Read Carolyn Arnold - McKinley 02 - Vacation is Murder Online

Authors: Carolyn Arnold

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Homicide Detectives - Cancun

Carolyn Arnold - McKinley 02 - Vacation is Murder (13 page)

BOOK: Carolyn Arnold - McKinley 02 - Vacation is Murder
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Jungle Fever

 

SEAN WAS DOUBLED-OVER AND sitting at a picnic table. His stomach kept lurching, but he had to find the strength to get up and get moving again. Time was running out. They had to make the drop in less than twenty minutes and who knew how far the walk was to the back of the site.

With the water infusing his system, at least his head had stopped spinning, and the trace of shade received from a few trees also served to help.

He looked up at Sara, who stood watching over him. “I know what happened to the Mayans. They say that no one knows why they left their city, but I think they went delirious from the heat, wandered off into the jungle, and got eaten by jaguars.”

Sara laughed and the sound of it spurred a smile, but he was too weak to laugh. Sean struggled to his feet, his legs swaying unsteadily beneath him.

She helped him get his balance. “If you’d like, you can wear my hat for a bit.”

“Ha, ha. Very cute.”

“Well, you keep saying it doesn’t suit me.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Sean, I’ve been thinking. We’re not just going to let them take the money, are we?”

“Not sure how this is all going to play out yet, but we’re going to have to talk while we walk.”

She went to hold his hand, but when their flesh met, she pulled back. “It’s too blooming hot to touch each other.”

“Agree.”

“The air conditioning in the room is going to feel terrific tonight. And the pool.”

“Oh, please, darling, keep talking.”

She amused him. “The water’s going to feel so cool on our bodies.”

Images of Sara in her bikini entered his mind and, as his thoughts advanced, it had his core temperature heating up. He put his focus back on the drop.

“We’ll put the bag in the long grass, as directed, and then find a place to hang back and watch for him to pick it up. When he does, we’ll follow him while we wait for the call to get Earl and then plan our next step from there, but I have no intention of letting him net fifty thousand.”

“Especially after he almost tried to drown you.” Sara touched his arm and he felt the slickness of sweat where she’d made contact.

“Precisely.”

 

Sara kept glancing over at Sean. The heat was still a negative factor for him. He was pale, but his eyes were determined and focused. When he got that look, nothing could stop him.

They had each purchased a bottle of water, and Sara took a long draw on hers. It was warm, but at least it was wet and added some moisture back to her body.

She looked ahead, her mind on what awaited them. She also wished that Voigt would have already called with the background on Amelia Wolfe. She wondered what was taking him so long but figured it had something to do with the chief. Voigt would have to watch how he went about obtaining the information.

“It looks like we made it. This is the back of the clearing. The jungle’s right there.” Sean removed the cap from his bottle and drained it of water.

“Let’s do this quick then, darling, and get to a safe location to watch.”

She scanned over her shoulder, right then left, looking to see if she noticed anyone suspicious. Even though Bud didn’t need to hide his identity, she wouldn’t be surprised if he was somewhat disguised.

But no one was around them, not even any tourists.

Sean’s cell phone rang. “It’s got to be Voigt.” He checked the display before answering, nodding to confirm the caller’s identity.

Thank goodness. If they had more insight into Amelia, and Bud and how everything fit together, they would be better able to formulate a plan.

She glanced at her watch. They were ten minutes ahead of schedule, but she still didn’t feel comfortable standing there.

 

“I’m going to put you on speaker,” Sean said to Voigt.

“Hey, Sara, what’s this guy got you doing?”

“Hi, Jimmy. We’re just having a grand time here in paradise.”

“It doesn’t really sound like it, but then again, I’d be drinking tequila and floating in the resort’s pool, appreciating the view, if you catch my drift.”

“I hate to rush the reunion but we’ve got to move. What did you find out?” Sean interjected.

“A lot. Amelia Wolfe’s personal record is clean, but she married the wrong fella.”

“She’s married?” Sean asked, glancing to Sara.

“His name is Daren Wolfe.”

“That explains the
Dar
she wrote on the dog-ear of her novel,” Sara added.

“He’s there? It’s surprising he even got to Cancun. He has a rap sheet a mile long, but more importantly, an open arrest warrant.”

“What was the charge?” Sean asked.

“He’s a suspect in a murder case. He fled before the authorities could catch up to him, but that’s not all. The reason it took so long to get back to you is that I did some asking around. Word on the street is he owes a large sum to a local gang. There’s a threat on his life until he pays up.”

“Let me guess, the amount is fifty thousand.”

“Bingo. How did you know?”

“Let’s call it a hunch.” Sean spoke to Sara. “He found out about Amelia’s affair and thought he’d use her to milk the cash from Earl. When that didn’t work, he followed her down here.”

“She probably followed Earl to appeal to him again,” Sara said. “Or to warn him like we thought earlier.”

Voigt continued. “I pulled financials on Amelia. Her credit card shows she booked a trip and then a few days after, another was charged.”

“Daren used her money to get down here,” Sean said.

“Before you go, the man you’re trying to save, Earl Spencer?”

