Unlocking Lies (Keys to Love Series, Book Three)(8)

By: Kennedy Layne

“How are your parents holding up under all this scrutiny?” Harlan asked after everyone had settled down some. Molly had gone back around the counter to fetch a fresh pot of coffee, while some of the others returned to their food before it got cold. “I, um, I hope you know that I had nothing to do with your sister’s disappearance. You and your family mean the—”

“Harlan, it never occurred to me that you were.” Shae stressed her reassurance by resting a hand on his arm. “I didn’t come to town to accuse anyone of harming Emma or anyone else.”

It was rare that Shae ever spoke her sister’s name aloud. She gave Harlan a small smile to cover up her misstep.

“It’s been so long since then. We’ve gone without answers for so long that I thought maybe being here might jog my memory of what happened back during that time. I’m sure everyone knows I’ve been in contact with Detective Kendrick, but those long-distance calls just weren’t enough for me anymore.” Shae shrugged in the futility of her objective. She was technically here for selfish reasons, because no answer would bring back her sister. “Go on and enjoy your dinner. I’m sure we’ll have time to catch up once I’ve established a foothold.”

It was apparent Harlan wanted to ask her more questions, but he thought better of it as he joined his wife and the other couple. She hoped her words reassured him that she had no hard feelings that he had been dragged into this investigation just like so many others. Technically, it wasn’t even Emma’s case.

Detective Kendrick was investigating Sophia Morton’s death.

Emma was still listed as a cold case.

Shae was tired. She should have gathered enough courage and gone into the Cavern the minute she’d arrived in town. She could have simply asked Brynn for the key while avoiding eye contact with the other patrons and then slept until tomorrow morning. That would have been the smart thing to do. Now, she had no choice but to take a back booth and eat a piece of pie and wash it down with a hot cup of tea.

It was hard not to look around for Cassie Osburn. The daughter of the infamous Annie’s Diner owner had been sentenced to community service for her role in trying to drive Reese Woodward out of town. That just went to show that making assumptions could get anyone into trouble fairly easily. Shae wanted to be sure before she acted.

Cassie’s criminal woes didn’t seem to be hurting business, though. A third of the tables still had diners, and Shae could safely bet a hundred dollars that every seat had been occupied an hour ago. Nightlife in Blyth Lake was almost nonexistent, so the fact that Brynn started to host live bands at Tiny’s Cavern had everyone going early to vie for a decent table.

Shae set her purse with its deadly contents on the far seat and slid it across the faux red leather. Her back protested the position, though her taut muscles from the long drive most definitely appreciated the small walk from her car to the diner. She was really glad the meeting she scheduled with Detective Kendrick wasn’t until tomorrow afternoon. She would need to catch up on her sleep, if possible.

“One slice of warm apple pie along with one scoop of vanilla ice cream,” Molly announced, having asked earlier what she could get Shae to eat. The white porcelain dish was set gently on the table in front of her. “Can I get you a nice tall glass of milk to go with that? Maybe a coffee?”

“I’d love a hot cup of tea, please.” Shae had found that drinking English style tea reduced her stress level by half. She’d read quite a lot of different reports on how certain beverages could alter the way a person dealt with stress in their life. Seeing as she had an abundance of it, she’d given the theory a try by switching from coffee to tea. It had successfully worked in her daily life. “Thank you, Molly.”

The waitress had been about to say something to Shae when the bell above the door jingled, alerting everyone to another newcomer. In this case, a father and son.

Shae was glad she hadn’t taken a bite of her apple pie. She wasn’t so sure she would have been able to swallow it around the knot that had formed in her throat.

As she lived and breathed, it was none other than Jace Kendall.

He’d changed since the last time she saw him, somehow managing to become even more strikingly attractive. She couldn’t help but rake her eyes down him to prove to herself that he was real. His shoulders had gained considerable width, inches had been added to his over six-foot height, and he still had that charming, crooked grin that could melt a girl’s heart like ice on a hot summer’s day.

Yet all she experienced upon setting her gaze on his gorgeous features was guilt.