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Authors: Gregg Olsen

Tags: #Paranormal, #Fantasy, #Young Adult, #Mystery, #Thriller, #Crime

Envy (5 page)

BOOK: Envy
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“Cause of death?” asked the assistant, a faux-hawked newbie to the office named Terry Morris.

Dr. Waterman shook her head. “No, no,” she said. “I’m sure you’d like to wrap this up so you can go text someone or something, but here we do things right, methodically, and by the book.” She looked over her glasses with a kind look.

No need to make the new kid hate me. There’s plenty of time for that later
, she thought.

“Let’s get there one step at a time,” she said, returning her unflinching gaze back to the dead girl.

She pointed to the cuts on Katelyn’s thigh and frowned. They were the newest.
Fresh.

“Not deep at all,” she said.

“The girl was f-ed up,” Terry said.

Dr. Waterman, a Makah Indian with a medical degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, was a serious woman who thought that death deserved respect one hundred percent of the time. She glared at Terry. He was going to be a challenge. But she was up for it.

“You don’t know me well yet, Terry. But I don’t talk like that. And I don’t want my assistants talking like that.”

“It isn’t like the dead can hear,” he said.

She shot a lightning-fast look at him with her dark eyes and immediately returned her attention to Katelyn.

“How do you know?” she asked.

Terry, a young man with large green eyes, maybe too large for his small face, rolled them upward, but kept his mouth clamped shut—for a change. He was learning.

Death by electrocution is exceedingly rare. Dr. Waterman could recall only two other examples of such cases in the county. One involved a Lucky Jim’s Indian casino worker who had become electrified when he was working with some faulty wiring that fed power to the slot machines. He had assumed his coworker had cut the power source.

It was
, Dr. Waterman had thought at the time,
a very unlucky way to die.

The other involved a pretty, young Bremerton woman who was out walking her Dalmatian after high winds pummeled the region, dropping power lines and blacking out half the county. When her exuberant dog ran ahead, the woman used the moment to tie a loosened shoelace. When she bent down, her knee made contact with a thousand volts of electricity from a power line obscured by fallen tree branches.

Katelyn’s case was different, of course. Her death was the result of a household appliance coming into contact with the water in her bathtub.

Dr. Waterman pointed to obvious burns on the right side of Katelyn’s torso. “The contact with the voltage was there,” she said. The burns were severe, leaving the skin so red it was nearly cooked.

“Yeah, I see,” Terry said, not wanting to get slapped down for any editorializing or joke making. It took a lot of personal restraint for him not to say, for example,
Watt are you talking about?

Next, the cutting and the sawing. The noise of a human body being violated by steel is horrendous—even for those who do it every day. The saw Birdy Waterman used emitted a noise somewhere between a Sears electric carving knife and a small chainsaw. Some medical examiners pipe music into their autopsy suites, turning them into hell’s concept of a downtown after-hours club.
Way after-hours
. Others turn up the volume on their iPods during the internal exam. Not Birdy Waterman. She hummed a little and watched her assistant’s green eyes turn a little greener.

“Some fractured ribs here,” she said, indicating faint lines where the bones had mended.

“Abuse?” Terry asked, peering over the pathologist’s shoulder to get a better look.

Dr. Waterman shook her head. “Medical history from the father says that Katelyn was in a bus accident when she was five. No other hospitalizations.”

Katelyn’s heart and other organs were removed from her body, weighed, measured, and examined.

What Birdy Waterman saw confirmed her suspicions. Katelyn Berkley’s heart had stopped beating because of trauma resulting from the electric shock.

“So is it a homicide?” Terry asked. “Accidental death? Suicide?”

Dr. Waterman raised the plastic shield that had kept the spatter of blood and tissue from her face.

“The girl had emotional problems,” she said, indicating the scars from the cuts the victim had made on herself. Most were old and faded, but some were quite new. “And while it is highly unlikely that she tried to kill herself with the espresso machine, it appears that’s what happened.”

“So how are you going to rule?” Terry asked.

Dr. Waterman took more photos and removed her green latex gloves and face mask, which were splattered with brain matter and bone chips.