“Yes.” Sean didn’t remember mentioning him directly, but he must have.

“You’ll find this interesting. He shows as the father of record for Amelia Wolfe.”

“She’s his daughter, not his lover,” Sara stated the summation with another glance over her shoulder.

She had turned around at the same time Sean felt the pressure in his lower back and he instinctively looked behind.

“Not sure if that will mean anything,” Voigt added.

“No, let’s just say it’s all coming together. Gotta go.” Sean hung up on Voigt and went to turn around.

“Nice and slowly,” the man said, his hand in a jacket pocket, and there was an extruding bulge. “You were just supposed to drop the money and leave.”

“Come on, Earl, you know how cops work, even ex-cops.”

Earl jacked the pocket, gesturing for them to step into the jungle.

 

 

 

Taking A Chance On The Jaguars

 

SEAN REACHED FOR SARA’S HAND. He didn’t care how hot it was, they weren’t heading into the jungle without a hold on each other.

She divided glances between Earl behind them, the jungle ahead of them, and Sean. “Why are you doing this?” she asked.

“You know why. I needed the money.”

“You were stealing the money for Amelia? Why would you care?”

“She is the only child I have. She warned me about Daren being here last night. She knew I didn’t have the money but told me Daren would never believe it. The guy’s a real creep and the money would get him out of her life. He promised her that. I may have misled you, but really, if you think back on things I never actually said Amelia was the mistress. You assumed.”

Sean thought back on their conversation that night. Earl was right. He had neither confirmed nor denied that Amelia was the mistress. And in Earl’s letter to Catherine, he mentioned his mistake had followed him. In this case, it was his illegitimate offspring.

Sean guided things back on track. “Then you met us.”

“Then I met you. I knew you had the money. You could set everything right. Amelia would get Daren off her tail and Catherine would get insurance money.” Sweat dripped down Earl’s forehead and he squinted for a second, running a hand over his brow. “Damn. Blasted hot out here.”

“It is a jungle,” Sean said.

“Let’s get out of here. Please. You don’t want to get attacked by a jaguar, or bitten by a poisonous snake, do you?” Sara pleaded.

“So, you coordinated all of this to get the money?” Sean asked.

“When I saw Amelia at the resort, I was surprised, to say the least, but she came all the way down here to warn me.” Earl wiped his eyes, no doubt to rid them of the stinging sweat that trickled into them, but he kept walking, backing them deeper into the jungle.

Sean scanned the area, watching each footfall to make sure it didn’t land somewhere unsafe. The last thing he or Sara needed was to incur the wrath of a poisonous snake.

“What about Catherine?” Sara asked.

“She’s a strong woman.”

“So you were just going to disappear?”

“It would be a new start for me, a clean slate. Catherine would end up with the life insurance money. She would’ve been taken care of. She’d have more than she does now.”

“Except for the one problem of her loving you.”

Sean tugged softly on Sara’s arm, and she heeded his advice. They both stopped walking.

“Why aren’t we still moving?” Earl asked.

“We’re not going any farther.”

“I’m the one with the gun.”

“You don’t have a gun.” Sean stared blankly at him, calling his bluff—at least hoping it was.

“I do.” He thrust out at the base of his jacket pocket again.

“I don’t think you’re armed, Earl. I believe it was your fist in my lower back, not the end of a gun. Besides, there is no way you’d be getting past the gates with a weapon.”

Sean sensed Sara’s eyes on his profile. He retained his attention on Earl. He’d sought some isolation in the jungle just in case Earl didn’t go down easily.

“That’s where you’re wrong.” Earl pulled out a five-inch blade.

Sara gasped and moved in tighter to Sean’s side.

“Sara, why don’t you come over here with me?” Earl gestured for her to go to him. “See, plans change. Don’t be shy.”

Sara gave Sean a look as her hand filtered out of his.

When she was within a few feet of Earl, he wrapped his arm around her neck, the knife held inches away from her throat.

“See, now I know who you guys really are, and there’s a lot more than fifty thousand, I realized I was thinking small. After all, the women were taken care of, but what about poor Earl? If you want your wife to live, Mr. McKinley, you’ll wire one million dollars to the account I will give you.”

Sara bucked against Earl’s hold. “You’re never going to get away with this.”

“Aw, but see, I already have.” He put his attention back to Sean. “I will forward the information to your phone. Now you’re going to watch us walk away, and if you follow us, I will kill her.”

“You’re going to kill her in a sacred ruin site? You are insane,” Sean said.

“Am I? I guess we’ll find out, but don’t test me, Sean. After all, we barely know each other.”

Earl took a few steps back, dragging Sara with him. “You wait here for two minutes before leaving.” Earl rubbed his forehead against his upper arm.

Sean caught a glimpse of movement in the long grass.

“Here, Earl, you wanted fifty thousand. Take it. Let her go.” He tossed the money bag.

Earl lost his grip on Sara as he struggled to fetch it.

She went to run to Sean, but Daren caught her arm.

“Now, now, what a little party we have going.”
BOOK: Carolyn Arnold - McKinley 02 - Vacation is Murder
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