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“I’d bet the big bucks that he did,” Sam said thoughtfully.

“Now you’re being exasperating,” Jenna said, opening the refrigerator door for the salad she’d tossed and setting it on the table. “It sounds as if we’re trying to prove that Malachi did commit the murders.”

“No,” Sam argued, looking at her and hiding a smile. If he were ever in trouble, he would definitely want her in his corner. She was determined and passionate in her defense. She sincerely believed in Malachi’s innocence. When he was with Malachi and heard the youth speak, he believed in him, too. When he looked at the facts, he felt that belief waver.

Jenna wasn’t wavering.

“What’s going to happen when we make it to trial is this—the state will make every effort to show Malachi in a bad light. They will put forth every reason he would naturally have been the one to commit the crimes. I’m debating whether or not to put Malachi on the stand, because they will try to crucify him. Then again, if he can be as convincing and articulate as he was with us, he’ll be a good witness in his own defense. I don’t know yet—I have to look at this from every possible angle, because that’s what the prosecution is going to do. One of the things I have to create is reasonable doubt, and one of the best ways to do that is to think like our opposition.”

“Or find the real killer,” Jenna said, sitting opposite him and staring at him. “That’s what you did in your last case. And, now, you have me. And, unofficially, an entire team of investigators.”

He kept his eyes level with hers and hoped that his years as an attorney had made him a really damned good liar. “That’s wonderful, of course.”

Jenna gazed at him with cool and disdainful eyes. His acting wasn’t that good. “I work with people who can find the tiniest discrepancies on film, and who can find out about any piece of information possible on a computer. They will contribute legwork, phone work, paperwork—anything you want. So your problem would be…?”

“I don’t have a problem. I said, that’s wonderful,” Sam reminded her.

“Jenna, lass, you’ve a starving man down here,” Jamie said cheerfully.

“Smells wonderful,” Sam said.

“Irish-Hungarian goulash. The very best!” Jamie said.

When the food was dished out and Jenna was seated, Sam said, “Quite frankly, it is all a lot like acting. A good attorney can act and speak and write up summations that either prove a point, or leave a wide margin for doubt. And we also start out with the question, where do we want to go? We’re going on the premise that Malachi Smith is innocent of murder, and, while they’re not prosecuting the boy for the other murders, the state will have as their default assumption that the same person or persons murdered the Smiths, Peter Andres and Earnest Covington. Since they were all bloody killings committed by some kind of a sharp blade in a fairly small area, all known to the boy—it seems like a plausible assumption.

“So, we want to find the person or persons who might have actually committed the murders. That will mean investigating the victims. Of course we’ll be looking at the Smith murders, but if we can also cast doubt on the police’s assumption about the other two, we’ll go a long way to getting them to reconsider Malachi for any of the killings. We’ll question friends and whatever relatives we can find, and we also need to know if they were thought of fondly in town—or if they were thought of at all. The killings might have been random or specific, but I’d bet on specific. That means motive, and we need to find out why someone would have killed these particular people. It might have been convenience, or there might have been a more practical reason.”

“I need to see the house,” Jenna said.

“Why?” Sam demanded. “There’s going to be a lot of blood spatter. People were killed there.”

“The house itself may have clues,” Jenna argued.

“Are you going to talk to the ghosts?” he asked drily.

“Maybe,” she said evenly. “Sam, everything you’re saying is exactly right. We do know what happened. But I need to see all the sites—we have to go to Andover and see the barn where Peter Andres was killed, and also get into the neighbor’s house. But we need to start with Lexington House. You know that! You’re going to defend Malachi. You need to know exactly what happened. And you’re friends with Detective John Alden, so…”

Sam sighed. “All right. Tomorrow morning. We’ll start with the house.”

Lexington House. Jenna had never actually been in the old colonial building, but she had an idea of what the arrangement of rooms would be like; many such homes had been built in a similar manner. The porch led to a mudroom, and beyond that was an entry hallway. The hall stretched the length of the house, the staircase to one side. The first door to the right would lead to a parlor. Upstairs, there would be four bedrooms, two on either side of the house.

Detective John Alden led the way, ripping off the crime-scene tape and unlocking the front door for them.

