Read CnC 5 One Hex of a Wedding Online

Authors: yasmine Galenorn

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Mystery Fiction, #Single Mothers, #Witches, #Occult Fiction, #Divorced Women, #Washington (State), #Women Mediums, #Tearooms, #O'Brien, #Emerald (Fictitious Character)

CnC 5 One Hex of a Wedding (7 page)

BOOK: CnC 5 One Hex of a Wedding
13.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Deacon took the bag. “We’ll just keep this as evidence.” He jotted down a few more notes, tucked his notepad away, and slipped on his hat. “I think I’ve got everything I need. Okay, I’m heading out. I’ll talk to Greg and Sandy, see if they found the bullet. Then we’ll go round up Roy and see what he’s been up to.”
“Let me know what you find out. I’ll be home this evening,” Murray told him. He waved and disappeared down the hall. She watched until he was gone, then returned to the room.
I sat beside Joe, parked on the edge of his bed, holding his hand. The thought that he might have died if he hadn’t turned to the side—exactly at the precise moment needed—ricocheted through me as surely as any bullet. One fraction of movement, one inch to the right, and it could have been all over. I stared at the snow white sheets, thinking how sterile they looked, and how clinical. I wanted to take him home, to tuck him into bed and take care of him till he was healed. But the hospital was the safest place for him right now, and spending one night alone was a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Joe sighed. I could tell he was getting tired. “Do you want us to leave so you can get some rest?”
He adjusted himself against the pillows and winced again. “No, not really, but I am tired. I just can’t figure out why somebody would deliberately shoot me. It had to be an accident. I can’t believe that I was the target.”
“People are strange,” I murmured. “Their actions don’t always make sense.” But inside, somewhere deep inside, I knew that the shot had been deliberate. For some reason, Joe had ended up with a big fat target sign painted on his chest, and it was only luck that had kept him alive. “You sleep now. I have to go home to the kids, but I’ll tell the nurse to call if you need me.”
Murray and Jimbo waved and slipped into the hall to give us some privacy. I leaned down and placed a lingering kiss on Joe’s lips. He started to reach up, to open his arms, but then stopped and moaned. The nurse entered the room at that point and shooed me toward the door.
“Your young man needs his rest,” she said. “If you phone tomorrow around ten, we’ll be able to tell you whether or not the doctor will be releasing him.”
“What medications is he on?” I asked, watching as she prepared a shot.
“We gave him a broad-spectrum antibiotic to fight any impending infection and a pain reliever. He’ll remain on an IV drip through the night, to make sure he’s fully hydrated.” She held up the syringe. “This is a mild sedative. The doctor wants him to get plenty of sleep and this will put him out for the night.”
As she prepared his arm for the injection, I blew him another kiss and then reluctantly slipped out the door to join Jimbo and Murray. We stood in the hall for a moment. “I need a ride home,” I said. “I came with Deacon.”
“Actually, so do I. I rode in the ambulance with Joe.” Jimbo shook his head. “I hope nobody went out to my place expecting dinner. There wasn’t exactly time to leave a note.”
“Sandy and Greg would have told them what happened,” Murray said. “But they wouldn’t be able to provide a status on Joe’s condition. If anybody showed up, they’re likely to be mighty worried by now.”
“Can you drop me off at home before you head to the station, Mur?” We headed toward the exit. “I need to make sure the kids are all right and defuse the situation with my folks. This is
so
not going well. They want a nice, quiet life for their grandchildren and so far, I haven’t measured up in that regard.”
With a laugh, Murray wrapped her arm around my waist. “Don’t sweat it, Emerald. Tell them that you get bored with quiet. Tell them that this
is
quiet for you! Tell them that … that you’re doing the best you can.”
MURRAY AND JIMBO dropped me off, promising to call with any developments as soon as they heard about them. I steeled myself, expecting to find my parents, Grandma M., and Rose all waiting to pounce, and I dreaded the round of questions that was sure to follow. And to top it off, I had to call Joe’s brother and let him know what was going down. As I trudged up the porch steps, I let out a long, slow breath. Might as well get it over with.
