“Actually, I am also wondering about the whole chocolate cake thing. Dorie would appear to know who made it so why did she eat it? Or did she only find out after a trip to the emergency room?” I would love to know the answer to that one. The men look at me and nod.
Paul finishes his notes. “But I don’t know how we ask Dorie without basically telling her that you all ran to me.”
“We did.” Zeke shrugs. “So why not?”
“I have this idea that if we can keep our connection quiet, she may end up telling you all things that she would never say or even think around the uniform.”
“Precognitive, are you?”
“Not usually. Just a feeling, nothing more.” Paul bends over to pet Vader who has wandered behind his desk. “I appreciate your telling me this. I can try to go at it quietly and see what we can find. There was no indication that Dorie was playing her husband’s games and now that it seems she finds husbandly companionship outside of her marital vows, we need to go back and look at things.”
We agree and are about to gather up and go out when he gives a start.
“Oh I meant to tell you. We have found the car that hit you. It belongs to John Robert Schmidt Junior.”
If my face looks like Zeke’s, we both look like idiots. Paul gives a grunt and shakes his head at our expressions.
“We don’t know that he was driving it, but his car matches the description closely enough that we were able to really inspect it. We found traces of blood on the bumper and typed it as A positive. I am assuming that is yours.” He looks at Zeke who nods. “If you will give a sample, we can run the DNA test and match it up.”
“You know I will. Where can I donate?”
Paul leads us to the lab where Rob is working on something under the microscope. He leaves it when we walk in and comes over to hug us.
“What’s up?” He lets go of me as Paul asks him to get a sample of blood.
“Sure thing. Have a seat.” He bustles around collecting his supplies and I watch.
He is good at his job. Zeke hates giving blood for any reason but he never even flinches as Rob deftly raises the vein, puts the needle in and withdraws a vial’s worth. He puts the piece of gauze over the hole and folds Zeke’s arm up to stop the bleeding.
“I used to work in the hospital as a lab tech so they make me get the samples when we need them here. I would rather play with the fancy gadgets, but since it was you…I don’t mind.” He laughs and turns to start the tests that Paul wants run.
“Rob, how is Josh doing?” I want to know if he’s slept as much as I have.
“Josh is doing great. He has been painting his living room and is talking about the trim work he wants to put up. He hasn’t had this much energy…since I can’t remember when.”
“Great, now I know where all of her zip went…Mattie’s been hibernating up until about yesterday.” Zeke pipes in.
“It’s the weather.” I don’t want Rob to feel that the events of Christmas Day did anything to me.
“Mattie? I’m sorry, I had no idea…” Rob looks crestfallen.
So much for that. I try to explain. “Nobody could have known how I would react since I have never done anything quite like that. And I feel just fine now. Actually, I was just trying to get out of doing anything in the house while we don’t have to have the shop open.”
“Ah-ha!” Zeke points a finger at me. “Next time, I’ll just roll you out and make you work!”
Rob relaxes, visibly relieved. “Well, anyway Josh is just fabulous. He doesn’t have any pain, he doesn’t get short of breath. We have a doctor’s appointment after the first of the year and we’ll see what he has to say.”
“Good. I’m glad that he is feeling better,” I tell him as Zeke nods his agreement.
“Much better!” He turns to Paul. “I’ll run this and let you know the results.”
Paul thanks him and we walk back out to the front door. Our progress is not very fast as Vader has put on his major cuteness and everyone wants to pet him and ask what kind of dog he is. Zeke and I are used to this so we just keep smiling and repeating the information.
We head home in time for some lunch.
The week between the holidays is usually quiet and this year is no exception. We barely make enough for it to be worth being open but it gives me something to do during the day. Zeke sits at his computer and manipulates the spreadsheets I created about John Robert but if moving stuff around offers a solution to the murder, he doesn’t share it. I figure he is as confused about the whole thing as I am.
The highlight of the week is Paul’s phone call on Wednesday to say that the police have arrested John Robert Junior for the hit and run accident because Zeke’s sample matched the smear off his bumper.
Paul tells us that he categorically denies it and that his mother bailed him out within twenty-four hours of his being charged.
After celebrating the New Year’s very quietly–just the two of us at home with the dog and a bottle of champagne–we’re back to the usual schedule and I’ve taken down the Yule decorations. I am trying to decide between a massive candle display for Imbolc, the Festival of Lights which is the next upcoming Sabbat or if I should just go straight for the Easter/Ostara stuff when the door chimes and Sara Schmidt walks in.
She walks up to me and takes a deep breath. “Mattie, I need to talk to you about something personal.”
Oh great. I wonder if she has Laurie’s ailment… I point her towards the conservatory and ask Zeke to mind the register as I follow her back there.
“Mattie, you have to promise not to tell anyone what I am about to tell you—but I have got to talk to someone about it and I just felt that….well, that I could trust you.”
I sigh. “Sara, I appreciate your faith in me, but I may not be able to promise that I can’t tell anyone. It sort of depends on what this is about.”
