Robbins turned when the morgue doors opened. Wendy had been running and stopped just inside the door, panting lightly.
“The guards told Henry who told Mandy who told me, that…” She shook her head a little. “Can I see her?”
Robbins knew whom she was referring to, but he thought about the question a moment before answering. “Are you a twin?”
Wendy shook her head.
“Are you sure?”
Robbins motioned her to follow, grabbed his cane, and walked toward the alcove. David was preparing the body for the autopsy.
“Take five, David.”
He looked at him, then Wendy, and obeyed. Wendy stared at the body as she walked along the table toward the head. She had a few scars and a dimple on her hip. Freckles peppered her shoulders that had once been milky white but had taken on the ashen blue-gray of a corpse. Wendy stopped when she reached the head. The stranger’s eyes were closed. Her hair was still wet from the bath David had given her. Wendy reached down, laying her hand on the woman’s head. It was cold, but she’d expected that.
“Did she have any I.D.?”
“No. We don’t know who she is. Sara told David the contents of her purse suggested she was a prostitute.”
Wendy choked back a sob. “A prostitute? I’m not a prostitute!”
Robbins had been staring at the woman’s face. He looked up at Wendy.
Wendy started crying. “I want to stay for the autopsy.”
She looked up at him. “I’ve stayed before. I can—”
“This is different. I think it’s a bad idea in this case.”
“Please, Doc. Let me stay.”
Robbins frowned, even when she looked up at him. He shook his head.
“I could bribe you. I’m sure I can find something.”
He smiled. “Get back upstairs and help find who killed her.”
Wendy took one last look at her reflection on the autopsy table, and then turned and headed for the door.
“Wendy,” Robbins called.
She turned. He was standing right behind her.
“This woman here, this isn’t you. Don’t confuse that, okay? This isn’t your life you’re looking at here. This is someone else’s.”
“It could be. One day.”
“Wendy, no. She—”
“Good night, Doc.” Wendy left the morgue.
Nick heard Sara make a sound, then choke, and cough a little. He was on the opposite side of the bedroom searching for evidence, or identification – whichever came first. He turned, catching her grin vanishing.
“Nothing,” she answered.
He smiled. “You were laughing. What about?”
She shot him a sly, playful look. With a taunting tone she asked, “Are you sure you want to know? Are you positive?”
Nick laughed a little. “With that look, I’m sure I’m going to regret this, but... What? What’s got you looking like a cat with the canary?”
“You heard David say the guy looked the same height as you. So he measured the tibia and it turns out the guy is the same height as you.”
“What’s the punch line?”
Her grin became downright mischievous. “I was wondering what other things he has that are the same length as you.”
Nick almost didn’t get it. Then he grinned and laughed. “Sara!”
“Hey, he was measuring things and it just popped up!”"SARA!"
She laughed hard, but didn't look one bit ashamed about the vulgar joke.
“Have you found anything that pertains to the case?”
“I have this.” Sara pointed at a purse sitting in a chair in the corner.
“Is that the woman’s?”
“No. I checked the I.D.” She reached in and pulled out a wallet. “It belongs to an Alice Nolan.” She showed him the driver’s license.
Nick looked closer. “This is the same woman in the photographs in the hall. I’m assuming his wife from those photos out there. Hey, I haven’t been able to find Jane Doe’s clothes. Have you?”
“They aren’t in here.”
“I’m going to go look in the other rooms. Try to stay out of the gutter while I’m gone.”
She laughed, telling him as he walked out, “I make no promises.”
Nick started through the house in search of clothes, but instead found a door to the basement in the kitchen pantry. He opened it and flicked the nearby light switch before slowly descending. The basement was unfinished and half the size of the house above it. On one side were the washer and dryer. On the other side was a desk covered with papers. Photographs pinned to the wood beams caught Nick’s attention. Nick walked up to them, holding his flashlight on them.
“Nick,” Sara called out.
He heard her clamor down the steps.
“I couldn’t find any identification on the man. No marriage license or even mail to him. Everything I found was addressed to Alice Nolan,” Sara told him.
She joined Nick, looking over the photographs. “These must be him in high school and college.”
“No. They’re not.” Nick pointed at the letter jacket on one. “That’s my high school letter jacket. I was on the basketball and football junior and varsity teams and received these pins when we won regionals. These pictures are my college pictures: that’s me with my fraternity brothers, and these are all homecoming pictures, all my dates… These child photographs are from newspapers. I won that soap box trophy, this is me in my Boy Scout troupe, this one with the fish has my dad in it, but he cut him out… Sara, these are all me. Do you think this guy was stalking me?”
“Could have been.” Sara looked down at the papers work. She sifted through a few pieces and picked up one. “He has your birth certificate, Nick.”
Nick took it. “This isn’t mine.”
“It has your name. Your middle name is Parker, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but that’s not my last name, there’s no father listed, and that’s not my mom’s name. Maybe he forged it. Maybe he was trying to steal my identity.”
She looked up at him. “That is a really stupid thought. And you know, I don't think he was a stalker, either.”
“He could have been stalking me and trying to steal my identity.”
“Okay. Where's recent photographs of you? See any?”
Nick frowned. She was right. “No. All of this stops at college, when I left Texas to work here. Okay. That is strange.”
“Plus, if he was stalking or trying to steal your identity, and he has cancer, don't you think a plastic surgeon would have been expensive. And, the fact he looks just like you is even stranger. How could a surgeon get that face the same as this face without a recent photograph?” She squeezed his chin.
Nick slapped her hand away. “If we have software to age people, I’m sure a plastic surgeon does too.”
“But why? Do you even know someone with the last name Nolan?”
“If I knew why, this case would be solved, wouldn’t it?”
She laughed a little. “I bet he’s your twin.”
Nick pretended to glower at her. “A twin I haven’t known about for thirty-seven years? I doubt that’s something my parents wouldn’t have told me about.”
“It’s a lot more logical than he was trying stealing your identity and went so far as making himself look like you without a single current photo of you.”
He grinned suddenly. “Wait. Did I just hear bet come out of your mouth?”
A crooked smile crept onto her lips. “Yes.”
Positive he had the upper hand, he couldn’t resist. “Name your wager, sly.”
She grinned. “You buy me breakfast the rest of the month.”
“And if I win you come every Saturday to wash my truck.”
Nick headed back upstairs, wearing a confident grin. This was the easiest bet he’d ever made.