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Mountain Darkness (Wild Mountain Men 1) Vanessa Vale 2022/7/22 14:36:52

“Erin had been cool, lending me a pair of her pants to wear. Mr. Mills noticed I was wearing her hundred-dollar bejeweled sweatpants and accused me of using her to get better clothes. I was crushed and left instead of spending the night. That was the first time he made his feelings known.”

After all these years, knowing Mr. Mills still felt that way, that he’d told that to the police…

“In college, I dated Lucas Mills for a few months. Erin’s brother,” I added, even though she probably already knew. Based on her questions—and the fact that she wasn’t familiar—I didn’t think the detective had grown up in Cutthroat. “We did dinner, movies, the usual stuff.”

“And his parents didn’t like it?”

I frowned, remembering. “He was twenty at the time and wasn’t living at home. His parents didn’t find out right away. We ran into them one night at a restaurant. Mrs. Mills pulled me aside, called me trash. Said it was fine for her son to sow his oats with someone like me.” I used the little air quotes. “But he’d settle down with someone better.” I huffed out a laugh. “He was young and I doubt he was looking to settle down with me or anyone else. He left for the military shortly after that. While we hadn’t really broken up, we just… stopped. He stayed away for a few years. Got deployed. He’s not like his parents at all.”

“I see,” Miranski replied neutrally.

“Do I need to tell you more stories?” I asked.

She held up her hand. “Nope. Got the idea. Keith and Ellen Mills don’t like you.”

I offered a fake smile. “Pretty much.”

“Would Erin hire you just to make her parents mad?”

I stiffened, because it was definitely something she’d do. “She is… was twenty-six. I have no doubt she did things to snub her parents, and maybe having me work with her to mess with them was a side benefit. But that’s going a little far, even for her.”

I took a deep breath, set my hands on the table.

“Erin was the face of the company. She could sell ice to an Eskimo. What she couldn’t do was organize. That was where I come in. I’d say I’m a little OCD, liking things in the right place, which is great for an event planning business.”

The detective looked thoughtful for a moment. “If Mills Moments is shut down, what will you do now?”

I shrugged again, glanced up at Nix. “I’m going to go see if I can get my waitressing job back. Am I all done here?”

“For now,” she replied, standing.

I stood as well, tucked my hair behind my ear.

“You’d have arrested me if you thought I did it, right?”

Nix pushed off the wall. “If we had evidence that proved you did it, we’d arrest you.”

I frowned at his statement. “You think I did it but can’t prove it?”

God, I’d slept with Nix and he’d thought I’d killed Erin?

“Nix didn’t say that,” Detective Miranski replied. “We’re working all angles right now. So you’re aware, a judge has signed search warrants for your phone and bank records and the crime scene team went through your bedroom at Erin’s house yesterday.”

I had nothing to hide. They’d find that out soon enough, but I had no doubt they would look. Hard. I barely had cash in my bank and my phone was a pay-as-you-go plan and I didn’t use it much. Intentionally. As for my bedroom. I’d felt funny knowing Nix grabbed underwear for me. But crime scene techs pawing through it, or… god, my bedside drawer with my vibrator—”

I flushed just thinking about them finding it. I felt… violated. Judged. Like I was bad again. Trash. “I can’t be the only one you’re looking into.” I couldn’t be the only person whose panties were pawed over.

“All angles,” I finished for her, holding up my hand. “Got it.”

“I’ll walk you out,” Nix said, going to the door and opening it.

He followed behind me, through the station and with a hand on my elbow, stopped me in the hall front of the vending machines. Once I turned to look up at him, his hand fell away.

“You’re not the only person of interest, Kit,” he told me, tipping his voice low even though there was no one in the hall with us and the sounds of a busy station echoed off the utilitarian walls. “We’ve got warrants for Erin’s parents’ phone and bank records. Her brother, too. We’re looking at boyfriends, who she called, her credit cards. Everything. Okay?”

He offered probably more than he