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Authors: Joyce Lavene

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BOOK: A Spirited Gift
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He nodded. “I see. So you have the impression that this young man—her
—might be responsible for what happened to her.”
“I don't know. Maybe. He felt angry enough, and her fear was strong enough. But I can't explain why she was outside.”
“Of course not, ma'am. And I'm not asking you to. Just your impressions. The rest we'll have to leave to the medical examiner. I have a rush on Mayor Foxx's autopsy results. Until we know something—in the next forty-eight hours, I hope—I'm holding Mr. Wright in custody. I don't want him wandering away in case the death turns out not to be accidental.”
“I see.”
“What about Mayor Foxx's husband? Do you know anything about him?”
“Not really. I picked up a few things from talking to Sandi the last couple years. There were a few times we bumped into each other. Otherwise, I don't know him. Why? Do you think he was involved?”
“I don't know yet.” He put on some latex gloves and sealed the ring, the key and key chain into an evidence bag. “I suppose you weren't able to see where the gun in your vision ended up?”
“No. I'm afraid not. But I don't see how Shawn could be involved in Sandi's death. What about the storm? He was all the way in Manteo.”
“Let's just say it wouldn't be the most extreme thing I've heard of a man doing who suspected his wife was having an affair.” Chief Michaels put on his uniform hat. “Thank you for your help, Mayor. By the way, I saw your grandfather a few hours back. He said your house made it through without much damage. Just thought you might want to know.”
“Thanks for telling me, Chief. I'm sorry about all of this—you had enough to handle with the storm and all.”
“Not your fault. You can't help what people do. Ask your grandpa. He'll tell you the same.”
I nodded, knowing it was true but still feeling I could've done something that would've kept Sandi from dying. I was relieved that the investigation was now in his hands. Holding Matthew against his will and being responsible for what could be evidence of Sandi's murder had been a burden. Now I could just cope with the leftovers of the storm.
Tim was getting a list of everyone who had been at the Blue Whale the night before from Marissa. They were acting a little flirty together—which was good, since otherwise Tim tended to think of me as his true love.
We'd shared our first kiss when we were in high school, and many people thought we'd end up together. But I never had those kinds of feelings for him as an adult. He only
he felt that way about me—when he wasn't seeing someone else. I seemed to be his port in the storm when he was single.
“Nothing too ragged, I hope.” Kevin put his arm around me, taking my thoughts away from my first boyfriend.
“Not at all. It was a relief to hand it all over to the chief. I don't think I'd be very good at law enforcement. Too much responsibility.”
“What about being mayor?” He smiled. “I've seen you worry enough about trash thrown out of a car on Duck Road to go out at midnight and pick it up.”
“That's different,” I told him. “Being in the FBI must have been a lot worse. You had to think about the whole country. No wonder you retired early.”
He laughed. “There's no doubt it takes a toll on you. Now that everything is cleared up here, you want to walk down and see how Missing Pieces is doing?”
I cringed thinking about it. My little thrift shop was right on the Currituck Sound—on a boardwalk, no less. I'd done repairs to it and claimed damages dozens of times on my treasures that were stored there. This storm had been bad enough that I knew what to expect.
“Aren't there potatoes to peel or something? I'd rather do almost anything else.”
“Come on. You've patched everyone else's roofs and windows, let's go take care of yours before it gets dark. Chief Michaels tells me there's a curfew in force until the power comes back on for the streetlights.”
“What about dinner?” I procrastinated. “Shouldn't we cook something?”
“There's plenty of time for that later. I'll get some tools.”
While I waited for Kevin to return with tools, Shawn Foxx was getting ready to leave with his little girls. Talking to them was probably even further down on the list of things I wanted to do today. I couldn't stand the idea of facing those two pairs of blue eyes wet with tears for their mother.
“Thanks for everything, Dae.” Shawn shook my hand. “I know Sandi considered you a friend. We're heading back home to get things straightened up there.”
