Unlocking Lies (Keys to Love Series, Book Three)(10)

By: Kennedy Layne

Gus Kendall rested a hand on Jace’s shoulder in understanding.

His father’s support meant everything. As for his mother’s final wish, well, that had been to have her children home and raising their own families in their hometown of Blyth Lake. What Jace and his siblings hadn’t been made aware of was that she made that possible with an inheritance she’d saved for a special occasion. It was to be used when her sons and daughter returned from their duties to their country.

“It was my pleasure,” Harlan replied in kind. He didn’t mention being questioned by the police regarding those real estate transactions. “You Kendall kids might have raised hell back in the day, but it’ll be nice to have a younger generation around to see to it this town survives with this economy. We’ve managed to keep Main Street a viable business community thus far. It didn’t happen by itself, though. It takes invested people who want this town to thrive.”

“Here, here.” Chester raised his glass of water in the air while others repeated his sentiment. “Welcome home, Jace.”

He and his dad settled at one of the tables, seeing as all the booths were taken. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where Shae had been seated. A lone slice of Molly’s apple pie with a scoop of melting hand-churned ice cream had been left in the back booth. Molly was currently setting down a coffee cup, but it could have been tea. A small square tab hung from a string connected to a nondescript white bag which accompanied the mug.

Where was she? He was beginning to wonder if she was alright.

Jace glanced toward the restrooms, but she had yet to make a return appearance.

“Brynn mentioned the other day that Shae was coming into town for an indefinite period of time.” Gus had pulled out his reading glasses and was looking over the menu, even though he always got the meatloaf special. The menu had only changed once in the past forty years, and that was when the diner had been handed down from mother to daughter. People still referred to the old menu, though. It was hard to break long-standing traditions. Gus’ order was always the exact same. That was, unless it was lunch. Then he preferred a club sandwich and steak fries. Jace imagined they would be able to determine Gus’ age one day by cutting him in half and counting the rings in his arteries. “She’s staying in that studio apartment above the Cavern. You know the one, in case you’re interested.”

Jace leaned back to give Molly room after giving his father a side-eye shot of irritation. He hadn’t meant to be obvious in searching for Shae, but there was also nothing wrong with him wanting to say hi to an old friend.

Molly set down two porcelain coffee mugs, minus the saucers, and began pouring the steaming hot beverage he’d come to rely on during those long deployments overseas. Good coffee was a gift from heaven, no matter where one went. Her next statement made him realize the same thing about small towns. One was no different than the other.

“Shae is meeting with Detective Kendrick tomorrow afternoon around two or three o’clock.” Molly didn’t bother to pull out the waitress pad stored in the front of her apron. Jace must not have sold his indifference to her statement very well. She shrugged her skepticism and smiled at his obvious failure. “That sharp looking detective was in here just the other day, talking on his smartphone. He shouldn’t carry on private conversations in public if he doesn’t want the town to know all his business.”

“Molly, I think I’ll have the meatloaf special. Brown gravy over those mashed potatoes and meat.” Gus leaned forward and slid the menu back into its slot in the metal prong holder behind the salt and pepper. “And save me a slice of that peach pie, if the last piece hasn’t already been claimed. I don’t know what Cassie added to that recipe, but it sure is good.”

“It’s all yours, Gus.” Molly waited for Jace to order, but he was still mulling over the fact that the state police detective didn’t have the good sense to talk business in the privacy of his own damned vehicle. Unless he wanted the residents to know who he was meeting, along with the where and when. “Jace? What can I get you?”

“I’ll have the pulled pork sandwich with steak fries, thanks.”

“I’ll have to barbeque those steaks up tomorrow.” Gus shook his head at the jumbled homecoming Jace had received today. He thought it was perfect. After all, he’d been surrounded by family. That’s all one could ask for after having been gone for so long. “It shouldn’t take too long to get my tank filled up over at the gas station. I hope they fix the treads on the regulator after those campers hosed it up. How hard is it to ask someone if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing? I’ll let the others know to be at the house at eighteen hundred hours.”