Cora turned off the main highway, and Kinsey let out a heavy sigh. It had been a long evening, and the sun was finally close to going down on a day that had been filled with surprises.
Not only had a body been found in the woods behind her rental house, but she had just identified the girl who had broken into her new place. As it turned out, she was the previous tenant’s daughter who used to sleep in the bedroom Kinsey was using now.
“So, what are you going to do?” asked Cora as she drove closer to Kinsey’s neighborhood, which was just minutes away.
“About?” Kinsey wasn’t sure what she was talking about with everything going on.
“The girl. The murder behind your house. Pick one.” The last thing Cora needed in her life was one more thing to be dramatic about.
“We don’t know if the murder happened there,” said Kinsey, hoping to calm her down. “I’m pretty sure it was just where the killer dumped her body.”
“Whatever.” Cora was freaking out, and Kinsey knew that she wasn’t going to let it go anytime soon.
Kinsey was still going to try and calm her down as always, even though it never worked. “Well, it matters. It’s not the same thing. Besides, I’m sure he’s long gone and probably won’t be coming around the neighborhood after that.” Why would he come back to a place that was crawling with cops?
Cora shook her head. “Do you ever watch TV? Didn’t you at least pay attention to some of the shows we watched when you stayed with me?”
She had stayed on Cora’s couch for a while when she first came to town, but it was easy to forget the true crime shows she had been forced to sit through. “Not really. I mean, I watched, but I didn’t want to dwell on them. It’s not something I prefer to do when I live alone.”
Cora let out a heavy sigh. “Well, knowledge is power. And it helps to know what you should do in certain situations. Or ways to avoid being a victim. They are very helpful. That’s important. Besides, the killer is probably there now. Did you know that most offenders go back to the scene of the crime? They get off on seeing the results of their actions.”
“I’m sure the cops are gone by now.” They had been there a while already.
Cora approached Goldwater Street. “Well, we’re about to find out.”
Kinsey sat back in her seat and held her breath. If they were still there, it was going to be even harder to convince Cora that she would be fine at her house alone.
When Cora made the turn onto Goldwater Street, it was still apparent by the flashing lights ahead that they were still looking for pieces of the poor nurse who had gone missing a little more than a week earlier. At least they were pretty sure it was her.
“See?” she said. “And do you see those people standing there? He’s probably right in the middle of them gloating about what he’s done.” She gave Kinsey a warning glance.
“I thought they would have already wrapped things up by now.” Kinsey spotted Nolan’s car sitting where it had been. “I wonder what they’re doing?”
“Probably finding the rest of her,” said Cora, making a face as if she had just smelled something awful. “There’s no telling what that sicko did with her remains. And it’s a crime scene, so they are going to be gathering all the evidence they can to try and catch this guy.”
“We should walk down there,” she said as Cora pulled into her driveway.
“And rub elbows with the killer? Not with you looking like that.”
“No,” she said, and her voice changed to a higher tone. “Don’t you know what this means?”
“What what means?” Kinsey rolled her eyes, sure that Cora would tell her.
“Now that this body has been found, he’s going to be looking for his next victim. And the last time I checked; you are just his type.”
“Not this again.” She was sick of hearing it. The killer was going after brunettes who were the same build as she was. And no one in town had let her forget it since she first came to Adenridge.
But Cora wasn’t finished. “You need to take this seriously. I think you need to come back to my place with me. At least for a week or so until this blows over.”
“No,” said Kinsey. “This is just what I thought would happen. I didn’t get my own place to go back to sleeping on your couch. I’m fine. Besides, now that I know the girl who came into my house was Quinn Larson, I don’t feel so afraid to be there anymore.”
“I still can’t believe you didn’t just come right out and ask her why she was in your house. What if you’re wrong and it wasn’t her?” Cora gave her a sideward look.
“It’s her, trust me. I told you that I would never forget her face, and it makes the most sense with her still having a key. I’m sure Mr. Boone didn’t bother changing the locks. From what I hear, he’s not the best when it comes to maintenance of his houses, which is probably why my pipes sound like an orchestra warming up for a concert.”
“Right.” Cora looked down the street, and after a minute of silence, she turned back to Kinsey. “It’s really close. The place where the body was found most likely butts up to your backyard.”
“I know.” She had already mapped it out in her head. And even if that wasn’t entirely accurate, it was damned close. “But I have Chandler here. He’ll look out for me.”
Cora chuckled incredulously. “No offense, but what is he going to do? He’s not the biggest, baddest guy in town.”
Kinsey ignored her. “Come on. Let’s go down there. There are cops all around, so I’m sure it’s safe. Besides, most of those people were there earlier. And don’t you want to see what happens with a real crime scene and recovery?” She didn’t think Cora had thought about it that way. And she was dying to find out if it was the nurse and, if so, what else they had found. Nolan alone made it worth the walk.
Cora shrugged. “That’s true. But if we see any weirdos, I’m macing them.” She turned off her car and rattled her keys, which had a bulky can of pepper spray dangling off the chain.
As Kinsey got out, she looked up to see Chandler’s light on in his apartment, and the lights were on in the garage below it as well. She wasn’t sure if he was home or down the street, but she’d soon find out.
As they approached, some of the crowd was thinning as the day was growing darker. Most of the crowd was media, and the officers wouldn’t let them get too close.
As they sat watching on, Cora nudged Kinsey. “So, what’s your plans for talking to the girl anyway?”
“I’m going to see her at school. She shouldn’t be too hard to find.”
“Did you know her from school?”
“No, I didn’t know her. I haven’t been there long enough to notice every kid except the few who are always hanging around the office. But she shouldn’t be too hard to find. I just wish I was in the office this week.”
“Oh, that’s right. You get to sub, don’t you?”
“Yeah, so I won’t have access to her schedule like I hoped.”
“Hey, just remember she’s a kid, Kinsey. You don’t want to get in trouble for harassing her. There’s no telling what she’d say to get you in trouble.”
“I’ll be fine,” she said, watching the woods and hoping for Nolan to walk out.
What she could see was just a few officers standing around, keeping the public back. There was also a truck with a dive team logo on the back window that was parked nearby.
“Why is there a dive team?” asked Cora.
“I don’t know. I didn’t even know there was water back there.”
A woman standing next to them leaned in. “Yeah, there’s a creek out there. It’s deep in a few spots. I think they’re still looking for the rest of her.”
Kinsey learned something new about her neighborhood every day. And most things she didn’t like.
Another woman walked over to talk to the woman about that time, and Kinsey overheard the woman as she approached. “Well, there goes our property value,” she said. “I should have sold last year.”
Cora glanced at Kinsey wide-eyed, and she shook her head, hoping that Cora wouldn’t say anything. How anyone could think about such a thing at a time like that was beyond her.
“I guess everyone deals with things like this differently,” said Cora. “Just don’t get in trouble. I got you that job by saying how trustworthy and dependable you are. If you get canned for harassing some kid, that’s going to reflect badly on me.”
“I’m not going to harass her. She’s lucky I didn’t throw her under the bus or press charges for breaking and entering, so she can do the right thing and tell me what she was doing in my house.”
“You saw her. Her parents say she’s trouble. Just be careful. It might not be as easy as you think.”
“She’ll talk to me,” said Kinsey. She wasn’t going to give her a choice.
She watched on as the cops continued their search.