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Authors: Kathi Daley

The Grudge (8 page)

BOOK: The Grudge
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“Here’s something.” Eli held up a single sheet of paper.


Chapter 9



“It lists the names of the other victims.” Eli handed the paper to Devon. “After each name are a few notes.”

“‘Mario Gonzales, explosion? Bruce Long, hypothermia? Stacy King, heart attack? Kabul?’” Devon read.

“Kabul?” Alyson asked. “What does a city in Afghanistan have to do with anything?”

“I have no idea.”

“We should get back to Andi. Maybe she can get us a look at the things Todd had on him.”

Alyson and the others entered the lobby just as the desk clerk was heading toward the reception area from another direction. Alyson quickly passed the key to Andi, who replaced it before the clerk approached her.

“Thanks, Andi. I’ll let you get back to your friends.”

“No problem. Have a good day.”

“Yeah, you too.”

“So what’d you find out?” Andi asked as they left the lodge and walked to the SUV.

“Not a whole lot,” Alyson answered. “The victim’s personal property, like his wallet, must have been on him when he died. I’m guessing it’s locked up in security.”

“You’re not thinking about breaking into security again?”

“Actually, we were.”

“Honestly, I’m running out of excuses. Someone is going to get suspicious eventually. I guess I could try the break thing again.”

“It’s worth a try,” Alyson encouraged.

“Okay, but I go in alone this time. If I was really giving breaks I wouldn’t have any friends following me around, and I’m betting whoever’s on duty at security today will realize that.”

“Okay, we’ll wait in the Expedition,” Alyson agreed.

Andi walked into the office and a few minutes later a woman in a uniform emerged.

“It looks like it worked,” Mac commented. “I hope she doesn’t have any problem getting into the locker.”

“I still can’t figure out how the murderer got the victim on that specific chair at the specific time needed,” Devon said. “If he was one person ahead or one person back in the line he wouldn’t have been in the correct chair even if the murderer could have figured out how to get the victim to ride that particular lift at that specific time.”

“Yeah, it’s a tough one.” Alyson reached across the seat and took Devon’s hand.

“We should head over to the bar after this,” Eli suggested.

“It looks like one of the other security personnel just showed up,” Mac pointed out. “I hope Andi isn’t in the back.”

“She’s good at covering and the personnel at the resort have no reason to suspect her of doing anything wrong,” Devon pointed out. “I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

“It looks like she’s coming out,” Trevor said.

Andi jogged over to the car and slipped into the back next to Trevor. She pulled a sheet of paper out of her jeans pocket.

“I found something in the man’s wallet. I had no idea what it meant so I brought it with me.”

“What does it say?” Mac asked.

“It’s just a series of numbers: 16146138.”

“It could be a code of some type,” Mac guessed.

“Or maybe a phone number,” Eli speculated. “It could be 1-614-6138.”

“There aren’t enough numbers to be an American social security number, but too many for a date. What kinds of numbers are on drivers’ licenses and personal IDs in Canada?” Devon asked.

“Nothing that would match.”

“Did you happen to think to check to see if Stacy King’s stuff was locked up in security?” Devon asked.

“Actually, I did. Both Bruce and Stacy’s bodies were evacuated by medical helicopters from Vancouver today. Their belongings were sent along with them.”

“Why didn’t they take Todd?” Alyson wondered.

“The accident happened after they’d left. Weather permitting, I’m sure they’ll be back for him tomorrow.”

“Now what?” Mac asked.

“Let’s head over to the bar to see if Randy is there. We can ask him about both the accident and the comps,” Alyson suggested. “Then we can go back to the house to try to make some sense of all this.”

The bar was packed with thirsty skiers and employees, who had gathered to wind down after a long day on the slopes. Boisterous patrons occupied every table and every seat at the bar, with groups of people standing around nearby.

“There’s Randy.” Andi pointed to a long-haired man with a short beard and a silver hoop earring in one ear. “Alyson and I will go talk to him. Maybe the rest of you should hang back.”

The others settled around a table by the door that had just been vacated.

“Hey, Randy. How’s it going?” Andi leaned in next to him.

“Hey, Andi. Who’s your friend?”

“Alyson. She’s visiting from the States.”

“I’m happy to meet you,” Alyson said to the man, who looked like he wanted to devour her.

“Nice meeting you too. Staying long?”

“No,” Alyson answered. “Not long.”

The man shrugged and turned his attention back to Andi. “Did you hear about the accident we had on the lifts today? It was such a drag.”

“Yeah, I heard. Any idea what happened?”

“Security tells me the chair was tampered with. I was on shift all day and didn’t see anything. I’m sure the safety bar was working earlier; otherwise someone would have reported it.”

“Were there any lift stoppages, manual or accidental?” Andi asked.

“Yeah, right before the accident we had a disabled man wanting to ride the lift up. I had to stop the chairs for a minute or so while he loaded. Other than that it was a pretty quiet morning.”

“Do you remember what this disabled man looked like?”

“Middle-aged. Dark hair. Seemed to get around pretty well for someone in a wheelchair. If I didn’t know better I’d say the wheelchair thing was a scam, but I’m not sure why anyone would fake something like that.”

“Did he ride the lift back down?” Andi wondered.

“Not as far as I saw. Guess he could have skied. Saw something on the news about disabled folks skiing.”

“Did it look like he had special skis?” Alyson asked.

“No, they seemed like the normal type. Now that I think about it, the whole thing was kind of strange.”

Andi looked at Alyson. She shrugged.

“Did you notice anything odd about the man who rode in the chair that had been tampered with?” Alyson asked.

Randy shrugged. “He looked like a regular skier. Seemed like a nice guy. He stopped to ask me about the resort and how I liked working here.”

