When the police call the slaughter of his mother and brother a home invasion gone bad, Mika doesn't believe it. Because he has no way to prove otherwise, he closes down, refusing to talk about what happened.
That is until Buck, a bouncer at a local bar Mika visits, convinces Mika to open up to him. When he does, Buck not only learns about the murder, but also that Mika grew up living off the grid until his father died, two years previously, at which point his family moved to the city.
They begin to bond as they try to figure out the reason behind the murders, which may revolve around the family property in the mountains. All they have to do is prove it, without being killed in the process. Only if they can will they take a chance and move their growing friendship on to something more.
"Going to order a beer and stare at it," Buck teased. "If so, you're too late. We're about to close."
Mika shook his head. "I couldn't sleep so I figured maybe if I took a walk ..." He swallowed hard. "Okay, not quite the truth. I was wide awake, tossing and turning, and I remembered what you said, and you're the only person who has even seemed to give a damn even if you don't know me, and ..."
"You need to get everything out before it breaks you."
"Yeah. I know it's asking a lot, and it's late, and you probably want to get home ..."
Buck chuckled. "Do you ever finish a sentence?"
For a second, a smile flashed over Mika's lips. "Apparently not tonight."
"Come on inside. I have closing chores, and then we can go get some coffee?" He looked at Mika in question.
"If you're sure."
Mika settled by a table by the door while Buck did what he needed to so he could leave. When he finished, he suggested they head to an all-night diner two blocks from the bar. He was certain going there was a good idea, even though he wasn't sure why he'd offered. All he knew was that this man he didn't really know except very casually, if that, was hurting and needed someone to listen to him.
They found a vacant table in one corner of the diner and ordered coffee.
"Go ahead and eat, if you're hungry," Mika said.
"Naw, I'm good." Buck waited for the coffee to arrive before saying, "When you said your brother was killed --"
"Murdered," Mika interjected.
"Okay, murdered. You implied your mother was, too. How?"
"Do you honestly want to know, or are you doing some Good Samaritan thing because you feel sorry for me?"
Buck immediately decided honesty would be better than hedging. "It's obvious you're suffering. I have the feeling you haven't talked to anyone about what happened. Or more, you've talked to the police and perhaps relatives, maybe a friend or people you work with, but you haven't let it all out. Because of that, it's eating a hole in you." He tapped his chest. "Here, and probably in your head, too, if that makes any kind of sense."
Mika nodded. "It does. The cops think it was a home invasion. My uncle?" He shrugged. "He probably agrees with them, though he never said. He's the only relative I've got left, now."
"No father? Okay, dumb question. You just said you've only got your uncle. Is he here in town?"
"No. He flew in after hearing about the murders, took over the funeral and burial arrangements because I'm too young --" he rolled his eyes, "-- hired some lawyer to handle everything else, and left. He never was close to us when my father was alive and after he died, Elias, that's my uncle, got mom to agree to move here then pretty much walked away." Mika grimaced. "He's good at that."
"Off topic, sort of, but how old are you?"
"Hell, that's not too young."
"Tell that to Elias. Anyway, no, I didn't open up to him, given his attitude. The guys I work with sympathized with me about what happened, but that's it."
Buck took a drink of coffee, studying Mika. "You sound as if you don’t believe it was a home invasion, or a break-in, or whatever."
"We live ... lived in a lower middle-class neighborhood. If you were looking for a place to rob, would you choose a small house in an area of small houses where it was pretty obvious the people were struggling to make ends meet?"
Buck chuckled. "I wouldn't, but then I'm not a burglar, even a stupid one." He paused before asking, "How were they killed? Shot, like they surprised the guys?"
"Shot, yeah, but not until after they ..." Mika took a deep breath. "It looked like they tortured Reko and Mom, first. They were slashed with a knife, or knives. Cut ..." He shuddered, closing his eyes, saying, "I walked in on the scene. There was so much blood."
"Damn. No wonder you're so, well upset doesn't begin to describe it."
"It doesn't. The detective, his name is Windom, suggested the killers tortured them, trying to find out where they kept any valuables." Mika's mouth tightened. "As if there were any. All of us worked just to pay the mortgage and keep food on the table."
"If it wasn't a burglary or home invasion, then why were they killed?"
"I don't know! It's not like we had any enemies. We only lived here for a couple of years. How could we have made enemies?"