Sunday, December 23, 3:45pm
Moody stood to one side of Eloy Franklin’s porch talking to Officer Frio as they both watched the activity buzzing around the dead Santa. Moody felt a swell of laughter build up as she listened to the other officers making ribald yuletide jokes.
It had taken longer than usual for the police department to show up in Rubicon Ranch. Twenty-five minutes from the time she’d called to report the dead body on her neighbor’s porch.
She’d decided to play nice and not involve Melanie. It also meant Melanie would owe her. Moody liked this new game she had discovered.
It paid to have people in your pocket. Her father had practiced blackmail and now Moody realized having something on the people around you was more valuable than all the gold in the world. She mentally kicked herself for not realizing her father’s wisdom sooner.
“If we have any more questions, we know where you are. Don’t leave the area,” Frio stated with a hard look. Moody returned the stare. Since her father’s death, the entire police department treated her as Prime Suspect Number One. A kid wanders away from its mother and Moody’s house is the first stop. Some idiot’s dog is shot in the desert and the only place they visit in Rubicon Ranch is her house.
Thankfully, law enforcement had not found out about her more current sins or she’d be in jail. Not that they weren’t trying; every now and then someone would come along with “just a few more questions” about this or that.
Moody found it amusing. It was kind of exhilarating, too, to stay one or two or a hundred steps ahead of the law. If she weren’t so busy with deviousness, she’d write a book on how to successfully commit crime, avoid capture and have fun thumbing one’s nose at authority.
As she walked up to her front door, she turned back toward Eloy’s house. She was glad the body on the porch wasn’t the old man. In his gruff way, he reminded her of Morris—minus the perversion and deviousness.
Half of the officers were watching her. Frio was looking after her with jealous eyes. And why not? Moody looked in the mirror every day and knew she had become competition for the women around her. No more mousy wallflower.
She’d never thought of herself as seductive until now. She could have any man or woman, anywhere, any time. It was too bad she didn’t care one whit for men or women. Feelings and all that crap were simply a means to an end for the daughter of Morris Sinclair.
Satan greeted her anxiously in the entryway. He was the only creature she cared for and he returned her affection without reservation. It didn’t matter how many people she hurt or how many she killed, the dog would always love her.
Circling and jumping, the dog almost knocked her down. Moody frowned as she watched her dog circle and sneeze. Looking closer, she noticed his eyes were red and watery.
“Sorry, baby. It was either you or me and it wasn’t going to be me,” she whispered in his doggy ear.
She walked into the kitchen with the dog trailing close behind. Handing him a treat, she looked at the back door and saw the small piece of thread she’d left across the top of the doorframe and door was on the floor.
Sometimes the old, simple ways were the best. She’d thought about installing a camera to catch anyone entering her house, but what fun would that be? The chase was more exhilarating than the capture.
A mystery person had jimmied the back door, entered her house and sprayed her dog with something to immobilize him. She knew something like this would happen.
Nothing was out of place. The least Melanie could have done was mess up the place a little bit before she stole Nancy’s Book of Secrets. Moody was a little disappointed in her neighbor.
Moody had not tried too hard to disguise her voice when she’d called Melanie. Where was the fun if she remained a faceless entity? She already had an out in case anyone called the police—she was only telling people what was in the late real estate agent’s blackmail book. Moody wasn’t going to commit to a crime so blatantly.
No, subtlety would be her style. She wanted these men and women in Rubicon to owe her and one day, she would collect on their debts. It was the Sinclair way and she was somewhat happy to follow in Morris’s footsteps.
She walked around the house and lifted almost invisible threads from other doors. Nothing else had been disturbed and no other doors except the back one had been opened.
Maybe it wasn’t Melanie. She was the obvious choice, yet, she was too obvious. Plus, Melanie had every reason not to want to piss Moody off. Moody held more aces in her hand than did Melanie.
The dog was trailing close to her. For a big dog, he was a big baby. She ran water in the bathtub and he obediently stood while she gently flushed his eyes. Poor boy; he’d taken the bullet for her. Too bad most people weren’t like dogs.
As she toweled his massive head, she drifted away in thought. Dogs were loyal and trustworthy. People were not. Dogs were treated like possessions and objects to be ruled over and discarded when no longer useful. At least, that was how some people treated their canine companions. Not Moody.
Maybe it was time for people to feel what it was like to be used and thrown away. God knows, Moody had been treated that way for most of her life by a father who used and abused everyone around him. But, maybe he had been on to something. Was it so wrong?
After all, you could not trust anyone. No one was above murdering another particularly where secrets were involved, even secrets that didn’t seen too scandalous or criminal.
Walking with Satan to the back office, Moody bent down to the floor safe and pushed it to one side. There were some things in the safe itself that were worth hiding, but it was the things underneath the safe that were worth killing to keep hidden.
Lifting a heavy tile, Moody reached for the box in the space she’d carved out under the flooring. If she let go of the tile, she’d be minus a few fingers.
She didn’t need to open the box to see it had not been disturbed. No one knew of its existence except her and Satan, and Satan wasn’t going to rat her out.
Opening the box, she looked at her treasures. No, they were more than treasures, she thought. They were her souvenirs.
She lifted the papers on top and looked at them with a smile. Nancy’s Book of Secrets wasn’t gone for good and just to make sure, she was going to make a few more copies and send them around to everyone involved. Even before she’d found the book, she’d begun her game, using information about Zazzi, a new woman on the block, that she’d finessed from Nancy while the realtor was trying to wheedle her into selling the Sinclair house. But now she could play the game in earnest.
“Fur will fly, sweetie,” she said as she nuzzled her dog’s neck. “And we’ll sit back and watch.”