Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 29

Mason looked worried. “Where did he go?”

“That’s just it. I don’t know. David said that for the past several days, Bruce Wayne would call in sick to work and then leave early in the morning and come back late. The last time he saw Bruce Wayne was on Monday night. Then Scooter Malcolm told Jonah that he saw Bruce Wayne at Weston’s Garage on Friday and over the weekend.”

“Do you think he had anything to do with Crocker’s prison break? We know he had some outside help.”

“No. I just can’t see him agreeing to do that. He’s protective of me and he knows that Crocker is upset with me. But what if he refused to help and they hurt him?”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“I didn’t want to get him into trouble. I was worried that he might have run away, and I figured you’d have to turn him into his parole officer if I told you.”

“It sounds like he’s in trouble. I’ll notify the sheriff’s office and we’ll file a missing person report.”

“What if he’s hiding from Crocker’s guys?”

“We’ll take that into account. Rose, I know how hard Bruce Wayne has been working to straighten out his life and his parole officer is bound to have noticed too. Plus, I can put a good word in for him.”

“You’d do that?”

“Of course. Bruce Wayne has made remarkable progress since he’s begun working for you. Everyone can see that.”

“Thanks.”

“Next time, tell me, okay? We really are on the same side.”

That was going to take some getting used to.

An hour later, we arrived at the Fenton County sheriff’s office to file a missing person report on Bruce Wayne. Mason asked the receptionist if his friend Jeff was around and a few minutes later, a deputy wearing a warm smile walked out from the back. Mason took a step toward him. “Rose, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Jeff Dimler. He’s the chief deputy sheriff and we’ve worked together quite a bit.”

I shook his hand, thrown off by his friendliness. “Hi.”

“So you’re the infamous Rose Gardner.”

I cringed. “You know about me?”

He laughed. “You have a better case record than the Henryetta Police Department. There’s a running bet here at the sheriff’s department that you’ll solve more crimes this year than they will.”

I scowled. “Yeah, they’re not too fond of me over there.”

“So we’ve heard. Not to worry, we’ll take you seriously here.”

I couldn’t hide my surprise.

“It’s hard to argue with a three for three record, Ms. Gardner.” He winked. “If you ever consider a career in law enforcement, keep the sheriff’s department in mind.”

I laughed. “Thanks.”

“Say, Mason.” Chief Deputy Dimler leaned his shoulder against the wall. “The guys were impressed with your three-point shot in the last seconds of the basketball game. They’re talking about making you a permanent member of the team even after Gonzales comes back after his dislocated shoulder. Interested?”

Mason laughed. “The deputies are willing to have a lawyer on their team?”

“As long as you help us beat those guys at Martin Heating and Cooling, you could be a three-eyed Martian as far as their concerned. What do you say?”

He grinned. “Count me in.”

“Great!” He looped his thumbs over his belt. “Exciting day in Henryetta today apart from the Crocker escape, huh? I heard that Joe Simmons even made a campaign stop in Henryetta.” The deputy turned to me. “At your nursery, right?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“He applied for a sheriff’s deputy position and we offered it to him, but he turned it down to run for the state senate. Turning out like his daddy, huh?”

I shifted my weight, uncomfortable to be reminded of my past with Joe.

“You have no idea,” Mason muttered, casting a glance at me. “But we’re here to talk about Bruce Wayne.”

Chief Deputy Dimler gave Mason a puckered smile. “Fair enough.” He motioned to his office and we sat in front of his desk.

“Bruce Wayne worked for Daniel Crocker before Bruce Wayne’s arrest last year, so we know he has ties to Crocker’s boys,” Mason began. “But he’s been working for Rose this past month and has shown a real aptitude for landscaping. He’s gone above and beyond as an employee. He seems to love his job, and I’m certain he wouldn’t throw all that hard work away on a whim. I’m worried his old ties have gotten him into trouble.” Mason and I filled Chief Deputy Dimler in on what we knew.

The deputy looked up from his notes. “We’ve noticed a lot more activity at Weston’s Garage these last few weeks. We’ll see what we can do. It could be they were putting some pressure on Decker to come back to the fold, so to speak, and he’s lying low to avoid getting mixed back up in it. Hopefully we can get Decker’s roommate to cooperate.”

I wasn’t sure they’d ever manage that.

Chief Deputy Dimler’s cell phone rang and he glanced at the caller ID. “Excuse me, I need to take this.”

Mason stood. “I think we’re done here. Thanks for the assistance, Jeff.”

We got up and walked out of the room as the deputy took the call.

Mason put an arm around my back and leaned close to my ear. “Bruce Wayne’s not in any trouble and they’ll start looking for him soon. Feel better?”

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