“Mila,” he murmured more to himself than Ben. Why? Of the twenty-five thousand people in town, why her?
“Milagro Ramirez.” Ben’s confirmation was flat. “Quite a coincidence, huh.”
Lois was waiting at the foot of the broad steps that led into police headquarters. She looked as grim on the outside as Sam felt inside. “Victim is Curt Greeley. Lives out at the old Burnett place set back off Highway 66. Remember, he fought the extension of the city limits out there. Said if he’d wanted to be in the city, he would have bought in the city.”
And had been pretty pissed off about losing the fight. “I remember. He said he’d have the council’s jobs and mine, too.”
Ben snorted derisively. “If we had a dollar for every time someone’s told us that…”
“Hell, no one wants our job,” Lois said, covering the ground to the parking lot with long strides. “Not for what they pay us. Tucker and Simpson were first on the scene, Sam, and Fire Rescue’s out there, too, though there’s no one to resuscitate except maybe the woman. She was awfully shaken.”
“Yeah,” Ben said. “Maybe.”
Sam cast him a look before angling off to his truck, parked in his reserved space. He didn’t wait to get his seat belt fastened before flipping on the lights and siren and shifting into gear.
It was Ben’s job to be suspicious, he reminded himself as he headed west down a side street with less traffic than First Street. It was his job, too, but Mila wasn’t the cold-blooded killer type. She’d had no motive to kill Evan Carlyle, and even though Curt Greeley was one of the meanest SOBs in town, people managed to deal with him every day without resorting to murder. He was sure Mila gritted her teeth, made an effort not to offend him and escaped his company as quickly as possible. Just like everyone else did.
Sam’s phone rang, and he glanced at caller ID before answering. “Yeah, Ben.” The car radios were handy, as were the microphones clipped onto their uniforms, but cells were great for convenience and privacy.
“What do you know about Greeley?”
“He was buddies with my uncle Hank and my cousin Zee back in the day. He was arrogant and obnoxious, and the more money he made, the worse he got. Even Zee wouldn’t have anything to do with him after a while.”
Ben’s grunt was simple but enough. Zee was a well-known waste of space who would hang out with a rabid skunk if the skunk could put up with him. Zee had no standards. When he dropped a person, that person had no hope. He’d become the lowest of the low.
“Family?” Ben asked.
“Used to be. Wife left him about eight years ago and took the kids. Very ugly, very public. Rumor said it was a huge blow to his ego because he’d never lost anything before, and it left him a little unhinged.”
“Everyone who ever met the man.”
“Great. No one with an obvious grudge against the first victim, everyone with a grudge against the second.”
“Better start making those lists, Ben,” Sam teased before disconnecting. The Greeley house was little more than a mile past the edge of town, barely a quarter mile inside the new city limits. He shut off the siren but kept the lights on as he turned into the long drive.
The house was a bona fide Southern mansion, rescued from a hundred years’ neglect on the banks of the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana and moved to its current location. Even back in the ’50s, the move had cost a fortune, but the doctor behind it had spared no expense. His beloved wife had had a thing for the Deep South, and he’d been happy to bring a small portion of it to Oklahoma for her.
Sam’s mom had called the doctor and his wife a true love story. After their deaths, Curt and Charlaine Greeley had bought the place. He seriously doubted the story they’d lived out had had much love in it. Curt had been all about power and control and humiliating the people around him.
Sam pulled off the driveway and parked in the grass next to the Fire Rescue truck, giving them room to leave if they got a call. The familiar Happy Grass pickup was parked closest to the garage, a fire engine behind them, an ambulance to the side. Its rear doors were open, and the paramedics were fussing over a dark-haired woman wrapped in a cotton blanket. Mila?