“Wait a minute. Who authorized the move?”
There was a long pause, and then he said, “I don’t know. The boxes with your name on them were just there when I opened this morning.”
That didn’t make sense. Kiera and Isabel wouldn’t have arranged anything like that, and Kate’s two full-time employees were on vacation.
“Mr. Jones, I can’t make any changes or authorize any improvements—”
He cut her off before she could explain that she wasn’t going to sign a lease. With her bleak financial situation, moving her company now was the last item on her agenda. She needed first to figure out how to keep her company before she did anything else.
“Listen, you’re breaking up. Just meet me there,” he said. “The side door’s unlocked if you get there before I do. Grab a cup of coffee and wait for me. I’m across town, and there’s quite a bit of traffic, but I’m on my way.”
“Mr. Jones, about my inventory—”
“If you want to move it, we’ll move it for you.”
Kate was so frustrated she wanted to scream. How many boxes had been taken to the warehouse? It appeared the only way to find out was to drive there and see for herself.
They’d have to be moved immediately. She could stack them in her garage, she supposed, but then she’d have to move them again when the house went on the market. Oh Lord, how was she going to tell Isabel and Kiera?
First things first. She tried to get her sisters on the phone to tell them she’d be late, but the answering machine picked up. She left a message informing them that she was back in town but was going over to the warehouse before she came home.
She was just pulling out of the parking lot to get back onto the highway when she noticed how low she was on gas. Since she was in an unfamiliar part of the city, it took her a while to find a filling station. She spotted a McDonald’s across the street and decided to get a Diet Coke. She wasn’t in a hurry to get to the warehouse because she didn’t want to have to wait for Jones.
She arrived at the warehouse a half hour later. It was located at the end of a long winding street in an area that was earmarked for renovation by the city. There were already several trendy lofts just a few blocks away. Pembroke Street hadn’t been touched yet, and there were potholes everywhere, requiring a lot of zigzagging. The empty storefronts with broken windows hadn’t been repaired yet, but the projected turnaround in this blighted area of Silver Springs and the expansion that would follow were exactly what Kate had been looking for.
The building was still quite a distance from her house, but the rent was doable—or at least she used to think it was—and she had intended to put in a security system for the safety of the employees.
The employees she might have to let go.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” she whispered.
Kate pulled into the lot and parked directly in front of the side door. There weren’t any other cars or vans around.
She was about to turn the motor off when her phone rang. She sat back, adjusted the vents, and picked up the phone.
“It’s Jones. Are you there yet?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“I should be there in about five minutes,” he said. “Help yourself to some coffee while you wait.”
“No, thank you.”
“You don’t drink coffee?”
“No,” she replied, wondering why they were having this inane conversation.
“Would you mind turning the pot off? Last time I forgot I nearly burned the place down.”
That comment didn’t instill a lot of confidence in Kate. “Yes, I’ll turn it off,” she said. “But about my inventory . . .” she continued impatiently.
“I’m going to have those boxes moved tomorrow. They never should have been sent over in the first place.”
“I’m really sorry if there’s been a mix-up, Miss MacKenna. I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
He disconnected the call before she could tell him that meeting him was really a waste of his time and hers, that she wasn’t going to be making any improvements because she wasn’t going to be renting the space. Still, she did want to see how many boxes of her scented candles and body lotion had been moved.
Kate tossed her phone on the seat next to her, but it struck her purse, bounced to the floor, and rolled under the seat.
She unfastened her seat belt and was reaching for the phone when the engine began to make an all too familiar knocking sound. She knew what that meant. She quickly turned the air conditioner off and then the motor so that it could cool down. Otherwise, it would be impossible to start again. She leaned across the console and bent down to get her phone.
She was digging under the seat when the warehouse exploded.
The blast, like a sonic boom, rocked Kate’s car and blew out the windows. Had she been sitting in the driver’s seat, her face would have been slashed by the razor-sharp chunks of glass flying through the air. The shards pounded the hood and roof of her car and impaled the sides. Next came the wall of fire that blew through the building and rolled across the parking lot. The tires of her car buckled from the intense heat. The dashboard stayed in one piece as it was ripped free and propelled through the back window. It landed on top of the Dumpster across the lot.
Kate lay unconscious on the floor, unaware of the destruction surrounding her.
Those were the first words out of Kiera’s mouth when she was finally allowed to see her sister. Kate had been taken to the Silver Springs hospital and had just been moved to her room and helped into her bed when both her sisters came storming in.
“Haven’t you been there and done that already?” Kiera asked with a worried smile. She was so overcome with joy that Kate hadn’t been seriously injured there were tears in her eyes.
Isabel was beside herself. “You could have been killed. Why do you have to do things like this?”
“She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Kiera said.
Isabel was shaking her head. “That’s it, Kate. I’m not going to ever let you leave the house again. I’ll even give up college and stay home to make sure you stay put and out of harm’s way.”
“Isabel, you’re not being reasonable,” Kiera said.
“Reasonable?” She sounded frantic now. “Is it reasonable to get yourself blown up twice in one week? Is that reasonable?” She looked at Kate, pointed a finger, and stammered, “You scared me.” She burst into tears and turned her back on Kate. “I mean it. I’m not going to college.”
Kiera walked over to the bed. “She’s been like this since we heard, but now that she knows you’re fine, she’ll stop crying.”
Kate’s head was killing her, and it was difficult to follow the conversation. She was in a dark room, but when Isabel pulled the drapes open, Kate winced. Isabel noticed and immediately closed them again.
“You were really lucky. Your skull should have been split wide open.”
“Oh, that’s a picture I won’t soon be forgetting, Kiera,” Isabel snapped. She grabbed a tissue and wiped her eyes.
