She wasn’t sure what it was that awakened her, but she was suddenly sitting up in bed. She remembered hearing . . . What was it? Something! A noise that the deep recesses of sleep had magnified until it seemed like an explosion inside her head. Not her imagination, surely; not a dream. She was not a person prone to either. . .
Then she felt the cold. . .
Question # 1
What in the world was someone trying to accomplish by entering a home in the dead of night and leaving all the entrances wide open? Nothing missing, so it was some sort of message, for sure. But who in hell could figure out the translation?
And later, question # 2
“The question, Dan, is why? Why would anyone have kept our dog for two months? The whole town knew we were looking for him, worrying about him. Why would they wait two months to return him?”
. . . She felt a second jarring beneath her at the same time that she heard the sound of wrenching wood. She knew she was listening to the flimsy lock on the door below the cellar stairs being torn from its meager hold. Saxon increased his violent lunges against the inside kitchen door.
Instinctively, Abby backed slowly toward the front hall. She’d have to run if John didn’t make it in time. Maybe the store was still open. She could go there and call Aaron Scott.
As she headed for her boots and coat, she heard stomping on the porch and the front door flew open. But it wasn’t John. Snow clung to his bulky coat and immediately started cascading down onto the hall floor.
“Are you okay?” he asked, reaching out with his gloved hands to grasp her shoulders for a moment.
Abby looked up into dark eyes full of concern. “How. . .?” she started to ask.
Her smile evaporated when she saw the man striding with determined steps toward her desk. He didn’t have his uniform on, but she knew who he was She also knew that Carl Harris had been drinking. She’d caught a momentary stagger as he turned toward her from the entrance. It hadn’t decreased the speed of his pace, however.
Abby felt herself go weak all over and then remembered the students. . .
“You’re going to get yourself in trouble, Mr. Harris,” Abby said, and felt a twinge of pain as his hand closed in a tighter grip on her shoulder.
When they were out of the car, the warden passed each of them a pair of plastic gloves and a bandana.
You’ll need these,” he said, tying his piece of cloth round his face to conceal his mouth and nose and pulling the gloves up over his wrists.
“I’ll tell you one thing,” Dan mumbled as he began putting his bandana around his own face, “I don’t have to go any further to assure you that this isn’t an Indian burial ground. This is new. You better get the state police out here.”
The lanky and handsome man had appeared suddenly in the middle of the stage and was leaning cockily against a table that had been placed in its center. Abby’s breath caught in her throat. His jeans and high boots, the same kind of outfit he’d worn the few times she’d seen him, accented his height and muscular build. He didn’t seem like the kind man who had retrieved her husband’s pen on voting day , or gently cared for Saxon when he’d been hurt. This was another Luke Chism – the bold Luke Chism . . .
She understood what he was communicating to them by his demeanor. It was impossible to misjudge the message in the sharp eyes that stared slowly across the room and rested for a bone-chilling second on the five of them in the back row, and then lingered on her for what seemed like a long time.
“Who is that gorgeous guy?” Becky whispered.
“That’s Luke,” Abby whispered back. She had told the Bakers and Bette about [him.]
“He could be a cowboy in a class B western,” Becky mumbled to no one in particular.
“Well, he’s got a great screen name,” Bette leaned over to say. “I think he’d gladly tar and feather us all,” she added.
“I’ll let him,” Becky giggled.