Home > Lake Silence (The Others #6)(11)

Lake Silence (The Others #6)(11)
Author: Anne Bishop

Then a man got out of the back seat.

He was . . . yummy. I mean, he was a double-scoop sundae with hot fudge and caramel sauce and a mountain of real whipped cream yummy. His hair was darker than Ineke’s double-fudge brownies, and he had the most luscious melted-chocolate eyes.

He smiled at me, and I tried to move toward him, but Officer Grimshaw gripped my arm and wouldn’t move at all. Didn’t he know that gorgeous men never smiled that way at dumpy women with unruly hair? Stupid man.

“I’m Ms. DeVine’s attorney,” Yummy said. “I would like to speak to my client in private. We can use my office.” He pointed toward the second floor of the police station. Then he handed Grimshaw a business card.

He was who? I was what?

“Crap.” It was one of Grimshaw’s breathed rather than spoken words.

“You’re not a public defender,” Swinn said, pushing forward. “And she can’t afford anything more.”

Too true, especially since someone stole the emergency fund I’d kept in the safe-deposit box.

“I will speak with my client in private,” Yummy Attorney said. His eyes didn’t look like melted chocolate anymore.

“Then you can talk to her in the station. We have a little room in the back just for that,” Swinn said.

Sure, go ahead and smirk.

“Mr. Sanguinati and Ms. DeVine can talk in the front room, if that’s acceptable,” Grimshaw said.

Sanguin . . . Oh. It figured he wouldn’t be a regular guy.

Then again . . .

Grimshaw released my arm and I sort of teetered into the police station, followed by the yummy vampire attorney.

I took one of the visitors’ seats. He brought the other visitors’ chair over and sat facing me, our knees almost touching. Then he leaned forward and took my hands.

“You’re trembling, Ms. DeVine.” He rubbed a thumb over my knuckles. Was that supposed to calm me down, especially when he was looking at me as if I might be a plain vanilla cone but that was just what he was in the mood for? “Did those men hurt you in any way?”

“What men?”

“Are you unwell?”

Something was upsetting him, and when he glanced toward the door of the police station, I began to put it together. I wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box at that moment—stress does that to me—but like I said, I read a lot of thrillers, so I finally put the questions together. On the TV shows, the good guys refer to it as nonphysical interference or psychological intimidation.

That’s what he wanted to know. Was his client shaking because of something that had been done? Trouble was, I’d developed a technique throughout my childhood and my marriage to Yorick where I would go to a safe and secret place in my mind, a closet that had a blankie and bunny slippers—a place no one else could find. I’d still hear whatever was being said to me or about me, still hear the list of my failings, but it was muffled by a thick door. So I heard and didn’t hear.

Within a minute of driving away from The Jumble, I’d slammed that secret closet door shut. So I had absorbed but hadn’t processed what Detective Oil Slick Swinn had said to me. I didn’t come out of the closet until Grimshaw took my hand and I understood it was safe to be completely present again.

Not willing to pull away, I twisted my wrist to look at my watch. “Huh. It’s past lunchtime. I get a little shaky when I’m stressed and forget to eat.” And I hadn’t eaten anything that day except the cookie, which was not smart.

“Wait here.” He gave my hands a squeeze and stood up. Then he paused. “I didn’t properly introduce myself. I’m Ilya Sanguinati.”

“My attorney.”

“Yes.”

I sighed. “I appreciate the offer. I really do. But frankly, Mr. Sanguinati, I couldn’t afford to pay for a sleeve of that very nice suit you’re wearing, let alone your hourly rates.”

“We can work out a payment plan.”

I stared at him. A payment plan? I could guess what the interest might be while a person was paying off the principal on the bill. But . . . he was soooo yummy. And, really, what’s a pint or two of blood between a girl and her attorney when she gets to have her neck nibbled by that mouth? And since neck nibbling wasn’t the same as having sex, I was pretty sure I could handle it as well as the girls in the romances I’d read last week. I’d sure be willing to give it a try.

He opened the door partway and spoke to someone. I heard Oil Slick Swinn squawk when Ilya Sanguinati closed the door and returned to the other seat.

“Now,” he said. “Tell me how you came to be the caretaker of The Jumble and what you know about the human who had the poor taste to die on your land.”

“Being dead is more inconvenient to him than it is to me,” I pointed out.

His shoulders moved in what might have been a shrug. The movement was almost too subtle to see, but for all I knew, it could have been a wild, unrestrained gesture for someone like him.

I skipped the part about Yorick’s Vigorous Appendage and explained about receiving The Jumble and some cash as my settlement in the divorce. I was happy to leave Hubb NE (aka Hubbney) since I wanted a fresh start and had hoped to turn The Jumble into a viable business that would provide me with a living. The fact that the property was on the western end of the Finger Lakes area was perfect since it was a happy distance from Hubbney and my former hubby.

I blamed low blood sugar for not being able to sound as upbeat and sassy as I wanted to sound. But Ilya Sanguinati didn’t roll his eyes or sneer or make cute-but-cutting remarks. He just listened. I finished telling him about Aggie and the eyeball, which had led to me reporting the inconveniently dead man, moments before someone knocked on the station door.

Julian walked in. “I wasn’t sure what you needed in the way of food, so I guessed. Grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate milkshake. And there’s a small bowl of sliced strawberries because Helen at the diner said you should have a little fruit with your meal.”

“This is great. Thank you.”

Julian set out the food on the desk blotter and pulled out the rolling desk chair.

“Now,” Ilya Sanguinati said once I was seated behind the desk. “Let’s get this settled.”

My stomach rolled.

He raised a hand. “You eat and listen. I’ll get this settled. And then we’ll go back to The Jumble and take a look at the paperwork.”

I noticed Julian took up a position behind me and a little to one side when the other men walked into the station. Officer Grimshaw took up a position at the far corner of the desk. And Ilya Sanguinati stood in front of the desk. It was like having a force field made out of male bodies, so I felt safe enough to stay out of the mental closet and listen while I ate my lunch.

Really good grilled cheese sandwich. Helen wouldn’t say what she did to make them so good—a blend of cheeses, I think—but they were one of my favorite comfort foods when I ate at the diner.

Detective Swinn came in, attempting to swagger. He had a swagger attitude but not the build to pull it off. Rather like Yorick that way. The bank manager was the last one in. I guess the other CIU man wasn’t invited to the party.

“Now,” Ilya Sanguinati said. “Let’s come to some small understanding.”

“Ms. DeVine has to answer some questions,” Swinn said.

My attorney ignored the CIU investigator and focused on the bank manager. “As we speak, two of my kin who deal with banks and banking issues are at the bank examining the contents of all the safe-deposit boxes held by the residents of Silence Lodge. Like Ms. DeVine, we keep a detailed list of everything we allow the bank to hold.”

I looked at the bank manager, then at the dill pickle spear that had come with my sandwich. They were the same shade of green.

I nudged the pickle to one side and concentrated on the sandwich.

“More of my kin, the ones who are most interested in commerce and real estate, are also at the bank, withdrawing the funds we have on deposit.”

“B-but you can’t,” the bank manager said. “If you withdraw that much . . .”

“The bank will no longer be a healthy, viable institution.” Ilya Sanguinati smiled. “I must also inform you that the lease for the building, which is owned by Silence Lodge, will not be renewed unless two conditions are met.”

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