Incriminating Evidence(5)

By: Amanda Stevens

“But you don’t believe that.”

She hesitated. “I did for a long time, but now I think Laura March invented the story because the truth was too painful...too stigmatizing. And perhaps she wanted to ward off my curiosity.”

“What about your adoptive father?”

“Aidan March. He was a cop, killed in the line of duty when I was little. That much is true. Even though I was only five when it happened, I still have vague memories of him. His voice. His smile. The blue of his eyes.” She glanced down at the ring on her finger. “This belonged to his mother. I’m told he wanted me to have it.” She fell silent as she twisted the band.

Her phrasing wasn’t lost on Nick. If Laura March had lied about Catherine’s birth parents, might she also have fabricated a connection to her adoptive father?

“Go on,” he prompted.

“I don’t know how familiar you are with the specifics of the Twilight Killer case, but Orson Lee Finch was a gardener by trade. He went to college for a time majoring in horticulture, but his mother became ill and he had to drop out. Some say that fostered his resentment of the elite. They had what he so desperately wanted but could never acquire. His signature was a rare crimson magnolia petal, which he placed over his victims’ lips.”

“The kiss of death,” Nick murmured.

She closed her eyes briefly. “Finch preyed on young, single mothers from affluent families. Despite their advantages—or maybe because of them—he deemed them unfit to raise children. The FBI profiler on the case called the kills mission-oriented. He speculated that the mother of Finch’s child—possibly my biological mother—was his first victim. Her rejection may have triggered his spree. Finch denies it, of course. After all these years, he still maintains his innocence. At least to those who manage to get an interview with him.”

“Have you talked to him?”

The question seemed to distress her. “I haven’t gone to see him. Why would I?”

“You say you want answers. He would be the logical place to start.”

She shook her head. “No. I won’t see him. Let me be clear about that. I don’t want Orson Lee Finch in my life. I don’t want him to know who I am or anything about me. I only want the truth. I need to know the truth.”

“Why?” Nick asked bluntly.

She regarded him for the longest moment. “If the answer to that question isn’t obvious, then perhaps I’ve come to the wrong person for help.”

Nick returned her stare. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I have to ask—is it possible you’re latching onto an implausible scenario as a way to distract from your grief? Stories about the Twilight Killer have dominated the news lately. The media has even managed to resurrect the mystique surrounding Twilight’s Children,” he said, referring to the moniker assigned to the offspring of Orson Lee Finch’s victims.

“I’m well aware of the stories. I’ve read all the articles and watched the documentaries. If what I suspect is true, then I’m the ultimate child of Twilight.” Her voice dropped to a near whisper. “Not just Finch’s daughter but the offspring of his first victim.”

Nick let that soak in for a moment. Catherine March didn’t seem the type to court publicity—the opposite, in fact—but he’d been fooled before. If her story got out, he had no doubt the details would be sensationalized. She might even be offered a book or movie deal. Her profession would only feed into the public’s fascination. The daughter of a serial killer devoting her life to forgotten victims.

He searched her face once again, staring deep into her eyes, waiting for a twitch or a blink that would give her away. Her gaze remained unwavering.

“Is something wrong?” she asked.

“No,” Nick said. “I was just thinking about everything you’ve told me. At any other time, without the recent media circus, do you think you would have given those clippings a second thought?”

Annoyance flashed in her eyes. “A box of newspaper clippings hidden beneath a floorboard in my dead mother’s closet? Yes, I think I would have given them a second thought.”

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