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Authors: Elizabeth Lowell

Always Time To Die

BOOK: Always Time To Die
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ALWAYS TIME TO DIE
ELIZABETH LOWELL

For
Eric and Miranda

The future is yours.

QUINTRELL LINE

MALE DESCENT

Contents

PROLOGUE

The cutting edge of a winter storm made the old house sigh and moan as…

O
NE

Two men squinted against the wind and stared down at the Quintrell family…

T
WO

Carly may had been raised in the Colorado Rockies, which meant that she…

T
HREE

The Duran family lived on the outskirts of Taos, beyond the tourist area…

F
OUR

Andy Quintrell V reached for another beer, only to have his father take the can away…

F
IVE

Carly walked down a hallway in the old Castillo home. With each step she…

S
IX

Dan shut the weathered door of the Taos morning record behind him. He …

S
EVEN

Carly glanced around the clean, worn reception area of the Taos morning…

E
IGHT

The writing was in the erratic faint scrawl of a man at the end of his…

N
INE

Carly murmured into her collar as she bent over the microfilm reader…

T
EN

“Thank you, missy,” Josh said, reaching for the sandwich Melissa Moore…

E
LEVEN

Carly’s stomach growled…

T
WELVE

At the back of the Quintrell house, Dan parked his truck, got out, and…

T
HIRTEEN

The kitchen door shut behind Carly, leaving her literally out in the cold…

F
OURTEEN

Carly tried not to think about anything on the bumpy ride to Taos. She…

F
IFTEEN

Carly struggled out of a nightmare of gutted rats and blood spurting in…

S
IXTEEN

Josh Quintrell hung up the phone and rubbed his forehead…

S
EVENTEEN

Carly flipped quickly through photographs, placing them in a kind of…

E
IGHTEEN

Dan put another sheet on the glass bed of the scanner, punched the button…

N
INETEEN

The sheriff’s temporary office was a lot newer than the tourist part of…

T
WENTY

“What about Jim snead?” Melissa asked, resting her hip casually against…

T
WENTY
-O
NE

As Carly climbed down the steps of the sheriff’s temporary quarters, the…

T
WENTY
-T
WO

Lucia heard the rumble of her husband’s big ford expedition, the slam of…

T
WENTY
-T
HREE

Melissa opened the front door. “hello, dan, carly.” Though she hadn’t…

T
WENTY
-F
OUR

The Governor’s mansion had been designed to invite visitors to be comfortable…

T
WENTY
-F
IVE

Dan glanced around his rental house. It looked like a photographic…

T
WENTY
-S
IX

Dan stretched his left leg and kneaded muscles that wanted to knot up…

T
WENTY
-S
EVEN

Melissa covered her face while the helicopter settled onto the small pad…

T
WENTY
-E
IGHT

The house phone rang, waking Dan from a restless sleep. By the time the…

T
WENTY
-N
INE

Jeanette Dykstra’s lips moved but no sound came from the TV screen…

T
HIRTY

Melissa made her final rounds of the house, checking that outer doors…

T
HIRTY
-O
NE

A bleary-eyed Dr. Sands confirmed what everyone already knew: Sylvia…

T
HIRTY
-T
WO

“What do we have so far?” Carly asked, looking at her checklist…

T
HIRTY
-T
HREE

Governor Josh Quintrell shifted on the metal folding chair. His expression…

T
HIRTY
-F
OUR

Thanks to bad weather in new Hampshire, the governor’s plane had been…

T
HIRTY
-F
IVE

They hadn’t been on the road very long, but Carly knew she’d throw up if…

T
HIRTY
-S
IX

Winifred ignored the sluggishness of her body and mind, strength lost…

T
HIRTY
-S
EVEN

Carly awoke with the first light slipping past the curtains into Dan’s bedroom…

T
HIRTY
-E
IGHT

Dan parked in front of his parents’ house, next to the old car they had…

T
HIRTY
-N
INE

“Why can’t I come with you?” Carly asked. “why should Gus have to run…

F
ORTY

Snow lay sparsely along the narrow road. The housing was a combination…

F
ORTY
-O
NE

Carly stretched, then bent over the microfilm reader and went back to…

F
ORTY
-T
WO

Carly pushed against the plywood, holding it in place while Dan hammered…

F
ORTY
-T
HREE

The winter sun was gone from the sky, leaving only the faintest tinge of…

F
ORTY
-F
OUR

The nightscope makes it easy. Good thing. The cold is taking the feeling…

F
ORTY
-F
IVE

Carly smacked her hands together. Even inside lined gloves, her fingers…

F
ORTY
-S
IX

They’re coming right toward me…

F
ORTY
-S
EVEN

Carly followed Dan along a trail only he could see. Wind followed them…

F
ORTY
-E
IGHT

The sniper tracked Carly and Dan through the nightscope, noting that…

F
ORTY
-N
INE

