The Obsession Page 104

“Chief Winston knows who we are. He ran me after I found the body.”

“Yeah, I figured as much.”

“Xander knows. I told him.”

“You—” Stunned, Mason stared at his sister, then Xander when Xander stepped back out. “Is that right?”

“Yes, so you don’t have to worry about what you say.”

“I can’t say much more of anything because I need to go meet Winston. I’ll be back.” Mason took Naomi’s shoulders. “I’ll be back after I meet with him. You can show me the house, what you’ve been working on.”

“All right.”

He kissed her forehead, stepped back. “I’ll be back,” he said to Xander.

As Mason left, Xander sat on the glider. “Can we just sit here for a minute?”

“I should—”

“I need it. I have to hope this isn’t happening to her. She’s one of the best people I know, and she and Loo . . . I need to call Loo. She’d have heard. We’d have heard most likely but we had the out-of-town gig. She’ll need to talk to me, but I need to sit for a minute first.”

Naomi went over, lowered to the glider beside him, took his hand. “We’ll just sit here, then you should go see her. It’s better if you go see her than call.”

“You’re right, but I’m not leaving you here alone. Not until we know what the hell’s happening.”

Not the time to argue, she decided. “I’ll go with you. I’ll text Mason so he knows, and go with you.”


Mason’s impression of Sunrise Cove jibed with Naomi’s. It had charm, and its situation on the water added considerable appeal. He’d have enjoyed a few days downtime there, maybe renting some Jet-Skis, or that kayak his sister seemed so keen on.

He couldn’t see making it his base, as Naomi was. He liked the city, where anything and everything could and did happen. He needed a quick pace, one that kept up with his own.

But then she preferred the quiet, prized her solitude. He needed movement, conversation, needed to be part of a team. Work drove them both—hers in art and imagery, capturing moments and making them speak. His in behavior, in rules, in an endless quest to find out why.

Compensations, he knew very well, for both of them, constantly on some level trying to weigh the scale against what they’d come from.

She tried, often too hard in his opinion, to erase it, to shove it away. And he couldn’t stop studying it, aiming his life toward the pursuit of those, like his father, who lived to destroy, and found their only real pleasure in that destruction.

He didn’t know what to think about Xander Keaton or Naomi’s relationship with him. Yet. He’d study that as well.

The fact she’d told Keaton about Bowes indicated she’d formed a serious and he wanted to believe healthy attachment—something she’d avoided and denied herself all her life outside of their tight little family.

As for Keaton . . . on first impression Mason would tag him with one of Harry’s terms. A cool customer. But he’d already observed a number of tells. The way he’d ranged himself in front of the house—with Naomi inside—before Mason had identified himself, the firm but casual order for her to “simmer down,” and the fact that he’d told Mason to talk to Naomi when Mason had asked about sex.

Initial analysis? Mason thought as he parked in the tiny lot beside the station house. A confident man, and one who’d protect his sister. He could and would be grateful for that, for now.

And like any self-respecting brother who was also a federal agent, he’d run him.

Mason rounded to the front, noted the station had a small front porch, recently painted and swept clean as a parlor.

When he stepped inside, he had that instant déjà vu he experienced any time he went into a small-town cop shop.

Had Naomi been in here? he wondered. Would she see the similarities to Pine Meadows? Of course she would. Not the same, of course, not a mirror image, and the basic tools and equipment had advanced in the seventeen years since his father’s arrest.

But the setup struck so similar, the tone. The smell of coffee and baked goods, plastic chairs, a trio of desks in what served as both a kind of lobby and the bull pen.

A uniformed deputy sat at one of the desks, gave Mason the eye.

“Help you?”

You already know who I am, why I’m here, Mason calculated. And don’t like the idea of an outsider, especially a federal one, horning into town business.

The reaction was nothing new.

“Yes. Special Agent Mason Carson. I have a meeting with Chief Winston.”

The deputy leaned back in his chair, sized Mason up with a faint sneer that clearly read fuck you. “Have you got identification?”

Even as Mason reached for it, a man came out of the back holding a big blue mug that read CHIEF. “Mike, you climb up any higher on that horse, you’re going to get a nosebleed.” Sam stepped forward, hand extended. “Sam Winston. Pleased to meet you, Agent Carson.”

“I appreciate the time, Chief.”

“Come on back. You want some coffee? It’s not half-bad coffee.”

“I just had some at my sister’s, but thanks.”

They stepped into an office with a window at the back. The wide sill held a scatter of trophies, some framed photos, and a wildly thriving philodendron.

The desk sat on the side wall, giving the Cove’s chief views out the window and to the door. Two visitor’s chairs—straight backs, no-nonsense—angled toward it.

Prev Next