Home > Lake Silence (The Others #6)(14)

Lake Silence (The Others #6)(14)
Author: Anne Bishop

“I didn’t see anything. I was out front.”

Good guess that the next CIU team to come calling would find someone had tampered with a lock but didn’t manage to get in.

“I heard the car crash into something,” Osgood said. “I thought maybe Calhoun had been driving too fast on the gravel and hit a tree or something, and I started down the road to see if I could help. But Baker must have heard something in the trees over there because he headed away from the house and drew his service weapon, and I wasn’t sure if I should stay and help him or go and help Calhoun. And then . . . then . . .”

“What did you see?” Grimshaw asked when Osgood stopped talking. “Officer! What did you see?”

“I didn’t see anything!” A note of hysteria. “One moment Baker was running away from the house and had his weapon drawn and the next . . .” Osgood swallowed convulsively. “Something grabbed him and twisted him like it was squeezing water out of a wet rag.”

Osgood scrabbled at the door. Grimshaw released the locks in time for the young man to bolt out of the car and stagger a few steps before he bent over and puked.

Grimshaw’s mobile phone rang. Keeping an eye on Osgood, he answered. “Grimshaw.”

“The driver is still alive but has severe head and neck injuries,” Julian said. “I don’t think he’ll make it, but the EMTs are here. So is the Sproing volunteer fire department. They said someone called them and the EMTs and told them to get over to The Jumble. My guess is it was one of the Sanguinati who were at the bank. The volunteers and EMTs are working to get the driver out of the car so the ambulance can take him to Bristol Hospital.”

The driver. That would be Calhoun. “Long drive for a seriously injured man.”

“Nothing closer. One of Sproing’s doctors is also here. He’ll do what he can to help the EMTs stabilize the patient, but he says the man needs more help than he and his office can provide.”

“And the other detective?” When Julian didn’t answer, Grimshaw’s voice sharpened. “Julian?”

“Something shredded his legs.”

“Elders?”

“Not for me to say.”

Yeah. Especially out in the open where you didn’t know who, or what, was listening.

“What about you?” Julian asked. “You find the baby cop?”

“He’s puking his guts out at the moment, but doesn’t appear to be physically injured. The other man, Detective Baker . . .”

“What about him?”

“He’s dead. Spinal injury.”

He heard Julian suck in a breath.

“I’ll walk up and meet you.”

He wanted to tell Julian to stay put, but he realized if Julian Farrow felt all right about coming farther into The Jumble’s land, they weren’t at risk—until someone did something stupid.

CHAPTER 11

Vicki

Sunsday, Juin 13

I went to the sliding screen door that opened out on a multilevel deck that overlooked the lake. There was a variety of very nice—and very expensive since it was handcrafted—outdoor furniture that I wished I could afford for my screened-in porch. Then again, Aggie thought my secondhand stuff was pretty fancy, so I guess it was a case of “eye of the beholder.”

“Are you sure I shouldn’t be there?” I asked, looking over my shoulder at Ilya Sanguinati. “Those sirens sounded like they were at The Jumble.”

The Jumble was my responsibility—at least until I lost control of it—so I should be aware of what was happening. On the other hand, if I wasn’t there, I couldn’t be blamed for whatever had happened. Right?

“I’m sure you shouldn’t be there,” he replied. “The police caused a problem, and they’ll have it fixed before I escort you home.”

He seemed real certain of that. I was almost as certain about something else.

“Someone died,” I said.

He looked up from the papers he had spread over a square coffee table that was bigger than my kitchen table. “Yes.”

“It wasn’t the young officer, was it?” In the thrillers I read, the young, less experienced officer was always the first one killed so the rest of the men would realize there was danger lurking nearby.

“No, it wasn’t the young one.”

“And Officer Grimshaw is all right?”

He studied me. “Is that important to you?”

There was nothing in Ilya Sanguinati’s voice to indicate anything but mild curiosity, but I had a feeling Grimshaw’s future depended on my answer.

“He was kind,” I replied. “And he’s a police officer you can depend on when you need help.” Unlike Detective Oil Slick, I added silently.

I had revised my opinion of Officer Grimshaw during our second encounter, when his presence had helped me deal with Detective Swinn and the discovery of the theft of the items in my safe-deposit box. When he came to The Jumble, I was plenty nervous about leading him to a dead body, but he might have been nervous too and sounded a bit testy because of it. After all, cops really didn’t like coming to Sproing because at least two of them had ended up inconveniently dead after responding to calls around here. At least, that’s what I remember from the carefully edited news reports that were on TV a while ago. And now, if I understood what Ilya meant about a problem the police had to fix before I went home, they had at least one more reason to avoid the village whenever possible.

I returned to one of the chairs around the coffee table, determined to understand the papers the dead man had carried with him, but I kept looking at the items neatly lined up near the table. A knapsack and a thermos; a silver pen and pencil set; a silver business card holder; and a money clip, sans money.

I didn’t know which kind of terra indigene would be interested in the knapsack and thermos, but I could guess who had taken possession of all the shiny items—and how much having to give them to Ilya had ruffled the Crowgard’s feathers.

“Shouldn’t those go to the police?” I asked.

“Why?” Ilya Sanguinati looked amused. “I believe the human phrase is ‘finders keepers.’” After a moment, he added, “The Sanguinati didn’t take those items, but I did require that they be brought here in case there was anything of import inside them.”

“Like the papers.” I almost pointed out that the police would like to have all this stuff for evidence, but being an attorney, Ilya already knew that—and he didn’t care because, right now, helping the police investigate the first dead man meant helping Detective Swinn, and my yummy vampire attorney wasn’t going to do that.

“Like the papers,” Ilya agreed.

I looked through the papers again. After a few minutes, I shook my head. “This is wrong. This is all wrong.”

“What, exactly, is wrong?”

I heard no condescension in the question, so I pulled out the first papers, which were an artist’s rendering of cottages and the social center for a luxury resort. “All of these papers are plans for a luxury resort, very exclusive since there would be twenty-four row cottages as well as the social center, which would provide fine dining and an activities room, library, card room, et cetera. Within the grounds, the rendering shows tennis courts, as well as two docks. And look!” I jabbed at the rendering. “Motor boats. Who was the bozo who put this proposal together without looking at any of the conditions and restrictions? Because this . . .” And the last piece of paper was the one that tipped me over into pissed off and fighting mad. Which was quite an invigorating feeling—as long as I didn’t have to fight with anyone who was bigger, stronger, or meaner than me. Which was just about everyone.

Unfortunately, the only person to fight with was a vampire. Who was my attorney. Whom I couldn’t afford in the first place, so I probably didn’t want to alienate him to the point of not helping me.

“This is The Jumble,” I said with more control. Okay, I was gritting my teeth and kind of scratching at the paper, but I wasn’t going all wild woman. Except for my hair. But that was its usual state. “When I took possession of the property, I studied the map that came with all the original documents that dictated what the person who owned the buildings could and couldn’t do. So I know this is a map of The Jumble showing where all these luxury cottages would be located, where the tennis courts would go. And a parking lot, for crying out loud. None of which are permissible under the land-use terms of the original agreement.”

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