Trinity Island – Chapter 12

December 31, 2012 at 10:30 am (Trinity Island)

Galen’s body had cooled by the time he parked at the mayor’s house. He’d placed a call to Mac asking if he had a few hours to spare later that afternoon. And he’d made the reservation at The Sand Dollar. The weather forecast for Saturday was promising, though weather was difficult to predict anywhere on the coast. They’d have to play it by ear until Saturday evening arrived.

He hadn’t called ahead, wanting the mayor to have little time to make a prepared statement. And he’d wanted to meet the mayor’s wife. According to Jenna, the mayor’s wife knew about her husband’s affairs. Yet she stayed with him. He wouldn’t ask her about that, because it wasn’t his business. He didn’t think any answer she gave would make sense to him anyway.

He knocked on their front door and it was Mrs. Anglove her answered. She was a very pretty woman; she had chestnut colored hair that fell to her shoulder and she had bright brown eyes. She looked a little tired, but Galen chalked that up to being close to eight months pregnant. He hadn’t realized that the Anglove’s were expecting and he realized he didn’t know if they had any other children.

“Mrs. Anglove, I’m Detective Galen O’Brien with the RCMP. I’d like to speak with your husband if he’s around.”

Her lips tightened and the brightness dimmed from her eyes. “He’s showing a house.”

Galen recalled what Megan Price’s mother had said about her daughter meeting the mayor in a vacant house on the middle island. If his was a common habit, no doubt his wife knew about it, too. “Do you know which house he’s showing today?”

“It could be one of three, Detective.”

Mrs. Anglove listed the three and then gave him general directions to each one. Galen thanked her and left, wondering if she’d call her husband to warn him that the cops were coming to question him, or if she’d leave him to twist in the wind.

The first house was three blocks past Piedmont, almost directly in line with the temporary police station. It was a clean street with neat plots of grass in the front yards that were quite well cared for. Kids toys littered several yards, while others had healthy-looking gardens growing. Only one house was up for sale and it had a single discreet sign on the front lawn. Galen didn’t need to knock on the door to know that it was currently unoccupied. There were no cars in the driveway and the house didn’t have a garage. The drive didn’t curve around the back, allowing cars to remain out of sight of the street.

Galen crossed that one off his list and headed for the second house. Both it and the third were on the middle island and the tide was out for another two hours, at least. He should have plenty of time to drive across and still get his truck back. He’d been to the middle and the little island many times as a teenager, but he hadn’t been back since he’d left home. More people had settled on the middle island than had lived there before. The main island was still the most popular, likely because it had the most land to develop. It also wasn’t cut off from everything for part of every day. The little island was the worst, only having around five hours of low tide to drive a vehicle across the pinch point. According to his mother, it was still only inhabited by Professor Chu. No one else wanted the inconvenience.

The middle island was separated straight up the middle, with two thirds of the houses being built on the south side of the road. The south side had the best views, with Spanish Banks and UBC off in the distance and Vancouver Island further west. Both of the houses that the mayor was showing were on the south side. Galen drove almost to the middle before taking a side road down toward the water. The house was quite small, but the lot was huge. Whoever had built the house had wanted to keep the land pristine. The house had been built around the trees. In some cases it looked as though the design had incorporated trees into it. The garage was partially separated from the rest of the house by a hundred foot tall evergreen tree. Galen didn’t think that was wise, given the propensity for wind storms in the area. He wondered if that was a tough selling point for most buyers.

The house had a nice view, sitting right on the water, with the living room facing out to the bay. A wooden dock had been built to fit a small boat, but provided no shelter from the elements. Through the trees, Galen could see another building, which he assumed was a shed. The house was uninhabited. He could see straight through it to the water and no one was moving around inside. Plus, there were no cars anywhere to be seen. The mayor wouldn’t have to hide it out here; the trees would provide plenty of cover.

Galen turned his car back around and headed for the third house on his list. It wasn’t far away and, as he looked ahead, he spotted a redhead coming out the front door. She headed to her car and pulled out of the drive, heading his way. Galen watched as she approached, noting the license plate number. She didn’t glance his way, her focus on her cell phone as she dialed a number. Galen made a mental note to check her age; the girl barely looked eighteen. He pulled into the drive and parked his truck. Getting out of the cab, he stepped up to the front door and tried the knob. When it twisted in his grasp, he opened the door and walked in. The alarm beeped twice, so he called out his hello.

“Anyone here?” Galen stood in the foyer waiting for the mayor to decide whether to present himself or not.

“Hello, Detective,” the mayor called out from the upper level. “I’ll be right down.”

