Disclaimer: See Part 1
It was a soft and warm place Sigrid was in. She was so comfortable she felt like she was floating. It was a great state to be in and she wrinkled her nose when slowly but surely sounds started to penetrate the perfect haze. It still took a few minutes for her sleepy brain to start processing what she heard and when it did, she became aware of the sound of lazily crashing waves, a seagull's call and the distant bark of a dog. Slowly opening her eyes, she noticed the thin rays of light peeking through an opening in the curtains and for a moment she was confused about where she was. When she lifted her head and her eyes fell on the other bed in the room that was empty, but clearly had been slept on, all came back to her again. She was at the Clemente's house in Maine and had arrived, when? Sigrid cast a look at the alarm clock next to the bed and her eyes grew wide. It was eight-thirty in the morning, which meant she had slept more than fourteen hours.
When Sigrid's eyes traveled back to the nightstand again she saw a note and she quickly rolled onto her side to grab it.
I hope you slept well, you sure needed it. So did I! Whenever you're awake enough to find and read this note you might be awake enough to appreciate the thought of some fresh coffee. Come downstairs whenever you're ready and please, make yourself at home.
“Oh, coffee,” Sigrid smiled, silently complimenting the Inspector on the right incentive to get her out of bed. She yawned, stretching her body and feeling the pull of her muscles all the way down to her calves. “But, first a shower.”
She threw off the covers and slid out of bed, still yawning. Her body was stiff from sleeping such a long time, but Sigrid knew a warm shower would take care of that. She disappeared in the bathroom and hopped in the shower, thoroughly enjoying the warm water on her skin. It helped her wake up more also and when she turned off the water and grabbed a towel, she was awake enough to realize her stomach was growling. No wonder, since her last meal had been a very long time ago. After she slipped into a pair of navy sweatpants and a light-blue sweater and made her bed she headed downstairs to where she thought the kitchen was. Her arrival the previous day was only a vague memory, because she had been so exhausted. As Sigrid walked down the stairs, a door opened downstairs and Eva appeared.
“Good morning,” the Inspector smiled. “Did you have a good sleep?”
“Absolutely,” Sigrid nodded with a smile of her own. “I can't remember ever sleeping that long.” She arrived at the bottom of the stairs and cast a look at Eva, who was dressed in a pair of faded jeans and a white v-neck sweater. She looked very relaxed and well-rested and full of self-confidence.
“Good morning,” Sigrid smiled. “Your note said something about coffee?”
Eva laughed and opened the door behind her, gesturing Sigrid to step inside.
“I just made a fresh pot. Unfortunately, my nephew broke the French press, so I hope regular coffee will do.”
“Does it have caffeine in it?”
“That's the only coffee I know,” Eva chuckled, while grabbing two mugs and pouring the steaming coffee into them. She added a dash of milk to both and handed Sigrid a mug, which the blonde took with a grateful smile.
“This is good,” she sighed, after taking a first, careful sip.
“Sit down,” Eva gestured, pulling up a chair at the large table.
“This kitchen is huge,” Sigrid admired, looking at the oversized stove and long countertop. “But then, your family is quite large.”
“And this is where we always end up hanging out, in the kitchen with mom.”
Sigrid smiled and took another sip of her coffee while her eyes took in the cabinets that were painted a fresh, crisp white. A lot of the accessories were blue, although there were a lot of different colors decorating the large space. It gave her a very homey feeling and she understood why Eva and her siblings would want to hang out in the kitchen. The large window allowed an unobstructed view of the bay and, even in winter, the sight was breathtaking. Sigrid knew that, if she would have been a resident of the house, she would have lived in the kitchen also.
Tearing her eyes away from the winter blue sky and gently rolling waves, Sigrid turned to Eva and shot her an apologetic look.
“I feel bad I didn't really introduce myself to your mother yesterday. That doesn't say a lot about my manners, does it?”
“You were exhausted,” Eva calmly replied. “And my mother understands that, don't worry.”
“Is she here?” Sigrid wanted to know, eager to make up for the lack of polite introduction.
“She's at the clinic, but will be in for lunch, or earlier, if there are no more patients.”
“Clinic?” Sigrid frowned.
“I'll give you a tour after you finish your coffee and have something to eat. The clinic is in the front of the house.”
“It is?” Sigrid looked puzzled and Eva grinned.
“My mother is a veterinarian,” she explained. “She's always been a ‘work at home mom', as she puts it.”
