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“I already said yes.”

“You can back out any time.”

“I’m not going to back out.”

“I know. But you can. If you want to.”

“I don’t want to.” Laura unbuckled her seatbelt but didn’t open the door. “At least now I can cross Visit Morgue off my bucket list.”

“Going to the morgue was on your bucket list? Maybe you are my sister after all.”

The two women exited the vehicle, and Laura held the door open for Cassie, who balanced an enormous plate of cookies in her hands. They were still warm, and the smell of the chocolate chips made her mouth water. She walked to the front desk and let the woman at the computer sneak a couple before she buzzed them through to the back. Dr. Underwood was waiting.

“A double batch?” Underwood’s walrus mustache twitched, and his eyes narrowed. “What’s the occasion?”

Cassie handed him the plate and hooked a thumb over her shoulder. “My sister’s in town. I know you don’t like civilians in the back, but I was hoping you’d make an exception. She’s a psychologist, and I’m hoping she might lend her opinion on this one.”

Cassie could feel Laura’s inquisitive gaze on her, but she ignored it. Whether Laura wanted to weigh in with her thoughts was up to her. For now, it was just a way to get her in the room.

“Humph.” Underwood eyed Laura and then eyed the cookies. They must’ve made a convincing argument because he turned around and led them down the hallway. “I didn’t know you had a sister.”

“I’m full of secrets. She lives in California. I don’t get to see her much.” Cassie glanced at Laura. “I hope that’s gonna change.”

“My brother lives in Washington.” Underwood snuck a cookie off the plate and put the whole thing in his mouth. “Every year, we ride to Beresford, South Dakota. We eat at Bertz’s Sports Bar and Grill, grab some sleep, and then turn around and go back home.”

“That’s an awful long trip just for a burger and wings,” Laura said.

Underwood shrugged. “My baby needs to stretch her legs once in a while or she gets cranky.”

Laura quirked an eyebrow at Cassie.

“His Harley.”

The three of them descended the stairs, and Cassie felt the humor drain from her body. As usual, the chill in the air was indicative of more than just the cooling system that kept the bodies cold. No, supernatural activity persisted down here. She couldn’t always see it but did always feel it.

Underwood popped another cookie in his mouth and set the batch on a stool near the door. He then brushed the crumbs out of his mustache and snapped on a pair of gloves. “Robert Shapiro. Sixty-three. Strangled.”

“That’s our guy.”

Underwood nodded and made his way over to one of the cooling units and pulled it open. He slid the tray out, and the three of them stared down at the sheet-covered body. Without ceremony, Underwood pulled the sheet back to reveal Shapiro’s head and chest. Laura let out a little gasp.

Cassie had seen far too many dead bodies in her lifetime, but it never got easier. The pale skin. The blank eyes. The unnerving stillness of the body. There was something unnatural about staring death in the face.

“What do you want to know?”

“Can you walk us through the injuries?”

Underwood used his pinky to point at the strangulation marks. “This is the actual cause of death. Windpipe was crushed. There was a fair amount of strength put into this. It did some damage.”

“Does that mean the perpetrator was a man?” Cassie asked.

“No way to tell for sure. A grown adult has the strength to cause this kind of injury, regardless of gender or biology. People can do incredible things when they have adrenaline pumping through their veins. There’ve been countless stories of people lifting cars off the ground to help those pinned underneath. Mothers tapping into superhuman strength to save their children.”

“Was it with a rope?”

“No.” Underwood leaned in closer to the body. “It’d leave fibers behind. The pattern of the bruise would reflect the weave of the rope. No, it was something smooth.”

“Smooth? Like what?”

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