“Jordan’s called a couple of times,” Kiera said, ignoring Isabel now. “She’s worried about you.”
“How did she know—”
“She called to say hello and Isabel told her what happened and how the fire department had to pry you out of your car. It’s totaled, by the way.”
“You should be thankful I didn’t call Aunt Nora. She’s only now unpacking, I bet, but she would have dropped everything and come back here. She’d make sure you didn’t take any more crazy chances,” Isabel said.
Kate closed her eyes. “When can I go home?”
“Tomorrow at the earliest. The doctor may want to keep you longer.”
Isabel’s voice shook. “Your face looks sunburned. It’s probably from the fire. Kate, do you have any idea how close you came to being killed?”
“You aren’t going to start crying again, are you?” Kiera asked.
“Sorry. I can’t be a robot like you and keep my emotions all bottled up.”
Kiera didn’t respond to the comment. “We should go and let you rest,” she said to Kate.
“Wait,” Kate whispered, surprised her voice sounded so weak. “What happened?”
“You don’t remember?”
She started to shake her head and quickly changed her mind. Pain shot up to the top of her skull.
“They think it was a gas leak,” Kiera said.
“We heard it on the radio on the way over,” Isabel said. “It must have been a gas leak because it’s taking forever to put out the fire.”
Kiera changed the subject. “You were fortunate the neurologist was here,” she said. “I talked to him, and he said he was happy with the scans. It appears you’re going to come out of this without any serious injuries.”
“Kiera was concerned you jarred something loose in your brain,” Isabel said.
“No, you were concerned,” Kiera countered.
“Okay, it was me. The doctor was so cute. You know what, Kiera.”
“Oh God, here we go again.”
“I was just going to say that he would be perfect for you. I know what you’re going to say,” she rushed on before Kiera could stop her. “He’s not interested in you, but you can’t possibly know if he is or not until you . . . you know.”
“Make a move. Talk to him.”
“Can we not have this conversation?”
Isabel ignored the request. “Maybe if you put on a little makeup and did something about your hair . . .”
Kiera folded her arms across her waist and said, “What’s wrong with my hair?”
“You need to get a good haircut and not one of those five-dollar places, either, and you should get some concealer to hide those dark smudges under your eyes. You’re sleep-deprived, and you know what? I blame it all on medical school.”
“At the risk of sounding like you . . . duh.”
Kate started to laugh and then groaned. Her head fell back against the pillows and she closed her eyes. “Stop making me laugh, and take your discussion someplace else. I just want to pull the covers over my head and pretend today didn’t happen.”
“But Kate, you still haven’t told us why you were at that warehouse,” Isabel said.
Kate opened her eyes. She started to answer and then stopped. “I don’t remember. I mean, I feel like I do, but I can’t think right now.”
“You don’t remember anything?”
Kate took a long minute before answering. “No,” she whispered. “Isn’t that odd?”
“Don’t worry about it. It’ll come back to you. Get some rest now. I’ll be here later to check on you,” Kiera said.
Isabel wasn’t ready to leave. She went to the side of the bed and asked, “Do you remember going to Boston?”
Kate smiled. “Yes, I do. And I remember coming home. There was a car . . . at the airport . . .”
Isabel patted her hand. “Yes, there was a car,” she said. Her voice was soothing, and she was acting as though she was trying to reason with a three-year-old. “You’re remembering your car. You drove to the airport.”
Kate looked to Kiera for help.
“Isabel, would you hand me the phone before you leave?” Kate asked. “I want to call Jordan.”
“Do you remember her phone number?”
“Isabel, the bump on her head didn’t turn her into an idiot,” Kiera said.
Isabel shrugged. She handed the phone to Kate and patted her hand again. “Tell Jordan we said hello,” she said. “And if she wants to come see you, you better tell her not to,” she added. “With your streak of bad luck, someone might run over her before she gets to the airport.”
“It has been a horrible week, hasn’t it?” Kate said.
“It can only get better,” Isabel assured her as she followed Kiera out the door.
Kate hoped she was right. She turned onto her side and fell sound asleep.
A couple of hours later she called Jordan. She tried her best to be cheerful, but it took effort. The attempt didn’t work. Her friend could hear the stress in her voice.
“Tell me about that first explosion again,” Jordan said. “Now that I’m not worried about bumps and lumps I can concentrate. Someone was trying to kill that artist, right?”
Kate went through it all again, and when she was finished with that incident, she told her about the crazy teenager joy-riding in the airport parking lot. Last, but certainly not least, she told her about her latest mishap.
“I don’t remember the explosion at all,” she said. “But I keep thinking about coffee. Isn’t that peculiar?”
“You don’t drink coffee.”
“I know. That’s what makes it peculiar.”
“How hard was that hit on your head?”
“Just hard enough to give me a headache. If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone was trying to kill me.”
Jordan laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. You’ve just had a bit of bad luck, that’s all. Do you want me to come down there?”
“No, I’m fine. Besides, maybe this bad streak isn’t over, and I don’t want you hurt in the fallout.”
“Don’t let your imagination get the better of you. Remember, you’re not a superstitious person, so don’t overreact. Could I ask you something?”
“Did something happen between you and Dylan?”
Kate nearly dropped the phone. “Why do you ask?”
“He called here looking for you, and when he found out you’d left, he wasn’t happy.”
“I can’t imagine why. So you really don’t think someone might be trying to kill me?” she asked, searching for anything that would steer the discussion in a different direction.
“No, I don’t think anyone’s trying to kill you. I do think you’ve got an overactive imagination. Get some sleep and call me tomorrow when you’re lucid again.”
Jordan disconnected the call and immediately dialed Dylan’s number. The second he answered she blurted, “Someone’s trying to kill Kate.”