Cold Hearts(9)

By: Sharon Sala

“What do you know about the wreck your dad was in the night he graduated from high school?”

Mack was struggling with the notion that his father’s death wasn’t an accident and was clearly unprepared for such a seemingly random question.

“What the hell does that have to do with—”

“I don’t know,” Trey snapped. “Can you answer the question or not?”

Mack shoved a shaky hand through his hair. “Sorry. I...I know it happened. I don’t know much of anything else.”

“Do you know the other people who were in it with him?”

Mack was trying to focus on this conversation when his thoughts were on what was going on inside the garage.

“No, I don’t remember. I think there were a couple more, but I don’t know if I ever knew who they were.”

“You know Dick Phillips was murdered recently,” Trey said.

“Yes, Dad told me. He was really upset and—” Mack stopped. All of a sudden the questioning clicked. “Was he one of the kids in the car with Dad?”

“Yes, along with their girlfriends. Dick’s girlfriend, Connie, died that night. She was the driver. The other girl was your dad’s girlfriend, Betsy. The same Betsy who’s now my mom.”

Mack’s eyes widened in disbelief.

“Your mom? Your mom was my dad’s old girlfriend?”

Trey nodded.

“What does she say about all this?” Mack asked.

“Nothing. You may or may not know that the survivors were injured so severely that none of them had a single memory of what happened after the actual graduation ceremony.”

“Are you saying someone is after the three of them?” Mack asked.

Trey shrugged. “I can’t say that the wreck has anything to do with why Dick died, but I’m a cop, and having one man murdered who was in that wreck is one thing. Having two dead within the same month feels like more than coincidence to me.”

Mack was stunned.

“Will the coroner be able to tell if my dad was murdered?”

“I don’t know. But if we can ascertain there’s no mechanical fault with the lift, we’ll have to assume someone lowered it on him.”

“I know the company Dad used to maintain it. The information is in his office at the house. I’ll get it to you,” Mack said.

“I’d appreciate that,” Trey said. “When you go through your dad’s things, if you see anything like a journal or a diary, I need to see it.”

“I’ll go through his things, but honestly I don’t expect to find anything. We got real close after Mom died, and I’d swear on a Bible there were no secrets between us.”

Trey nodded.

“I understand, but just keep it in mind, and remember, I don’t want a word of this repeated. If these deaths are related to that wreck, the last thing we want is for the killer to be forewarned that we’ve figured out the connection.”

Mack was shaken to the core. Here he’d thought the worst thing to happen was that his father had died, but to think he might have been murdered seemed worse, almost obscene.

“Understood,” he muttered.

“So I guess you’ll be around the rest of the day?” Trey asked.

“I’ll be staying in Mystic for sure until after Dad’s services,” Mack said.

Trey frowned. “I don’t know when the coroner will release the body.”

“I understand.” Mack glanced out the window at the crowd gathered on the other side of the street. “I never did get the need to witness other people’s grief.”

“Some thrive on being the first with the latest news, true or not,” Trey said.

It was the word first that made Mack wonder who’d actually found his dad.

“Who discovered the body?”

“Melissa Sherman. That’s her car on that lift, and she took it really hard. She’s blaming herself because your dad offered to work overtime on it last night so she could have it this morning.”

Mack was in shock. He saw her face in his mind, the way she’d looked when they made love, the way she’d laughed, the way that little mole at the corner of her mouth had always drawn his gaze to the supple curves of her lips, and then the way they’d parted. It hadn’t been pretty, and he still held a serious grudge. It was inevitable that he would now be forced to see her whether he wanted to or not. How bizarre that they would be thrown together again like this.

“I didn’t know she’d moved back to town,” he said.

Trey nodded. “Just this year. She inherited the house she grew up in when her mother died. She’s teaching first grade at the elementary school.”