Jared had no trouble navigating through the ice and powder, but red and blue lights lit the inside of the cab, and the Escalade came to a stop next to a nine foot snow drift.
“Can’t he just call?” Jared said, gripping the steering wheel.
Ryan knocked on the window, and Jared lowered it. Ryan began to speak, but Jared let his finger off the button, stopping the window half-way.
Ryan waited patiently, and then Jared lowered the window again. When it was at chin level, Ryan addressed me, but Jared, once again, let his finger off the button.
“Funny,” Ryan said. “Where’s Claire? I haven’t heard from her today.”
“It’s possible she’s not going to pick up the phone every time you call , Ryan,” Jared said, amused.
Ryan's eyes focused on me. “Have you seen her?”
“Not today. If she’s not answering, then she must be busy.”
Jared sighed. “If you pul me over every time you can’t get Claire on the phone, we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other.”
“I just…,” he shook his head, “I just came across some information I wanted to share with her. About the investigation.”
“Like what?” Jared asked, annoyed, but curious.
Ryan narrowed his eyes. “Walter Grahm was the man that tried to rob Nina outside the pub. Ronnie Studebaker, whose friends call ed him ‘Stu’, was the man that stabbed me. Robert Benson was with them. They were never caught, or charged.”
“Yeah. So?” Jared said, impatient.
“They were al detectives of the Providence Police Department. Now they’re dead. Grahm was kil ed while answering a robbery call , Benson stopped breathing in his sleep, and Stu went missing. His body has never been found. I can’t account for the fourth man involved in the attack.”
“Do you have a point, Ryan?” Jared said.
“Commissioner Johnson and six members of state government, in addition to seven police officers have come to untimely deaths in the last eighteen months, including Kit Anderson. Grahm was kil ed the same night twenty-three deaths were reported in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Jared laughed once. “You’re not tel ing me anything I don’t know, Ryan.”
“Exactly. How do you know this information unless you are responsible for forty-one deaths?”
“Whoa! You are way off, Ryan,” I said, shocked at his conclusion.
Ryan leaned into the window. “You know what I think? I think the cops were dirty, and that they and those dead officials are part of some sort of crime ring, and Nina got mixed up in it somehow. There’s no way you could have kil ed twenty-three people at the same time in two different states, so I think they lied about what happened. You with me so far?”
Jared grinned, amused with Ryan’s story. “I’m with you. You’re ful of crap, but I’m with you.”
“I think everyone that’s dead is a threat to you somehow because they know too much about whatever it is that you do. The question is, how much is too much? And how much more can Claire tel me before you take me out?”
Jared laughed out loud. “You should ease up on the cop shows, Ryan. Now, if you don’t mind, my fiancé and I have wedding shopping to do.”
“Wait,” Ryan said. “You’re not married, yet?” He looked to me, genuine surprise on his face.
“We’ve been busy,” I said, embarrassed.
Jared’s jaw tensed. “The date has been set. June first. We’l be sure to send you an invitation…that is if I haven’t taken you out, yet.”
The wheels spun against the wet snow, but the Escalade didn’t move. “Damn,” Jared said.
He pushed open the door, forcing Ryan to jerk back, and disappeared behind the vehicle. The snow drift kept me from getting out on my side, so I climbed over the console, and Ryan helped me to the ground.
“What are you doing?” I asked Jared.
“Digging the truck out. It’l be just a minute, Sweetheart,” he assured me.
“Do you want help?” Ryan asked.
“No,” Jared said quickly.
I turned to Ryan, crossing my arms. “You don’t real y think Jared is responsible for your partner’s death, do you?”
“If he is, Kit’s not the first cop he’s kil ed. There is a single connection tying every single one of those deaths together. Maybe you could talk your boy into keeping his gun in his holster until I figure it out. Or maybe you could just tel me.”
“I don’t know anything,” I said, feigning offense.
“I saw what Jared is capable of the night I was stabbed. I’ve experienced first hand what Claire can do. They aren’t…normal. I know Grahm and the other cops were dirty, but Anderson was a good man. He didn’t deserve to die. Quit treating me like I can’t keep a secret and just tel me.”
I looked past Ryan to see Jared stand up, look around, and then lean against the Escalade, freeing it from the ruts without effort.
“Okay, Baby. We’re out. Let’s go.”
Ryan walked to the Escalade, evaluating the slide marks the tires had made. He craned his neck at Jared. “I’m going to figure this out. It would save us al a lot of time and energy if you’d just tel me.”
“Let’s go, Nina,” Jared said.
I nodded, climbing into the cab.
“Maybe I could help you. Have you thought about that?” Ryan said.
Jared took off, leaving him in the snow-buried street.
I pul ed my coat tighter around me and stuffed my hands under my arms. “It wouldn’t hurt to have a connection in the police department.”
“Not Ryan,” Jared said.
“You sure talk a lot of smack to Claire about thinking with your emotions. You’re not being objective at al !”
Jared ignored me, instead, pul ing over when he noticed a woman trying to dig the snow out from under her buried tires.
A short drive around town turned into a three hour- long aid mission to free stranded motorists from the ice and snow. I would pretend to help, and Jared would pul or push cars and trucks out of snow drifts, ditches, and the side of the road.
It felt good to use Jared’s abilities to help others; even if it was something smal .
When we returned to the house, Claire’s Lotus was in the drive, along with a police cruiser.