Say You're Sorry Page 10

“I’ve seen convicted felons with warmer expressions,” Lance said.

“Definitely,” Sharp continued. “Jamie has ADD and oppositional defiant disorder. She’s been on a broad range of pharmaceuticals since she was eight. By the time she was twelve, she was refusing to take her medication. Instead she self-medicated with alcohol and pot. Two years ago, her psychologist added bipolar disorder to her diagnosis. Her parents are divorced and blame each other. There’s plenty of friction with the stepparents. The mother is local. Jamie’s dad moved to California and remarried.”

“She looks like a seriously troubled kid.”

“She is.” Sharp sighed. “SFPD has found no signs of her in town. They’re convinced she ran far away. The parents don’t deny it, but they want her found anyway.”

Lance flipped through the file. Sharp had interviewed her mother in person, the father over the phone. He’d also gone through Jamie’s bedroom. She wasn’t a girly girl. She liked classic rock and comics. She could draw, and some of her sketches were disturbing. “If she got out of town, there isn’t much the local cops can do except enter her in the database with the million other missing kids.”

If she was picked up by police in another location, they would run her through the National Crime Information Center. The NCIC would list her as a runaway, and she’d be returned to her parents.

“What do you want me to do?”

“I have Jamie’s social media account information. She hasn’t been online since she went missing, but kids post everything online. Go back through her posts for the last few months before she took off. See if you can find anything that might give us some insight. Friends that her parents weren’t aware of. Places she always wanted to go. Online connections that could be suspicious.”

Lance cracked his knuckles over the keyboard. “I’m on it.”

Pulling his keys from his pocket, Sharp nodded toward his own office. Through the open door, Lance could see the black leather couch against the wall. “Try to get a nap.”

“I might get bored enough.”

“Have you stopped to see your mom today?” Sharp asked.

“Not yet.” After finding the body, Lance wasn’t up to dealing with his mother yet. “Maybe after that nap.”

Sharp paused. “Want me to check in on her for you?”

As if merely checking in on his mom was all that a visit entailed. Sharp was one of the few people who Lance’s anxiety-ridden mom allowed into her home. If it hadn’t been for Sharp, no one would have seen her or taken her to her group therapy sessions while Lance was in the hospital last fall.

“No. I’ll do it, but thanks for the offer.”

“Call me if you change your mind. Do me a favor, and make sure the water bowl on the back porch is full,” Sharp said on his way out.

Lance went onto the back porch. He caught the quick flash of a skinny white-and-tan body as the stray disappeared under the steps. He carried the water bowl into the kitchen, filled it, and returned it to the porch. The pup looked thin and the food bowl was empty, so he added some kibble. He could see the shine of the dog’s eyes as it watched him. “You could do worse than Sharp. He acts all gruff, but he’d basically be your slave if you let him.”

The dog didn’t believe him.

Lance returned to his office, played a classic rock station through the wireless speaker, and settled in with his laptop. He flipped through the file to the parent information—anything to keep the image of a dead teenager out of his head.

Three hours of computer research later, exhaustion hit Lance like a brick over the head. Jamie’s social media accounts revealed nothing, but then, it was likely that her parents monitored her online activity, considering her psychiatric history. The kid was probably smart enough to know her accounts were being watched.

Lance considered making a coffee-and-donut run. If he fell asleep, he’d be seeing Tessa Palmer’s body in his dreams. He was halfway to the door when the stiff ache in his thigh turned him around. He went back to the kitchen and drank a protein shake, then stretched out on the couch.

He couldn’t let a few nightmares—or anything else—get in the way of his recovery.

But the bloody image that haunted his sleep didn’t belong to Tessa. It was Morgan’s. Even in his sleep he knew that she was the one who had the power to hurt him.

Chapter Seven

It was Wednesday afternoon. Lance leaned on the outside of his Jeep and waited for Jamie Lewis’s best friend. Seventeen-year-old high school dropout Tony Allessi worked at the bowling alley. Neither the police nor Jamie’s parents had been able to get any information out of the kid, but Lance wasn’t an authority figure. Somebody had to know where Jamie had gone. With teenagers, friends were the best possibility.

Tony was easy to spot crossing the parking lot. On top of a lanky, six-three frame, his four-inch blue-and-red Mohawk didn’t exactly blend into a crowd. He looked like a parrot.

Lance pushed off the door of his Jeep. “Hey, Tony!”

The teen turned at the sound of his name. He wore ripped jeans and a vintage Ramones T-shirt.

“I hear you’re good friends with Jamie Lewis.” Lance looked beyond the nose ring, eyeliner, and twin ear gauges the size of dinner plates.

Under all his facial modifications, Tony’s eyes were sharp and suspicious. “Yeah. So?”

“I’m looking for her.”


Lance handed him a business card. “You heard what happened Thursday night, right?”

Tony nodded, his mouth tightening into a solemn line. “Yeah. I didn’t know Tessa that well, but she didn’t deserve to get killed.”

“No. She didn’t. The police haven’t caught the guy who did it. I hate to think of Jamie out there all alone.” Lance let the implication hang in the air.

Tony leaned back, hands raised. “Dude, I can’t steer the police toward a friend.”

He’s definitely seen Jamie.

“I’m not the police,” Lance pointed out. “But her parents are going crazy. Every time the news mentions the murder, they picture Jamie.”

As did Lance. Tessa Palmer’s dead body had haunted him since Saturday morning. He really wanted to find Jamie before something terrible happened to her. Kids on the street were vulnerable to all sorts of predators.

“Sorry, man. I can’t help you,” Tony insisted. “I don’t know where she is anyway.”

“If you see Jamie, ask her to call me.” Lance handed him another card. “Just knowing she’s all right would mean a lot to her parents.”

“OK.” Tony pocketed it and walked into the building.

“Hey, cop,” a voice called.

Lance pivoted to see a red-haired teenage boy standing next to a beat-up Toyota. The kid was small and scrawny with a sunburn-over-freckles complexion.

“You were asking about Jamie Lewis?”

“What’s your name?” Lance asked.

“You a cop?”

“No.” Lance checked to make sure his handgun behind his right hip was covered by his shirt. It was. Why did everyone think he was a cop?

“Then it’s none of your fucking business.”

It was one in the afternoon. Wasn’t this kid supposed to be in school?

“Do you have information about Jamie?” Lance asked.

“What’s it worth to you?” Red held out his hand and wiggled his fingers.

Lance dug a twenty out of his wallet.

The kid shook his head. “It’s worth more than twenty bucks.”

Lance exchanged the twenty for a fifty. The kid reached for it, but Lance was twice his size. He held the money just out of reach. “What do you know?”

With a disgusted sigh, Red pulled out a cell phone that probably cost more than his car. He scrolled. “There was this big party out at the lake Thursday night.”

Lance straightened. “And?”

“And Jamie was there.” The kid held the phone out so Lance could see the screen. A video was playing with the sound muted. Lance watched two boys shoving each other and arguing.

The kid tapped the screen. “Look in the background.”

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