Anne slumped against the edge of a crate, a few metres from the young woman's body. A single dark hole pierced the white skin of the forehead above her eyes. Her head had fallen to the left as she died, and a trickle of blood had oozed from the wound, coursed into the left ear and out, and congealed on the dirty grey floor of the loading area where she lay. On the wall behind, a spray of blood and brain traced a pattern. Anne touched the face with the back of her hand. Cold. She sought a pulse in the thin neck but found nothing. She turned away from the clouded blue eyes. She dialled 911 and moved back into the store and sat. So young, she thought. Her hands trembled. What was this? She'd seen the dead before. Not so often in her life, paediatricians didn't, but lately... She wanted to be sure, to touch the young woman again, but she shouldn't. No way to explain why she would do that.
Three bodies in as many years, she thought. Would they be suspicious of her this time? That happened before, in Bermuda. She rubbed her hands on the soft fabric of her pale blue parka and shivered, cold in spite of her warm coat. Silence flowed from the body on the floor and surrounded her, until it was broken by the wail of sirens. Could she face the questions alone? No, not again. She punched in Thomas's number on her cell phone.
"Thomas, I'm at Erin's shop. There's a body"
"No. The police are coming."
"I'll be right there."
Two days before, she sat in the jaunty yellow Beechcraft Bonanza that Thomas used to commute between Toronto, New York and his mother's home in Vermont. The plane was larger and, Anne hoped, safer, than the one they had ploughed into a field on a previous trip to New Hampshire. This time, they were flying in for Christmas with Thomas's family. Below, a single runway, a ploughed line through the snow, rose to meet the plane. A young man with Thomas's dark hair and lithe build stood at the entrance to the Quonset hut that served as a terminal. His red and black ski jacket stood out against the aluminum of the building.
"Daniel's waiting," Thomas said. "I told him we'd take a cab."
Tension in his voice.
"Do you think something's wrong?"
"Perhaps my mother. She sounded vague on the phone the last couple of times I talked to her."
"You didn't say anything—"
"You have enough."
A muscle knotted over the sharply-defined bone of his jaw. Now Anne's nightmares and fear had come between them, shutting her out of part of his life.
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