So many secrets in Nespodee Springs…the biggest is revealed when Rhys and Daley track down the second half of the Pendry film and learn the secrets of the clan’s Tesla tower and the catastrophic details of the plan to bring the Visitors back to Earth. But the insidious malady known as “the horrors” remains a mystery, claiming more and more victims every day. Daley and Pard learn they can cure it—if only the powers that be will allow them. Daley finds herself in an ironic situation: for the first time in her life she’s trying to play it straight—help people instead of scam them—and no one will let her. In the past, when she’s spun a web of lies, the marks lapped it up like honey. Now, when she’s telling the truth—a life-saving truth—no one believes her. And meanwhile, over the Salton Sea, an ominous darkness is growing…
Release date: September 19, 2023
Publisher: Crossroad Press
Print pages: 437
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
F. Paul Wilson
“Home sweet home.” Rhys said as he guided their Land Rover past the Welcome to Nespodee Springs sign.
Elis couldn’t miss the sarcasm in his son’s tone. Well, the desert town of Nespodee Springs was the antipode of a metropolis and didn’t offer much at all in the way of culture or entertainment for a twenty-eight-year-old, but it had served as a good home to the Pendry clan for generations.
Elis Pendry was looking at beginning his sixty-sixth year in a few months, but keeping his weight down helped make him look younger. He combed his longish hair—dark with some gray at the temples—straight back. People often remarked on the resemblance between him and his son.
Rhys yawned. And then yawned again.
“Didn’t sleep well?” Elis said.
Rhys shrugged. “Not really. Not a fan of hotel beds, and this damn Daylight Savings switch just adds to the problem. I didn’t need to lose an extra hour of sleep and then have you waking me up at the crack of dawn.”
The clocks had sprung ahead an hour this morning. It had never bothered Elis in his younger days, but now that he’d passed sixty, he felt it. Not that he’d ever admit it.
“Never attend a morning meeting on an empty stomach,” he said.
“Except there was no meeting.”
“I’m quite well aware of that. I was there, remember? And I couldn’t possibly know he wouldn’t show up until, well, until he didn’t show up.”
“Yeah, but the bottom line is: This whole trip was for nothing.”
“At least we had a nice dinner last night.”
The halibut with crab meat in the Gaslamp District’s Oceanaire Seafood Room had been extraordinary.
“Okay, no argument there. And, frankly, I’m glad the meeting didn’t happen. The whole setup stank of scam.”
Elis gave a sage nod. “Now that I’ve had time to think on it, I do believe you’re right.”
But Elis had known that all along. After all, he’d designed the scam. But not to buy a piece of lost Tesla technology from some mysterious crackpot—also an Elis creation. No, the whole purpose had been to get them both far out of town—to put a mountain range and a hundred-plus miles between them and whatever befell the Duad last night.
Yesterday he’d given his foreman, Jeffrey “Karma” Kendrick, a hefty down payment to arrange for her disappearance. How had he phrased it? Oh, yes. He’d said he wanted her “whereabouts to become a mystery.” Kendrick, a former enforcer for the Gargoyles biker gang, had understood.
It had all seemed rather abstract then. But now, as they approached the town, as the white poles and spinning blades of Tadhak’s windfarm appeared ahead, the reality of it came into sharp focus. He’d ordered another
person’s death…contracted for cold-blooded murder…he’d never dreamed he’d have something like that on his conscience…
They passed the mobile home neighborhoods—where Kendrick lived—and the solar array owned by the clan. And farther to the south, the struts and trusses and gleaming domed crown of the clan’s Tesla tower jutted up from the valley floor.
And then the town: Nespodee Springs, plopped between the desert and the Saw Tooth Mountains, a good drive south from Palm Springs, and a short drive north from the Mexican border. The spa up the hill, shrouded in palm trees, had been a destination back in the days when hot mineral baths were the rage. The place still did business, but nothing like in the past.
And now two parallel rows of one- and two-story buildings flanked the road. People often remarked how the planked boardwalk along the storefronts made Nespodee Springs look like a Wild West town. A number of units had blue tarp hung where their front windows used to be before last Thursday’s earthquake. Rhys cruised past the gas station with its car wash, the market, the café, the liquor store, the Thirsty Cactus bar, the laundromat, Doc Llewelyn’s office, and assorted empty units. Nespodee Springs was in the middle of a long, slow, slide.