Moonlight glowed in frail splendor against the wall of glass framing…

F
IFTY

Pete Moore woke up with a stiff neck and drool marks on the spreadsheet…

F
IFTY
O
NE

The gray-blue curtains surrounding hospital beds in the emergency room…

F
IFTY
T
WO

Dan parked his truck just beyond the place where another vehicle had…

F
IFTY
T
HREE

“Here are your nutcases for the day.” Jeanette Dykstra’ assistant…

F
IFTY
F
OUR

Wearing a pair of Levi’s that hadn’t been tailored or ironed, Anne Quintrell…

F
IFTY
F
IVE

Carly watched with growing excitement as archived data from the Newspaper’s…

F
IFTY
S
IX

The governor’s phone vibrated against his thigh as he drove the winding…

F
IFTY
S
EVEN

Carly only made two wrong turns before she found her way to the Duran…

F
IFTY
E
IGHT

Melissa was packing an overnight case when Pete called her…

F
IFTY
N
INE

The package from the lab was waiting by Dan’s front door. Carly picked it…

S
IXTY

A dot of bright ruby light punched through the falling snow as the…

S
IXTY
O
NE

Dan wasn’t happy with Carly coming along, but the idea of leaving her…

S
IXTY
T
WO

Hunched against wind and blowing snow, Gus knocked hard on the door…

S
IXTY
T
HREE

Carly stared at the front door, then at Dan. “Are you thinking what…

S
IXTY
F
OUR

“It’s Rubin,” Anne said, holding Josh’s cell phone out to her husband…

S
IXTY
F
IVE

“How’s it going?” Carly asked Dan…

S
IXTY
S
IX

The sound of helicopters rattled the silence of the snowy pastures and…

E
PILOGUE

Carly smiled as she worked to translate a seventeenth-century Spanish…

NEAR TAOS, NEW MEXICO
JANUARY
TUESDAY, 3:00 A.M.

PROLOGUE

THE CUTTING EDGE OF A WINTER STORM MADE THE OLD HOUSE SIGH AND MOAN AS
if someone was dying.

Someone is. Soon.

The ghostly smile, the laughter, and the words were silent.

No one saw the intruder glide across the ancient Persian carpet on soundless feet. No one heard the door to the library open.

The hospital bed and oxygen bottle looked bizarre among the ranks of leather-bound books and gilt-framed portraits of Andrew Jackson Quintrell I and his wife, Isobel Mercedes Archuleta y Castillo. The ambition that had created one of New Mexico’s biggest ranches and launched the national political careers of future Quintrells blazed out of A. J. Quintrell’s Yankee blue eyes. The matching ambition of one of New Mexico’s oldest families smoldered in Isobel’s hazel green eyes.

The old man lying motionless on the hospital bed was their grandson. The fires of ambition had almost burned out in him. He would end his life as he had begun it, on the Quintrell ranch. No hospitals, no nurses, no doctors. No muttering and fussing and false smiles of hope.

There wasn’t any hope.

For nearly a century the Senator had enjoyed the wealth and prestige and power of the Quintrell family. For eighty years he had run the family with the closed fist of absolute power. Now he was slowly succumbing to congestive heart failure. At the moment, oxygen made him rest easier. In time it wouldn’t help. Then he would drown.

Die, old man. Why can’t you just die and save us all a lot of trouble?

No answer came but the slow, shallow, damnably steady breathing of Andrew Jackson Quintrell III.

You lived like a pagan king. Why couldn’t you just die that way? But no, you had to have it all—pagan life and Christian afterlife.

Father Roybal would be visiting again this morning, urging former Senator Quintrell to purge his soul of all evil and reach out for God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness would be there, waiting for him.

It always was for prodigal sons.

Confession might be good for the soul, but it’s hell on the living. I don’t want to live in hell, old man.

It’s your turn to do that.

Finally.

Gloved hands removed the oxygen tube from the Senator’s nose. Gloved hands took a pillow from the bed and pressed it gently, firmly, relentlessly over the old man’s face. Breathing slowed, then stopped. He stirred just a little at first and then urgently, almost violently, but he was no match for the deadly gentleness that shut off his air. A minute, two minutes, and it was over, breath and heart stopped, death where life had been.

It took less time than that for the murderer to tidy up the bed, reinsert the oxygen tube, replace the pillow, and walk out into the bitter caress of night.

BOOK: Always Time To Die
9.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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