Swamp Spook (Miss Fortune Mystery 13) - Page 95
“Why do you think Meg did it now?” Carter asked. “Why wait this long?”
“This is just a guess,” I said. “But I think she needed the money. I think she wanted the man in New Orleans that Garrett didn’t approve of, but my guess is he only wanted her if she came with the trust fund. When Garrett didn’t turn over her trust fund when she turned twenty-four, the other man lost interest and she retreated to Sinful to try to figure out how to get her hands on the cash. You’ll probably never be able to prove it, but I’m guessing that man is the one who called in the tip about Sims and Francesca.”
Carter nodded. “Because the call originated in New Orleans. Meg put him up to it.”
“I still can’t believe she tried to kill Kevin,” Gertie said. “I know she didn’t love him, but I thought she cared about him.”
“I believe she did,” Ida Belle said. “She just cared more about herself.”
I nodded. Some of what I surmised was speculation, and unless Meg confirmed my suspicions, we probably would never know for certain what was behind it all. But I had a feeling my guesses were pretty much on the money. It took a lot of hours to wind through all the information and to review the typed statements. It was 9:00 a.m. before we headed out of the interview room. I couldn’t wait to have a long shower and an even longer nap.
As we stepped into the hallway, we saw the New Orleans police coming toward us with Francesca, ready to transport her. Meg had just been placed in the other interview room with her attorney. As Francesca passed the doorway, she stopped and stared at Meg.
“Why me?” Francesca asked. “I understand your father, but I never did anything.”
Meg’s eyes flashed with hatred. “Exactly. You never did anything.”
Francesca dropped her gaze to the ground and walked away.
We stepped up to Kevin’s bed and Gertie reached out to squeeze his hand. He was pale and weak, but he was lucky to be alive. It had been two days since I’d kept Meg from smothering him. He’d been steadily improving since he’d regained consciousness the day before but the doctors said he still had a long way to go.
And he still had the police to deal with. He’d avoided the worst of the charges as he hadn’t been the one to steal or desecrate the body, but he had admitted to being the one to transport it to the maze and position it during break.
“How are you feeling?” Gertie asked.
“Good, I guess,” he said. “All things considered.”
He looked down at the bed for several seconds and I could see tears forming.
“He used to beat her, you know,” Kevin said quietly. “But that wasn’t the worst of it. There was this old well on the property. He’d put her in it when he was unhappy with her. Sometimes he left her there for days with only bread and water.”
I felt my stomach clench. I’d known Meg’s childhood had been rough, but I hadn’t supposed just how rough. It was no wonder that she hated her father, and he’d carried his control into adulthood by restricting her access to money. Although given how unstable she must have been, I doubted she’d have done any better if she’d had it. More likely, the man she wanted would have bled her dry and left her even more damaged than before.
Kevin knew she’d tried to kill him, and yet he still cried for her. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
We didn’t stay long. Kevin needed the rest and we had to get to the big Saturday festival celebration. The maze had been officially retired for this season. After learning the truth about Garrett, Francesca, and Meg, no one’s heart was in it any longer. But I had no doubt the committees would get together next year and the maze would be up and running better than ever. And I had an entire year to figure out how to avoid participating. Apparently, me in relation to death of any kind was a recipe for disaster.
The state police had conducted a search of Garrett’s townhome and found a plastic bag of the fake pills, along with the molds that Abrams had been using to make them. They had matched those remaining in the pill dispenser in Garrett’s bathroom. Francesca had been arraigned in New Orleans and would finally stand trial for vehicular manslaughter and everything else that went along with skipping out on the charges. Sims had been released and although I’m sure he was relieved, now that he knew the truth about Francesca, nothing would ever be the same. Meg had attempted suicide in jail and had been remanded to a psychiatric facility until they could determine she was competent to stand trial.
The state police had gone away happy and taking all the credit, and Carter had gotten back to the business of looking over Sinful, as he always had. Wilkinson had been vindicated and could continue to treat heart patients guilt-free. Celia had been oddly quiet, but I figured it wouldn’t last. She never let being completely and utterly wrong slow her down for too long.
“Looks like everyone came out, even though it’s freezing,” Gertie said as we walked up to the park.
Another front had moved in the night before, sending Sinful down into the fifties. I considered it pleasant and cool, but then I was a Yankee. The locals were convinced the end was nigh. They had turned out in layers of turtlenecks, sweaters, coats, scarves, hats, and gloves. I had gone with jeans, a sweatshirt, and a light waterproof hooded jacket, just in case it decided to rain. We waved and greeted people as we made our way through the festival crowd toward the booths.
“I want funnel cake,” Gertie said. “I never get one because they’re always closed up before I get out of the maze.”
Ida Belle smiled. “We are definitely having funnel cake.”
“And caramel apples,” Gertie said.
“You’ll pull your teeth clean out of your mouth,” Ida Belle said.
“I used the extra strong denture grip,” Gertie said.