"When was the last time you saw your daughter?" Allio asked. His delivery seemed dispassionate, but Grace reminded herself that his job was to remain even-keeled when delivering seismic news. The other officer continued to hang back, giving Grace the distinct impression he was there simply to assist should she become unhinged or hysterical, either of which were real possibilities.
"A couple hours ago. When I'd gone for a run, and when I came back, she was gone," Grace said, fighting for every bit of composure she could muster. "When was she arrested?"
"She's been at the station a half hour or so."
A sharp twinge hit the back of Grace's neck, which she tried rubbing away with her hand.
"So have you talked to her? Asked her what happened?"
"We checked her license. She's a minor. It's our policy that we talk to you first."
Grace thought: And I need to talk to a lawyer.
"When we arrested her, she was covered in blood—it was all over her body, in her hair—so when you come to the station, you should bring a change of clothes."
"She's still in bloody clothes? You left her like that?"
"It's evidence," Allio said as explanation. "It takes time for us to collect the samples we need before we can let her get cleaned up."
"I need to get there—I need to leave right now." Grace felt the ground tilt beneath her feet.
"I understand,"Allio said, continuing to radiate calm. "You need to take this a step at a time, okay? I have some more questions I'd like to ask."
"Blood," Grace whispered. "Oh my God. And you said she wasn't hurt?"
"No, there are no visible wounds on Penny. But the victim was found deceased at the scene, and we believe it's the victim's blood on your daughter's body."
Grace got the impression the detective was holding something back.
"She's calling herself Eve, but that's not the name on her license."
Again, a chill ran through Grace. Eve.
"She said she doesn't remember anything that happened before we showed up. We think maybe she's in shock, but we're not sure," Allio went on. "Is Eve a nickname?"
Grace paused, deciding how to answer. "It's more complicated than that," she offered sparingly, thinking that oversharing wouldn't do Penny any good. Thankfully, Allio decided to let it go.
"And you had no idea where Penny was headed when she left the house?"
"No, none," Grace said.
"Had she done that before?" Allio asked. "Taken the car and not told you where she was going?"
"No, it's against the rules," Grace said again, thinking 'less is more'. "She likes to take walks. I thought maybe she took the car to go to the beach or something and forgot to tell me."
"Any reason she might have gone to Lynn? Does she have a friend there?"
Grace shook her head, reminding herself that Allio wasn't on her side. He had her daughter in custody and his agenda was different than hers.
"Have you noticed any changes in her behavior lately? Have you seen any anger, withdrawal, anything different?"
Grace mulled it over before answering. She was barely holding on. A slight breeze could totter her off some invisible edge into full-blown hysteria. For a moment she worried she was going to be sick.
"No," Grace finally managed. "Everything has been fine. I think I need a lawyer."
Allio's eyes danced across her face in an unsettling way, as if he knew much more than he was letting on.
"Let me ask you one last question, if I may. I'm sure you want to get down to the station. Do you know a woman named Rachel Boyd?"
For Grace, it felt as though time itself had come to a stop. Her body went numb, mind a blank.
"Rachel Boyd?" Grace repeated in a quiet voice.
"Yes. Do you know her?"
"Not personally, no. Is she...is she the victim?"
"Yes, Rachel has been murdered. Is there a connection between Penny and Ms. Boyd?" Allio asked.
Grace nodded insensibly. Her legs were shaking, barely able to hold her upright. "Yes," she said, her thoughts fading as her vision grew dark. "Rachel Boyd is my daughter's birth mother."