Days passed as we lazily enjoyed the resort (with that golden key--no more spiders or bees!) I watched August do a backflip off the cliff diving stone. Was there nothing he couldn't do? The man always seemed to surprise me with his physical abilities...in more ways than one. I wasn't complaining.
I never got tired of looking at him, so amazed that we were going to be married one day. The only thing stopping us was the solving of Daniel's murder. But August promised he'd keep searching on his own, following up on leads. This could mean late nights, but it'd be worth it. I hated that dark cloud hanging over us. Since we'd been together, I was always worried that nutjob would find out and something terrible would happen.
The wind seemed to shift as I shivered in the misty water just thinking about it. I needed to take my mind off negative things. "Let's go to the hot tub," I suggested.
"What do you think would happen if I jumped you right here in this tub?" August purred once he plopped next to me in the bubbles.
I laughed. "Um...we'd get kicked out. But if you want to cut our time short here, I'm game."
"Damn, I hate it when you talk sense."
I kissed his cheek then said, "I'll take a rain check, though. As soon as we get to the bungalow, it's jump time."
"I like the sound of that."
We ate lunch on the third story treehouse then settled down near another falls. This place was beyond beautiful everywhere we went. August borrowed a guitar from one of the vendors and found a secluded spot.
I sank into his back as he strummed a melodic, lilting tune, making me drift away as if riding the serene breezes surrounding us. I never wanted to leave this place and was so happy we had a whole week left here.
The wind rustled in the palm fronds as they clattered like maracas--a magical accompaniment to August's playing.
As my mind whirred into dreams, the playing stopped and I found August on top of me.
"I think it's jump time now." He dug his knee into my groin, giving me an instant hard-on.
God, he was so sexy. "What are you waiting for?" I breathed.
But then his cell buzzed. "Don't get it, baby," I said, not wanting this moment spoiled.
"What if it's work?" He fished his phone out of his pocket as he stood. "Hello?"
I shook my head. I knew August couldn't stay away from work for two whole weeks. I also knew they wouldn't leave him alone. I'd begged him to leave the cell phone at home, but he couldn't take not having it. "What if there's an emergency?" he'd reasoned. I told him they had a phone at the resort for emergencies, but he was too stubborn about it.
When my cell rang, I knew it was work. Something bad must have gone down for them to call. "Ronan. What's up?"
"Nick Fortner was stabbed in the back 28 times in his home in Brindleton Bay. Dickens wants you on the case. It's high profile and on our radar now."
"Damn," I cursed. The haunting, helpless feelings of that time when I was accused of Daniel's murder came crashing over me. Nick Fortner was Daniel's father. "Do they think it's by the same person who killed Daniel?"
"No doubt. They even used a similar butcher's knife. The creep has an MO now. Eight fucking years later."
I sighed, not wanting to cut my vacation short. "Can this wait a bit? I'm still on vacation, Rone."
"No way. Boss says he'll give it to someone else if you don't come back. I'm doing you a solid by contacting you. Let's get on this case and trap the asshole."
Pulling at my hair, I winced thinking about how Beau might take it. But once he figured out we might have a break in the Fortner murder, he wouldn't balk.
"Yeah, okay. I'll be there by tomorrow."
The biggest lead we had to Daniel's murderer was the woman who'd healed Beau for months. Beau had showed me exactly where her shack of a place was on the Brindleton Bay map. I'd already planned on giving her a visit later once I'd gotten back from vacation, but with this new murder, I couldn't waste time. When I'd done my initial research, the lady who'd owned the place was a former doctor who'd lost her medical license by selling oxytocin and adderall illegally. She'd done a few years in jail, but because she had no prior convictions, she got out on parole and didn't commit any crimes that we knew about since. Had no clue what happened to her after that except it was obvious the murderer knew exactly who she was and that she would have the training to heal Beau of his injuries. I had no doubt the woman knew exactly who this murderer was. Problem was getting her to talk.
We stepped onto the grass of a tiny house marked with graffitti in the worst neighborhood of Brindleton Bay. I wondered how a doctor could sink this low, but then maybe she'd gotten strung out on drugs herself. It happened.
"You want to lead on this?" Ronan asked. "I have a feeling she's not going to give us much. Not without some good cop bad cop stuff."
I shrugged. "Let's feel her out. I'm sure she doesn't want to do more jail time if she doesn't cooperate. We always have that, at least."
After we knocked, a pretty, 50-something lady walked out onto the porch. "How can I help you?" she asked.
She seemed nice. This might be easier than we'd thought. "Are you Rosalind Withers?"
"Yes, I am."
"We're from the FBI, ma'am. Could we ask you a few questions?" I asked.
"W-What's this about?" she stammered, eyes fluttering nervously.
"We know you harbored a man who was shot by Daniel Fortner and healed him to full recovery. We have a few questions about who brought him to you."
Her face suddenly went from all smiles to rage in a second. "I have nothing to say to you. Unless you have a warrant, you can leave."
I produced the warrant then she lifted a hand and said, "Well, I guess you can come in then."
We entered a dilapidated room full of junk that represented almost all seasons from summer flamingos to a light up snowman. This woman's tastes were truly bizarre. Maybe she wasn't on drugs. Just eccentric. "Do you know who the person was who brought you the seventeen year old boy, Beau Blackwell?"
"No," was her terse reply.
Trying to keep my composure at that outright lie, I said, "You expect me to believe that you would heal a teen that a stranger brought to you for no reason?"
"I am a healer. Always have been. I've healed strays that come to my door. Strays that have stumbled into the park across the street. I'm known for that. Don't matter if it's cats, dogs or dudes, I have a heart for hurting things. Beau Blackwell was in dire need of my help and he was in trouble, according to the woman who'd brought him. Seemed like he might have murdered someone. Daniel Fortner, you say? Saw it on the news at the time. I know he was a dirty sort of man, so I didn't mind hiding this Beau Blackwell. Didn't want the sweet boy to get in trouble for doing our fair city a service."
"We don't believe Beau murdered Daniel Fortner. But we are interested in the person who brought him to you."
I added, "Can you describe the woman?"
"Oh, hell no. I mean...don't get me wrong. I would, but she was wearing a huge black sweater that swallowed her up. A black ski mask so I couldn't see her face. And black gloves. She didn't want me to know who she was."
I glared as my voice went low with anger, "So...you took in Beau by a woman who looked like a thief? Really, Ms. Withers, that's hard for us to believe."
"I'm telling you the God's honest truth, son. Why would I lie to you folks who could throw my ass in jail?"
My rage apparent, Ronan cut in, "Ms. Withers, we mean no disrespect. Did you see the color of her skin through the eyes of the mask?"
"Now I like how you're talking to me. Seems your partner could learn a few manners from you. And you're cute, too. Too bad you don't need any of my services." She winked at my partner. I had to physically restrain my eyes from rolling. Ronan seemed to have a way with the women we interrogated.
"So, you did see something," he said. "Like maybe her height, build, that sort of thing?"
Nodding, she said, "The woman was a white girl. No question. Fairly light skinned. And short. Well, about my height, I guess. Thin-ish, but I couldn't quite tell. It was dark out and her clothing didn't cling. I couldn't tell if she was well-endowed or not. I did give her a once over, but that boy was in such bad shape, I had to act fast to stop his bleeding and keep him from going into shock. I must admit, healing him was one of my proudest moments." Then she stopped and raised an eyebrow. "Now you two aren't going to arrest me for saving that boy's life, are you?"
Next chapter Wednesday, April 11th
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