The elephant in the room left when Cooper went out the front door. Moody was relieved when he agreed not to be hypnotized but another part of her was disappointed. Her professional curiosity wanted to get to the bottom of Cooper’s psyche and find out what made him tick out of sequence.
He was as likely a suspect as anyone else in Riley’s death. In a macabre way familiar to the Sinclair clan, Moody had hoped the guilty party would have been her father. His obsession with death and the evilness of man made him a very likely suspect. It didn’t hurt that if Morris was the killer, attention would be taken off of Moody and her dark past.
With a sigh, Moody shook her head. She just didn’t see it from Morris. He was a ten-foot pole type of person. He instigated others, but kept his own dirty hands a safe distance away.
The aborted session with Cooper disturbed Moody. Something was off with him more than the others in their sequestered neighborhood. Her initial relief was turning into skin-crawling anxiety. There was something behind the layers of masks Cooper voluntarily and involuntarily wore.
The ringing phone interrupted her thoughts.
“Miss Sinclair, this is Doctor Peabody. Your father is asking for you.”
Damn. The old minister of evil hadn’t died. As she readied herself to go to the hospital, she recalled a conversation she’d overheard many years ago.
“Kids are the price you pay for sex. But, on the bright side, children destroy. What better monsters are these? Little demons hiding behind nature’s mask of innocence. Old times had it right, old boy. Leave ’em on the side of the road or throw the buggers down a cliff if you had too many. Too bad you can’t do that now without leaving a trail for the law to follow.”
Morris had been talking to one of his cronies as a teenaged Moody had eavesdropped. That conversation rang in her ears as she headed to the hospital to see the man she called “Dad.”
On the ride over, Moody thought about Riley. Had she been the product of love or lust? The symbolism of the television was key in the little girl’s murder, but it seemed no one had been able to make a connection.
When Moody arrived at Morris’s hospital room, he was sitting up and alert. His black eyes snapped toward Moody as she sat in the chair beside his bed.
“I’m ready to go,” he said with a slight slur to his voice. So, the stroke had left a mark on him. Moody couldn’t stop an involuntary smile, which Morris seemed to mistake for delight that he was coming home.
“If you had any plans on leaving,” he said, “you can’t. I need you to stay. Doctor said I shouldn’t exert myself for awhile or get over-excited. You’ll have to take care of my business for me.”
Moody’s smile slipped a little. Nursemaid to a man she had little use for had not been in her plans to regain her own life.
“Okay, Dad. If the doctor says it’s all right for you to be released—”
“Why do you think he called you, you idiot?” Morris interrupted. “Get my damn stuff together and get me home.”
Moody’s blood shot to her face as she gathered her father’s belongings. Signing the release papers, she caught glances between the nurses that said it all. For one of the few times in her life, other people felt sorry for her.
As Moody and Morris made their way through the late evening traffic, Moody noticed the presence of police cars on Delano Road. She turned into their driveway, and three police cars pulled in behind her.
An unfamiliar officer climbed out of a Sheriff’s Department cruiser. Before Moody could step out of her own car, the officer motioned for her to roll her window down. Moody saw his hand unsnap the holster and rest lightly on the butt of his gun.
“Miss Sinclair, we need you to step out of the vehicle. Keep your hands where I can see them.”
Moody’s heart raced and the bile in her stomach rose as she did the officer’s bidding.
“Sir, remain where you are and keep your hands up,” another officer cautioned Morris. The dark expression on her father’s face was directed not at the officers, but at his own daughter.
Two officers escorted Moody inside the house where she gave them permission to search the premises. She smiled as she heard the officers discussing what they were finding. The disgust in their voices gave her a sense of peace.
No one stopped Moody as she drifted into the kitchen. Their attention was focused on her father’s morbid treasures. She turned on the radio to shut out the background noise of the search and calmly brewed a cup of tea.