Incriminating Evidence(8)

By: Amanda Stevens

Emmett gave him a sidelong glance. “The woman that just left. New client?”

“She could be. I’m looking into something for her. We’ll see how it goes.”

“Quite a looker, from what I could see. Way out of your league, though.”

Nick was used to his uncle’s ribbing. He gave a careless shrug. “Then I guess it’s a good thing she’s a client and not a date.”

Emmett grinned, displaying a slight overbite that gave him a boyish air despite the silver at his temples. “My first wife was a client.”

“And look how that turned out.”

“Everything was fine until she got nosy.”

“Yes, how dare she take offense to all those clandestine trips to Vegas,” Nick said dryly.

Emmett’s expression sobered. “What did you say her name was?” He stared down at Jackie until she glanced back up at him. Something flared between them. Not attraction or even affection, but the silent communication of an old and complicated liaison.

Nick paused at the abrupt change of subject. “You mean the client? Her name is Dr. Catherine March.”

“Doctor, huh?”

“She’s a forensic anthropologist.”

Emmett repeated her name with a frown. “Has she been in before? I swear I know her from someplace.”

“Maybe you recognize her from her work with the police department. An article ran in the paper yesterday about her efforts to help the county coroner’s office identify the victims in the Delmar Gainey case.”

Something flashed across his uncle’s face, an emotion gone so quickly Nick wondered if he’d seen it all.

When Emmett didn’t respond, Nick said, “Surely you’ve heard about the Gainey case. Human remains found in an abandoned house? You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard all the breathless reporting.”

Emmett frowned down into the lobby where Jackie had returned to her work. “Has she been able to identify any of the victims?”

“She’s working up profiles for the coroner.” Nick thought about the enigmatic glint he’d caught in her eyes and the hesitant revelation about a puzzling discrepancy. He shrugged. “But to answer your question, I gather the work is ongoing. She didn’t talk much about it.”

Emmett glanced at him. “That’s not why she came here, then. Good. I’d hate to see you get dragged into that mess. I hear heads are still rolling at police headquarters.”

“I hear the same, but why would you even think that a possibility? Why would she come to me about a police investigation?”

“It was just a thought,” Emmett said. “Wouldn’t be the first time an overzealous consultant tried to go behind a detective’s back. The last thing we need is to step on any CPD toes, especially in a high-profile case like this. If they thought you were trying to undermine an investigation, they could get your license yanked.”

“You don’t need to remind me to proceed with caution when dealing with the Charleston Police Department.” Nick didn’t have to elaborate. His uncle would get his meaning.

Emmett gave a grim nod. “All the more reason to keep your nose clean.”

“My nose has always been clean.” Nick turned to his uncle. “What’s really going on here? You don’t have reason to worry about the Delmar Gainey case, do you?”

“Why would I worry about a dead serial killer?”

Nick searched his uncle’s profile. “Gainey was active while you were still a cop. Didn’t you work some missing-person cases back then? You must have had a theory about all those disappearances. Fourteen women don’t just vanish off the street without someone noticing.”

“Happens all the time. Hookers, addicts, runaways. People live in the shadows for a reason,” Emmett said. “They don’t want to be noticed.”

“You’re saying not a single missing-person report was filed on any of the victims?”

“I’m saying if a report was filed, it would have been investigated like any other complaint.”

“What about Gainey? No red flags?”

“Lived alone and kept to himself. Familiar story, right? From what I understand, he didn’t have so much as an outstanding parking ticket. No one deliberately looked the other way, if that’s what you’re implying, but I’ll be the first to admit, most of our resources were allocated elsewhere at that time.”

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