If you need to catch up on the story so far:
Part 1 - Lori Connelly
Part 2 - Teresa F Morgan
Part 3 - Carmel Harrington
Part 4 - that was me!
Part 5 - AJ Nuest
Part 6 - Charlotte Phillips
Part 7 - Lori Connelly
Part 8 - Carmel Harrington
Part 9 - Teresa F Morgan
And for Part 10 read on...
Clara slid a shaking hand beneath her sweater and shirt. The burden was too great to carry alone. With Barbara gone, she needed a friend more than ever, and there was no one else but Mark.
She pulled out the cloth-wrapped bundle. After an entire night strapped against her skin, she'd grown so used to the weight that without it she felt naked.
As she slowly unwrapped it, Mark took his eyes off the road just long enough to look at what lay in her lap. His eyes rounded. "Great Almighty, Clara! That's not the answer!"
"Keep your eyes on the road." She lifted the small silver hand gun. "I don't think it's loaded. It belonged to Barbara's grandfather. I guess you could say he left it to her along with the summer house."
Carefully she untwisted the sparkling cord wound around the barrel and held it up for Mark to see without having to look away from the road. "Derek paid us each $20,000 to keep our mouths shut. When we were persuaded to testify against him, neither of us could bring ourselves to spend a cent of the money. But we sure as hell weren't going to give it back either. $40,000 is a lot of money."
"No kidding." Mark swallowed and glanced again at the diamond bracelet she held up. Then his gaze shifted to the rear view mirror. Clara didn't need to look to know what he saw. She could only pray Mark's car could outrun Derek's battered Ford.
She clutched the seat as Mark suddenly swung the car onto an offramp. A moment later she heard the squeal of brakes as Derek corrected his trajectory. But she couldn't bear to look back. Not with her heart in her throat as Mark set his foot flat on the gas. The road ahead was narrow, with trees pressing in on either side, and so twisty she couldn't see more than a couple of car lengths ahead. She had no idea where they were.Are you hooked yet? If so, check out the next instalment on AJ Nuest's blog on September 24th. Just two more instalments to go!!
She gripped the diamond bracelet even tighter as Mark swung the car again, off the road and onto a barely visible dirt track. The forest swallowed them.
They sat in silence for a heart stopping moment before the roar of Derek's truck disappeared into the distance. "Hopefully it'll be a few miles before he realises he's lost us."
He stretched his arm across the back of her seat and this time Clara's heart began to race in a very familiar and not at all unpleasant way.
"So you spent Derek's pay-off on a piece of jewellery?"
"This isn't just any piece of jewellery." She carefully wound the string of diamonds back onto the gun's barrel and folded the cloth closed around it. "And it was worth every bit of the $40,000 Barbara and I had to pay to get our hands on it. This is the famous Duval bracelet. And it's the reason Derek killed Etienne Duval ten years ago."