Page 20 of Beach Bodies

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She watched him go to his easel and pick up the palette and brush.

“If you’ll be okay, I think I’ll head over to my mother’s for a bit,” she called into the living room. “She’s sorting through my old baby clothes.”

“Okay, I’ll be okay. Please tell her I said hi.”


Across town at the Babylon Police Headquarters, the bull pen was empty on Monday morning. Detective Alan Stone walked to his desk with a mug of coffee, shivering. Winter was lurking, and it wasn’t even Halloween yet.

After a nearly sleepless night, the dread of approaching snow and gloom added to his angst. Opening his laptop would make the day begin, even if he wasn’t ready for it. Pulling his desk chair in, he turned on the laptop, the browser kicking in with the latest media reports.

The news of the day? Lily Porter, baker at the local coffee shop, hadn’t shown up for work. They were making a big deal out of it, jumping the gun so to speak, the parents wanting a missing person’s report to be filed immediately, already publicly admonishing the local police for not doing enough.

Her car was still in the parking lot at the marina. No car keys had been recovered. Lily’s apartment was above the drugstore in town, and it didn’t appear that she had returned home the previous night. Her purse was in the apartment. Only her phone was missing, and her mother said she never left the apartment without her phone.

Lily’s mother said her daughter always shared her location with her, but when the police looked at Lily’s phone records, they found that Lily had shut that feature off. It didn’t appear that she’d shared her location for a while.

Rubbing his forehead, a headache on the periphery, Alan wanted to go home, get on the couch with a blanket, and watch reruns ofThe Big Bang Theory.


He looked up into the face of his chief, Gary Chadwick. “Hey, Captain.”

“You have a new job. We’re going to start a cold case unit.”


“Right. We’re going to develop a formal protocol for cold case investigations. You’re elected.”

Shrugging, Alan didn’t care what he had to do to make time pass.

“And in forty more hours, if this baker doesn’t reappear, you’ll be assigned to her case.”

“I’m a homicide detective, not a missing person’s… person.”

“Today you’re whatever you’re told to be until we get another dead body for you to investigate.”

“Just say, ‘Yes, sir,’” Detective Henry Wong said, passing by Alan’s desk.

“And what are you going to be doing while I have to dig through cold case files?” Alan asked over his shoulder, smirking.

“I’ll be right alongside you, digging.”


After the first hour of Lily’s absence, Edith and George Porter were frantic. By sunset, they were hysterical, certain something horrible had happened to their obedient daughter and unable to get the help they needed from the police to begin a search for her.

The answers would come after dark that evening, on the beach north of Laura Long’s cottage.

After following the psychiatrist home, Laura followed the winding streets along the canals to the beach. At her Sea View address, Will pressed the garage door opener, and Laura pulled into the space next to his car.

“Home sweet home!” she said in relief. “I was gone almost all day. My legs are cramping from sitting in the car for hours.”

“We can take a walk on the beach.”

“Aw, really?” She knew walking at night sometimes took a lot of effort for Will.

“I promised you. I can use the exercise myself.”