sense to pay for two households when they had so much room. Especially when living with Grandma and Grandpa meant Whitney could sleep in her own bed while Allie worked. Dale and Evelyn had a guesthouse down the hill, closer to the pond. Allie could've taken that--and would if it became necessary--but so far she liked being close to her parents more than she didn't like it. The last six years of her ten-year marriage had been particularly rough. Living in her own personal hell had made her grateful for their love. "Thanks, Mom."
"It was no trouble. How was work last night?"
"Interesting." She kicked off the covers. It was only mid-May, but she could already feel the humidity of summer creeping up on them.
Her mother smiled. "Interesting?" she asked in apparent surprise. "What, did you give out a speeding ticket? Pick up someone for expired tags?"
Evidently her father hadn't learned about the excitement last night. He hadn't called Evelyn about it, anyway. Regardless, Allie preferred not to discuss it. She'd heard her mother talk about Clay Montgomery before, knew Evelyn would believe Beth Ann before she'd ever believe Clay, and didn't want to feel defensive.
"I drove a few folks home from Let the Good Times Roll," she said--which was true, an hour or so before the call came in from the county dispatcher.
"That's it?" Evelyn asked.
"Pretty much." Allie knew she could convince her mother that Clay hadn't really attacked Beth Ann, that the evidence didn't support it. But she was uncomfortable with the fact that she'd felt slightly attracted to him and was afraid that, in the process of explaining, she might somehow give that away. 24
Ironically enough, in a roundabout way, Evelyn brought up the subject of Clay herself. "Are you making any progress on the Barker case?" she asked, sitting on the edge of the bed. Because she was so thin, she had more wrinkles on her face than Dale, Allie's father, who was ruddy and barrel-chested and looked about ten years younger than his real age. But her mother was still attractive, in a faded-rose sort of way.
"A little." Just reading all the reports and statements in the boxes that were stacked in the small locked storage room at the station had been a chore. Allie had one more box to go; she hadn't had time to wade through its contents yet. Her father kept giving her other assignments. And she was the only one really working the night shift. It wasn't as if Hendricks was any help.
"From what I've seen so far, there're a lot of contradictions," she said. "Deirdre Hunt claims she saw Reverend Barker heading out of town at eight-thirty. Bonnie Ray Simpson says she saw him pull into the farm at about the same time. And you know Jed Fowler was there that night, fixing the tractor in the barn. He says he never heard or saw anything."
"He also confessed to murder when he thought your father had found the reverend's remains."
"Those remains turned out to be a dog."
"So? The point is, Jed tried to protect the Montgomerys, which means he might know more than he's saying."
"True. Rachelle Cook and Nora Young's statements certainly suggest he's lying. They claim Reverend Barker was going home when they said goodbye to him in the church parking lot just before he disappeared."
Allie knew her mother had heard all of this before. Everyone in Stillwater had. She would've been more familiar with it herself, had she not moved away as soon as she graduated from high school. After that, she had college, marriage and her own work to keep her busy. She'd thought about the missing reverend only when her father mentioned some facet of the case.
"You have to decide who's got a reason to lie," her mother said.
The way her mother loved mysteries and true-crime books, it was too bad she hadn't gone into law enforcement. Especially since she was surrounded by a family of cops. Besides her husband being chief of police, and her daughter serving on the same force, her