Wynonna and Doc had been trading off shifts with Waverly and while the youngest Earp appreciated the dedication, it was hard to not feel like she was being babysat. Waverly had been sent to Shorty’s so Doc could watch her and work a bit. Besides, Waverly needed a drink and some time away from the Homestead.
Dolls and Nicole had found a fingerprint outside of Stephanie’s family at the crime scene, but it wasn’t in the police database. It was at least a start, even if it meant they’d have to test everyone in the town in one way or another.
“I can’t help but feel like we’re just waiting for the next murder…” Rosita poured Waverly a glass of whiskey and slide a basket of fries towards the younger woman.
“You and me both.” Waverly hadn’t really spoken to Rosita since she’d discovered the hot bartender was with Nicole, but things weren’t too awkward, at least not while everyone had bigger fish to fry.
“He’s bound to mess up somewhere… left a fingerprint at the last scene… he’ll get sloppy, they all do.” Doc lit a cigarette.
“Sounds like you’ve been watching too many forensic files with Wynonna…” The door opened and Dolls and Nicole entered, the tall woman removing her stetson and placing it on the bar.
“Hey babe…” Rosita let the b word slip out forgetting that Waverly was in ear shot until her girlfriend looked over at the youngest Earp. “Um… Dolls. What’ll you have?”
“Just a coke. Still on duty.”
Rosita nodded and smiled sweetly at Nicole. The redheaded officer returned the smile and approached the bar with her partner.
“What brings the law into my fine establishment?” Doc tipped his hat at the two detectives.
“Do either of you know anything about Mercedes Gardner?”
“Outside of her being made of money, her family being a little nuts, and her being a bitch with a heart of gold? Her words, not mine, that’s about all I know.” Waverly did her best to avoid eye contact with Nicole, focusing on her partner, Dolls, instead.
“Yeah… that’s pretty much the summary we are getting. Her sister Beth reported her missing as of two days ago. She was last seen at the market off of 5th street.”
“Do you think it’s related to the killings?”
“Hard to say at this point. The serial killer case hasn’t involved abduction.”
“Mercedes does have a rather large list of people that wanted her gone, her sister included some days.” Rosita shrugged and continued to clean glasses.
“Keep your eyes and ears out then, if you hear anything, let us know.” Doc tipped his hat again and Nicole winked at Rosita before leaving Shorty’s.
Waverly tried hard not to bristle. She had no right to, hell she hadn’t had that right to Nicole in years, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit hurt seeing her happy and knowing it had nothing to do with her.
Before anyone could say anything else, Wynonna entered the bar.
“I just missed Haughtstuff and pretty boy, didn’t I?” The group nodded. “Well shit… I think I may have a tiny lead for them, come on Waves, we’re gonna cut them off at the station.” Wynonna tossed her jacket at her sister and held the door open for her.
“I’ll fill you in later, love.” She smiled at Doc and the Earp women headed out to Wynonna’s car.
“Okay, spill.” Waverly slid into the passenger side of her sister’s truck.
“What do Willa, Steph and Mercedes all have in common?”
“Um… they were all kinda mean? But like, most women in this town are….”
“Waves… they were all mean to you. ‘All who harm her with feel my wrath… or whatever…” The realization hit Waverly like a sledgehammer to the face.
“What….” It was true, each one of those women had been cruel to Waverly at some point, but did they really make her special? They’d been mean to other people before.
“The whole town knew that Willa practically tortured you when we were kids, remember the time she sent you out onto the ice of the lake and you fell in. If Bobo hadn’t been there, I’m almost positive Willa would’ve left you to drown… and you remember your 10th birthday. Stephanie ruined it by breaking your Barbie cruise boat all because she wanted one but didn’t get one for her birthday. You cried for like three days over that boat, not to mention when she tried to steal Champ away from you when you were 14 by spreading rumors around the whole school…. I don’t normally speak ill of the dead, but I still remember how good it felt to break her nose before Homecoming….”