“Accidental,” she said. “The police saw no evidence of foul play at the scene to indicate homicide. And the parents don’t need to live with the added heartache of wondering what they did wrong—even if they did something wrong. She’s dead. It’s over.”

She started toward the door of the shower and dressing room.

“You can close. No staples. Small stitches, Terry. She’s a young girl. I don’t want the funeral home to think we do the work of a blind seamstress. Katelyn …” She paused and looked at the paperwork that came with the body. “Katelyn Melissa Berkley deserves better. She’s only fifteen.”

“So? She’s dead,” Terry muttered under his breath, hoping the woman with the sharp scalpel and soft heart didn’t hear him.

But she did.

“I’ll remember that when I see you on my table,” she said.

IF THERE WAS A CASE TO BE MADE for waiting out the geekdom that is middle school before writing someone off as a complete loser, Colton James was Exhibit A. During the summer between middle school and high school, Colton had morphed into something of a hottie.

Colton was one-sixteenth S’Klallam Indian, the native people who’d lived in Port Gamble when it was called Memalucet. He had tawny skin, a mass of unusually unruly dark hair, and the kind of black eyes that looked almost blue in the sunshine. He’d been the skinny boy who dragged the girls to the edges of Port Gamble Bay in search of crabs, oysters, or anything else that might be good to eat. He joked that he did so because he was Native American, but really it was because his parents didn’t always have much money. Colton’s dad, Henry, was an Inuit fisherman, often in Alaska for the season, and his mother, Shania, was a woman who suffered from agoraphobia. She almost never left the house. People whispered that Shania James was a hermit and that she was lazy and too fat to do anything.

None of that was true, of course. The truth was far more sinister. Shania had been carjacked in a Safeway parking lot in Silverdale when Colton was two. With Colton secured in his car seat, the man who held Shania captive did things to her that she never talked about. Not to the police. Not to her family. At least, not that anyone had ever heard. Only the Ryans had a clue that Shania had been the victim of a violent crime; once, when Kevin was mowing the lawn, she had called over to him from the window.

She had held a copy of his book
Innocence Delayed
and waved it at him.

“You got it right, Kevin.”

“What’s that, Shania?”

“The author’s note in your book. That’s what. Sometimes people can’t get over things done to them. Dr. Phil is wrong. We can’t always get better.”

“Screw Dr. Phil,” Kevin said.

Shania gave a slight nod of agreement. She closed the window and disappeared into the house.

Colton had always been the boy next door, literally. Hayley and Taylor never knew a summer’s day when they didn’t chat with Colton, get into some harmless trouble at the Port Gamble General Store, or sleep out under the stars.

He in his yard; they in theirs.

And then all of a sudden he seemed to have grown up. Both Hayley and Taylor noticed it. The girls found themselves attracted to him, a quasi-brother or sidekick at best, in a way that was unsettling and peculiar.

One day when he was out in his backyard washing the old Toyota Camry that his mom never drove but couldn’t get rid of, Colton called over to Hayley. She’d just come home from the beach in a tangerine bikini top and faded denim shorts, all sticky and smelling of sunscreen. Her hair had lightened, and the bridge of her nose was sprayed with brand-new freckles.

“You want to help me dry?” he asked.

She didn’t want to, but because he had his shirt off, she’d found reason enough to cross the yard and pick up a chamois.

It turned out it was more buffing than drying, but Hayley didn’t mind. She stooped down low and started on the wheel well.

“I was thinking,” Colton said, his teeth all the more white as they contrasted with his deeply tanned skin, “maybe you would want to go out sometime.”

“You want to go out with me? What do you mean
out
?” she asked.

“Out.”
“You mean like on a date?”
“Call it whatever. But, yeah,” he said, now crouching close to her. “What do you think?”

What Hayley really thought was that it was strange. She liked Colton. She always had. Taylor liked him too. They’d even talked about how he’d changed and looked older, stronger, and sexier, which trumped all previous feelings they had had that he was like a brother to them.

“What about Taylor?” she finally asked.

Colton laughed. “I’m not into that.”

Hayley narrowed her blue eyes. “You’re not into what exactly?”

“Never mind. I was asking
you
out. Just you and me.”

