Knock Out

Knock Out by Catherine Coulter

Book: Knock Out by Catherine Coulter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Catherine Coulter
I catch you around here again, I’m going to put you in one of those graves, you hear?’
    “I remember the young guy was moaning, said his head hurt. I watched him run, just like Blessed told him to, trying to hold his head at the same time. I watched Blessed take the smashed camera and throw it into the open grave. He said, ‘Now Martin can take pictures of all the saints.’ He turned to his mother, Shepherd, and she nodded, didn’t say a word, simply nodded, and it was over.
    “I was so shocked, so terrified, I stood there like a stone, my hand over Autumn’s eyes. She was plastered to my side. I could hear her breathing.” Joanna stopped a moment, looked over his left shoulder toward the grand piano.
    “Since it happened, I’d been thinking about it, though, what we saw, and it seemed that being shaken or hit, or jarred, is what brought the boy back to himself. That’s what I was trying to do last night with Ox. I have no idea what Ox would have done, though, if you hadn’t hit him so hard. No, I do know. He would have killed us to get Autumn.
    He nodded. “It was like he was hardwired to do whatever he had to do to get his hands on her. Dr.
    Spitz still won’t accept that Ox was under the control of someone else. He checked him for drugs and alcohol, and he wants Ox to have an MRI and an EEG, to see if his behavior was the result of a seizure or a brain tumor.
    “You spoke about a cemetery, and you mentioned your husband, and you were there for his funeral. Tell me about the rest of the family, and why you were there with them.”
    “I hadn’t met any of them before last week.” She didn’t say any-thing else, just began to worry her thumbnail.
    Ethan said, “Blessed—his name makes me think of some sort of weird-ass preacher for one of those off-the-wall religions that doesn’t have much to do with God.”
    “All their names are like that. For example, Grace.”
    “Grace? Yes, you mentioned his whispering to you.
    Blessed and Grace? What, they’re brothers?”

    “Yes. Martin’s brothers.”
    “Okay, what can you tell me about Grace?”
    “Grace is thin as a rail, holds himself real quiet. But you’re always aware of him when he’s around. He’s creepy.”
    She started to say something again, and he sat forward, touched her wrist. “What? Say what you have to say.” “I could be wrong, really wrong.” “What, Joanna?”
    “I only heard Grace speak a very little bit. His voice was soft, sort of hollow, almost dead.” She shuddered.
    “That sounds ridiculous. I can’t really explain it, but—
    “But what?”
    “Ox, last night, when he spoke—”
    He waited.
    “Ox sort of sounded like Grace. Not all soft and quiet like Grace but the cadence of his voice.
    “It sounds crazy, I know. It’s not that it was Grace’s voice, but it was the way he spaced out his words, like I said, the cadence—it was so familiar.”

    LATER, HE THOUGHT, he’d visit that snake pit later.
    Ethan knew there was even more; he knew it. He had to keep her talking. Maybe all of it would come out at last.
    “Are you ready to tell me where this happened?
    Where they live?”
    “In a strange little town called Bricker’s Bowl. It’s near the Alabama border.”
    “Bricker’s Bowl? I’ve never heard of it.”
    “It really is more a bowl than a valley, curves up on both sides with houses marching right up the hills. I guess, from the air, what with the houses on the surrounding hills, it does indeed look like a bowl.
    Their family’s been there for generations, his mother told me.”
    “Tell me about Ma.”
    “She’s rich. She, Blessed, and Grace live in a huge Victorian mansion, filled with expensive antiques, mostly nineteenth-century English, and lots of manicured grounds. They have a six-car garage, although I never saw the cars inside, so I can’t tell you what they are They’ve got their own private cemetery.

    “She’s very proud of their wealth. She loves to show you every

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