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Her Last Word

Her Last Word

Page 38

“Tomorrow afternoon,” he said.

“Could you find a reason to keep her until Thursday? If she’s here, she’s safe.”

“I might be able to come up with a reason or two,” Dr. Coggin said. “I’ll keep the extra security on her floor until she leaves.”

“Thank you.” Kaitlin was safe for now, and he had one less thing to worry about.

The drive to the retirement home took Adler to the Ginter Park area in Northside. It was a neighborhood with an array of architectural styles ranging from Tudor Revival to Spanish Colonial. The retirement home where North was living had once been an orphanage, later a school, before most recently being converted to a senior living facility.

Adler showed his badge at the front desk and was directed to the old man’s room. He found the retired detective dressed in pressed pants and a crisp white shirt playing solitaire at a table.

Adler knocked. “Detective North?”

North’s tired shoulders straightened at the sound of his former title. He kept his gaze on his card game. “So what can I do for you, Detective Adler?”

Adler sat in a chair across from the old man. “I have questions about Gina Mason.”

The old detective looked up. “A popular case these days. About time someone started paying attention again.”

The old man flipped several cards over. The game now seemed to bore him, and he set the cards down. His demeanor shifted from tired to engaged.

“That woman send you here?”

“Kaitlin Roe? No.”

North grunted. “Is she going to be okay?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

“How did you hear about her?” Adler asked, slightly impressed.

“We do have phones here, and believe it or not, sonny, we graduated from dial-up access to the Internet.” He shrugged. “After Kaitlin’s visit, I called a few buddies on the force and asked around about her. One updated me on her and Jennifer Ralston.”

“Kaitlin will recover.”

“Good. She might not believe it, but I like her. Takes grit to face your past. Where was she when it happened?”

“The home of Erika Travis, now Crowley. She’d received a text allegedly from Erika, who’s now missing.”

“Was Kaitlin set up?” North asked.

“That’s what I think.”

“So how can I help?”

“I’d like to pick your brain about the Gina Mason case. There’s no substitute for talking to the original investigator.”

“Sure.”

“What was Kaitlin like?”

“She had a juvenile record in Texas. Trespassing, drugs, shoplifting. When the case landed on my desk, I figured she was culpable. I leaned on her hard, and when that didn’t work, I leaked her name to the press. By the time she left Richmond, she hated all cops, but especially me. I’d do it again.” His jaw pulsed, and his chin raised a fraction.

Adler knew tough calls needed to be made during homicide investigations. “Would Kaitlin be the type to fake her own attack?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“She’s different now. She’s not the flaky kid I interviewed years ago. She’s on a mission now and hell-bent on getting to the bottom of what happened to Gina.”

“All right.” He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t happy with the older detective’s characterization.

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