After She's Gone (West Coast 3) - Page 22

Cassie didn’t think so.

A messy king-size bed dominated the room. But the mattress had been stripped, the pink and silver duvet with matching sheets gone. As Cassie remembered, there had been a huge array of pillows atop the modern four-poster, but they, too, were missing, probably compliments of the police. Again, pictures of Allie filled the walls, but there were others on the dresser. And possibly some missing. Or was she wrong?

Several framed shots of Brandon McNary and Allie were on the nightstand and dresser. Cassie studied the photos and wondered if her sister had ever gotten over her costar. Theirs had been a volatile relationship and the tabloids had eaten it up. She, the daughter of Jenna Hughes; he, the only son of a wealthy, southwestern family. Allie had sworn she’d finally broken it off for good, but now Cassie wondered.

The attached bath was empty and the second bedroom was used as a closet where Allie’s clothes and shoes were stored in massive floor-to-ceiling shelving, drawers, and racks. Positioned near the wide window, with its view of the Hollywood Hills, was a vanity complete with multiple drawers and mirrors that, despite the lights surrounding each reflective panel, could be adjusted to catch the right illumination and offer differing views.

She sat on Allie’s stool and wondered what it would be like to be the brainy-turned-beauty sister rather than the screwed up one? Catching her own reflection in one of the mirrors that had been turned in, she saw her image repeated and repeated, getting smaller and more indistinct in the echoing reflections until they disappeared in a tiny blur. She was turning away when she saw something in the mirror.

A shadowy figure loomed behind her.

Her heart jolted and she jumped, knocking over a glass jar of makeup brushes with her hand.

Biting back a scream, she twisted to find nothing but a gray curtain draped to the floor. No person. No dark figure. Just an innocuous length of fabric that her willing mind conjured into an evil presence.

Pull yourself together!

Shaken, she righted the jar, stuffed the brushes into it, then stood.

Her cell phone buzzed.

Heart still pounding she glanced at the number on the screen, digits she didn’t recognize, couldn’t place.

She let the call go to voice mail as she left Allie’s home with no more answers than she’d had when she’d entered. Making her way to her car, she found a nasty note on the windshield about respecting that the parking spaces were for “tenants only,” then wadded the note and climbed into the car. Geez, she’d been in the spot for less than an hour and someone got pissed? But someone was probably monitoring the surveillance setup in the garage, she thought as she heard the ping indicating she had voice mail. She spied a camera mounted high on a pillar, a red light winking to show that it was monitoring this level of the lot.

“Fabulous,” Cassie said tightly, and an urgency took over, a need to get away from this place with its dark memories of Allie and the prying eyes of hidden cameras. Shuddering, she zoomed out of the exit, barely braking as she drove her Honda into the street, pigeons fluttering out of her path as she squinted against the high intensity of the sun.

“I thought you might know why she’d be at the airport.” Jenna’s voice was filled with worry, a concern that came across the wireless connection all too clearly.

Driving into town and talking on the phone illegally, Trent felt that tightness in the back of his neck that always accompanied conversations about Cassie. He wouldn’t have answered his cell, but had seen that the caller was Jenna Hughes, so he was willing to risk the ticket. Cassie was always trouble—or in trouble—and because he hadn’t yet pulled the trigger on the divorce, he felt she was still his responsibility. Kind of.

“Don’t have a clue,” he said, taking a corner a little too sharply and wondering why the hell his not-yet-ex-wife was taking a trip so soon after leaving the psychiatric ward of a hospital. The windshield wipers were slapping away the rain pouring from the heavy clouds overhead and the truck’s wheels hummed against the wet asphalt, but Trent’s thoughts were now centered on Cassie.

“I thought she may have talked to you.”

Fingers curled over the steering wheel in a death grip, he turned off the highway and angled his old pickup into the outskirts of Falls Crossing. “Not for a while.”

“You didn’t see her at the hospital?” Jenna asked, but he suspected she knew the truth.

“Cass wouldn’t see me. Refused to let me near her. I was, and am, persona non grata.”

“But you’re her husband.”

“Doesn’t mean much to Cass.” He slowed for a stop sign. A Cadillac old enough to sport fins rolled through the intersection.

“I’m worried about her,” Jenna admitted.


“Aren’t you?” The question had a bite to it.

“She’s always a worry,” he bit back, then mentally kicked himself. Jenna had always been fair with him, no matter how many times he’d screwed up. He pulled into a parking slot near the post office. “I haven’t talked to Cassie since she and everyone else came back to reshoot the end of her last movie and Allie went missing. She called me and ranted and railed at me, thought I had something to do with Allie’s disappearance and then I hauled her ass—I picked her up from the police station after a particularly rough interview. But you know all that.”


“Haven’t heard from her since.”

Jenna said through a tight throat, “She . . . she won’t talk to me.

Tags: Lisa Jackson West Coast Mystery
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