No Place to Run(6)

By: Marion Faith Laird


“I’ll just get Jen.” Lorie whirled and was gone before Matt could stop her. The idea of being fingerprinted seemed to alarm her way more than it should. He’d definitely have to do a background check on her the minute he was back at his office computer.

As Jen walked through the door, she was already speaking. “Do mine first. We have two patrons ready to check out.” She held out both hands in a parody of arrests in old police movies.

Matt grinned as he quickly took Jen’s prints, teasing and joking with her all the while. When he was done, Jen walked out the office door and Lorie came back in, hesitation in every step.

Odd. He could think of only one reason why she’d be so uneasy.

“You aren’t just pulling my leg with this note business, are you?”

“No.”

Lorie Narramore might not have written the note, but she felt guilty about something. He’d been in law enforcement long enough to recognize the signs. This situation was making her extremely uncomfortable, and Matt itched to know the reason why. Of course, he could just wait and run her prints. That would bring anything up through the system.

Why was he sure he’d find her there? And why did the thought bother him so much?

* * *

Lorie could almost see the wheels turning in Matt’s brain. She hated the thought of telling him, but surely she didn’t have to confess the whole, sordid story. Maybe she could get by with the least possible amount and still tell the truth.

“I was arrested once.” The words left Lorie’s lips before she could stop them. When was she going to learn how to keep her mouth shut?

Caution mingled with curiosity in those intense blue eyes of his. “For?”

Lorie took a deep breath. “Murder.”

To do him credit, his expression grew concerned. “I’m assuming you were released or acquitted, or you wouldn’t be standing here now.”

“You don’t have to tell me how blessed I was not to have been convicted, because I know. Even the thought of county lockup scares me silly.” She plucked at her light blue shirtsleeves, twisting them, just barely conscious of the action but unable to stop.

The deputy’s expression grew serious. “The note—‘Don’t think you can get away with it’—you think it’s referring to what happened?”

“It could. I don’t know.” Lorie bit her lip. “After the trial and the publicity, doing my job at home became impossible. Then the harassment started. Notes, like this. Anonymous phone calls. It went on for months. When my family told me there was an opening for head librarian here, I jumped at it.”

“Does the board know?”

Lorie nodded. “I had to give them full disclosure. It was only right, in case the bad publicity followed me. Thankfully, they decided to take a chance on me, in spite of attempts by some to quash the deal. I’m determined not to let the county down. Or my fellow librarians, either. They’ve stood by me from the first. They don’t even think about it anymore. Only now...”

“Only now someone is making life difficult for you here.”

Lacing her fingers calmed her. “If only that’s all it is. I can probably live with poison-pen letters.”

“You shouldn’t have to.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.”

Matt instantly looked alert. “What do you mean?”

Here goes, Lord.

“The man who died?” Lorie swallowed hard. “I shot him.”

* * *

Matt’s defenses clanged into place. She’d shot and killed a man?

Judge not, lest ye be judged. The verse popped unbidden into his thoughts. Okay. There had to be extenuating circumstances. If he was patient, maybe she’d tell him.

He waited with the quiet expression that often got people to confess. Yet Lorie Narramore stood next to her desk, eyes filled with sadness, and said nothing else. Matt cleared his throat and, without stopping to reason why, pulled out one of his business cards and handed it to her just as Jen came to the door.

“In case you need anything else, my extension’s on there.”

“Thank you.”

Her fingers brushed his as she accepted the card. A tingle shot up his arm. Never had Matt found keeping his professional calm such a struggle. Not good. Especially not with her confession still trembling on her lips.

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