But only one unit held any interest for Elis today…the one that called itself Healerina…the one run by the Duad. The name on her birth certificate read Stanka Daley, but she wanted to be addressed by her surname alone: Daley. She presented an innocent millennial’s face to the world, and to the workaday population she was no danger. But she posed a deadly threat to the destiny of the Pendry clan. As head of that clan, it had fallen to Elis to remove the threat.
Her shop, Healerina, where she hawked New Age geegaws to the gullible souls who wandered by, also sported a blue tarp where its display window had been. A Closed signed hung on her front door.
“That’s weird,” Rhys said, as they passed. “Daley’s almost religious about opening at ten.”
He’d asked his son, only two years older than the Duad, to get to know her and learn more
about her, but Rhys had become involved. Too involved. She’d seduced him—mentally and physically—into believing she was no more than what she pretended to be.
Elis kept his tone light. “Perhaps she was out carousing without you last night.”
“She’s not a carouser. And it’s almost noon.” He pulled out his phone and began thumbing the screen. “I’m gonna call.”
“Not while you’re driving.”
“I’m doing twenty miles an hour on a Sunday morning in Nespodee Springs. Think about that, Dad.”
He had a point, but Elis didn’t want him calling now. Didn’t want his son starting down the road toward the realization that he’d never see her again—not just yet. He noted with chagrin that he had her on speed dial.
After a short listen: “Not answering. I hope she’s all right.”
No answer…not today, not ever.
Kendrick had called on the burner phone last night: It’s done…she’s on her kitchen floor with a knife in her heart, put there by the dead guy in her bedroom…worked out perfect. We got a fall guy. It’s all taken care of. All questions answered.
Elis couldn’t help wondering about the “dead guy in her bedroom.” That hadn’t been part of the plan or even—
Best not to think about it. Put it into the box labeled Problem Solved and leave it alone. Yes…Problem Solved…
But the realization came with no burst of elation. A young woman had had her life cut short. Because of Elis. A woman dangerous to the clan, yes, but a fellow human being. He would never be proud of this. And he would take the secret to his grave.
“We’re supposed to go out for dinner tonight,” Rhys said.
Elis turned to him. “Tell me: Do people stare when they see her or remark on her appearance?”
“You mean her hair? No remarks, but they do stare.”
No surprise there. She
had dark hair, as dark as a Cahuilla woman’s, with a stark white patch at the crown. That plus the strange golden skin of her left hand added up to a striking figure.
And it had struck Elis between the eyes last week when he’d seen her close up without the baseball cap she often wore. Because his copy of The Void Scrolls, composed when civilization was young, contained an ancient etching of a human figure, crude and androgynous, with no distinguishing features except a white patch centered in the dark of its hair. Her existence had been foretold.
“I’m sure she’s fine,” he said. “Wouldn’t be the first time she vanished for a few days.”
“She didn’t ‘vanish.’ She went back to her place in LA to pick up a few things.”
“You learned that when she reappeared. She gave you no warning then and maybe this is the same.”
“Maybe. But why not answer her phone?”
“Let’s head home and worry about that later. I’m salivating for Maria’s Sunday brunch.”
Elis couldn’t tell him the real reason he wanted to get home was to unlock his older brother’s door. He still found it hard to believe Cadoc had allowed the Duad into the family home and shown her the film that only the clan Elders were allowed to see. A monstrous betrayal.
But now, with the Duad removed, she could never act on what had been revealed to her in that film, so Cadoc’s betrayal had become moot. He would forgive Cadoc and everything would return to normal.
But not for long. Come the equinox, Elis and the clan would change the world by opening a path for the return of the Visitors. He’d led Rhys to believe that they’d be waiting for the summer solstice, but the real target date, when the heavens would properly align, was the afternoon of March 20, a mere dozen days away. With Rhys becoming infatuated with the Duad, he hadn’t dared to let him know the real plan. No telling what he might let slip in the throes of passion.
But now the path had been cleared. Nothing could stop the Return. The last obstacle—the young woman who called herself “Daley” but whom Elis knew as the Duad—had been removed.
Daley lay in bed and stared at the ceiling as she contemplated her recent death.
Very recent. Less than twelve hours ago Karma Kendrick had stabbed her in the chest, stopping her heart cold. But she hadn’t died, thanks to the sandy-haired guy sitting on the edge of her bed. He wore his usual ensemble of jeans, plaid shirt, and snakeskin cowboy boots.
