Turning his attention back to the women he snarled, “What the hell do you two think you are doing?”
Taking charge, Sam responded, “Remembering old haunts we shared with Janie.”
“That’s a load of crap!”
“Give, now!” he commanded, motioning she hand it over as he stared at the scarf covered item she held.
“Ok, ok, we forgot about the boat. Janie’s parents own it. When they visit, to give Janie privacy, they stay on-board and they sail the coast once or twice a year too.”
“That explains the boat, not why your on it.”
“I told you, I didn’t remember it until we were leaving the store. Constable Jenson asked about the flats and why Janie would come here. It’s plausible she intended bringing her date to the boat. In fact, it seems she had prepared for that eventuality.”
Shaking the scarf covered book he asked, “What’s this?”
“It’s a photo/scrap book of our could-have-beens.”
“What the hell is a could-have-been?”
“It was an album of the men we have previously dated. If it didn’t turn out, we attached pictures and comments regarding the “significant” could-have-been in the album. The idea was to remind us about choices and decisions made, to see patterns in the men we chose, and in ourselves and why the relationship didn’t develop.”
“Go on,” he urged.
“If we hadn’t made any significant commitments within five years, we would sit down together, go over the book and it’s reminders together. To evaluate ourselves primarily and ask our friends to re-adjust our thinking if necessary.”
“Novel idea.” Grayson looked down at the book and would have continued when Amanda interrupted him.
“Do you honestly believe that someone was shooting at us?”
“This is a protected habitat for one. For two, do you see anyone else out here worth shooting at? And three, the bullet hole just below the ledge mid-section about where your head would pop up was my first clue!”
Amanda paled, “Oh my god!
“Now you know why the cops do the legwork. Let’s just hope you haven’t compromised the scene or crucial evidence.”
“You can march yourselves down to the station for fingerprinting.”
Amanda looked at Sam then back at Grayson, her eyes the size of saucers, “We would never harm Janie!”
“Listen, and listen good! If you don’t comply, I’ll have you picked up and charged with obstruction. Clear enough for you?”
Realizing the futility of arguing they hustled to the car to hop in. Sam reversed carefully among the few lookyloos that had arrived, “Damn it, it was a good idea. We’re onto something.”
“Yeah and the something is on to us!”
“There’s safety in numbers, so we stay together, wherever we go Amanda.”
“You don’t have to convince me, I’m no heroine.” A shudder shook through her.
Sam boiled, “Now the cops have the only clue as to who it might be! Damn it!”
Startled Amanda asked, “You seriously think Janie’s killer could be in our book? That he’s still here?”
Staring wide eyed she asked, “Why?”
“Janie loved a puzzle. If she had information on this guy, something damning, he might have killed her for it.”
After heading to the station where they were fingerprinted and given the third degree by Grayson who’d arrived before them, they returned to Sam’s.
Sam practically ran to the door and into the house and Amanda had to race to keep up. “Sam, what the hell?”
Charging through the door she called across her shoulder, “Janie left a bunch of stuff on my computer in shared folders in my name. I thought we’d take a look, see if there’s anything in them to find.”
“Sam, you’re bad!”
“Yeah, bad is good!” Sam said on a chuckle.
Flopping into the chair and turning the laptop on, she began searching. “Ok, let’s see what we’ve got!” Sam checked each folder thoroughly. “Hey, wait a minute, what’s this? I haven’t seen this one before, it’s been added recently.”
“Sam, this is nerve racking!”
“It’s dated four days ago, so before her date with her mystery man. She probably thought we’d find it and enjoy a good laugh together.” Sam hit print and two pictures spewed out. She had no idea who either man was. “Look familiar, Amanda? Have you seen either one?”
“No. Oooh, bedroom eyes!”
“He could be the killer for god’s sake!”
“Yeah, or not, but maybe!”
“Something tells me, one or both of these men are significant. If Janie had these pictures hidden, then it must be important.”
Watching her reach for a large book on the shelf she asked, “Sam what are you doing??
“Hiding them to keep them safe from prying eyes.”
“Don’t you think we should be sharing with like, the cops?”
“Maybe. Let’s see what they come up with after chasing that guy at the boat.”
“I sure didn’t see anything, a red hat and a blue jean jacket was about all.”
“Yeah I know, duck and cover right? I didn’t see any more than you. Perhaps, Grayson being the well trained cop that he is, did.” Sam couldn’t help the dig.
“If either man turns up at the store, we can inform the cops then. After we do some questioning of our own.”
“Yes, yes we can. Good point.”
“Do you want to check out the hotties online?”
