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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 19

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“Chicken,” Hollis said.

“We have more imperative things to think about,” Isabel told her. “Like finding that grave.”

Rafe said, “You think it’s there, don’t you? You think Jamie buried that box in somebody’s grave?”

“I think it makes sense. She was burying a part of her life, so why not put it in a grave? And I’m betting it won’t be a family grave, but the grave of someone else who was important to her. A teacher, a mentor, a friend. Maybe her first lover.”

“Male or female?”

“At a guess, female.”

“That does help narrow the field.”

“Let’s hope it narrows it enough.”

Of all the family and friends who had died during Jamie’s life, Isabel considered three women the most likely candidates for Jamie’s burial of her secrets. One was a former teacher that friends reported Jamie had seemed especially close to, one was a close friend from high school who had been killed in a highway accident, and the third was a woman who had worked in Jamie’s office, dying young of cancer.

Three women, three cemeteries.

“I think we should check these out before the storm breaks,” Isabel told Rafe.

Rafe wanted to argue, but he was reluctant to put off doing anything that could help them catch the killer before he took aim at his next target. Isabel.

And before the press took aim at her.

“It’ll be faster if we split up,” she was saying. Since she had already told him privately that she wanted to stick close to Hollis because her partner seemed to be so affected by the tension of the storm, Rafe didn’t object when she added, “Hollis and I will take Rosemont.”

“You’ll also take Dean Emery,” he added. “There’s only one entrance to Rosemont, and it’s fenced; he can stand by at the entrance while you two find the grave. Mallory can take Travis along to Sunset.”

“And who will you take to Grogan’s Creek?” Isabel asked politely.

“I might take the mayor,” he answered wryly. “I need to stop and see him before he blows a fuse.”

Mallory said, “We’re doing all this on the way home, right? Because I’m beat.”

Rafe nodded. “Check out the cemeteries, phone in reports-once you’re out of the storm, that is-and then head home.”

“Got my vote,” Isabel said.

Twenty minutes later, Hollis was saying, “You had to pick the largest cemetery, didn’t you? The one with all the tall monuments and acres of graves.”

“And don’t forget the pretty little chapel with the stained-glass windows,” Isabel reminded, raising her voice a bit as the wind tended to snatch at it.

“I just wish the place had a caretaker on duty to point out Susan Andrews’s grave,” Hollis said, pausing to squint at a headstone. “Because unless…”

“Unless what?” Isabel asked, half turning to look at her partner.

Hollis would have answered, but she was hardly aware of Isabel in that moment. The sounds of the wind and the thunder had retreated into that peculiar hollow almost-silence. Her skin was tingling. The fine hairs on her body were stirring. And in the strobe flashes of the lightning, she could see Jamie Brower several yards away, beckoning.

“This way,” Hollis said.

Isabel followed her. “How do you know?” she demanded, raising her voice again to be heard over the rising wind.

“It’s Jamie.” Hollis nearly stopped, then hurried forward. “Dammit, it was her. But I don’t see her now.”

“Where was she?”

“Somewhere in this area.” Hollis jumped as thunder crashed, feeling her skin literally crawl. “Have I mentioned how much I hate storms?”

“You might have, yeah. This area? We’ll find it.” Isabel paused as thunder boomed, and added, “Unless we get struck by lightning, that is. I just think we need to do this now. And if you saw Jamie, that makes it even more imperative, I’d say.”

Hollis didn’t argue, just began checking the headstones in the area, flinching with every crack of thunder and flash of lightning. “I hate this,” she called to her partner. “I really hate-”

“Here.” Isabel knelt by a simple headstone with the name Susan Andrews engraved on it.

“It doesn’t look disturbed,” Hollis said, then swore under her breath as Isabel dug her fingernails into the turf and neatly lifted a perfectly square section.

“You’d think it would have rooted by now,” Isabel said, folding back the turf. “It’s tight, but not that difficult to pull up.”

Hollis knelt on the other side of the grave to help. “A very neat section just at the headstone. Now I’m glad we brought the shovel Dean had in the cruiser’s trunk.”

“I’m an optimist,” Isabel said, unfolding the small emergency shovel.

Hollis sat back on her heels suddenly. “You knew we’d find it, didn’t you?”

“I had a hunch.”

“You heard a voice.”

“A whisper. Help me dig.”

“We should call Dean,” Hollis said, but it was only a minute or two before the shovel scraped across something metallic and they were able to drag a small box about twelve inches square and five or six inches deep from its resting place at Susan Andrews’s headstone.

“I think we’d better take this back to the station to open it,” Isabel said, the reluctance in her tone clear despite the gusty wind and rumbles of thunder.

“You just forgot to bring your lock-pick tools,” Hollis said, a little amused. “Need help carrying that?”

“No, I’ve got it. You get the shovel, will you, please?”

As they started back across the cemetery, Isabel carrying the box and Hollis the shovel, the latter stopped suddenly.

“Shit.”

Isabel stopped as well, following her partner’s gaze. “What? I don’t see anything.”

“Jamie. She’s-”

At first Isabel thought the rumble of thunder had drowned out whatever Hollis had been saying, but then she felt a sharp tug at the small of her back and whirled, instinctively dropping the metal box, filled with the sudden cold certainty that she had been blindsided again.

A flash of lightning brilliantly lit the scene before her. Hollis falling on the ground with blood blossoming on the back of her pale blouse. Mallory standing hardly more than an arm’s length from Isabel, a big, bloodstained knife in one black-gloved hand and Isabel’s gun in the other.

“You know,” she said, “I’m really surprised you didn’t pick up on it. All those vaunted psychic abilities, yours and hers. And Rafe’s, I suppose. It was so clear, and none of you saw it. None of you saw me.”

Rafe was able to soothe the mayor’s worries, but just barely enough to allow his own escape. He headed toward Grogan’s Creek church and the cemetery behind it, a name neatly printed on a piece of paper tucked in his pocket.

But when he reached a stop sign, he found himself hesitating, looking not east toward Grogan’s Creek, but west toward Rosemont.

There was no reason to worry, of course. She could take care of herself. Besides which, she wasn’t alone. Hollis was with her, and Dean.

He started to turn the wheel toward the east, then hesitated again. “She’s okay,” he heard himself say aloud. “She’s fine.”

Except that his gut said she wasn’t.

His gut-and the blood on his hands.

Rafe stared at the reddish stains, shocked for an instant because it had happened so suddenly.

But then, just as suddenly, he knew the truth. He understood what it meant.

And he knew Isabel was in deadly danger.

He turned the wheel hard, heading west, and reached for his phone to call Dean.

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