Page 33 of Ridge's Release

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Zin chuckled. “Cause we get away with shit. He sees himself as the lawman in these here parts, and he don’t like no vigilantes showin’ him up.”

I laughed at Zin’s “old west” schtick. “She’s backing off.”

“Hell, I’d hope so. It would suck pretty bad if we found her sister and she used it against us.”

“She wouldn’t do that.”

Zin studied me. “I didn’t say she would. Man, you’ve got it bad. About time.”

I didn’t need to ask what he meant. There wasn’t a person who knew me who didn’t think it was time I moved on from Alex.

After breakfast,Press and Beau left for Seraphina’s mother’s apartment, and I went home to review the report I’d generated overnight. When I opened the document and skimmed it, I found an article pertaining to both her and her sister.

“Drunk driver kills family of four,” the headline read. According to the article, Joseph Reeve was found to have a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit when his car veered into the opposite lane and struck another vehicle. The names of all four victims were listed, two of whom were children.

Reeve had survived but was hospitalized with critical injuries. Farther down in the report was another article, much shorter and from almost four years after the accident. It stated Joseph Reeve had passed away from “natural causes” after remaining in a coma since the night of the accident.

Seraphina’s comment, “I guess life got the better of him,” played over in my head. Alcoholism was prevalent in any industry whose main focus was the creation, sale, or service of liquor, including the wine business. It was especially true with my grandfather’s generation.

As a result of what he’d experienced growing up with not one but two parents who overindulged, my own father insisted my brother and I learn how to consume alcohol responsibly—especially in the winery, where it was easy to have what amounted to glass after glass when tasting vintages to determine when to bottle. The reason there were rows of drains in any storage area, whether for barrels or bottles, was as much to allow the winemakers to spit after they tasted as it was to prevent flooding.

Given Seraphina’s father’s BAC the night of the accident, it was hard to imagine he wasn’t an addict. Most people would’ve passed out at the level stated.

The report mentioned other articles as well as information pulled from court documents over the legal troubles the family had following the incident. Including their home going into foreclosure.

While I didn’t know the details of my father’s purchase of the Reeve Estate, I was surprised to learn the house wasn’t part of the transaction. I was more surprised my father hadn’t stepped in to purchase it when the family lost it. At the very minimum, I could see him allowing Mrs. Reeve, whose first name was Leah, and her two daughters to continue living in it.

I’d call my dad and ask, but like me, he was taking much-needed time off after the busiest part of our year. He and my mother were in Australia, visiting their closest friends, the Cullens, who owned one of the oldest privately held wineries on the west coast of Australia. Any questions I had about what had happened with Joseph Reeve could wait until they returned.

There were several pages of photos included, but as I scrolled through them, I saw none of Luisa with anyone who appeared to be a boyfriend. In fact, almost none of them were of her with men at all. In the few there were, everyone had been identified and none were named Jorge or anything close. I zoomed in on the images and took a second look.

About halfway through the bunch, there was a photo of Luisa with four other women. They were in the bar of a restaurant I recognized. It was in downtown San Luis Obispo, and the date the photo was posted was earlier this year.

I zoomed in again and examined the image in greater detail. In the background, two men were looking in the direction of the four women. They appeared to be studying more than admiring them. Zooming in further resulted in too much pixelization, so I decreased the amount, took a screenshot, and sent it to Press. Maybe facial recognition would turn something up. I also sent it to Snapper so he and Kick could print copies to take to the university tomorrow to show around. Finally, I printed one more copy for Seraphina.

“Hey, Tryst,” I said when he answered my call. “Got a minute?”

“For you? Of course.”

“There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”

“I am at Brix’s house. Would you like me to come to your place?”

“I’ll come to you.”

While the Ridge Estate was adjacent to Los Caballeros, by the time I drove through our vineyards, then theirs, fifteen minutes had passed. When I arrived, Tryst was sitting out front, on the porch. He stood when I approached, and we embraced.

“It is colder here than at my ranch, but I prefer to be outside, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.”

“Catch me up on the search for Luisa Reeve,” he said, motioning for me to take a seat.

I told him what we’d learned thus far and what things were still in progress.

“I sense this is not what you wanted to discuss with me.”

“It isn’t. Although it is related.”