Too bad she couldn’t pass out at will.
Janie felt the employees’ stares when Renner carried her through the kitchen. When their entourage reached the hallway, she said, “Stop. I can walk from here.”
“You are so damn stubborn.”
“I will not have you carrying me through the main room of the lodge and spooking our guests, Renner. Put me down.”
Seemed to take two hours to climb the stairs and reach the office. Renner settled her on the couch. While he checked her injuries, Tierney brought a warm washcloth and wiped Janie’s blood-caked face. “The cut on your forehead stopped bleeding. Hold still. I’m putting on a bandage. Although, I warn you, it is a Tweety Bird bandage from my personal stash.”
She said, “You tired of taking care of me yet?” to Tierney.
“You tired of my subpar caretaker skills yet?” she countered. “Because I’m thinking Renner is about to double-check my bandage application skills.”
Janie attempted a smile at Tierney’s taunting comment.
Tierney fussed with adjusting the collar of Janie’s shirt. “Anything else you need? A glass of water? Aspirin?”
“No. I’m fine.” But she wasn’t really. Neither was Renner. His frustration fairly pulsed through the room.
He didn’t move from her side when he addressed Willie. “What were you doin’ when you noticed her?”
Willie twisted his hat in his big hands. “I was takin’ the garbage out to the Dumpster. I saw something red on the ground, didn’t know what it was and went over to check. That’s when I found her.”
“Did you see anyone else around?”
“Why are you giving him the third degree?” Tierney asked sharply.
Renner shot Tierney a dark look. “I’m just tryin’ to get to the bottom of this. Figure out how long she laid out there before . . .” He sighed, obviously frustrated with the situation. “Look. I’m not accusing anybody of nothin’.”
“I know that, Mr. Jackson,” Willie said evenly. “But weren’t no one around but her. I forgot my walkie-talkie in the kitchen so I ran back up the hill and the first person I saw was Miz Tierney. She went to get you.”
Janie cleared her throat. “Thanks for keeping out an eagle eye around here, Willie.”
“No problem, Miz Janie. If you don’t need nothin’ else, I still got stuff to finish up.”
“Check in before you leave for the day, all right?”
Willie nodded. “I know you folks don’t cotton to some of the mystical stuff we Crow Indians do, but I gotta say, there’s bad spirits around here. Might consider doin’ something about it.”
That was . . . cryptic. And a little freaky. She shivered.
After the door shut behind Willie, Renner was in her face. “Bad spirits my ass. I cannot believe you . . . Christ, Janie. Was it him again?”
“I don’t know.”
“The car accident. Now this.” Those normally twinkling blue eyes turned accusatory. “What else has happened to you since the car crash that you haven’t told me about?”
“Tell me what is going on,” Tierney said.
Renner stood. “Janie will explain everything, but you’ll have to wait until Abe gets here so she only has to tell it once.”
“You called Abe?” Janie asked.
“Yes. You should’ve told him the truth after the damn car accident.”
Her stomach roiled. Now the shit would really hit the fan.
Abe’s heart pounded with his every footstep down the hallway. He blew inside the office at the Split Rock and barked, “What the hell happened?”
Janie said, “Abe. Calm down.”
“The f**k I will.” He glared at Renner, then Tierney. “What’s goin’ on around here?”
Tierney gave Renner a frigid glare before focusing on Abe. “I’m as much in the dark as you are. They’ve both promised full disclosure.”
He ignored the both portion of her statement and demanded, “Full disclosure? Of what?”
“We’ll explain if you’ll just sit down—”
“I’ll stand.” He pointed at Janie. “Start talkin’.”
But Janie glanced at Renner. Her haunted look put ice in his soul. Abe crouched beside her, taking her hand, trying to find calmness, if only for her, because obviously she needed it. He softened his voice and kissed her knuckle. “Come on, cupcake. It’s killin’ me to see you like this.”
“I think killing me is the point.”
Abe froze. “What?”
She patted the sofa. “Please. Sit.”
He sat in the middle of the couch, draping her legs over his lap, needing to touch her to reassure himself, for the second time in so many weeks, that she was all right. He scrutinized her face. The big, square bandage on her forehead was printed with cartoon characters, but the scene before him was far from funny.
Renner spoke before Janie had a chance. “We think someone might’ve pushed Janie down the path to the barn today.”
“We’re not one hundred percent sure, but we have an idea.”
“Have you called the sheriff?” he demanded of Renner.
“No. And before you go off on me, Abe, you need to hear the whole story.”
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