- Revised, Part 5/? - Steele By
Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2001
- Carla Keehn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
See Part 1 for copyright
disclaimers . . .
Previously: The card was beautiful. Laura mentally sorted
through names and dates in her mind, searching for an occasion
that would warrant such a remembrance. She slowly opened the
card and gasped slightly.
* * * *
- The gruesome photograph inside was
a shock in contrast to the flowery phrases of affection on the
front of the card. The body depicted in the picture was burned,
the flesh pitted and scarred beyond recognition. Holt swallowed
hard and sank back against Steele's desk.
"Thinking of you on this special day . . ." Holt read
in a shaky voice. ". . . as we remember the loss of our
loved one, Lily Martin, and your part in her death. And as we
continue to mourn the death of our beloved, so shall you mourn
the death of the one closest to you . . ."
The words hit Laura like a blow to the stomach. She forced herself
to continue reading.
"Her death will be avenged. Happy Anniversary - - Major
Descoine - -"
"No . . ." Holt whispered. She and Steele had faced
adversaries over the years but Descoine was by far the deadliest
of them all. The arrival of Descoine's message and the threat
it contained suddenly cast a new light on the Steele's disappearance.
"Be right there . . ." Krebbs called from the outer
office. "Who was the card from, honey," Mildred rambled,
"It's from the boss, right?"
"No it's not from Mr. Steele . . ." Laura swallowed
hard. "The card's not important right now," she continued,
trying to keep her emotions in check. She needed Mildred's help
and knew that the older woman would be too upset to give her
any if she found out about the contents of the card. "Mildred,
get a message to Detective Jarvis. I need to know where Major
Descoine is, if he's still in prison."
"Descoine? But why . . ."
Holt silenced the woman with a look. "I don't have time
for any long explanations, I just need that information - and
I need it right away." She took a deep breath. "Secondly,
where is Fred and Mr. Steele's car?"
"Still out front, just like it always is. That's what I
tried to tell you earlier, Miss Holt, Mr. Steele didn't run out
on you, he's changed - -"
"Mildred, please!" Laura snapped. She could feel the
poisonous message inside the card eating away at her composure.
"I'm taking the car to Mr. Steele's apartment. I want you
to ask Detective Jarvis to meet me there, okay?"
"Sure, but can't you tell me what's going on? Did you find
out something, did something happen to the boss?"
Holt took the woman by the shoulders. "Later, Mildred, I
promise that I'll answer all of your questions later. Just get
on that phone - -"
As Mildred scurried into action, Laura felt guilt stab at her
like a red hot poker. She'd been so angry at being stood up that
she hadn't bothered to check out Steele's story about a client
last night. Mildred was right - Steele was a different man. But
she'd let her old fears about him cloud her vision. She'd thought
nothing of it, at the time, but now she realized what a mistake
she'd made - a mistake that Steele might have already paid for
with his life.
Laura took a shaky breath and quietly opened one of the desk
drawers. She picked up the small handgun and gave it a quick
check. As a rule, neither Holt or Steele ever felt a need to
carry "the agency gun" as the two jokingly refered
to the weapon. But now . . .
Laura slipped the gun into her handbag and hurried out of the
End Part 5
- To Part 6