“One of the first women accused was Sarah Bishop,” Jenna said. “She was supposedly disagreeable, and her husband’s children from a previous marriage also wanted property she owned. They say, too, that she wore a scarlet bodice—not very Puritan of her!—and had drinking parties. She’d been accused before, so she was an easy target.”
“One of the first people hanged,” Sam said. “She wouldn’t confess to being a witch.”
“And Malachi will not confess to being a murderer,” Jenna said.
Sam nodded. “He’s an easy target, too,” he said softly. “And I’m willing to bet he’s being targeted for a reason. It looks like all evidence is against him—just as, to the Puritans, it looked as if there was solid evidence against those they executed. And Giles Corey—pressed to death because he wouldn’t make a plea. The old bastard didn’t intend to let anyone get a hold of his property, and by the legal system, not giving a plea protected his property.”
“I’d have let them have my property,” Jenna said. “Life is so much better.”
Sam laughed. “Me, too, probably. But by the law, if he didn’t plead, he couldn’t be tried, and because he wasn’t tried, he died in full possession of his property. And to force someone to make a plea so that they could be tried, they were pressed. Giles Corey was an old buzzard—he testified against his own wife. But he endured two days of pain—his tongue bulged out and the sheriff had to put it back in his mouth with his cane, and the old man still endured. ‘More weight!’ is all that he ever said, according to the records, and witnesses were horrified. What happened, of course, wasn’t caused by any one person, but belief mingling with old grievances and the social structure and laws of the day. The thing is, we’ve come far, but we’ll never get past being human. Malachi isn’t accepted in society. Good people will easily believe he could be a killer. I have to prove reasonable doubt, and that’s going to be hard. He wasn’t arrested for murdering Peter Andres or Earnest Covington; he was arrested for the murders of his family. I have all kinds of motions filed, but since he wasn’t legally accused of the other murders, I most probably won’t be able to use the fact that he was seen elsewhere when Earnest Covington was murdered. It depends on how all the motions filed sit with the judge. I have to prove reasonable doubt in those murders, and since he was covered in their blood…”
“His explanation is reasonable,” Jenna pointed out.
Sam stood and offered a hand down to her. “Bridget Bishop wasn’t really hanged for what she did. She was hanged for who she was.”
“You believe that Malachi is facing the same fate?” she asked.
“Yes. But with one big difference.”
“The law has become more equitable?” Jenna asked.
Sam grinned. “No,” he said. “He has me.” She was startled when he touched her cheek in something that was almost a tender gesture.
“And,” he added, “he has you.”
Sam joined them again that night at dinner, but it wasn’t much of a social occasion. He spent half of his time on the phone with his assistant in Boston, discussing the paperwork he wanted done. During the meal, he talked earnestly with Jamie, wanting to know more about the boy’s psychological makeup. Jenna spent most of the evening listening, and realizing that the more she watched Sam, the more she was drawn to him. She hated to admit the fact—even to herself, or especially to herself—that there was something about the testosterone-filled energy he exuded that was seducing her.
Sam mentioned that he was going to visit Malachi in his hospital-slash-jail cell tomorrow, and then head to his office to deal with some of the massive amounts of paperwork that seemed to go with every sneeze. It had to be done—it was the major part of the game of law. Jamie was going to accompany him and spend time with Malachi.
“The law these days is demanding,” Sam began. “But ultimately it’s a good thing. The witchcrafts trials couldn’t have existed today, but we learned a lot about ‘hearsay’ evidence because of the injustices of the past. And, thank God, there’s no longer such a thing as ‘spectral’ evidence. But, the paperwork! I really want to talk to the Yates kid, but his mother has threatened me with every lawsuit in the book if I go near him. I’m going to have to have help on that. And I’d also like to have an interview with Samantha Yeager, find out what, if anything, her connection to the Smiths was. But I have to head into Boston and the office for a few hours. You should probably come with us,” Sam told Jenna.
“I’m afraid I would be worthless helping you with legal paperwork,” she told him.
He frowned. “You could spend the time with Malachi and see if there was something else in his mind that might help us, something we haven’t discovered yet.”
“Jamie is his friend, and has been his doctor,” Jenna pointed out. “I can get more done here.”
