Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 21

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 Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

When she arrived at the office, she settled at her desk, prepared to do some searching. A man walked up, clearing his throat. She finished her search parameters without looking up.

“Hiya, Scott.”

“How did you know it was me?” He slung a hip over the corner of her desk.

“Change your cologne.” She smiled up at him. “It’s distinctive.”

“Bad?” He sniffed himself.

“Not at all, but no one else smells the same.”

“Update me. What happened with Troy In—”

“Intriago.” She spelled it for him.

He repeated it silently, nodding. “Okay. Him.”

Vanessa gave him a rundown of her discoveries.

“And the Partridge kid, you’re sure he’s not good for it?”

“No, I don’t think so. But he knows something he’s not sharing. His reaction to her death was genuine. He was horrified, disgusted, grief-stricken.”

“You let him take down Troy?” he scowled.

“Duh—pregnant lady? I didn’t have a uniform with me, and he volunteered. It was a clean hit, on grass. No serious injuries.”

Scott nodded, biting his lip. “What are we doing now?”

We? Aren’t doing anything. I am looking for potential suspects. Aiden said Wendy had issues with the coach and a couple players. I have a feeling he didn’t tell me everything.”

“You’re convinced about the kid? You’re sure he didn’t do this?”

“There’s a core of anger there, which I don’t understand. Do I like him for this? No. Am I worried I’m wrong?” She spread her hands, shaking her head.

“You’re wrong about as often as I am, Nessa.” Which in his mind, meant never.

“Maybe, but there’s something—dark. Secret.”

They talked a few more minutes, batting ideas around. Finally satisfied, he left her to work.

Focusing on the screen, Vanessa examined her search hits. Selecting the yearbook site, she checked on the year Wendy graduated. Accessing the golf team photo, she saw a familiar face. This one was sun-kissed and smiling, not frozen and pale in death. Front and center, Wendy stood, flanked by Jim Butcher and Coach Bullock.

Searching the photo, she found Aiden. Shorter and younger, he stood near the middle of the group, grinning proudly. There was a sizable crowd, larger than she had anticipated. She shouldn’t be surprised, it was a popular sport in Florida. New Smyrna Beach alone, had five golf courses. Surely not all the players were retirement age.

The names were listed below, with links to their class pictures and bio pages. She clicked on all of them, printing off the information. Her hand hovered over Aiden’s link, but she clicked it anyway. He might not be a suspect, but he knew something. The coach’s name took her to a far longer page. He had played professionally for a few years. Since his career had been less than stellar, he had left the pro circuit. He worked as a golf coach and was an instructor at the municipal course.

There were several pages of golf matches listed, with photographs of their victories. In all of the pictures, Wendy stood proudly in the center. Jim Butcher and Coach Bullock, as always, on either side of her. In more than one, they men weren’t looking at the camera, they eyed Wendy. In one, the coach’s expression could only be described as lascivious. Vanessa stared at it a long time before printing it. She gave herself a bigger copy, and took it to her desk, studying it carefully.

Someone came up behind her, but it wasn’t Scott. Soft lips brushed her neck and she leaned into her husband’s embrace. Eyes closed, she savored the moment.

“I brought dinner,” he mumbled, lips on her throat. “Or can you actually go home?”

Her sensitive nose picked out the aroma of her favorite Mexican food and her mouth started to water.

“Let’s eat, then go. I’m starving.”

“Pepita is taking it out of you.” His hand caressed her still flat belly.

“Yeah, now I know what my sisters were talking about. They were all ravenous when they were pregnant.”

They sat at her desk and Dario laid out the food. His eyes didn’t miss the picture of the coach.

“Why’s the old guy playing grab-ass with the teeny bopper?”

“He—what?” She snatched up the photo, examining it more closely.

“You’re losing your edge, my love. Look at the old lech’s right hand. He has a handful of lush, teen ass. What a perv.”

“He does! How did I miss that?”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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