Rubicon Ranch: Secrets ~ Chapter 20: Celeste Boudreau — by Dellani Oakes

Sunday, December 23, 4:05pm

Shivering with fear and excitement, Celeste clutched the notebook to her ample bosom. It had been ridiculously easy to break into Moody’s house and take it. The stupid woman hadn’t even tried to hide it. Not that hiding it would have made any difference to Celeste. She’d seen and scented it and could trace it no matter where it went. Her skills were funny like that. Some were much easier to control than others. She’d made a good bit of money as a teenager sniffing out other peoples’ lost items. This book was more important than displaced car keys or missing marketing reports. This was life itself. A wealth of illicit knowledge dwelt in the pages.

Taking a moment to stop and catch her breath, Celeste transferred the notebook to a hiding place her back pocket. She had abandoned her gauzy clothing for a more innocuous, dark blue jumpsuit. Having watched more than one cop show, she had brought along a Ziploc bag to protect the evidence. The bag covered notebook pressed against her bottom uncomfortably. It seemed to weigh far more than its size indicated. The weight of its contents pulled at her psyche.

Her back door was unlocked and she slid it open, expelling a long held breath of relief. She regretted what she’d had to do to the dog. She abhorred mistreatment of animals, but she couldn’t risk him raising a fuss and alerting Moody.

With trembling, Nitrile-gloved, hands, she pulled the little notebook from her pants. Before opening it, she poured herself a sustaining gin and tonic. Seating herself in her meditation pyramid, she opened the cover. Nancy’s scratchings were definitely in some sort of crude code, but there were some scribbles in the margins that gave a few clues. Rather than relying on the obvious for her information, she closed her eyes. Once in awhile, she could direct her gift and make it work for her. Her connection to the notebook was strong enough that she knew it would reveal its hidden meaning to her.

Deep in her trance, she held the notebook between her gloved palms. She saw the coded words in her mind and watched as the words melted away, leaving golden letters behind. The pattern became clear and Celeste smiled.

“Nancy, you really were a rather pathetic mentality, weren’t you?”

She headed inside to her office. Waiting for her computer to boot, she opened the notebook. The words on the page spoke to her, its secrets now her own. She started some Jimi Hendrix playing and began a new document. She typed quickly, turning the pages with care.

Once she was done, she’d burn the notebook. She couldn’t have prying eyes on it. Or maybe not? She’d urged the police to find it. Perhaps she could arrange for them to?

Grinning at her cleverness, Celeste continued typing until she had translated Nancy’s karma-damaging ledger. Without a thought of what it might mean to her own tarnished soul, Celeste closed the book. Nancy had used the book for evil purposes, thus making herself a target for cosmic retribution. Celeste intended to use it only for self-preservation. Yes, there were others who could be brought down by the words and deeds recorded there, but she had no intention of using it the way Nancy had. Their Secrets were hers now.

Patting the cover fondly, Celeste planned how best to bring the book to the Sheriff’s attention. He wasn’t a stupid man. He would suspect she hadn’t come by it casually. Perhaps the best way to throw off his suspicions would be to confirm them? She knew that she set herself up for trouble by a direct confrontation, but the sheer audacity of the move might buy a little more time.

Picking up the book, she dropped it back in the Ziploc bag. Taking her keys, she set her alarm and locked up tight. Her cover story was so simple, it was genius. With luck, and a little fast talking, she might get the Sheriff to believe her. Or rather, she admitted with a sigh, not disbelieve her.

With more Jimi Hendrix playing in the car, she drove to the Sheriff’s Department.

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