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Authors: Jaden Skye

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BOOK: Death by Temptation
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Cindy shivered. That was definitely a strange email
to write to a friend on your honeymoon. What could it possibly mean?

“Do you have a copy of the email, Alfred?” Cindy
asked.

“Of course I do.” Alfred was insulted. “Why do you
ask? You don’t believe me?”

“No, of course I believe you.” Cindy tried to calm
him down. “I definitely believe you, I just wondered why she would write
something like that. What could it mean?”

“Exactly,” said Alfred, “now you’re thinking the way
I’m thinking. Right away, I knew the email was a warning.”

“What kind of warning?” Despite herself, Cindy felt
afraid.

“Kara’s very sensitive,” Alfred continued, “she
always has a feeling when something’s coming along. She must have felt
something bad was going to happen to her. What else could that email mean?”

Cindy racked her brain quickly to come up with
explanations. “It could mean that she might have been afraid that once she was
married you might not feel as close,” she offered.

“Impossible,” said Alfred. “We danced at her wedding
all night long.”

“It might have been her way of saying she was
thinking of you?” Cindy tried again.

“Kara never put it that way before,” he continued.
“I know her—she was telling me she was in trouble.”

“So why didn’t she just say it if she wrote the
email after she disappeared?” asked Cindy.

“Who knows who took her?” Alfred sat up straight,
digging his fists into the table. “They could have checked her emails for all
we know. But she’s still alive right now, I’m positive of it. The only
explanation is that whoever took her was following her all along. They knew she
was here, knew all about her. Then they grabbed her when she was alone on the
beach.”

“How did they know she was alone on the beach?”
Cindy was all over it.

“They could have had secret security cameras videoing
her wherever she went,” said Alfred.

This was beginning to sound too crazy to Cindy. “Who
is
they?
” she asked.

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” Alfred’s eyes
started to gleam.

“Why did they do it, though? What do they want from
her?” Now Cindy couldn’t let go either.

“I’m not exactly sure about that yet,” mumbled
Alfred, “but I will be soon, believe me. Maybe Rowley is sitting there like a
lame duck, waiting for a ransom call, but me, I’m out in the thick of things.
I’ve got my tentacles spread everywhere, and I’m the one who’s gonna bring Kara
home! Me, not him. You just watch and see!”

CHAPTER 8

 

After her meeting with Alfred, Cindy returned to the
hotel exhausted. She and Alfred

hugged each other and promised to stay in close
touch. Cindy couldn’t decide if he was a man

on a mission, or someone living in a fantasy land.
Sometimes there wasn’t that much difference between them, Cindy thought.
Believing too much in a mission could block out reality in all kinds of ways.

As soon as she got to the hotel, Cindy decided to
stop at Rowley’s room one more time to check in. Then she’d go back to her room
and unwind. To Cindy’s surprise, when she got there, once again the door was
open and Rowley was sitting next to the phone alone.

“Rowley,” said Cindy as she walked in.

“Come in, come in,” he said, relieved to see her
there. “Everyone’s stepped out for a few minutes and I don’t like sitting here
alone.”

Cindy walked in quickly. This was perfect timing.
She’d been hungry for the opportunity to speak to him alone, and now she had
it.

“Nothing yet?” she asked, as she sat down on a chair
next to him.

“Nothing.” Rowley looked despairing.

“No tips, no calls of any kind?” Cindy was
surprised.

“Not that I know of,” said Rowley. “Of course there
could be plenty of calls going into

    the police station, but no one’s told me about
them yet.”

“How are you
doing, Rowley?” Cindy asked as she pulled the chair closer to him. Rowley had a
stalwart manner that impressed Cindy a great deal. Even through an ordeal like
this, despite his upset, he seemed to be keeping a certain balance.

“I’m not totally
wiped out. I’m holding out hope,” Rowley answered in a low tone.

“That’s good,” Cindy responded. “There’s never
reason to give up hope, until we have 

    something definite.”

“Until?” Rowley’s eyes narrowed. “Is that what you
believe? Is it just a matter of time?”

“I didn’t mean it that way,” said Cindy. “I meant
it’s crucial to stay neutral and balanced the way you seem to be.” Cindy looked
at him closely. He was very attractive, with an understated charm that
projected a feeling of confidence. Cindy could see why women would be drawn to
him. She wanted to talk to him about her interview with Alfred, but wasn’t sure
how to bring it up.

“I just spoke with Alfred,” Cindy started, hoping to
spark a response.

 “Really?” Rowley looked interested. “What did he
have to say?”

Cindy didn’t know exactly how much to tell him yet.
She couldn’t let him know about the email Alfred received. That would be far
too jarring for him and besides, Alfred wanted to keep it confidential.

