She’s not going to get away with it. That was all Chris Colton could think as he listened to the tearful story Angus and Evalinda McCay unfolded before him. Holly McCay wasn’t going to get away with keeping her in-laws from their beloved twin grandsons, all they had left of their son after he died.
Chris leaned back in his chair in his northwest Fort Worth, Texas, office and glanced at the pictures the McCays had handed him. One was of blond-haired, brown-eyed Holly McCay and her now-deceased husband, Grant. The other was of the McCay twins, Ian and Jamie.
“But they don’t look like that anymore,” Evalinda McCay said sadly. “Our grandsons weren’t even a year old when that picture was taken, and that was more than six months ago. Holly won’t even let us see them. She’s been like that ever since Grant…” She dabbed a tissue at her eyes.
“Don’t worry, Mrs. McCay,” Chris said, steel in his voice. “I’ll take this job myself—I won’t hand it off to an associate. I’ll find your grandsons for you. And your daughter-in-law, too.”
Angus McCay cleared his throat. “I don’t like to speak ill of my son, Mr. Colton, because he’s gone and can’t defend himself. But he was blind to what his wife was really like. She trapped him into marriage—”
“They hadn’t even been married seven months when Ian and Jamie were born,” Evalinda McCay clarified in a shocked tone.
“Grant’s will made her the trustee for their boys,” Angus McCay continued, as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “And…well…”
“The money is all she cares about,” his wife threw in. She put her hand on her husband’s arm. “I know you don’t like to put it so bluntly, Angus, but you know it’s true.” Her gaze moved to Chris. “Holly took the boys and left town three weeks before Christmas. Right before Christmas…” She choked up for a moment before continuing. “Grant’s fortune is tied up in a trust for Ian and Jamie, but Holly is the sole trustee. Which means she can spend the money any way she sees fit, without any real oversight.”
Angus McCay added, “And since she won’t tell us where she is…won’t even let us see them…” He sighed heavily. “We don’t even know if they’re alive, much less healthy and happy.”
“We tried to get custody of the boys through the courts right after Grant died,” Evalinda McCay said, her wrinkled face lined with worry. “But grandparents don’t seem to have any legal rights these days. Our lawyer said he’s not optimistic—not even to force Holly to let us have some kind of visitation with Ian and Jamie.”
“The police won’t help us, because Holly hasn’t done anything wrong,” Angus McCay said gruffly.
“Except break our hearts, and Ian’s and Jamie’s, too, for that matter—but there’s no law against that,” Evalinda McCay put in.
“You don’t have to say any more.” Determination grew in Chris. If it was the last thing he did, he’d find Holly McCay and her eighteen-month-old sons for Mr. and Mrs. McCay. Not just because no one had the right to deprive good and decent grandparents like the McCays access to their grandchildren. But because the children deserved to know their grandparents. That was the real bottom line.
Not to mention it made him sick to think of Holly McCay isolating her children from their relatives for money. His foster parents hadn’t abused him, but he’d known ever since he was placed with them when he was eleven that they were only in it for the money the state gave them.
“We tracked Holly here to Fort Worth, but then the trail went cold. That’s why we decided to hire you, Mr. Colton,” Angus McCay said now. “You know this part of the state—we don’t.” He glanced at his wife, who cleared her throat as if to remind him of something. “And there’s another thing. It’s all over the news here in Fort Worth about the Alphabet Killer in Granite Gulch.”
Chris stiffened, wondering if the McCays knew about his family’s connection to the serial killer. But Angus McCay continued without a pause and Chris relaxed. “We know Granite Gulch is forty miles away, and we know all the targets so far are women with long dark hair. But who knows? That could change at any time. And Holly…well…despite everything, she is our daughter-in-law. If anything happened to her…”
He trailed off and his wife picked up the thread of the story. “We heard on the news the last victim was Gwendolyn Johnson, which means the killer is up to the Hs now. And Holly’s name begins with H. No matter what she’s done to us, Mr. Colton, she’s Ian and Jamie’s mother. They’ve already lost their father before they ever had a chance to know him. I shudder to think of those two innocent babies orphaned at such a young age.” She turned to her husband and nodded for him to continue.
“We don’t know what it will cost,” Angus McCay said, “but we have some money saved. Whatever your fees are, we’ll double them if you make this job your top priority. And we’ll give you a bonus if you find Holly within a month. We have to find her, Mr. Colton. And the boys,” he added hastily.
“That won’t be necessary,” Chris said, thinking to himself that Holly McCay didn’t deserve in-laws as caring as the McCays obviously were. “I won’t even take a fee for this one—just cover the expenses and we’ll be square. But I’ll find your daughter-in-law and your grandsons for you, Mr. and Mrs. McCay. You can take that to the bank.”
Evalinda McCay unbent enough to smile at Chris with approval. “You’re a good man, Mr. Colton. I knew we were doing the right thing contacting you.” Her smile faded. “When you find Holly, please don’t tell her anything. She might take the boys and disappear. Again. No, I think it’s better if you just let us know where she is and we’ll take it from there. If we can just see her…talk to her…if she can see us with our grandsons…she can’t be that hard-hearted to keep us away when she knows how much Grant’s boys mean to us.”
Chris nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” He wasn’t convinced Mrs. McCay was right, but he wasn’t going to say so. If Holly McCay had fled right before Christmas, taking her twins—and their money—with her, she definitely could be hard-hearted enough to prevent the McCays from being a part of her sons’ lives. It’s all about the money for her, he thought cynically. Just like my foster parents. It’s all about the money.
HER COLTON P.I., Copyright © 2016 by Harlequin Books S.A.
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