“Okay okay, I get it…. But Mercedes? I mean she was mean to everyone and I don’t remember her doing anything that was specifically targeted at me.”
Wynonna got a little quiet.
“You remember that rumor that went around that you were pregnant with Champ’s kid junior year? Well, you can thank Mercedes for that one. She was pissed Doc asked me to prom instead of her and she knew rumors wouldn’t hurt me cause I didn’t give a fuck, but hurting you, well that would be way more effective.”
“That bitch! It took me weeks to convince people that was a lie…. My entire locker got filled with baby formula and condoms for weeks….”
“Yeah… and Mercedes didn’t go to prom that year because I busted her lip open and gave her two black eyes… No wonder Nedley hated me…”
“Wait, we don’t know Mercedes’ disappearance is due to the murder though…”
Wynonna pulled into the station.
“No… but give it a day, I bet my truck we’ll find her dead somewhere with her organ placed in a bunch of creepy urns.”
Wynonna and Waverly ignored Nedley’s pleas to stay behind the counter as they moved past him and into the room Dolls and Nicole had taken over.
“Why hello, knock much?” Dolls shook his head.
“I think this is more important than a courtesy knock.”
Wynonna filled them in on her theory and Nicole took detailed notes.
“If it turns out Mercedes is dead… I wouldn’t rule this out as motive... “ Nicole glanced over at Waverly.
“Waves, can you think of anyone else that has hurt or wronged you?”
The youngest Earp tensed as her nickname rolled off of Nicole’s lips. “Umm… I can probably make a list… I got picked on a lot.”
Nicole shifted a pad of paper and pen over to Waverly.
“Um… let’s see, there was Champ, he cheated on me and was an all around asshole. There was Carl who spread a rumor that I’d slept with him and was easy and the whole fucking football team used to give me shit until I kicked Carl so hard he wasn’t gonna be able to have sex or even lie about it for quite some time….” Wynonna laughed at the last one, remembering that moment fondly and being proud of her baby sister.
Before Waverly could name anymore, Nedley knocked on the door.
“Sorry to interrupt what I am sure is important business…” Wynonna stuck her tongue out at Nedley. “Mercedes Gardner was found dead at a small cabin just west of town. Same as the others…” Nicole nodded and Dolls moved to grab his things.
“Can I go along?” Waverly’s voice was quiet, but her eyes were pleading with Nicole. She couldn’t say now.
“Okay, you will both ride with me. We will need you to decipher any notes and other things you see at the site that may help us determine who is doing this.”
Nicole placed her stetson on and headed out of the station, the group following behind.
The drive to the cabin wasn’t long, about 20 minutes outside of the town center.
“This was the Gardner’s cabin, we used to come here for sleepovers when we were younger, back when they weren’t so awful…”
Nicole parked a little ways away so as not to disturb the site. Two cop cars already blocked the street and one cop was standing with Beth Gardner and her brother Tucker.
“I’m sorry… for your lost.” Waverly spoke up as soon as her eyes met Beth’s.
“What is she doing here?! She is not law enforcement… in fact Wynonna is the exact opposite.” Nicole knew Beth was grieving but she didn’t appreciate the woman’s tone.
“They are with me.” Nicole flashed her badge. “ Waverly is an expert in Egyptian burials and mummification processes and Wynonna has been in contact with both murder sites and is needed for questioning and comparison purposes. Excuse me.”
“Oh… of course… you two used to fuck. That’s why she’s following you around like a lovestruck puppy. Pathetic.” Nicole’s blood boiled instantly and she spun on her heels.
“Deputy, please escort Ms. Gardner away from this crime scene… in fact, take her into the station for questioning, if she would oblige. We cannot have anyone here that is not escorted by law enforcement so as not to disturb the crime scene.” Beth scoffed, as the deputy led her away from the cabin, Tucker snickering at his sister being more or less told off.
