Vanished in the Night(17)

By: Eileen Carr

It was as good a place to start as any.

McKnight hadn’t expected to see her here. Veronica had noticed his careful, blank expression when he’d seen her behind her father, and his momentary hesitation. It gave her a small sense of satisfaction. He’d shaken her up plenty in the last twenty-four hours. She was glad to have her turn.

McKnight hadn’t answered her when she’d asked what they were looking for. She hated that. She hated not knowing. It didn’t make her a control freak; she just needed information. It was her number one frustration in the emergency room. Patients lied. Or they left things out. Or they played things down. Or up. She could deal with anything the world threw at her, if she had the information necessary to process it.

She needed information now. What were they looking for? What did they need? She glanced at her watch. It was eight forty-five, and she longed for her memory foam pillow and the Tempur-Pedic topper on her bed. She heaved herself up off the couch and went out to the back porch in time to hear Rodriguez tell McKnight that it would be nice to shake her father up a little.

She stared after them in disbelief as they headed into the toolshed. The bastards. All they wanted to do was yank her father’s chain? That was what this was about?

She marched after them to the doorway of the shed. “You can’t seriously believe that my father is a suspect, can you?”

Rodriguez and McKnight both turned to look at her. “What makes you think that he’s a suspect?” McKnight asked.

“Because you’re searching his house. That was kind of my first clue.” Did he think she was dim?

“It was also Max’s last-known residence before he was sent away. There might be some clue as to where he would have gone after he ran away.” McKnight came to the doorway of the shed, blocking her view into it and her entry.

“In my father’s toolshed?” She knew he was trying to get her to back away from the door by standing so close. To hell with him. She stood her ground.

“In your father’s toolshed, under your father’s floorboards, behind your father’s dryer. Wherever we need to search.” He didn’t raise his voice, but he didn’t back down, either. “We have a warrant. You need to let us do our jobs.”

Fine. She could be reasonable, too. “Look. I understand that my father is . . . difficult.”

She heard Rodriguez snort from inside the shed and ignored it. She knew another side to her father, though it didn’t come out much. “He wouldn’t have done anything to Max. If he says Max never came back here, then he never came back.”

“With all due respect, Ms. Osborne, you know full well that your father is a violent man. How many fights has he been in over the past six months? Is it him paying off the bar owners, or is it you? What about bail? Who posts that? Based on how you greeted us yesterday, I’m pretty sure it’s you and that you’re tired of it. With your father’s track record, yeah, he’s a suspect.” He looked down at her. His eyes were not unkind, but they were unflinching. “Coupled with what you already told us about your brother and father not getting along . . .”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You’re using my words against my father? Isn’t there some kind of law against that?”

“You’re thinking about husbands and wives in a court of law. They don’t have to testify against each other,” Rodriguez called from the back of the shed. “Not applicable in this case.”

The urge to tell them both what they could make applicable to themselves and where they could apply it was damn near overwhelming. She walked away, her clenched fists down at her sides.

Zach watched her walk away. Not many women could fill out a set of scrubs in a way that interested him. This one did. Too bad she was clearly furious. It would have been so much better to meet her, say, through work. Maybe he’d be coming in to question a gunshot victim and she’d be there. Their eyes would meet, and . . .

Damn, his fantasy life was nearly as pathetic as his actual love life. He’d just gotten bored. Hookups with Badge Bunnies were too easy and didn’t mean crap. He’d rather watch the game than deal with the drama and the bullshit that seemed to go along with it.