Guilty by Lee Goldberg Read Free Book Online

Book: Guilty by Lee Goldberg Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lee Goldberg
Ortiz continued. "But to what end?"
    Carlson, Elisa . . . Copeland, Dorothy . . . Curran, Janice . . . .
    "They didn't take your wallet or your watch," Ortiz said, "and they didn't beat you badly enough to kill you. They left you where you could presumably be found. I mean, they could easily have killed you if that's what they wanted."
    Davenport, Katie . . . Davidson, Burl . . . Davis, Cheshire . . .
    Cheshire Davis.
    Macklin felt a shiver course his spine. The killer, whoever she was, had a cruel, acidic sense of humor. Cheshire had been Macklin's lover. A gang of psychopathic pedophiles had tried to kill him by planting a bomb in his car. They'd killed Cheshire instead.
    The killer chose the name knowing I'd see it, Macklin thought. The killer is having fun with me. The killer is going to pay.
    "Why didn't the kidnappers kill you?" Ortiz continued. "All they succeeded in doing was putting you in the hospital for a few days."
    Macklin looked up from the printout.
    "What did you say?"
    "I said, what were the guys after? All they managed to do was put you in bed for a while."
    And keep me out of Los Angeles, away from . . . away from Brooke, from Cory, from—
    "Get me a phone," Macklin snapped.
    "What?" Ortiz was startled.
    "Get me a phone, damn it." Macklin tossed the printout at him. "I want to call my family."
    # # # # # #
    "Cory is at a slumber party for the weekend," Brooke told Macklin over the phone. She was doing a poor job of hiding her exasperation. Mack had become so difficult lately. She could barely hear his barrage of questions because of static and the echo of her own voice on the line.
    "With who?" he demanded.
    "Her friends, Mack. Cory and a bunch of her friends are with the Hendersons at their cabin up at Big Bear Lake. Is that okay with you?"
    "What are you doing?"
    "None of your damn business, Mack," Brooke said, wincing as echoes of her words blared into her ear. "What the hell is the matter with you?"
    "Nothing, Brooke, nothing at all," Macklin replied somberly. "I just wanted to know both of you were all right."
    She stayed quiet for a moment, smiled at her dinner guest, and waited for the echoes to clear the line.
    "We're all right, okay? Give the interrogation routine a rest."
    "Be careful, Brooke, and keep a close eye on Cory," Macklin said. "You could be in some danger."
    Oh God, she thought, not this paranoid crap again. Last time she'd let him nag her into leaving town. "No one's out to get us, Mack," she said.
    "Don't be so sure," Macklin replied. "Mort's death wasn't an accident."
    Brooke paused to consider her reply. Mort was probably killed by some tramp's enraged husband. Unfortunately, Brett had faced two other deaths in the last year or so, and a smart-ass reply wouldn't do much good. After all, anybody in his shoes would start to get a little unhinged.
    "I'm sorry about Mort, I really am," Brooke said carefully. "But I haven't seen him in years and I never had much connection with the guy anyway. I doubt whoever wanted to hurt him would care about Cory and me."
    "Look, Mack, I have to go," Brooke interrupted. "I have guests. Give Cory a call when she gets back Sunday night, okay?"
    "Take care, Brooke."
    "I will. Good-bye." Brooke hung up the phone and exhaled, sagging on her bar stool at the kitchen counter.
    Brooke carried her empty glass to the table, where the dirty dinner plates sat unattended, and poured herself some more of the chilled wine, which was now lukewarm.
    "That was my ex-husband, Brett." She filled her glass. "His father was murdered not long ago, and ever since then he's been behaving strangely."
    She walked to the couch and cleared a space for herself among the dozens of hand-knit pillows.
    "I just don't know how to deal with him anymore."
    "Tell me about him." Isadora Van Rijn smiled warmly and put her arm around Brooke. "Maybe I can help."

    "Where's the cat?" Laura asked, pushing open the cabin's screen door and stepping out onto the porch.

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