Page 83 of Bayou Hero

“And I cringed appropriately. But I worked late. I just got home, and I’m hungry.”

He snorted before returning to the conversation. “How do you figure Camilla’s killed in the middle of the night?”

“Because somebody would have noticed her being stuffed into the crypt, either unconscious and unwieldy or screaming and fighting, during daylight hours.”

“Yeah, right. Even in the middle of the morning, we got no more evidence or witnesses than we have from the middle of the night. That garage has exits on three different streets. Anyone could have walked in there.”

“Security cameras?”

“No view where the attack took place. We got a picture near the stairs. A navy blue rain slicker with the hood pulled up, jeans, running shoes. We can’t even tell how big the guy is ’cause the slicker’s way too big.”

“Have you warned Anderson and Grayson?”

A grin came into Jimmy’s voice. “Did that personally this afternoon when we served search warrants on ’em. Grayson pretended the murders and Gaudette’s attempted murder couldn’t possibly have anything to do with him, and Anderson looked like you on a cruise with no seasick medicine.”

His reference to the first two days of their honeymoon cruise—her stuck in the cabin developing an intimate relationship with the toilet—made her grimace. She hadn’t been able to eat a thing those days, which had turned bad luck into cruel and unusual punishment. As if being married to Jimmy hadn’t turned out to be cruelty enough.

“I did the search at Gaudette’s house and didn’t find anything incriminating, though we haven’t even made a dint in his financials. We’ve got teams on everyone else’s houses and offices. Oh, yeah, Wallace’s youngest daughter showed up at Murphy’s desk this morning, too drunk to walk straight. She confirmed what Landry told you. I guess she had to take the edge off—and get out from under her sister’s evil eye—to be able to talk about it.”

Alia felt a bit of relief that someone was standing by Landry’s story, along with a whole lot of sadness. How many lives had the bastards ruined? Landry would be okay—was okay. But what about Mary Ellen? This girl? All the others? Would they ever recover enough to live normal lives themselves? And the one who’d suicided right out of high school—she never even had the chance to try.

“Did she have any idea where they were getting their current victims?”

“Murphy asked her that, she got hysterical and he didn’t get anything else out of her. Had to have an officer take her home.”

“I broached the subject with Landry, and it freaked him out. He’d just assumed it started and ended with their own kids. He didn’t have a clue that they were probably still doing it.” She heaved a sigh. “The only thing he could say was that his nieces were safe because of their ages.”

Jimmy was quiet a moment, other voices in the background. She would bet he was still at work, paperwork covering his desk, file cabinets and the wall behind him, looking for some little detail that had eluded him. She understood the compulsion. She’d love to get a grip on that little detail, too.

“Speaking of Mary Ellen...”

They hadn’t been, but she’d mentioned the nieces, so that was close enough.

“I take it he didn’t tell you that she tried to kill herself at that fancy school.”

Alia’s eyes opened wide. She pictured the only Mary Ellen she’d seen: sorrowful, naive, gentle, adoring her family. And yet, at thirteen, she’d hated her life so fiercely that she’d wanted to die. Hadn’t just thought so, but had acted on it.

“No. He said she hated being away from home, but nothing about that.”

“Maybe he doesn’t know. That family was damn good at keeping secrets. It was about three months after she got there. She washed down a handful of pills with a bottle of gin, but her roommate found her. She did the next few months of classes under the care of the resident psychiatrist.”

Camilla’s drink of choice, Alia thought. Like mother, like daughter. “A resident psychiatrist...jeez, they say being rich comes with its own problems, but at least they can afford to deal with them.”

“When they want to. Look at our guys. All richer than sin, all crazy sick perverts, and they didn’t use a dime of their fortunes to cure themselves. Just to cover up their crimes. Funny thing about the suicide attempt—” of course there was no humor in his tone “—she denied she did it. Not just lied about it, but swore she hadn’t taken the pills or drunk the booze. Swore it on her life, and no one could change her story.”