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Authors: Lisa Jackson,Nancy Bush

Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Crime, #Psychological

Wicked Lies (36 page)

BOOK: Wicked Lies
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Now, two hours later, she was looking at the home of Harrison’s sister. Like hers, it was perched on the uphill/ eastern side of Highway 101, facing toward the sea, and also like hers, there were a lot of buildings and foliage on the western side of the highway, which obscured most of the view, though as soon as she stepped from Harrison’s car, she could hear the sea’s dull roar.

She’d wanted to tell Harrison this was a fool’s errand the whole way, but she hadn’t the energy. He’d suggested she pack a bag and she had, like an automaton, her thoughts dull and scattered, focused on Justice and the indelible etching in her mind of his features, a cold, lean face with glaring, empty eyes. A nightmare.

She’d forcefully pushed thoughts of him aside, and her next fear had leapt into the space in her brain:
the baby.

Her fall hadn’t been far but it had been jarring. She’d lain out of breath and slightly dazed, adrenaline pumping, fear magnified, as she’d thought he might fling himself over the edge after her. Only the traffic had kept her safe while she huddled in the ditch beside the road, far enough down that she was shielded by debris and Scotch broom from the sight of passersby.

Harrison climbed from the driver’s side and around to her. They both skirted a blue Honda Accord parked on the cracked asphalt drive. His sister’s, she surmised.

Harrison glanced toward the front window, where a sliver of light escaped through drawn curtains. “Didi’s probably asleep, but Kirsten’s still up,” he said. He gave her a sober look. “You sure you’re okay?”

“Yes.”

They both knew it was a bald-faced lie. She wondered if she’d ever be “okay” again. He squeezed her hand and her heart turned over. A glance at his face and the beard shadow covering his jaw almost convinced her that she was falling in love with him. Which was ridiculous. Still, the flash of his teeth when he smiled, the slight dimple in his cheek, and his eyes . . . hazel eyes as green-gray as the Pacific . . . She almost laughed at her stupid romantic fantasies.

She didn’t know why she’d agreed to come. Maybe because she hadn’t wanted to be alone. Maybe because she wanted to be with Harrison. Maybe because she felt he was right and the time for fooling around with Justice was long over.

Maybe because there was no other choice.

She led the way up a short path lined with small white shells that glowed under the faint light from the crack in the blinds and a half-moon that was playing tag with scudding clouds. There were two steps leading to the small cement porch, which was dark beneath a burned-out exterior light.

Harrison knocked on the door, then called, “Kirsten, it’s me.”

A dog started yapping wildly, and Laura heard Harrison mutter a series of swear words beneath his breath and something that sounded like, “It can’t even see me, the little bastard . . . !”

“Are you talking about the dog?” she asked, but then the door opened and a slim woman in gray sweats and a white, collared, fuzzy sweater with a front zipper appeared.

Her gaze swept over them, landing on Harrison. “What are you doing?” she demanded, annoyed. “It’s after ten!”

“I’ve got a small favor to ask,” he said.

“Ask it in the morning!”

“I’d like to stay here tonight, with a friend. At least I’d like her to stay and me with her.”

That caught her attention and she turned toward Laura, who stood motionless, feeling slightly idiotic. “Okay,” she said carefully, waiting for more as her eyes narrowed thoughtfully.

“This is Laura Adderley,” he introduced. “Would you just open the door and let us in?”

She stepped back and a small, hairy dog charged forward, barking madly. “Shut up, Chico,” she muttered fondly. “Damn it. You’ll wake Didi! Harrison, get in here and sit down. Chico!” she hissed through her teeth. To Laura, she said, “Hi. Sorry. The dog and Harry just don’t connect.”

Chico, ignoring her, kept barking at Harrison, who, once the door was shut behind them and locked, walked to the far end of the living room and a straight-backed chair, his gaze on the dog, who glared fearlessly right back. Chico’s barking turned to a low-throated growl.

“Good grief,” Kirsten muttered.

Laura saw the resemblance. Kirstin looked like Harrison in a way, the same eyes and mouth, but whereas he seemed to cultivate a scruffy, “I don’t care” kind of look, her hair was combed into a sleek ponytail and she seemed more put together.

Kirstin gazed apologetically at Laura. “Umm . . . I’ve got an air mattress that I could put in the living room? The sheets are in the hall cupboard for it and the vacuum’s there to blow it up. Or, I can move Didi into my bed with me, and we can remake up her bed. . . .”

