Read Firstborn Online

Authors: Carrigan Fox

Firstborn (9 page)

He checked his watch.  “It isn’t midnight yet.  I don’t think it’s too late to at least try that end-of-the-date kiss.”

She turned to wink at him.  “I suspect your brains have been scrambled enough for the night, Dr. Archer.”

***

When the doorbell rang, Dianne Huntley was in the middle of moving laundry from the washing machine to the dryer.  Her daughter had been sitting in front of the television, probably in an effort to avoid any conversation with her mother.  They still didn’t talk much.  Dianne knew that Will was certain they were making progress, but she wasn’t so sure. 

“Cori, can you answer that, please?”

She heard her daughter grumbling as she muted the television and walked across the tile floor leading to the doorway.  Dianne could tell she was talking to a man, but judging by the fact that Cori didn’t invite him in, she figured he was a door-to-door salesman.  She closed the dryer door so that she could help her daughter get rid of him.  Before she could take a step, the mudroom door was pulled open behind her. 

She turned and gasped when the dark haired man with a beard sneered at her and pushed his gun in her face. 

“We need to have a little talk, Dianne,” he greeted.

A squeal from the front door indicated that Cori was in an equally dangerous situation, and
Dianne was suddenly certain that she would be ill.  A younger man with white blond hair entered the room with Cori ahead of him.  He had her arm twisted up behind her back, and judging by the look of agony on her face, he was hurting her in the process. 

Dianne was shoved violently into the living room and pushed down onto the couch.  She slammed her knee into the coffee table and cried out.  Cori was pushed down beside her.
  Why had the two of them been permitted to survive the accident only to be killed by two psychotic killers?

“Who are you?” Dianne asked.

“Not important.  How long have you been fucking Dr. Archer?”

“What?”

“Mom!”

“I’m not sleeping with Will.”

The bearded man sneered again.  “Most patients don’t call their doctors by their first names.”

“He dated my sister when they were teenagers.  Why would you think we were
sleeping together?  Who would lie about something so disgusting?”

The younger man carefully leveled his gun against Cori’s temple.  “Think carefully before you answer, Mrs. Huntley,”
he threatened.

“Dr. Archer is sleeping with someone, a woman who may be pregnant with his child.  I have seen an email that he wrote to you about your relationship.”
  The explanation from the bearded man was so preposterous that Dianne couldn’t follow him at first.  Then she remembered the email that Will had sent her immediately following their session with Cori.

“The email was about m
y relationship with my daughter!” she insisted.

“If he isn’t sleeping with you, then who?”

The blond man pressed his gun harder against the side of Cori’s head and cocked the hammer. 

“I don’t know,” Dianne sobbed.  “Please don’t hurt my daughter.  Please let us go.  I don’t even know Will any more.  He is our therapist, and that is all.  I wouldn’t know if he were married or single or dating.  We only have a professional relationship.  I swear I don’t know anything more.”

“Who does?”

“What?”

“Who would know more?” the bearded man raised his voice in anger and frustration.

Dianne shook her head.  “I don’t know.  He doesn’t have any siblings.  I don’t know who his closest friends are.  His parents live somewhere in town.
  I swear that I don’t know anything else.”

“I believe you, Dianne,” he finally said softly.

“Please let us go,” she whimpered.  “We don’t know anything.”

“That’s not exactly true, Dianne,” the bearded man disagreed.  “You know our faces.”

 

C
hapter 8

“I wanted to thank you for taking me back to my office tonight.”

“No problem, Dr. Archer.”  She grinned at him briefly, teasing.  “When are they letting you out of this place?”  She tried to keep a normal expression on her face when she wanted instead to frown and fawn over the bruising on the side of his head.  He was still limping slightly and holding his abdomen when he walked or laughed.

“In the morning, I think.  They’re waiting on the CAT scan, but I have no idea how long that will take.  It could be days for all I know.”

“Doctors,” she sighed with feigned exasperation.

“They’re all crooks,” he agreed with a small smile.

“And to think we could be all curled up together in bed right now.  But no, here we sit in the hospital awaiting your CAT scan.”

“We could curl up in bed.”  He carefully
attempted to scoot over on his gurney to make room for her. “Ow.”

“Stop it.  You’re going to hurt yourself.”

He laughed in response and held his ribs in pain.

“Dr. Archer, I’m sorry to bother you so late, but the nurses mentioned that you were still awake and I wanted to come and speak with you and get a statement while everything is still fresh in your mind,” Detective Wilson explained apologetically as he stepped into the room
with another officer that Jac recognized from the police department.

“I already gave you my statement, Detective.”

“We have just a few more questions with some recent developments.”

“What kind of developments?”

Jac sat up straighter and tried to read the detective’s expression.  She could imagine perfectly the developments to which he was referring.  It wasn’t an issue of premonitions.  Instead, her experiences with MSC had acquainted her with the kind of violence that would be considered “a development.” 

“Did someone go to check on Mrs. Huntley?”
Will guessed.

The silence in the room was answer enough.

“What happened to her?”  The baritone in his voice deepened with fear and anger.

Detective Wilson hesitated only a moment before he a
nswered.  “The officers found them both inside their home.  They--”

“Oh shit.”

Jac closed her eyes and bit her lip, taking a moment to pray that Will wouldn’t blame himself for their deaths.

“How?” he pushed.

“Shot.  Neither of them suffered.” 

It wasn’t much of a comfort, especially given the fact that the killer tracked them through Will’s email and files.

The detective with Wilson turned out to be a homicide detective, and she asked a few more questions of Will while Jaclyn sat by unable to say or do anything to help.  She watched him clench and unclench his right fist and his jaw, and she knew that he was outraged by the injustice of their deaths.  After the detective left, she slipped out of her chair and carefully onto the gurney beside him.

