Dissecting Meredith - Freya Barker Page 0,1

pulls back from the car and runs his hands over his face, realizing this accident may not be as clear-cut as it looks.

“Shit,” he mumbles. “Just what I need this morning.” I look at him questioningly and he indicates the body. “Meet Jordan Dunwoody.” When my face remains a blank, he clarifies, “He’s the son of John Dunwoody, the pastor at the Pentecostal church.”

Ouch. I’m not a particularly religious person—lapsed Catholic would be the correct term—but I know enough about religion to know that alcohol is a definite no-no, forget about drugs. The son’s death will be a blow as it is, let alone the cause of death.

“I’ll get him to the morgue right away. It’s not that busy, I can move some things around and look at him, if not this afternoon then first thing tomorrow.”

“That’s good, Doc, but we first have to deal with the father. He showed up five minutes ago.”

I look up to the road and notice the tall figure of Jay VanDyken trying to block a portly, gray-haired man. Their raised voices become louder.

“That him?” I straighten up and wince at the creaking of my knees.


“Well, I’m about to get the guys to remove the body and we can’t have him looking on. It won’t be pretty.”

“I know, which is why I think we should have a word with him.”

I turn my head and raise an eyebrow. “We? Are you sure my presence would be helpful?”

From what little I know, Pentecostals tend to have a more traditional view on gender roles, often limited to home and church, and I wonder if I might not end up inflaming the situation developing up there. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for my office to notify next of kin—especially in cases where cause of death is not immediately obvious—which is why when Blackfoot gestures for me to lead the way, I don’t argue.

A few times I stumble and slide, climbing up the steep rocks, but the detective’s hands are there to steady me. When I get to the top, a large hand is shoved in my face and I look up to find VanDyken staring back. I take the offer and let him pull me up the rest of the way.

Two uniformed officers have the father contained by the side of a police cruiser as I step onto the side of the road. I try not to notice VanDyken is wearing a pair of well-fitting dark jeans and an untucked dress shirt, instead of his black garb. Normally a rather intimidating figure in uniform, the casual clothes make him formidable in other ways. Enticing ways.

“Who are you? Where is my son?” The man starts struggling against the officers’ hold when I approach, a pair of footsteps right behind me.

“Mr. Dunwoody? My name is Dr. Meredith Carter, I’m the county’s coroner. Why don’t we have a seat in the cruiser behind you and I’ll tell you what I know?

“Not a good idea, Doc.” I hear softly behind me. Not Blackfoot, but Jay VanDyken. I ignore him and focus on the pastor.

“Coroner? Is he dead?”

The man in front of me looks at me wide-eyed, no longer struggling with the cops and they promptly release him.

“I’m so sorry,” I mumble, closing in on him and putting a hand on his arm. “Let’s have a seat, shall we?”

One of the officers opens the rear door of the cruiser and I guide the shocked man to take a seat, crouching outside the car in the open door.

“It doesn’t look like he suffered.” I offer the one thing I feel fairly confident about.

“What happened?”

His face is a mask of pain and a familiar tightness forms in my chest at the sight of such raw grief. I hate this part of the job.

“I’m going to do my best to figure that out, but it looks like alcohol may have been involved.”

It’s so fast, I don’t see it coming, but the next instant I’m on my back blinking up in Jay VanDyken’s worried face.


Of course she didn’t listen to me.

Fuck, the woman is as stubborn as they come.

“Stay put,” I bark when she tries to sit up.

Her head hit with a hard smack and she’s gonna stay down—if I have to damn well sit on her—until medics have taken a look at her. Luckily the fire department hung around to help with the recovery of the body, and Sumo is already jogging this way with his bag.

As he sits down beside her, I look over at my colleagues,