“Neither did I. Things change, Flynn. They’re meant to, I guess. I’ve been itchy the last few years. I finally figured out I was itchy for home. How are things with you, Mr. Editor in Chief?”
“They’re okay. I assume you’ll be subscribing to our paper. I’ll make arrangements for that,” he added with a grin. “We put up a nice red box next to the mailbox on the road. Morning delivery out here usually hits by seven.”
“Sign me up.”
“I will. And I’m going to want to interview Bradley Charles Vane IV at his earliest convenience.”
“Shit. Give me a while to settle in before I have to put on my corporate hat.”
“How about next Monday? I’ll come to you.”
“Christ, you’ve become Clark Kent. No, worse, Lois Lane—without the great legs. I don’t know what I’ve got going on Monday, but I’ll have my assistant set it up.”
“Great. How about we grab some beer and catch up tonight?”
“I can get behind that. How’s your family?”
“Mom and Joe are doing fine out in Phoenix.”
“Actually, I was thinking more about the delicious Dana.”
“You’re not going to start hitting on my sister again? It’s embarrassing.”
“She hooked up with anybody?”
“No, she’s not hooked up with anybody.”
She still built?”
Flynn winced. “Shut up, Vane.”
“I love yanking your chain over that one.” And with a sigh, Brad was home. “Though it’s entertaining, that’s not why I asked you to come out. There’s something I think you’re going to want to see. I did some thinking when you told me about this deal Dana and her friends got themselves into.”
“You know something about these people up at Warrior’s Peak?”
“No. But I know something about art. Come on. I had them put it in the great room. I’d just finished uncrating it personally when I heard you drive up.”
He walked along the deck, around the corner of the house to the double glass doors bordered by etched panels.
The great room boasted a towering ceiling with a circling balcony, a generous fireplace with hearth and mantel of hunter-green granite framed in golden oak. There was space for two sofas, one in the center of the room, the other tucked into a cozy conversation area along the far wall.
More space spilled through a wide arch, where the piano stood and where Brad had spent countless tedious hours practicing.
There, propped against the hearth of a second fireplace, was the painting.
The muscles in Flynn’s belly went loose. “Jesus. Oh, Jesus.”
“It’s called After the Spell. I got it at an auction about three years ago. Do you remember I mentioned I’d bought a painting because one of the figures in it looked like Dana?”
“I didn’t pay any attention. You were always razzing me about Dana.” He crouched down now, stared hard at the painting. He didn’t know art, but even with his limited eye, he’d have bet the farm that the same hand had painted this that had created the painting at Warrior’s Peak.
There was no joy or innocence here, however. The tone was dark, a kind of grieving, with the only light, pale, pale light, glowing from the three glass coffins where three women seemed to sleep.
His sister’s face, and Malory’s, and Zoe’s.
“I have to make a phone call.” Flynn straightened and dug out his cell phone. “There’s someone who has to see this right away.”