“Oh it’s not about Dad’s death, or anything like that. I wouldn’t keep like clues or anything secret from the police. It’s not even about him.”
All I can think is, she does have the same problem as Laurie and we’re going to have two blessed events with two teenagers.
Her next words blast that thought right out of my head.
“Mattie, do you know someone who could help…my friend? She ummm well she was like molested by ummm her ahh dad, and she is like trying to figure out if maybe she’s gay and if it’s because of that.”
I can tell by the tone of her voice and the fact that she won’t look straight at me that her “friend” is really her and I am almost sorry John Robert is dead since that removes the pleasure of hurting him.
“Sara, has your – friend talked to a professional? Someone at school, or her doctor? Has she been checked by a doctor to make sure that she’s, well, ok?”
Her face blanches and she swallows hard. “Um, no … I…I mean, she didn’t know that she should be umm checked. I mean, this like happened a long time ago, like a couple of years ago when she was, you know, just a kid.”
I take a deep breath and try to remember that any retribution for John Robert will have to take place in his next life.
“Well, if she’s had an annual physical examination since then and the doctor didn’t say anything then, it’s probably okay.”
She blinks but looks a bit relieved.
“And why does she think that she’s gay?” I can’t wait to hear the answer.
“Ummm because she, well she had a boyfriend and he wanted to, you know. And when he tried, she like freaked out the first time. He ummm knew about the whole molestation thing, so he just kept telling her that it was ok, that they could go real slow and do it in a different position so that it wouldn’t be like…you know.” She is breathing hard and I can tell that this is difficult for her to tell me. “When they finally did it, she didn’t like it. It felt…wrong, but not like they were doing something wrong, but more like it was wrong, like it wasn’t supposed to be like that.”
“Does your friend…umm find women attractive? I mean, just because she has, well problems with heterosexual sex doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s a lesbian. It may just mean that she needs to go through therapy to work out the issues so that she can then have normal relationships. And by normal, I mean loving and trusting relationships that include sexual expression that was not forced or coerced. What her father did to her was wrong and it was not her fault.”
Sara begins to cry. “Oh Mattie. Oh. I thought it was.”
What she has just said dawns on her. “Oh god, I didn’t want to tell you who I meant.”
“Sweetheart, it was pretty obvious right from the start of the conversation. And it’s okay, what I have told you is true. It was not your fault, and it was wrong—as in doing wrong—for your father to have had sexual contact of any sort with you.”
“But he said…”
I interrupt her. “It really doesn’t matter what he said. What he did was wrong, no matter how he tried to make it seem all right. To use sex as a weapon against an innocent, someone who did not understand what was being done and was not able to choose the act—that’s wrong. Period.”
She is openly sobbing now and I gather her into my arms. I am suddenly overwhelmed by the pictures that pour through my mind…images of John Robert, strangely tall and forbidding; his fingers touching places that he had no business putting his hands; repeated images of him eating…desserts? I can feel the deep desire within her to make him go away, to hurt him enough that he will leave her alone.
I am not really surprised to watch images of Sara herself, in a mirror…working spells to protect, working spells to cleanse. I sense the despair that nothing was working. I get a glimpse of her hands stirring cake batter, pouring oil into the mix and I know that I could now testify to the mistletoe cake if the mundane courts took psychic evidence.
I take the chance. “Sara, did you make the chocolate cake that made your mom so sick?”
She gasps. “It wasn’t meant for her, she wasn’t supposed to eat it. I wanted him to leave me alone and he was pissed after he caught Eric and me… I just wanted to make him sick and let him think I would do worse if he didn’t quit.”
“Darling, you need to tell the police what you did. Talk to them, tell them the whole truth and they can help you.”
“I don’t want to go to jail! I won’t be locked up for trying to protect myself!!” Her voice raises and gets strident, making Vader bark.
She pushes me away violently and I land on the floor rather hard. She bolts from the room, followed by the dog—and me as soon as I can stand again.
I get to the front in time to see her fly out of the door and run down the walk, heading home.
I turn to Zeke. “Call Paul. I have to see him as soon as possible. See if he can come here, or do you mind watching the store while I go to him?”
“If he can’t come here, we will both go. You okay? I heard you fall.”
“I’ll probably have a bruise.”
He dials the phone and talks to the desk sergeant, finally getting connected to Paul.
“It’s Zeke. Mattie needs to talk to you now. What’s the fastest way for us to get together?”
He listens to the answer and then hangs up. “He’s on his way now. Want to give me some idea of what’s going on?”
I tell him.
When Paul arrives, I repeat my story to him as well. He listens long enough to hear about the cake and he stops me while he makes a phone call. We get to hear him issue the orders to have Sara picked up for questioning.
I know that she will never tell me anything in confidence again. I figure it’s worth the trade-off if this will get her the help that she so desperately needs. John Robert has a large karmic debt to pay off and he keeps adding to it even though he’s dead.