A Merciful Secret(10)

By: Kendra Elliot


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.

“Do?”

“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?”

“Poisons.”

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.

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