Not a guy, really. And not really sitting on her bed, either. She reached out and her hand passed through him. Just an image existing only in her visual cortex.
(“Why’d you do that?”)
Not a real voice, either. Just thoughts translated into words in her auditory cortex.
He wanted to be called Pard—how lame was that?—and preferred to appear as a male. But Pard was neither male nor female but rather an it who hadn’t experienced sentience until it invaded Daley’s brain. How she’d hated it—denying its existence at first, calling it a hallucination. And even when she’d come to accept its existence, she’d hated the fact that she was never alone.
But now that thing she’d so hated had become a real person to her…had saved her life not too many hours ago. And in the process, saved its own life too, of course, because if Daley died, Pard died. Pure self-preservation when you got down to it.
But the fact remained: If not for Pard, Daley wouldn’t be lying here ruminating in her bedroom. She’d be starting to stink as she rotted on the kitchen floor in a pool of congealed blood.
“Just thinking,” she said.
Her phone rang before she could answer. When she saw Rhys on the screen, she flopped back on the bed.
(“You’re not answering?”)
“Not sure what to say. I’m sure his dad put Karma up to it. The question is: How much
does Rhys know?”
(“I think it’s safe to say that if he knew you were to be killed, he wouldn’t be calling you.”)
“Not necessarily. If the San Diego trip was to establish an air-tight alibi, it would look suspicious if he didn’t call me when he got back.”
Pard jabbed a finger at her. (“You are devious. But you do realize, don’t you, that the plan had not been to murder you in your bed. Karma brought along duct tape, which is a sure indication that you were to be subdued and carried off.”)
Daley couldn’t suppress a shudder. “I don’t want to think about that.”
(“Can you really imagine Rhys approving of the violations that Karma and Benny obviously had planned?”)
No…she couldn’t. She liked Rhys—genuinely liked him—and couldn’t see how he could have the slightest inkling of what Karma had been up to. But his father…totally different story with that guy.
“So how do I play this?”
(“The only way you can: Pretend nothing happened.”)
“That works if neither of them had anything to do with it.”
(“Even if Daddy Pendry was involved, it still works if Karma keeps his promise to you to disappear.”)
“What if he didn’t? What if he tells Daddy Pendry what happened?”
(“I can’t see that. You appeared outside his trailer in the moonlight with the handle of that knife jutting from your chest. That alone might have been enough to scare him off, but then I gave him such a taste of the horrors—I mean, he wet his pants, Daley. He’s going to run and keep running.”)
“Let’s hope so.” She shuddered and touched the healing wound in her skin where the knife had rammed into her chest. “He’s totally psycho.”
(“But he’s now a totally terrified psycho.”)
She tried to take comfort
in that but couldn’t help flashing back to waking right here in this bed with a bright flashlight beam blinding her and an arm going around her neck in a choke hold. She’d kicked and flailed and pulled at the strangling arm as she heard Pard’s voice yelling in her brain to hold onto him and don’t let go. She struggled on for maybe half a minute that seemed so much longer until the arm loosened and pulled away as her attacker slid off the bed and thumped to the floor.
Pard had slipped into the man—Karma had called him “Benny”—and done something to his heart. Benny would never hurt anyone again.
The no-brainer choice she’d given Karma was either take Benny’s body and never show his face again, or die like Benny and spend eternity in the hell he’d just sampled.
“Enough about that creep,” she said. “Rhys and I had a tentative date for dinner tonight.” He’d said he knew an Italian place in Brawley that served Sunday gravy on, well, Sundays. “I don’t know if I can go through with it—you know, act normal like nothing happened.”
(“Then don’t. But just think: If his father sent Karma, the realization that not only are you still alive but having dinner with his son will drive him insane.”)
Daley had to smile—the first time in what seemed like forever. “Yeah, there’s that.”
Elis fished the old key out of his pocket as he approached Cadoc’s door on the Lodge’s second floor where he’d locked him in yesterday. No one would have missed him. No one would have asked, “Where’s Cadoc?” because Cadoc never showed himself. Cadoc was a wraith, a phantom who moved about only under cover of darkness. He certainly wouldn’t have banged on the door to be let out. Oh, no. That would have called attention to himself. He’d suffered no discomfort, what with his quarters outfitted with an en-suite bathroom and a mini-fridge. And Maria the cook would have slipped his breakfast through the door slot on the floor this morning as she did six days a week.
