Page 44

Sam leaned forward. “You’re the talent, I take it.”

“I think you know that.”

“And he’s the money.”

“He does do well,” she said.

“But you both tried to buy the Lexington House. Wasn’t that a conflict of interest?”

She shrugged. “One of us might have gotten it.”

Sam frowned, leaning back. “So why would Councilman Yates loan you money? Were you having an affair with him?”

She smiled. “Well, you see, that’s none of your business.” She rose, walking around the table and leaning against it so that her legs were pressed against him. “I should just tell you to go to hell. I obviously am innocent of the Smith murders, and the police have a kid in custody who was covered in blood. But I do like you. I like your scent, and I like your size, and I even like your face, Mr. Hall. Still, I am getting bored of all this.” She leaned forward, hands on her knees, pressing her cleavage tight. “Next time you call me, it had better be to get laid, or I’m not going to talk to you again.”

She stood. “Now get out.”

Sam smiled and rose. “Madam Samantha, you’re right about one thing.”

“You really do want to get laid by someone who offers real excitement?” she asked.

“I’m a good attorney. I’ll find a way to bring you into the courtroom.”

“Really? But you don’t have a witness anymore, do you? Poor Mr. Sedge was found dead today in a pool of olive oil!”

“I can see your concern.”

“I’ve been here, working. You know that yourself.” Her anger had returned to her face with a vengeance.

“Before I was an attorney, in law school, I went and got my private investigator’s license, and I know a lot about breaking alibis,” he said pleasantly.

“Call me when you want to sleep with me, honey. You don’t even need to buy dinner,” she said, and winked.

“Oh, honestly, I don’t think that will be the case,” he said pleasantly, and he walked back out to the main shop room.

Jackson was leaning over the counter, smiling as he chatted with the clerk. He arched an eyebrow at Sam. Sam thanked the clerk and paid his bill for Madam Samantha’s time.

He and Jackson walked out of the shop.

“The place does have a back door,” Jackson informed him. “But Madam Samantha was fully booked with clients when the murders occurred at Lexington House.”

“And when Earnest Covington was killed?”

“Not quite as packed, but still here.”

As they stood on the street, he noted a couple walking by hand in hand. They were both dressed as vampires—she was beautiful, and he was handsome. They made a cute couple; the costumes were exactly alike, except that his had pants and hers had a long black skirt.

It struck him that many people loved masks and costumes because they were able to be different people by wearing them. And, in fact, people could be each other.

“Jackson, what if…what if there were two people involved?” Sam asked. “Such as two people who were having an affair? That would explain the costume. If the killer was seen in costume, and the plan was to commit several murders, it would be natural to suspect that it was the same person. A costume takes away an identity. That’s what we’ve been going on all along. But what if there were two people involved—maybe two people who were having an affair?”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” John Alden told Jenna. “I mean, I can’t believe it. You’re Sam’s friend, Jamie’s niece…and damned good-looking, but still, I can’t believe I’m doing this!” he said.

Jenna laughed. “You’re doing it because you’re a good officer of the law, John.”

“What do you think you’re going to get from the crime-scene photos? You’ve seen the blood spray, so you know the murders were vicious and horrible.”

Jenna nodded. “I know. I’ve never seen the victims in situ.”

“Tell Sam I don’t think I’m going to answer the phone anymore when he calls,” John said, sliding open a desk drawer.

“I will not, because it’s not true,” Jenna said.

John groaned. “I love Salem. I love my home. I love the Wiccans, the shops, the people who shake their heads at the Wiccans and still appreciate all the tourism they bring in. I love the historians, who also shake their heads at the Wiccans, except for those who are themselves Wiccans. I haven’t had my badge that long, and I’ve explained that the chief wants this investigated and properly so. I want this to be solved, and over.”

Jenna smiled at him. “See? And that’s why you’re helping me,” she assured him.

He laid out a number of folders, pulling the photos from them.

“I told you—they’re a gruesome sight.”

“Yes,” Jenna said. The photos depicted tremendous carnage. She had to study them carefully. And she thought that she found what she was looking for—even though she hadn’t actually known what she was looking for when she started out. But if all their suspects had an alibi for one of the murders, it seemed now that she might have discovered why.

