Sarah Woods Mystery Series (Volume 6) (10 page)

BOOK: Sarah Woods Mystery Series (Volume 6)
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“Maybe you’re right. Or maybe I chose to see the good in you.”

He chuckled. “The good in me? I don't think so. That part of me died when Claire wouldn't bother to visit me in prison. I realized that everything I'd ever done for her or Adam meant nothing. She told me I was dead to her. Well, now she's dead to me.”

“And then, when you found out that Norton Cline had stolen most of your money, you had to find a way to balance the scales.”

He snorted. “The world is a better place without the likes of Norton Cline. He deserved to die a painful death.”

“I can understand how you might feel that way,” I said. “But there was hope for you and Claire. A little more patience on your part and she might have come around. What will happen to Adam, now?”

If there was a chance that Mick felt anything for his son there was hope for me too. I just needed to appeal to his sense of family and loyalty.

“Adam will be taken care of,” he said. “I'll make sure of that. My boy never did anything bad. His soul is still pure.” Mick looked out the window just as the exit for Sanford passed by. “You missed the exit on purpose. Take the next exit and turn around. There's no sense in prolonging the inevitable.”

If I was going to die, why not crash this car into a tree and kill both of us? I had my seat belt on and he didn't. It was a risk but I had better chances of surviving than he did. “Anything happens to me,” I said. “My partner will hunt you down. You don't want to piss him off.”

“Let him try. I'll be long gone before anyone knows you’re missing.”

“So you plan to steal my car and go to Mexico?”

“No, I hate tequila. I'm thinking Canada. Much closer.”

I maintained my low speed while the cars zoomed past me in the passing lane. No chance to signal to the other drivers that I was in trouble. I could blink the Morse code for help, but Mick was no dummy. He wouldn't believe it if I told him there was a bug in my eye.

I had to keep him talking. Keep him focused while I thought of a way out of this mess.

“How did you kill her, Mick? With a rope or something else?”

“Easy,” he said. “You'll find out soon enough.”

“So you plan on strangling me instead of a knife to the heart?”

“Less messy. But I'll use the knife if I'm forced to.”

He applied more pressure to my leg, and more blood oozed out, soaking into my jeans. I noticed a rather large pool accumulating and yet, I couldn't feel a thing.

I've heard that the body, when faced with extreme duress, begins to shut down. Turns out, it's true. I could barely feel my limbs anymore. How long would it take for me to lose consciousness?

I could see the sign for the exit coming up. In one minute we'd be off the turnpike unless I could think of something.

My mind was blank.

Thirty seconds.

I had to make a decision.

I put on my blinker as if I were going to take the exit. I slowed down to thirty-five miles per hour.

This was my only chance to make a move.

I jerked the steering wheel to the right, holding on with clenched fists. The tires screeched and we bounced over the side, heading for the ditch fast.

Mick lost his balance and the knife fell out of his hand. I had no idea where it went.

“What the hell are you doing?” He grabbed a thick strand of my hair and yanked hard.

“So long, Mick. Hope it was a fun ride.” I aimed for the cluster of pine trees, slammed my foot on the gas pedal and prayed to God the air bags would deploy on impact.

 

* * *

When I first opened my eyes, I still felt nothing. Gradually, the pounding in my head reminded me that I was still among the living.

Thanks to my seat belt and the airbag.

I turned to my left and gasped. The whole side of the car was a crumpled mass of metal but Mick had managed to stay in one piece. With eyes closed, he was either passed out, or dead, I couldn't be sure. His airbag had deployed but who knew if it had saved him.

“Mick? Are you okay?”

Why did I care? He'd threatened to end my life. He deserved to die.

His eyes fluttered open. “Sarah?” His voice was so weak, I could barely hear him.

“I'm here, Mick.”

“Am I dying?”

I turned my head and gasped. A hunk of metal had severed his arm. Blood had soaked his clothing. His breathing became labored and a gargling noise made it sound like his mouth was full of liquid.

“It doesn't look good,” I said.

He let out a laugh and blood spurted out of his mouth and onto the dashboard. “You've got balls, Sarah.”

A sharp knock on the window and I looked to my left. Two sets of eyes stared back at me. A man and woman with concerned expressions. The woman held up her phone and pointed to it, then mouthed the words,
help is coming.

The sirens in the distance grew nearer as more people seemed to gather around the vehicle. A young man opened the passenger side door and spoke to me in a language I didn't understand. German or Swedish, I couldn't tell. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and go to sleep. And so I did.