So, Cadoc’s brief imprisonment was just between him and Elis.
Elis could well understand his son’s self-consciousness about his appearance. Every member
of the clan carried a patch of scaly gray skin somewhere on their body. They called it “the Pendry Patch.” Something had gone wrong with Cadoc, however. He’d been born with an unusually large patch on his back, but instead of remaining stable in size, it began to grow and spread until he was covered head to toe with dry, gray, peeling skin. He left a trail of flakes wherever he went. The condition had somehow affected his voice as well, limiting his speech to grunts.
Elis could see why anyone so afflicted might evolve into something of a recluse. But Cadoc had taken it to an extreme, becoming a dweller in darkness, fitting his quarters with room-darkener shades and venturing out only under cover of night. Hardly anyone outside the immediate family knew he existed.
Elis knocked on the door.
“Cadoc? I’m going to unlock this now. I’ve had time to think and I’m going to forgive your betrayal. However, I must forbid any further contact with that woman.”
A moot point now, of course, but he had to engage in the charade of still believing the Duad was alive.
He heard a faint “Ungh” from the other side of the door.
One grunt meant yes, two meant no.
He inserted the heavy brass key into the old lever tumbler lock and gave it a twist. The latch snapped back with a clank and then Elis pocketed the key. He couldn’t see how he’d ever need it again, but one never could tell.
To reinforce the charade, he added, “Just remember: Stay away from that woman or I’ll be forced to banish you from the clan.”
Just then he door was yanked open and there stood Cadoc—naked. All the room lights were on and the window shades were up, flooding the room with bright, midday light. His gray, peeling skin hung off him, giving him the appearance of a dead tree shedding its bark. His expression—what Elis could read of it in that distorted face—was furious as he thrust a slip of paper at Elis, then slammed the door.
Elis stood in the hallway, stunned. Cadoc rarely if ever showed himself fully clothed, and
yet here he’d shown himself in the altogether.
The note—Cadoc’s customary means of communication—fluttered to the floor. Elis retrieved it.
See what you did to me!
NEVER speak to ME of betrayal!
Elis stared at the words, repeating them in his mind, trying to make sense of them, and then the confusion segued into growing horror as it began to dawn…
His skin…Cadoc was blaming Elis for his skin.
But how could he know? How could Cadoc know? Only the head Elder of the clan was supposed to know the source of the Pendry Patch, only Elis.
Cadoc wandered the Lodge and crept through the town at night. He saw things and heard things. Elis had digitized most of the Scrolls for easier access, and had encrypted the parts that needed to be kept secret from the hoi polloi of the clan. Cadoc, in the course of his sneakings and spyings, must have come across the key to the encrypted sections and learned things he should not be privy to.
But it was hardly fair for Cadoc to blame him for his condition. Elis, just like every Head Elder before him, had only been following tradition as laid down in the Scrolls.
Elis raised his hand to knock—he had to explain.
But what could he say? I would never betray you? I was only doing my duty? I never dreamed this would happen to you and I regret every day that it did?
All true. But then he remembered the rage in Cadoc’s eyes just a moment ago. It would not have abated. Not yet. Maybe never.
He lowered his hand. He’d better give Cadoc some time to cool down. He’d make this right. Once the Visitors returned, an unsightly skin condition would dwindle to insignificance in the face of the wonders of a transformed world.
Elis made his way back toward the front of the Lodge, following the enticing odors of Maria’s brunch wafting from the kitchen. The first floor, where Elis conducted the business and investments of the clan, would be deserted on a Sunday, but the living quarters were alive and redolent of frying
He put on a composed expression as he strolled into the dining room where he found Rhys on the phone. His son’s smile brought him to a stuttering halt. But only for a second. He forced himself forward again, toward the serving table where he poured himself a cup of coffee while eavesdropping on Rhys’s conversation.
“…and yeah, I’m kind of tuckered myself, so why don’t we make it an early night?”…
”I’ll pick you up at six and we’ll head for some Sunday gravy”…
”Deal. See you then.”
He ended the call with that smile stuck on his face. He didn’t seem aware that his father was there. Elis put down his coffee cup before he dropped it.
Making a dinner date…he knew from that smile that it wasn’t with Fflur, the young clanwoman the Elders had chosen for him. It could only be…but that meant…
He opened his mouth to speak but no words came. He cleared his throat but Rhys beat him to it.
