Taran drove quickly towards Zoe’s home. He’d check out her yard and then when he knew she was safe, he’d head over the Fisher home. He wouldn’t feel right doing it the other way.
There was an unfamiliar car in the driveway, a copper-toned Honda CRV that looked almost new. Virginia plates warned him that it probably belonged to Kay. Taran drew in a breath, not certain how he felt about that.
Getting out of the car into the air that still felt like a warm oven, albeit one that had been cooling off for hours after its maximum heat, he paused to look at the car more closely. There were suitcases in the back—a bunch of them—and several bags, as if Kay had thrown her home together to bring it all with her. The coffee cup that sat in a holder looked like something Kay would leave around. The SUV was far neater than he’d expect from his ex-wife, but everyone changed. He’d changed in the time she’d been gone.
Something bothered Taran about the day, and it took him a moment to notice the absence of sound. He heard a car down on Main, which was several blocks away, but there were no birds. No dogs barked. Both of those were unusual in this part of town where the lots were large and almost everyone had a hunting dog even if they never went hunting.
It made the back of his neck twitch. Although he wanted to delay going to the door because he didn’t want to see Kay, he needed to check on Zoe. Taran hurried to the front door, rang the bell. Waited.
He glanced down at his feet, looking at the dark black shoes against the cement porch upon which he stood. No sound came from the house after the bell echoed its way through. No one walked quickly to answer the door. No voices from inside. The house might have been empty.
Taran rang again, listening. The bell rang. He could hear that. He thought he heard a moan, like someone was injured. He pulled open the screen door that he’d battled with Zoe over the first time he’d arrived. It opened easily with its usual squeak, a sound that made him pause and look around like he was a thief sneaking into a bank.
Nothing happened. He tried the doorknob, but it was locked.
Taran dropped his hand, considering trying to break down the door, but this was Corbin Meadow. The men of the Meadow may have specialized in building wooden furniture, but they weren’t too shabby when it came to wood carpentry, either. Doors here were solid core, often carved like Frank’s, and always difficult to break down. Only the people who lived in the newer sections, in homes built by outsiders, had doors that a thief, or a determined police officer, could easily break through.
Instead, Taran hurried back to the driveway and around the garage. The grass was longish and wet on that side of the house, like it got less sun and was happy about it through the long dry summer, growing too quickly to keep up with. There was a large laurel near the edge of the garage and then behind the bush was more grass but there were concrete squares in dull red, scored to look like little squares of brick that he could step on as he walked around the side of the house.
The air conditioner sat in a small enclosure on that side, across from that of the neighbor. Taran followed the path between the two machines and came around to the backyard. He didn’t see much, though the yard looked more shadowed than it should have. He felt as if he’d started his journey with the sun high in the sky and he’d only just made it to the backyard when the sun was beginning to set. He knew that wasn’t true, but that’s how the shadows made him feel.
Taran looked around but saw nothing. The back of the house stuck out around the patio, blocking his view. He followed the path, which went from brick stepping stones to a nice pathway with real brick that wound in front of low bushes that lined the house beneath the windows that looked out the back.
He walked the brick path, watching as the shadows that had been long receded towards the trees that divided this property from that of Mrs. Fisher. No one was on the patio. Shadows were moving away from the glass door.
Taran considered going up to the slider and pounding on the door but decided he would only spook the women, probably Kay and Zoe. He didn’t want Kay terrified of him when they first saw each other again. He hurried back around to the front of the house.
It was still too silent. There was something waiting. Taran didn’t like it.
He couldn’t wait to get into the house. There was something there. In his mind’s eye he saw what it was—the creature with the long oddly shaped nose and the strange, rough skin. He didn’t want to believe it, but couldn’t help knowing deep down that this thing, this creature, was a problem.
At the front again, Taran rang the bell. This time he heard someone coming to the door.
Zoe opened it. Her face was pale. She had her right hand curled protectively against her chest, as if she’d injured herself. He saw nothing wrong with it.
“Taran?” Her voice held a question.
“I was just checking to be sure you were okay. I had a report that Mrs. Fisher, in the house behind you, saw something moving in her yard. I wanted to be sure it wasn’t the intruder coming back,” Taran said. He felt stupid using their lie, but he had no idea what she’d talked to Kay about.
His ex-wife appeared behind Zoe, looking at him. A slight frown crossed her face upon seeing him. She turned away without saying a word.
“I think we’re okay,” Zoe said. She looked back at Kay. Didn’t try and open the screen. “I think you should go check on Mrs. Fisher.”
The front door closed in his face, leaving him frustrated. Something had happened between the two women. He wanted to know what that was. He hoped Zoe would clue him in later when Kay was gone. He had given up hope that Kay might ever tell him what was going on in her life.
Chapter 36 will be coming next Friday. Don’t want to wait? Find the book here.