He'd rather Lacey not continue her regular activities. But she’d insisted she was paying for a gym membership and was going to use it. She’d also assured him she was safer in a public place in the daytime than home alone at night. He agreed. It was the home-alone-at-night part of the equation he wished he could do something about.
He’d scanned the area before stepping outside, but now did it again. At five thirty in the afternoon, the place was busy with the after-work crowd. A ripped guy in a T-shirt and workout pants strode to a pickup truck with his jacket slung over one shoulder. A young woman in hot pink sweats jogged toward them, ponytail swinging from side to side. No one looked suspicious.
Three days had passed since the discovery of the Heimdall action figure. Nothing had happened since, but Jason was taking the threat as seriously as Lacey had.
The police were, too. They didn’t have grounds to haul Ivan in, but Jason had seen them drive past Lacey’s house several times. Tomorrow, a technician would be out to install the alarm system she’d ordered on Monday.
Lacey slid into the passenger seat of his Escape and glanced at her phone. “I keep hoping to get a message from Tiffany.”
“You just messaged her yesterday afternoon.”
She hadn’t wasted any time. She’d called her friend Monday night, and her friend had asked about Tiffany yesterday. The woman’s last name was Vining, but no one knew where she’d gone. A year ago, she’d surprised everyone at the bank with a two-day notice and disappeared. Lacey had located her on Facebook, but so far, the private message had gone unanswered.
He looked over at her. “Don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t respond. Leaving on such short notice and not telling her coworkers where she went sounds like someone who doesn’t want to be found.”
“I explained in my message why I needed to talk to her and gave her my phone number.”
Jason slid the key into the ignition. The tennis courts lay straight ahead, the Valley River and another parking area beyond. This time of year, the view was relatively unobstructed.
A motorcycle waited at the edge of the parking lot on the other side of the river. The rider was dressed in a bulky black jacket, his helmet’s shield pulled down. His head was turned toward them, as if he was watching them from across the river.
Jason tensed. “Does Ivan have a motorcycle?”
“I don’t think so. He drives a silver sports car, a 370X. Why?”
He pointed through the windshield. “That rider looks awfully interested in what’s going on over here.”
There was a long silence while Lacey watched. “With the jacket and helmet, I can’t say whether that’s Ivan.”
When Jason pulled out his phone, Lacey frowned. “What if it’s not him?”
“They’ll forgive us. It’s better to call in by mistake than let the bad guy drive away.”
Jason checked his mirrors and backed from the space. As he shifted into Drive, the motorcycle sped up Thomas Street, paralleling the river.
The dispatcher came on, and Jason related what he’d seen. By the time he’d pulled out of the parking lot, the motorcycle was gone. He ended the call with the dispatcher. Now it was up to the police.
With the sketchy description Jason had given, he wasn’t holding out much hope. He didn’t even know what kind of bike it was.
He cast Lacey a sideways glance. “I’m going to check the DMV and see what vehicles are titled to Ivan. I’m guessing there’s going to be a motorcycle listed.”
When they arrived at Lacey’s house, Cassie met them at the door. Nessie was nowhere in sight. Lacey had been right. He hadn’t seen the gray cat since his first night there.
As she threw the dead bolt, her phone started to ring. She glanced at the screen and pursed her lips. When he looked at it over her shoulder, the caller ID said Blocked.
She brought the phone to her ear and gave a tentative “Hello.”
Her expression went from cautious to curious to elated. “Thank you so much for reaching out.”
He raised his brows. Apparently Tiffany was responding to her message. As Jason listened to the one-sided conversation, lead filled his gut. Finally, Lacey thanked Tiffany again and lowered the phone.
Jason frowned. “That didn’t sound encouraging.”
“It wasn’t. Her experience mirrored mine, right down to the stories of the cheating ex-girlfriend. Things started out great, then turned scary. She was convinced he was going to kill her.”
“Why don’t the police have anything on this?” He’d already asked. No prior complaints had shown up.
“She didn’t report it. The police couldn’t protect her 24/7, and she felt a restraining order would be worthless. So she decided to leave the area and start over somewhere else. She hasn’t seen or heard from him since.”
Jason nodded slowly. His thoughts on restraining orders were the same as hers. They were only effective when they were obeyed.
He hadn’t seen a piece of paper yet that could stop a blade or a bullet.
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