“Wow, five children and a veterinarian, busy life.”
“She always says the animals kept her sane,” Eva smiled.
“Now I understand you being so comfortable with me bringing Minnie,” Sigrid understood. “You said there were pets around.”
“Always,” Eva nodded. “Listen, Sigrid, I heard back from Chuck about some of your friends.”
“And?” Sigrid asked, clenching the mug in her hands with such force the knuckles of her hands were going white.
“The death of Devon Brown was due to congenital heart disease and there is no reason to suspect foul play. Melinda Jacobs' death was due to an unfortunate accident, brought on by an intoxicated driver in dark, rainy conditions. The driver was an elderly man and there were no ties between him and anything that resembles an organized crime.”
There was a brief silence in which Sigrid processed the words she just heard and Eva allowed her the time to do so.
“Deep down in my heart I'm glad that's the case,” Sigrid finally said. “Although it does deepen the mystery about my name being part of that list. Did you find out anything about Alistair and Connor?”
“Not yet,” Eva answered softly. “But hopefully that won't take long. As soon as we know where we stand with that, we can start going down our list of theories.”
“What is your main theory? Are you allowed to share that with me?”
“Somebody is trying to incriminate you,” Eva replied calmly, taking a sip from her coffee. Her green eyes studied the woman across from her, something Sigrid was well aware of. “The question is why.”
“I believe it's become a little more than incrimination,” Sigrid muttered. “I feel like my life is being threatened.”
With a pensive expression, Eva continued to study Sigrid's face.
“But why?” she repeated.
Sigrid quietly sipped her coffee. She could tell that the wheels inside Eva Clemente's brain were spinning and deep down inside she wished she could give the Inspector a clear answer.
“You must know I do believe you have nothing to do with the murder of Michael Bell,” Eva finally said, her eyes registering the widening of Sigrid's eyes.
“But…?” the blonde asked.
“But my gut feeling keeps sending me these tiny signals that make me wonder what I've missed. I have missed something, Sigrid, and I wish I knew what it was.”
The pastor put down her coffee cup and took a deep breath, before raising her eyes and meeting the Inspector's gaze.
“Do you trust me?” she asked softly and Eva could hear the weariness in her voice. Sigrid sounded tired and all of a sudden the tiny lines around her eyes showed she wasn't in her early or late twenties anymore.
“You wouldn't be here if I didn't,” Eva answered in a soft, controlled voice.
“I'm sorry you have been dragged into this mess and now your family is…,” Sigrid stared, but a warm hand on her arm efficiently stopped her.
“I am an Inspector with New Hampshire's Major Crime Unit and being in this mess is part of my job. The fact that we're here, in my parents' house is because I decided you would be safe from whatever, or whoever, is chasing you.” Eva's hand lingered for a moment, before she slowly let go of Sigrid's arm. “As for me, it will give me the opportunity to do some research and track some paper trails while my stupid foot heals.”
Sigrid nodded and slowly exhaled, although Eva did notice her fingers were still clenched around the mug. The pastor was tense and her body-language gave that away.
“Were you able to…do some research this morning?” Sigrid asked. “If there's anything I can do to help, I'd be happy to do so. I brought my laptop with me as well.”
“I know,” Eva smiled. “And I'm sure you'll be a great help.”
Sigrid nodded and cast down her eyes, unable to meet Eva's. There was too much compassion and understanding radiating from the police woman and she was afraid that the tension that was coiled tightly deep within her body would reduce her to a puddle of tears. And crying in front of Eva Clemente was the last thing Sigrid Meyers wanted to do.
“To answer your question, yes I did do some research this morning and I've exchanged quite a few emails with Chuck already,” Eva said, all businesslike again. “We've run background checks on the male members of your church, but nothing of interest has popped up.” Eva paused and she sent Sigrid a quizzical look. To the blonde, it was as if the Inspector waited for a response.
“That's good,” Sigrid finally replied, somewhat puzzled. “I'm glad no member of the church is involved in anything criminal.”
“I bet you already knew that though,” Eva smiled.
A pair of blue eyes widened and looked at the Inspector with a mixture of confusion and trepidation. Sigrid waited for Eva to elaborate on her statement, but the Inspector was leaning back in her chair, sipping her coffee, while calmly studying the pastor who was clearly trying to regain her composure.
“You said you trusted me,” Sigrid finally spoke, her voice barely audible.
