Zoe placed her right foot on top of her left one. Taran was standing too close to her, something she might have enjoyed in another situation. He smelled like spiced apples which made her think of cider and Halloween, which brought her back to the present and the fact that Kay was standing on his other side, periodically eyeing the two of them like she was wondering if something was going on.
Zoe’s arm throbbed suddenly, that knock-out pain that made her bite back a gasp, though it disappeared quickly. The throbbing was coming less and less frequently. She wondered if she’d been able to wash her arm and hand sooner if it would have been less painful. It was too late now, and hopefully she wouldn’t have to experience it again. Had her mother died in that sort of pain, or had it happened quickly and suddenly? No one had said she looked uncomfortable.
She could ask Taran. He’d been there. He’d been there for Elaine, too, and this new murder. She didn’t want to derail the conversation though, not now that Taran had had a good idea.
“I could do that,” Kay whispered, willing to wish that no one in town was murdered. “I have to try, don’t you think?” she looked at Zoe.
“How?” Taran asked.
“My dad’s here,” Zoe whispered. “Maybe we can go somewhere else?”
“My daddy’s at home too,” Kay said. “I was going to stay there, but I don’t know how he’d feel about me being out in the garden. My momma…”
Kay didn’t have to say more.
“My house?” Taran asked. “You can head off to Johnson City afterwards. I think you’ll be safer there and maybe you can get answers.”
Zoe looked at Kay, who paused for a few moments, her eyebrows furrowed. Finally she asked, “Where are you living?”
Taran told her the address, a small house over on the east side of town, nothing to brag about, but the houses there were solid, the yards small, and the people had lived in Corbin Meadow forever.
“Get your stuff,” she said to Zoe.
“I’m going with Kay,” Zoe called to her dad. “Taran thinks it’s a good idea.”
Ed stood up from the recliner he’d been sitting in, walking over the main doorway, looking down the hallway at his daughter. Zoe turned to look back at him.
“Are you sure? Over the mountains in the dark? At least stay in Boone or something,” Ed said, ever practical.
“We’ll see how far we get,” Kay said.
“I don’t want someone following you,” Ed pressed.
“I’ll escort them out of town,” Taran added. Zoe didn’t hear the rest. She went into her room, which had been converted to a general guest room when she’d left, her dresser painted over in white and the walls painted a pale neutral yellow. The bed was a nice newer double with a generic yellow and white comforter on it. The posters were long gone, and there were photos of the family decorating the walls, as if to remind visitors whose house they were in, lest they forget while they slept.
She had already packed up, had in fact been packing when her father had come home and wanted to know what was going on. It was at his insistence that they stayed and had a little something to eat, that little something being a salad and sandwich, food that had tasted better than it should have because she was so hungry. The fact that Kay had gobbled it down almost as fast said that she had been just as hungry as Zoe.
They’d been talking—or arguing—about going over the mountains that night when Taran had arrived. They could make the meeting the next day, it wasn’t early, but if they left that night, they’d be out of town. Kay was itching to be gone. Zoe didn’t care as much but she wanted to honor Kay’s desires, given that the poor woman seemed to think she’d sacrificed her soul already.
Zoe pulled her small suitcase out of the room and walked down the hall. She grabbed her purse, which held her phone. She made sure she had a phone charger and looked around.
“Is that all you have?” Kay asked, raising her eyebrows.
“It’s a day or two, right?” Zoe looked back. She actually had underwear and clothing for longer, but they’d said just a day maybe two depending upon what they learned.
Kay looked dubious but she reached the front door. Taran opened it for her and followed the women out, waving at Ed.
Zoe stepped back and hugged her daddy as he came to the screen door, holding it open.
“Call me when you stop for the evening,” he said. “I’ll worry otherwise.”
“I’m a big girl now, Daddy,” Zoe said.
“I know, but all this happening feels like you’re a little one again. I just want to find a way to protect you.” Ed looked sad, as if deep down he knew this wasn’t something he could protect his daughter from.
He pulled himself up to his full height and nodded at Kay and Taran. Kay was already getting into her CRV and Zoe hurried over. Taran was waiting, watching while she put the suitcase into the back. When she was in the SUV, he started the police cruiser and headed off for his home.
Kay looked at Zoe. “Well, here goes nothing.”
“Here we go,” Zoe said. “I’m wondering. If you can wish to stop the murders, can you also wish that there’s an answer to the murders we can give other people, you know, like the sheriffs?”
Kay nodded. “I guess if this is losing my immortal soul, then I can probably make life as easy for everyone else as I can.”
Zoe put her hand on Kay’s arm but the other woman didn’t turn. She focused on her driving, which was slower this time, following Taran, who was cruising the streets slowly as if worried about them getting lost. He could have doubled his speed and they’d still have been able to follow through city traffic. In Corbin Meadow, with the roads carrying one or two cars, he could have drag raced. But that wasn’t Taran’s way.
Zoe wondered how things would work if he also stood with them while Kay asked her questions.
Chapter 44 will be coming next Friday. Don’t want to wait? Find the book here.