Home > A Merciful Secret (Mercy Kilpatrick #3)(6)

A Merciful Secret (Mercy Kilpatrick #3)(6)
Author: Kendra Elliot

“Morrigan,” said Bolton in a kind voice, “do you know what happened to your grandmother?”

“She got cut.”

“But how did she get cut?”

The girl leaned into Mercy’s side, turning her face away from the questioning detective.

“I don’t know,” she whispered into the sleeve of Mercy’s coat.

“Was there anyone else in the house last night?” Bolton asked.

Morrigan shook her head, her hair rustling against Mercy’s coat.

“Did you hear anything? Did your grandmother call out to you?

The girl sniffed and ran her forearm under her nose, risking a glance at Bolton. “No. I used the bathroom and went in her room because I heard her chanting and it didn’t sound right. It sounded like she couldn’t breathe.”

“Did you ask her what happened at that point?”

“I don’t think so. I could see the cuts, but I didn’t know what to do.”

“Wasn’t it dark? How could you see?”

“She sleeps with a tiny lamp on all night. She says it keeps away the bad spirits.”

Mercy remembered the hurricane lamp and how she hadn’t been able to turn on the lights. “How come the lights in the home don’t work, Morrigan?”

“Some of them do. We just need to buy more bulbs. Mom keeps forgetting.”

“You said your mother was out of town,” said Bolton. “But you don’t know when she’s coming back, right?”

The girl nodded.

“Where do you go to school, Morrigan?” asked Mercy.

“I’m homeschooled. My grandmother teaches me . . . taught me.” Her face crinkled up and fresh tears flowed.

“Do you have other relatives close by?” Bolton asked.

Morrigan shook her head. “There’s just us.”

“But you have cousins or aunts and uncles that live somewhere else, right?” suggested Mercy.

“No, it’s just us.”

Mercy met Bolton’s gaze. None? She filed the question away to ask Morrigan’s mother when she showed up. If she showed up. Mercy was having her doubts about a woman who left no way for her daughter to reach her. She knew Bolton had tried the cell number several more times and sent texts to the number. No response.

Did something happen to her mother?

“What about your father?” asked Bolton.

“I don’t have a father,” Morrigan answered simply.

She and Bolton exchanged another look. “Did you used to have one?” she asked.

“No. I never have. Mom said she and Grandma were all I needed. We make a complete family.” She wiped her nose with her sleeve again, and both Mercy and Bolton checked their pockets for tissues. Mercy found a coffee shop napkin and held it out to Morrigan.

“I don’t need that,” Morrigan said with another sleeve wipe.

“Take it,” she said firmly. Morrigan took the napkin and held it in her lap.

“Morrigan,” said Bolton. “Something very sharp was used to make those cuts. Did you see a knife when you went in your grandma’s room? Maybe on the floor or on the quilt?”

The girl thought for a second. “No.”

“How do you think your grandmother got cut?” Mercy asked cautiously, waiting for her to mention the room full of knives.

“Someone cut her.”

“Then that means someone was in your house last night. Do you have any ideas who that could be?” asked Bolton.

Morrigan’s eyes widened. “Mom is always telling Grandma to keep the doors locked. She never does. And now she’s dead!” she wailed, turning her face into Mercy’s coat again.

Mercy hugged her tight and rested her cheek against the top of her head, trying to avoid her own tears. “It’s okay, Morrigan. Everything is going to be okay,” she said softly, knowing the girl’s life would never be the same. Her world appeared to be very small, making the loss of her grandmother a greater tragedy. Mercy wished she could shield her from the pain. Where is her mother?

“She told me she’d be okay,” she muttered into her coat.

“Who told you that?” Mercy asked.

“Grandma. When I didn’t know what to do last night . . . she told me she’d be okay. But I knew she was wrong! Her spells don’t always work.”

There’s that word again.

“She does spells?” Mercy asked carefully. “Last night you said that’s what she was chanting when I couldn’t understand her.”

“I don’t understand the words either. Mom says I have to wait until I’m thirteen to learn.”

Bolton raised a brow, meeting Mercy’s gaze. I don’t know what to think.

“What made you decide to run out to the road?” Bolton asked. “It was awfully dark and cold.”

“I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t help her, so I needed to find someone who could. I know the woods and can’t get lost even in the dark. If a car didn’t stop, I was going to walk to someone’s house.”

“Whose house?” Mercy asked, knowing there were few homes in the area.

“Any house. I don’t know anyone’s name, but they’d me help, right?” She looked up at Mercy. “But I heard your engine before I reached the road, so I ran faster. I didn’t know if I’d make it to the road before you passed.”

“I nearly hit you.”

“Morrigan.” Bolton drew the girl’s attention back to him. “Has anyone visited your grandmother in the last few days?”

“Not for a week or two.”

“What does your mother do?” asked Bolton.


“Her job,” he clarified.

“She sells stuff on the Internet.”

“What kind of stuff?”

The girl shrugged. “She makes stuff in the craft room.”

“The room with all the knives?” asked Mercy.

“Sometimes. Most of it is in her barn room.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many knives in one place,” Mercy prodded. “Some were very fancy.”

“I’m not allowed to touch them. They’re sharp. And some have stuff on the blades.”

Alarm rose in Mercy. “What kind of stuff?”


Bolton rose and dashed into the house.

Jesus Christ. What if one of the techs accidentally cut themselves?

She thought of how she’d touched Olivia’s wounds without gloves. What if there’d been poison on that blade? Mercy stared at her hands, looking for inflammation or redness. She’d used her stash’s baby wipes to clean off Olivia’s blood instead of washing in the bathroom, not wanting to destroy any evidence that might be recovered from the home’s sinks.

Her hands looked fine, but her heart raced erratically. Did I absorb something into my skin? She closed her eyes and took deep breaths, willing her heart to slow. Opening her eyes, she found Morrigan staring at her with concern.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes.” She forced a smile.

“Who’s going to watch me now?” Her eyes were large in her elfin face.

Mercy brushed her unruly hair off her forehead. “Until your mom comes back, a kind woman from the . . . agency that helps kids will take good care of you.” Please be a kind person.


“Hopefully your mom won’t be gone for very long.”

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