“I do,” Eva answered, leaning forward without taking her eyes off the other woman. “But you know as well as I do there is more to the story and I'm curious to hear it. From you,” Eva added a little more forceful.
“What information do you want me to share with you?” Sigrid sighed, raking her fingers through her still damp hair.
“Whatever will help with this case,” Eva replied. “To make you feel better, my boss has talked to the powers that be and after what I've been told, I'm sure there's an email waiting for you,” the Inspector continued. “I'm sure the cooperation between my unit and yours will be very helpful.”
While talking Eva had turned her laptop so the screen was facing Sigrid and to her surprise she was confronted with a very familiar log-in screen. She took a deep breath, ready to say something, but then changed her mind. She exhaled slowly and, after a few moments of quiet deliberation, she quickly entered a name and password. Her eyes flew over the screen and Eva saw her bite her lip while she slowly nodded. When the blue eyes looked up from the screen there was a level of awareness in them that Eva had not witnessed yet. She suppressed a contented smile and leaned back into her chair again, waiting for Sigrid to talk.
“When did you find out?” Sigrid finally asked with a sigh of resignation.
“The night of the murder.”
“Really?” Sigrid asked, clearly surprised. “How?”
“I got lucky when searching some databases I have access to. The fact that your resume list a Bachelor's in Religious Studies made you pop up all over my screen.”
“Oh,” Sigrid replied softly.
“It also helps to have connections,” Eva nodded, not longer able to hide her smile.
“Sure, rub it in,” Sigrid muttered. “Who did you talk to?”
“Lauren Darkwolf from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
“How do you know Lauren?” Sigrid wanted to know, rubbing her forehead, feeling the signs of an approaching headache.
“I've met Lauren and her partner during a training. We stayed in contact.”
“What else did your database tell you?”
“Degrees in Psychology, Criminal Justice and Law. You must have been a heck of a student, Sigrid,” Eva added, not able to hide the admiration in her voice. “You are from Florida and you have worked with and for law enforcement on numerous occasions.” Eva paused to take a sip of coffee. “What I don't know is why you ended up in New Hampshire.”
With slow movements, Sigrid turned the laptop back around so it was facing Eva. She wrapped both her hands around the mug and breathed in the calming aroma of coffee. After a long silence she let out a deep breath and looked up; her blue eyes were clear and calm.
“I need you to know that I am an ordained minister and have really enjoyed the years I've been working as a pastor.”
“I believe you,” Eva nodded with a small smile.
“I'd never do anything to hurt the people of my church and I dread the day I'll have to tell them their pastor is also working closely together with the FBI.” Sigrid shook her head and nervously rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Interesting mix of careers, huh?” She let out a soft, humorless laugh. “No matter how I look at it, I can't help feeling I've been deceiving some very good, decent people.”
“With good reason, I assume,” Eva objected quietly.
“My first degree was in Religious Studies. I did some pastoral work in a women's prison and became interested in psychology and criminal justice, so I decided to get a degree in those two fields as well. I caught the eye of one of the professors and he asked me if I was interested in helping him doing some profiling. At that time I didn't know he was helping the FBI with a case, so…”
“You caught their eye also,” Eva concluded.
“I did,” Sigrid nodded, putting her now empty mug in front of her on the table.
“And before you knew it you were on your way to Quantico.”
“Not exactly,” Sigrid smiled at Eva's attempt to lighten the mood. “I had to do a lot of thinking before I made that decision. I was very interested in the investigational, psychological and human side of the work, but I hated the idea of having to learn how to use a weapon. I did not want to ‘work in the field' as they call it and carry a weapon.” Sigrid paused and let out a shaky breath. “Before I accepted this assignment, I did receive some training, just in case.”
“What do you use?” Eva couldn't help asking.
“A Beretta 950,” Sigrid sighed, reaching behind her and pulling the semi-automatic handgun out of the waistband of her jeans, making Eva almost snort out her coffee in surprise.
“What?” Sigrid frowned.
“Nothing,” Eva coughed, trying not to laugh. “It's just that, all of a sudden you go from a sweet, peaceful pastor to gun-toting FBI Agent. It's a bit of an adjustment.”
“I guess I'll take that as a compliment,” Sigrid replied with a smile and Eva nodded. “But, just to be clear, I am not an FBI agent. Because of my position as a pastor and my previous experience doing some work for the FBI, I was asked to participate in this particular investigation.”