“I’d go with your sister Tucker, I am sure you’ll be needed. I’m sorry for your lost.” Waverly smiled politely at him.
“I’m not.” He grinned and followed Beth.
“That boy has always given me the creeps.” Wynonna shuttered.
“He’s not that bad, kind of odd, but he’s always been pretty nice to me.”
“People usually are when they want to bone you…” Wynonna chuckled.
“Eww… no.” Waverly punched her sister in the shoulder as they entered the scene.
“Now if you feel like you’re gonna puke, try and run outside and not contaminate the crime scene.” Both Earp women nodded. “And whatever you do, don’t touch anything unless we say so.” They both nodded again.
The scene was pretty similar to the other two, blood spatters littering the carpet, urns placed neatly on the mantelpiece and a note lying neatly next to Mercedes’ head. Nicole slipped passed the cop taking pictures and picked up the note with her gloved hand. She eased it open and showed it to Waverly.
“She will not be the last, but she was by far the most satisfying….. What the fuck.” Waverly shivered. “What kind of sick and twisted person….” Waverly looked around the scene. Outside of the blood splatter, the scene was rather clean. Everything in it’s place.
Nicole moved around, inspecting the scene. There were a few hairs here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary.
“Haught…. Take a look at this.” Dolls called over his partner. He was holding Mercedes’ hand up. “Looks like skin and a bit of blood under her fingernails… sign of a struggle?”
Nicole took Mercedes’ hand. “Deputy, can you hand me that evidence tube.” The cop handed her the tube and a swab. Nicole carefully scraped the skin pieces and tiny bits of blood into the vial.
“This almost seems too easy… something may not be right about this, but let’s have Sheila run the DNA. Also, make sure we get samples from Tucker and Beth while they are at the stations so we can rule their DNA out.” Dolls motioned for the cop to radio the station.
“Or… prove they did it.” Wynonna was about to lean against a chair as she spoke, but Nicole reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling her away from the furniture.
“We don’t know anything, but we will investigate all angles.”
“Wynonna….” Waverly voice interrupted the other two women. “Um… shit…” She reached down and picked up a necklace that was laying next to Mercedes. “You were right…”
Wynonna took the piece of jewelry and the color drained from her face. It was a necklace Wynonna had given Waverly for her 16th birthday. An Egyptian bird in white gold. Wynonna wrapped her arm around Waverly’s shoulder and pulled her close.
“No one’s gonna touch a hair on your head. Not without going through me first.”
Shorty’s was pretty much empty by 10pm, most folks not wanting to be out and about with a killer on the loose. Waverly was sitting at the corner of the bar, waiting for Doc to finish closing up so he could escort her home. While she still felt like she was constantly being watched, it was better than the alternative.
The door to Shorty’s opening made the youngest Earp jump, nearly falling off of her bar stool. Nicole was at her side in the second, steadying the stool with one hand and sliding an arm around Waverly’s waist to make sure she didn’t tumble to the ground.
“I’ve got you.”
Their eyes met for a brief moment, the two frozen in time, the world around them melting slowly away. For a split second they were back in this very bar ten years ago, two teenagers in love and obsessed with each other.
The sound of Doc clearing his throat brought them back to reality. Nicole quickly removed her arm from around Waverly, steadying the stool and taking a step back.
“Hey Doc, um… I was just stopping in to see if Rosita was ready to go.”
“Uh huh… right.” At the sound of her name Rosita emerged from the back.
“Hey you, let me just grab my bag.” Waverly could feel the heat on her cheeks slowly subsiding.
“You okay?” Nicole directed the question to Waverly, keeping her distance.
“Yeah… I’m fine.” She slid off the stool. “You ready to go Doc? Wynonna’s expecting us.” He nodded and grabbed his hat, heading out of the front door, Waverly in tow. The youngest Earp looked back once, meeting Nicole’s eyes, unable to keep a small smile from spreading across her face.