“Alfred said that you’re quite the guy,” Cindy
started, “so many people admire you.”

Rowley looked amused. “Yes, I know Alfred’s always
looked up me,” he replied. “Of course he exaggerates. Everyone knows that.”

“It’s great that you’re fine with the relationship
between Alfred and Kara,” Cindy quickly added, wanted to hear that straight
from Rowley.

“Perfectly fine,” Rowley assured her. “Alfred’s
harmless, like a kid in some ways, an eccentric kind of guy.”

“How is he eccentric?” Cindy was fascinated.

“He’s always dreaming things up, games, outings,
horror novels. Kara thinks he’s fun and creative. Call it what you want. She
likes him and I trust her judgment. That’s enough for me,” Rowley said.

“There’s nothing about Alfred you distrust?” Cindy
pushed just a little further.

Rowley looked confused. “Like what?” It obviously
had never even occurred to him that there was anything wrong going on.

“Alfred mentioned that lots of women pop up on your
Facebook page and message you all the time,” added Cindy, digging deeper.

A proud smile flickered across Rowley’s face.
“Sure,” he said, “they’re mostly patients. I do a great job for these women and
they appreciate my work. I put their photos up to show the fantastic results I
get. After all, I’m a plastic surgeon, that’s part of the game, isn’t it?”

“Of course,” said Cindy. “You like your work,
Rowley?”

“Love it,” he said. “Do you like yours?”

Cindy was taken aback, didn’t expect to have the
questioning turned toward her.

“I love it,” she added, “why?”

“Just curious.” Rowley shrugged a moment. “It’s
strange work for a woman.”

“No, it’s perfect,” Cindy said. “There are things
people tell me they’d never be able to tell a man.”

“Like what?” asked Rowley, interested.

“Like what’s going on under the surface in their
relationship,” Cindy went on. “That can be very helpful to know. Lots of
wonderful leads have come from that.” She paused then, hoping Rowley might want
to fill her in on something.

He didn’t, just nodded somberly.

“Men don’t often focus on the subtlety of
relationships,” Cindy continued. “But once they do, a lot comes bubbling up
that can be of help.”

Rowley was just about to say something when they
heard voices approaching. The door was quickly pushed open then and Mattheus
and Rod walked in.

Rowley clammed up and Rod stopped cold on the spot
when he saw Cindy sitting with Rowley.

 “Well, this is cozy, isn’t it?” said Rod. He didn’t
like it.

“I didn’t expect to find you here now,” Mattheus
added, surprised to see Cindy as well.

“I just finished speaking with Alfred,” Cindy
reported, “and dropped in to check up on Rowley before going to our room.”

“That’s okay with you, Rowley?” Rod interrupted
brusquely, bypassing Cindy completely.

“Sure, it’s fine.”

Cindy didn’t know what to make of Rod’s concern.

“Well, I don’t like that Cindy sneaked in here,
bombarding you with questions when you’re alone,” said Rod.

Cindy felt stunned and offended. “I beg your
pardon?” she said sharply.

Rod continued talking to Rowley, however, as if Cindy
wasn’t in the room. “Right now you’re in a vulnerable state and it’s best not
to answer any questions unless someone in the family’s around.”

“I beg your pardon?” Cindy repeated more loudly. She
was here to help and Rod was making her out to be the enemy. Perhaps he was the
one with something to hide?

Once again Rod did not answer Cindy, but continued
talking directly to Rowley.

“This is a complicated situation we’re in and we
have to be careful of what we say and to who.”

Cindy had enough. “Careful of me?” She was appalled,
turning to Mattheus quickly to see how he was taking it. Why hadn’t he
intervened?

Mattheus didn’t meet Cindy’s glance though, was
focused instead on Rod and Rowley, looking disturbed.

“Wait a minute.” Cindy’s voice grew edgy as she walked
over to Rod. “Exactly what do you mean when you say that Rowley has to be
careful of me?”

Rod just glared at Cindy, refusing to say a word.

“Rod’s heard that you’ve been talking to Alfred,”
Mattheus finally intervened. “That didn’t sit well with him. Rod thought you
should have cleared it with the family before you brought Alfred into it.
Kara’s relationship with Alfred is a sensitive topic.”

Cindy was horrified. “Rowley’s mother gave me
Alfred’s contact information,” she quickly defended herself. “Rowley’s mother
originally suggested that I talk to Alfred.”

“Rod didn’t like it, though,” Mattheus continued.
“He thought you should have gotten permission from Rowley first.” It felt to
Cindy as though Mattheus was siding with Rod.

“What is this really about, Mattheus?” Cindy took a
few steps away. “Is there some family feud I’ve inadvertently stepped into?”