“No, but you go ahead, I have to re-group, find out where Janie was with Aileen’s birthday party and the Martrand and Johnston party.”
“I almost dread going back to work, Sam, it’s . . .”
“I know, Janie’s not there, wont be there. We’re used to doing everything together. It won’t be the same.”
“No, it’s really not.” Her sigh contained a half hiccup and half sob.
Sam prepared dinner, her mind occupied elsewhere. In the end, they ate a sloppy joe mixture in which to dip garlic bread or chips, some pre-made salad and a bottle of red wine.
They gravitated to the tv and watched a movie, but Sam lost interest and headed up to soak in the tub. Lost in a good read, the water was nearly tepid when she finished her ablutions. Donning purple silk pj’s, she checked the alarm. Feeling surprisingly relaxed she reached for her book settling down under the comforter and read, read the same page a half dozen times that is. Putting the book away, she turned off the light and lay listening. She heard Amanda heading up the stairs humming a tune and her door close. All was silent.
Sam wasn’t sure what penetrated her sleep drugged mind to wake her. Something unusual, out of the ordinary. Out of place. Rubbing sleep from her eyes, she peered at the clock on the nightstand. It was just after four. She listened, straining to hear. huh! Thumping the pillow, she lay back down. Just when she’d convinced herself it was due to an overactive imagination and the incident on the boat, she realized she wasn’t about to get back to sleep.
Climbing out of her comfy queen sized bed, she donned a housecoat and slippers and peered carefully out her door. Nothing. Moving to Amanda’s door, she opened it and peered in. Scanning the bed she noted she was fast asleep. It wasn’t Amanda she’d heard then.
Tip-toeing forward, she again listened. She was nobody’s fool and she wasn’t about to rush downstairs and into a burglar. There, she heard it again. The unmistakable sound of rustling papers. Although that wasn’t what woke her, she knew there was an intruder in the house.
Back-tracking to Amanda’s room, she opened the door and hurried to the bedside and gently gave her a shake. “Amanda, Amanda,” she whispered. “Amanda!” she continued more urgently.
“What, what?” Amanda half sat, leaning on an elbow peering groggily at Sam.
“I think there’s a prowler downstairs.”
“What?” an instant flash of panic crossed her face.
“What do we do?”
“Do you have your cell phone?”
“Yeah, I plugged it in when i got into bed,” she whispered.
“Get it, dial 911.”
“Why not the other phone?”
“He’ll see it.”
Grabbing the phone, she couldn’t seem to dial and Sam whisked it from her hands and dialed. Following the usual routine, she informed the officer there was a burglar in the house.
“Have you seen him?”
“No, and I don’t have stupid stamped on my forehead. I’m not going down there to confront him!”
“Are you alone in the house?”
“Burglar not withstanding, I have a guest staying for the night. We’re in the guest bedroom.”
“Your address is 3155 Elk Drive, is that correct?”
“Stay put, a car has been dispatched and will arrive momentarily. Stay on the line until they arrive.” Sam listened as he spoke to someone on another line.
“They are outside your house now, mam. As soon as they check the grounds, they’ll knock on the front door.”
“Great, that makes me feel ever so much better!”
Her sarcasm was lost on him as he continued speaking, “They are at the front door now mam, can you see them?”
Sliding the bedroom window open, she peered outside. All she could see from her vantage point was two pair of legs and feet.
No sooner had she replied than she heard a loud pounding on the front door.
“Take the cell phone with you and head to the front door, mam.”
“What if the prowler is still here?” However as the pounding on the door continued, she added, “Well if he was here, that should have scared him off.”
Sam headed toward the stairs, Amanda in tow. “I’m coming with you.” Amanda grabbed hold of Sam’s sleeve. “This is not me being brave, I’m too scared to stay up here alone.”
“Glad of the company.”
Slowly reaching the bottom of the stairs, Sam flicked a light switch on, flooding the room instantly with light. “Doesn’t appear to be anyone here.” She spoke half aloud.
Walking to front door, she unlocked it and let the officers in. “Was a little nervous. Sorry about the delay.”
“No problem, mam. We’ll have a look around.” He walked through, checking each room as he went. They listened as he talked to dispatch. “No one here now, dispatch. Although someone was here. There’s a broken pane in the french door, back entrance. Yes, I’ll stay and secure the area. Franks will check outside.”
Both women hung on his every word, startled and nervous. “Would you take a look around, see if anything’s missing?”
Sam slowly moved around the room scanning her things. “I don’t see anything missing, but someone’s been through my desk,” she informed the officer.
The other constable returned from outside. “Someone was out there alright, footprints across the garden lead directly to the back door.”