“Anyway, a few years ago I worked closely together with the NYPD on a case that involved human trafficking,” Sigrid continued. “Women and young girls are smuggled into the country and used in prostitution. They were moved between some major cities and a lot of them ended up in New York. We were able to close some major trafficking routes, but sometimes it feels like mopping the floor while the water's still running. One of the routes comes in from Canada, goes through New Hampshire to Boston and from there to New York and Philadelphia. It's very well organized and some leads that we are following point to some powerful people in D.C.” Sigrid paused and her blue eyes were troubled. “Because of my previous experience with the FBI, my old professor suggested the Boston bureau put me on this case. I could do my job as a pastor and use my ears and eyes to gather information.”
“Have you?” Eva asked curiously. “Is that why they're after you?”
“It has taken me three years, but I finally gathered enough information to start putting things together and we're building a real case now,” Sigrid nodded. “Being a pastor in a small town in a rural area is a good cover, but it also requires being very careful, because I'm so visible. I actually found a lot of interesting tidbits while working as an EMT. But I'm still surprised that would be the reason to try and get me out of the way.”
“Did you know Michael Allen Bell?”
Sigrid shook her head and bit her bottom lip.
“I honestly don't, but when I just read the email from the Boston bureau's Director I was told he was an FBI informant.”
“Yeah, that's what Chuck emailed me this morning,” Eva sighed. “It makes me glad we took you away from New Hampshire right now. His body in your church was clearly a warning, don't you think?”
“It seems that way,” Sigrid agreed. She took a deep breath and raised her eyes to met Eva's. “What do you know about human trafficking, Inspector?”
“I'm not intimately familiar with the statistics,” Eva answered slowly, carefully choosing her words. “It creates a lot of heartache and suffering and is big business.”
“About thirty billion American dollars a year, yes,” Sigrid nodded. “Worldwide, more than two million people are the victims of trafficking each year. Half of those victims are children. Almost half of the total number of victims is sexually exploited, most of them are females. Children,” Sigrid said in a soft voice. “Every year, between twelve and fifteen thousand people are smuggled into this country. One way in is across the Canadian border into New England.””
“Modern day slavery,” Eva replied with a sigh, slowly shaking her head.
Sigrid stood up from her chair and walked to the window, staring out over the bay. Even though she trusted Eva it was hard to summarize all the work she had done during the past three years in just a few minutes.
“They smuggle them in trains, cars, buses,” Sigrid explained, while her eyes followed a seagull that was diving into the waves. She knew the water was ice cold and the sight of the bird fearlessly plunging in the icy bay made her shiver. “They lure them to the United States and Canada with promises of work, a better life and student visas. Sometimes they're kidnapped. Once they're here they lose their passports and money, if they even have that and are forced to work as prostitutes or farm labor. One night, last year, I was pulling a shift as an EMT when a speeding van went off the road. Inside we found four girls and two boys who could not have been older than nineteen. The driver had fled the scene.” Sigrid took a deep breath and turned around to Eva. The Inspector immediately noticed the sad look in her eyes.
“They didn't make it,” she concluded softly.
“Only one did,” Sigrid sighed. “A thirteen year old boy from Romania, who was sold by his mother to traffickers for one hundred Euros. His mother was an alcoholic and prostitute,” Sigrid explained.
“What happened to him?”
“Once authorities figured out who he was and that his own mother had sold him, they put him in foster care. He had already spent almost a year in Canada. They were moving him and the other ones in the van to another city, probably Boston or New York.”
“What exactly is your role in the investigation? I'm sure it's more than just gathering informational tidbits.”
Sigrid nodded and walked back toward the table, aware of Eva's eyes following her every move.
“We have reason to believe there is some political involvement,” Sigrid started, carefully choosing her words, relaxing a little when she noticed Eva was patiently waiting for her to explain. The raised eyebrows and look of patient expectation were indications that Eva Clemente expected more information than she had just been given.
“I guess you want more details?” Sigrid asked, more to gain a few more moments to gather her thoughts than to receive an actual answer.
“The bureau in Washington D.C has received tips about the involvement of a senator in human trafficking. I've been told the source is reliable and no, before you ask, I don't know who it is. The involvement consists of a money trail to the illegal sex business. Believe it or not, but accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands are involved as well. One of the money trails, though, leads to a local New Hampshire bank.”
“Is the senator from New Hampshire?”
“We're not sure. We believe he or she is from New England. If we add the body of Michael Allen Bell to the few clues we have, it's not farfetched to believe that.”
