“Blood on the side of this sink,” said the younger tech.
The other tech shrugged. “It’s dried. Don’t know if it’s been there for five hours or five days.”
Mason took a hard look at the clean floor. “Find blood anywhere else?” At the looks on their faces, he amended his statement. “Find blood anywhere else in this section of the restroom?”
Both men shook their heads.
“Anything else odd catch your interest?”
“Not yet, sir.”
Mason gave them a nod and went back to the other group, where Dr. Rutledge was stating that he’d take a closer look at the body once it arrived at the morgue.
“We need something to identify him with,” North was saying. “Scars, tattoos, see if there’s anything we can put out there.”
“I’ll see what I can find and let you know immediately,” promised the medical examiner.
“I interviewed Walter Borrego, the older yoga guy who was in the bathroom when the shooter entered,” Mason said. “Who interviewed the father with the boy and the last guy out of the bathroom?”
“Not sure.” North flipped through a few pages, shaking his head. “I don’t have that here. Seems like I saw one of my guys talking to the father. Don’t know about the other witness. I’ll find out.”
“Okay, everyone got their look?” North asked. “Then get out. I need to bring in the next group.”
Mason followed Zander out of the bathroom, feeling the touch of a million tiny vibrations from the death scene scatter along his bones, and wondered what the dead were trying to tell him.
At eight in the morning, Ava poured her second cup of coffee as she watched her dog, Bingo, plead with a squirrel in the backyard to play with him. She was attempting not to look at her kitchen. The room was a work in progress. A big, gigantic, messy piece of work. The contractor had ripped out every shred of the previous 1970s kitchen, demolished a wall, and promised her she’d love it one day.
Six weeks, my ass.
Three weeks had passed since the demolition, and she wasn’t seeing much progress. Her usable appliances were reduced to a microwave, coffeepot, and mini-fridge. A million boxes holding her kitchen’s contents were piled in her formal living room. She and Mason had bought the old Tudor home in June. It perched on a corner lot in an older Portland neighborhood with a huge fenced backyard and quiet neighbors. The lot was large but the home was small and needed lots of work to restore it to the condition of its glory days of the 1920s. She’d stepped through the front door and fallen in love. Where Mason had seen money pit, she’d seen quality and strength. It just needed tender loving care. Their contractor loved it, too—maybe too much. If he had his way, their remodel would cost as much as the home. Ava reined him in except when it came to her dream kitchen. Nothing was held back there.
It’d be a while before they could afford to restore the rest of the home.
From behind her, Mason slipped a hand around her waist and pressed his lips against her neck. “You smell like coffee.”
“No better perfume,” she said.
“What’s wrong with Bingo?” he asked, peering over her shoulder and out the window. “He’s been whining for the last ten minutes.”
“The squirrel refuses to play. It just sits on the fence and chatters at him. Are you leaving already?” She’d briefly awoken when he’d crawled in bed, and had noticed it was two A.M. She’d asked him if he knew how Misty was doing. He’d told her the doctors had said she’d make a full recovery. Ava had instantly relaxed at his words and gone back to sleep for a total of twelve hours.
“Yes. They spent part of the night setting up a room at the Cedar Edge Community Center to use for the investigation. Zander pulled some strings and got an amazing amount of federal technical support. Washington County had no complaints about the FBI having a foot in the case once they saw the resources he finagled.”
“They shouldn’t complain.” Ava frowned. “The cases crossed and now we’ll work together. They should be thankful we have an interest in why a shooter decided to act.”
He tightened his arms around her stomach. “Last night I stood at the place where you hid with Misty.” He pressed his mouth against her hair, and she felt him shudder.
She exhaled. “I saw it all night long in my dreams.”
“That was no hiding place, Ava. He could have easily spotted you.”
“He did see us. He turned around and looked right at me on his way to the bathroom.”
Mason straightened, his arms stiffening. “You didn’t say that last night.”
“I told Shaver during my debriefing. I thought I’d mentioned it to you,” she lied. She’d held back that morsel of information from Mason. There’d been no point in his worrying about something that’d already happened. He’d had enough to think about.
“I’d remember if you’d said that. What’d he do?”
“He looked at me.” She shrugged, covering up the need to shiver. “He was checking the doors in that section of the mall. I met his gaze. He lifted his rifle and pointed it at us, but didn’t shoot. He looked at his watch and left. I felt like he didn’t have time to deal with us.”
“He aimed at you?” Mason spun her around to face him. His eyes were wide and his hands were tight on her shoulders. “You said nothing last night. Dammit! Don’t try to protect me. You held that back, didn’t you?”