To my surprise, only Harlow, James, and my children were waiting for me. “Where is everybody?”
Harlow grinned. “I figured you wouldn’t be up to facing all those questions so I told everybody to go back to the hotel. They didn’t want to, but James and Randa backed me up. We cleared the house out and I brought the kids back here.”
I dropped onto the sofa, relieved. “Thank you. Thank you more than I can say.” Just then, Kip and Randa rushed in, worried looks creasing their faces. I opened my arms and they dove onto the sofa, curling up on either side of me. I held them for a moment, then explained what had happened.
“So, he’s going to be okay?” Kip asked.
“Yep, kiddo, he’s going to be okay.”
“And they don’t know who shot him?” Randa asked.
I shook my head. “No, but they’re looking into it. The bullet didn’t penetrate—it only grazed him—but that means they have to find it at the scene in order to be certain what kind of gun it came from.”
Kip’s lip fluttered. “Did Dad shoot him?”
Oh shit, so I wasn’t the only one who thought of that possibility. “Who suggested that?” I asked carefully.
“Great-Grandma. She called Dad a bad name and then said she wouldn’t put it past him.” His eyes were wide and I knew I had to squash the situation before it became part of the rumor mill. Regardless of what I thought about Roy, until the cops excluded or included him in the list of suspects I had no right to tell my children that I secretly thought he might be responsible.
“Grandma M. has a short fuse. She’s speculating. That means she doesn’t know what happened, but is thinking about possible suspects.” I made them both face me. “Listen to me carefully. We don’t know who did it. Your father might end up being considered a suspect, but there are a lot of people who could have pulled the trigger. The shot could have been fired by a hunter or a kid out for target practice—it could just be an accident. Until we know more, I don’t want you repeating any rumors, okay?”
Kip nodded. Randa frowned, leaning forward. “Did you tell them where Dad’s staying?”
I gave her a sharp look. “Do you know where he’s staying? I didn’t even know he was in town until he showed up at the party last night.”
Kip scuffed his foot against the carpet. “Yeah, he’s at the Four Seasons Motel. He told me he was coming into town on Wednesday, but he said he wanted it to be a surprise so not to say anything to you. I thought he was coming to see us, but he hasn’t called or nothin’.” Kip looked hurt, the way he always did when Roy screwed up.
So, good ol’ Roy was playing my kids against me. I sighed and picked up the phone. No messages.
“Do you have his number?” As Kip nodded, I grabbed a notebook and jotted it down, along with his room number. Murray said Greg had found out where he was staying, but it wouldn’t hurt for me to have the information, since I was planning to light into him myself. If he wasn’t already in jail, that is. He had to learn to quit breaking his promises to the kids.
The phone rang and Kip grabbed it, but his face fell as he handed it to me. It was Murray.
“Hey, chica, we found Roy,” she said. “He doesn’t have much of an alibi for this morning—he says he was sleeping off last night’s party. I’m inclined to believe him, but I’ve ordered him not to leave town until I give him the okay. You never know. Other than that, we found the bullet. The doctor was right, it came from a twenty-two. Joe’s just lucky it wasn’t a shotgun or he’d be in hurt-heaven by now. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?”
I mumbled a quick good-bye and eyed the phone. So, Roy had no alibi for the morning other than a tousled bed. I wanted to believe that he hadn’t done it, that he hadn’t stooped that low. My gut warned me against jumping to conclusions, but my emotions were running wild. He’d threatened to make my life hell and as good as promised to ruin my wedding. Was this what he meant? Or were his threats merely a drunken stab to make me as miserable as he was?
Either way, I pushed him out of my mind. I had a phone call to make. Joe’s brother, Nathan, was due in town tomorrow morning, but if it were me, I’d want to know as soon as possible. I debated ringing his parents, too, but then pushed that thought aside. Joe would have a fit if he found out I’d called them.
He’d refused to invite either of them to the wedding, and I hadn’t pressured him. Dexter, his father, had abandoned the family when the boys were young, following the lure of the casinos. As for Terri, Joe’s mother, she’d been shacked up with one loser or another for most of Joe’s life. He’d long ago given up on expecting support from either his parents.