Galen removed his boots and wandered into the living room. The house didn’t have a water view, so the front room faced the trees. At night, anyone could stand in those trees and watch the people inside. There were drapes that could be pulled, but Galen knew that people on the island tended to leave them open. He hadn’t spent a lot of time in the front room of the cabin in the woods, but he did pull the drapes at night. He was too much a cop and a city boy not to.

The house was nicely staged; all extraneous furniture had been removed and everything sat in the perfect spot. He knew why they did it, but staging always looked fake to him. No one ever left their house like that, that he’d seen. People always had more stuff; life came with clutter. Galen waited patiently for about five minutes, figuring the mayor was remaking the bed. When his patience had run out, he climbed the stairs. The master bedroom was at the end of the hall, encompassing the entire back half of the upper level. Galen headed straight for it, noticing that the sheets were still mussed.

Splashing sounds from the en suite bathroom drew him into the room. Galen stepped into the doorway of the bathroom and smirked at the mayor. He had his shirt off and was trying to blot the blood from the nail marks down his back.

“That’s going to be hard to keep from your wife,” Galen mused.

Jeff Anglove looked annoyed at Galen’s presence, but not particularly worried about what his wife might say. He gave up on the wounds and shrugged back into his shirt.

“What can I do for you, Detective?”

Galen directed his attention to the bed. “I wonder if the owners of the house had this in mind when they hired you to sell their place.”

“The house is owned by the bank now. If you have a problem with how I use a house, you can take it up with Mr. West. He oversees several properties that I have access to.” Anglove walked over to the bed and roughly hauled the sheets back into place. He settled the duvet overtop, hiding the bulk of the mess. He gestured towards the door and Galen preceded him down the hall to the living room.

Galen settled into the chair next to the fireplace once again, facing Anglove, who sat on the couch. He’d thought about easing into the conversation, but given how blasé the man had been upstairs, Galen chose to hit him between the eyes instead.

“You were having an affair with Megan Price.”

“So what?” Anglove crossed his left leg over his right, sitting with an arm across the back of the couch. By all appearances, he was a man without a care in the world.

“You gave me the impression that you hardly knew her.”

“I can’t be held accountable for your impressions, Detective.”

Sensing the smirk behind the words, Galen flexed his fingers to keep from balling them into fists. “Fine, how well did you know Megan Price?”

“She and I were having an affair. I began seeing her back in May.”

“Would that be right after Stephie Prickett disappeared?” Galen had listed out all of the women who had disappeared over the past two years, along with the approximate dates they were last seen and by whom they were last seen.

“I believe it was around that time, yes,” Anglove said.

“How long were you with Stephie Prickett?”

Anglove looked mildly surprised that Galen knew about his affair with her. He remembered hearing a comment Faith Bishop had made to him in passing, about how Stephie was bragging that he’d soon be leaving his wife. If she hadn’t disappeared, he would have been forced to end it with her. God only knew what a fuss she’d have made about that. “Maybe three or four months; not longer than four.”

“Have you had affairs with any of the other women who are currently missing?”

Anglove could feel sweat break out on his palms. When looked at from an outside viewpoint, it looked bad. “Yes, I’ve had affairs with all of them.”

“And you didn’t think this was pertinent to the investigation?”

“I can’t be expected to know what you’d find pertinent, Detective.” The minute he said it, he knew it was the wrong move. He’d been too flippant and the cop didn’t like it.

“Allow me to describe exactly what I’d find pertinent, Mr. Mayor,” Galen said. “Your financial records will become pertinent, if I decide that I need to have a look at them. Your neighbors will become pertinent, if I choose to have a chat with them. Your wife will become pertinent, Mr. Mayor, though I’m sure she already knows about your extracurricular activities. Any business activities you have on or off this island, may come under a microscope, if I decide it’s worthy of my attention. Is all of that clear, Mr. Mayor?”

Anglove casually wiped the sweat from his palms, refusing to be baited into an argument. “Aren’t you supposed to be looking for a missing camper?”

“I am posted to this island, Mr. Mayor. Anything that appears suspicious is open for investigation. I am actively searching for clues to the missing camper.” A man who Galen thought wasn’t missing at all, though he still hadn’t run across the man since spotting him outside the Laundromat. “During the course of that investigation, I ran across the mysterious case of multiple missing persons who, for some reason, weren’t properly reported to the authorities. It is, therefore, my duty to thoroughly investigate their whereabouts.”

“You might want to be careful who you upset, Detective. You’ve only just returned to the island, whereas I’ve been here for many years. I have contacts who could make it difficult for you to remain here.”

“Are you threatening a member of the RCMP, Mr. Mayor?”

“It’s just a warning, Detective. I’m sure it would be uncomfortable for your family if you were shunned by the community. As I understand it, you don’t have much to return to in Victoria.”