“Don't forget the warning you were given.”
“I don't,” Sigrid shook her head. “Trust me, it's been solidly on my mind for the last forty-eight hours.”
“So, you have a money trail, a reliable tip, the body of Michael Bell, who was an FBI informant, the threats to your life and a trafficking route from Canada to Boston and New York,” Eva summed up the information she had been given. “No concrete evidence or witnesses?”
“Not yet,” Sigrid sighed. “But what puzzles me is the threat to my life. I am a pastor in a tiny New Hampshire town and the only times I've encountered victims of trafficking was when I was working as an EMT. It doesn't make sense to threaten me because of that.”
“Then there must be something else,” Eva concluded, looking at the blonde whose eyes were unfocused while she stared off into the distance.
“Maybe we can come up with something if we figure out who knows where your family lives,” Eva suggested.
“I was just thinking about that,” Sigrid responded with a small smile. She walked back to the table and reclaimed her seat across from Eva. “That train of thought provides me with possibilities I'd rather not think about.”
“Because it means there could be a leak,” Eva spoke softly.
“Or someone pretty high up has access to my files,” Sigrid nodded. “If that's the case, the question remains: how would that someone know I'm more than just a pastor?”
“Because someone pointed them in that direction,” Eva answered.
Her words made Sigrid flinch and she reached out to cover Sigrid's hand with her own, giving it an encouraging pat before she withdrew again.
“Just for argument's sake, let's assume there is a leak in the Boston office. Do you have any idea who could be the one?”
Sigrid shook her head, while biting her bottom lip, a sign Eva had come to recognize as stress.
“How many people know you're on an...undercover assignment?” Eva tried.
“As far as I know the Director and two other people I send reports to, they're both Agents assigned to human trafficking cases.”
Eva frowned and her fingers played with a pencil, twirling it around and around.
“I have a theory,” she spoke after a brief silence. “You say Michael Allen Bell was an FBI informant. Someone killed him and dumped him in your church. Maybe that person thinks you're an informant also and they're trying to scare you off.”
“Where do the threatening letter and the dead, sacrificed pigeon in my house fit in?”
“Diversion,” Eva stated. “They're trying to get us to focus on some religious zealot, possibly homophobic, as a distraction from them. We could waste a lot of time by chasing the wrong leads.” Eva shook her head and tapped the pencil on the surface of the table. “But then, how would a religious zealot know where your family lives?”
“With a little help,” Sigrid spoke slowly. “The person who would use that kind of diversion tactic, might have access to my file and made sure the one leaving the altar in my office had the addresses of my family.” Raising her eyes to meet Eva's, the Inspector could tell Sigrid's brain was working overtime. “That could actually be a plausible theory.”
“Thank you,” Eva smiled. “At least it's something to focus on right now. Do you know any religious zealots?”
“Plenty,” Sigrid snorted softly. “But most of them wouldn't do this kind of thing. They just stick to hurtful words and insults.”
Sigrid's eyes locked with Eva's and she slowly nodded.
“Are you sure about this, Twitch?” Betty asked, nervously looking over her shoulder.
“Positive,” was the confident answer.
“I'm still not sure, girls,” Meg sighed. “What if we get caught?”
“We won't. Besides, in the unlikely event that we do, we just tell them that Sigrid gave us the key to check up on her house. To make sure the pipes won't freeze and the plants are watered.”
“I'm just glad there's been no recent snow,” Betty muttered. “At least we won't be leaving any fresh tracks.”
Twitch chuckled and opened her purse to retrieve the key they had found in Sigrid's church office. It had been so easy to just walk in, grab the key and leave again.
“Wouldn't it have been so much more entertaining if someone would have asked us what we were doing in the office?” she mused.
“No,” Betty and Meg answered simultaneously. “Now, hurry up and open that door,” Betty urged. “The sooner we're leaving, the better.”
“No sense of adventure,” Twitch muttered while opening the door to Sigrid's house. The three women stepped inside and the first thing they noticed was the cold.
“My goodness. Did she turn off the furnace?” Betty wondered, walking into the kitchen, all fears of getting caught forgotten. She was followed by her friends who, unconsciously, stayed close to her. Just in case. As soon as the three friends entered the living room they halted, looking around in horror. All Sigrid's books were haphazardly thrown on the floor, some with the covers ripped off. CD's and DVD's were taken out of their cases and had joined the jumbled mass of paper on the floor. The houseplants were yanked out of the pots and thrown on top of the books, their stems broken. The pillows on the couch were shredded, their contents added to the chaotic pile on the floor, while the coffee table was turned on its side, one of its legs broken.
