Page 19 of Already His

“No one.” Kelleigh shrugged. “I hired her for the summer and then let her go when the tourist season was over. We do that every year. She hasn’t made any inappropriate allegations, has she? If so, I assure you, I’m innocent.”

This scumbag was getting better and better by the second, Laura thought. People who made statements like that were usually the opposite of innocent, and she had no doubt that he had something to hide.

“Let’s go back to what you were doing last night,” Laura said. “Where were you?”

“At home, in bed,” Kelleigh frowned.

“Alone?”

“No,” he said, but his eyes slid to the side. Laura had the feeling that maybe he’d been sleeping next to someone he shouldn’t.

“Was anyone else with you awake all night to verify that you were at home?”

“No,” Kelleigh said. Then he brightened. “But I have security cameras all the way around my house. There’s proof that I never left.”

“Right, we’ll need those tapes,” Laura said, jotting a note in her notebook. She would have sent one of the deputies to check it out, but she wasn’t sure that they could be relied upon. But still, it sounded as though Theo Kelleigh had an alibi, which meant his theory held more water than she would have liked.

“I’ll email them over to you,” he said, picking up his cell phone and opening an app for what looked like an expensive smart home security system. “Where should I send it?”

Nate took out his business card, with his email printed on it, and handed it to Kelleigh. While the two of them organized the file exchange and checked that everything had gone through properly, Laura glanced around, examining the strange assortment of small wooden objects on Kelleigh’s desk. None of them were as large as the carving she had seen, or almost seen, in her vision, but they interested her all the same. They appeared to be random items, not cute carvings: something that might have been a doorknob once, a broken-off piece of railing maybe, an old-looking iron nail. She picked up one of the other objects to figure out what it was, pain stabbing through her head as she did.

It was the edge of something, she thought. Maybe a sign or—maybe a name plate, for a ship that didn’t have it painted on the side but rather nailed on? The letters SA were visible in faint, faded gold letters, but—

Laura was at the table, looking down at the book. The illustrations were there, seeming to waver slightly in the faint orange light that spilled over them. It was nighttime, she thought. Not just dim around the edges of the vision, but actually nighttime. That would be why it was such a high contrast she was seeing: bright light spilling on the pages, darkness around where the light didn’t illuminate the corners of the room.

The black edges of her vision still swirled and crashed around and over her field of view, making it difficult again to make out the details. It looked like some kind of fantasy book. Like the novelty menagerie titles she had seen marketed to children. Books about dragons or unicorns that explained the different types of fantasy creatures with detailed illustrations. Fiction, not reality. But this one seemed more serious, somehow—or perhaps it was only the vision making it so.

The carving was sitting by the book as before. Laura tried to focus on it, to bring it more into focus, to do anything in her power to see what it was. But it was no use. She could barely see a thing.

Suddenly her gaze was moving, upwards and to the left, like she was stuck in a movie theatre watching a movie on the screen, unable to control the camera. She saw dimly that there were walls around her, and up ahead, a window. It was dark beyond the window, she thought, perhaps nighttime. But she saw the water, the docks, not too far away. Tall ships with masts and furled sails sitting at anchor. The old-fashioned part of the docks, the part for tourists.

Why was she looking at them? Was this a clue, or simply the view the killer had as he glanced around the property he was in? Was he—

Laura blinked.

“Those are keepsakes of mine,” Kelleigh said, nodding toward the wooden objects—including the one she was holding. “Please, leave them alone.”

Laura placed the fragment of wood back on the desk, glancing at Nate.

“Well, we’ll be in touch, if necessary,” Nate said. “In the meantime, if you think of anything, you should let us know.”

“Fine,” Kelleigh said. “I want deputies outside my home, you know. I should have police protection.”

“I’m sure we’ll see what we can do,” Nate said, which wasn’t a promise at all.

Laura got up, ready to leave this office and not spend a single moment more talking to Theo Kelleigh. “We have other lines of enquiry to follow,” she said, nodding at Kelleigh by way of farewell.

Nate followed her, and Laura stepped onto the street with a deep breath of the sea air, finding it refreshing after the oppressive office.

But not nearly refreshing enough because somewhere out there, a killer still waited, and finding him still rested on her shoulders.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Laura stood looking out at the water. The sound of it filled her ears, the gentle swell and push of the water on a constant flow. It was soothing and reassuring, but at the same time, it only seemed to heighten her anxiety. Like the ticking of a clock, it reminded her that until they caught this killer, lives were at stake.

“What did you see?” Nate asked.

Laura glanced sideways at him in surprise. “You’re getting good at noticing when I’ve seen something.”


Tags: Blake Pierce Suspense
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