“He shot and killed my father. I cannot forgive myself for not seeing the warning signs.”
“What about your mother? They can’t blame you.”
“Mom’s support never wavered, which made dealing with it all that much harder. My brother, Mitchell, blamed me for Dad’s death. Honestly, I could deal with that better than Mom’s understanding.”
Mazur was silent for a moment. “Bauldry clearly had mental-health issues. That’s not your fault.”
She shook her head and tipped her chin up. “I’ve told my story to other victims of violent crime before. The hope to create a bond and to show them I understand. I’m usually good at distancing myself from the story and the words. But being back in San Antonio is making it difficult to keep that distance.”
He knew when to press and when not to and realized now was not the time to dig into her old wound. He sat in silence for a moment, giving her a chance to regain control. And when they were finished, he gathered the trash and dumped it in the garbage.
As they settled in their seats his phone dinged with a text. “My daughter needs to be picked up at school. Do you mind?”
“It won’t take much time.”
Mazur moved in and out of traffic. A couple of times he had to think twice about street choices and happily chose correctly each time. Twenty minutes later he pulled onto the tree-lined campus that blended old and new architecture.
Alyssa was sitting in front of the school on a stone bench, her backpack on her lap. She was a petite girl with blond hair that brushed her shoulders and framed a round face.
When she saw Mazur’s car, she grinned and hustled toward it.
As he got out of the car, she tossed him a pointed look that resembled many Kate had given him. “Thanks, Dad. We got out early and I didn’t want to wait for Mrs. White.”
He kissed her on the cheek and took her backpack as he opened the back door. “Going to have to put you in the back like a perp. Company today. Alyssa, this is Agent Kate Hayden.”
Alyssa slid into the backseat. “Hi, Agent Hayden.”
“Nice to meet you, Alyssa. Call me Kate.”
“So, are you the Fed working with Dad?”
“So what case are you working on?” Alyssa asked.
“Two murders,” Kate said.
Mazur slammed the back car door and glanced at Kate as he slid behind the wheel. “She doesn’t need the details, Dr. Hayden.”
Alyssa rested her folded arms on the front seat. “She likes details.”
“I have to honor your father’s wishes, Alyssa,” Kate said.
“Daaaad. I want to know about the case,” Alyssa said.
Mazur shook his head as he circled the parking lot back toward the main entrance. “Dr. Hayden, keep it G-rated.”
Kate frowned as if shuffling through her facts to choose the tamest. “Alyssa, we have one victim who was shot. I was summoned to town because there is evidence to suggest there might be a serial killer involved.”
Mazur glanced in the rearview mirror in time to see the kid’s eyes widen with keen interest.
“So, do you work cases like this all the time?” Alyssa asked.
“How long have you been with the FBI?”
“That is so cool,” Alyssa said. “What kind of cases have you worked?”
Mazur’s thoughts suddenly turned to the girl in Utah and the other horror cases Kate worked. He cleared his throat, determined to redirect. “What bit of advice can you give Alyssa about staying safe, Dr. Hayden?” Mazur inquired.
Kate turned in her seat and faced his girl. “Never, ever get into anyone’s car, even if they threaten to shoot you. You have a better chance with the bullet than if you get in the car.”
“Dad says that.”
“And always have your cell with you and the GPS locater activated.”
“Yes,” she groaned. “Dad says that, too.”