Chapter 37: Cooper Dahlsing — by Christine Husom

Cooper let himself in his front door and was ready to sink to the floor right there in the entry. He had high hopes when he went to see Dr. Sinclair. He believed she would hypnotize him and he’d walk away relieved he had not hurt Riley. And in his most optimistic moment, he hoped he had seen something to help the police find out who was guilty of that heinous crime.

The other thing, the desire that was at the core of his being, was to find out what happened the day his sister died. The only thing he was certain of was that he dropped her off at her school. Did she in fact make it into the building? Did he wait until she was safely inside, or did he drive away as soon as she was out of the car? That’s what he wanted most to know.

The pressure in Cooper’s head was building. He knew what the inside of a volcano would feel like, if a volcano could feel. He made his way to the bathroom, found a washcloth in a vanity drawer, turned on the cold water tap, and wetted the cloth. He wrung it out then went to the living room where he stretched out on the couch, folded the washcloth in half, and laid it over his eyes.

Riley, Riley, Riley. Who would hurt you?

It was all the more complicated because the man who had to have been her biological father also turned up dead in the desert. Maybe he killed Riley and then himself. But why? And Rubicon Ranch certainly had any number of suspects. What did Cooper really know about any of them?

Dr. Sinclair’s father was famous for his books of horror. And what about Jeff and Kourtney Peterson? Were they the ones who abducted Riley as an infant, or did they adopt her from one of those questionable agencies after the fact? Eloy Franklin was downright strange, lurking behind closed curtains or on his porch, always watching. And it seemed Dylan’s father was an unsavory character with a propensity for violence. That reminded Cooper—he needed to follow up with Lieutenant Frio about Dylan’s personal safety.

There was no denying that, statistically-speaking, abuse tended to be passed down from one generation to the next. Since Dylan was likely being physically abused, he may have abused his friend, Riley. Maybe not on purpose. Riley could have done something to annoy him and he may have “lost it” like his father did.

Is that what happened to him when his own sister Cissy annoyed him one last time? He hurt her, then blanked it out like he had so many times in his life? He couldn’t in his heart of hearts believe that, but trying to remember anything from the time he stopped at her school to the time he pulled into the parking lot at his own school had been part of his daily life forever.

Cooper’s headache eased some. He got up and went to his computer. A quick search on Dr. Mary “Moody” Sinclair was in order, and what he learned shocked him. She had been held liable in the death of one of her young patients. The little boy died in her care. Why would Riley’s parents take her to see Sinclair? Maybe they didn’t know about the psychologist’s past. Had Sinclair tried some controversial treatment on Riley that went bad?

One thing was certain—he would not ask her to hypnotize him again. He’d have to trust the police to follow the evidence to get to the bottom of it all.

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About Christine Husom

Christine Husom is a former corrections officer, deputy, and mental health practitioner. She combined her love for writing and solving crimes crafting her Winnebago County Mystery Thrillers, featuring Sergeant Corinne Aleckson and Detective Elton Dawes. Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, An Altar by the River, The Noding Field Mystery, A Death in Lionel's Woods, and Secret in Whitetail Lake are the first six books in the series.
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