When Abby receives a plea for help from her old college friend
Nikki, she's inclined to ignore it. Nikki was always a drama queen
and besides, how much danger can she be in as she spends her
time surrounded by a circle of her 'nearest and dearest.'
But then Abby finds that's exactly who Nikki is frightened of.
She's convinced someone is trying to kill her.
Abby has reasons of her own to get away and soon she's off to a
remote private island on Lake of the Woods. Undercurrents
abound in the family circle and soon Abby realizes her friend isn't
being fanciful. The danger is real and now it's headed straight for
Abby tossed and turned again. She knew she needed sleep. Her brain wasn’t
functioning properly but she couldn’t turn it off. Little snips of conversation turned
in her mind. “They all hate me”, “Estate goes to the kids”, “You have as much to
lose as I do,” “Someone's trying to kill me, Abby.” “Kara’s my daughter,” “Are
you here to investigate Bret's death?”
She got out of bed, took a sip of water from the go-cup she’d filled earlier and set
beside her bed, and paced the room a while, thinking. She double checked the
blockade she kept against her door, then set the water down and crawled back
into bed to try again.
Sometime later, it seemed like hours, she drifted off.
She sat up in bed with that shocking certainty that something terrible had
happened. The sky was beginning to lighten; she looked at the clock –five thirty.
Then she heard the scream, long and ululating, a scream of grief rather than
terror. She swung her legs over the bed, grabbed her housecoat and scrabbled at
the dresser, shoving it aside. As she ran down the stairs, Nikki, Neil and Tom were
already there. Jill and Tracy were behind her. She didn’t see Kara.
Irene stood, face contorted, staring from one face to the other, then turned and
fled back into the kitchen. Everyone followed her. She had thrown herself onto
the floor beside the unmoving form of her husband.
“He’s dead!” she screamed, trying to cradle his head in her arms, “He’s dead!”
Neil was the first to move. He knelt beside Irene, put his arm around her shoulders
and gently lifted her up, guiding her to a seat at the kitchen table, where she
buried her head in her arms, sobbing wildly. He sat beside her, turning a look to
Abby that she interpreted as a request for help, but before she could move Tracy
sat beside Irene and began to croon to her softly, rubbing her back and shoulders
as though comforting a lost child. Neil returned to the group standing huddled in
confusion just inside the doorway.
Tom had knelt beside Bronco and turning to the others, pointed to an object lying
beside the dead man. Even from where she stood, Abby could see that it was a
syringe. She remembered Nikki’s comments about Bronco’s former drug habit.
Why would a man who had been clean, for years apparently, suddenly start using
again? And why an overdose?
Brady made a move to the door. “We need to call the emergency services,” he
said. “I’ll do it. I think we’d better not do anything until they get here.”
“Let’s get Irene out of here,” said Abby. She helped Tracy guide the stricken
woman to the lounge. Since Tracy seemed to have more of a rapport with Irene
than she did, Abby decided to leave her to do the comforting. “I’ll make some
coffee,” she said, “Or maybe tea would be better.” They always said strong tea
with sugar was good for shock and Irene was in need of something.
Kara was coming down the stairs as Abby crossed back to the kitchen. “What’s
going on?” she said, stifling back a yawn. “Sounded like bloody murder. It woke
me up.” She said the latter accusingly, looking at Abby who was the closest to her
to assign the blame.
“Go back to bed Kara. I’m afraid Bronco has had an accident.” Accident? Was
that what you called an overdose? “There’s nothing you can do to help now.
Someone is looking after Irene and the authorities are on their way. Go back to
“Is he dead?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so.”
“Well, then.” Kara turned and went back up the stairs. Abby felt a little shocked by
her apparent lack of feeling, but then teenagers had a different perspective on life
and sometimes hadn’t developed the necessary mechanisms for displaying
empathy. She shook the feeling off. Aside from Irene, maybe no one would feel
Bronco’s death deeply.
Tom, Neil, Nikki and Jill sat around the kitchen table, silent and expressionless.
Abby put the kettle on for tea and set up the percolator as well. Then she sat at
the table with the others.
“Did you know Bronco was back on drugs?” she asked Nikki.
“No! You don’t think I’d allow him on the place if he was, do you? Especially not
with Kara here.” She suddenly realized her daughter was not with them. “I’d better
go find her,” she said.
“It’s okay”, said Abby. “I met her on the stairs and sent her back to bed.”
“Does she know what’s going on?’
“I told her. She’s better off upstairs.”
Abby took the boiling water and poured it into the large teapot. The percolator was
bubbling in its final stages of brewing. “Will they send a plane or a boat?” she
“Probably a boat,” said Tom. “The police will be coming as well as the doctor.”
Brady reappeared. “They’re on their way,” he said. “They asked about the
circumstances, so I told them about the syringe. They said be sure not to touch
“A little late for that.”
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