Home > Lake Silence (The Others #6)(9)

Lake Silence (The Others #6)(9)
Author: Anne Bishop

“You’ve become overexcited, Ms. DeVine,” Oil Slick warned. “Pretending to have hysterics isn’t going to change anything. You are coming to the station with us to answer some questions.”

“Exactly where is this station?” Okay, I like reading thrillers, so I had this sudden image of me being driven away to some unknown destination and questioned until I confessed to whatever they wanted to hang on me.

“In Sproing.” Oil Slick looked past me. “In the meantime . . .”

A hand latched onto my wrist, and Aggie pressed against my back and whispered, “Tell them what they are not allowed to do at your house. Say it really loud.”

I didn’t see how saying something really loud was any better than speaking in a normal volume, but I did what she suggested—if for no other reason than it seemed like a way to relieve a bit of stress. “No one is allowed to enter my house until I return. No one can open my car and look for alleged evidence. No one can enter the cabins and look around. No one is allowed to leave anything on my property. You can all stand outside and look at the trees, but that is all you are allowed to do.”

Oil Slick lost even the veneer of courtesy as I listed, loudly, the things he and his men could not do.

“We can get a warrant to search your place,” he said. “If we have to get a warrant it will look like you have something to hide.”

“Until you have that warrant, you don’t set a toe inside any of these buildings.” I felt very brave—or very light-headed. It was hard to tell. “Now. I’ll get my purse and lock up. Then I’ll follow you to the station.”

“You’ll be riding with us, and you’re not entering the house to destroy evidence while you’re ‘looking’ for your purse.”

“I could stand just outside the door,” Officer Osgood said. “If Ms. DeVine leaves the door open . . .”

Then things got strange.

“Caw!”

“Caw!” “Caw!” “Caw!”

“My friends are here,” Aggie whispered.

One Crow. Then three more. Then a dozen flew into the trees around the house. A dozen more took up position on the roof. The biggest hawk, or Hawk, I had ever seen landed on the roof of Oil Slick’s car—and I’m sure it deliberately scraped its talons over the surface in a bird version of keying a car to put gouges in the paint. As I looked at the Hawk, it occurred to me that, until the car was repainted, those gouges would be so easy to spot from a bird’s view of the roads.

A gust of air blew through the trees, making the leaves sound like sinister tambourines.

And something nearby and unseen growled.

“Miss Vicki told you the rules,” Aggie said. She sounded a lot less like a teenager who was on her own than she usually did. “Everyone will make sure you humans follow the rules.”

You humans. Battle line drawn.

“Get your purse,” Oil Slick said.

I expected Aggie to keep holding on to my wrist, but she turned and ran to the back of the house. I got a glimpse of her clothing and would need to talk to her about wearing something more than a sheer cotton nightie when there were visitors. Especially when there were male visitors.

I fetched my purse, made sure the back porch’s screen door was properly latched and the kitchen door was locked. While I was far enough into the house not to be heard, I pulled out my mobile phone and called Ineke, leaving a message on her answering machine, telling her the CIU investigators were taking me to the Sproing Police Station. Or so they claimed. I finished the message with the time, so she would know exactly when I had left. If Oil Slick was taking me somewhere else, maybe the time of departure would be useful. Assuming anyone tried to find me.

I made sure Officer Osgood saw me lock the front door, both regular lock and dead bolt. I made sure Oil Slick saw me tuck the keys into the big purse I used when I figured I would need everything.

“I have copies of the divorce papers, the settlement, and the deed to The Jumble in my safe-deposit box at the bank. And, no, I won’t give you my safe-deposit key so that you can fetch the papers.” It was finally sinking in that something was far from right about all of this, including the presence of the man who had died on my land.

“Then we’ll stop there first,” Oil Slick said.

He made it sound like he was going to have to go miles out of his way when the bank was right next door to the police station. If he parked anywhere on Main Street, he wouldn’t have to move his car in order to get from one place to the other.

“Caw!”

“Caw!” “Caw!” “Caw!”

Whether the Crows were acknowledging the destination or issuing a warning didn’t matter. There were close to two dozen feathered witnesses who knew where I was supposed to be a few minutes from now.

As I was escorted to the first unmarked car by Oil Slick and one of the unnamed detectives who had been in the second car, I looked around. But I couldn’t tell if Aggie was among the Crows watching us. If she hadn’t rented one of the cabins, I wouldn’t have had even this much support—and no one around to see what might happen.

CHAPTER 7

Aggie

Sunsday, Juin 13

Aggie flew across Lake Silence as fast as she could. This was bad. This was so very, very bad. If she’d just eaten the squooshy eyeball instead of bringing it back to the house to warm up in the wave-cooker, the police humans wouldn’t be causing trouble for Miss Vicki because they wouldn’t have known about the dead man. But Miss Vicki had seen the eyeball and done what she felt was right by human rules, and now she was in trouble.

The Crowgard would keep watch around The Jumble, would even attack the humans if they disobeyed Miss Vicki’s rules. But police humans had guns, and that made them an especially dangerous breed, so the Crowgard weren’t enough protection. Not alone. And they didn’t know enough about human rules. But she knew someone who did know about human rules and might be willing to help.

She flew across the lake until she reached Silence Lodge. Landing on the top level of the multilevel deck that stretched across the back of the lodge, she shifted to a feathered but mostly human form, gathered her courage, and knocked on the door.

CHAPTER 8

Grimshaw

Sunsday, Juin 13

Grimshaw debated with himself if he wanted lunch enough to brave the inquisitive stares and prying questions he was bound to get the moment he walked into Come and Get It, the local diner. He’d already been grilled by Ineke Xavier when he asked about renting a room for a few days. She hadn’t been keen to rent her last room to him—one of her rooms being a crime scene and the rest being appropriated by Detective Marmaduke Swinn and his CIU team—but when she understood that he wasn’t part of the CIU team, she’d been willing to rent him the room with the en suite bathroom that she’d refused to give up for the CIU team.

He didn’t know what Swinn had done to tick her off that she’d held back her best room, and he didn’t care. He was just glad to have the room, and equally glad the CIU boys had been out and about when he arrived. Swinn had made it clear yesterday that he wasn’t needed or welcome in their investigation, so showing up today as the new, if temporary, official police force in Sproing wasn’t going to make for cordial dinners at the boardinghouse.

As he wondered how he was supposed to send Hargreaves reports about an investigation he couldn’t get near, Grimshaw watched Julian Farrow cross the street and make his way through the mob of Sproingers that had gathered in front of the bank and police station.

He waited until Julian entered the station and closed the door. “Has this ever happened before?”

“No.” Julian sounded grim. “Listen, Wayne. I just got a call from Ineke Xavier. Apparently Vicki DeVine is being brought in for questioning.”

“Not surprising. A dead body was found on her land, and the CIU boys will want an official statement.” Grimshaw frowned. “If Ineke was concerned, why did she call you instead of me? I gave her my mobile phone number as well as the number for the station.”

“You’re still an unknown commodity. Highway patrol officer temporarily reassigned here, bringing with you a carryall that couldn’t hold more than a couple of changes of clothes and a suit bag that probably has your other uniform and maybe a couple of dress shirts.”

   
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