He arched a brow. “Jenna—”
“Maybe I can get near David Yates,” she said.
That brought a frown. “It could be dangerous for you to be here,” Sam said, looking at Jamie as if for help, but not wanting to give away what happened yesterday.
“I’m a Federal agent,” Jenna reminded him. “And that’s not going to change. I can handle myself around dangerous people. But, besides that, no one is going to attack me. The killer would know that the second something happened while Malachi was in custody, the whole concept that he was a maniacal killer driven to acts of extreme violence because of some strict fundamentalist upbringing would be in the trash, and the hunt would be on again. I’ll be fine. I’ll be more helpful here.”
Sam wagged a finger at her. “You need to be careful.”
“I always am,” she assured him.
“Jamie?” Sam asked.
“Sam, she just looks really sweet. There’s little as tough as an Irishwoman,” Jamie confirmed.
She looked at her uncle, not sure whether to appreciate his support, or tell him that she wasn’t exactly a sumo wrestler. But she did want to explore on her own, and even though it seemed that Sam wasn’t scoffing her “sight” in the way he had been, she knew that he had difficulty believing in any kind of ESP.
“See? Tougher than nails,” Jenna said. She smiled, liking the way Sam was looking at her. It was nice to feel that he came with the instinct to protect, even if she didn’t feel that she needed to be protected. Certainly not in broad daylight, and not when the streets were filled with people.
Then again, she had to admit, protection wasn’t exactly what she wanted when she looked at him….
“All right,” Sam said, “but you need to stay out of trouble.”
“What kind of trouble could I possibly get into?”
“Legal trouble, too,” Sam said gruffly.
“Seriously, there’s nothing for you to worry about. The killer honestly can’t act at all. We’ve agreed we’re not dealing with an all-out psycho who’s acting willy-nilly, but with someone possessing very specific, material motives. So, you see, in the devious little plot—whatever it might be—that’s going on, I couldn’t possibly be safer.”
Soon after, she walked Sam to the door. She found him hesitating as he said good-night; he looked at her awkwardly, which seemed odd—he was so totally a man of the world. She couldn’t imagine that he had ever been awkward in a social situation.
But they weren’t exactly in a social situation.
He started to say something, and then didn’t. Then he touched her cheek again, and his fingers seemed to linger just a minute.
“Be careful, kid, really,” he said, and his voice was gruff.
She smiled at him. “In my experience, honestly, a ghost never killed anyone.”
She hesitated. “The scariest unknown in the world is the human mind,” she continued on. “But in that, a ghost is no scarier than a dog, really. But any kind of suggestion is like hypnotism. People have claimed that all kinds of things have ‘made them do it.’ A dog, video games, television, the movies, ghosts—or the devil. I’m not afraid of ghosts. I can be very leery and careful of people, but I won’t do anything that could remotely be considered dangerous, okay?”
He nodded. He stood there another minute, looking at her, and she was surprised that, although he no longer touched her, she could feel warmth emanating from him that almost reached out and stroked the length of her body. Heat rushed through her, and it was very hard to maintain her even eye contact with him, to give nothing away of the sudden longing that rushed through her.
Was it him?
Was it wishful thinking?
She wasn’t without self-confidence, but she knew his type.
Type? she mocked herself. Wasn’t that judging unfairly?
He was wealthy; he was a powerful man, and he had the kind of steadfast assurance that was sensual in itself. He drew attention when he walked into a room. Men admired him, and women fantasized about him.
Which, of course, she was doing right then.
And women would easily come, and just as easily go, out of his life.
“Good night,” he said somewhere in the middle of her internal monologue. And then he was gone.
That night, she felt something on her bed. And again, despite her assurances about ghosts to Sam, despite her beliefs, she felt an odd sensation of fear. She wanted to reach for the light. She wanted to run out of the house.
There was an old woman sitting at her bedside. A very sad-looking old woman.
For an insane moment she thought that the ghost, apparition or figment of her imagination was going to say something incredibly grave and overused, such as “The truth is out there!”
But the figure simply stared at her with dignity, and then spoke softly. “You must save the innocents. Let not the blood of the innocent be shed.”
And then, Jenna felt a stirring of the air, and something that seemed cold and warm at the same time touch her cheek.