Drown Her Sorrows (Bree Taggert #3) - Melinda Leigh Page 0,1

he say what time he saw the car on Friday?” Bree asked.

Collins pulled a small notepad from her pocket and flipped it open. “Around seven o’clock.”

Today was Monday.

“So, the car has been here for at least three days,” Bree said.

Collins frowned at the Toyota. “The doors are unlocked. The key is inside. The tires are sound, the vehicle has plenty of gas, and the engine starts with no problem.”

“What do you know about the driver?”

“I ran the plates. The vehicle belongs to Holly Thorpe. She lives in Grey’s Hollow. Her registration is valid, and she has no outstanding tickets. Her driver’s license is in the purse.”

“Have you called her residence?”

“There’s no landline.” Collins pointed down the embankment. “I searched the downhill slope in case she stepped out of her car for some reason and fell. The rain was heavy Friday night. The ground would have been slippery. I didn’t see any sign of her.”

Bree’s gaze tracked to the car, then the bridge. “As a rule, a woman doesn’t leave her purse and cell phone behind.”

“No. Her phone is passcode protected, but I could see that the battery still has a little power. It also has decent cell reception.” Collins was methodically covering the bases.

Bree scanned the area. On one side of the road, thick woods covered an upward slope. On the other, a steep wooded embankment sloped down to the river. Just ahead, the bridge arched over the Scarlet River. Bree’s instincts waved a red flag. Barring a breakdown or flat tire, there was no reason for a car to be parked here. No hiking trails. No park. The bridge was narrow, with no overlook. This was a back road used mostly by locals.

She walked to the car and peered in the driver’s window. A purse sat on the passenger seat, the top unzipped. A cell phone rested on the console. A wallet poked out from the top of the purse.

“I opened her wallet to look at her ID,” Collins said.

Bree donned gloves and opened the vehicle door. Leaning in, she tapped the cell phone’s screen. The Face ID lock screen appeared. A few seconds later, it shifted to request a passcode. Bree touched the “Emergency” button on the bottom of the screen. “Owen Thorpe is her emergency contact.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m assuming he’s the husband. According to his motor vehicle records, he’s the same age as Holly, and he lives at the same address. He didn’t answer his phone. I left a message asking him to return my call.”

Bree chewed on the information while her gut churned. There was a remote possibility Holly had become ill and called for a ride. Perhaps she was so sick, she forgot her purse and cell.

For three days?

Seemed like a stretch. Bree surveyed the rest of the vehicle’s interior, then ducked out. The temperature was dropping with the sun. If Holly had wandered away—or had been taken—from her vehicle on Friday, she’d already been gone for three nights. There was no time to waste.

“I’ll send a deputy to her residence,” Bree said. “If she’s not there and her husband doesn’t have information, we’ll call for a search party and put out a BOLO.” Bree accessed Holly’s social media accounts and clicked on “About” in one of her profiles. “She lists Beckett Construction as her employer. I know it’s late, but call the company and ask if they’ve seen Holly.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Collins returned to her patrol car.

Bree went back to her vehicle and called dispatch to request a welfare check at Holly’s address. “Have the responding deputy call me on his cell phone instead of using the radio. I don’t want the situation made public just yet.”

Reporters monitored police radio chatter via scanners. In the event the worst had happened, Bree didn’t want Holly’s next of kin learning of her status via the news.

While she waited, Bree accessed Holly’s motor vehicle records and reviewed her driver’s license information. Holly Thorpe was thirty-four years old and five two. In her driver’s license photo, her shoulder-length hair was straight and blonde.

In a few minutes, Bree’s phone buzzed. She answered the call. “Sheriff Taggert.”

“Deputy Oscar here. I just spoke with Owen Thorpe. He hasn’t seen his wife since Friday evening. They had a fight, and she walked out on him. He says he’s been drunk since, and he looks pretty rough. Seems I woke him up.”

“Ask him if you can walk through the house to verify his wife is not there,” Bree said.

“Yes, ma’am,” Oscar responded.

Over the connection,