Galen’s eyes narrowed, wondering who he’d talked to at his old precinct. He hadn’t washed out and he’d left on good terms. Hell, as far as the RCMP was concerned, he was only on loan, to return when the job he’d been sent to do was complete. His talk of shunning was ridiculous. The mayor obviously wasn’t privy to most people’s opinion of him.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Galen could care less if the community shunned him. They’d never be able to walk into the bakery again if they did. Or the grocery, since his sister was managing that. His brother owned the butcher shop. His family was too ingrained into the community for the mayor’s threat to hold water.

But he still felt bold enough to make it. He knew that on the surface, his having had affairs with all of the missing women looked bad. Not reporting the missing persons cases also stank of involvement. Either the guy was a sociopath who didn’t care about the police investigating his life, or he wasn’t guilty of anything outside of being a douchebag, to quote Jenna’s perfect description of the man.

“Who was the woman you were with here today, Mr. Mayor.”

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”

“Then allow me to show you just how it is pertinent. You’ve had affairs with several women over the course of the past two years. Those women have since disappeared, under mysterious circumstances. Any woman currently involved with you should be concerned about her safety. If you don’t give me the woman’s name, then I’ll be forced to make an announcement at the next town hall meeting that anyone associating with you should be very careful.”

Anglove scowled at Galen, but figured the man would follow through on his threat. He didn’t much care if he made the announcement, but it would crimp his style if the women of the island thought he was dangerous to associate with. “Her name is Kay Hager.”

“Is she married?”

“No, she isn’t.”

“Does she live alone or have a roommate?”

“She lives alone.”

Galen made note of the name and determined that he’d have to look up her address and have a chat with her.

***

Claire met Jenna at Page Turners to discuss the designs for the Turret Room. Sarah’s place was stacked full of boxes; the loan she’d accepted from Claire had allowed her to order the stock she’d wanted. Her cafe was slowly becoming a bookstore. She’d greeted them both with a quick hug before burying herself in her books.

“She’s been dancing a jig all morning, since those books showed up. She’s going to be here for weeks trying to sort them all out, but I don’t think I’ve seen her happier.” Jenna sipped her cappuccino as she watched Sarah flit from box to shelf and back again.

“It will be great to have a real bookstore on the island. The selection they have at the grocery store isn’t enough to support the needs of the community.” Claire couldn’t wait to see what Sarah had ordered and to make a few purchases to help out her new friend.

“Once she’s settled in she wants to see if she can’t lure a couple of authors here for book signings.”

“I have a friend who writes true crime novels. I’ll ask him if he’d be interested in doing a signing here.” She hadn’t seen Rory Cavanaugh in ten years, but she’d tapped him for donations to CARR and figured he’d oblige her with a trip to the island, especially if Page Turners featured his latest book.

Jenna pulled out her sketchpad and a binder full of clippings and notes. She laid the binder on the table and flipped it open to a tab labeled LOFT. Claire had mentioned that the upper level of the Turret Room had too much wasted space. The forty foot ceilings looked fabulous, but could be put to better use if it was turned into a two-storey loft. Claire intended to live in it, turning the rest of the house into space for the retreat. Jenna had come up with several different options for the room, but showed Claire her personal favorite first.

“This option actually gives you three levels instead of the two you were thinking about. The ceilings are so high that you can get away with it and not lose the feeling of openness.” The drawing showed the main floor with a slightly sunken living area directly off the main entrance. The kitchen hugged the curve of the back wall and included a twelve foot long island that also mimicked the curve.

“The island has a ton of room for pots and pans and whatnot. There’s a sink inset into the island and even a two-burner induction range. Stove, fridge, convection oven and dishwasher are all along the back wall.” She’d tucked a bedroom into the front curve of the turret, near the far side of the room, with a full bathroom next to it. “That’s in case you’re too tired to walk up to the master bedroom.”

The next stage of the design showed a staircase that followed the curve of the main wall up fifteen feet to the second level. The floor extended out half the distance of the first, totaling 900sq.ft., with an office space, a bathroom, and a bedroom at the far end. The staircase then continued up another fifteen feet to the third level which held the master bedroom. Similar in size to the second level, the master level held a large en suite bathroom with walk-in shower, separate tub situated directly in front of a window, and his and hers vanity. A walk-in closet with custom shelving, including rotating shoe racks, sat flush against the wall next to the bathroom. A seating area near the railing afforded the occupant with an unobstructed view of the lower floors. A king-size bed utilized the bulk of the remaining wall space.

“It’s a lot of stairs, but it makes the best use of the available space,” Jenna concluded.

“I love it,” Claire said. She could envision it even as Jenna was describing it. Taking the current floor space and essentially doubling it was brilliant. She’d have to get Kent to approve the structural work before he did anything else, so she could get going on it.

“Do you want to see the other options?”

