe an inch over five feet tall—perky and fit, with big brown eyes and curly brown hair cut short.

After offering them coffee, which they declined, she sat on a futon-type sofa and curled her legs underneath her body in a way that made Lance’s knees hurt.

Morgan sat on the futon with Fiona while Lance eased carefully into a modern, metal-framed chair that looked as if it might snap shut at any moment.

“Where did you meet Chelsea?” Morgan started.

Fiona shifted her position and hugged her knees to her chest. “At the yoga studio. I teach there a few nights a week.”

Lance leaned forward, resting his forearms on his thighs. “How often did Chelsea come to class?”

“Before she had William, she came three times a week. She practiced right up until she gave birth,” Fiona said. “But afterward, she was a mess.”

“Babies are a handful,” Morgan commiserated. “And I hear William is particularly difficult.”

Fiona’s lips mashed flat. “Especially if your husband makes no attempt to help. I don’t understand why Chelsea put up with him. She did everything.”

Morgan tilted her head and nodded.

Tim might not have helped much with the baby, but he clearly went to work and paid the bills. But Lance was not going to argue. He kept his mouth firmly shut. Arguing with a witness wasn’t the best way to encourage the free flow of information.

Anger sharpened Fiona’s tone. “I stopped by to see her a couple of times a week. All she did was cry. I was worried she had postpartum depression.”

“Did you talk to her about it?” Morgan asked.

Fiona nodded, her eyes shining with moisture. She grabbed a tissue from a box on the coffee table and blotted her eyes. “I did. I tried to get her to see a psychiatrist. She said she just needed some sleep.” Fiona blew her nose. “In Tim’s defense, the baby wouldn’t drink from a bottle, and Chelsea refused to be firm. She gave in every time. She’s a pushover when it comes to her kids. I kept telling her if she was out of the house, the baby would figure it out.” Fiona lowered the tissue to her lap. “And Tim would have to do more.”

“You don’t think Tim had anything to do with her disappearance, do you?” Lance asked.

Fiona looked horrified. “No. God. No. I didn’t mean anything like that. Tim’s a perfectly nice guy. He’s just clueless and, frankly, a little whiny.”

Morgan leaned forward a little. “Fiona, I hate to even ask this, but I have to.”

Fiona’s eyes opened wide. “What?”

“Is there any chance that Chelsea was so desperate that she needed to get away for a little while?”

“Are you asking me if Chelsea left her family?” Fiona asked.

“Yes.” Morgan nodded. “Part of lending fresh eyes to the case means we have to consider every possibility.”

Fiona shook her head hard. “No. No way. Chelsea loves those kids to death. She’d never leave them.”

“What about Tim? Would she ever leave Tim?” Morgan asked.

“I don’t think so.” But Fiona didn’t seem as adamant. “She excuses everything he does. ‘Tim goes to work all day. Tim’s tired. He’s great with Bella.’ That sort of thing. But even as she says it, you can tell she doesn’t think he helps out enough. But even if she was mad at Tim, she would never leave her kids.”

Morgan nodded. “She sounds like a wonderful mom and wife.”

“She is.” Fiona sniffed again.

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