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The shoe appeared on her desk, gently deposited on top of the pile of occurrence reports from the last week.
It was a kid's high-topleft footand it was red and grubby, but not worn.
Kate automatically picked it up, more to keep it from dirtying her paperwork than out of curiosity. It was damp. On the inside of the tongue, in red marker, was written "Josh H." She flipped the shoe over to look at the underside. A size four. It would fit a what? A four- or five-year-old?
Bobby MacAllister's age.
She slowly looked up. Marco Trepalli, youngest and newest member of the Mendenhall police forceand too handsome for his own goodsmiled down at her. The morning sun gilded his tanned cheek and added a twinkle to his eye. Kate stifled a sigh. Marco had the makings of a good cop, if he ever learned to get over himself.
Whatever he'd been planning to say, he obviously thought better of it when he saw her raised eyebrow. The smile left his face. "Guy just brought this in," he said seriously. "Wants to talk to you."
"Where is Deputy Chief McKell?" She was surprised Trepalli hadn't taken it to the DC first. In the two months since becoming chief of police for Mendenhall, she'd learned that nobody passed wind in this station without checking with McKell first.
"He had a meeting with his lawyer at ten o'clock."
Ah yes. Divorce number three for the good DC.
"Constable Trepalli," said Kate, sitting back in her ergonomically designed chair, the one she had brought from home to save her aching back. "I'm sure there's a good reason you put a wet shoe on my nice clean desk, although it can't be because you don't know how to take a statement. I know for a fact they covered witness statements at the academy."
Trepalli blushed and Kate suddenly felt like a turd. He was so young. Still, he had to learn to deal with the incidents that crossed the duty desk. This was Mendenhall, Manitoba, population 16,334, most of whom were farmers or connected to farming. It wasn't east side Vancouver. If he couldn't handle the run-of-the-mill stuff that came in on a Thursday morning, what would he do on a Saturday night shift?
Use some judgment, for Pete's sake.
"Yes, Chief." He turned away and Kate went back to her to-do list.
Work had piled up alarmingly in the four days she'd been in Vancouver for the Policing in Rural Communities conference. And McKell, true to form, hadn't done any of it, even though he was in charge during her absence.
She realized she was still holding the shoe.
Bobby MacAllister had been just shy of his sixth birthday. He would have been thirty-three, if he'd lived.
He stopped just outside the door and turned to look at her.
With a nod, he walked back to her littered desk and took the shoe from her.
Dirty but not worn. The kid who belonged in that shoe hadn't been in it long enough to wear it out.
"What's so special about the guy with the shoe?"