“No, this is the one I want. Now, tell me more about that walk-in closet. Rotating shoe rack, I believe you said?” Claire laughed when Jenna flipped to a tab in her binder specifically labeled SHOES. They spent another hour going over details for the various levels. They couldn’t finalize anything until Kent arrived and could assess the overall structure of the turret. For all Claire knew, it could have crumbling concrete and would need to be demolished. But God she hoped it was serviceable. She really could see herself in the room Jenna had described.

They were just packing up when the front door to the cafe burst open and Jillian Wallis strode in. Claire hadn’t seen her mother since the last time she’d come to the island. Realizing that, she thought it odd that her mother hadn’t already paid a visit to Wallis House to demand money from her. That was her usual routine.

“Where did you get the money to run this bookstore?” Jillian demanded of Sarah, who was still happily putting books on the shelves.

Claire walked over to her mother, standing behind her. “Hello, mother.”

Jillian whirled around and stared at her daughter. The girl looked like a copy of her, except for those damn blue eyes. And Jillian knew that her skin, though gorgeous, wasn’t quite as taut as it used to be. Her breasts were bigger than Claire’s but required a little more assistance from a bra these days. Then men in her life didn’t notice, or they wisely chose not to mention it. And Claire didn’t appear to have aged a bit. Not a wrinkle to suggest that her recent embarrassing events with her ex-fiancé had affected her.

“Claire. I’d heard you were back on the island, and why. Come to lick your wounds, have you?”

Claire smiled, and then she laughed. Had she really expected anything else from this woman? At least her father had never shown her any open hostility. He’d never pinched her just to make her cry. “Mother, it’s always a treat running into you. Yes, I’m back, and no, it’s not to lick my wounds. Quite honestly I’m taking it as a wakeup call. I’m no longer willing to put up with second-rate men. Speaking of which, I hear you’re dating several married men. How’s that going for you?”

Jillian ignored the question and her daughter. She turned back to Sarah, who stood before her, with several books in her hands. It was the eyes, Jillian knew. They didn’t lie.

Claire came around her mother and stood next to Sarah. She crossed her arms and glared at her mother. “It seems that someone has been strong-arming the foundation into denying good candidates the use of foundation money. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you mother?”

Jillian sniffed, but inside she crowed with victory. She’d worked long hours to get Trent West where she wanted him. It was glorious to see she still had that kind of power. “If Trent deemed Ms. Miller unworthy of the assistance, it was his call to make.”

“Actually, that’s not true. There’s been a disruption in the process, thanks to my father having dissolved the board so that his wife could run things.” Claire was just petty enough to enjoy the anger that flared in her mother’s eyes. “Until I can sort things at the bank, I have loaned Sarah the money she needs to run her business.”

Jillian shrieked with rage and lunged at her daughter. Claire put her hands up to block the nails coming at her face, angled her body into the attack and bumped her mother backward. Knocked off kilter, Jillian threw her hands out to regain her balance. Claire grabbed her wrists and wrenched them behind her back. She had two inches and ten pounds of muscle on her mother. She used it to march Jillian to the door, which a customer kindly opened for her.

“I believe you’ve overstayed your welcome, mother. If you return, Sarah will have to call the police. We have a cop on the island now, in case you didn’t know.” Claire let go of her mother’s wrists and stood ready for another attack.

Jillian whipped around, but didn’t try hurting Claire again. She’d not expected to have her anger deflected so easily. She tried tears instead. “How can you treat me like this? Do you know who she is?”

Claire rolled her eyes and once again thanked God for Mac and her grandfather. “Sarah is my half-sister and I’m ecstatic about that. Holding the child to blame for what the parents did is stupid. It wasn’t her fault. The rest is between you and my father.” Claire reentered the store and shut the door in her mother’s face.

***

She’d looked so full of fire. The more he watched her, the less he liked his other option. The other girl just didn’t have the same verve. She wouldn’t have shoved her mother onto the street as Claire had. Claire had looked so magnificent standing there, defending her half-sister.

Her half-sister.

The spawn of a whore and her devil lover. He hated her for it. Hated her! The venom flowed through him; he clenched his fists until the knuckles turned white. His eyes spit fire and he wasn’t aware of the people on the boardwalk turning away to avoid him. Didn’t she know that the girl was tainted? He’d seen it all his life. His mother had told him so. His older brother had refused to listen to her, but he’d listened.

How could Claire willingly tie herself to such a beast? Had he been wrong about her? Had he been misguided by that sweet look about her? All the others had led him astray, hadn’t they? He should have known. Her father was the devil himself, giving his seed to any woman willing to spread her legs for him. How could Claire not be tainted by it? She had to be. She was tainted. A whore, just like her mother. Just like all of the others. His ladies. They’d learned the truth in the end. He’d have to teach Claire the same lesson.

Soon.

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