I flipped through the address book, found Nathan’s number, and punched in the keys. After a few rings, Nate answered, sounding so much like Joe that it gave me chills. “Nathan? This is Emerald. Joe’s fiancée.”
A pause, then an “Oh shit!”
I frowned at the phone. “What?”
“Sorry,” came the garbled reply. “Just a minute.” Nathan’s words were obviously aimed toward somebody in the room with him. After a few blurred syllables that might have been “hold on” or “hang on,” he cleared his throat. “Listen, I meant to call Joe tonight. I can’t make the wedding.”
Great. Could this day
get
any better? “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, fine,” he said, and I could hear the strike of a match. So, he smoked. Well, not in my house he wouldn’t. “I’ve been offered the chance to go to Sweden for a couple of weeks but we have to leave tomorrow morning. I can’t pass this up, not when it fell right in my lap. Joe’ll understand. Put him on.”
I counted to ten, my hackles rising. “I can’t put him on. He’s in the hospital. That’s why I called.”
“Oh hell, what’d he go and do now? He been playing hero again? I told him to get out of that business—bad for the health.”
“Don’t you even want to know how he is?” I said, exasperated.
“Yeah, yeah, don’t get your panties in a wad, Sis. I figure if he was dead, you’d be bawling, so he must be okay. What happened?”
Wanting nothing more than to get off the phone and out of this conversation, I forced myself to calm down. “It has nothing to do with his job. Your brother got winged by a bullet from a twenty-two this afternoon. He’s going to be fine, but I thought you might like to know before you arrived. Obviously, since you’re headed to Sweden, that’s no longer an issue. Tell me, were you planning on letting us know about your detour before we were standing at the airport, waiting for your plane?”
“Uh, yeah. I just forgot. Chill, okay?”
Chill my ass. “I’m not in a good mood,” I said, biting my tongue to prevent saying anything I’d later regret.
“Okay, okay … sheesh.” Nathan coughed. “So, old Joe took one on the wing? Tell him to get better and watch his step next time. Was it some redneck yokel out hunting ducks or something?”
I was starting to get a sense for why Joe hesitated when discussing his family. Nathan apparently didn’t fall far from Dexter’s tree.
“We don’t know,” I said. “Since you aren’t going to make it, I’ll just tell Joe you said hello. I have to go now. Bye.” I hung up before he could say another word—and before I forever ruined any rapport I might have with my soon-to-be brother-in-law. I stared at the phone in my hand.
Grandma M. might be a pain in the butt sometimes, and my mother and father were bland, if loving, parents. Rose could be a handful, but had somebody called any of them with word that I was shot, they’d be here in a flash. I’d deliberately kept some of my misadventures from them because I didn’t want them to worry. In contrast to Nathan, they were as loving and supportive as I could ask for. I glanced at the clock. Time to call Margaret, Joe’s aunt. At least
she
would be at the hospital first thing come visiting hours.
My hand poised to dial, I stopped and put the phone down. Aunt Maggie deserved better than hearing the news over the phone. I grabbed my keys and let the kids know I’d be out for a little while. Hell, she might even have some idea as to why Joe had been shot.
 
 
MARGARET FILES WAS one of those timeless women. I knew she was in her early seventies, and she looked it, but her spirit was as bright as a one-hundred-watt bulb in a small room. She loved life, and life loved her. A good twenty years older than her brother—Joe’s father—she’d been more of a parent to Joe than either Dexter or Terri.
Maggie had worked for the county clerk’s office until she retired and now she was always out and about, volunteering at the local hospital, organizing food drives, playing cutthroat pinochle with her friends, and generally keeping herself busy, productive, and happy.
She was also dating Lanford Willis, a retired doctor, and was the scandal of the town’s matronly set on two accounts: Lanford was black, and they’d been caught in their robes at the breakfast table by one of Maggie’s friends. The race issue would die away quickly. The sex scandal was more problematic.
BOOK: CnC 5 One Hex of a Wedding
13.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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