Home > Don't Play With Odin (Trouble for Hire #2)(8)

Don't Play With Odin (Trouble for Hire #2)(8)
Author: Cynthia Eden

His lips twitched.

“But, just so you know—just so you get that I am not taking unnecessary risks—the cops on scene recognized you earlier. And I asked one for more information about you. He said you had a good reputation, that you and War were creating something strong down here. You have the endorsement of the PD. Figured that meant I could feel safe around you.”

She was one hundred percent safe with him. Odin dropped the blankets and pillow onto the floor. “I’m gonna want to hear about all the information you had on your neighbor.”

“Hearing isn’t the same as seeing the material with your own eyes. You might just think I’m making it up as I go along.”

Maybe. Maybe not. “Tell me what you’ve got.”

“A History of Bloody Murder and Madness.”

“Uh, okay.” Where was he supposed to go with that?

“It’s the name of my podcast. I research famous unsolved crimes and talk about who I think the actual killers were. You know, like say…Jack the Ripper. No one ever actually uncovered his real identity, but in my podcast, I spent four episodes talking about who I thought he was. And, of course, there is the Lizzie Borden case. Most people just take for granted that Lizzie picked up an ax and killed her parents back in the late 1800s, but what if she didn’t do it? What if someone else was behind the attack and Lizzie took the fall?”

He tried to follow along. Failed. “What do Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Borden have to do with your neighbor?”

“Nothing.” Her hands twisted in front of her. “Everything.”

Super clear answer. He frowned at her.

“Research. That’s how I got the details about Jack and Lizzie. How I found new pieces in the puzzles. When something doesn’t feel right, I can’t stop. I have to keep digging and digging. Clay—he didn’t feel right. Not from day one.”

So she thought her next door neighbor was a killer because of a feeling?

“He got the job he has after my friend Whitney Augustine vanished. She was the head of the psych department, and one day, she just didn’t show up for work. Her car was found in her driveway. Her personal belongings were still in the house, and Whitney was just…gone.”

Now he held up a hand. “Back up.”

She stared at him expectantly.

“You didn’t mention that you work with Clay Prescott.”

“Technically, I don’t. He’s psychology. I’m history. Our paths hardly ever cross but…” She shrugged. “Yes, we are at the same college.”

“And you became suspicious of him after Whitney Augustine vanished.”

“I was looking for her. Like I told you, she was my friend.” Her lips pressed together. Then… “She wouldn’t have just vanished without telling me. I mean, it’s like she just fell off the face of the earth. That doesn’t happen.”

Sometimes it did. When you were running from someone. Or something.

“There was a packed bag found in her den. A suitcase that she used for travel. Because of that bag, the cops just assumed she’d left on her own, so they didn’t spend a lot of resources looking for her.” Frustration boiled in her voice. “That made zero sense! If she was leaving, she would have taken the bag. Not left it. But they said there were no signs of foul play. The trail got cold. And everyone else seemed to move on and forget about her.”

Obviously, Maisey hadn’t forgotten. Pain was in her voice as she spoke of her friend.

“I couldn’t let it go. I started looking at her life. Trying to see if I could help her. If Whitney was in trouble, I needed to help her. And that’s when I found him.”

“Prescott?”

A quick nod. “He’d started at Dunson a few months before Whitney’s disappearance. She was the one who brought him here. They had worked together at another college before Whitney moved to this area. Only…when I looked at that other school—Plymouth South, it’s also located here in Florida—do you know what I found?”

He had no idea.

“The professor that Clay replaced there—Jenny Lynch—she also vanished.”

His shoulders stiffened. “You have my attention.”

“Right?” she exclaimed. “Because that is too big of a coincidence. This guy gets two desirable jobs because the women who’d been in those spots just vanished? Like that just randomly happens?”

Statistically, yes, that shit didn’t just happen. Not twice.

“Then I looked deeper.”

Of course, she had.

“When Clay was eighteen, he was dating a girl named Hannah Martinez. They’d been high school sweethearts. Until…a few days before graduation, Hannah disappeared.”

Fuck.

“She was never found. Just as Jenny Lynch was never found. And my friend Whitney? It’s been two months, and there has been no sign of her. I filed a missing person’s report, but I swear, I don’t think it’s gone anywhere since the first week.” Her hands had fisted. “Then Clay was promoted to Whitney’s position at the college, and he moved into the neighborhood. Right next to me. And I had the first break-in. And everything just feels…off.”

Because everything damn well was off. Three women missing, and the common denominator was Clay? Suspicious as hell.

“I know it’s circumstantial. But he has ties to the missing women. He is the only link I’ve found between them all. The cops said it wasn’t enough. I get that I need more. But you—” She inched closer. “I have you now. You can help me to find more.” Her shoulders rolled back. “Or, if I’m totally wrong, you can help me to figure that out, too. But Whitney was good to me. I can’t just forget about her. I have to try. And if he is hurting women, k-killing them,” she stammered a bit on that word, “then we have to stop him.”

Odin stared into her eyes. What was a man supposed to do when a woman looked at him with eyes like hers? All soulful, deep? Hopeful? She was staring at him like he was some kind of damn hero, when he’d been feeling like the walking dead for months.

“I’m so glad I have you.” She gave him a quick smile, one that packed the double wallop of her dimples.

Uh, yeah, when exactly was the last time someone had told him that?

“We’ll get the truth,” Odin promised. The words sounded like a vow because they were. She had faith in him. She was staring at him like he was the good guy. Asking him to save the freaking day and shit.

He’d do his best. For her.

For the friend that was missing. He’d figure out what was happening with Clay Prescott. Sure, Odin’s tactics might not be the best—he might have to twist and break more rules in order to get to the truth. But, no matter what, he would get the job done.

Maisey rocked forward onto the balls of her feet. Judging by her expression and body language, he really, really felt like another hug was coming on. That hug would be wrong for a thousand different reasons. The main reason? If she touched him again, he’d hold on—too tightly—to her.

So Odin stepped back. Tried to remove himself from temptation.

Her long eyelashes flickered at his movement.

“Get some sleep,” he ordered gruffly. “Tomorrow, we start this case.”

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