“Did you see anyone who was in line behind him load while he was talking to you?”

“I guess three or four others might have.”

“Any idea how the lift jammed?” Alyson asked.

“None. It’s been running real smooth. Of course with the storm, some debris could have gotten into the gears. Something jams one of those gears and the whole thing comes to a grinding halt. Anyway, it was a real tragedy.”

“It really was,” Andi agreed. “Oh, by the way, I’m helping HR out with some recordkeeping because they’re so backed up. They have you on record for using comp nights this week. Do you mind telling me who they were for?”

“Some friend of Bret’s. He gave me a couple hundred dollars to let him use them. I had no plans to use them any time soon so I decided to take the cash.”

“Okay, thanks. Have a nice evening.”

Andi and Alyson filled the others in as they drove back to the house. Due to the late hour they decided to pick up a couple of pizzas on the way for dinner.

“This pizza’s really good.” Trevor took a large bit of a slice from the cheesy pie. “We have a great pizza place at home, but this is almost as good.”

“Can you believe it was only last week that we were at Pirates Pizza?” Mac mused. “It seems like we’ve been here for months rather than days.”

“A lot has happened in the past three days.” Alyson picked a piece of pepperoni off the top of her slice and nibbled on the edge. “I think my brain is on overload. I’m sure there’s an answer to this whole thing, but there are so many things going through my mind that I can’t process anything.”

“Okay, what do we know and what do we need to find out?” Trevor asked. “We went through this with the mayor’s murder and it really helped us get focused.”

“That’s a good idea.” Mac walked over to the table and picked up a tablet of paper. “Last week when we were trying to put together a series of seemingly random events at the Christmas carnival,” she explained to Devon, Eli, and Andi, “we made three lists. What we knew, what we suspected but didn’t have proof of, and what we didn’t know but wanted to find out.”

“Okay, I’m game.” Devon helped himself to a second slice of pizza. “Where do we start?”

“Let’s start with what we know.” Mac sat poised with a pen and the pad.

“We know we have four victims,” Andi started. “Mario, Bruce Long, Stacy King, and Todd Wallford.”

“We know Mario was in the marines and was stationed in Afghanistan,” Eli said. “We suspect Bruce and Stacy were in the marines, although a ring and a bumper sticker don’t constitute proof, so I guess we should put that under things we suspect.”

“We know Mario was injured in an explosion and we suspect it was deliberate,” Andi added. “We also suspect Charlie got food poisoning and we suspect that was deliberate.”

“We know both Stacy and Todd were staying here on employee comps,” Trevor said. “We know Bret bought Randy’s for Todd and we suspect he used his own for Stacy.”

“We also know Bret served in the military with Mario,” Mac said as she wrote. “I’m seeing Bret as the common link. Question is, is he the murderer or is he another victim? I guess that should go on the things-we-want-to-know page.”

“We suspect both Bruce and Stacy were poisoned,” Alyson said. “We still need to check that out. Maybe we should add a to-do page.”

“Good idea.” Mac turned the page and added
do drug test
to that side.

“We suspect Todd was murdered—that his fall wasn’t an accident—but we have no idea how the killer pulled it off,” Trevor joined in. “I guess we should put
figure out how Todd was killed
on the to-do page.”

“We also have a note that appears to be in code,” Andi reminded them. “Should we add
break code
to the to-do page?”

“We need to get a look at Bret’s condo,” Devon pointed out. “Add that to our to-do page.”

“So far we have
drug test the alcohol, check out Bret’s condo, break the code
, and
figure out how Todd was killed
on the to-do list,” Mac read. “Where do we start?”

“This is a good time to go to the lab because it should be closed,” Andi told them. “It isn’t a good time to break into Bret’s apartment because most of the employees are off shift now. We could stop by there, though, to see if he’s there. If we need to break in we’ll have to do it tomorrow when everyone’s working.”

“Sounds like a plan. Just let me wash up.” Alyson stood up and went upstairs.


As before, the clinic was dark. Andi let them in and they headed straight to the lab. After an extensive search they finally found the drug test kits they were looking for.

Mac set up a work station on one of the counters and set to work testing the scotch from Bruce Long’s bottle and his blood sample.

“We have a match,” she said after several minutes. “The scotch tests positive for GHB. The blood sample from Bruce also tests positive for GHB.”

“So we have our proof. Maybe we should tell someone at this point,” Alyson suggested.

“Let’s do it in the morning,” Andi countered. “It’ll give us a chance to work on the other clues and check out Bret’s condo. Besides, I might be grounded for life once we tell my dad what we’ve been doing and I’d like one more night with all of you.”

“Okay, you’ll talk to him tomorrow,” Mac agreed. “Let’s go back to the house to see if we can figure out the code.”

“And the
to Todd’s murder,” Alyson reminded them. “I don’t suppose there’s any way we could get a look at security’s report on his death? There might be a clue.”

“I’ll give it a try,” Andi volunteered. “Let’s head over to the office and I’ll see what I can do.”

Andi walked into the office and back out with a folder five minutes later.

“You got it?” Mac asked.

She nodded. “I just told security that my dad sent me over to get a copy of the report. He didn’t even blink an eye. I figure unless my dad asks for a copy on his own, we’re probably in the clear.”

“Way to go, Andi.” Trevor kissed her hard on the lips.


The gang returned to the house and settled in. In spite of their best efforts the meaning of the numbers seemed elusive.

“I’ve been looking at these numbers until I’m cross-eyed and I don’t see any recognizable pattern.” Mac leaned against the sofa from her spot on the floor. “If you apply a substitution cipher, the corresponding letters are either AFADFACH or PNFMH, or maybe AFNFMH. Any way you slice it, it doesn’t look like a word.”

BOOK: The Grudge
6.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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