Mike Jaeger, private investigator, knows all about killers. Like the killer he’s hunting, it’s in his blood.
Two dead bodies. A powerful enemy. A killing lust. A predator turned prey.
When Mike agrees to do a favor for an old woman’s lawyer grandson, he has no idea it will lead to danger for his brothers and himself. But when a young girl is found dead and his brother says, “Her death matters. Make it matter. At any cost.”, what else can he do but follow the trail?
Wherever it leads.
I looked at him. He held my eyes with a steady calm that showed no sign of the effort I knew was there. It was so hard not to say something then, one of the many things I’d sworn not to say this time, but instead I breathed in, and pulled out the photos. I showed him the one of the murdered woman.
He studied her a long time, sorrow tainting the air with ash-sour heaviness. I watched him, letting myself feel his grief, although its cause was lost on me.
He looked up, letting his breath out in a long heavy sigh. “She’s young,” he said. “There’s no good reason for a child that young to be doing what she was doing. There’s no good reason for a child that young to have eyes like that.” He touched her face gently. “Look at her, Mike. Is this the face of someone who feels loved? Who feels wanted? Does a girl this young sell her body because she values herself, because other people value her?”
The words, from him, did what all my detecting hadn’t: brought forth an emotional response. For a moment I felt what he felt. I knew how he knew this. I knew what he saw when he looked at her. And so I did too.
I wanted to hold him. To protect him.
But we were past that. He didn’t want that from me anymore.
I took a breath, focused on being professional. “Maybe. If she needed money badly enough. Or if she wanted to take revenge on someone who loved her, or said they loved her.”
He nodded slowly. “Those are reasons. But they’re reasons on top of the heart of the matter, which is that she feels she deserves this sort of life. That she is only worth this.”
I wanted to say that he was too, but he knew that, had known that a long time now. It was me who couldn’t move on. I was silent.
“Her death matters, Mike. Please. Make it matter.”
I frowned. “Mrs D hired me to protect her grandson from this mess.”
“I know.” He took a deep breath. I knew he didn’t like saying this. Even after all these years, even with me (maybe especially with me?), he still had trouble saying clearly what he wanted. “But this girl is dead. I want you to find out who she is, and why she had to die, and who killed her.”
“Even if doing that doesn’t protect Richard?” I wanted to be clear. I’d got in trouble before, thinking I knew my brother’s will.
He nodded. “Even if.”