Penumbra by Carolyn Haines Page B

Book: Penumbra by Carolyn Haines Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carolyn Haines
Tags: Historical, Mystery
taking a deep breath. “I thought someone bad was on the porch.”
    He nodded. “Sorry. I tried to call the shop but you’d left.”
    “Is there word on Marlena?” she asked.
    “I’m going there next,” he said. “First, I wanted to ask you some questions.”
    Jade stepped back from the door, aware in a new way of her robe and her slick body beneath it. Frank was a handsome man, but there was more to him than that. She had the sense that death had touched him more than once, and that he was no stranger to the machinations of the dead. It was something they shared.
    “Have a seat.” She directed him to the kitchen table. “I’ll put on some coffee while I …” The word would not pass her lips. To say it would emphasize her nakedness beneath the robe. She lit the stove and put a kettle on. “I’ll be back.”
    She hurried into the dress she’d ironed, pulling on clean panties and shoes. A decent woman always wore shoes, Ruth had drummed that into her head. No matter what she wore on her feet, though, the racing of her heart was indecent. She ducked into the bathroom, running a brush through her short hair, which was thick and curled in soft ringlets all over her head. She reached for her lipstick, but stopped. Frank would know she’d applied lipstick. He could read many things into that act, and she was afraid of what it revealed.
    Before she sat at the table, she poured up the hot water. Those simple tasks calmed her. When she turned to him, her hands on the sink behind her, she managed calm. “You said you haven’t seen Marlena?”
    He shook his head. “I’m going there next. You’re a bright woman, Jade. What do you think happened to Marlena?”
    Jade knew what he was asking and skirted it. “She was attacked in the woods. Two men hurt her and took Suzanna.”
    “What was she doing in the woods?”
    “She took Suzanna fishing.” Jade met his pale gaze with a level one of her own.
    “Was Marlena in the habit of fishing?”
    Jade held herself very still. “Marlena isn’t in the habit of checking with me before she goes fishing or does anything else.”
    Frank’s gaze dropped, and when he looked at her again, the chill was gone from his eyes. “I know you two are close.”
    Jade thought about it. She shook her head. “No, we’re not. I work there sometimes, and I keep Suzanna when they need me. I wouldn’t say that Marlena and I are close.”
    Frank shook his head. “You’re sisters.”
    “Half-sisters,” she said, her voice emotionless. “That’s not something Marlena would view as an asset.” “She should.”
    Jade turned away from his gaze and got two cups from one of the beautiful cabinets. She poured black coffee for both of them and placed a cup in front of Frank. She put her own cup at the table and sat down. “If I can answer any questions, I will. I want Suzanna back. The truth is, Marlena didn’t confide in me. Dotty Strickland is her close friend. Ask Dotty.”
    “I couldn’t get a straight answer out of Dotty if I asked her directions to the courthouse.”
    Frank wasn’t exaggerating. Dotty prevaricated about everything. When she wasn’t doing that, she was outright lying.
    “I need some help here,” Frank said, his voice low. “It’s been twenty-five hours since we know Suzanna’s been taken. Could be a little longer. The more time that passes, the less chance of getting her back alive.”
    “There hasn’t been a ransom call?” Jade was glad she was sitting; her legs felt dull and unresponsive. The overhead light cast harsh shadows on Frank’s face. His eyes were hollowed and his nose prominent. His cheeks looked sunken, but that wasn’t all from the lighting. He was tired, and it was showing.
    “No. At least Lucas says there hasn’t been one. I believe him.”
    Jade put her hands around the coffee cup. The coffee was hot, and even though the day was still in the eighties, the warmth of the cup was comforting.
    “Jade, if you know anything about who

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