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They filed into JD’s room, and shut the door. Housekeeping had already straightened the room. Two high-end chocolate-mints were nestled on a small plate atop the fluffed pillows. The open curtains allowed stark white winter daylight into the room.
It didn’t brighten their spirits.
Wendy sat on the bed, set the laptop beside her and collapsed backward. She exhaled through flapping lips, and put her hands over her eyes. JD dropped heavily into one of the two soft chairs in the seating area. Dillon shuffled quietly onto the bed and leaned against the headboard. He took his well-worn baseball cap off his head and scratched absently through his unruly locks, then scraped his nails along his jawline through his perpetual stubble.
In a moment, their eyes locked on JD.
He straightened in the plush chair. “What?”
Wendy sat up. “What? What do we do now, that’s what. I mean, were you going to tell us about that message on the mirror, Jaded? Didn’t you think we’d find that important?”
“Dude … dude, y’can’t be keepin’ secrets an’ shit, man. We’re all in this thing t’gether, yo?”
“I know … I know, I’m sorry. But I didn’t want what the Kileys thought, or what you might have interpreted, to interfere with us doing this investigation objectively.”
“Interfere? JD, withholding information from us is interfering! We’re supposed to be a team here. You wanted us to come along, and now you’re going to keep us from having all the information? What kind of bullshit is that?”
“Wendy, I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to — ”
“Dude, you screwed up. Just say it and shut th’ hell up.’
JD snapped his jaw closed. He sat back. “Fine. You want an unqualified admission of wrong? Fine — sorry. I was wrong, I should have told you what the message said. I had reasons for not doing so.”
“Like mebbe yer a dick?”
“Like maybe I was trying to keep things on a rational level. You probably would’ve jumped to the conclusion it was a ghost. That would have slanted your perspec — ”
“Is this your idea of ‘unqualified’, JD? I gotta tell ya, sweets, I love you, but this is the most disclaimered ‘unqualified’ statement I’ve ever heard, and I work in contract marketing. Gimme a break.”
JD dropped his forehead into his palm. “I’m sorry, all right? I … forget it. I’m sorry.”
“Pff. You don’ mean it, homes.”
“I do too. Stop it.”
“If y’mean it, buy me lunch.”
“Both of you shut up. JD, what do we do now? What’s the next step? Do we have to keep a watch on Phoebe? And who was that you saw in the stairway?”
“First of all, I don’t know who was in the stairwell, I couldn’t see them, and secondly, why would we need to keep a watch on Phoebe?”
“Someone’s trying to kill her, JD!”
“Wendy, how did you come to that conclusion? She choked, that’s all. We have no idea if that’s related to the case or not. She may have had a seizure. The woman is pregnant — maybe it was hormonally related, or medically related some other way. You’ve no way of knowing someone tried to kill her.”
“Dude, it was so the ghost curse.”
“See? This is precisely what I was trying to avoid.”
“All right, all right … maybe you’re right, maybe I am jumping to conclusions. There could be other explanations, I’ll grant you. We don’t know someone’s trying to kill her, so … what do we know?”
“We know somethin’ bad’s gonna happen. I been sayin’ that all along.”
“Dillon, please. That’s a good idea, Wendy, let’s take an assessment of what we know. But first I want to see if the receivers are picking up the signal from the cameras.”