Josie scoured the internet for Blackwell’s address for an hour before her eyes started to burn and her head grew heavy and clouded by sleep deprivation. There was an address for a rural route outside of Bowersville, but Josie knew the Blackwells no longer lived there because the entire area had been developed into a miniature golf course. She searched using Blackwell’s husband’s name but nothing came up. Where the hell had they gone? Even if they had moved, it would have been impossible to keep their new address off the internet in this day and age, surely? She tried using a private address search database that the department subscribed to using Ray’s login. This database she could log into without him knowing she was using his credentials, and he used the same password for everything: JoRay0803, their names followed by the date they’d gotten back together after college. But the database turned up nothing beyond the Blackwells’ old Bowersville address.
A high-pitched buzzing started inside her head, her body begging her for sleep. She was suddenly aware of the dull ache along the left side of her body from the accident at the Stop and Go. She hadn’t changed the dressing on her leg in two days. That needed to be done, but fatigue hit her so hard she felt like she could just slide down onto the floor and sleep for days under her kitchen table. She had barely hit her mattress before the blackness engulfed her.
A loud, steady knocking woke her a few
hours later, and much too soon. The sun had fallen to the other side of the sky
but its rays clung on, sneaking around the blinds with much less vigor. She looked at her
clock, rolled over, and tried to go back to sleep. The knocking went on. Josie pulled one of her pillows over her head, but she still heard it. Finally, after fifteen minutes of constant knocking, she stood up, stomped down her stairs, and flung her door open.
Trinity Payne stood on her stoop in her signature coat, a tight little black skirt, and tall, taupe-colored heels. Strands of her black hair lifted gently in the wind. Josie squinted. Her hair was so shiny, you could practically see your reflection in it.
“Nice hair,” Trinity said, as if reading her mind.
Josie turned and checked her reflection in the glass panes of her front door. One side of her head looked like someone had teased her hair straight up in the air. She licked one of her palms and tried to smooth it down, but it only made it look worse.
Trinity took a step toward her. “What’s that from?”
Josie tugged harder at her hair, dragging her fingers through it. “What’s what from?”
Josie’s fingers found the silvered skin and traced its jagged form. It started near her ear and ran down the side of her face, along her jawline. “Not that it’s any of your business, but it’s from a car accident,” she lied. “Are you always this intrusive? Like, even in your personal life?”
Trinity thrust one hip out, her lips twisted in a look of disgust, but said nothing. Josie looked beyond her to see a small blue Honda Civic parked curbside. She pointed. “That’s what you drive? WYEP doesn’t pay very well, does it?”
Trinity remained silent, so Josie tried again. “What do you want?” “You were at Rockview.”
“So, I’d like you to go on the record and talk about what happened.
I’m not getting anything from Rockview or Denton PD.” “Shocker.”
“I’m serious. Tell me what really happened.”
Josie folded her arms over her chest. “What makes you think something happened besides what was reported by the police?”
Trinity rolled her eyes. “Please. Don’t treat me like an idiot. You know as well as I do the police always hold things back. You were there. Did you see the whole thing?”
This was how she did
it. Slipping questions into conversation like they were old friends. Josie
opened her mouth to answer and quickly stopped herself.
“Oh, come on. What have you got to lose? You were a witness. I’m only asking you what you saw.”
“I could lose my job. I can’t talk about Rockview.” “Did you know June Spencer?”
“Are you kidding me?” Josie shook her head and moved back toward the doorway, ready to leave Trinity Payne alone on the front steps.
“What about Sherri Gosnell?” Trinity called after her. “You must have known her. Your grandmother is a resident at Rockview. Sherri worked there for decades.”
Josie stopped, half her body over the threshold, and turned back to Trinity. “What are you trying to get here? June Spencer was being held prisoner by a sexual predator. She got rescued. She was messed up in the head. She had nowhere to go because her mom can’t be located, and her uncle is in a coma. Rockview took her. The next thing anyone knew, Sherri Gosnell was dead. All of that’s already been reported. I’m not sure what you’re looking for. If you want a story, the real story here is how did Donald Drummond, who is on the sex offender registry, manage to take this girl and keep her with no one figuring it out?”
Trinity sighed. She glanced at her shoes. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” she said. “But that’s not a story. I mean, it is—a terrible, horrible, tragic story—but people already know that the systems in place to prevent criminals from committing more crimes are broken. Take any ten crimes and you’ll find that in eight of the cases, the perpetrator either had a lengthy criminal record or should have been in prison but got out on some kind of technicality. It’s not news.”
Josie narrowed her eyes. “You mean it’s not the kind of news that’s going to get you back on a big network show.”
For a split second Trinity’s face registered indignant shock. Then it was replaced by a more pragmatic look. Her brow crinkled and her lips pressed into a thin line. Then she said, “We’re off the record here.”
Josie rolled her eyes. “There is no record, Trinity.”
“What’s wrong with being ambitious?” Trinity said. “I mean, you’re the youngest female lieutenant in Denton PD history.”
“I’m a detective, which is an appointed position in our department. I was the only female lieutenant in Denton PD history and now I’m the only female detective in Denton PD history. I love my job, and I’m good at it.”
“I love my job too, and I’m good at it.”
Josie held up an index finger.
“But you have to manipulate and harass people to
be good at your job.”
Trinity’s eyebrows drew closer together. Her stomach growled loudly, and she covered it with one hand, as though that would silence it. She said, “The public has a right to know about what’s going on in their communities. That is a fact. The press can be a powerful tool. Maybe the way I get the job done offends your delicate sensibilities, but what I do is important.”
“Do you care about the public or do you care about being on television?”
“Both,” Trinity said honestly, the word almost a shout in a feeble attempt to cover up the sound of her stomach protesting again.
Before she could stop herself, Josie laughed. The answer was so instant and brutally honest. Trinity had no illusions about the world or even herself. Josie couldn’t admire the woman’s thirst for celebrity or personal gain, but she certainly respected her truthfulness. She pointed toward Trinity’s stomach. “When’s the last time you ate?”
Trinity eyed her suspiciously. “That’s not important right now,” she said.
Josie pushed her door all the way open and gestured toward the foyer. “I won’t talk to you about Rockview,” she said. “But if you’re going to harass me, why don’t you eat some of my leftover lasagna while you do it.”
Trinity’s blue eyes narrowed. “You want something.” Josie didn’t deny it.
“No one is ever nice to me. What do you want?” “Just come inside,” Josie told her.
Trinity’s heels clacked as she walked slowly past Josie, eyes fixed on her as though she might attack at any moment. Chuckling, Josie stepped past her and led her into the kitchen. “Relax,” she said. “It’s just a little piece of information.”