Home > Her Last Goodbye (Morgan Dane #2)(15)

Her Last Goodbye (Morgan Dane #2)(15)
Author: Melinda Leigh

“Maybe I should do the background checks,” Lance said.

“No.” His mom put a possessive hand flat on the file as if he were going to snatch it away. “Do you want me to do a deep dig on the husband?”

His mom’s precarious mental state often camouflaged her intelligence. She knew Tim would be a suspect despite the fact that he’d hired them.

“Yes,” he said.

“Hi, Jennifer.” Morgan walked into the room. She’d come with Lance but had been in the kitchen putting away groceries they’d brought. Knowing Morgan, she’d also taken stock of mom’s supplies.

Lance’s mom’s face went as bright as the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. He needed to have a talk with her. She was clearly building up unreasonable expectations about his relationship with Morgan.

How could he ever have a real life? There were too many variables to predict his mother’s reaction.

Damn it.

He should never have introduced them. His intentions had been good. Morgan would give his mother another person to interact with besides him and Sharp and the package delivery man.

Now if things didn’t work out between him and Morgan, his mother was going to be disappointed. Who knew how she would handle it? And what if she got her hopes up about having grandchildren and that didn’t pan out. Could she even handle grandchildren?

Why was he thinking about giving her grandchildren?

Suddenly hot, Lance pulled at the neck of his T-shirt. The room felt small. Morgan already had three kids.


Her life was a 24/7 power play to the kids’ advantage. Would she want more? Why was he even thinking about this?

His mom stood, leaned over the desk, and touched Morgan’s arm. It wasn’t quite a hug, but it was the most physical contact his mom had had with a human other than him or Sharp in a long time.

Morgan returned the touch, as usual letting his mother set the boundaries. “I hope you don’t mind. I started a pot of coffee, and we brought apple pie.”

Mom beamed. “Of course I don’t mind. I love pie.”

That, at least, was the truth.

Dropping back into her seat, his mom waved at the file in front of her. “This is just a list of names. Tell me more about the case. Did Chelsea Clark really just disappear into thin air?”

Like his dad.

“We don’t have enough information to say yet.” Morgan smiled.

His mom nodded, her face grim.

“I could really go for some pie.” Morgan shot Lance a worried glance. “Why don’t we talk in the kitchen?”

Morgan and Lance took twenty minutes to fill his mom in on the necessary details of the case. His mother ate an entire slice of pie, which eased his mind. Anxiety dampened her appetite. So her being able to eat was a good sign.

“You’re sure you don’t mind doing those background checks?” he asked his mom.

“I want to do them. I get bored.” She kissed him goodbye and then shooed them toward the door.

Outside, Lance stood on the front step and stared at the closed door. The he dug his phone from his pocket and called Sharp. “Would you mind stopping in to see my mom?”

“Tonight?” Sharp asked.

“It’s not an emergency.” Lance glanced back at the house.


“She seemed . . . off.” Lance wanted another opinion. Sharp was less paranoid.

“I’ll go tonight,” Sharp said.

“Thanks.” Lance ended the call. He would check on his mom later too.

“What’s wrong?” Morgan asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe nothing.” Unease filled Lance’s gut.

“She seemed happy. She ate her pie.”

Lance turned and started toward the Jeep. “I know.”

“But you’re afraid the case will remind her of your father.” Morgan fell into step beside him.

“Yes.” Though his mom had seemed off even before he’d brought up the case.

“Do you want to stay with her? I can handle the interview with Fiona.”

He glanced at her. The scarf around her neck hid the bruises, but he knew they were there, darkening by the hour. After today’s incident, he wanted to keep Morgan close. Rationally he knew Tyler Green was safely in custody, but Lance’s feelings for Morgan weren’t always rational.

“No,” he said. “I’ll come back tonight and make sure she’s all right.”

They got into his Jeep, and Morgan read him the address of Fiona West’s apartment.

She fastened her seat belt. “How do you feel about working on a case so similar to your father’s disappearance?”

Lance almost brushed off her question then changed his mind. “I can definitely relate to how Tim’s feeling right now.”

“I’m sure you can.”

He backed out of the driveway and turned the Jeep back toward town. “I still haven’t opened Sharp’s case file on my dad’s investigation.”

A few weeks before, Sharp had turned over the information, saying that it was now up to Lance if he wanted to know the particulars of his father’s disappearance.

Morgan didn’t say anything, but she reached across the console and took his hand.

“I’m afraid I’ll be sucked in,” Lance said. “Or that my mom will somehow find out. The last thing she needs is anything to bring back memories of those years.”

“Do you know any of the details?”

Lance sighed. “I know the basic information. I was only ten when it happened. Sharp shared as much as he thought I could handle. Frankly, there wasn’t much to share. Not many leads ever turned up. Those were the days before cell phones, before surveillance cameras were everywhere, before E-ZPass and GPS made it hard to disappear. People still used cash in the nineties.”

“So why would you dig in to the case?” Morgan asked. “Was there DNA or other physical evidence that could be analyzed with more precision now?”

“I don’t think so.”

Her fingers squeezed his. “Sharp is a good detective, and you said he worked your father’s case for years. I doubt he would have overlooked anything.”

“I know.” But did he? Lance wouldn’t know for sure unless he reviewed the file.

“If anything, there will be less evidence now. Memories fade over time. People will have left their jobs. Twenty-three years is a long time.”

“You’re right.” But could he live with not even trying? Uncomfortable, Lance turned the conversation back to the case. “Tell me about Fiona.”

Morgan opened a file. “Fiona West is twenty-six years old. She works as a fitness instructor and teaches yoga. She’s lived in Scarlet Falls all her life. We don’t have our full background check yet, but the sheriff said they found nothing alarming in her history. King wasn’t the most forthcoming member of law enforcement I’ve dealt with. I have no doubt he held back information on the case, but I don’t think he’d outright lie.”

“Right,” Lance agreed. “King is cantankerous and tight-lipped, but he’s always been a straight shooter in my dealings with him.”

A few minutes later, Lance turned into the entrance to Fiona’s apartment complex and parked. He and Morgan walked to a door on the first floor of a plain brick building. Morgan had called ahead. Fiona was home and expecting them.

She opened her door on the first knock. “Come in.”

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