The Body Finder (The Body Finder 1) - Page 57

Her uncle took another long drink of the thick black ooze he called coffee before answering her. He dropped his head back and stared up at the ceiling for a moment. “It’s the girl,” he finally admitted, dropping his chin again and rubbing eyes that looked more like they were hemorrhaging than bloodshot. “We exhumed the body, from right where you said it was, and we’ve already been able to identify her.”

“The girl from the party on Friday? Mackenzie Sherwin, right?” Violet asked, finally feeling like she had a grasp on the conversation.

“No, Vi,” her mom corrected, speaking to her for the first time since Violet had gotten home yesterday. She reached over the table and squeezed Violet’s hand. Her eyes were starting to fill with tears. “It was Hailey McDonald.” Her voice broke.

Violet felt as though she’d just been punched in the gut. It wasn’t like she hadn’t suspected that Hailey was dead; it was just that, for some strange reason, actually hearing the words, and knowing that she had been so close to the girl’s dead body, was just too, too terrible. Hailey was someone she’d known.

“Okay…” Violet struggled to keep her words coherent. “…So I still don’t get it. Why do you need me if he confessed?”

“Because he’s confessed to every one of them, and to more, but not to Mackenzie Sherwin,” her uncle explained tiredly. “He refuses to take responsibility for her disappearance.”

“Maybe he wasn’t responsible,” Violet offered, as if she were the first one to think of it. “Maybe she really did just wander out into the woods and get lost. Maybe she’s still alive.”

He shook his head. “He’s lying,” her uncle insisted adamantly. “I don’t know why, but he’s lying about her. I think he knows exactly where she is, and he doesn’t want us to find out. I feel like we’re missing something—something important—but I just can’t pin it down yet. We’ve already executed a search warrant on his property and tried offering him deals in exchange for her location. He claims he doesn’t know, but he’s full of shit. Sorry, Vi.”

Normally the sound of her uncle swearing would have made her giggle; it sounded so strange and unnatural coming out of his mouth. He was the only person Violet knew who sounded dorkier swearing than her dad. Her mom, on the other hand, had a mouth like a sailor, and only barely tried to conceal her love of curse words. But now wasn’t the time, and this wasn’t funny.

“Maybe he didn’t have a chance to move her to another location yet. We’d like to take you out to his house to see if you can, you know…feel…anything there. Perhaps help us find Mackenzie.”

Violet looked up at him with wide eyes and, without blinking, stated out loud what they all knew to be true. “You know I can only find her if she’s dead.”

There was no real plan once they got to the killer’s house, but Violet knew what was expected of her. She was there to search for echoes.

Violet had been comfortable with her ability ever since she was a little girl. She’d even been kind of okay with accidentally stumbling onto the two human bodies she had found in her life. Three, including Hailey McDonald’s. And she definitely hadn’t shied away from looking for the killer when she thought she could help.

But this…

This was different. This was gruesome.

She was purposely looking for a dead girl. This would not be chance…no random discovery.

There were only a few officers at the site, and they were all too busy doing other things, searching for clues and gathering evidence, to even notice she was there. Violet trailed behind her uncle, letting him lead her at first through the house, which was small and dark and dirty, and then leading him as they walked the extensive property, which was sectioned off into several pastures by low wooden fences. Her dad followed right behind them.

It was eerie being here…knowing that she was standing in the very places that a killer once had. Seeing where he ate, and rested, and lived.

She stopped several times, feeling old echoes that were faded and weak from the passage of time. Violet was sure they were nothing…at least nothing that the police were interested in. She could only assume that cats hunted rats, coyotes killed chickens, and men slaughtered livestock. At least those were some of the reasons she imagined for finding echoes on a farm.

But her uncle tagged each spot anyway, marking it with a small orange flag that he stuck into the ground. They wouldn’t start digging until after she’d gone. It was one of the many contingencies placed on this plan by her father. She was to get in and out as quickly as possible, with as few people, even her uncle’s own officers, aware that she’d ever been there.

She knew before they were even finished searching that Mackenzie Sherwin wasn’t here. Violet would have known, as clearly as she would have heard Brooke’s bells or seen the rainbow sheen of an oil slick; it would have been fresh and strong.

If Mackenzie was dead, she was dead somewhere else.


FROM WHERE HE STOOD HE COULD SEE THE weathered facade of the aging farmhouse. He had seen this house hundreds of times before. But this time—today—he studied it through different eyes.

He stayed out of sight, watching as the officers came and went, taking photographs, tagging evidence, and carrying corrugated boxes from inside the house out to their cars. This house, the one he’d visited so many times before, had become a crime scene. Or at least, part of a criminal investigation.

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