Abby Ch. 17

byD.C. Roi©

Passion In James County XI


By D.C. Roi

Chapter seventeen

Greg was puzzled. Most of the other people who lived at the lake left their cars outside all the time, but none of those vehicles had been vandalized the night before. And, contrary to what he'd told Abby, there weren't that many teen-agers who lived close by. Was it possible slashing of Abby's tire had been an act deliberately directed at her? If that were true, what was the reason behind it? And was that all the person would do?

He drove down to the main lodge, where the caretaker who looked after the development lived. Jim Dillon, the caretaker, was painting a snowplow outside the garage where the development's plow truck was stored. Greg parked his truck and got out. "How's it going, Jim?" he asked.

"Not bad, Greg," the caretaker replied. "I figure it isn't going to be long before it snows, so I need to get this plow ready."

"Yeah, it's been cold enough so it could have snowed a couple of times already this year," Greg said. "You see or hear anybody come in late last night?"

"I saw the Marklin's car come in," Jim said. "I was just getting in bed when they went by the lodge."

"Nobody else?" Greg asked.

Jim shook his head. "What's with the questions?" he asked.

"Mrs. Marklin's tire was slashed last night," Greg said.

The caretaker looked surprised. "No shit?" he said, "Anybody else?"

It was Greg's turn to shake his head. "I checked," he said. "The Marklin car was the only one."

"You think somebody is after Dr. Marklin?" Jim asked.

"Could be," Greg said, "Or maybe Mrs. Marklin. She's up here alone. It kind of looks that way to me. I mean, if it was random vandalism, it would seem your vehicles would have been hit, too, and maybe some of the others. From what I can tell, there were about five cars sitting out last night, a lot of them easier to find than Mrs. Marklin's."

"I'll keep my eyes open and tell Melinda to keep alert, too," Jim said. "If we see any strange cars around, we'll let you know."

"Thanks, Jim," Greg said. He got back in his truck and drove back to his cabin. Although he didn't want to scare Abby, he had an even stronger feeling now that the slashing of his neighbor's tire wasn't an accident. Maybe she knew some reason why someone might want to get back at her, someone who might have a grudge against her.

Before he went over to Abby's house, he went into his house and began a report on the vandalism incident on his computer. After he finished the report, he called the sheriff's office and asked them to advise the state patrol and Lincoln County Sheriff's Department about the incident and to have those departments be on the lookout for any suspicious vehicles in the area of the lake.

"You want us to have detectives take a run up there?" the dispatcher asked him.

"Not yet," Greg told her. "There isn't enough evidence. It's more of a hunch I have, really."

"You think this could be one of those stalker things?" the dispatcher asked.

Greg hadn't considered that possibility. "To be honest with you, I'm not sure what it is," he replied, "The stalker idea's a good one, though. I'll keep it in mind."

When he was finished with what he had to do at his house relative to the vandalism done to Abby's car, Greg walked over to the Marklin cabin.

Abby let him in. "You're early," she said. "The meatloaf won't be done for another hour, yet. I was just peeling potatoes so I could get the mashed potatoes started."

"You got another peeler?" Greg asked, "I don't mind helping."

"I'm supposed to be doing this for you," Abby said, "you don't have to help."

"A peeler?" Greg asked.

Abby got him one and they worked on the potatoes together.

"I don't want to scare you, Abby," Greg told her as they worked, "but I think, maybe, your tire was slashed on purpose."

Abby stopped peeling and looked at him. "What?" she asked, "Are...are you sure?"

Greg nodded. "Pretty sure," he said. "There were a lot of other cars out last night, some of them closer to the main highway than yours, but only yours was bothered."

"I...I...this is so hard to believe," Abby said. She finished the potato she'd been working on and picked up another. "Greg, are you sure about this?"

"I'm not positive," Greg said, "But it does make me wonder. I mean, I guess it could just be that I'm more than normally suspicious because I'm a cop, but..." He shrugged. "I kind of hate to ask you these questions, but I have to, I guess. Is there any reason someone would want to get you? Has anyone been stalking you, anything like that?"