His two little girls smiled at me, and I could tell their father hadn't told them the result of their trip here. They didn't know yet. Maybe he couldn't bear to tell them either. I hoped he had someone who could be there for them.
“I'm so sorry about everything. I wish it could be different.”
He shrugged. “Life isn't always what we expect. We have to make the best of it.” He smiled at his daughters. “Thank the nice lady for your snacks and for her help.”
Both girls had a sweet lisp as they thanked me. They followed their father out of the front door. It was all I could do not to break down into a sobbing heap on the floor. I didn't blame him for not telling them about Sandi yet. A quiet place at home was a better spot for that explanation. I didn't envy him the task.
I confided my feelings to Kevin as we went down toward Duck Road, walking around and under everything that had been deposited there during the night.
“I wish I'd realized what was happening before it was too late.”
“That's a high level of responsibility even for you, Mayor. Sandi made her choices, which may or may not have played a part in her death. You didn't have anything to do with it.”
“I hope not.” I saw my neighbor's distinctive garden trellis in one of the trees as we walked by. I made a note to tell her in case she was wondering where it went.
Of course, it would've taken a huge spreadsheet to keep track of everything that had blown away during the storm. Just on the corner where we turned, there were two picnic table umbrellas hanging from trees. Beside them were green velvet drapes and a matching chair. We walked around a bed frame, complete with mattress. And there was a toilet. Cars were on their sides, pushed into places they didn't belong. It would take months to get everything back to normal.
But at least most of the road on one side was clear for emergency vehicles and for people whose cars weren't upside down in their living rooms. I hoped those people were helping others who needed it. I promised myself I would be one of them tomorrow after getting my house and shop in order today.
“This is a mess,” Kevin said. “But farther down toward Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills, they got hit a lot worse. Duck is in good condition compared to that.”
I was pleasantly surprised to find the Duck Shoppes on the Boardwalk were almost untouched. A few signs had been blown away or fallen down, but my shop was exactly as I'd left it the day before.
There was no water in Missing Pieces when I opened the door—even the window that fronted the sound was in one piece. I looked around at my treasures that I'd collected over the past few years and sighed. Everything was safe. I wished I could just sit on my burgundy brocade sofa and drink a cup of tea. It would be wonderful to feel as though everything was back to normal.
But Kevin was at the door, remarking that Wild Stallions, the bar and grill at the other end of the boardwalk, wasn't so lucky. Their sign had ended up in their front door. “I'm going to walk down there and give them a hand,” he said. “You can stay here and take a break for a while. You've been going all night.”
I knew he meant well, but he'd been going all night too—like most of the people around us. I didn't want to take a break yet. I did, but I wasn't going to. Cody and Reece Baucum, the brothers who owned Wild Stallions, were my friends too. They needed help to get the large sign out of the doorway so they could secure the space in case it started raining again. Once it got dark, nothing would get done until tomorrow.
It took about an hour for us to get the sign out on the boardwalk and close up the doorway. Kevin hadn't needed his tools at Missing Pieces, but they came in handy here.
We also helped August Grandin at the Duck General Store as he tried to get a large flowerpot back up again. All of the big flowerpots on the boardwalk had been tossed on their sides, dirt and flowers spilling everywhere. I scooped up the flowers and pushed them back in the soil after August and Kevin had set the pots right again.
By that time, my good friend Trudy Devereaux, who owned the Curves and Curls Beauty Spa next door to Missing Pieces, was out examining her shop. We hugged and talked for a while about the storm. She already knew about Sandi's death. Even without phones and power, the Duck grapevine worked overtime.
“It must've been terrible,” Trudy said as Kevin worked to get her water-warped door open. It had swelled too large for the frame. “You knew Sandi Foxx from before, right? I thought I remembered you talking about her.”