 

* * *

The next time I opened my eyes, I was being carried on a stretcher into the ambulance. Two paramedics tended to me, poking and prodding with their instruments. As my head began to clear, I was able to explain, in some coherent capacity, that the other passenger in my car was a confessed killer and potentially dangerous. They didn't seem too concerned. They probably figured a concussion had messed with my brain.

“It's true,” I said. “You have to believe me. He's a dangerous man, already killed three people.”

“He won't be hurting anyone,” the woman paramedic said. “He's on his way to the morgue.”

 

As soon as I got to the hospital, I was able to call Carter. I could hear the restrained worry in his voice but I assured him I was going to be fine.

“I'm on my way,” he said. “I'll be there as soon as I can.”

Chapter 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

T
he next day following the accident, Carter wouldn't let me out of his sight.

I had spent only one night in the hospital after a concussion and a few bruised ribs. As it turned out, I only needed about five stitches in my leg, but it hurt to walk.

 

Even when Detective James came to the house to take my official statement, Carter made sure he kept the questions to a minimum.

“You've had quite a few days,” the detective said to me. “What in the world were you thinking?”

I explained everything in great detail, starting with Mick offering to turn himself in, which was just a ploy to get me alone.

“I have a feeling that Mick wasn't a bad person to begin with. I think prison turned him into a paranoid, bitter and violent man. He was abandoned by his daughter and screwed out of his hard-earned money by a ruthless scam artist. They say every man has his breaking point. I don't know if Mick would have tried to kill me or not but I wasn't going to take any chances.”

“So you purposely crashed your car into a tree?” the detective asked in awe. “That was a risky move.”

“Mick wasn't wearing his seat belt. I had a better chance of surviving than he did.”

Carter held my hand and squeezed. “Yeah, by the way. Promise me you'll never do that again.”

It hurt to laugh. Even though the airbag saved me, the seatbelt left some bruising on my chest and stomach. A small price to pay for being able to live.

“Well,” Detective James said. “This morning the test results back from Mr. Cline's toxicology tests. Our forensic pathologist was able to confirm that Mr. Cline had ingested a lethal dose of Ethylene Glycol. His death is now considered a homicide. However with your testimony about Mick, it looks like we'll be able to wrap up the investigation soon enough.”

“Thank God,” I said. “Because I need a few days to rest.”

 

* * *

My body felt like one giant bruise. All I could do was lie down on the couch and watch TV, popping painkillers like candy.

When Carter came into the living room carrying a huge bouquet of flowers, he placed the vase on the side table.

“These were just delivered from Lois and Peter.”

“Wow. These are gorgeous.” I managed to sit up to admire them better. “Is there a note?”

He handed me the small envelope and I opened it.

Dear Sarah, Sending warm thoughts to you. Thanks for everything you've done and hope you feel better soon. Love, Lois and Peter.

“That is so sweet. They didn't have to do that.”

Carter sat next to me, put my legs on his lap, and began rubbing my feet. “I owe you an apology, by the way.”

I melted into the sofa, eyes closed, enjoying his touch. “You do?”

“You were right about Peter. I jumped to conclusions about him. I should've been a little more sensitive about that.”

“You were doing your job.”

He sighed. “That was only part of it.”

I opened my eyes and looked at him. “What do you mean?”

He shrugged. “Okay, maybe I was a bit jealous.”

For Carter to admit such a thing startled me. And pleased me. His expression was sincere and I knew he wasn't just fooling around. “You have nothing to be jealous about.”

He smiled and I could almost see the tension evaporating from his features.

“By the way,” I said. “I'd like to have Lois and Peter over for dinner some night, if that's okay with you.”

“Sure, if it makes you happy.”

“And,” I continued, optimistically. “I think you'll really like Peter once you get to know him. You obviously have
some
things in common. Like great taste in women, for starters.”

He shook his head and replied. “Don't push it, Sarah.”

 

 

The End

The Secrets We Keep

Sarah Woods Mystery 17

 

by

Jennifer L. Jennings

Copyright 2016

Query Publishing LLC

All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1

 

Saturday, April 9

7:15 a.m.

 

 

“Three things cannot stay long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth."  – Buddha

 

 

 

A
s a private investigator for over two years, I have learned one important truth: everyone has secrets.

It doesn't matter how honest you are. It doesn't matter how much money you have. It doesn't even matter how old you are. We all have a secret, and for some people, many.

