Dark Justice(10)

By: Brandilyn Collins

“I don’t know anything. And I told you to leave.”

“If you—”

“I want a lawyer.” My eyes locked with Rutger’s. “I refuse to talk to you anymore.”

“Why would you think you need a lawyer?”

“Because I no longer want to talk to you.” I’d tell some other FBI agent what Morton had said. And give them the original flash drive. But I was through with these two. “Now leave.”

The agents stared at me, faces like granite. I didn’t budge.

Rutger let out a long breath. Then made a show of rebuttoning his jacket. His head tilted. “As you wish, Mrs. Shire.” His Southern drawl now sickened me. “But if you’ve withheld anything from us, I can assure you we’ll be back.”

A lot of good it would do them. I would never open my door to these men again. What I would do is inform their superior of how they’d treated me.

The two men stood. I strode to the door and opened it wide. They stepped through it without a word. The minute they were out I shut the door and drove home the lock with a loud click. A sound I knew they heard.

Through the living room window I watched them head for their vehicle. Not until then did I realize how hard my heart was beating. I leaned against the wall, eyes closed.

Outside two car doors slammed. An engine started. The agents drove away.

Weak-kneed, I sat down hard on the couch, waiting for my pulse to slow. A minute, maybe two ticked by. Then with a deep breath, I listed in my mind what I had to do. Comfort Mom. Call the nearest FBI office and complain—loudly—about the two men. Offer the further “Raleigh” information to another agent who’d show some respect. Make dinner. In that order.

I rose to head toward Mom’s room—and the phone rang. I veered into the kitchen and picked up the receiver, too distracted to check the ID. “Hello?”

“Mrs. Shire, this is Deputy Harcroft from the Sheriff’s Department Coastside Patrol. We met this afternoon at the scene of the accident.”

Great, the man I’d lied to. Now I’d have to fix it. Maybe in the midst of his accusing me of murder. “Yes, I remember. Two FBI agents just left here. They told me Morton died at the hospital. That he was stabbed. I don’t know anything about that.”

Silence pulsed over the line. “FBI agents?”

“They weren’t nice at all, I can tell you that. I had to practically throw them out of my house.”

“What were their names?”

“Samuelson and Rutger. They didn’t give me first names.”

“Did they show you badges?”

“And name tags with their pictures on them.”

“What did they want?”

“They demanded to know what I’d seen at the accident. What Morton had told me, if anything.”

Harcroft paused. “I need to check this out and call you right back. Will you be home?”

Good grief, what now? “Yes. Okay.”

I hung up the phone—and heard Mom calling my name. She sounded distraught.

“Coming!” On the way to her room I pushed aside my own feelings. No need to upset Mom more. I nudged open her door and found her still sitting in her chair. “You all right?”

She nodded. “Just sad.”

“I’m sad too.”

“Now we can’t visit Morton in the hospital.”

“No, afraid not.”

“Now we have to find his daughter all by ourselves.”

Oh. I was hoping she’d forgotten. “We don’t know he was talking about a daughter, Mom.”

“Of course we do. He said so.”

“He only said—”

“She lives in Raleigh. North Carolina.”

I sighed. “Yeah. I know.” Maybe by tomorrow morning she’d forget this.

She pushed up her lower lip. “I’m getting kinda hungry.”

“I’ll make dinner, okay?”

“Chicken sounds good. And some potatoes. A good potato always make me feel better.”

I managed a smile. “I know.”

The phone rang. The deputy? “Sorry, Mom, I need to answer that.”

Back in the kitchen I snatched up the receiver. “Hello.”

“It’s Deputy Harcroft.” He sounded grim. “Did you see what kind of car those men were driving?”

“Some kind of brown sedan.”

“Any chance you noticed the license plate?”

“No. Not at all.”

“And you said they showed you official badges.”

The deputy’s tone unsettled me. “Yes. Why, what’s going on?”

“Mrs. Shire, we need to bring you in right away and talk to you about this. Mr. Morton was a very important man. I have no idea who those two men who came to your house are, but they’re not FBI agents.”

Chapter 6

I dropped the receiver into its cradle and sagged against the counter. “Not FBI.”

Then who were they?

I should have known. The way they acted, forceful and menacing. Rutger—or whatever his real name was—wanting me to see his gun.

I’d given them a copy of the video. They seemed to see right through my lie that I’d never watched it. Would that somehow put me in danger? And Mom?

An even worse thought hit me. What if those men had killed Morton? What if they’d come here to learn if I’d seen something? If Morton had told me about them.

Had I convinced them I didn’t know anything?

“I can assure you we’ll be back.”

Dear God, help us.

Before I’d hung up from Deputy Harcroft’s call I told him about giving the men a copy of the flash drive. And I told him about Rutger’s gun and threats. At that, a long pause followed.

“Tell you what.” Harcroft’s voice remained calm, but I could hear the underlying concern. “Rather than you driving to the substation in Half Moon Bay, let me send someone over to pick you up. You’ll need to bring that original flash drive to us. Deputy Gonzalez will come to get you. He’ll be in uniform.”

On rubbery legs I hurried into the living room to peer out the window. No sign of Rutger and Samuelson lurking on the street.

What if this Deputy Gonzalez was a fraud too? Maybe the man on the phone hadn’t been Harcroft. I closed my eyes, comparing that voice to the deputy’s on the scene. Couldn’t decide whether they were the same man or not.

I returned to the kitchen and pulled paper and pen from a drawer. Dialed Information for the number of the Coastside Patrol division of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department. I wrote down the number and compared it to the digits showing on my receiver from the last call. They didn’t match.

But there must be many individual lines going into that substation. The number from Information was just the main one.

I dialed that number. A female answered. “Coastside Patrol, Half Moon Bay.”

I asked if a Deputy Harcroft worked there.

“Yes. Would you like to speak with him?”

“How about a Deputy Gonzalez?”

“We have two. Do you know which one?”

“No. I . . . It’s okay, thanks.” I hung up.

This had to be pure paranoia. It would be far easier to flash some fake badge than to show up with an official car and uniform.

Wouldn’t it?

“Hannah?” Mom appeared from the hallway.

“Hi.” I smiled at her, heart in my throat. What would I do with her while I talked to the deputy? What could I tell her?

“Let me help you make dinner.” Mom’s face looked worn. She shuffled into the kitchen.