“Oh, hey, Dad. Didn’t see you there.”
A swallow, then, “Dinner plans?”
“Yeah, that was Daley.”
No! This couldn’t be!
“She’s…she’s all right?”
“What? Oh, yeah, no worries. The time change hit her and she slept in.”
How was this possible?
Rhys frowned at him. “You all right, Dad?”
He jumped as Maria spoke behind him.
“And what would you
like today, señor?”
Eat? He couldn’t think of eating.
“You know, Maria, I think I’ll pass. I’m feeling a little tired.”
Giving a little bow, she returned to the kitchen.
“You sure you’re all right?” Rhys said. “You look a little pale.”
“I’m fine, fine,” he said with a more snap than he’d intended. “I’m going to putter around the office for a while.”
With that he hurried away before the crushing disappointment and the anger it spurred could show. The Closed sign on her store had drawn him down this path, leading him to believe his problem had been solved. That and Kendrick’s lies…
…she’s on her kitchen floor with a knife in her heart…it’s all taken care of…
Something must have interfered with Kendrick’s plan. But what? Elis supposed even the best plans fell victim to unforeseen circumstances. She might have left town unexpectedly and Kendrick had been unable to locate her. A million possibilities. Why lie? He had to know he’d be found out.
Elis shut his office door behind him and pulled out his phone. He’d disposed of his burner and hated calling Kendrick on his own. Yes, the man was his foreman at the solar array so he had many plausible reasons to call him, but it spun a web of connection between them, and he wanted as little connection as possible. But he had to know what went wrong. Now.
The call went straight to voicemail. No rings, just an automated voice telling him to leave a message after the tone.
Well, that wasn’t good. It meant the phone was either turned off or the power drained. The Duad blithely going about her business and Kendrick incommunicado. It should have been the other way around.
Something very wrong here.
(“When do you want me to start my time-out?”) Pard said.
Dressed in his usual, he sat atop a glass case where she displayed the local Cahuilla tribe's
dreamcatchers and some other New Age paraphernalia. Daley figured if he weighed anything he would have crushed them and cracked the glass.
“I don’t,” she said as she loitered in the shadows a few feet back from Healerina’s open front door, waiting for Rhys to take her to dinner.
Yesterday at five thirty the sun would have been well down below the mountain peaks and the street darkening. Today it was still up and shining. The wonders of Daylight Saving Time.
“Usually you want me gone when you’re out with young Pendry.”
Pard had figured a way to cut himself off from all of Daley’s sensory inputs and allow her the alone time she craved every so often, and some privacy when the situation required it—like going out with Rhys.
“But this time I want your input on whether you think there’s anything off about him.”
(“I told you I like him.”)
“I believe you said he had a core of decency you found very attractive.”
(“Very good. My words exactly. And then you asked me if I was gay.”)
“A logical question, I think.”
(“As a being of pure intellect I am happy to be free of such mundane distractions as sex. I can’t say the same for you, however, which is why I assumed you’d want me to take a time-out.”)
Daley shook her head. “In case you forgot, someone murdered me at three o’clock this morning. That tends to take a girl out of the mood.”
(“So young Pendry’s not going to get lucky tonight?”)
She sighed. “Neither of us are.”
(“Neither of us is. ‘Neither’ is a single noun.”)
Pard’s analness—she wondered if there was such a word—used to tick her off. But last night his anal nature had saved her life. So as far as she was concerned, he could be as anal as he pleased.
The weird white Tadhak worker bus rumbled past on its way uphill from the windfarm to the even weirder Tadhak family compound. She guessed the wind turbines didn’t take Sunday off so neither could the workers. The dark windows always creeped her out. If someone was staring at her, she wanted to see his face.
Just as it passed, Rhys’s Highlander pulled to a stop before the store. Daley stepped out and, as was her practice, got in before he could scoot around and open the door for her.
He leaned toward her for a kiss but she held up a hand. “No PDA, remember?”
(“You really aren’t in the mood,”) Pard said from the backseat.
Everybody knew everybody in this tiny town and every one of them talked. She was determined to be known as a local business woman, not “the Pendry kid’s girl.”
“Oh, right, right.”
“So how was San Diego?” she said, pushing the conversation to neutral ground. “Did your father get taken to the cleaners?”
She’d warned him that this fellow wanting to sell secret Tesla technology stank of a scam, and he’d agreed, but his father had insisted on going to San Diego and talking to him.
