Page 6

 Kristen Ashley

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But Emme was clear on paper. Copious recognizance showed she spent the night with McFarland but mostly he spent the night with her. Her father bought the local lumberyard a couple of years after the last owner got put away for murder. Emme ran it for him.
She also bought a place called the Canard Mansion.
Deck had looked it up on the Internet and it was a summer home built for Denver-dwelling silver boom millionaires in 1899. It was purchased from them by different kinds of millionaires in the 1920s. Throughout the ’20s, it saw a variety of rip-roarin’ good times but fell on hard times, as did the rest of the nation, when its owners were cleaned out by the Depression. A number of subsequent owners did their best with the twenty-room house but eventually it fell out of glory to become a bed-and-breakfast and stayed that way through the ’70s and ’80s. The owner lost his wife, grew reclusive, lived in that big pile the next two decades and died without a will. His family fought over it for half a decade before Emme bought it for a song.
It was likely a wreck.
He figured this from his Internet research and the fact that reports stated, when Emme wasn’t working, getting her hair done, going to Denver to visit family and friends or f**king McFarland, she was working on her house.
On her own.
She didn’t have time to work in or lead a burglary crew.
McFarland, however, frequently disappeared, shaking a tail in a way that the task force was relatively certain he knew he had one. Which meant he had a reason to have one and shake it.
Emme didn’t. If she noticed a tail, she didn’t try to shake it. She lived open.
His eyes went back to the box on his mantel just as his phone rang.
He pulled it out, saw the display and took the call.
“Yo, man,” he said to Chace.
“I’m guessin’ you aren’t gonna delay in seein’ to Emme,” Chace noted accurately.
“Her and me dinner, after, we stake out her house. McFarland takes off late to do whatever it is he does, you tail him and try not to lose him. I go in and search her house.”
“Jesus, Deck, you can’t break into her house and search it. Not at all but not when she’s f**kin’ there,” Chace clipped.
“I’ll wait ’til she’s asleep,” Deck told him.
“You won’t go in at all. I’ve tried to tail McFarland. He’s lost me twice. You’re new to the team and not a known officer of the law. In the dark he might not make your vehicle. You’re on the tail. I stake out the house.”
“I’m searchin’ her house, Chace, and I’m not waitin’ for a warrant.”
“You’re not goin’ in at all.”
“She’s clear of this shit and soon. I clear her house, we won’t need a warrant.”
“Jesus, Deck, listen to me, man. You are not goin’ in at all.”
“She’s clear,” Deck growled, losing patience.
Chace was silent.
Then he stated, “I looked into her.”
Deck wasn’t surprised and he knew what Chace found.
“That wasn’t buried,” he told Chace.
“So you know,” Chace replied.
“Elsbeth told me.”
Chace again fell silent for a long moment before he remarked, “This is not bringin’ up good shit for you.”
“Elsbeth is gone. Emme is not. Best part of all that was Emme. Took me a while to realize it. Now I got my shot to get her back. But yeah, I knew about her history. And yeah, part of gettin’ her clear of McFarland and fast is that she doesn’t need more shit in her life. Not after that.”
“You figure that’s why she was the way she was?” Chace asked.
“Absolutely,” Deck answered.
“Now you’ve seen her and you notice she was the only one worth your time in that mess, you rabid to get McFarland clear so you got your shot?”
That dimple in his bed.
Those dancing eyes.
That hair, now long and gleaming, not bobbed up to her chin and unappealing, doing nothing for a face with those eyes and that smile.
Her body was arguably better before. He was relatively certain she had curves. She just hid them under shit clothes.
She still had curves, just not as many of them. Something easily taken care of with a shitload of frozen custard turtle sundaes and Reese’s Pieces, her weaknesses.
“No,” he replied.
“Bullshit,” Chace whispered. “Not only seen pictures, man, but I’ve been on this case now for months. Seen her in action. She’s your type from top to toe.”
“We’ll talk about you keepin’ the fact that Emme lives local to yourself later. For this conversation, she’s Elsbeth’s best friend, and I reckon neither of us will wanna go there. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have her like I had her and I’m gonna have her like that. I shouldn’t have waited this long to reconnect. Fuck, it was pure luck I ran into her at all. I don’t squander luck, man, and you know it.”
Chace was silent. He knew it.
Chace ended his silence. “You’re not goin’ in without a warrant.”
Deck dipped his voice low. “You know I am. You want me to tail him tonight, I will. But you know I’m goin’ in sometime and that sometime will be soon seein’ as you also know I don’t f**k around. So you take my truck, tail him, less chance you’ll get made. I do what I gotta do, which is what I’m gonna do no matter what. I’m not deputized yet. Tomorrow, we’ll see about me playin’ by the rules.”
He heard his friend sigh.
Then Chace stated, “We didn’t have this conversation.”
Deck grinned at his phone and muttered, “Right.”
“He usually goes to her,” Chace told him something the reports already did. “That place is a f**kin’ nightmare and he lives in a nice condo outside town but he’ll go to her.”
“I’ll text you when we’re done with dinner. I’ll go in through the woods. You get my truck, you take the lane.”
“Copy,” Chace murmured then, “Be careful, Deck. Emme was never stupid.”
No, Emme was never stupid. Though she made bad choices in friends, but women did that shit all the time.
“Right,” Deck replied.
“Later, man.”
They disconnected and Deck looked back down at the reports, his eyes scanning them before the box on the mantel again called to him.
This time, it did it in a way he moved to it.