"So, where did you take the poor bastard?" Justin asked Jared as they drank coffee the following afternoon in the vineyard's office. Jared and Hardy had left early in the morning, Tom hidden under a blanket in the back of the car.
"To a friend in San Francisco," Jared answered. "He'll be given whatever help he needs."
"Why didn't you just call the local authorities?"
"Why didn't you?"
Their eyes met, and Jared found that he was curious about Justin Devereaux. For a moment, he simply savored this returning bit of his personality, a respite from the continual ache in his soul. Then, he looked carefully at Justin who stared back. "Why didn't you call the police, Justin? Is there something about them that makes you uncomfortable?"
Meeting Jared's gaze directly, Justin countered. "Why didn't you just call DSS or the police? This is your vineyard. We found a pathetically abused man-a man who thought he was dead."
"A man who seemed familiar to you, whose name you did recognize," Jared shot back. "What is it that you're not telling me?"
"You tell me," Justin said, rising. "You're the man with secrets, the man who didn't even shave for months-and don't give me that rot about growing a beard. You walked around here like a wounded animal. I'm surprised you even noticed Tom." At Jared's shuttered expression, Justin continued. "Don't you think it's time to talk about it?"
"About the girl. The one you shot. Don't play games with me, Jared. I saw your face-and I drew fire away from you that night at the dance. There was no tango scheduled, and there was no music at all when White made his accusation."
"You see and hear too much," Jared spat angrily. "My past is my business-not yours."
"It's my business when yours is unresolved and might endanger Rosemary. Think about it, man! Frank White wanted to tear your throat out the other night. If he'd been armed, he'd have tried to kill you."
"Tried." There was a wealth of meaning in that admission, and Jared met Justin's dark eyes with questions.
"You and I share friends, don't we?" Jared suggested, finally.
"I believe we do. I think I'll ask a friend of ours-a mutual friend, I'd guess. Tell me, Justin, while we're busily ferreting out secrets, why are you working in Andrew's Vineyard?"
"A man needs to work."
Jared smiled. "And while I'm talking to our 'friend', I'll ask why your Southern drawl changes to a Scot's burr when you're angry. I'll also ask about your connection to Tom Hardy."
"Ask whatever you want," Justin smiled. "She won't tell you anything but to trust me."
"You know very well who I mean." The drawl was gone, and the Scottish accent came through. "She knows who I am, and how I came to be here. I owe her, and I'm a man who pays his debts. Here-pick up the phone and call her." He handed the phone to Jared and punched in a series of numbers, and said into the phone. "Marty? Justin. Tell Jared he can trust me."
"So, who was that nice young man you seemed so interested in at the Andrew's party?" Suzi asked her daughter, Christina as they walked down a trail in the woods near their house.
"Which one?" Christina asked, innocently. "I danced almost every dance."
"Chrissie, the one in the tux that came in with that blonde woman, Marty Somebody or other. Jared left with her right after Frank got nasty."
"What was that all about?" Christina asked, deftly sidestepping her mother's question. "I've been meaning to ask."
"I don't know-your father doesn't know, and if Rosemary knows, she isn't talking."
"Can you blame her?" The man is her brother-in-law."
"Jared Andrews. Do you know him well? I mean, this was a party in his honor. Dad said that you knew him when you were younger."
"That's true," Suzi told her daughter. "We moved here when I was ten, and the Andrews brothers went to the same schools I did."
"Do you think he shot that girl?"
Suzi paused, her expression quite serious. "No. At least, not intentionally. Jared is a good man-a man of integrity."
"So you knew him pretty well?"
"We dated," Suzi confessed. "He'd been gone for a while, and he came back. We dated before he went back-to wherever he'd been. I met Peter not long thereafter."
"Mom!!" Christina teased. "You dated someone other than Dad?"
"Several men other than your father," Suzi answered with a smile. "But I married Peter."
8,935 Fans of "Web of Deceit" visited us previously