Behind the Walls

Behind the Walls by Merry Jones

Book: Behind the Walls by Merry Jones Read Free Book Online
Authors: Merry Jones
holding the envelope with the contract and the Langston keys. Damn. She’d promised Hank she’d turn it down, but according to Phil, everyone in the department had already heard she’d taken it. And Dean Van Arsdale and Professor Schmerling – the whole university was counting on her to get started. She pictured rooms filled with relics. Mysteries of time preserved in boxes. She opened the envelope, took out the keys. Looked at them.
    She could just go over and glance at the collection. Just take the briefest peek. What would be the harm in that?
    No – what was she thinking? She’d promised Hank she wouldn’t go until she was sure it was safe.
    But that was before she’d known about Zina’s family. Now, it seemed that Zina’s death had been an honor killing, that she’d been killed by her own relatives. In that case, there was no danger to anyone else. What would be the harm in just stopping by?
    She could just go look at it. Not actually begin work – merely peek at a few pieces. See how Zina had left things. What the place looked like. How it was set up. She’d spend just two or three minutes – at most five.
    She’d call Hank and let him know that it was safe, that he didn’t need to worry – maybe just send a text message to avoid a discussion. Harper dug around her bag, pushed aside the flashlight, her wallet and Zina’s bracelet, located her phone. Saw that she’d missed some calls. Good God, three voicemails from Burke Everett. The lunatic was stalking her. She played back his first voice message.
    ‘Harper – I’m being followed. You might be, too. Keep your eyes open and be careful. I’ll be in touch.’
    The next: ‘Harper, they know I’m here. Watch your back. They’ve figured out I came here to see you. So they know you know what I know – sorry I put you in danger.’
    The last: ‘I have to ditch my cell. They’re tracking me on it. I’ll call you when it’s safe.’
    Burke had completely lost it. Wherever he was, he needed help. Lord. She hoped he wouldn’t harm anyone. Hoped he’d call again so she could get him to a hospital.
    The last message was from Leslie, her soothing voice agreeing to could see Harper at four o’clock.
    Good. Four o’clock.
    It was hours away. She had plenty of time.
    Before she went to her Ninja, Harper sent Hank a text. No need 2 quit! Will explain. Making a stop. C U 2ish.
    Then, dropping the keys and phone into her bag, she headed to her motorcycle and roared away. She had gone all the way to the Langston’s long private driveway before the question came to mind.
    If her family had killed Zina, why had they taken her heart?
    She didn’t have an answer. She’d never heard of it being part of any honor killing before. But then, she was no expert on the subject. Maybe it was symbolic in some cultures. Harper was still considering the missing heart as she confronted the yellow police tape still draped across the drive, blocking the road to the Langston house. Police and the press had been gone for some time; evidence had been gathered and removed. But the tape remained, wrapped around the area where Zina’s body and car had been found. Harper didn’t want to mess with the police, so she got off her bike and walked it through the trees around the taped off area, parking it near the house.
    Up close, the place was much larger than she’d imagined. Like some once grand and elegant hotel. Rambling and endless, hollow and forlorn. Haunted, even. Odd that Zina hadn’t mentioned that paint crumbled on the porch pillars, that wood rotted on the frames of windows and double doors. A riser was missing on the front steps. The roof sagged. Parts of the house literally seemed to be crumbling. Well, never mind. Harper was well acquainted with worn-out floorboards and loose shingles; she and Hank had been renovating their own old house for years. And in Iraq, sometimes, living conditions made this place look like five star luxury. So, undaunted, Harper left her

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