Insatiable (Cloverleigh Farms #3) - Melanie Harlow Page 0,1

he was thirty-three. And had four children. We had six altogether, you know.”

“I know.” I thought about the cold beer waiting in my fridge and fought the urge to look at my watch.

“And we were married sixty-seven years before he passed. He died last spring. April ninth.”

I knew that too, because that’s when her calls to the dispatcher had started, with her “emergencies.”

Sometimes she heard noises and thought someone was in her house. Sometimes an item was missing that turned up once an officer arrived and helped her find it. Twice, she’d claimed to have fallen and asked for help getting up, but on both occasions, she’d righted herself and answered the door when the officers knocked. On every occasion, she did anything she could to keep the responders in her house as long as possible, which usually involved offering food, telling her life story, nosing into their personal lives, and giving unsolicited advice.

She was a nonagenarian pain in the ass, and I already had a mother around to give me shit about being a perpetual bachelor—and she gave plenty—but I never much minded coming here and making sure everything was okay, even if it was just to make her feel less lonely. It was part of the job. It was what my dad would have done, and he’d been the most beloved sheriff this county ever had. He understood there was more to serve and protect than making arrests or preventing crime.

“Yes, ma’am, I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Jensen several times. All of us at the sheriff’s office liked him a lot.”

She smiled happily. “He was a dear. And so handsome. All the girls were always trying to catch his eye. Now, isn’t there anyone who catches yours?”

“Not at the moment, ma’am.”

“But don’t you want a family?”

“I’ve got a family. I think you know my mom, Carol McCormick. She’s a nurse over at Harbor Family Practice.”

“Oh, of course.” Mrs. Jensen nodded. “Carol is just lovely. I knew your father too. We just loved Sheriff McCormick. Both Mr. Jensen and I were so sorry when he passed.”

“Thank you. I’ve also got a twin brother, a sister and brother-in-law, two nephews and a niece, and Renzo. Plenty of family around.” I smiled at her and tried to move things along. “So when you came home from town, was your door open? Or unlocked?”

She looked confused for a moment. “Why would I leave the door unlocked?” Then she remembered, snapping her fingers. “Oh! Oh, yes. The front door was open just a hair, but I know I closed and locked it before I left. I’m all alone here, and even though it’s a small town, you can never be too careful.”

I nodded. “But the house was empty when you came in?”

“Yes. The rascal must have left after he rearranged the furniture.”

“But nothing is missing?”

“Not that I can tell,” she said, almost regretfully, twisting her hands together as she glanced over her shoulder toward the room in question, as if she was sort of bummed the family silver wasn’t gone.

“Mind if I take a look around anyway?”

She looked happy at the suggestion and patted my arm. “Of course not. You go right ahead. Take as long as you want. And while you do that, I’ll fix you a nice snack. Mr. Jensen always liked a snack about this time of night.”

Rather than argue with her, I said okay and moved into the living room while she went in the opposite direction toward the kitchen. She moved slowly, her steps the cautious shuffling of a little old lady, but she hummed a tune as she went, and I knew I’d given her what she wanted—time and attention.

In the living room, there was no sign any furniture had been moved around. But in case my memory was faulty, I picked up one end of the sofa. The deep indentations the feet had left in the carpet told me it had been resting in this spot for quite some time. Possibly since 1951, which was, I’d been told several times, when the newly wedded Jensens had moved in.

It was a nice house on a quiet street in a peaceful town, the perfect place to raise a family. I glanced at all the framed photos crowded on the fireplace mantel, standing in rows on bookshelves, and clustered on end tables. A room-sized shrine to an entire century’s worth of one family’s life. A black-and-white wedding photo from the 1920s. Another from the fifties. Babies at