Two Lethal Lies(5)

By: Annie Solomon



He rose, extended a hand. “Mitch Turner.”

“Hannah Blunt,” the taller woman said. “Sara Jean is my niece.” She looked him up and down, taking in the too-short shirt and pants. “And you are?”

“He saved her,” Bitsy rushed in. “He’s the one who pulled her out of the river. If it wasn’t for him, Sara Jean would be… would be—” She dissolved into sobs, and Hannah put an arm around her.

Another door slammed, and a third person ran into the kitchen. Mitch assumed this was the husband, Tommy. He threw his briefcase on the counter, too, and, as Hannah had done, ran to hold his wife.

The resemblance between the two newcomers was plain, and Mitch judged them to be brother and sister, though the woman—Hannah—was the taller of the two and clearly the one less interested in first impressions. While Tommy looked like he owned Brooks Brothers, she looked like she’d spent the last week in the shapeless black dress she wore.

But if her clothes were dull, her intelligence was not. She gave him a sharp look and took him aside.

“What happened? And tell me exactly. Don’t leave anything out.”

That intense look, the firm tone, and the intent of the question were all too familiar. “You a cop?”

Her brows rose. “A lawyer.”

Cop. Lawyer. Different sides of the same coin. And not one he wanted to get near.

He held up his hands. “Look, all I did was pull the girl out of the river. If Mrs. Blunt hadn’t insisted, we’d already be on our way.”

“We?”

He thumbed over his shoulder. “Jules and I.”

Hannah looked out the window and back at him. He didn’t like the suspicion in her face. In fact, he didn’t like anything about her.





3





Julia pumped higher and higher, watching the house careen up and down in a breathless, windswept arc. She could be a bird—like in the Once and Future King, when Merlin changed Wart into a hawk and they flew high over the kingdom. She closed her eyes to get the full, soaring feel of it, and it made her dizzy.

When she opened her eyes again, something was there that wasn’t before. She let the swing slow as Sara Jean backed out a window onto an overhang, crawled to the edge, and then onto a nearby tree limb. She perched there in a long nightgown, swinging her legs and staring at Julia.

“What’s your name?” she said at last.

Julia told her. “You can call me Jules if you want.”

“That your dad, Jules?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I’ve never seen him before.”

“We don’t live around here.”

“Where do you live?”

Julia never could come up with an answer to that one. “Around.”

“Around where?”

“Just… around. In the truck.”

“You live in a truck?” Sara Jean’s voice was full of awe instead of scorn.

“Sometimes. When he’s working, we live in a house or an apartment.”

“When he’s working? Doesn’t he work all the time? My dad does.”

“Nah, he only works when he wants to. Or when we need the money.”

Sara Jean seemed to find that fascinating. “What’s he do?”

“Tons of stuff.”

“Like what?”

“Pumps gas. Washes dishes. Fries stuff on a grill. He’s built houses, railroad bridges…”

“Wow.” The list seemed to overwhelm her. “My dad works in a bank.”

“Does he have an office where he hands out money?”

“I guess.”

“My dad doesn’t believe in banks. Says he doesn’t like people knowing his business.”

“My dad knows everyone’s business,” Sara Jean said glumly.

Julia nodded solemnly, and Sara Jean plucked a red leaf off a branch, which she proceeded to shred.

“At the river, why’d your dad… Why’d he do… what he did?”

Julia shrugged. “Why’d you jump in?”

Sara Jean shrugged, too. “I don’t know.”

They sat in silence for a while. Julia was back on the ground now, using her feet to turn in a slow circle, twisting the ropes that held the swing.

“Must be cool always going to new places,” Sara Jean said. “No one knowing who you are. When I’m older, I’m going to travel all over the world.”

“If I had a house, I’d never go anywhere.”

“You’d get bored.”

“No, I wouldn’t. I’d love it.”

They looked at each other, each recognizing what the other had said.

“We could switch places,” Sara Jean said.

Julia stopped circling. “Like in The Prince and the Pauper.”

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