Deceptions (The Mystical Encounter Series Book 2) (7 page)

BOOK: Deceptions (The Mystical Encounter Series Book 2)
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“You’ll like this week’s haul,” the guy said. He opened a drawer and pulled out a gallon–sized baggie of a darkened, leafy substance‌—‌marijuana. “This should bring a big score. I’ll expect payment in week. Don’t be late,” he said sternly, tossing the bag toward Nicholas.

After a quick examination of the contents, Nicholas stashed the drugs in a tote he carried. “No problem, Paul. I’ll see you next week with the money.” With a nod, he waited for Paul to unlock the door. Nicholas lowered his baseball cap over his eyes and exited the bar, clearly in a rush to escape. Stepping onto the sidewalk, he glanced at the tall buildings lining the street. As soon as he turned the corner, everything went dark.

I snapped out of the vision and my surroundings came into focus. With a scan of the room, my anxiety swelled when I saw the five pairs of expectant eyes staring at me. The room suddenly became warm, knowing they expected answers. Mr. Canter opened his mouth to speak, but Detective Tanner quickly interrupted.

“Did you see anything of importance?” Tanner asked. He seemed to sense my discomfort.

I shook my head. “Not really. I just saw Nicholas having a good time with a few friends. There wasn’t anything significant that could pinpoint where he might be.” I’m not sure why I lied, but I knew I couldn’t divulge Nicholas’s drug dealings to his father. Besides, there were too many people in the room, including the chief of police, whom I had yet to trust. I’d tell Tanner the truth once we were alone in his car.

I glanced at Mr. Canter right as his face dropped, exposing his defeat. “I’m sorry Mr. Canter,” I said sincerely. “Is there anything else he would have a personal attachment too?”

He thought for a second, then said, “I’ll be right back.”

When Mr. Canter reentered the room, my eyes bulged and I swallowed hard. He was holding a hunting rifle‌—‌or was it a shotgun? Was there a difference? I had never had to deal with guns, so I didn’t know much about them. Truthfully, they intimidated the heck out of me.
Does this gun have a safety?
If so, I hoped that Mr. Canter had engaged it. “Here, maybe this will help,” Mr. Canter said, handing it over to me.

My gaze connected with Tanner’s, and without hesitation, he shifted toward Mr. Canter. “Here, let me give it to her,” he said authoritatively. “Heather, this is a Winchester M94. Right here is the safety, which is on, but I want you to hold one hand on the stock…‌” He placed his left hand on the wooden end. “Then place your other hand on the fore–stock. Okay?”

The quick explanation alleviated my fear of handling it. At least I wouldn’t fire accidently. As he stretched his arms out to hand the gun to me, I took care to keep my hands away from the trigger. When my fingers wrapped around the polished wood, images of trees came into view…‌

Nicholas’s heart raced as he walked along a gravel road beside his father. He visualized the doe as he recounted to his father his failed attempt to shoot it. The doe stood about 250 yards away, slightly out of range of his aim, but he knew he had grazed the deer by her reaction. He felt like a master marksman for achieving that shot with such a difficult trajectory. He knew the shot shouldn’t have been taken, but the thrill of being able to shoot something became overpowering‌—‌it had been the only game he’d seen all day. Turning down a narrow driveway, a log cabin came into sight…‌

I paused to catch my breath. The vision was short, or perhaps the memory was, and it didn’t add anything new. Mr. Canter stood tall and expressionless, staring at me. A lawyer by day, bluffing would indeed be a huge part of his tactics. His appearance portrayed him to be very serious. But studying him, I saw tiny beads of sweat formed on his forehead and noticed that his breathing was shallow. Mr. Canter might seem hardened, but he wasn’t made of stone.

He was close to his son. The second vision had revealed that. Nicholas had talked excitedly with his dad, and their rapport was positive. Had something changed? Somehow, I doubted Nicholas would’ve run away due to his home life.

“You and Nicholas enjoy hunting together. Do you own a piece of property with a log cabin?” I asked.

“Yes, but they’ve already searched the cabin and he’s not there,” he said.

“I’m so sorry I’m not much help. I don’t get the impression that he ran away on purpose, but I’m unable to see where he is or what he’s doing,” I practically whispered.

His mouth flattened into a thin, straight smile and he nodded before turning to leave the room.

Dead silence filled the air, replacing the hope that had previously occupied everyone’s mind. Bart and the rest of the policemen exited Nicholas’s bedroom, and their solemn faces brought a sense of despair to me. I’d let them down. I represented their last effort as they clung to hope, and I’d failed.

