Thirty-Six and a Half Motives Page 89

When I suggested my plan to Neely Kate, she whacked my arm. “Why haven’t you been having visions today? You could have had one of my granny!”

“And what good would that do? It might work if my visions searched the past instead of telling me the future.”

“You could have had visions of me or Jed or Skeeter to see if we survive the night.”

I shivered. There was no way I was going down that road unless I was desperate. I had died in visions before, and while I’d changed those deaths, it was always terrifying to go through. Now I wondered if I was being selfish. But tonight felt different. Heavier. A feeling of hopelessness clung to this meeting, and the truth was that I was scared to face it head-on.

But I didn’t have time to dwell on it. Jed pulled up to the curb and put the gear shift in park. I could see Hilary’s house around the corner. “Why are you parking so far away?”

“I sure as hell don’t want to be seen parked outside her house.”

“Really?”

“Get this done so we can get out of here,” Jed grumbled as he pulled out his phone. “I’m gonna check in with Skeeter.” He shot me a glare. “I should let you be the one to call and tell him what you’re up to.”

I opened my car door. “That’s my cue to leave.”

He emitted a low rumble, so I clambered out of the car with Neely Kate hot on my heels. I threaded our arms as we crossed the street and tugged her close. “How are you really doin’? You’ve had one shock right after the other.”

“I’m still processing it all, but I’ve decided that it’s not the worst thing in the world. At least I know now.” She grinned. “Can you imagine what Joe’s gonna say when he finds out?”

“So you plan on tellin’ him?”

She lifted her eyebrows. “I don’t see any reason to keep it a secret, do you?”

I smiled. “No, after all the crap Kate’s pulled, I suspect Joe’s gonna be happy to have a mostly normal sister.”

“Mostly normal?”

Hilary lived in the biggest house in town. It was a turn-of-the-century Victorian that hadn’t been on the market when she’d acquired it. Rumor had it that Hilary had approached the owner and convinced him to sell.

Jed had parked close to the back of the house, but as we rounded the corner to the front, I caught sight of a dark sedan idling at the curb. It took me a second to figure out what felt off to me—the back door was open, but no interior lights were on. In fact, a man stood next to the car’s open back door. A woman was scooting into the backseat, but the man gave her shoulder a push.

“Let’s go!” he said, speaking none too gently.

His gaze swept over me, but Neely Kate and I had skidded to a halt and she’d tugged me deeper into the shadows of a tall oak tree at the side of the house. While he didn’t seem to notice us, I got a good look at him, and it was as plain as day who he was.

“Oh, my word, Neely Kate!” I whispered as I pulled out my phone. “That’s Sam Teagen!”

Teagen got in behind her, and the car sped away before he even got the door shut.

“Come on,” Neely Kate said, then ran for the front door. “Don’t call Joe yet.”

“Why not?” I asked as I followed her, surprised she knew who I was calling. “We just saw Hilary Wilder get kidnapped by Sam Teagen. I bet you money his friend Marshal is driving.”

“Let’s make sure it was her.”

“We’re outside her house, Neely Kate. And he’s getting away! We should be following them!”

“By the time we get back to Jed’s car, it will be too late. We’ll never catch up.” She’d already climbed Hilary’s front steps and now stood on the wraparound porch, knocking on the front door. The door swung in a few inches.

“Neely Kate, her door’s open. I can’t see Hilary doin’ that.”

She put her hands on her hips and sighed. “I’m afraid you’re right.”

“Now, I’m calling Joe.”

Only Joe didn’t answer, so I hung up and called 911. Unfortunately, the call went to the Henryetta police dispatcher.

“I’ve just witnessed a kidnapping. The man was Sam Teagen, and the woman was Hilary Wilder.”

“So they knew each other, ma’am?”

“I’m not sure if they did or not. What difference does it make? I saw him stuffing her into the backseat of his car, and then he got in behind her and they drove off.”

“And how could he drive off if he was in the backseat?” the dispatcher asked in a bored voice.

“He had a getaway driver.”

“Uh huh . . .”

“Why aren’t you taking this seriously?”

“Because you’re Rose Gardner, and we have memos posted everywhere to watch out for you.”

I had no idea how she knew who I was, but I had bigger things to dwell on. “What on earth does that mean?”

“It means trouble follows you wherever you go, and sure enough, you’re stirrin’ it up now.”

“Do you think I’m lying?” I asked in disbelief. “Why would I lie?”

“That’s not up to me to figure out. You just wait there. I’m sendin’ Officer Ernie to talk to you.”

I hung up, madder than a wet hornet. “They’re sending Ernie to talk to us, and we’re supposed to wait here.”

“Are we really gonna do that?” she asked in disbelief, looking down the street after the car.

“Shoot, no. We need to tell Jed and Skeeter.”

We hurried back to the car. Jed was on the phone when I slid into the passenger seat and Neely Kate got into the back.

Jed gave me a grim look as he hung up. “And that was the official change of plans. We have thirty minutes.”

I took a slow breath to fight my sudden nausea. “Where are we going?”

His eyes narrowed. “That’s the irony of it. We’re goin’ to the Atchison plant.”

I shuddered. I hated that ruined warehouse.

He put the car into drive. “We have to meet up with Skeeter, but he’s a good ten minutes south of town.”

I shook my head. “Whoa. Slow down. Who did you just talk to on the phone?”

“Skeeter.”

“Why didn’t J.R. call me, too?”

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