Hayley wanted to drop the chamois and rush home to ask Taylor if she minded. She hoped she wouldn’t. She knew she
might
. Her mind was reeling.

“Yes, I would like that,” she said. “When?”

He smiled broadly. “How about tomorrow night? Want to see what’s playing in Poulsbo?”

Hayley didn’t answer right away. The only movies out were dumb romantic comedies, but she didn’t want to turn Colton down.

Colton immediately caught her vibe. “Nah, never mind. There’s nothing but trash out. Let’s bag the movies and do something else.”

In that moment, Hayley Ryan really saw Colton James as someone more special, more in sync with her than just about anyone she could name.

“It’s a date,” she said, turning her attention to the car but watching Colton in the reflection of the shiny hubcap. Her thoughts were a jumble just then and she couldn’t make sense of her feelings. There was no doubt she was jubilant over the fact that he had asked her out, but as she touched the car and moved the chamois in small circles against the chrome, she felt tiny pricks of sadness in her fingertips.

What was it
, she would always wonder,
about that car that made me feel that way?

The night Katelyn died, Hayley thought about that feeling she’d had back when they were polishing the Toyota and planning that first date. The energy that came to her was similar to something she was feeling now.

She also thought of Colton, whom she texted the minute she heard the news about Katelyn. He was in Portland with his dad’s relatives and wouldn’t be home until the day after school started. His mother had to be coaxed out of the house for the trip.

HAYLEY:
THINKING OF KATELYN. SAD, SAD, SAD.

COLTON:
SRY. W@ HPND?

HAYLEY:
NOT SURE. NO1 REALLY KNOWS. SUICIDE? ACCIDENT?

COLTON:
SUX.

HAYLEY:
MISS U

COLTON:
U2

When Taylor caught Hayley texting Colton, she just rolled her eyes.
Sometimes those two were just SO annoying.

chapter 7

MOIRA WINDSOR KNEW THAT GREATNESS was never going to come from writing for the “What’s Up” section of the
North Kitsap Herald
, but at twenty-three, she’d been saddled with student loans and no prospects for a better job, at least until the economy bounced back. Whenever that was supposed to happen, no one seemed to really know. Moira was also being strategic. She knew that a toehold in a real journalism position was a must in building the credibility that she was sure she could spin into a spot next to Matt Lauer on
Today
. That was if, and only if, that overly sincere Ann Curry didn’t work out and got booted off the air.

A slender redhead with a nice figure that she used to her advantage, Moira waited outside house number 19, composing her thoughts before knocking on the Ryans’ front door. Even though it was freezing outside, she unzipped her jacket a little to showcase what God and a Victoria’s Secret push-up bra had given her. She peered through the six panels of rippled glass that ran alongside the solid, painted door. She pulled back and planted a smile on her face as footsteps approached.

Kevin Ryan, wearing gray sweatpants and a ratty, stained Got Crime? T-shirt that Valerie had tried to discard by stuffing it into the bottom of a Goodwill bag more than once, swung open the door and smiled.

A little cleavage always works.
Moira had learned that technique trying to get men to reveal things that they ordinarily might not. All told, Moira had about an eighty-seven percent success rate with it.

“Mr. Ryan? I’m with the
North Kitsap Herald
. I’m a huge fan. Can we talk?”

Kevin studied her, then looked at her eyes. He’d seen that purported “huge fan” look before a dozen times. She was young, excited. Like most reporters who sought an interview, this one probably was more interested in advancing her dream of writing books than in interviewing him about anything he’d been doing.

“I’m sorry,” he said, hesitating a moment. “I didn’t catch your name.”

“Moira Windsor,” she said, with the kind of confidence that suggested he ought to know who she was. “I’m with ‘What’s Up.’”

Kevin never turned down a chance for publicity, but he had one cardinal rule on the subject:
Never do any media unless you have a book to sell.

“Right. Moira, I’m sorry, but I didn’t get a heads-up from anyone at the
Herald
that you’d be visiting. I don’t have a book coming out.”

“I’m a huge fan of your work,” she repeated.

“You said that already,” Kevin said as politely as possible.

Moira fidgeted with her purse and pulled out a slim reporter’s notebook.

BOOK: Envy
12.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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