Abby looked thoughtful for a minute, and her face reddened a bit, something Greg took note of. "I...I really don't think so," she replied at last. "I...there's no reason I can think of that...that anyone would want to harm me." "The way Bill's been acting, I suppose he might be stalking me," she thought, "but he doesn't know where the cabin is, or that I'm here."

"Abby, I think there's more than you're telling me," Greg said, "I mean, there are some things I've been wondering about. Like, I've known you ever since you and Lee got married, and this is the first time you ever came up here alone. I'm not trying to be nosy, and I'm not trying to embarrass you, but there's a very real chance that, if someone was mad enough at you to follow you all the way up here and slash your tire, they might not just stop there."

Abby felt tears welling up in her eyes. The peeler and potato she was holding dropped from her hand into the pot. She turned and walked into the living room and stood there, sobbing.

Greg put down his peeler and potato and followed Abby into the living room. He'd obviously touched a nerve. As he stood there, watching the woman sob, he felt a powerful desire to take her in his arms and hold her, but he didn't. "Abby, I'm not just a cop," he said softly, "I...I'd like to think I'm your friend, too. If...if there's something going on that's endangering you, I need to know. I want to help you if I can."

"Lee...he...he's having...he's having!" Abby stammered, "I...I saw him!"

Stunned by Abby's sudden emotional revelation, Greg wasn't sure what to do at first. "Why don't we sit down and you can tell me about it?" he suggested.

"O...OK," Abby sobbed. She sank into a chair and watched as Greg, a look of concern on his face, sat down on the sofa. "I...well...I've been feeling for a long time like Lee was pulling away from me," she said softly. "Then, a couple of weeks ago, we were at a party and..." She went on to tell Greg what she'd seen.

The news that Abby's marriage was on the rocks caused Greg to experience conflicting emotions. On one hand, he was angry with her husband for hurting her, on the other hand he was elated because, if Abby's marriage was over, he might have a chance to form a relationship with her.

Even as he struggled with the paradoxical emotions relating to his learning of the impending end of Abby's marriage, Greg realized there still was information Abby wasn't sharing with him. The fact that her husband was cheating on her wouldn't be grounds for someone to come after her, unless that person thought it was Lee and not Abby in the car.

"Abby," Greg said gently, hating the fact that he was doing it, "Is there anything you're not telling me? I have a feeling there is."

Abby didn't know what to do. She probably should tell Greg about what happened with Bill Coughlin and Albert Williams, but she was afraid if she did, Greg would think badly of her and wouldn't be her friend any more. She'd just started to get to know Greg in the few hours they'd spent together that day, but she really felt affection for him and didn't want to lose his friendship. She wouldn't be able to stand it if he turned his back on her. Right now, he was the only friend she had.

"Abby, it's really important that you tell me everything," Greg said. "You could be in danger. I need to know everything I can so I can try and keep you safe."

Abby shook her head. "There's...there's nothing else, Greg," she said softly, "I...I don't know why anyone would want to hurt me. I...I think you were right. I think, maybe, whoever it was believed it was Lee and was trying to get back at him. Probably a...a disgruntled...patient." She knew that wasn't true, but she wanted desperately to believe it.

Greg knew Abby was still holding back and wasn't sure why. He decided to try a different approach. "The woman your husband is having the affair with," he said, "is she married?"

Abby nodded.

"Do you know her husband's name?" Greg asked.

Abby nodded again. She told Greg Carol's husband's name. " you really think it could have been him and he could have been after Lee?" she asked.

"Anything's possible," Greg said. "Look, I'm going to go over to the house and call the office and have the detectives check on this guy. If he wasn't around his home last night, that might tell us something. I'll be back in a few minutes."

"O...OK," Abby said.

Greg walked back to his house. He was a little disappointed that Abby hadn't been totally honest with him, but he wasn't surprised. Nobody ever told the truth to the police, at least not the first time. He called the office, got hold of one of the detectives, told her what he was doing, and asked her to run a check on Carol's husband's whereabouts the night before. The detective said she'd do it, and would let him know once she found out.

After he finished the call, Greg sat in his office for awhile, trying to figure out what might be going on, how much danger Abby might be in, and ways he could protect her. Finally, he got up, and headed back for her house.

"Dinner's ready," Abby said when he walked in.

"Great," Greg replied. "I'm starved."

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