“Jesus, Kate. You were just out running alone at night with this guy somewhere nearby.”
“I’ve dealt with men like him before. But with William lurking around, maybe you should talk Mom into seeing Aunt Lydia.”
His grip on the brim of his hat crunched the well-worn edge. “Mom won’t leave town until she sees you.”
“Talk to her. Convince her to leave.”
“Go see her.”
“I’m in the middle of an investigation.”
“I’ll try to talk to her, but go see her,” he said more softly. “She loves you.”
His words stung more than any insult. “I’ll talk to Mom.”
“What can I do?”
“I haven’t even proven it’s William,” she said. “There’re a dozen other reasons why Gloria could have been murdered.”
“You’re smart and you’ll figure it out. Dad said you have a gift. If there’s a pattern, you’ll see it.”
Fatigue was strengthening second doubts. She had to have more than a gut feeling about William. She needed facts. “Just keep an eye on Mom. I’ll call her tomorrow.”
He looked as if he wanted to say more but finally nodded. “You call me if you need anything.”
“I meant it when I said I was sorry. I know I can be difficult. But we’re family.”
For Mitchell, this was a grand gesture. “Can I get the ‘I can be difficult’ on tape? Might be a good ringtone.”
His posture relaxed a fraction, but a smile was still too much to expect from either of them. “It’ll take a few beers before that happens.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” she said.
“You take care of yourself, Katie.”
“You, too, Mitchell.”
Raymond Drexler hadn’t expected his life to turn to shit so fast. He still could not get over the fact that he had lost his sweet Sara thanks to the fucking cops and Kate Hayden. Nobody understood him.
He stopped in New Mexico and pulled into a truck stop. Keeping his head low, he bought a razor and scissors and went into the bathroom, where he showered and shaved his head and beard. After dressing, he put on an old ball cap he dug out of the lost-and-found bin. A few men passed by him, but he didn’t look up. He wasn’t the first man to shave and change his look in a place like this.
Tossing the razor and shaving cream back in his bag, he crossed the lot to his truck. Glancing in the rearview mirror, he skimmed his hand over his bald head. The new look would take getting used to. And without the beard, he wasn’t sure if he even liked his face without it. Shit, he felt naked.
Exhausted, he drove another hour south before fatigue forced him to pull over. He parked in the shadows of a deserted parking lot off one of the interstate ramps and slept for what he thought would be a quick catnap.
When he startled awake a glance at the clock told him he had slept ten hours. “Shiiit!”
For a few gut-wrenching seconds, he was convinced someone had spotted him and called the cops. He climbed out, took a quick piss, and started driving.
Up ahead, he spotted the “Welcome to Texas. Drive Friendly—the Texas Way” sign. Finally relaxing, he leaned back against the seat and rolled down the window as the truck crossed the state line. He enjoyed the warm air. He was tired of the snow and the frozen ground. The deep, soothing warmth of Texas appealed to him. He’d never buried anyone in the desert before.
He reached for a bag of half-eaten white powdered doughnuts and popped a whole one in his mouth. It was dry, but a swig of cold coffee washed it down just fine. The combination of sugar and caffeine hit the spot, giving him the boost he needed.
He pressed the accelerator and turned up the radio.