If you missed Bridges 1, find it here.
I shoved out of the car before she parked, still overeager and fuming after my encounter with Jamie.
Alicia swung out of the driver’s side and slammed her door. “Can you take a breath, please? You’re about to talk to a man that’s lost everything and you’re currently acting like you’re about to interrogate Hitler.”
I trudged across the finely mowed grass, ignoring the sidewalk. “I’m gonna win this one, Alicia, I can feel it.”
“Say that without so much anger, then.”
“Hey!” A dirtied, red-faced man rounded the corner of the house. “Why don’t you use the path like a civilized person?”
I halted dead center in the yard, amused. “I’m sorry, I never realized that the Earth wasn’t meant to be walked on.”
“Why don’t you get out of here?”
“Are you Sawyer Canns?”
He seemed almost offended by the conjecture. “I’m his groundskeeper, Todd.”
“The gardener?” I chaffed.
“Groundskeeper,” he growled.
“Huh.” I sauntered up to the porch, still treading on the grass as long as I could.
Once Todd shook his head and stomped away, Alicia murmured in my ear. “You could try to make friends with people. They’ll be more cooperative if you do.”
“I’m not here to make friends,” I hissed back. “I’m here to find out why the hell Sawyer Canns thinks he needs a gardener.”
I banged on the front door of the quaint little house, my back tensed and ready for action. The balls of my feet bounced back and forth in anticipation. Alicia pressed a hand down on my shoulder to still me, but I brushed her off. No one would bring me down.
A fit young guy peeked out at us before opening the door fully. Even when he accepted our presence, he leaned on the jamb to block our way in. His sweatpants, mussed hair, and shirtless chest betrayed his lethargy, but he straightened up with the poise of a king.
“Sawyer Canns?” I greeted.
“Who are you?” he lashed.
Alicia and I flashed our badges as I retorted with the same level of impatience, “Detectives.”
“I already gave that other cop my statement. I don’t have anything else to add.”
I caught the door as he tried to shut us out. “I like to hear it from the horse’s mouth. That ‘other cop’ keeps horrible notes. Couldn’t understand a word of it.”
“You’re crappy police skills aren’t my problem. I don’t wanna talk about this anymore. I don’t even have a part in it.”
“Why don’t you let us decide that?” I seethed.
Alicia stepped forward with a roll of her eyes, ushering me back from the confrontation. She folded her arms in front of her as she scrutinized our suspect. “We won’t talk about Risa, then. Let’s talk about Curtis and Owen. I’m betting our other detectives didn’t bring that up since we hadn’t made the connection yet.”
Sawyer shrank at the mention. “That has nothing to do with this.”
“How do you know?” I remarked. “We don’t know what happened in either case, which means we can’t rule out a connection.”
“Let us inside,” Alicia calmly prompted, “and we can walk through everything, cross all our ts.”
His features scrunched, reluctant, before he finally stepped to the side. His home proved more immaculate than expected, spotlessly clean with tasteful decor sprinkled around. I fiddled with a ceramic figurine of an angel in the foyer, skepticism tickling the back of my throat.
“Nice place, Sawyer,” I broke in as he led us to the sitting room.
He furrowed his brow in suspicion at my sudden politeness. “Thanks.”
Alicia accepted a seat across from him, but I wandered around, surveying the artwork on the walls. “You’re quite the Martha Stewart.”
“Cam,” Alicia warned, darting her eyes at the open spot next to her on the couch.
“I only mention it because you don’t seem like the type,” I went on, disregarding her. “Color coordinating seems a bit above your IQ. Do you even know what complementary colors are?”
“Why do you assume he can’t decorate for himself?” Alicia chimed in. “Because he’s a man? Or because you’re not able to, and that means no one else can?”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “This isn’t a gender thing. I’m only suspicious because there is a gardener outside, the house is spic and span, but he came to the door looking like that.” I pointed to his pitiful, disheveled appearance.
She mouthed at me in reprimand, “Grieving.”
“That’s not the look of someone grieving. That is someone who has been enjoying his free time, living life to the fullest. I suspect a peek in the bedroom would confirm my theory.” I propped my elbows on the back of the couch and watched Sawyer as his gaze fell to the floor in embarrassment.
“So I’m with someone. So what?” he cut in.
“Can she hear us?”
“You can come on out,” I called. “We’ll have some questions for you too.”
A timid clunk of a bedroom door echoed to us and seconds later a twig of a woman crept into the entryway, clothed in the same haphazard fashion as her partner. She attempted to smooth her tousled fiery hair into a tamer style.
“Was I too loud?” she whispered to Sawyer.
“Nah, baby, it’s alright. There here about Risa.”
“It’s interesting that you’re having such a good time right after your exe was found dead,” I mused.
“It’s not a ‘good time,’” he rebuked. “Cathy has been here for me through a lot. She’s keeping me in one piece.”
Alicia patted the seat beside her again, urging me to settle down. I begrudgingly gave in as she took over the questioning. “How long have you two been together?”
“I met her not long after I lost the boys.” He kissed her hand. “She’s my rock. And, as you so crudely pointed out, she keeps the place looking decent.”
“If you’ve been together so long, why are you keeping her a secret?”
He raised his eyebrows as if the answer were obvious. “If my exe winds up dead, the most obvious suspect is going to be a jealous girlfriend. I was protecting her from you guys. You’re like piranhas.”
Alicia turned to Cathy. “And were you jealous?”
She snorted. “Sawyer hadn’t even spoken to Risa in over a year. I met the woman twice, very briefly both times. I didn’t care what she was doing with her life. She stayed out of our hair, so I stayed out of hers.”
“This is exactly the sort of thing I was trying to avoid,” he muttered.
“What?” Alicia challenged. “Harmless questioning that’s going to help us understand Risa Mullohan’s death?”
“And possibly uncover what happened to your sons?” I added. Alicia placed a hand on my leg and shook her head.
But the words were already loose. The shadow of sorrow cast over him. “Solving Risa’s case isn’t going to find my boys.”
I cocked my head at him. “Why are you so sure?”
True heartbreak reflected in his eyes. “I just know this isn’t the same thing.”
“The same as what?”
“Sawyer,” Alicia entreated him, “if you know something, you need to tell us.”
“I don’t,” he choked. “If I knew, I would have the boys back.”
“But there’s still something you’re not saying,” I prodded.
A tear finally tumbled down his cheek and Cathy stroked his arm. After a beat, he keened, “You’re right. I’m not saying because what happened to Curtis and Owen was my fault.”
To be continued in Bridges 3...
© 2020 by Kelsey Garber