Her Last Goodbye Page 17

Morgan began, “We just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about Tim Clark.”

Kirk played with a skateboard wheel, brushing it with his fingers and watching it spin. “Sure.”

“How long have you worked with Tim?” Lance asked.

Irritation flashed across Kirk’s face. His gaze passed across Lance’s face for a quick second, then dropped to stare at the center of his chest. “Dunno exactly. Maybe two years.”

“Do you and Tim get along?” Lance kept his voice conversational.

One of Kirk’s shoulders lifted and dropped. “Sure. Tim’s OK.”

Morgan set her clasped hands on the table in front of her. “Do you know his wife, Chelsea?”

Kirk’s gaze moved to her hands. “Yeah.”

“Do you like her?” Morgan pressed.

Despite her gentle tone, Kirk seemed to shrink, his shoulders caving in as his weight shifted back in the chair. “I guess.” He swatted the wheel of his skateboard three times. It spun with a soft whir.

“Is she nice to you?” Morgan twirled her thumbs.

Kirk seemed transfixed by the movement. “She’s nice to everybody.”

Despite his limited social skills, the kid was bright enough to know he was in the hot seat.

“Have you ever talked to her?” Morgan asked.

“Not really.” Kirk tugged at the neck of his T-shirt. “Just hi and stuff.”

Morgan kept moving her thumbs. “Did you see her at the last company function?”

“Yeah. She brought the kids. I like kids.” Kirk’s tone brightened.

“Everyone says Chelsea is a great mother,” Morgan fished.

Kirk agreed with an emphatic nod. “She is.”

“It’s such a shame she’s missing,” Lance said in a tough voice, playing off Morgan’s good detective persona.

Kirk’s face fell. He looked like he was going to cry.

“We’re trying to find her.” Morgan unclasped her hands and reached into her bag at her feet. She slid a business card across the table.

Kirk stared at it.

“Would you please call me if you think of anything that might help us?”

Instead of answering, Kirk took the card and slipped it into the back pocket of his skinny jeans.

“Thank you for talking to us, Kirk.” Morgan smiled. “Would you let Elliot know we’re ready for the next interviewee?”

Kirk grabbed his skateboard and rushed for the exit.

“Oh, Kirk?” Morgan asked. “You don’t happen to remember where you were last Friday night, do you? We’re asking everyone.” She shot him a halogen-bright smile.

Kirk blushed. “I was online playing World of Warcraft.”

“People still play that?” Lance asked. “I thought everyone was into Call of Duty, Overlook, and Destiny now.”

Kirk nodded. “I play those too.”

“Were you playing alone?” Morgan treated him to another smile.

“No. Well, yes.” He flushed, his hands clenching the edge of the board. “I was playing online with some friends.”

“But you weren’t all in the same physical place,” Lance clarified.

Kirk shook his head. “No.”

“Thanks, Kirk,” Morgan said.

Kirk ducked out of the room. Outside the door, he tossed his skateboard onto the concrete and jumped aboard. His body had the finally-free posture of a kid leaving the principal’s office.

Lance and Morgan interviewed the remaining five members of Tim’s team without discovering anything interesting, other than they all alibied each other.

Lance and Morgan finished with the last interview, and Barbara escorted them to the lobby.

Outside, street lamps cast puddles of yellow light on the parking lot blacktop. The temperature had dropped, and the air smelled of burning wood. Morgan buttoned her coat and hunched her shoulders against the cold as they walked to the Jeep. “Isn’t that Elliot’s brother, Derek?”

He followed her gaze to a man clad in jeans, a leather jacket, and a knit hat walking across the parking lot. “Yes.”

“Shall we ask him about last Friday night?” As she asked the question, Morgan was already veering off course toward him.

“Hi.” She flashed him a megawatt smile.

He nodded. “Can I help you?”

Morgan introduced them. Lance kept his mouth shut. Most young men responded better to her than to him, especially when she turned on the charm.

“I know who you are,” Derek said. “Everyone inside was talking about you.”

“We just wanted to confirm that Elliot was with you last Friday night,” Morgan said. “You went out to dinner?”

Lance appreciated her attempt to catch Elliot if he had been lying.

Derek shook his head. “No. We just hung out at my place. I was tuning up my road bike.” He glanced back at the building and frowned. “Elliot hasn’t been himself since Candace died. I don’t like to see him spend too much time alone.”

“He must have been heartbroken,” Morgan empathized.

“He was.” Derek nodded. “I think if you have any more questions about Elliot’s wife, you’d better ask him, but I’ll tell you right now, Elliot wouldn’t hurt anybody. He takes care of people.”

Morgan thanked him. Lance led her back to the Jeep, and they got in.

“At least he verified Elliot’s alibi. Though they’re brothers, so we have to take that into consideration.” Morgan closed her door and shivered. “Poor Elliot. Twenty-seven is young to be a widower.”

“It would be devastating at any age, but it must have been a huge shock for him. It’s a wonder he could function to run his company.”

“Maybe he used it as a diversion. It’s best to keep busy.” Morgan would know. She’d only been thirty-one when her husband had died. No doubt her focus on her children had gotten her through.

He started the engine. “Kirk Armani seemed pretty happy to get away from us.”

“He’s on the autism spectrum, so I wouldn’t read too much into his body language.” Morgan fastened her seat belt. “Just being forced to talk to two strangers would be very stressful for him.”

“But he got more uncomfortable when we asked about Chelsea.”

“True. But given that she’s missing, that’s natural. He’s obviously extremely intelligent. We’ll see what turns up in his background check.” Morgan cupped her hands in front of her face and exhaled into them. “Do you think there’s any possibility that someone kidnapped Chelsea to get information from Tim?”

“Then why would Tim come to us to find his wife?”

“I don’t know.” She rubbed her palms together. “And we don’t have a ransom note.”

“No, and it’s been five days since Chelsea disappeared.” Lance reached across the console and took Morgan’s hand in his. Her fingers were freezing. He rubbed her hand between his palms for a few seconds then released it to drive out of the parking lot.

“What if the kidnapper wants to wait until police interest in the case dies down?”

“Typically, the opposite happens. They contact the family immediately to prevent the police from being involved at all.”

Morgan’s thinking line creased the bridge of her nose. “What’s your impression of Elliot?”

“Smart. Ambitious. Workaholic.” The air streaming from the vents warmed, and Lance turned the heater on high.

“His only alibi is his brother, though I can’t come up with any reason Elliot would hurt Chelsea.” Morgan stretched her hands toward the heat vents in the dashboard. “But we should find out more about his wife’s death.”

“I’ll let my mother know, though I’m sure she’ll find it on her own.” Lance checked the clock on the dashboard. It was almost eight thirty. “I’ll drop off the list of Speed Net employees tonight. It’ll be a good excuse for the extra visit.” He usually stopped to see his mom once a day.

Heat filled the vehicle until Lance was nearly sweating.

But Morgan settled deeper into her seat with a contented sigh. “I doubt his employees get along as well as he claims. There’s always workplace drama.”

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