“They were finding their ways back to each other.  They were healing.”

“You helped them, Will.  You can’t blame yourself for this, you know.”

“I don’t even know why these
people are after me.  What the hell have I done to deserve this?  What did Dianne and Cori do?  It wasn’t enough to lose the other half of their family?  They had to be terrorized and killed, too?  How does that make any fucking sense?”

Flinching at the typically mild-mannered doctor’s vicious word choice, Jac moved in closer and reached to take his hands.  Instead, he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in the crook of her neck. 

***

Will woke up early the next morning and reached for Jaclyn but found he was alone in his hospital room.  On the cart beside his bed was a piece of paper with a short note, indicating that she had gone out but would return to escort him home once the doctor discharged him. 

He felt that on some level, he was responsible for the deaths of Cori and Dianne, but he simply couldn’t wrap his mind around that right now.  Instead, he mentally thumbed through his patient files, looking for clues as to who might wish to harm him or Dianne Huntley.  What was the significance of the men finding the email?  He tried to remember what he had written.  Something about the progress between Dianne and Cori.   Nothing terribly important to anyone other than the Huntley women.

While Dr. Archer continued struggling to make sense of what was happening, Jac MaCall was doing things her own way.

“I think this is a waste of your time, Jac.”

She smiled sweetly at Detective Wilson and graced him with a simple shrug.  “
Since it is my time to waste, there isn’t really any harm, is there?”

“The other guys won’t ever let me hear the end of it.  No offense, but your…ah…your insights aren’t usually taken to
o seriously by the other guys in the department.”


I’m aware of that, Detective.  And it doesn’t offend me.  I just need to take a quick look around for my own piece of mind.”

He shuffled his feet nervously, delaying the inevitable.  “They’ve already taken the bodies, but it’s still going to be messy in there, you know.”  It was his final effort to discourage her from entering the Huntley home.

She gave him a serious nod.  “I really appreciate your cooperation with this.  I know that the department is under no obligation to give me access to the site, but if I can glean any information that will help me keep Dr. Archer, then I think it’s worth it.  And if it helps your homicide detectives solve their case, what’s the harm?”

Wilson, unsure of how to respond, said nothing.  Instead, he handed Jac a set of gloves and hesitated only long enough to
warn her not to mess up any possible evidence and to put his own gloves on before leading her into the house. 

Jac followed the detective into the home and studied the front entrance intently as she moved into the house.  She ran her ha
nd and fingertips over the doorframe and focused on the energy in the room.  Stepping into the living room, she glanced briefly at the blood spatter stains against the wall behind the sofa and heard a faint echo of a woman screaming. 

The detective watched her close her eyes briefly and tilt her head to the side as though she were carefully listening for something.  He smiled grimly to himself, wondering not for the first time if she actually was hearing or seeing something.  He shuddered briefly, imagining the strength it would take for him to willingly attempt to relive a murder in an effort to protect others. 
In some respects, he had to be willing to imagine how the murder played out, but he never actually had to witness the terror of the victims in their final moments of life.  He wondered if the sudden furrow between Jac’s eyebrows was a result of experiencing that terror.

Jac circled the room, pausing periodically to caress an item of furniture or tilting her head as though to listen to something only she could hear.  The essence with the highest energy seemed to come from Dianne Huntley, sobbing hysterically and pleading for the life of her daughter.  Jac focused on the science of her work, pushing aside the emotional
trauma so that she would not be distracted. 

The detective was surprised when Jac circled the room and returned to his side, never touching the sofa where the two women had been killed.  Beside him, she studied the sofa across the coffee table and looked directly at the bloodstains.  She closed her eyes and attempted to visualize Dianne Huntley, a woman she had never seen.  With no successful links, she shifted her attention to a visualization of the energy of anger in the room. 

In an instant, she heard a man shouting angrily,
“How long have you been fucking Dr. Will Archer?” 

A quick intake of air turned Detective Wilson’s attention to Jac’s flushed face.  Her eyes were still closed, her focus clearly elsewhere.  He watched her expression with the slight frown lines around her wide mouth and the distress lining her forehead and furrowing her eyebrows.  Her eyes were clenched tightly shut.

“Dr. Archer is sleeping with someone, a woman who may be pregnant with his child.  I have seen an email that he wrote to you about your relationship.”

“My relationship with my daughter!” Dianne cried out insistently.

“If he isn’t sleeping with you, then who?”

Jaclyn opened her eyes in confusion.  Why would two brutal killers be intent on discovering the details of Dr. Will Archer’s sex life? 

“What did you see?” the detective asked lightly, knowing that even if he didn’t believe Jac MaCall received visions, she clearly believed it.  He was curious to hear her take. 

“I didn’t see anything,” she answered softly.  She pursed her lips in thought and shook her head.  Checking her watch, she excused herself quickly.  “I need to go and pick up Will from the hospital.”

“You didn’t get anything?” he called after her, suddenly certain that she must have seen
something
.  The only answer he got was the sound of the front door closing behind her as she left. 

Jac talked to herself as she drove the rest of the way to the hospital.  “What in the hell is going on?  They are looking for a woman who is sleeping with Dr. Archer and may or may not be pregnant with his child?”  She refused to acknowledge the tiny start of jealousy burning in her gut.  “He’s not suave enough to fumble through a date with me while sleeping with someone else at the same time.  He’s too conventional and traditional to juggle more than one woman.  He didn’t even try to kiss me goodnight.”  Then again, perhaps there was a logical explanation for that.  Perhaps he was already committed to someone else. 

Other books

The Dark and Deadly Pool by Joan Lowery Nixon
Full Contact by Sarah Castille
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
Catching Fireflies by Sherryl Woods
Killer Riff by Sheryl J. Anderson
Marte Azul by Kim Stanley Robinson