Cold Hearts(10)

By: Sharon Sala


Mack hunched his shoulders against the sudden ache in his chest. He didn’t want to care about her, but he kept thinking how awful it must have been for her to be the one who found the body. She had always loved his dad, and now she was blaming herself. He couldn’t let that go.

“Will you talk to her about the lift?” Mack asked.

“At this point I’m not saying anything more until it’s been checked out, and you can’t say anything about what we talked about, either. Not even to make her feel better. We’ll know the truth soon enough.”

Mack nodded. “I understand, but I don’t think it’s fair for someone to be living with misplaced guilt, that’s all.”

“You can talk to her all you want, but not about this,” Trey said. “Again, I’m very sorry for your loss. I’ll make sure the coroner’s office has your contact information. They’ll notify you when they release the body. Here’s my card. Use either number if you need me.”

“Thanks,” Mack said, and quickly entered the information in his phone. He slipped a card out of his pocket and handed it to Trey. “This has my cell number in case you need to reach me.”

They looked up just as the coroner exited the building, followed by two men carrying a body bag. Once they put it into the van they slammed the doors and drove away.

Mack’s voice was shaking. “I guess I need to lock up.”

“Do you have keys?” Trey asked.

Mack nodded. “I assume you want everything left as is?”

“Yes, at least until after I get the lift inspected,” Trey said.

“I’ll text you the info after I get home.”

“I’ll seal the entrances after you lock up,” Trey said. “Tell your dad’s employees to stay off the premises until I give the all clear.”

Mack got out with his keys in hand, went straight to the front door and locked up, then circled the building, making sure the back entrances were locked, as well. When he returned to the front of the station, seeing the yellow crime-scene tape across the doorway seemed surreal. He felt the stares from the crowd across the street but never looked up as he got in his car and drove away.

* * *



Marcus Silver was pale and shaken as he came to the breakfast table. He dropped into his chair, and then waved away the maid and the plate of food she was carrying.

“Just coffee, please,” he said.

She set the plate on the sideboard and then quickly filled his cup before leaving the room.

His son, T.J., swallowed a bite of waffle then frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“I just got some bad news,” Marcus said. “Paul Jackson is dead.”

T.J. laid down his fork. “What happened? Heart attack?”

Marcus shook his head. “No, he was crushed beneath a car he was working on.”

T.J. gasped. “God, dying is a hell of a way to begin the day!”

Marcus looked up. “Oh. No, it didn’t happen this morning. They think he was working late on a car when the lift failed. The car belonged to Melissa Sherman. She’s the one who found him this morning.”

T.J.’s heart skipped. Lissa! How odd that she was mixed up in such an ugly death. They had shared a few dates right after she’d first come home, but then she’d refused further invitations. He’d stopped asking, but it still rankled that she’d quit him. He liked to be the one to call the shots.

“That’s terrible about Mr. Jackson. I’m sorry to hear that. He was one of your classmates, right?”

Marcus nodded.

T.J. reached across the table. “Is there anything I can—”

His father stood abruptly. “Excuse me,” he said, and left the dining room like a man on a mission.

T.J. stood as if to follow him and then paused. He didn’t know what he could have said to make this better, so he sat back down. He couldn’t help but think how fragile life was, and he was grateful his father was still with him; then he thought of Lissa and wondered how he could turn this to his advantage.





Three



Will Porter was finishing breakfast and preparing for an early meeting at school. His wife, Rita, was sitting at the other end of the breakfast table nursing a cup of coffee spiked with a shot of the bourbon she’d gotten drunk on last night. It was all he could do to look at her these days. She was such a disappointment and hardly the wife he needed if he was going to get himself elected state superintendent of schools. His dreams were big, but Rita’s daily hangovers were bigger. He still wasn’t sure what he was going to do about her, but he wasn’t going to let anything derail his aspirations to get out of this one-horse town.

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