Home > Lake Silence (The Others #6)(12)

Lake Silence (The Others #6)(12)
Author: Anne Bishop

“But there isn’t another building in Sproing that’s suitable to be a bank, not without extensive renovations,” the bank manager protested.

“I know.” That smile again.

I blinked. Had I seen a hint of fang?

“What are your conditions?” Officer Grimshaw asked.

“Ms. DeVine will return tomorrow morning and open her safe-deposit box. If the missing papers and the missing seven thousand dollars have reappeared—”

“It was six thousand dollars,” the bank manager said.

“Now it’s seven.”

Wow. This was better than the crime drama I’d watched on TV last week.

A light finger tap on the back of the chair reminded me that I was supposed to be eating. But, really, talk about bloodless bloodletting.

“The second condition is that you resign your position as bank manager before tomorrow morning. You will not retain any position with this bank. If those conditions are met and we have not discovered any discrepancies in our safe-deposit boxes, then we will restore enough of our funds to assist the bank in remaining solvent.”

Now my attorney turned to the CIU investigator. But a movement at the window caught my attention.

“Is that a Sproinger?” I pointed at the face in the window. “Do they get that big?”

Ilya Sanguinati looked toward the window, then at me. “No. They are doing . . . Athletic human girls do this trick during sporting events.”

“A pyramid? They’ve made a Sproinger pyramid?” I looked at the Sproinger. He—or she—made the happy face. “Can I get a picture?”

If I got out of this in one piece, I was going to buy an I ♥ SPROINGERS T-shirt.

Silence.

“Sorry,” I muttered. “Brain-to-mouth disconnect.”

“There are several people standing in the street taking pictures, including Dominique Xavier,” Julian said. “I’m sure she’ll give you one.”

“This banking business is beside the point,” Swinn said. “There are questions about why the dead man was lured to The Jumble.”

“I agree,” Ilya Sanguinati replied. “But you’ve already received the medical examiner’s preliminary report, so you know there is no possible way that Ms. DeVine could have killed that man.”

More silence.

“What did kill him?” Grimshaw asked. “I secured the scene but was relieved when the CIU team began their investigation.”

“Spinal injury.”

“That’s not public knowledge,” Swinn said, sounding unsure of himself.

“It is to us.” Ilya Sanguinati looked at me. “Finished your lunch? You can bring the milkshake with you.”

Even Oil Slick Swinn stepped out of the way when my attorney escorted me and the milkshake to his fancy black car. The driver, another Sanguinati judging by his looks, opened the back door for me, and Ilya Sanguinati blocked any attempt by Swinn to get close before we drove away.

“Thanks.” I didn’t know what else to say. Okay, I did know something else to say. “Why are you doing this?”

“You have been kind to Aggie. You are the first person since Honoria Dane to show some understanding about the nature of The Jumble.”

“Which is?”

His eyes were back to looking like melted chocolate. “That it was built within a terra indigene settlement, with the understanding that the human caretaker would help those interested in learning to correctly mimic human ways.”

Oh. Wow. That explained a few things about Aggie. She was the test volunteer to see if I was suitable. Now I wished I had talked to her about the nightie.

“There is no objection to your having human lodgers as well, as long as they are tolerant of their neighbors.”

I sipped the milkshake to give myself time to think. “Does everyone know that about The Jumble? That it’s really a terra indigene settlement?”

“During Honoria’s time? I would think many of the residents in Sproing knew. Whether anyone outside the village understood . . .” He did that subtle shoulder movement.

That explained why Yorick’s family always said Great-great’s business venture was a failure. They hadn’t known what she’d really built—or why.

Yes, visionary and eccentric. Maybe I could be like her when I grew up.

I looked out the window just as we passed the sign for Mill Creek Lane, which meant we’d missed the turn for my road. When we finally turned down an unmarked gravel road that I was pretty sure was on the other side of the lake, I started feeling nervous. “I thought we were going back to The Jumble to look at my papers.”

“Not just yet,” Ilya Sanguinati replied. “I am confident those papers are in order—or as much as they need to be. We’re going to Silence Lodge so that you can assist me in reviewing some other papers.”

“What other papers?”

He smiled, but there was a little bit of an edge to it. “The ones the dead man was carrying.”

CHAPTER 10

Grimshaw

Sunsday, Juin 13

Detective Swinn gave Grimshaw a look that would have scorched paint. Then he turned that look on Julian before he walked out of the police station.

“He doesn’t like us,” Julian said.

Grimshaw blew out a breath. “He’s going to run a background check on you.”

“Someone usually does, sooner or later.”

And then that someone suggests that you move on?

“Why would the Sanguinati be interested in Vicki DeVine?” he asked.

“Might be as simple as she’s the person who has control of The Jumble,” Julian replied. “She arrived in Sproing last fall and started renovating the main house and some of the cabins with an eye to having things ready for the summer, when you’d expect people to want to rent a place for a weekend getaway or a lakeside vacation. As far as I know, this is the first time the Sanguinati have made contact with her.”

“If the vampires own as many buildings in this village as Ilya Sanguinati implied, then how did everyone pretend the Others kept their distance from the people who live here?”

Julian hesitated. “In another place where I lived for a while, I took a job as the land agent—the person who collected the rent and arranged for repairs and listened to complaints. It was a small community like this one, and the humans swore there had never been a sighting of any kind of terra indigene in their village, despite the fact that they lived around the Addirondak Mountains and, occasionally, when the ground was soft after a rain, they would find huge prints under a window—evidence that something stood on its hind legs to look into the second-story window. There was a man in that town who had a side business making plaster casts of those prints. People would hang them on the walls of their family rooms and show them to guests—and they still swore the Others didn’t prowl the streets at night, that some of the particularly gruesome deaths that occurred weren’t caused by a large, angry predator. Wayne, a lot of people stay sane by pretending the terra indigene are Out There and not the individual sitting next to you at the counter in the diner.”

“The only lodger currently at The Jumble is one of the Crowgard,” Grimshaw said.

“Vicki knows?”

“If she didn’t know before, she does now.”

“But the Crow is still there?”

“Still there.”

A hesitation. “The Crow she knows about may not be the only terra indigene living in one of the cabins or, at the very least, living on the land connected to The Jumble.”

The phone rang. As Grimshaw reached for the receiver, he said, “That did occur to me.” Then: “Sproing Police Station.”

“O-officer down. O-officer needs a-assistance.”

Gods. There weren’t any other cops in the area, except . . . “Where are you?”

“Th-The Jumble.”

“Can you hold your position?”

“Yes.”

“We’re on our way.” Grimshaw hung up and called the Bristol Police Station’s number. “This is Officer Grimshaw in Sproing. Tell Captain Hargreaves I’ve got a situation at The Jumble. Officer down and another officer requesting assistance. I’m heading there now. I need whoever you can send me.”

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