“Fortunately, the guy never showed.”
“Maybe he found a bigger fish.”
“Maybe.” He gave her a close look. “You okay?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know. You seem kind of…”
As he groped for a word she said, “Stressed?”
“It’s been a stressful day.”
(“The understatement of the century!”)
“Anything I can do?”
“No. It’s all taken care of.” She turned the topic back to him. “I’m glad San Diego
turned out okay.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t know if my father would have been taken in or not. I’m thinking yes. His bullshit detector is a little weak—no, make that a lot weak.”
“He’s into wild conspiracy theories and all that?”
Rhys shook his head. “Worse.”
(“Carefullll…you know things you’re not supposed to.”)
I’m well aware. Let’s watch his reaction.
Rhys gave her a slow, sidelong look. “Why do you say that?”
“Something Doc Llewellyn said when he dropped by the shop: ‘The clan has its own unique religion.’”
“Did he tell you about it?”
“Nothing beyond ‘We keep it to ourselves.’”
“Yeah, we do.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“I’d rather not. Certain aspects make Scientology look sensible.”
“You sound like an apostate.”
Where had that word come from?
(“From yours truly, naturally.”)
He shrugged. “I took a comparative religion course once and found that every religion has a core belief that you have to buy into in order to be a True Believer, and I never came across one that I didn’t find a little ridiculous at its heart.”
“Including your clan’s.”
He laughed. “Especially the clan’s.”
(“I told you I liked this guy.”)
But can we believe him?
(“I could take a look inside. I won’t be able to read his thoughts but I can gauge his emotions.”)
Sounds like a plan.
(“Okay, but I need contact.”)
Daley laid her left hand, the golden one, palm up on the seat console between them.
“Hold my hand?”
He gave her a surprised look but never hesitated.
“This isn’t a PDA?” he said as he wrapped her hand in his.
She nodded at the empty desert road stretching before them. “I don’t call this public.”
(“Okay, going in.”)
Rhys gave her hand a squeeze. “This is nice. So simple but…nice.”
Daley only smiled and waited for Pard. She didn’t have to wait long.
That was quick.
(“Well, his emotions are all up front.”)
(“He is suffused with happiness being with you and holding your hand.”)
Daley felt bad now for doubting him.
(“You have nothing to fear from this man, Daley.”)
She returned Rhys’s hand squeeze. “Yeah, this is nice.”
Nicer than you’ll ever know.
Elis waited until after sundown before driving down to the trailer park, cursing himself for his compulsiveness. But he had to know.
He would have preferred full dark because he knew his Land Rover would stick out among all the residents’ economy cars. But he’d never been to Kendrick’s home, and he’d need some ambient light to find it.
The so-called streets in the park were little more than narrow sandy lanes, and poorly marked, but eventually he found 46 Iguana Lane—a double-wide mobile home with no signs of life. He stopped in front of it, got out, and
knocked on the door.
“He ain’t home,” said a male voice behind him.
Elis turned to see a portly, bald, elderly fellow standing by the rear of the Land Rover.
Damn. He’d hope to bring this off without being noticed. Well, he couldn’t very well ignore the man, so…
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. Truck’s been gone all day. Reason I know is we share a parking area that he usually hogs.”
This was more information than Elis needed or cared to know.
“Do you know when he’ll be back?”
“He don’t clear his schedule with me, mister. What you want with him? Gonna send him back to jail?”
From the man’s tone Elis gathered that news like that would make his day.
“Why would you think that?”
“Because he’s a mean sonovabitch and it’s only a matter of time before he fucks up again.”
“Well, I assure you, I have no such authority and none of that is any of my concern.” Elis climbed back behind the wheel. “Good evening to you, sir.”
As he drove away he checked the rearview and saw the man staring after him, shaking his head. No surprise that Jeffrey “Karma” Kendrick was not a good neighbor, but where had he been all day? He certainly hadn’t spent it disposing of the Duad’s remains. And where was he now?
The possibilities seemed endless. Elis had given him five thousand as a down payment. Had that much cash in hand proved too much of a temptation? Had he driven to Vegas or the like for a bender of gambling and whoring?
Elis almost hoped that was the explanation, because he found the current situation more than a little unsettling: He’d sent out a killer to make the Duad disappear and the killer had disappeared instead.
Who was this woman? Really…who was she? ...
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