Home > The Last Sister (Columbia River #1)(6)

The Last Sister (Columbia River #1)(6)
Author: Kendra Elliot

“The sheriff told me it’d been four years since he’d had a murder in his county.”

Scorn shone from her eyes. “That’s no excuse. They should have known how—” She clamped her mouth shut.

“How what?”

“How to secure the scene. Police work 101.” She glanced away. “I was married to a cop for five years. That is basic stuff. It should have been second nature to them.”

“What about when the sheriff arrived?”

“One of the older deputies had things organized by then. Sheriff Greer walked the scene and then talked to me, asking what I’d seen. When he said it looked like a murder-suicide, my jaw nearly hit the ground. I asked if he’d seen the bloody drag marks from the bedroom to the outside. He said it could be from Sean walking outside, or maybe he moved Lindsay around.”

“You noticed the symbol on Sean’s forehead, correct?”

“Yes. When I asked the sheriff about it, he said Sean may have cut himself while killing Lindsay. He told me I was jumping to conclusions by suggesting it was a hate crime.” Emily’s eyes were hard, anger lurking behind them. “That’s when I called the Portland FBI office.”

“I’m glad you did,” Zander told her. “We might not have been notified for another day or two.”

“Did you already talk to the first deputy?”

“My partner is currently interviewing deputies at the sheriff’s office.” He mentally ran through his list of questions for Emily. “Do you know of anyone who would want to hurt the Fitches?”

“No,” she said firmly. “They haven’t been here that long, but our community immediately embraced them. They brought a spark to the town. They were such a cute couple, and Lindsay loved it here.”

“Where did they move from?”

“Portland. I’m not sure where exactly. I think Sean’s family still lives there. I don’t know about Lindsay’s family.” Her forehead wrinkled as she thought. “I can’t remember her talking about them. I didn’t pry.”

“Were you her closest friend in town?”

She frowned. “She considered my sister Madison to be her closest friend.”

He glanced at the old photo of the three sisters. Emily stood out as the brunette between her two blonde sisters. The smallest girl had her arms spread wide and her chin tipped up as if she wanted the photo all for herself. He had no problem believing that she’d grown up to be a tiara-wearing waitress. Emily’s hands were on her hips, her legs long and thin, giving a hint of the tall woman she’d grow up to be. The oldest sister’s smile was coy, her gaze locked on the photographer. “Where’s your other sister?”

Emily turned her head to look at the picture. Zander had the feeling she’d done it to avoid eye contact, not to refresh her thoughts about her sister.

“I don’t know.”

Curiosity lit up his brain. Her tone had been flat, removed, and a distance formed between the two of them in the tiny office. He said nothing, waiting.

Emily finally looked away from the picture after a long silent moment. “Tara left town around twenty years ago. We haven’t heard from her since.”

Twenty years? No contact?

Zander looked back at the photo, and Tara’s coy gaze now felt directed at him.

Someone knocked on the door.

Without getting out of her chair, Emily stretched for the doorknob and easily opened the door. A teenage boy peered around the door, and his hair fell across his eyes. He shoved it out of the way and turned his attention to Emily.

“Hey, Em. Something’s happened to your car out back.”

She straightened. “Like what?” Concern in her tone.

The teenager grimaced. “Looks like they got your tires again.”


“Dammit!” Emily jumped to her feet and grabbed her purse. “We’ll have to finish this later, Agent Wells. I think we got through most of what happened this morning.”

“Call me Zander.” He stood. “I’ll come with you.”

He wasn’t done with Emily Mills.


Fury rocked through Emily as she stared at the two flat tires on her Honda. She pulled up the hood of her coat to avoid the rain and to hide her anger from Zander.

Two weeks ago it’d been four flat tires. And before that a broken passenger window.

What else will happen today?

She ached to go home and shut down her brain. It had experienced enough trauma.

Sucking in a breath, she focused on the issue in front of her. If her mind wandered to Lindsay and Sean, she’d crack.

“I’ve got to install cameras,” she muttered. She’d considered it after the first incident and then again after the second. Now she was kicking herself for letting it slide.

Isaac stood beside her, mist collecting in his hair. “I’m really sorry, Em. People are shit.”

“You didn’t see anyone?” Zander asked Isaac.

Isaac ran a hand through his long hair, and concern shone in his eyes. “No. I was taking a bag to the dumpster. I didn’t notice until I was walking back. I looked around then, but no one was here.”

“Is this where it happened before?” Zander asked her. He turned in a circle, scanning the small employee parking area behind the restaurant. “No cameras?”

“No cameras, and yes. Last time it was all four tires.” Emily swore under her breath. Buying four new tires had hurt. Now she had to find the money for two more. “I should have put up cameras. Would be cheaper than new tires.”

“You’d still have to buy new tires,” Isaac pointed out. “But at least we’d know who did it.”

She noticed Zander’s gaze lingering on Isaac. She understood. Isaac didn’t present the best first impression. His stringy hair was always in his eyes. He slouched. And his jeans always looked a half second away from falling to the ground. But he was a good kid. Emily trusted him.

“Did you report the last incident to the police?” Zander asked.

“No.” Emily felt her face flush. “I didn’t consider it worth their time.”

Zander’s silence felt judgmental.

“Do it this time,” he said quietly. He pointed at the back wall of the restaurant. “For decent coverage, you need a camera there, there, and over there. A couple out front would be a good idea too.”

Five cameras?

“I need to pay for new tires first.” And pay off the other four. “This is ridiculous,” she muttered. “I didn’t need this today.”

“Can I give you a ride somewhere?” Zander offered.

“I hate to take up your time.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll still be working during that time. We weren’t done.”

He grinned, and she blinked at the transformation of his face. The solemn, serious agent looked ten years younger when he smiled.

“In that case, you can drive me home. I’ll borrow one of my aunts’ cars.”

“Barton Mansion?”

Her head jerked toward him in surprise.

“I was there earlier today, looking for you. I met one of your aunts. Vina.”

“Just one? You’re lucky.” Emily crossed her fingers that Vina hadn’t talked his ear off. She looked at Isaac. “Will you tell Madison I’m headed home?”

Isaac gave her a casual salute and strolled toward the back door, hiking up his pants with one hand and stepping over a giant puddle.

“He’s a good kid,” she told Zander, who was watching Isaac with a frown on his face. “I gave him a chance when no one else would, and he’s paid me back tenfold.”

She tensed, waiting for him to contradict her. Instead he pointed at an SUV on the street. “I’m parked over there. Ready?”

Her tension evaporated, but now she was off-balance. She’d automatically expected pushback on her comment about helping Isaac, and it had never come. Her ex would have asserted that Isaac was a useless teen and not worth her time. She shook her head at herself as she followed Zander, suddenly exhausted.

The tires were nothing compared to her discovery that morning, but the incident had weakened the walls that were keeping her emotions in check.

I refuse to fall apart in front of him.

Zander followed the same route to the mansion from earlier that day. Emily sat silently, but he swore he could hear the gears grinding in her head as she thought about everything that had happened. His own train of thought was going full speed.

“Emily, I know you haven’t reported the damage to the police, but have you told your aunts?”

“No, I don’t want to worry them with extra expenses.”

“How many harassment incidents have you had at the mansion?”

“What?” Her shoulders twitched at his question. “What are you talking about?”

Uh-oh. “I cleaned up a slaughtered raccoon that had been left at your home today. Vina said it wasn’t the first time.”

He glanced at her. Her face was white, her dark-blue eyes locked on him.

“You have to consider that the damage to your car and the dead animals left at the mansion are related. They’re both harassment. Chickenshit harassment. Who has it in for you or your family?”

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