“What on earth happened here?” Meg whispered, with her hand still pressed against her mouth.
“I think that's clear,” Betty muttered. “Someone sliced open that plastic covering the door and just walked in.” She took a tentative step inside the room. “Somebody must have been looking for something.”
“Looks like they didn't find it,” Twitch mumbled. “Otherwise, why trash the place?”
“What if they're still here?” Meg suddenly whispered and her friends looked at her with wide eyes. Betty immediately took a step back, ready to disappear into the kitchen again, but Twitch slowly nodded, opened her purse and pulled out a small, but deadly looking revolver. Betty and Meg gasped in surprise when their friend calmly clicked her purse shut and unlocked the safety of the gun.
“Twitch,” Betty whispered heatedly. “Are you crazy?”
“No, just old enough to know I don't have to take crap from anyone,” Twitch answered calmly.
“You think she's got early dementia?” Meg asked Betty, her eyes never leaving the gun.
“Early?” Betty softly snorted. “She's four years older than I am and I'm ancient.” In spite of the situation they both giggled, before turning their attention back to Twitch.
“Twitch, put that thing away. I'm sure nobody is hiding here. Whoever did this must have left hours ago.”
“How do you know?”
Betty pointed at the ripped plastic that had covered the splintered door. On the rug, just inside the door was a very thin layer of ice.
“It took a few hours for that to happen,” she explained.
“I'm not taking your word for it,” Twitch muttered. “I'll hang on to this thing, just in case. If anyone tries to pull something on us, I'll be ready.”
“Whatever you say, Twitch. Just don't point that thing at me,” Meg requested, eying the small gun with trepidation. “Besides, I think we'd better leave. This place is such a mess, we'd better notify the police.”
“And tell them what? We're breaking in, Meg,” Betty said. “I'm pretty sure they won't be happy about that.”
“Maybe we could leave an anonymous message,” Twitch suggested.
“I think we should have a quick look around,” Betty spoke. “Just to make sure we're not missing any clues. Since we're here anyway.”
“Okay, what are we looking for?” Meg wanted to know, carefully navigating a broken vase on the floor, while making her way to the hallway.
“I've got no clue,” Betty answered, following her friend. “Twitch? Any ideas?”
“I guess we should look for something that is unusual for Sigrid to have.”
“Like what? Murder mysteries?” Meg asked, pointing to one of the coverless books in the middle of the floor. “Books about atheism? Rock and Roll music?”
“No, that's all Sigrid,” Twitch answered undaunted. “Just…look, if there's something off, we'll find it.”
“I wish I had your level of confidence,” Betty muttered, but her eyes scanned the floor.
“See, someone was looking for something and my guess is it's something our dear pastor didn't want to be found.”
“If that's the case, don't you think she would have taken it with her?” Meg reasoned.
“Possibly,” Twitch muttered under her breath. She looked up at her friends and rolled her eyes. “Okay, we might not find a thing, but while we're here we might as well look around. Besides, we might find a clue about who did this.”
The three women made their way into the hallway. The door to Sigrid's office was open and one look inside showed them the same mess as the living room. Quietly they made their way to the bedroom. The walk-in closet had been emptied of all clothes and the mattress of the bed was leaning against the wall, sliced open, its contents spread across the carpet.
“Oh, my goodness,” Meg was the first one to speak. When her friends looked at her she silently pointed to the wall behind them. Red, angry letters decorated the once pale yellow wall.
“You can run, but you can't hide,” Betty read, not able to hide the quiver in her voice. She swallowed hard and turned to her friends. “I think we should leave now,” she whispered. “And I do believe we should call the police.”
“You're right,” Meg replied and Twitch nodded.
“Let's go,” Betty encouraged. Carefully not to trip over anything on the floor, she made her way to the door. Her eyes were cast down and she didn't see the gloved hand that took a hold of the doorknob. Only when the door slammed shut, the three women looked up, startled.
“Was…was that the wind?” Meg wanted to know, but there was no answer.
“Not unless the wind can shut and lock the door,” Betty spoke in a hoarse voice. Her hand was on the doorknob and no matter how hard she pulled, the door didn't open. Slowly, she turned back to her friends. Her face was pale and there was fear in her eyes.
“Someone locked us in.”
To be continued in part 7
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