“Don’t worry about us. Lorelei can have the blow-up and I’ll take the couch.”

“The couch will break your back,” Kirsten said dryly. “As you well know.”

“I’ll live.”

“So, are you going to tell me what this is all about?” she asked.

“Tomorrow.” He shifted in the chair, where Chico stood stiff-legged in front of him. The dog’s little black lips quivered and Harrison looked askance at his sister. “Really . . . ?”

“C’mon, Cheeks.” Kirsten scooped the dog into her arms, and he wriggled and yapped and tried to keep his gaze on Harrison. Kirsten gave Laura a pitying look before she went down the hall. “You really shouldn’t get involved with him, you know. He’s nothing but trouble.”

“I’m just her bodyguard,” he stated before Laura could respond.

“Sure you are.” Kirsten disappeared out of view.

As soon as they heard her bedroom door close, Harrison got to his feet and found the vacuum and bedding for Laura and an extra blanket for himself. He blew up the mattress, and then they put the sheets and blankets on the air mattress together, but as Harrison straightened, he saw Laura had taken the extra blanket and snuggled onto the couch.

“Hey,” he said.

“It’s too short for you,” she said. “And I don’t want your back to break.”

He gave her a studied look. “You could share the mattress with me.”

Laura, feeling the effects of a very long day, tried to muster a smile. “I’m going to go change out of these pants and check the scratch on my leg. Make sure I have a pillow when I get back.” With that she scooped up her bag and headed to the bathroom. All the while she wondered what she was doing, staying another night with Harrison, this time at his sister’s place. As odd as it was, she somehow felt at home. “You’re a head case,” she told her reflection as she stared into the mirror of the medicine cabinet mounted over the sink, then brushed her teeth and rinsed her mouth. “A bona fide head case.”

And, deep down, she feared she was falling in love.

“The least of your problems.”

When she was finished with her evening ablutions, she returned to find he’d tossed a pillow onto the couch.

As she settled down, she was unnerved to see he was lying on his back on the air mattress, staring at her.

She stared back, her pulse rising with each silent moment. Feeling a bit breathless, she turned away, wrapping a protective arm around her abdomen, and reminded herself that she was pregnant.

With her ex-husband’s child.

CHAPTER 29

I
t was barely 8:00 a.m., Lang realized, glancing to the clock on the wall, yet it felt like a year had passed since he’d awoken this morning. As soon as he’d gotten to work, a murder-suicide had been reported by a neighbor from one of the expensive houses along Bankruptcy Bluff, as Bancroft Bluff was euphemistically called, since a number of the homes had fallen off the bluff or been condemned, having been built on a geologically unsound area that had eroded beneath them. Supposedly the problem had been fixed, at least temporarily, but the homes’ sales had first languished and then, with the economy’s downturn, fallen off altogether, so to speak. The people that owned the houses along the bluff were fighting a bitter battle with the developer and the city, and it was anybody’s guess how long it would last and if anyone would come out a winner.

His cell phone rang and he saw it was Fred Clausen, who’d gone out to check the crime scene. “What’s it look like?” Lang asked.

“Scratch murder-suicide,” Fred said. “Looks like double homicide. The husband and wife were bound and shot. Message spray painted on the walls had to do with Bankruptcy Bluff.”

Lang grunted. It wasn’t a surprise, really. The situation was a mess, and it waxed and waned in volatility. “What did it say?”

“The message was
blood money.
The victims are Marcus and Chandra Donatella. They were in business with the builder, and some of the other home owners think they paid off the city to get approval for the project.”

“This has already been through all the lawsuits,” Lang said.

“I know. It’s just a total cluster fuck,” Clausen agreed. “Nobody was really screwing anybody. It was just a stupid place to build with half-assed geological information. But these people are dead, so somebody’s pissed off.”

Lang frowned. “Any chance it could be something else, and the Bankruptcy Bluff stuff is just a convenient smoke screen?”

“It’s early days. Could be anything.”

“Stick with it, then. O’Halloran’s backing off the patrols around Justice’s habitats and giving you some help.”

“Yeah . . . ?” Clausen sounded as unsure as Lang felt.

