The twenty-minute drive took about twelve. When I pulled in, an old silver Chrysler LeBaron was parked outside the pole barn. I grabbed the Glock out of my glovebox, then got out to check the inside of the car. Sassy Blaze lay in the backseat, looking dazed. I opened the door to make sure she was alive. Her pulse registered slow, and shaking her didn’t awaken her.
“You’ve got bigger problems than Miss Witchy-Pants there.”
I cracked my head on the door frame of the car and a stream of vanilla scent invaded my olfactory. “Good Gods, Jenna. Give me a little warning.” I sneezed.
“Crazed Gun-Slinger Darla is inside, waving a gun at Kendra’s head. She wants to know where Bertellia and Estevez are.”
I ran to the back-porch door and quietly let myself inside. Female voices.
Jenna stood at the open doorway, leading into the great room. She waved me closer then placed a finger to her mouth for quiet.
I peeked inside. Darla. Her eyes crazed and hair wild, she reminded me of a psychopath.
“You’ll make quite the vessel, or you’ll end up dead weight. We’ll see how good your ability really is, Miss Kendra Spark. You’ve been a real sliver in my spine, and I will never forgive you for the annoyance you’ve been to Bertellia and Estevez. I can no longer reach them, so you’ll have to share what you’ve done to silence them. What sort of prison have you confined them in?” Darla’s voice came across shrill, heavy on the southern accent, I’d never heard her sound like that before.
I stepped inside the house. Kendra sat on the couch, staring toward the fireplace. Darla, eyes wide, stood behind her, pointing a gun at Kendra’s head, and then they both looked my way.
“Well, Mr. Knight, you’re finally here. Miss Kendra remains pretty much speechless, so I’m hoping you can answer my questions about where Bertellia and Estevez have gone.” Darla waved her gun at me, her arm jerky and wild, then she pointed it back at Kendra. Darla’s fingers squeezed Kendra’s shoulder. “Where are they?” A grimace of malice crossed Darla’s face, something else from her I’d never witnessed.
“What’s happened to you, Darla?” I shook my head, holding my weapon down at my side, out of view. “Did your aunt do something to influence this behavior? Why are you talking with an accent? That’s not you at all.”
“I’m going to shoot this woman if you don’t tell me what I want to know. For the last time, where’s Bertellia and Estevez?” Her eyes narrowed to slits, and her lips pinched into a snarl. Her grip tightened on the pistol held at Kendra’s temple.
Jenna screamed, “Her tells say she’s gonna do it, Derek.”
The house phone rang, startling Darla. Kendra dropped sideways onto the couch cushions. I took that moment to aim and shoot. I hit Darla’s shoulder. Her gun flew to the floor in front of the sofa, and she fell backward with a thud. I rushed the couch and vaulted over the top, landing next to her. She lay on the floor with her eyelids fluttering, the bullet entered on the right side just below her collar bone. I gently rolled her to see the backside. The wound looked like a through-and-through. I pressed my hands on both sides of her body to staunch the blood flow.
Suddenly, a dark shadow in the form of a blurry faceless mannequin emerged from Darla’s body and ran toward the open porch doorway. Darla passed out in my arms, and the shadow disappeared.
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