She shook her head. “He was all she needed, and she was—” almost “—all he needed. We didn’t socialize.”
“What about parents of the kids at school?” Detective Harper asked.
“I didn’t go to school.”
“Church folks? Neighbors? Coworkers?”
She breathed slowly through her nose. She needed to be careful. Sam hadn’t read The Unlucky Ones, and she doubted either detective had had time for it, either, but Officer Gideon—Lois—had read part of it. How much, and how much detail she remembered, Mila had no clue, but she couldn’t give them enough information to spark her memory. “No one. They were each other’s life. They didn’t need anyone else.”
Except when it was hunting time. They had tried it with her mother luring the victims, but it hadn’t worked very well. She was always excitable, too bright-eyed and a little bit crazy with anticipation. The sort of women who appealed to her father looked at her mother with disdain and distrust. That was why he’d brought Mila into the game. If they had to keep her around, she ought to be good for something.
“She’s right.” Gramma spoke up, her eyes red but her tears gone. “Lindy and Joshua…they were disturbed. They had their own little world, and there wasn’t room in it for anyone else. From the time they began dating, it was just the two of them. She gave up all her friends. I don’t know if he ever had any. They fed off each other. It was all they wanted.”
As Ben made notes, Mila wondered what, if any, information he would find on her mother and father. Lindy and Joshua weren’t the names they had died using, weren’t the names they were buried under. If they located a Lindy Ramirez, she wouldn’t be related to Mila. And if that led them to search for Milagro Ramirez…
She ground her teeth against the shudders trying to ricochet through her.
Sam settled his gaze on Gramma. “You’re convinced that no one who was part of their life could be behind what happened yesterday.”
“And you, Mila?”
“There was no one. Truly.” She decided to risk a play for sympathy. “If there had been, maybe Gramma would have found me a lot quicker. Maybe they would have stopped doing…the things they did.”
It didn’t feel good, but she did score sympathy in his intense blue gaze, along with regret and sadness and pain. It was in his touch when he patted her arm, and in the air of frustration that simmered the air around him.
“So the wording on the note was coincidence,” Daniel said. “It’s not like thousands of people haven’t said it thousands of times. It wasn’t a reminder. Just a warning.”
“Which makes the theory that she saw something at the Carlyle house look better,” said Ben.
Mila’s breath caught in her chest. Was that it? No questions about names or places, no wanting details to confirm their deaths, no digging into her past? She was so relieved that it took her a moment to realize she should be saying something. She shrugged unconvincingly and shook her head. “But I didn’t see anything.”
“We think the killer believes you did,” Sam said.
“Did you hear anything? Footsteps, a door closing, rustling?” That came from Daniel.
She closed her eyes, putting herself back on the scene. “I was thinking how good a quick dip in the pool would feel, and then I stopped to look at the view. I always do. On top of the hill like that, the valley, the town, Tulsa in the distance…”
Now Ben. Tag-team detectives. “Did you look around the yard? Did you notice the fence across the back?”
She opened her eyes again. “Just that it was there.”
“The entire back of that house is glass. Did you see anyone inside? Shadows, a hint of movement?”
She shook her head. “The house doesn’t interest me.”
“Was there any sign that anyone else had been there? A glass on a table? A chair out of place? The smell of aftershave or perfume?”
Just the smells of flowers and blood.
“I don’t remember anything. I was there to do the job. I only noticed Mr. Carlyle because he was out of place. But I didn’t see anyone or anything else that was worth noticing.”