Home > Lake Silence (The Others #6)(4)

Lake Silence (The Others #6)(4)
Author: Anne Bishop

“Ms. DeVine?”

Grimshaw’s voice stopped me but I didn’t turn around. “Yes, Officer?”

“I’ll still need to talk to you and your lodger. Don’t go anywhere.”

Like I could with his big official vehicle blocking the access road that led up to the main house. Somehow I couldn’t see myself taking off on my bicycle in order to escape the law. Besides, all I did was report finding a body. How much trouble could I get into for doing that?

CHAPTER 4

Them

Moonsday, Juin 12

He studied the three men he had summoned for this late-night meeting. Two of them were top-tier members of the club, men who knew how to put together a deal and hold it together until it paid off. They were friends of long standing, and he had worked with them on several highly successful and lucrative projects. The third man came from money and a solid family name, but he was a third-rate schemer who thought he was a big shot—and could talk a good enough game to make other people believe he was as good as he believed himself to be, at least until a person started looking at the actual deals he’d made. Then it became clear that his success depended on his being the big fish in a very small pond.

Normally a man like that wouldn’t be included in a deal this size, but the fool was the one who held the papers for the asset they wanted—an asset the man’s family hadn’t bothered to utilize for decades. Except the damn fool didn’t hold the papers anymore, a detail he had “forgotten” to mention until the other men had shaken on the deal and couldn’t exclude him without staining their reputations with the rest of the members of the club.

But that forgotten detail was the reason they were looking at trouble now.

“Franklin Cartwright is dead,” he said, his voice full of harsh anger.

“Murdered?” the fool asked, sounding hopeful.

“Killed. My sources have confirmed nothing human could have done it.”

“Did Cartwright get the papers we need before getting killed?” the oldest man asked. He had gray hair and a hefty build and was a decade older than the rest of the men involved in this deal.

“No, but another source is going to make sure those papers aren’t available to anyone who might need them.”

The oldest man nodded. “If the bitch can’t prove she owns the asset . . .”

“It will give us time.” He studied the fool. “Why did you ask if Cartwright was murdered? Do you think your lump of an ex-wife could do that?”

“Nah.” The fool waved a hand as if erasing the words. “She’s a dishrag. Just raise your voice and she’ll do whatever she’s told.”

He looked at the two men he considered friends. “A murder charge won’t stick, but I’ll call one of our associates who is on the scene. Let’s see if he can push the dishrag’s buttons and convince her that she’ll be held responsible for Cartwright’s death.”

Everyone thought that was a splendid idea. Since he knew the fool would go home and bleat the details of this secret meeting to the new wife, he didn’t say anything more about their plans, even though the new wife happened to be his cousin. And he waited until he was sure the other men had left the building before calling the associates currently located in Sproing.

CHAPTER 5

Grimshaw

Sunsday, Juin 13

The following morning, Grimshaw parked the cruiser in front of Sproing’s police station and studied the building. The exterior looked more like a store that hadn’t quite gone out of business but wasn’t being cared for properly because the owner had given up on turning a profit.

Considering this was his new assignment, that did not bode well for him because it could be a visual opinion of the last police officer who had manned the station.

“It’s a temporary reassignment,” Captain Hargreaves had said.

“I don’t work and play well with others. That’s why I work highway patrol,” Grimshaw had growled. “Why can’t the town boys from the CIU team talk to the villagers? It’s their investigation now. Let one of their own park behind a desk in Sproing.”

Silence. He’d been working at the Bristol station under Hargreaves for only a couple of weeks, but he’d already learned to be wary of that weighty silence.

“There’s something damn strange about the CIU team from Putney jumping on this case when it should be outside their jurisdiction,” Hargreaves finally said. “So I want someone in the village who reports to me and can handle the day-to-day business during this investigation, and I’ve decided that someone is going to be you.” After a moment, he added, “We need to be careful. Can’t afford to step on any toes. Town boys don’t always appreciate that when they come into a small place like Sproing.”

In other words, despite all the evidence over the past year of how the terra indigene respond to things they don’t like, the CIU team might want to treat this investigation as if they were dealing strictly with other humans.

So there he was, the temporary officer in charge of the police station in Sproing while the Putney CIU team looked into the suspicious death of Franklin Cartwright—if the business cards he’d found near the body actually belonged to the victim.

Captain Hargreaves had told him the station would be unlocked, and if it wasn’t, he should check with the mayor or with the tenants who had offices on the second floor. The door was unlocked, so Grimshaw went inside to look around, glad he didn’t have to talk to anyone yet. Finding a set of keys in the middle drawer of one of the desks, he pocketed them, assuming they had been left for him. He also assumed the landlord—or the holding company that owned the building—had a set for the station as well as the two offices on the second floor. One office was rented by the village’s lone attorney. The other? Hargreaves didn’t have information on the other tenant.

Two desks, one on either side of the room. Two chairs to go with the desks and a visitors’ chair in front of each. Gun cabinet empty of firearms. A cell in the back part of the building—more accurately, a room with a single bed and a rickety bedside table, bars on the window, and a barred cell door. Storage room for supplies and a wall of filing cabinets that actually had files, although nothing current. A bathroom that included a shower cubicle. A small kitchen area that contained an old refrigerator that still worked and a new coffeemaker.

If push came to shove, he could bunk at the station until he found temporary lodgings.

Grimshaw ran a finger over the desks and was surprised that he didn’t swipe away more than a thin layer of dust—nothing more than what you’d expect just before the weekly cleaning. So the grungy feel was more from age and dingy walls, not a current lack of upkeep.

He wasn’t sure if that was better or worse.

Having seen his new headquarters, he stepped outside. The village hall, which housed the courtroom as well as the offices for all the municipal services, was on one side of the station. The lone bank was on the other side.

Directly across the street from the police station was a store called Lettuce Reed.

“By all the laughing gods,” Grimshaw muttered as he crossed the street. Was it some kind of produce market? Or something more esoteric and borderline legal?

As his foot hit the sidewalk and he saw the sign in the window announcing a sale on used books, it hit him. Lettuce Reed. Let Us Read.

“Cute.” He hated cute and was already predisposed to dislike the froufrou owner of the place.

The wooden door stood wide open. Grimshaw opened the screen door and went in. As his eyes adjusted to the darker interior, he had the unsettling experience of recognizing the man standing behind the information island in the front part of the store.

“Hello, Julian,” Grimshaw said.

“Hello, Wayne. If you got pulled into this business with the dead body, then I’m sorry for you.”

A decade ago, they had been cadets together at one of the Northeast Region’s police academies and had remained friends until Julian disappeared a few years after graduation. But it had only been because of the events of the past year—events that had rocked the whole continent of Thaisia—that Grimshaw had pieced together enough information to make some educated guesses about Julian Farrow.

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