Some secrets are benign, like the secret crush you had on your best friend's boyfriend in high school.

Some secrets are sinister, like the time you stalked your best friend's boyfriend in high school.

And then there are some secrets that, once revealed, will change your life in a way you never could have imagined.

 

 

* * *

When I opened the envelope and read the letter addressed to me, I thought there must be some kind of mistake.

 

 

Dear Sarah,

My name is Andrew McCarthy and I'm currently serving a life sentence at the Connecticut Department of Corrections for a crime I did not commit.

I'm sure my name does not sound familiar to you. We have never met. However, I've known you most of my life.

I know that you have a twenty year old son named Brian who attends a music college in Boston. You were married for eighteen years to Daniel, but got divorced two years ago. I also know that you used to be a massage therapist, but the murder of your receptionist prompted you to become a private detective. And now, you live with your partner, Carter Peterson, who used to be a cop in Boston but is also a private detective. You work together solving cases in the town of Bridgeport, New Hampshire.

I know all of these things, because I have been keeping tabs on you since I was fourteen years old, around the time my parents told me I was adopted.

I would like nothing more than to give you the details of how we are related, but it is not my place to do so. All I can say is that I desperately need your help right now. If you are willing to come and visit me, I promise I will explain everything as best I can.

 

Yours truly,

Andrew McCarthy

 

P.S. When you tell Sammy that you've received my letter, he'll give you the details of how I ended up in prison.

 

 

I must have reread the letter a dozen times. Each time, it still didn't make sense. This Andrew McCarthy must be a distant relative I'd never heard of before.

“Who is the letter from?” Carter asked while we were having our morning coffee on the front porch, listening to the birds chirping in the nearby maple tree. Who cares if it was only fifty-eight degrees? Spring had finally rescued us from a long, dreary winter.

I handed the sheet of paper to Carter as I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck. “You're welcome to read it.”

As he scanned the letter, I observed his tight features. A ruggedly handsome man in his mid-fifties, Carter rarely let his emotions show on his face, but I could tell this letter baffled him.

When he finished reading, he turned to look at me. “You don't have any idea who this guy is, do you?”

I shook my head. “Never heard of any McCarthy's in my family. Maybe they’re on my dad’s side.”

He folded the paper and handed it back. “Well, he certainly seems to know a lot about you.”

“That doesn’t make sense, either, though; he knows Sammy, so they must be related on my mother's side.”

Sammy is my surrogate uncle and was my mother's best friend. They had gone to high school together, dated briefly, and had remained close until her death five years ago. I'm an only child, and since I haven't kept in touch with my distant relatives, Sammy has been the closest thing to family I've had. A pang of guilt pricked at my heart as I tried to recall the last time we spoke. Two months at least. Usually, we don't go a full month without communicating.

I immediately got out my cell phone and dialed his number, hoping he'd be up at this early hour.

“Sarah, darling. It's been a long time. How are you?” The sound of his voice comforted me like a warm blanket.

“Sammy, I'm sorry I haven't been in touch. Life has been crazy.”

“I know it has. How did the move go? You and Carter getting along fine?”

Sammy had no children of his own. He'd always treated me like a daughter and therefore overprotective when it came to my romantic relationships. Carter was the first man in my life that got the full seal of approval.

“Everything is great,” I said. “How about you? Still running the bowling league?”

He chuckled. “Nah, I had to slow down because of the arthritis. Besides that, I'm doing quite swell, thanks for asking.” His tone became inquisitive. “But I have a feeling you didn't call to ask about the bowling league.”

“I received a letter today from someone named Andrew McCarthy who is doing time at the Connecticut Department of Corrections. I've never heard of him before, but he says we're related. What do you know about him?”

A long pause ensued. “Sweetheart, we need to discuss this face to face.”

“Is he a second cousin or something?”

“Tell you what, I just put on a pot of coffee. Why don't you come over?” I could tell he was trying to act nonchalant, but the slight quiver in his voice concerned me.

“Why can't you just tell me on the phone?”

“Because it's complicated, my dear.”

“Why does this guy know so much about me?” I persisted. “It’s a little creepy.”

“Please, Sarah,” he said, calmly. “I know you must have a lot of questions, but I'll explain everything once you get here. Okay?”

Knowing how stubborn Sammy can be, there was no point in wasting time trying to change his mind. “Fine,” I said with a sigh. “I'll be there in twenty minutes.”

BOOK: Sarah Woods Mystery Series (Volume 6)
3.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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