I remember the flash of an image I found myself, searching through the archives at the downtown station hard drive. It was all the information Kent, one of the detectives we keep on our payroll, had to give.
“Fucking brutal,” I murmur. The remains were charred, but some of the bones were broken before being burned.
“She was tortured, but time of death couldn’t be determined.”
“I already know this. Get to something I don’t know.”
He starts to speak, but before he can even suck in the air needed for the first word, I ask, “Did you find anything on the sister?”
My fingers rap on the desk, one at a time with brief pauses, one after the other. As if it’s only a casual conversation.
At my nod, he begins. “Jennifer was born out of wedlock to a Catherine Parks. Shortly after her birth, her mother and father got hitched, then conceived Bethany. Not long after her birth, the father took off. Leaving their mom with no job, a toddler and an infant.”
“Where did he go?”
“Nebraska, where he died of a heart attack in a casino three years ago.”
“Did they keep in touch?”
“Not a word,” Seth answers professionally, but his eyes are questioning.
“Bethany Fawn, the younger of the two, did well in school. And it seems like that was all she was interested in. She’s a nurse on the psych ward at Rockford. She’s worked there since she graduated. Apparently her mother had issues in the last years of her life and she chose this path because of it. Her sister–”
“What issues?” Again, I cut him off midbreath.
“How old was she?”
“Bethany? Twenty. Her mother was fifty-two when she died.”
I watched my mother die slowly, but I was young. Cancer is a bitch. I can only imagine being more aware and having to go through that. Being old enough to understand. Back when I was a kid, I was sure Mom was going to get better. Knowing there is no getting better and having to watch someone you love slowly die? That’s a cruel way to live. A cruel way to die as well. But that’s life, isn’t it?
“One thing you may find interesting is that she was spotted with you recently,” Seth says and sits back further in his seat. It’s the only note on her in the entire department. “A possible associate.”
“And who put that in? Our new friend, Walsh?” I surmise.
“You got it,” he says and snaps his fingers. “And you two aren’t the only ones doing some digging. Miss Fawn’s search history is interesting … limited, but interesting.”
“Is that right?” I ask, bringing my thumb up to run along my chin.
“Little Miss Fawn was looking you up and Officer Walsh after he paid her a visit.”
I shrug impatiently, and Seth continues.
“She didn’t find much, obviously, since there’s nothing on the internet to find… although it seems she’s interested in Angie. She’s searching for pictures of her, doesn’t look like she knows her name. Jase Cross with brunette. Jase Cross lover. Jase Cross date. Things like that.”
“Angie?” The only piece of information that surprises me so far is this. “Why?”
“I guess she saw her with you in pictures online. But she doesn’t have her name, or any information on her.”
Who do I remind you of? I remember her question last night. That’s why.
“Shit.” I breathe out the word. “Anything else?” I ask him, ignoring the dread, the regret, the deep-seated hate for myself because of everything that happened four years ago. All of those ghosts belong in the past. They can stay there too.
Seth passes me a folder; opening it up reveals six profiles. All are of women in their late twenties, and two I recognize from the club. Jennifer is the first. The second is Miranda. She’s gotten thrown out a handful of times. Too high to know she was messing with the wrong guys. Causing problems that aren’t easy to fix.
“She ran with quite a crowd,” I comment as I sift through the papers, reading one charge after the next and notes about the men they each were associated with. Men I don’t trust or like.
“You could say that. It was all recent though. She only came into the scene this past year,” Seth comments and leans back in his seat. The leather protests as he does. “College grad who struggled to keep a job after school. Taking one after the next. All had nothing to do with her degree.”
“Quit or fired?”
“She quit them all. Everyone I talked to said they loved her, but they knew she wasn’t going to stay long. It wasn’t interesting enough for her,” he says but forms air quotes around the word “interesting.”
“You think that’s why she quit them? Boredom?”
“I’m guessing she just needed to pay her bills.” He shrugs. “From what I gather she was eccentric and wanted to solve the world’s problems. The last job she had was working at The Bistro across the turnpike.”