“That’s fabulous.” Mercy wasn’t surprised. Rose had loved children. She wanted to ask Rose if she’d ever fallen in love. If she’d ever kissed a man. If she ever worried about the future, because one day their parents wouldn’t be around.
Who am I fooling? I bet she takes more care of Mom and Dad than they do of her.
Rose had never let her lack of sight stop her independence.
“The chickens are my responsibility. Mom doesn’t ride much anymore, so I keep the horses exercised, and I do most of the gardening.”
Tasks Mercy had hated as a teen. Except for the riding. “It sounds like things are good for you.”
“It’s a different world these days, Mercy.” Her face lit up. “And do you know what’s the best? The technology that’s available to make my life easier.”
“Dad doesn’t have a problem with that?”
Rose laughed. “He reminds me to never rely on it. But I’ve survived without it, and I can do it again. Watch this. What’s your phone number?” She pulled a cell phone out of her pocket and proceeded to dictate and then send Mercy a text. Then she held the phone over a teacup and, using an app, the phone correctly identified it out loud as a red teacup. “It reads e-mail out loud for me, websites, articles, texts, and books.”
“That’s amazing, Rose.” Mercy loved seeing the excitement on her sister’s face. She understood her sister’s position on the advancing technology. Mercy used every computer tool available to help her do her job as best as possible, but if it all vanished one day, she was mentally prepared to face the dark.
Rose set a plate of homemade cookies on the table. “Do you miss the life?” she asked softly.
“No.” The answer was sure on Mercy’s lips. “But I miss you all.”
“You never called. Or wrote,” Rose whispered.
“Dad made his position extremely clear. And Mom backed him up.”
“As she should,” added Rose.
Mercy froze, wanting to shout that her mother could make decisions of her own. Deborah Kilpatrick didn’t have to bend her will to satisfy her husband. Instead Mercy bit into a cookie.
It’s not my place to lecture.
“Do you think about that night?” Rose asked in a small voice as she placed tea bags in two cups, her back to Mercy. If the room hadn’t been perfectly quiet, Mercy would have missed the question.
Rose turned around, and Mercy noticed her knuckles were white as she gripped the cups. She set the cups down on the table and took a seat. “The water will be another few minutes.”
“It’s part of the reason I’m here, Rose. You know the FBI is investigating the recent murders of the preppers, right?”
Rose nodded, her hand still clenched around one of the cups.
“Did you know that mirrors were broken in each of their homes?”
Rose jerked, sending her cup sliding across the table. Mercy snatched it before it went off the edge. She took Rose’s hand and wrapped her fingers back around the cup. Her hand felt like ice.
“He’s dead,” Rose whispered.
“One of them is. One got away.”
“The three of us swore to never tell anyone what happened.”
“And we’ve all stuck to that promise,” Mercy assured her.
“They killed Pearl’s friend back then. And that other girl.”
“We never knew that for certain.”
“Maybe the one man wasn’t actually dead.” Rose’s words tumbled out of her mouth, tripping over one another. “Maybe he was just wounded and now he’s come back.”
“The second man could have done these recent murders. The man you heard, but we didn’t see.”
“I’m not positive I recognized the second voice that night.”
“Yes, you are,” corrected Mercy. “Your hearing was sharp. Back then you knew you’d heard the second man’s voice somewhere before. Absolutely positive. If you’re doubting it now, it’s simply because so much time has gone by. But I remember your certainty.”
Rose seemed to fold in on herself. “I never heard his voice again. I’ve listened. For fifteen years, I’ve listened closely to every man I’ve met, wondering if he was there that night.” She shuddered. “I can still hear it in my dreams.”
Mercy’s heart broke. “Have you asked Levi what he did with the man who died?”
“I tried a few times after you first left. He’d always cut me off. He doesn’t like to talk about it.”
“None of us do,” whispered Mercy.
“All Levi would say is that no one would ever find the body.” Rose’s clenched cup rattled on the tabletop. “He would have killed us, Mercy. We’re both lucky to be alive.”
“Oh, Mercy. Do you think he could have lived? Could Levi have been wrong? Has the second man been in Eagle’s Nest all this time?”
“I think I need to talk to Levi.”
Mercy stood and walked over to one of the windows on the east side of the house. She touched the wall, feeling the small area where the texture was suddenly smoother. The paint still matched perfectly.
“Is it still invisible?” Rose asked, not turning her head in Mercy’s direction. “Sometimes I worry it shows. I can almost feel it.”
“No one can see the hole from the bullet.” Mercy studied the floor, remembering the blood she’d had to clean up. She and Rose had worked for hours, terrified the police would find a trace. Every inch of the floor and several of the walls had been scrubbed down that night.
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