Cindy saw Rod throw Mattheus a knowing look. “See
that, she’s trying to drum up trouble between all of us now,” Rod muttered.
“That’s what women do, make things complicated, look for ways get under your
bones.”

Mattheus put his hands on Rod’s shoulders. “It’s
okay, pal,” he uttered.

“There’s nothing okay about it, Mattheus,” Rod
mumbled. “Open your eyes and take a good look. You want to know why things
haven’t worked out between you and Cindy so far? Take a good look.”

Mattheus said nothing and Cindy was appalled.
Obviously Rod had taken a dislike to her and was trying to get in between their
relationship. It wasn’t unusual for a grieving family member to thrash around
for someone to take out their anger on. Obviously Cindy had become the butt for
Rod’s upset now. But why wasn’t Mattheus setting him straight, standing up for
her? That was more upsetting than anything else.

Cindy turned away, flushed and angry. She wasn’t
going to get pulled into this, or let Rod’s distress derail her from the job
she had to do. Her first priority was finding Kara, no matter how many
obstacles came along, trying to get in her way.

“I think it’s a good idea for you go to our room
now, Cindy,” Mattheus said quietly, trying to defuse the situation.

“Fine,” Cindy agreed. She was thankful that she’d
had some time alone with Rowley before Rod returned, but wanted more. “I’ll be
back though,” she added, flinging a quick warning glance at Rod, who had his
back toward her and would not turn around.

 

*

 

Back in the room, Cindy waited fitfully for
Mattheus. Although she could give herself plenty of reasons why Mattheus hadn’t
stood up to Rod for her, it was hard to believe any of them. Certainly, family
members had a right to go crazy when someone went missing or was harmed. It was
also expected for them to lash out at others. But it was also necessary for
them to be put in their place. They had to be made to understand that law
enforcement wasn’t the enemy. Someone had to set things straight and Mattheus
had always done it before. Cindy was agitated and eager to talk to him about
it.

As she waited for Mattheus to return the phone rang
suddenly. This had to be him, she thought, asking her to come downstairs and
meet him in one of the exquisite restaurants in the hotel for dinner. He
probably hoped they could unwind and dine there together. It would be a perfect
way to clear things up.

“Yes?” Cindy answered hopefully as she picked up.

“Cindy, this is Frank,” the male voice on the other
end answered. It was Cindy’s brother-in-law, her dead sister’s husband.

“Frank?” Cindy was stunned. “Why in the world are
you calling me here? Is something wrong? Is my mother all right?”

“Your mother’s fine,” Frank answered soothingly.
“I’m so glad you picked up.”“Why did you call?” Cindy repeated.

“Why wouldn’t I call?” Frank went on. “I heard you
were down in St. Lucia’s and I wanted to check in on you. Your sister’s not
here anymore to look after you, and I feel as though it’s my place now.”

Although Cindy was surprised to hear from her
brother-in-law, she was also strangely comforted. She’d been thinking about Ann
and missing her a great deal these days.

“That’s kind of you, Frank,” Cindy responded.
“Actually, Ann has been on my mind.”

“She’s been on my mind as well.” Frank seemed eager
to talk. “It’s gets harder and harder without her around.”

“Yes, it does,” agreed Cindy. Right after a loss, it
was often easier, Cindy realized. One always expected the loved one to return,
or to wake up suddenly from what seemed like a dream. When the days passed and
none of that happened, when life had to go on without them, it was definitely a
difficult time.

“How are you doing, Frank?” Cindy asked kindly.

“I’m getting along, but nothing’s the same anymore,”
he said. “It will never be.”

“No, it won’t,” Cindy echoed.

“That’s why I wanted to call you,” Frank went on. “I
know Ann would have wanted me to stay in touch. She thought about you all the
time.”

“Thanks for that,” said Cindy, truly appreciating
it.

“Are you down there on another case alone?” Frank
asked then.

“No, not at all,” Cindy replied quickly. “Mattheus
is down here with me now.”

“Mattheus?” Frank sounded shocked.

“Yes, of course,” said Cindy.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Frank exclaimed. “Truly I
am.”

Cindy sighed. Frank had no right to be sorry, she
thought. Now they were back to square one, the same old thing.

“Ann never trusted Mattheus, she never liked him,”
Frank couldn’t help add.

“I know she didn’t, Frank,” Cindy replied, “but
Ann’s not here now, is she? She’s not down on the islands solving cases. And
when you’re on a case, it’s crucial to have someone at your side.”

Frank became quiet then. “I understand, you’re
right,” he said finally. “I shouldn’t have said that, I was just surprised.”

“It’s okay, Frank,” said Cindy, relenting. “You
meant the best for me, I know.”

BOOK: Death by Temptation
2.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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