As Tanner breezed past me, he smiled reassuringly. I paused before following him out the door. Turning again to eye the metal box sitting on the bookshelf, I shook my head. There was more to that vision‌—‌there had to be. It wasn’t clear yet, but I could guarantee one thing: I would figure it out.

Once we were downstairs, a few of the officers left. A couple of them had set up a table with phone lines as if somebody had kidnapped Nicholas and they were waiting for a ransom call. A possibility, but my intuition wasn’t driving me in that direction. If the amount of time and equipment the local law enforcement had donated to the cause was any judge, Tanner apparently wasn’t lying when he said that Mr. Canter and his friends were influential.

Tanner and I stepped outside. We approached the bottom steps, but halted when we saw Bart talking to Mr. Canter in hushed tones.

Bart glanced our way and the corners of his mouth drew into a slanted grin. “Don’t worry, we’ll find your son,” Bart said condescendingly.

Mr. Canter’s eyes narrowed as he glared at Bart. “You’d better hope, for your sake, that we do.”

The smile on Bart’s face faltered for a second, but he didn’t say a word before sauntering toward his car. I stole a glance at Tanner. He stood there, cupping an elbow with one hand while tapping his lips with the other as he witnessed their peculiar exchange. Like a sponge, he absorbed the scene unfolding in front of him, filing the information to examine later.

Mr. Canter’s hands clenched into fists as he watched Bart walk away. He didn’t move until Bart reached his car and slid in.
Wow
. He must really hate that man.

As Bart drove away, Mr. Canter turned toward Tanner and me. “Miss Reiner, I thank you for your time,” he said, extending his hand.

As I stared at his hand, I had a peculiar compulsion not to shake it. When we had shaken hands earlier, I’d considered myself lucky since nothing happened. But I didn’t want to press my luck, or risk being rude, so I raised my hand. The warmth of his hand encased my own, and I couldn’t stop the transportation into a vision.

“I’m sure a prominent businessman such as yourself couldn’t afford the embarrassment of your son’s arrest. I can make sure that doesn’t happen,” the voice of the police chief rang through my head. He leaned back in his chair and smugly crossed his legs, drumming his fingers together.

Mr. Canter's hands balled into fists. His breath drew in as his gaze shifted momentarily to the glass curtain wall behind Bart. The St. Louis skyline seemed cold and distant. “And how exactly do you propose to do this?” he asked in a menacing tone. Shifting forward in his button–tufted leather chair, he placed his clenched hands on the mahogany desk.

“That’s for me to worry about. But, of course, if you don’t want to pay…‌” Bart let the question hang in the air.

Mr. Canter’s jaw clenched, and his fist pounded the desk. “I’ll have the money for you, don’t worry.”

A small gasp slipped past my lips as I opened my eyes. My breath hitched from the intensity of Mr. Canter’s stare. Could he tell I’d witnessed an exchange between him and Bart? I didn’t think so. How could that be possible? But the way he studied me stated otherwise. My hand, free from his touch, dropped to my side and I began to shake. The silence between us waned.

He drew a breath and looked toward Tanner. “I trust you’ll do what you can,” he said.

“You have my word,” Tanner replied.

Mr. Canter wasted no time in departing. Mesmerized, I watched him climb the stairs and disappear into his house.
Drugs
?
Blackmail
? Hmm…‌it seems there was more going on here than Nicholas’s disappearance.

Tanner had remained quiet through our silent exchange, and I could practically visualize his thoughts absorb the information as he filed it away. Once we were alone in the car, his quiet demeanor changed rather abruptly.

“Okay, spill. I know you saw a lot more than what you let on back at the house.”

I gave him a slight smile, wondering how he understood me so well in the short amount of time we’d known each other.

“Yes,” I agreed. “There is certainly more happening here than what I said. First, let’s start with Nicholas’s trinket box. I believe he has used that jewelry box to store drugs.”

Turning sharply to look at me, Tanner’s eyebrows raised and his mouth opened. “He’s using drugs?” he asked, flabbergasted.

“Well, I’m not sure if he’s using, but he’s definitely dealing. Sorry, I know you really liked him, but my vision brought me to a bar. I saw Nicholas following a tall guy, Paul, into a back office. The burly guy threw a bag of what I’m pretty sure was marijuana at him, then told him to bring the money by next week. I didn’t want to tell the entire vision in front of not only his father, but the police chief as well. I didn’t want to get Nicholas in more trouble and…‌ I just don’t trust Bart.”

