No Place to Run(4)

By: Marion Faith Laird

Lorie could hardly hear him over the pounding in her ears. The harassment was starting again, and this time, she had no place to run.

“Wow, look at those scratches!”

Jen’s voice made Lorie jump, as she hadn’t heard her approach. Lorie glanced at Jen’s feet. She would be wearing silent-soled cross-trainers today of all days.

“You didn’t notice the window before?”

Lorie shook her head. “We keep that door shut most of the time.” Maybe whoever had left the note had still been inside the bathroom while she was in the office.... Panic welled up inside her, but she managed to swallow the scream.

“And you’re certain you locked the office door?” Deputy MacGregor sounded as if he wanted to get the whole picture.

Lorie shook her head, wishing she had a glass of water. Her mouth had gone completely dry. The proximity of the attractive deputy was not helping, either. “No, I’m not completely sure. I meant to, but I was pretty rattled. I might have forgotten.”

“I locked it.” Jen put her hands on her hips again. “I felt it catch.”

“Right. Let’s see the note.”

Lorie moved to the desk and waved a hand at the in-box. “It’s right—wait a minute.”

“Is something wrong?”

No. Where was it? “The note. It isn’t here.”

“Come again?” Deputy MacGregor’s sharp tone could have sliced through granite.

Lorie faced his unbelieving stare head-on.

“S-someone must have taken it.”

* * *

Great. Just great. Matt’s day was complete. First the lead on the meth-lab investigation dried up, and now this. Missing evidence.

Matt clicked the safety on and shoved his silver Colt 1991 back into the holster with unnecessary force.

“Where was it?”

“Right there.” Lorie waved a pale, fine-boned hand over the in-box. “On top. It looked like a computer printout.”

“Laser, ink-jet, dot matrix?”

“Ink-jet, I think. Full color, anyway. The letters were a deep tomato-red.” Her voice wavered almost imperceptibly.

Matt took out his incident notebook and scrawled the information. “And it said...?”

“Something like ‘You won’t get away with it.’”

Jen piped up, “‘Don’t think you can get away with it.’”

Matt wondered whether Jen knew more about the note than she’d told Lorie. She was practically another sister to him ever since she’d married his best friend, but Matt had known her since her prankster days in junior high. Was this another one of her stunts? Matt fixed Jen with his best law-enforcement stare.

“And you know this because...?”

Jen sniffed. “I pay attention. And don’t think this is some sort of ‘let’s fix Matt up with the new librarian’ scheme Vangie Sutherland and I cooked up. Because it isn’t.”

Matt took stock of his old friend. According to J.T., she had stopped pulling pranks on people, but Matt wouldn’t put writing a mysterious note as a joke past her. Still, actually threatening someone who seemed to be her friend was unlikely. And besides, she wouldn’t be dumb enough to damage library property for a joke. Jen would never commit even a misdemeanor unless she’d lost her mind in the past few weeks.

Lorie appeared to be having her own doubts. Having been three grades ahead of her, Matt hadn’t really known Lorie when he was growing up. She’d been one of the brainy kids, scrawny, with braces. Looked as though she’d turned out well, except for her lack of color. Closer inspection indicated her pallor hadn’t come from makeup. Whether the note was legit or not, she was frightened.

“Jen couldn’t have moved the note.” Lorie’s voice had grown steadier. “She’s been with me since I spotted the note. And you saw the window.”

Matt’s old classmate nodded gravely, but she had a “so there” twinkle in her eye. This might have started as a serious call, but, from the look of things, Jen intended to go along with Vangie’s eternal attempts at matchmaking. No way he’d put up with that. He’d phone J.T. and then drop by the house after work.

Matt tucked the notebook back into his pocket and turned to go.

Also By Marion Faith Laird

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