“John, look at the ones of Peter Andres.”


“It’s not as much overkill.”

“What are you talking about? He’s hacked to pieces.”

“Hacked—just to make sure he’s dead. Now, look at the photos of Earnest Covington.”


“He’s— Well, he’s far worse.”

“The killer was escalating. Isn’t that the kind of thing you all preach about at the FBI? Or in your behavioral units?”

“Yes, sometimes. But I don’t think that it’s true in this case.”

“You’re losing me completely.”

“I think we’re looking at two different killers,” Jenna said.

John’s thick eyebrows shot up. “Two killers,” he repeated. He nodded grimly. “People thought they saw old man Smith when Peter Andres was killed, but eyewitness accounts are remarkably unreliable. Everyone knew that Smith hated Peter Andres—Andres wanted Malachi taken away from his parents. Andres believed that living with Abraham Smith was like living with an abusive parent, even if Smith didn’t technically beat the kid.”

“I wasn’t really suggesting that Abraham Smith killed Peter Andres….” Jenna said.

“But it’s possible. He had motive. And he certainly owned an ax!”

“You didn’t find an ax at the murder scene, did you?”

John scowled. “You’d know if we had. Right, right, the bloody ax was at the Smith house. Andres was a scythe. Maybe Abraham Smith killed Peter Andres—and his son knew it and just went crazier and crazier because Peter Andres was his one hope, his one salvation…and his father had killed him.”

“As far as I understand, several witnesses saw Abraham Smith on the day Peter Andres was killed,” Jenna said. “And, as you said, and as I believe, people are basically decent. It’s the odd man out who usually causes death and mayhem. And if Malachi Smith was going crazy with fury against his father, why kill Earnest Covington first?”

“Maybe Earnest saw the kid getting ready to kill his folks,” John suggested.

“No, that didn’t happen,” Jenna said, thinking about her experience in the Covington house.

John wagged a finger at her. “And how do you know that, Jenna? A ghost told you so?”

“John, be rational,” she said, not about to share the workings of her inner mind with him. John Alden certainly had to know something about her official work and their team, but she’d never tried to explain to him that she could see ghosts. “Covington couldn’t have possibly seen Malachi—or anyone—from inside that parlor of his. And if he’d been outside, Malachi would have attacked him there, right? Besides, Earnest Covington’s door was open. He had just gone back in his house and was killed while thinking about his son. The evidence shows that.”

“The evidence in your mind!” John said.

“We know that the costume worn by Peter Andres’s killer came from the drama department at the school,” Jenna reminded him.

“Abraham Smith could have gotten a hold of it.”

“I doubt it! He would have been reported at the school—he, as in any member of the Smith family. Malachi Smith was out of school then, and pretty much so despised,” Jenna reminded him.

“I’m not buying your explanation,” John said.

“Well, Abraham and Malachi as both being murderers doesn’t makes sense to me.” Jenna stood. “John, I know I’m pushing it, but could we get copies of these photos?”

“I’ll think about it,” he told her. “Sam has already been shown photos regarding the Smith family. Malachi hasn’t been charged in the other murders yet, and I don’t know if Sam will pursue warrants and subpoenas on the other murders yet—he doesn’t have an eyewitness to support him anymore.”

She leaned on the desk. “There’s the horned god costume, John. He’ll pursue the whole thing. I know he will.”

John groaned. “I’ll think about it—until a warrant comes or I decide! Damn, but you can tell you’re Jamie O’Neill’s relation—cuter, but a damned bulldog. Please, let me have the rest of my Sunday? God’s day of rest, you know?”


Angela Hawkins sat among a crowd of about one hundred at the Old Meeting House. Pastor Goodman Wilson was at the pulpit, preaching. She surveyed the congregation. The pastor’s flock looked like ordinary people, but, as a group, they were a bit different than most congregations she’d been a part of before. Here, the dress was conservative, down to the last person. There were no short skirts among the women, and certainly no plunging necklines. The men wore suits beneath their coats, button-down shirts and ties. Church wasn’t exactly formal, but it was conservative and proper.