Zoe watched Taran leave the yard. She stayed with Kay as the other woman sobbed, again. What had it cost her to say it was okay to let another man die?
The smell of vanilla made Zoe’s nose itch and she brought up her hand to cover her face, but that caused a sharp stinging pain. She dropped it, turned her head and sneezed. Kay sobbed on.
In the dark, with only the sounds of her friend crying, Zoe felt very alone. She’d left her phone in the car and Kay had the keys. Taran stood at the edge of the yard. She couldn’t call anyone. Even if she wanted to leave, it wasn’t like Taran could take her home to her father given that Kay’s SUV was parked behind the police cruiser in the driveway.
Slowly the crying slowed and finally stopped again. “If I wasn’t damned before, I am now,” Kay said quietly.
“You asked for a painless death,” Zoe said. “It might be that that’s the best he can hope for.” She knew the statistics on liver cancer and it frightened her for the former chief of police.
“But I still asked for his death,” Kay said. “And this is my fault, isn’t it? If I hadn’t run, then maybe no one would have died. I brought this on. That’s on my soul. And now I’m condemning the name of a good man and that of his family because I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing.”
Zoe didn’t know how to argue with that. “We didn’t ask for an airtight case. We asked for a story. After Frank’s death…” She choked a little on the words. How was she acting so normal? “After that…” Zoe couldn’t go on.
“The case will be dropped,” Taran said, returning to the backyard.
“But his name will be tarnished,” Kay said.
“I would have stopped you if I thought he wouldn’t understand,” Taran said. He stood at the edge of the patio, not getting too close to the women, perhaps ashamed that he’d walked away from his ex-wife as she cried about the loss of her soul or perhaps the loss of her innocence.
“What do you mean?” Kay was short with him, her voice sharp.
“Frank purposely didn’t call in the sheriffs last time because he believed those murders weren’t ordinary. He didn’t want to have to explain. He’d have understood the need for Blake to have a name to hang on the case, even if it can’t quite be proven.”
“Emrys seemed too happy about the wish,” Kay sniffed. “He’ll find a way to make Frank suffer, maybe have almost enough proof, but it will come just before Frank dies or something. The creature is evil.”
“I think the proof will go just far enough to make it look possible. It had to be a story, not the truth,” Taran said.
Kay sighed, leaning back in the chair. She put a hand to the side of her head like she had a headache.
“I hate to ask, but I really want to go see my father,” Taran said. “And your CRV is blocking my way out.”
Kay made a face. Zoe’s heart tightened for both of them, but she followed Kay to the car.
“Are you going to be okay to drive?” Zoe asked. “Maybe we should stay in town for tonight?”
“No,” Kay said. “I don’t want to be here when Frank is accused. I don’t want to think of it. And I do want to know what those creatures are and how I can destroy them.”
“Then let me drive for a while,” Zoe said.
Kay looked at her for a long moment and then nodded. They got out of the car and changed places. Taran was already in his cruiser, the brake lights splashing red across the drive like the metaphorical blood they had already spilled by consigning Frank’s life to the hands of the creature, Emrys.
In the car, Zoe set the mirrors, found the things she needed, and she backed out of the driveway, heading off to Johnson City, though she was fairly certain she’d only be comfortable getting as far as Boone. Hopefully they could stay at the hotel there.
“Maybe we should call and make a reservation in Boone?” Zoe suggested.
Kay nodded and pulled out her phone.
The last Zoe saw of Taran was the shining lights of the police cruiser as it headed the opposite way, towards the house he had grown up in.
Chapter 46 will be coming next Friday. Don’t want to wait? Find the book here.