“We know he was at the home of Laura Adderley last night, but he’s in the wind again, probably running scared. We’ll know more once we interview her and see what the crime scene guys get. Helluva thing that. We’ll just have to patrol as best we can, stretched as thin as we are.”

“Okay.” Clausen hung up and Lang felt a rising frustration. Where was the bastard? It was Monday. He’d been missing since Friday and leaving a trail of bodies behind. In Lang’s estimation, Turnbull was still on the coast, in some hidey-hole they hadn’t found yet.

But they would. He only hoped it would be sooner rather than later.

Lang swiveled in his chair, but before he could get up to refill his coffee cup, his desk phone rang again. “Detective Stone,” he answered tersely.

“I’m at Dooley’s, drinking a longneck. Get down here and I’ll get you one.”

Lang relaxed back into his chair, grinning in spite of himself. “Yeah, well, I’m about a hundred miles away, so it’ll be a while. Hey, Curtis. What’s up?”

Trey Curtis was Lang’s old partner from the Portland Police Department, where Lang had been employed before coming to the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Department. They had a long-standing rule that wherever they met, the first one to spot the other bought the latecomer a beer. Dooley’s had been one of their favorite spots in Portland, but Lang had been away a long time.

“I got a call for you, actually. For the department there, anyway. A woman named Kay Drescher thinks she knows that unidentified woman whose picture you’ve been running.”

“Yeah?”

“Says the Jane Doe’s name is Stephanie Wyman. Drescher’s been trying to reach her by phone and can’t raise her. Wyman lives in an apartment in the Pearl.”

Lang had straightened up as soon as Curtis started talking. The Pearl was a pricey section of Portland abounding with shops and galleries as well as upscale condos and historic homes. “You got the license number and make of Wyman’s car?”

“Check your e-mail. It’s been sent your way, along with her driver’s license and a secondary photo. She drives a silver two thousand four Nissan Sentra.” He rattled off the VIN and license plate numbers.

Lang took note as he clicked on to his department e-mail. “Hasn’t been released yet, but the woman—Wyman, if it’s really her—died last night of her injuries. Let’s see what we’ve got.” He clicked open the e-mail, caught the picture of Stephanie Wyman, and felt a new sense of rage when he looked at her smiling, young face. “Yep. Jane Doe and Stephanie Wyman. One and the same,” he said.

“Well, shit.” Trey let out a long world-weary sigh. “This Kay Drescher’s on her way to the station now, so I’ll give her the news. When we’re done, I’m heading over to Wyman’s apartment. I’ll call you when I know more.”

“Thanks.”

Lang wondered if he should drop everything and head to Portland but decided against it. The homicide had taken place in Tillamook County, and he was pretty damn sure it was related to Justice Turnbull and that this Stephanie Wyman, or whoever she was, was just an unlucky victim of his overall plan to harm the residents of Siren Song. But the trail was still here, not Portland.

Savvy was just coming back to her desk with a full cup of coffee, and Lang looked at it longingly and swept up his own cup. Before heading to the vending area, he brought her up to date on the car information, finishing with, “Let’s find that Nissan,” to which Savannah nodded and sat at her computer to gather all the pertinent details and get the word out to their officers.

 

 

The morning routine at Kirsten Rojas’s house was more like a study in controlled chaos. Her daughter, Didi, jumped up at six thirty, which got Chico barking and turning circles, and Kirsten herself started calling orders like a drill sergeant just to keep everybody working toward the same goal: to get Didi to preschool by nine.

Laura found the craziness comforting, a normal family living a normal routine and expecting normal things to happen during their day. She had slept in a pair of sweats and a T-shirt and now stumbled into the bathroom to wash her face, only to promptly throw up the little bit she’d eaten the night before.

Rinsing out her mouth and washing her face, she dried her cheeks on a towel and then ran a hand over her abdomen before heading out of the bathroom.

Pancakes were being poured onto a griddle as she entered the kitchen area, and she smiled wanly at Didi, who’d regarded her earlier with wide-eyed suspicion upon finding a strange woman on the couch. The little girl with the dark pageboy had then ignored Laura and jumped on Harrison, who pretended to be able to sleep through her efforts to wake him up, which included beating on his chest with her small fists and attempting to jump on him, which Kirsten managed to halt before real damage occurred by sweeping Didi away from her uncle, hollering at Harrison to get up, and apologizing to Laura for the noise at the same time.

BOOK: Wicked Lies
6.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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