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“All I’ve tried to do from the start is ascertain the truth.”

“The truth was handed to you on a silver platter on your drive into town,” she said. “Is that why you decided to take on the case? You just like a challenge? Or do you actually feel that sorry for the poor, demented kid?”

“I’m a sucker, I guess, for kids covered in blood.”

“Well, I honestly wish you luck.”

“Just curious—what do you think will happen now? The kid will probably have to sell the house. Should I see to it that he starts a bidding war between you and Andy Yates?”

Samantha Yeager took no offense at all. She stroked the back of his hand and seemed to stretch like a feral cat. “Oh, you are a naughty boy, thinking that Andy Yates or I might want to capitalize on this!”

“But you will, won’t you?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. Frankly, I don’t know if I even want the place anymore. It’s a long way down the road, the way I see it. I mean, the kid has a fantastic attorney, doesn’t he? Maybe you’ll still get him off.”

Sam stood. “Maybe I will. Who knows? Thanks for your time.”

“Oh, well, you’ll be paying for it,” she said.

He started out the curtain. She called him back. “Hey, handsome.”

He turned.

She smiled and leaned forward, crushing her breasts together and pushing the boa’s head from its perch. “If Red gets boring, give me a call.”

He came back in and leaned toward her, heedless of the boa. “I’ll do that,” he said. “But you know what they say about the Irish, and especially those with red hair. Tempers—and other things—run hot. But, hey, thanks for the invite.”

He smiled, reached into his pocket and produced one of his cards. He slipped it under the boa and into her cleavage.

“Nice touch,” she purred.

“Call me, will you, if you think of anything?”

“I can think of many things.”

Sam smiled again, turned and walked out. He paid his bill at the counter, slipping the clerk an extra ten for getting him in.

She rewarded him with a look of absolute adoration.

“Madam Sam” must have been raking it in, while the clerk just got to work.

Jackson was no longer in the store. Sam went out into the street to look for him, and at that moment his phone rang.

“I found a few strays,” Jackson’s voice told him. “Come on down to the wine bar. Jenna and Angela are here. I’m thinking it’s time to compare notes.”

“On my way,” Sam said, hanging up and heading the few doors down.

Will had gone back to put on another show for the appreciative audience enjoying Haunted Happenings. When Sam arrived, he squeezed in next to Angela.

Jenna couldn’t help but rue the fact that she was positioned between Angela and Jackson.

Getting ridiculous! she warned herself.

“How was your reading?” Jackson asked.

“Interesting. I’m going to crash and burn,” Sam said cheerfully.

“She knew who you were, right?” Jenna asked.

“Oh, yes. Well, shall we compare notes?”

“Here?” Angela asked.

Sam shrugged. “We’re going to be lucky to hear one another over the music.”

It was true. The booths were dark and velvet covered, and each was a little intimate enclave unto itself. Jackson had already updated them on what he and Sam had done during the day. Jenna and Angela told them about their day, as well. Jenna chose to omit trying to explain that she’d had an encounter with the spirit of Rebecca Nurse, and Angela followed her lead. But she was adamant when she said that the boys were lying.

“It seems,” Jenna said, “that David Yates is primarily the one saying that he saw Malachi coming out of Earnest Covington’s house. I think that Joshua is just saying it because he believes David. If David says it—it must be true. Sam, he did all the evasive things that someone does when they’re lying—and then he became belligerent. He more or less threatened us with his father, the mayor…you name it.”

“And what did you do?”

“Well, I didn’t threaten him back. I did mention perjury, and that it was likely that he would wind up in court, and that an adult would contradict his testimony with passion and credibility.”

“Ah, well, then, let’s see if that brings about a response of any kind,” Sam said.

Jenna lowered her head, trying to repeat everything that Will had told them.

“Now, that’s really interesting,” Sam said. He looked at Jackson. “What do you think? Could Goodman Wilson be involved?”

Jackson shook his head. “I haven’t met the boy yet. But if he’s as faithful to his beliefs as you all say, he wouldn’t lie, even for the pastor who kicked him out for loving music. And I do find that fascinating. And oddly charming. I don’t know. I really think that if Goodman Wilson is involved, it’s on his own.”

“But not impossible,” Sam said.

