Home > Lake Silence (The Others #6)(10)

Lake Silence (The Others #6)(10)
Author: Anne Bishop

“Did she count my underwear the moment I was out of the room?”

“My point is, no one knows where you stand.” Julian stood next to him at the window. Both of them watched the Sproingers. People going into or out of the bank could get around them. The critters did move out of the way, but they didn’t move far—and if they suddenly felt inclined to attack someone’s ankles or lower legs, a person had no room to maneuver.

“You need to be the good cop in this, Wayne.”

“I don’t think Ms. DeVine thinks of me as a good cop.”

“Then you’d better do something to change her mind,” Julian snapped.

Grimshaw studied the man who had been his friend. Maybe still was his friend. A man who had an uncanny sense of what was happening in a place.

“Okay. I’ll be the good cop.”

Julian nodded. “I told you that you’ll need to be careful about choosing your allies. Make sure everyone knows you’re the good cop.” He looked pointedly at the Sproingers. “And I do mean everyone.”

“Crap.”

An unmarked car pulled into one of the parking spaces in front of the bank. The Sproingers snapped to attention.

Grimshaw settled his duty belt and put on his hat. “Looks like that’s my cue.”

He walked outside just as one of the CIU boys opened the car’s back door.

“Excuse me, fellas,” Grimshaw said, looking at the Sproingers crowded around his legs. “I need to give the lady a hand.”

They moved out of his way, giving him a clear path to the CIU car but closing ranks behind him.

He reached the car at the same time Vicki DeVine stepped out of the vehicle, swaying a little. The CIU man stared at her, so Grimshaw took a long step forward and extended his hand. She grabbed it. He wasn’t sure she even knew whose hand she held.

Damn it, the woman was shaking, and if he was any judge of body language, she was a couple of breaths away from a complete meltdown.

“Anything I can do for you, Ms. DeVine?” he asked.

“We’ve got it covered,” the CIU man said.

She looked at him and seemed to focus—and he wondered exactly what had happened during that car ride from The Jumble.

“The detective claims I’m squatting at The Jumble. He wants to see the paperwork that proves the land is mine. We’re going into the bank to open my safe-deposit box.”

“Do you want someone to go in with you?”

She focused on him a little more, as if who he was and what he was saying was finally getting through. “Thank you, Officer Grimshaw. That would be appreciated.”

“Not necessary, Officer.” Marmaduke Swinn came around the car to the sidewalk. He looked like he wanted to drop-kick a Sproinger or two to the other side of the street. The Sproingers who stared back at him were not wearing their happy faces.

“Serve and protect.” Grimshaw smiled and wondered what would happen if he pointed at Swinn and said, “That is a very bad man.” How would the Sproingers react to such a statement? Would they shift to a terra indigene form that had a predator’s teeth and claws? He estimated there were thirty of them filling the sidewalk in front of the bank and police station. If they had a lethal form, those were not good odds.

“Let’s take a look at those papers and get this sorted out,” he said. He released Vicki’s hand, cupping her elbow instead to provide her with some support as they walked into the bank, trailed by Swinn and his man.

The bank manager stood near the teller windows and looked startled when Grimshaw walked in. Then he exchanged a quick look with Swinn.

Crap. What was going on between those two? The bank manager had expected Swinn to come in with Vicki DeVine, but Grimshaw’s presence made the man nervous enough to sweat. Which meant a cop who wasn’t part of Swinn’s team was a problem for them.

“Surely we don’t need so many people,” he said as he fetched his keys and had Ms. DeVine sign the log.

Grimshaw gave the bank manager the look that made any wrongdoer squirm. And the man was squirming.

The safe-deposit box was removed from the vault and brought to the small room where people could add or remove things in private. Since the room wasn’t bigger than a typical elevator and had a counter and chair taking up part of the space, the second CIU man stayed outside. The room was still crowded with four people. Grimshaw knew why he and Swinn were in the room, but why had the bank manager been allowed to stay? Was he supposed to be the witness to whatever was found in the box?

“They’re gone,” Vicki DeVine said, staring at the empty box. “The papers are gone. And the money! I had six thousand dollars in the box.”

“This is a bank,” Swinn said while the bank manager insisted that nothing could have been taken. “Why didn’t you deposit the money? It doesn’t earn interest sitting in the box.”

She stared at him. “It also isn’t lost if the bank goes under. This is a small institution, not a regional bank. Plenty of small banks went under in the past year. I wasn’t taking that chance.”

“Have a few trust issues?” Grimshaw murmured.

“Yes!”

She had color in her face again. He figured if she was pissed off she was less likely to faint. That worked for him.

“Takes two keys to open the box,” Swinn said. “I think you weren’t being honest with us, Ms. DeVine.”

“I know what was in the box,” she protested.

“But you can’t prove it.” Swinn looked triumphant, like he’d made the winning point.

“That’s right.” The bank manager nodded vigorously. “You can’t prove it.”

“Of course I can,” she snapped. “I made a list of everything I put in the box. And I took photos of all the items to corroborate the list.”

More than a few trust issues—and a bit obsessive to boot. But Grimshaw was more interested in the way the bank manager started sweating again. Yes, opening the box required two keys. That didn’t mean someone couldn’t have made a duplicate before handing over the customer’s key.

“The papers are missing, so you have no proof to your claim,” Swinn said.

“I told you. Those were copies,” Vicki DeVine replied. “The originals are in a lockbox in my bedroom at The Jumble.”

Grimshaw focused his attention on Swinn before asking Vicki DeVine, “Is there anyone at your place to keep an eye on things?”

“I have a couple of men there,” Swinn said, as if the question had been aimed at him.

“I think so,” Vicki said. “Maybe.”

Grimshaw nodded. “All right, then. We can drive back to The Jumble and—”

“She still has to answer some questions about the man who was killed on her property,” Swinn snapped.

“A moment ago, you were certain it wasn’t her property.”

“Don’t screw with me, Grimshaw. I’ve read your file, Officer.”

Yep. He did not work or play well with others. Especially assholes like Swinn. Which was one of the reasons he was still just an officer while other men were promoted over him. But Swinn’s reaction made him think the dead man was just the tip of the iceberg and Julian Farrow was right—there was something wrong in Sproing.

“Ms. DeVine?” Grimshaw waited until he had her attention. “Let’s get your safe-deposit box locked up again, and then we’ll go over to the station.”

“What’s the point of locking up an empty box?” she asked.

No point at all, he thought. But he wondered how many of Sproing’s citizens were going to empty out their boxes once word got out that their valuables weren’t any safer in the bank than they would be under the bed.

CHAPTER 9

Vicki

Sunsday, Juin 13

We hadn’t gone more than a couple of steps past the bank when a black luxury sedan with tinted windows glided into a parking space in front of the police station. It was so shiny, like road dust didn’t dare touch its surface. Maybe they used a special wax that repelled dirt. If I asked the driver, would he tell me? My little green car was more a mottled brown these days, what with driving up the gravel access road to The Jumble’s main house.

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