Her Last Goodbye Page 49

Stella left. Morgan and Lance were buzzed through the double doors into the ICU. They went into Art’s glassed-in room. He looked small, and the machines surrounding him were intimidating.

Morgan went to his side, leaned over to kiss his cheek, then found his hand under the blanket and gave it a gentle squeeze. A tear rolled down her cheek. She sniffed and brushed it away.

A nurse came in and checked his vital signs. “Try not to panic.”

“But he hasn’t woken up,” Morgan said, her face pale enough to break Lance’s heart.

“His body needs rest.” The nurse wrote on his chart. “We haven’t seen a repeat of the blood pressure issue or heart arrhythmia that occurred during the surgery. He’s been stable all day. Give him some time. At his age, his body won’t bounce back from the injury or the anesthesia quickly.”

“Thank you,” Morgan said.

“I’ll be right outside the door if you need me.” The nurse left. Grandpa’s room was across from the nurses’ station.

Morgan settled in a chair by the bed. Lance pulled a chair up next to hers. She opened her giant bag and pulled out a stack of files.

“You’re not going to read to him?”

“I’ll read him our case notes. That’ll interest him more than anything else.” She handed Lance a stack of reports. “Maybe he’ll wake up and point out a clue we missed.”

The sheer volume of information was staggering. But four hours later, they’d reviewed most of their case notes and found nothing.

Her phone vibrated. “It’s Stella.” She answered the call. The conversation was brief. She ended the call with an angry stab to her phone screen. “The SFPD has been ordered to stay away from Harold Burns. His lawyer filed a harassment suit against the township.”

“Now he can do whatever he wants without anyone knowing about it.”

“Yes.” Morgan lowered the phone and paced the hospital room. “The DA had no choice but to rein Horner in, especially after the disaster last month.”

Morgan’s neighbor had almost died in jail after being falsely arrested and imprisoned.

“The press was relentless on the DA and Horner,” Lance said.

“They don’t have any options.” Morgan stopped pacing and pressed her palms to her eyes. “There’s no evidence against Burns. None.”

“Morgan?” A low voice came from the doorway.

Though he’d never met Peyton, Lance had no doubt the young woman who entered the room was Morgan’s younger sister. Peyton had the same black hair and blue eyes as Morgan and Stella, though she was a head shorter. Age-wise, at thirty-two, Peyton was sandwiched between her sisters. She wore dark jeans, knee-high boots, and a black sweater.

The sisters hugged, teary-eyed.

Morgan introduced them, and Lance felt Peyton’s scrutiny. The third Dane sister might not be a cop, but as a forensic psychiatrist she was no less assessing.

Peyton went to her grandfather’s side. She kissed his cheek, then stood back and scanned the monitors before picking up his chart and flipping through the pages.

“I’m so glad you’re here.” Morgan stood next to her sister. “The doctor should be in soon. You’ll understand the medical terms better than me.”

“I checked at the desk,” Peyton said. “He’ll be here in about twenty minutes.”

Morgan peered over her sister’s shoulder. “How does he look?”

“The fact that he’s been stable is a good sign.” Peyton took her grandfather’s hand. “I miss him.”

“He understands.” Morgan rubbed her sister’s shoulder.

“I know, but that doesn’t change the fact that I haven’t seen him in ages.” Peyton shook her head and turned to Morgan. “You look terrible. Go home. Have some dinner. Get some sleep. I’ll stay with him tonight. I promise I will text you immediately if there’s any change in his condition.”

“All right.” Morgan stepped back and gathered her files, stuffing them into her big bag.

They said their goodbyes, then Lance escorted her down the hall and through the secure doors to the main hallway. They didn’t speak until they were in his Jeep.

Darkness had fallen. At seven in the evening, the parking lot was bathed in the white glow of overhead lights.

“You need to eat.” Lance had eaten a couple of protein bars in the hospital, but Morgan had refused.

Morgan’s phone buzzed. “It’s Tim.”

She answered the call. “How’s Chelsea?”

Lance could hear Tim’s response over the connection. “She just woke up. I’m sorry. I missed your earlier message. I had to give Chelsea a sedative. She freaked out as soon as we pulled into the driveway.”

Where she’d been abducted . . .

“How is she now?” Morgan asked. “We’d like to stop by and ask her a few questions.”

“Hold on.” A pause suggested Tim was asking his wife. A moment later he came back on the line. “She says yes.”

“We’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.” Morgan ended the call. “Let’s go see what Chelsea remembers.”

Chapter Thirty-Five

“We’d like to ask you a few questions.” Morgan studied the Clarks over the coffee table in their living room. Dressed in a cozy sweater and yoga pants, Chelsea held her baby in her arms. Tim and Bella flanked her on the sofa. Bella curled up into her mother; Tim’s shoulder pressed into his wife’s.

Their connection went beyond physical touch. Morgan could feel their bond, their unity, from across the six feet of space that separated her and Lance from the family.

“Bella, it’s time for your bath,” Chelsea’s mother called from the doorway and held out her hand toward the little girl. Chelsea’s father stood behind his wife, looking lost, as if he didn’t know what to do.

Bella hesitated, looking up at her mother, and Morgan’s heart bumped in her chest. The poor child was confused and vulnerable.

Chelsea gave her daughter a one-armed hug. “Go with Grandma. I’ll read you a story after your bath.”

The little girl obeyed, casting a reluctant glance back at Chelsea as she left the room with her grandmother.

“Dad, would you take William?” Chelsea asked.

“Of course. He’s starting to like me.” Her father seemed relieved to have a task. He took the baby. “We’ll hang out with Bella and Grandma.”

After her father and son had left the room, Chelsea turned back to Lance and Morgan. “We’re taking it one day—sometimes one moment—at a time. I’m grateful to be home.”

The damage to Chelsea’s body was easy to assess. Every inch of exposed skin was mottled with swelling, healing abrasions, and bruises in varying shades of purple and green. But despite her damaged face, behind the fear and anger, determination shone from her eyes.

He’d beaten her body, but not her spirit.

“Reporters were outside when we came home.” Tim reached for his wife’s hand. “The sheriff made them leave.”

For once, Morgan appreciated Sheriff King’s intimidating and unyielding nature.

“I want him caught. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder,” Chelsea said. “I don’t know if I can take that.”

“You should invest in a good security system,” Lance said. “We can give you some recommendations.”

“Please,” Tim said.

“We might want to move.” Chelsea’s gaze wandered to the window. “I don’t know if I can stay here after . . .”

After she’d been abducted from her own driveway.

Chelsea shook her head. “Now what do you need to know? I’ll try to answer the best I can.”

“What do you remember about the man or the place you were held?” Lance asked.

“I was in a storage container.” Chelsea described finding a nail, picking the lock on her chains, and escaping through a rust hole in the roof. “The container was in a clearing, but there were tree branches overhead and a cabin or small house nearby.” Chelsea closed her eyes for a moment. “I’m sorry. It was dark. Once I was out, and I heard him coming after me, I just ran.”

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