December 27, 2010

Inherit My Heart Chapter Thirty-four

Gavin opened the suite’s connecting door and watched Sally stalk across to her bedroom. She had a temper, but her boss had assured him she was extremely reliable. She closed her door with a sharp snick, which was probably as close as she could get to slamming it behind her without waking Katrina up.

He walked over to the refrigerator, looking for something to drink. Although there were several cans of soda on the counter, whoever had drunk the last cold soda hadn’t put any more in the fridge. It had probably been himself, he reflected, when he’d served the dinner earlier that evening. He refilled the small fridge with soda for tomorrow.

A glance in the freezer space showed they were also out of ice. Gavin sighed. What did a man have to do to get a cold drink of soda? He grabbed the room key and ice bucket and strode out the door and around the corner toward the ice machine.

Gavin turned into the corridor which housed the ice and vending machines and paused a moment. There were two men near the machines, and he’d rather no one saw him at the motel; it would be safer for Katrina.

The man with his head in the ice machine snarled and withdrew from the machine with an oath. Gavin stepped back around the corner with a silently muttered oath of his own. With all the motels in town, how in the world had he managed to pick the same one Charleston was staying at? He hadn’t gotten a good look at the other man, but it felt wrong for Jason. He was stockier, and hadn’t been tall enough. So they had help. Was that the man from the zoo?

He hurried back to the room, fighting down a rising panic. What if Charleston had seen Katrina at the pool that afternoon? Visions rose unbidden before his eyes of her tied up in a vile motel room someplace, while Charleston and Jason had their evil way with her as they demanded the money she couldn’t give them. Had she been a dupe or a willing accomplice in Andrew’s murder? He had to find out, one way or another, before he could deliver the inheritance to Katrina, or to anyone else.

He knew Jason would very easily kill Katrina for Andrew’s estate, even though it wasn’t her money yet. Her marriage to Charleston was valid; a fact she, herself, apparently didn’t know, he reflected. It mattered little why Charleston had told her it wasn’t legitimate during their argument. If she did get the money, then died without her own will and before she could get a divorce, Charleston would legally inherit the whole of it anyway.

What a mess this was all turning out to be. He’d been far too careless in the beginning, never dreaming the boys would follow him when he came to find Katrina.

He burst through the door of the room, locked it carefully and quickly behind him, and continued into his side of the suite, scooping the phone from its cradle as he threw himself onto the couch and furiously stabbed in the phone number Lt. Carew had given him. The phone rang several times, and Gavin was afraid he was going to be shunted to the lieutenant’s voice mail. Finally, the receiver was picked up.

“Carew.” His voice sounded sleepy.

“Sorry to bother you so late, Lieutenant, but there’s been a disturbing development.”

Carew’s voice sharpened instantly. “What’s happened?”

“I just saw Charleston at the ice machine with another man. Apparently they’re staying at this motel. We’ll need to move Katrina immediately.”

“Calm down,” Carew advised. “Did he see you?”

“He might have, but I don’t think so. I was in shadow, and moved out of the hall pretty quickly once I recognized him.”

“In that case,” Carew said, “the best thing to do is this. We’ll arrange for a perimeter to be set up tomorrow morning at six. You bring Katrina out of the motel and meet me at the corner of Oak and Thirty-third. Once you’re out, we’ll move in and get Charleston, and Jason also, or whoever else is with him. Based on the threats he’s made, and the assaults on Katrina, we’ll have enough to hold him for 48 hours while we look for further evidence.”

Gavin nodded, even though he knew Carew couldn’t see him. “Do…if you think that’s the best action, we’ll have to follow your lead. You’re the professional in the field, but I have to tell you I don’t like it. I want to move her now. I’m afraid for her, and I keep feeling tomorrow morning will be too late.”

“I can understand that,” Carew said soothingly, “you’re emotionally involved in the case. But we can’t get the task force together any earlier than morning, and in the meantime, you and Sally are both there, and I know she, at least, is armed. You should be fine.”

“Very well, I’ll see you in the morning then.” Gavin hung up the phone.

He entered his bedroom and changed into sweats, then looked at the bed and mentally measured the distance he would have to run if there was a problem in the night. Sighing, Gavin stripped the blanket and pillows from his bed and carried them through his own living area and into Katrina’s half of the suite. He made up a bed on the sofa and returned to his room to fetch his travel alarm. Setting it for 5:30, he snuggled down and tried to get the best night’s sleep he could on yet another too-short couch. At least this one wasn’t lumpy, he thought, grumpily.