Say You're Sorry Page 45

Lance followed her. “With one hand.”

Pausing, Morgan shook her head. “We’re getting ahead of ourselves. We haven’t established that Tessa has ever been to the farm.”

“She knew the Barones’ oldest daughter from church. She didn’t have to come to the house for her to have met Dwayne.”

“His own family is terrified of him. Could they know he’s a killer?”

“Wait a second.” Lance jogged back to the Jeep and retrieved two pairs of vinyl gloves and a small black case from the glove compartment. Then he joined Morgan at the Barones’ back door.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing.” Opening the black case, he selected two slim metal tools.

Morgan reached around him and turned the knob. The door opened. “It’s not locked.”

Eyeing the open door, Lance slid the lock picks back into their case. “I don’t like this.”

Not one bit.

Standing aside, he touched the door and let it swing inward. When nothing happened, he stepped through the opening. The large, farmhouse kitchen was bare. The Barones hadn’t even left dust behind. Morgan pulled on her gloves and walked around the center island. She opened a drawer, then a cabinet. “Everything is gone.”

Lance checked the fridge. “Empty.”

They toured the downstairs, then went up the steps to the second floor. Morgan opened a closet. “How did they pack up and get out so quickly?”

“I wonder what Dwayne will do with the house.” Lance led the way back downstairs and outside. He turned and scanned the surrounding area. There wasn’t another house in sight, just fields, meadows, and woods. “It’s not like we can ask the neighbors about the family. But maybe we can find out which church they attended.”

“It’s worth a try.”

They returned to the Jeep. Morgan climbed into the passenger seat.

Lance slid behind the wheel. “What now?”

“Call the police?”

“And report what? It’s not illegal to move.” Lance started the engine and turned the vehicle around. “Maybe Sharp will have an idea.” He called his boss and put him on speaker.

Lance told him about the Barones’ vanishing act.

“I’ll make some calls. Maybe your mom can think of a way to track them. Even if they want to stay off the radar, it’s almost impossible these days given the amount of electronic surveillance out there. Eventually, they have to stop for gas or pay a toll. Keep me updated.”

Lance ended the call with a thanks. He dialed his mom and explained the situation.

“Let me see what I can hack into,” she said.

“Be careful. Don’t do anything illegal.” Or that might tip off the WSA to her inquiries.

But she made no promises, hanging up with a vague, “I’ll call you.”

Lance pushed the “End” button on his phone. He drove out onto the road and headed back into town. “I hope we don’t totally strike out at Voss’s apartment.”

Dean Voss lived in an older residential section, not far from the business district. Lance pulled up to the curb in front of an old Victorian house that had been divided into apartments.

Morgan studied the doors. “I see units one through four. Dean lives in number five.”

“We’ll look around back.”

They got out of the car and stood on the sidewalk for a minute.

“It’s quiet.” Morgan shielded her eyes from the late morning sun.

Lance checked his watch. Eleven o’clock. “This is a residential block. Everybody’s left for school or work by now.”

They walked up the driveway, which continued alongside the house to a detached single garage in the backyard. A set of wooden steps up the side of the garage led to a white door marked FIVE.

“Bingo.” Lance headed for the stairs.

“Can I help you?” A woman’s voice called out.

Morgan and Lance turned. A middle-aged woman in jeans and a red baseball cap stood on the back porch of the Victorian.

“Yes, you can.” Morgan walked across the yard. “I’m Morgan Dane and this is Lance Kruger. We’re looking for Mr. Voss.”

“I’m Shannon Green.” The woman nodded. “Who are you?”

“We’re private investigators.” Lance handed her a business card.

She studied it for a minute, holding it at arms’ length and tipping her head back. “I haven’t seen Mr. Voss lately. If you ask me, he’s crazy pants. I hope he moves. He’s scared the bejesus out of me more than once.”

“How?” Lance asked.

“Skulking around the property at night like some kind of paranoid ninja wannabe. He always seemed to be watching.” She pointed to the house behind her. “I live on the bottom floor. A few weeks ago, I caught him at my bedroom window in the middle of the night, trying to get a glimpse through the blinds. I went out and bought those blackout drapes just to make sure he couldn’t see in.”

“Did you complain?”

“I called the landlord.” She rolled her eyes. “He couldn’t care less about any of us. I reported the incident to the police. They came out and talked to him. He told them he was just walking by. Wasn’t his fault that my blinds were open. They blew me off. I’m thinking about getting a dog. A big one. But if Voss moves, I won’t have to.”

“Do you remember the last time you saw Mr. Voss?” Morgan asked.

“Not exactly, maybe a week ago?” Shannon shrugged.

Lance glanced over his shoulder at Voss’s apartment. “Do you know what’s in the garage?”

“No.” Shannon shook her head. “But Voss rents it with his unit.”

“Does he ever have any company?” Lance asked.

Shannon’s hands dropped to her sides. “Not that I’ve ever seen.”

“Thank you for your help,” Morgan said.

The neighbor went back inside her apartment.

After her door closed, Lance turned back to the garage and stared at it. He really wanted to see Voss’s personal space. “There’s a window next to the door. Maybe we can get a look inside.”

Even knowing that Voss was locked up, Lance felt like he was being watched. The place gave him the creeps. He scanned the sides of the building and spotted a surveillance camera mounted under the eave above a door on the far side of the garage. Conveniently, the neighbor wouldn’t see Lance pick the lock. He picked up a thin branch from the ground and hung it over the camera so that the dead leaves covered the lens.

“I did not see that,” Morgan said.

“See what?” Lance checked the rest of the building for cameras but didn’t find any more.

A tall hedge blocked the view from the street. Lance removed his lock picking tools from his pocket. The deadbolt took some work to pop, but he got it.

“Breaking and entering?” Morgan looked over his shoulder.

“Just looking around. We won’t disturb anything.” He pulled gloves from his pocket and handed her a pair. “We did it at the Barone house, and you didn’t mind.”

“They had clearly vacated the house, and the door was unlocked. Technically we only entered,” she whispered. “And there weren’t any nosy neighbors.”

“You could wait in the car.” He knew damned well she wouldn’t. “If we find anything, we’ll just slip out and call the police.” Lance pushed the door open and stepped onto a concrete slab. Despite the warmth of the September morning, the garage was cold and damp. Lance hesitated at the threshold. A huge pile of shipping boxes occupied half the space.

Morgan sidestepped to the pile. “They’re empty. Most are from major retail chains.” She shifted a box. “Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot. Mr. Voss is quite the online shopper.”

“But what did he buy?”

She peeked inside a few boxes. “No packing slips.”

There were only two other items in the garage: a motorcycle and a chest freezer. Lance walked to the freezer and opened it. Dozens of packages, wrapped in thick layers of plastic wrap, filled the freezer.

“What’s in those?” Morgan stood next to him and peered inside.

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