Home > A Merciful Secret (Mercy Kilpatrick #3)(15)

A Merciful Secret (Mercy Kilpatrick #3)(15)
Author: Kendra Elliot

“Well, Melissa Johnson showed me a sachet she’d bought from Salome with instructions to put it under her pillow for two weeks. I smelled mint, rosemary, and basil in it. The sachet was to catch the attention of a certain young man.”

“Did it work?”

“Yes and no. The guy Melissa had her eye on never came around, but she started dating his best friend during those two weeks. They’re still together, so in a way it worked.”

“Hmmm.” Mercy wasn’t sure what to think of that. “A confidence builder?”


“Anything else?”

“Someone went to her for help with an infection in their foot that wouldn’t clear up. I can’t remember who it was . . . An older man. Salome wouldn’t take his money and ordered him to go to the emergency room. I heard he was pretty ticked, but he finally went. They removed two toes.”

“Wow. At least she knows her limitations. Did you know about her daughter, Morrigan?”

“Not until you told me. I’ve heard men brag about sleeping with Salome. They viewed it as an accomplishment—almost like a dare—but I never heard that she was pregnant.”

“Did you hear that she fought with Olivia?”

“No. People always grouped them together when gossiping, though. Said Salome was exactly like her mother.”

“Not a compliment?”

“No. Is she really a suspect in her mother’s death?”

Mercy took a deep breath. “We need to know where she was when Olivia died. I wouldn’t call her a suspect, but we—I mean Eddie needs to talk to her. According to Morrigan, Salome appears to be the only person Olivia interacted with for the last few years.”

“That’s sad,” said her tenderhearted sister. “Now I wish I’d gotten to know Olivia.”

“You’re a good person, Rose.” Her sister had always been the voice of love and affection while they were growing up. She’d known how to skillfully soothe each of Mercy’s other three siblings and their parents. Now she embraced the idea of having a baby—one fathered by the man who’d raped her and murdered their brother.

He’d died when he fired at Mercy and Truman. Mercy was mostly at peace with the fact that she’d helped kill the man who had grievously wounded her family.

“Would you be able to drive me to the lumberyard tomorrow on your lunch?” Rose asked, interrupting Mercy’s thoughts.

“I don’t see why not. What are you doing there?”

“Nick Walker has something for me to pick up.”

“Nick, the owner? What is it?”

“I’m not sure. He says it’s a surprise.”

Mercy didn’t miss the note of curious excitement in Rose’s voice. Is that about the surprise or Nick? They’d both known Nick all their lives. He’d been friends with their brother Levi—or was it with Owen? Mercy remembered him as a quiet man. He hadn’t gotten the best grades in school, but had been known for his woodworking skills. Understandable, since his father had owned the local lumberyard. Mercy had learned Nick was now the owner when she and Truman went in to pick up boards for one of her cabin’s sheds. He was still a quiet person but had a sadness in his eyes that Mercy hadn’t recalled in their past. Truman later told her Nick’s wife had died from breast cancer five years before.

Hmmmm. “I’d be happy to take you.”

I want to satisfy my own curiosity.


The next morning the ping of Truman’s cell phone relaxed the knot of stress between his shoulder blades.

Mercy’s reply to his good-morning text had arrived two seconds after he sent it. He didn’t need a repeat of the anxiety of yesterday morning. His worry and subsequent search for her had disturbed his mind-set for the entire day. Not a good thing.

Or was it? His concern showed he cared deeply about her. Something he hadn’t experienced for a woman in a long time. If ever.

A good thing.

Now that he’d heard from Mercy this morning, he could focus on his day’s work and then do a little Internet digging about the judge whose death had been linked to Olivia Sabin. Truman scanned Ben Cooley’s incident report from a 3:00 a.m. call. A car wreck on Old Foster Road. One of two drag-racing teens had hit a slick patch and rolled his car. An ambulance had taken the teen to the hospital, where he had been diagnosed with a concussion and a broken arm. He was lucky.

Who races on snow-packed roads?

Truman had never been that stupid as a teen. Correction: Truman had been extremely lucky in his stupid moments as a teen. No one had died or broken any bones. A few trips to the local jail had been the worst he’d experienced.

The memory of Salome’s dark eyes and lush curves flashed in his brain.

Yes, that was one of my stupider moments.

Luckily he’d escaped unscathed.

The woman had frequently popped into his thoughts since yesterday. He hadn’t thought of her in two decades, but for the last twenty-four hours he’d struggled to get her out of his mind. The memories of her were like a serpent, slithering about his brain, refusing to be ignored.

Did she kill her mother?

He’d walked away from his long-ago encounter with Salome knowing she was dangerous. A woman to avoid. He’d dipped a foot in her murky waters and was thankful he’d broken off the encounter when he did. She’d unnerved him and rattled him to his soul.

Doesn’t mean she’d commit murder.

Morrigan’s charming smile pushed her mother out of Truman’s thoughts. He saw nothing of the mother in the daughter, but for her daughter’s sake he hoped Salome turned up soon. The girl shouldn’t be with living with strangers after watching her grandmother die.

A mother would never kill someone and leave her ten-year-old daughter to discover the body.


Ben Cooley rapped his knuckles on the frame of Truman’s office door. “Mornin’, Chief.”

“Did you get that wrecked car towed?” Truman asked, thankful for the interruption by the gray-haired officer.

“Yep. Took the tow truck long enough to get out there. Nearly froze my ass off.”

“The boy was lucky. He could have been killed or hurt someone.”

“You shoulda heard his father cuss him out. He won’t be driving again anytime soon, and once that broken arm heals, his dad said he’d be shoveling manure for the next six months.”


Ben hovered in the doorway, mangling a pair of gloves, his forehead wrinkled in concern.

“Something else on your mind, Ben?”

“I’ve been thinking about that Sabin murder. It’s all anyone in town can talk about.”

Truman gave him his full attention. “What about it?”

Ben glanced over his shoulder and then lowered his voice as he held Truman’s gaze. “They’re saying she was a witch.”

This rumor is getting old.

“Don’t tell me you believe in witches.”

“They say all three of them practiced magic . . . mother, daughter, and granddaughter. They make up their own coven, handing down secrets from generation to generation,” he whispered.

Enough malicious rumors. Truman exploded. “Fuck me, Ben! Are you seriously giving credence to that bullshit? I met that little girl. She’s an innocent child who doesn’t deserve to be gossiped about.”

Ben had the decency to duck his head, looking abashed. “It’s crazy talk. But I think some of the tales about Olivia might be true.”

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