He woke to the trilling of the phone, and spoke a groggy “Hello” into the mouthpiece.
Her husky voice said, “I hate to bother you, Cabot, but since you were a policeman, I thought …”
He’d never heard fear like that in her voice. Not when she told him about the phone calls. Not when
she mentioned the doorbell business. Not even when her tires had been slashed. The fact that she’d
lost her usual composure scared him. “I’ll be right there,” he promised.
During the drive between his place and hers, Cabot remembered how, after the crick in his neck
roused him, it had taken a second or two to realize where he was. She’d covered him with a sweet-
smelling white sheet and turned out all but one small lamp, to light his way in case he got thirsty or
needed to use the bathroom. To protect her from neighboring busybodies who’d talk behind her back
after seeing his Jeep in her driveway all night long, he’d scribbled a short note. “You’re something
else,” he wrote with orange crayon. “See you tomorrow.” Then he’d drawn a heart and left it on the
Now, he pictured the note he’d found on his own kitchen table.
Her hands trembled when she handed him the note, and he noticed right away that it had been typed
on the same blue paper, using the same machine. Keep away from the cop, it said, or you’ll all be
“Where did you find this?”
“It was on the kitchen table when I got up this morning, right beside your note.”
He’d hoped Elice found it taped to the door. This wasn’t good. Not good at all. If he hadn’t been so
concerned about what people might think, seeing his Jeep in her driveway until all hours, his presence
might have prevented this.
“You locked the door before you went to bed?” he asked, suddenly.
“Of course I did. Didn’t you have to unlock it to get out?”
Yes, and he’d made sure to lock it behind him, too.
“What about the window?” Cabot walked toward the sink to inspect the lock.
“Everything was fine. Normal. Until I found that.” It may as well have been a rattlesnake, coiled for
attack, the way she looked at the slip of paper in his hand.
“Well, whoever wrote it got in through here,” he said, pointing at a black scuffmark on the kitchen
counter. “He pried open the window and stepped right on in.”
She hid behind her hands. But almost immediately, she squared her shoulders and got hold of herself.
“I’m going to put on a pot of coffee.”
“Good. I could use a cup.” One hand on the back doorknob, he stuffed her note into his shirt pocket.
“I’m going outside to have a look around.”
Nodding, she sent him a trembly smile.
He couldn’t stand to see her this way. Cabot gave her a little hug. “Aw, honey. You okay?”
Again she nodded. But this time, she made an effort to look brave and strong. He hesitated, not
wanting to leave her alone, not even for the few minutes it would take to inspect the perimeter of the
“Go,” she said, giving him a gentle shove. “I’m fine.”
And so he went.
Cabot was under the kitchen window when he heard the kids’ voices. Emily and Danny, debating
between scrambled eggs and Cocoa Puffs, Annie asking for her usual, Sugar Pops. He found several
large footprints and one handprint pressed into the red clay dirt. There were smudges on the white
window frame, and a few more on the pane itself.
The voice that lived inside him, offering warnings and advice, began to speak. It whispered three
names, and Deitrich would have headed the list, except it wasn’t like the ex-con to pull dumb pranks.
Pull a trigger, yes, but taunt a widow with notes and phone calls? Too juvenile for his taste. Besides,
Freeland was too small a town for a “strike now, pay later” guy like that.
Or was it? Maybe that’s precisely what Deitrich wanted him to think.
He needed to make some calls, find out if one of his cop friends could verify Deitrich whereabouts.
Man, how he hated the idea of leaving here. When this was behind them, he’d get a cell phone,
finally. If he had one now, he could go out back, make those calls from here, instead of having to
leave her again to do it at Foggy Bottom.