As she had expected: mudroom. Work jackets hung on hooks in the small vestibule, and work boots were lined up against the wall. There was a long hallway with doors leading off to either side of the house, and a set of stairs against the left wall that led to the rooms above. They followed John Alden to the first door on the left.

Blood remained on the walls. The spray pattern was terrifying—there was so much blood. Four people, murdered here just two days ago, two of them in this room.

Two here, in the parlor. Mr. Abraham Smith and his wife.

Chalk marks on the floor designated the positions where their bodies had lain.

“You can move into the room about three feet—no farther,” Alden warned.

“We appreciate your assistance in being here, John,” Sam told him.

Alden was still for a minute, weighing his answer. “We do have a chief of police,” he said. “And the chief wants every possible effort made on this case so that there aren’t any more historic mysteries floating around out there. The murders are heinous, and they’re not fancy legends—it’s a seventeen-year-old boy who has been accused. I worked hard for this badge, it’s something I’ve always wanted. And I don’t want any surprises when we get to court on this one.”

“Noted,” Sam said. “And still appreciated.”

“Just be careful where you’re walking,” Alden said gruffly.

Jamie took a step in to the left. Sam went to the right.

Blood. What remained of the carnage.

A table was knocked over. A pile of bloody clothing lay next to a lamp that had presumably sat upon the table. A quilt—covered in blood—had been ripped from the old sofa.

The bricks of the fireplace were dotted with stains and spray.

“Abraham Smith got it right there, in front of the fireplace. You can see where his body lay, right there,” John Alden pointed out. “The missus was over on the floor by the sofa—looks like she dragged the quilt down and knocked over the table. She had hack marks on her arms. I think she stood up to protest, and was axed down right there. She staggered a few feet, and then died. And that pile there—that’s the kid’s clothes. And this room is only the beginning,” he said wearily.

Jenna could barely hear him. As he spoke, she felt as if he faded away, along with the others in the room. The very color of the air distorted, taking on a gray hue. A crude straw broom appeared by the fireplace. A wire basket of wood was on the brick apron in front of the hearth. There were no lamps. Candles sat on rough wooden tables by hardwood furniture, and sconces were attached to the walls.

There was a woman in severe, puritanical dress pacing in front of the fireplace. Once she had been pretty. Her face was worn down by weather, toil and worry. Her brow was furrowed. She kept looking toward the door.

A breeze seemed to strike Jenna from the back.

She turned. The front door had burst open—two youths, one perhaps ten, another twelve, came running into the room, panicked. They rushed to their mother, hugging her one by one.

“They’ve declared against Rebecca Nurse,” the older boy practically yelled. “Oh, Mother, it grows so frightening.”

“Father says that evil must be uprooted, and that Goody Nurse is surely evil. If the girls say that she dances with the devil, she must die!” the younger boy said.

The breeze seemed to grow very chill, though it appeared that a summer sun blazed outside the gray miasma within the house. Once again, someone entered the room.

He was in breeches and boots and a white cotton shirt. His long, graying hair was parted cleanly in the middle.

He carried an ax.

Eli Lexington! Jenna thought.

He walked into the room, his hands moving on the ax as if he were testing the weight of it.

“Eli?” his wife said softly.

“Evil must die!” he roared. “Let those who dance with the devil go to the devil, and let their spawn rest in hell aside them!”

Jenna felt as if she had been kicked in the stomach. Eli Lexington walked across the room, and despite his wife’s scream of protest, he brought the ax down on her shoulders, and then, wielding it again, took it viciously down upon her fallen body. The boys stared, frozen in horror. Jenna tried to close her eyes against the vision, but the image just appeared in her mind, and there was no way to hide from the horror that unfolded before her.

Eli turned on the oldest boy.

“Run!” the child yelled to his brother.

The word was cut off as the ax struck his head.

The little one had no chance to run. “Though shalt pluck out evil—thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!” Eli roared.

He continued to vigorously hack at his family. The last scream and moan died away. The gray air seemed to fade, and Jenna was aware that her uncle and Sam Hall were looking at her with grave concern.

She felt weak, faint, as if she would fall. She couldn’t do that.

“Excuse me. I need some air,” she murmured. She turned and almost stumbled. Jamie, however, was already at her side, grabbing her arm.