“Neither do I.” Tanner deadpanned. “Okay, so what about the vision you had with Robert?”

I inhaled deeply and hesitated. “That’s a bit spicier. The police chief was with Mr. Canter, I think at Mr. Canter’s office. He was demanding money to keep his son’s drug dealings quiet.”

“That son–of–a–bitch is blackmailing him?” His knuckles turned white as he gripped the steering wheel tighter. “This may be the break we need for the other investigation. We just need to figure out how the mayor is involved.”

I pulled out my phone and turned it on. “Detective, I saw a picture of a girl; I’m assuming she’s his girlfriend. She’s been contacted, right?”

“Yes, they were together last night, but talking to her didn’t turn up anything.”

“Okay.” I remained silent as he shifted the car into drive. When my phone lit up, I noticed two missed texts from Barry. I sent him a quick reply, informing him about what happened and that I was heading home. After reading his response, I settled into my seat and endured the lengthy ride home.

~7~

Comprehension

After walking through my front door, I pulled my cell phone out to text Barry again. Before I had the chance to unlock my phone, it vibrated in my hand, drawing an instant smile. His message, “
Saw detective’s car. On my way,”
illuminated my phone. I guess that was part of the perks of having your boyfriend practically living next door. I often wondered if he spent as much time over there before I moved in as he did now. It was a question I’d pondered but never had the courage to ask.

As I walked toward the kitchen, I typed back the words, “
Hungry…‌ let yourself in
.” By the time the orange juice filled my cup, the creaking of the front door alerted me to his arrival.
That was quick
. After the slam of the door vibrated through the house, I yelled, “Do you want anything to drink?”

Barry stepped into the kitchen. “Sure.” He stopped beside me and pulled me into a hug. “How are you doing?”

My chest swelled with warmth from his concern. The visions take their toll on me and he always worried about me. I snuggled deeper into the embrace. That was what I liked most, his strong arms wrapped around me. There wasn’t any place I’d rather be than here.

I breathed in his herbal, woodsy smell. “Yeah, I’m all right, but I’m afraid I wasn’t much help,” I answered.

His right hand had found its way to the back of my head and lightly massaged it. “You weren’t?”

With a shrug, I said, “No, I didn’t see anything I’d consider helpful.” Reluctantly, I pulled away from him to fix the sandwiches. Without eating a real breakfast, I was starving. While grabbing the bread and lunchmeat from the fridge, I continued, “I just saw the cabin the Canters own and where they hunt, so it didn’t help us figure out where he is.” I placed the bread on the plates, I layered turkey, pepper jack cheese, and lettuce on top. I went over to the refrigerator and held up the bottle of mustard. With a shake of Barry’s head, I returned it, grabbing the mayonnaise instead. “I’m definitely missing something, I’m just not sure what. It’s rather frustrating letting everyone down.”

“Hey, you’re not letting anyone down. They may be disappointed that you didn’t see anything, but what can they expect? You’re not a fortune–teller.”

“Thanks, Barry. It’s still frustrating though.”

He grabbed the knife and spread the mayo. “Who’s the missing guy?”

“Nicholas Canter.”

“Nick!” Barry bellowed.

“Yeah, do you know him?”

“Yeah, he graduated a couple of years ago. Wow, I can’t believe it’s him. Nick’s a great guy, I hope they find him.” He slid into the chair after placing the top slices of bread on our sandwiches. “You didn’t see anything?”

“I guess there just wasn’t anything significant to him in his room,” I said, evading his question.

Guilt crept its way into my conscience, but I couldn’t tell him about Nick’s drug involvement.
Right
? Tanner probably didn’t want me disclosing that information, but there was something else preventing me from telling Barry the whole truth. I just wasn’t sure what.

“He probably doesn’t have much at home because he spends most of his time away at college or at his girlfriend’s house. Jocelyn Kennedy, she’s a senior this year. You know her, or at least you’ve seen her around. He’s a couple years ahead of her, but they were pretty tight when they were in school together. You’d recognize Jocelyn, I’m sure.” Barry smiled. “I know that if we end up at different colleges, I’ll be spending every second I’m home with you. I certainly wouldn’t be spending anytime at my house.”

BOOK: Deceptions (The Mystical Encounter Series Book 2)
13.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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