“Hey, profilers aren’t perfect. But if you ask me…I don’t see it being Wilson.”

“So, why do you think that Cindy Yates is so hateful toward him?” Jenna asked.

“She believes that Malachi Smith wronged her precious baby,” Jackson said. “And if Malachi harmed her child, he did it because of the teachings of his father—and his pastor. Actually, we should ask her.”

“She’s hung up on me,” Sam said.

“Maybe there’s a way…. Odd. Her husband is so open,” Jackson said.

“Oh!” Jenna said, and told Sam and Jackson that her uncle had taken on a new patient—Marty Keller. “Technically, I’m not telling you this. And technically, of course, I don’t know myself. After he came home in his underwear, his parents decided that he had to see someone since it was obvious he must be having mental problems.”

Sam smiled at her. “Well, that’s good. Keeps Jamie in the loop. I haven’t heard back yet from John Alden about the tests on the costume.”

“Perhaps you could call him,” Angela suggested.

“I can….”

“And when you do,” Angela asked, “can you ask him if we can get back into Lexington House?”

Sam looked around the table. Jenna saw that Jackson and Angela didn’t flinch.

Sam nodded. “Yes, of course. I’ll ask him about that, too. He may be tired of me and he may say no. I had the right to get in there, but…I’ve been in.”

“He’s an old friend, right?” Angela said. “And I know you can get him to let us in.”

“We’ll get in,” Sam said. He sounded weary. “I hope it can help. So far, Goodman Wilson claims he has a congregation that will give him an alibi for the murders. Jenna talked with Madam Samantha Yeager’s clerk, and we know that she was working the night the Smith family was killed. Yates will have a pack of alibis…there has to be something missing.”

“The boys,” Angela murmured. “I know for sure that they are liars.”

“We’ll find out where they were,” Sam said grimly. “Hey, do they have food in this place?”

“Cheese and crackers,” Angela informed him.

He groaned.

“We need to move on,” Jackson said.

Will was still in the street. He took a minute to confer with Jackson, but he wanted to stay on a while. He’d head back to Jamie’s house when he packed up for the night.

Jenna called her uncle, but he’d already made it back home and was going to go to bed, so she, Sam, Jackson and Angela made their way through the costumed crowd—garish, silly, horrific and beautiful—to an Italian restaurant off Essex.

They hadn’t eaten since that morning, and they weren’t particularly talkative when the food came. When they had finished and stepped back outside, Sam said, “I guess it’s time to call it quits for the night.”

Angela yawned. “Especially if we’re going to get into the Lexington House in the morning.”

With that prompting, Sam excused himself to put through his call to John Alden.

They could all hear John Alden groan at the other end. Nothing had come back yet from the lab regarding the school’s horned god costume; he reproached Sam, reminding him that he would have called right away if it had.

His groan was louder when they asked about Lexington House.

But in the end, John agreed that they could all go in the next morning. Apparently he had a few words for John about making sure the FBI agents knew that they hadn’t been asked in; Sam assured John that they all knew that very well and appreciated the courtesy extended to them.

“Let’s head back,” Sam said.

Angela and Jackson strolled ahead. The revelry of the night had not abated, even though schoolchildren were no longer—sanitarily—bobbing for apples.

Jackson stopped walking. “You know, we all just dumped our stuff at your uncle’s house. He doesn’t mind, does he? I mean, do you have enough room, or should we have found an inn?”

“No, no, there’s plenty of room,” Jenna said.

“Especially since Jenna can move on over to my house—just a block down,” Sam said.

“Oh, no!” Angela protested. “We wouldn’t dream of putting you out, Jenna.”

“Hey!” Jackson said.

“But, really—” Angela began.

Jackson groaned, pulling her to him. “My darling, use a few of your investigative skills. Jenna wants to stay at Sam’s, and Sam very much wants Jenna to stay at his place.”

“Oh, of course! I know, of course. I mean, I don’t know. I mean, oh, Lord! Shutting up now!”

“I think Jenna wants to stay,” Sam said, looking down into her eyes.

“Well, it’s the only right thing to do, really, isn’t it?” she asked.

In another block, they broke apart for Jackson and Angela to head to Jamie’s house, and Sam and Jenna to return to his.