I nodded, not wanting to give too much away before the medical examiner and Chief Michaels had a chance to do their jobs. “I had to talk to her husband about it. I'm just glad I didn't have to explain to her little girls.”
“She had
?” There were tears in Trudy's eyes. She'd always had a soft heart—saving beetles and spiders from children at school who wanted to squish them. “That's even worse. I'm sorry you had to be involved, Dae.”
Kevin gave her door a solid push, and it finally popped open. The shop seemed fine. We all walked through it to be sure.
Trudy thanked Kevin for his help as she checked her always-perfect platinum blond hair and makeup, and then asked, “So what are they going to do with her? She's not still at the Blue Whale, is she?”
“No,” Kevin answered. “The medical examiner has her body.”
Her blue eyes widened. “You mean they think someone
her? It wasn't the storm?”
Kevin was used to talking with a different crowd when it came to things like this. All of Duck would be talking about Sandi's murder by tomorrow morning.
“It's not like that.” I tried to contain the damage. “She died outside during the storm, but all suspicious deaths go to the medical examiner. They have to check these things out.”
“What in the world was she doing outside during the storm?” Shayla asked as she joined us, no doubt on her way to her own shop—Mrs. Roberts, Spiritual Advisor—on the other side of Missing Pieces. “That was a bad storm for someone to be standing in.”
“Dae found her body,” Trudy answered. “It was terrible.”
Shayla stepped back and looked at me from head to toe. “That must be why your aura looks all smudgy. You need some rest—and stay away from dead bodies.”
“If you two wouldn't mind”—I grabbed Shayla's arm—“I have to talk to her about something.”
Trudy sniffed and waved us away. “I've only been your best friend since kindergarten, Dae O'Donnell. If you have something you can't talk about in front of me, that's fine. Kevin and I will go for a stroll down the boardwalk. It's not a problem.”
Kevin didn't look as convinced of that notion. “I want to hear more about the spirit balls.”
“There were
spirit balls
, and you weren't going to tell me about them?” Trudy was outraged. “What's a spirit ball?”
“Never mind,” I said. “Let's all sit down in Missing Pieces and I'll explain what's been happening.”
“Good.” Shayla started out the door. “Then we can go down to my place and make sure it isn't leaking. I see Kevin is prepared to work, so let's get this over with.”
Back at Missing Pieces, I put on some tea and everyone sat down on the burgundy brocade sofa, my favorite piece of furniture even though it was too big for the shop. I constantly had to work around it to find room for my treasures.
I took a chair on the side, trying not to envy the three of them sitting in my favorite place, and explained about the séance to Trudy while the water boiled.
“That's amazing!” Trudy said. “Do you really think your mom was trying to talk to you?”
“I don't,” I admitted. “Other things happened after I got to the Blue Whale.” I filled them all in on the point of light that had come at me and the other odd phenomena that had occurred. “I don't know who's following me, but I don't think it's my mother.”
We all had a cup of Earl Grey tea and contemplated my recent otherworldly experiences.
“Maybe it was the storm,” Trudy said. “Maybe all those extra storm ions they're always talking about created some kind of spectral field during the séance.”
Shayla shook her head. “That sounds good, but I knew last night something was up. I could feel it before and again during the storm. Spirit balls aren't a normal presence, even during a séance. It takes a powerful spirit to put all its energy into producing a visible, moving light. I think we might've called up another spirit—maybe one related to you, Dae.”
“You could've mentioned that last night,” I suggested.
“You were in such a hurry to get to the conference,” Shayla fired back. “And now look what's happened—that poor woman is dead.”
“I don't think Mayor Foxx's death was related to spirit balls following Dae from the séance,” Kevin said.
“But you don't know for sure, do you?” Shayla asked. “You may be an expert on police things, Mr. Ex-FBI Man, but leave the spiritual things to me. That's
expertise. I'm fourth generation at this.
I might be related to Marie Laveau.”
BOOK: A Spirited Gift
5.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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