Incriminating Evidence(10)

By: Amanda Stevens

“Where we go from there will be up to Catherine. We’ll see how far she wants to push this thing. Money could be a factor. If it was a closed adoption, then it’ll take a lot of digging. A lot of billable hours.”

Emmett hardly seemed to hear him. “What if Finch does turn out to be her biological father? Have you or she given any thought to the consequences? You won’t be able to keep something like that quiet. It’ll get out. It always does. A bombshell like that could be a life changer.”

Nick fiddled with a pen on his desk. He wished he didn’t have such a bad feeling about all this. It wasn’t too late to walk away, but he knew that he wouldn’t. He was hooked already and he told himself Catherine March’s deep brown eyes had nothing whatever to do with his interest.

“I don’t know how well she’s thought this through,” he said. “To be honest, I’m not sure there’s anything to investigate. She found some newspaper clippings hidden in her mother’s closet, along with an old business card from this agency. That and her mother’s mysterious last words are about all we have to go on.”

“Sounds to me like she’s holding out on you. She has to have more evidence or another angle. People save newspaper clippings for any number of reasons, and as to the business card, we used to hand those things out like candy. It’s an understatement to say you don’t have much to go on.”

“The card is significant because Dad’s home number is scribbled on the back,” Nick said. “That’s why she came here. She thinks her mother may once have been a client. Her name was Laura March. Does that ring a bell?”

“Not for me, but you can ask Raymond. Or, better yet, check with Jackie. She never forgets a name or a face.”

Nick nodded. “I’ll do that. Maybe I’ll take a look through the archives, too. Anyway, that’s it. That’s the extent of our conversation. Do you want to hear about our other cases or should we wait until Friday?”

“Save it. I just remembered an errand I need to run.” Emmett moved toward the door. “Don’t forget your grandmother’s birthday party later in the week.”

“I won’t forget.”

“Buy her something nice. You can afford it now that we made you partner.”

“Already taken care of.”

“Nick?” Emmett paused on the threshold and glanced back. “I meant what I said earlier. You need to watch yourself with Finch. With Catherine March, too. Her story doesn’t sit well with me. Might be best to take a pass on this one.”

“Since when do we take a pass on interesting investigations? You and Dad built this agency by taking cases no one else would touch.”

“This one is different,” Emmett said with a frown. “Call it a premonition or a gut feeling, but I think that woman is going to be trouble.”

Nick had had the same presentiment, but he shrugged. “I can look after myself.”

“Yeah. That’s what we all say until we’re in too deep and there’s no turning back.”

“Voice of experience?”

Emmett shrugged. “Voice of wisdom. Take it with a grain of salt.”

As he had earlier, Nick waited until he heard footsteps on the stairs and then he got up and went into the hallway. Instead of moving up to the railing, though, he lingered in the shadows at the top of the stairs as Jackie’s voice rose.

“You said that was all taken care of—”

Emmett’s gaze flicked to the second floor. “So I forgot to order the cake. It’s not the end of the world. Your sister is a baker, right? I know you don’t make all those Christmas cookies yourself. Give her a call. Convince her to help us out.”

Jackie followed his gaze up the stairs as Nick pressed himself deeper into the shadows. Then she said a little too loudly, “I don’t know why I’m surprised. Not the first time I’ve had to pull your bacon out of the fire.” She gave an exaggerated sigh. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. I always do.”

They spoke for a few more minutes, and then Emmett left by way of the rear exit and Jackie returned to her work. She didn’t glance Nick’s way again, but she knew he was up there. He could tell by the rigid way she held her shoulders and by the overenthusiastic pounding of her fingers on the keyboard.

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