This whole thing was a terrible idea. Going back to Buckeye? Terrible. Going back with the likes of Brandon Han? Even worse. The plane hit some turbulence at thirty-five thousand feet, as if nodding in agreement with Andrea’s conclusion.
Brandon didn’t want to work with her on the case. He’d made that abundantly clear in Steve’s office. She wanted to assume it was her fault, that he knew about her shortcomings and lack of education as an Omega consultant, but forced herself to stop. He’d mentioned liking to work alone. She could understand that, too. Andrea liked working alone, but for different reasons.
Brandon’s irritation had been pretty tangible when she’d sat down next to him at the airport. It had just grown as they waited for their flight, first when she’d mentioned him being complicated, then when they were both looking through the case files.
By the time they got on the plane, about an hour after their scheduled departure time, Brandon was hardly even talking to her. He was mad—she had no idea why—and she was awkward—as usual around someone she was so attracted to. Good times.
Andrea tried to pretend she was reading the files when he handed them to her, but she wasn’t. She knew better than to even try. Her dyslexia made reading simple books difficult, although she had learned some exercises to help with that. But reading handwritten notes and case files often written in different fonts and sizes—that pretty much just led to a headache and frustration.
She’d had an extra hour at her apartment so she’d used the special software on her computer to scan a few pages so they could be converted into audio clips. She’d found that listening worked much better for her than trying to read. Unfortunately she hadn’t had enough time to scan all the files as she normally would.
Listening to the files on audio clips had just made Brandon more irritated. Andrea had no idea what to do about that, so she ignored it. She would listen to the clips she had, then spend this evening—all night if she had to—reading through the files in her room, when she was alone and it was quiet. She refused to go into that meeting with the local police tomorrow unprepared.
She didn’t want to go back there at all. If it wasn’t for Steve asking her to go, Andrea wouldn’t have done it, serial killer or not.
Maybe they wouldn’t run into anyone she knew. Or maybe the people in Buckeye wouldn’t recognize her. She’d gone to great lengths to look nothing like the girl who had worked at Jaguar’s. Her blond hair was shorter, cut in a flattering bob; her makeup was tasteful. She’d learned how to dress and present herself in a professional manner.
She doubted her own aunt and uncle would recognize her. Not that she planned to drop in on them. She hadn’t seen them since the last time her uncle, in a drunken stupor again, had awakened her with a backhand that had sent her sprawling from her bed to the floor when she was seventeen. Another punch had sent her hurling into a glass table. She’d gotten away from him and hidden that night, wrapping her cut arm in a T-shirt.
The next morning she’d told her aunt, who’d looked the other way again during all the commotion, that she was going to school.
Andrea hadn’t gone to school. And she hadn’t gone back home. Ever again.
She hadn’t gone far, just to the other side of the town she’d only ever known as home, but they hadn’t come looking for her. Had probably been relieved that she’d left.
So yeah, no joyous homecoming in Buckeye.