Chapter 5

 

GRIM REAPER CLAIMS A VICTIM

 

“THERE SURE IS A LOT of secrecy surrounding Chloe’s death,” Sara said. “And they’ve all been ordered to keep quiet?” She looked over at Sean, who was behind the wheel, and arched an eyebrow. “That seems suspicious to me.”

“The station could be protecting their image. She could have had a drug overdose, something else…” he pointed out as he took a left turn, as directed by the GPS.

She wished she could run with that theory, but given their background as homicide detectives, her mind had to rule out murder first. “No, Sean, I don’t think so.”

“Well, before we get carried away, let’s talk to Jackson.” Sean steered the car into an apartment building parking lot.

She’d been working to quiet the voices in her head speculating about how Chloe had died, but speaking with Allison had only ratcheted up their chatter. She needed answers to quell her mind. She also felt a personal obligation to ensure justice was found, probably because she’d known Chloe—even if only for a brief time. Of course, that was assuming she’d been killed.

“And that poor man discovering his coworker,” Sara began. “I wonder where he found her and if he knows how she died.”

“Hopefully we’ll find out.” Sean got out of the car, came around, and opened her door. He held out a hand to her. “Keep in mind that Jackson might not be too happy to see us.”

“I know,” she said, taking his hand. “But if nothing else comes of this, maybe we’ll find out what happened to our segment.”

“Yeah, but will you be satisfied if that’s the only question we get answered?” He looked over at her as he held the front door of the building open for her. The glint in his eyes told her he doubted she’d let the matter of Chloe’s death go until she had all the boxes checkmarked and found out what had happened.

“I’d be lying if I said otherwise, and you know it. But please—” she took his hand “—just keep an open mind.”

Sean nodded. Sara often ran with her feelings, her hunches, her higher knowing, and did so on a whim. In contrast, Sean was compelled by reason, logic, and solid evidence.

They walked up to Jackson’s apartment on the third floor and knocked. Sean was about to knock again when footsteps padded toward the door. Then all went quiet for a bit. She imagined Jackson looking at them through the peephole.

“Jackson?” Sara called out. “It’s the McKinleys.” When he didn’t say anything, she added, “From the haunted house.” Maybe he needed a little more of a reminder.

Sean was shaking his head, and if she was reading his mind properly, he was thinking their coming here had been a bad idea.

“We’d like to talk to you about Chloe,” she said, certain to articulate in such way that he’d sense concern, not suspicion.

The chain rattled as it was being undone, and the handle turned. The door opened slowly.

Jackson was standing there in tattered jeans and a T-shirt. His eyes looked weary, and they were wet with unshed tears. Based on his complexion, she guessed that they had interrupted him crying.

“She’s dead.” He spat out the words in a cool manner, as if trying to separate reality from emotion, but it only made his pain that much more tangible.