Authors: Melanie Jackson
“I can probably guess. I’ve met men like Owens before.”
“Some people don’t recognize where their selfishness must stop,” Moira said quietly and then rolled her head from side to side, as though feeling the weight of her acts beginning to settle on her neck.
Juliet nodded. She knew what
the woman was trying to say. Enough little things, pains, indignities, and injustices, could collect into one giant, if nebulous, reason for finally acting out against your tormentors.
By the time the authorities and media were involved t
he results got labeled something simple like revenge or greed, but the reasons were nothing so plain as these words suggested. In this case, twisted mother love, rage, and brutal practicality had reached a deadly confluence. Owens and then Carissa had pushed the vulnerable Edward one too many times and Moira had pushed back for him.
“I thought you would understand
about this. You seem so kind. Edward likes you.”
“Oh, I do
understand. I feel protective of Edward too. But I also know that I can’t just stand aside and let you keep killing people,” she said bluntly. “Who will be next? Schneider, if they have an argument about the direction of the business? It has to stop. You see that, don’t you?”
The pale green eyes studied her. If there was
any emotion in them, Juliet couldn’t see it. Death should be about cold and gloom, or in the half-light of the dying day. It shouldn’t be standing around in a sunny vineyard wearing a straw sunhat. And yet it was.
Moira reached into her pocket and took out a small pistol. She
moved slowly, painfully, and held it down at her side in a nonthreatening position. Moira was left-handed. Juliet wondered no one had commented on this. Talbert should have especially mentioned this after he saw the ballistic and coroner’s reports. They could have figured this out sooner.
Juliet stared at the gun, calculating what it would take to disarm Moira
, separated as they were by the barbed-wire fence. And not get killed in the process, if the other woman actually decided to use it on her. Or should she let Esteban shoot her? Juliet felt as much annoyance as fear. She had chosen to start down this path—or maybe the path had chosen her. Whichever, this was no time for flinching. She needed to see this through.
You don’t look frightened. Your friends are watching us?” Moira asked.
, and listening. And they are armed.” Juliet sounded apologetic.
And so, it’s to be a firing squad instead of a trial?” She almost looked amused.
at’s up to you. They probably wouldn’t kill you. Not on purpose.”
“So why not go to the police
with all this?” she asked, but Juliet sensed she didn’t really care about the answer. She was grappling with some other decision.
And cause another news sensation? I think Edward would break under the strain. He’s close to breaking now.” Against her will, Moira nodded. “There is a neater solution. That will hurt Edward too, of course, but maybe not as much as watching you go on trial and then to jail.”
Moira nodded, understanding
in those weird green eyes.
“I was getting there anyway,” she said. “I haven’t been at all well and there is only so much that medicine can do
when things get to a certain point. That’s why I have acted now. There wasn’t any more time for waiting. I’ve explained it to Edward already. He knows I don’t have long.”
She turned her back
on Juliet and began walking away, stepping carefully as she paced the red furrow back to Trefoil.
Relieved, Juliet back
ed toward the door in the old distillery. She didn’t trust Moira enough to turn around and offer her back, and she did not relax her guard until she had stepped through the old door and closed it. The building no longer felt disused and eerie.
“You got all that?” she said softly, talking to the bug she had borrowed from Talbert.
Her cell rang and Juliet pulled it from her pocket.
“We got it,” Raphael said. “Do you think we’ll need it?” he asked.
“I—” a gunshot interrupted her.
Did you hear that?” Raphael asked after a moment had passed.
“Yes. So I guess we won’t need the recording after all.”
“Miss Henry, I know that it is not your usual thing, but.…” Edward cleared his throat. “I would be honored if you would design a label for our first port.”
Juliet blinked, looking from Schneider to Edward.
This wasn’t what she had expected when Edward asked her to join them.
“You are going to start the line with a port?”
This surprised her. Blue Period didn’t do sweet wines.
“We still have an acre of Tinta Barroca that hasn’t been harvested. It somehow survived the storm. It will be a small run but—and I checked and we can still get aguardente for fortifying.”
“That’s great!” Juliet said though she didn’t know what he was talking about.
“And we don’t need to worry about
getting barrels because we can do reductive aging right in the bottle.”
Juliet nodded. Schneider was grinning, probably guessing she was lost. Both men seemed strong
er and happier than they had been since Owens’ death. Moira’s suicide had not been that great a shock and Juliet wondered if they had suspected all along who had killed Owens and Carissa.
“Well, I would be honored to do a wine label for you,” Juliet said, hoping to stem the tide of wine-related information. She and Ra
phael were anxious to leave. Esteban had another job and was already gone. “Of course, there is a fee for my work.”
“Of course.” Edward looked a tiny bit nervous but Schneider was calm,
guessing what she would ask for.
“I expect to be invited up for a taste of this wine when it’s ready. Heck, I can even help stomp the grapes
if need be.”
“It’s a deal!” Edward said and laughed.
“So, no interest in coming back to work at the agency?” Talbert asked as he loaded a duffel into his rental car. He was her last call before leaving Napa.
Juliet didn’t believe in appeasement or, in this case, equivocation. He wasn’t asking for himself and she wanted the message to be clear
when it got back to Washington.
“None at all.”
“A pity, since you are so good at what you do.”
Juliet just gave a small smile and then walked back to her own car where Raphael was waiting.
“They made you an offer?” he asked as she took her seat.
“And I refused. Sheesh. Why would I go back?”
“The excitement?” Raphael suggested wryly.
“I get plenty of
excitement from my art.”
And the occasional murder.
eBooks by Melanie Jackson:
The Chloe Boston Mystery Series:
The Pumpkin Thief
Death in a Turkey Town
Murder on Parade
Viva Lost Vegas
Death of a Dumb Bunny
Red, White and a Dog Named Blue
The Great Pumpkin Caper
Beast of a Feast
Murder by the Book
On the Beach (Coming Soon)
The Butterscotch Jones Mystery Series
The Wendover House Mystery Series
The Secret Staircase
On Deadly Tides
Pieces of Hate
Miss Henry Mystery Series
Portrait of a Gossip
Landscape in Scarlet
Requiem at Christmas
Impression of Bones
Murder in a High Place
The Book of Dreams Series:
The First Book of Dreams: Metropolis
The Second Book of Dreams: Meridian
The Third Book of Dreams: Destiny
Knave of Hearts
Devil of Bodmin Moor
Devil of the Highlands
Devil in a Red Coat
The Curiosity Shoppe
(Sequel to A Curious Affair)
(Sequel to Club Valhalla)
Nevermore: The Last Divine Book