Home > Haunted House (Krewe of Hunters #35.5)(6)

Haunted House (Krewe of Hunters #35.5)(6)
Author: Heather Graham

Kylie shook her head.

Brenda voiced a, “No.”

“All right. Wait for Ben. And stay around people.”

“It doesn’t have anything to do with me, right? I mean, it was just a good place to—to dispose of a body, right?” Brenda asked him weakly.

“If you’re out of your apartment—”

“Oh, I still have it tonight. But I think I’ll stay at the hotel as you suggested. I just wish—I’m so afraid to be alone.”

“We’ll be there as soon as we can. We can probably start driving in about fifteen minutes. And, thankfully, at this hour, traffic around the Capitol shouldn’t be too bad.”

“Oh, thank you. Thank you so much,” Brenda said. “All right, I’m going. I’m already walking over to the hotel.”

Jon handed the phone back to Kylie, making another call himself.

Ben Miller answered with a groan.

“Thanks, I feel so appreciated,” Jon said, certain Ben knew it was him—he’d likely have glanced at his caller I.D.

“Sorry. But if you’re calling me, although it may be good for me or us in a way I can’t quite fathom, I don’t see you calling me at this hour to tell me anything good. I’m guessing you need my help on something. And, actually, I could use yours.”

“Why? What’s happened?”

“You know this place. You’re from here.”

“Yes,” Jon said carefully. He was surprised to feel defensive. Sure, Salem was practically immersed in the past and in its unique place that it held in the history of the nation. But it was also a nice place where people lived and worked and raised their children.

While it was true that the city had gone commercial, making money off tourism in all its guises, it also led to more legends.

More ghosts.

And, sometimes, depraved people decided it was a good place to carry out their crimes.

“Two tourists went missing.” Ben hesitated for a minute. “Halloween,” he said mournfully. “We watched, were alert—and a crazy perp still slipped through. Jon, I’m sure you heard about the murderer who strung up his victim like a scarecrow, right? Through the years and across the country, people know that others will open their doors for trick-or-treaters. They know children and teens will be out walking the streets, and that adults will be going to parties or events and coming home from them—intoxicated, a lot of the time. And people are dressed up in costumes. Even on video, it’s hard to identify a clown with face paint, a bulging nose and a giant red wig.”

Ben was on a rant, but his words were true. Delightful fun for the many could easily become an opportunity for the hunter.

“So…something like that already happened?” Jon asked.

Ben let out a long breath. “We found a victim. Forty-year-old woman from Utah. Someone hid her inside one of the giant jack-o’-lanterns that forms the border for an outdoor theater.” Ben was quiet for a minute. “They dosed her with a massive dose of rat poison and left her there sometime between performances. We’ve been looking for the second woman. Checking every ridiculous Halloween decoration out there.”

Jon lowered his head and closed his eyes for a minute.

“I may know where your second victim is,” he said quietly. He explained what Kylie’s friend had just called about.

“Brim House? I heard it just sold,” Ben said. “And that place…well, the stories abound. Is she frightened? How has no one seen this corpse or body or remains before? Do you think someone thought they were being funny and decided to play a cruel Halloween trick on her?”

“I have no idea.” Jon hesitated for a minute. He couldn’t explain Kylie’s unusual talent to Ben. But if Kylie had entered Brenda’s consciousness, then something was very wrong. “Ben, I want you to find out what’s going on. Kylie and I are on our way, but it will take us several hours to drive up. The door to the place is open. If you can get a medical examiner in there, please, Ben, get started on whatever is going on right away. Oh, and could you stop by the Hawthorne and tell Brenda that she can hang at the police station or something? She’s absolutely terrified. We can text you a picture of her so you know what to look for. We told her to wait at the bar.”

“I’ll get right on it,” Ben promised. “And you’re driving?”

“We can leave right now and we won’t have to deal with getting a car from Boston or a private airfield. I don’t think getting a plane will be any faster anyway. Keep in touch, will you?”

“You got it.”

Jon ended the call and looked at Kylie.

She had ended her call with Brenda, too.

“All right. We need to go.”

She smiled weakly at him.

“Maybe we should put on some clothes first.”

“Probably, except…damn. The night started out so good.”

She stood and walked over to him, slipping her arms around his neck. The warmth of her body and the silk of her skin were far too evocative.

“Every night with you is good,” she said softly.

He caught her arms, kissed her lips swiftly, and then stepped back. “Thank you. And I feel the same. But if we don’t leave now…”

“Gotcha!” she said. “Clothing. Great stuff. Let’s get some.”

They both dressed quickly, and Kylie packed an overnight bag with a speed that almost surpassed his—and he was accustomed to traveling at a moment’s notice.

In minutes, they were in the car.

Jon glanced over at Kylie. “Are you okay? Going back there? Especially since…”

“What did Ben tell you?” she asked.

“Two tourists went missing. They found one in a giant jack-o’-lantern.”

“And you think the other is in Brenda’s wall?”

He looked ahead at the road and shrugged. Then he said, “Yes.”

“What is it about Halloween?” she murmured.

“Hey, we’re still on Thursday night. Halloween is Sunday.”

She turned to him as he drove and said, “Halloween in Salem is pretty much all of October. And it can be so wonderful—music, performances…”

“And a town filled to the brim with tourists. People who love the holiday. And this year…people who like to find their prey. But I’m asking you, are you okay going back? You’re amazing, and you have learned to shoot and have taken self-defense classes, but—”

“But I’m still a civilian, and I’m not trained.”

“Trained or not, your ability is an amazing asset, Kylie. A killer could have gotten away if it weren’t for you.”

She smiled at him. “Jon, I want to stop bad things from happening whenever I can.”

“But you were almost killed,” he reminded her.

“I had you. I have you,” she said softly.

Jon hoped it was enough.

“So, what’s the plan?” Kylie asked.

“We’re going to get a room at the Hawthorne. I don’t have the office on Essex Street anymore, but I love the hotel. It will be about five a.m. when we get there. We’ll check in, I’ll get you to the police station to be with Brenda, and I’ll join Ben at the house and see what they’ve found.” He shrugged. “This is a local matter, you know. Ben is a friend, and he won’t have a problem with me assisting in his investigation. But as of now, this isn’t a federal case. And while most cops are great to work with, every now and then, you hit one who doesn’t like federal interference.”

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