Kat had to wonder what would happen with Dirk if they were forced to give up their investigation before the case was completely solved.
“I’ll get started on the research,” she told Will. “I still think there’s something from the past that we’re missing. I’m assuming you’re going to Everstone Dive Accessories to find out about our knife?”
“Yeah, I’d love to know who bought it,” he said.
It was decided that Tyler would stay at the hotel, ready to move in any direction when needed, and Sean and Will would go to Everstone to learn who’d purchased the knife.
Kat leafed through more of the journals and read about Austin Miller’s grandfather’s adventures, but she felt restless and couldn’t concentrate.
Tyler was reading over the many computerized sheets matching up who’d been where and who could’ve had access to Egyptian knowledge or the Preservation Center when Kat looked up. “I’m spinning my wheels here. Let’s go to Landry Salvage.”
“You think Landry will welcome us?” Tyler asked. “We need something else if we want to bring him back in or even talk to him.”
Kat smiled. “I don’t want to go after Landry. I want to go after Sherry Bertelli.”
“She’s lying. She’s lying through her teeth,” Kat said.
“Gee, you don’t believe they really spent the morning working—or shacked up together?” Tyler asked sarcastically.
“Come on, what can they do? Kick us out? People rarely do, not when we go in with Federal shields.”
“All right,” Tyler agreed. “I’ll just tell Logan where we’re going.”
They drove out to Landry Salvage with Logan’s blessing. When they entered, Sherry, who was at her desk, saw them and immediately stiffened. “Mr. Landry is not available,” she said.
“We didn’t come to speak to him. We came to speak to you,” Kat told her.
“Me?” she squeaked.
“I think you’re lying to protect your boss.”
“Oh, you people are terrible!” Sherry said. “I’m not lying. I wouldn’t protect anyone involved in this. You forget, the mummy came after me!”
“I’m going to ask you to call all the employees out here,” Tyler said, leaning on the reception desk. “And then we’ll find out if anyone can vouch for the fact that you two were together.”
“Most of the staff is out now,” Sherry said regally, tossing back her hair. “Why don’t you leave him alone? He’s innocent. I swear it.”
“So who’s guilty, then, Sherry?”
“Go after that Andy Simonton!” she yelled. “He’s a creep! And he’s rude and obnoxious, too.”
As they spoke, Kat heard the sound of a floorboard creaking and turned to see a door opening.
Someone was sneaking out the back.
She drew her gun and hurried through the hallway, with Tyler close behind her. When they dashed out the door, they found themselves at the boathouse.
“Hey, careful!” Tyler warned. “We don’t have what we need on Landry.”
Kat nodded, but she clicked off the safety on her Glock. “Mr. Landry, if you’re innocent, why are you running from us?” she demanded.
She moved past the speedboat called Lake Shark, and as she did, a bullet whistled by her.
“Down!” she shouted to Tyler.
She ducked low herself, trying to determine where the shooter was. Landry had to be hiding behind a cabin cruiser, she decided. She carefully made her way over there.
Another bullet whizzed by, but she was low and the aim was terrible. She fired back in the direction of the shot.
“Put down your weapon! Throw it out here! Come out with your hands high!” she ordered. “Come on, Landry! You don’t want to die here!”
Another shot exploded. Kat bent low and inched around the speedboat.
Then she stopped.
“Here!” she called to Tyler.
He ran over to her. Landry was on the ground, bleeding out from a hole in his forehead. Eyes wide open, he stared into space.
“Son of a bitch!” Tyler said, turning to her.
“I didn’t hit him.”
Tyler looked at her incredulously. “If you didn’t shoot him…” He paused, studying the scene. “There’s his gun…beside his hand. He shot himself in the forehead rather than speak with us?”
Kat shook her head, scrutinizing Stewart Landry where he lay, eyes open, blood pooling beneath his head. “That’s impossible. The angle is impossible.” She frowned. “He didn’t shoot himself, Tyler. Someone else was out here with us. Someone who killed him and wanted it to look like we did—or like he killed himself.”
Will knew he didn’t have the right to feel upset. Kat Sokolov was fine. She’d done the necessary training, passed the tests, and she had the skill to handle a firearm.
He and Sean found out about Landry’s death as they returned from the dive store, when Logan called to inform them. Instead of going back to the hotel, he and Sean drove straight to Landry’s and the boathouse. Tyler and Kat were there, speaking with one of the local agents, giving their reports of the incident. Neither of them was suspected; the bullet that killed Landry had come from his own gun, a 57-Magnum. But a man was dead, and that meant paperwork. Lots of paperwork.
The body had yet to be picked up, and Dr. Cranston Randall had been called to the scene. Perhaps because of his seniority—or perhaps because he’d pissed off a superior—it seemed they now had Dr. Randall on all the deaths associated with the Jerry McGuen.
Will paced near the body. He couldn’t help realizing that there’d been a lot of bullets, and Kat could easily have been hit. He tried to reason with himself.
“Poor bastard should have stayed in jail,” Logan said. He was close to the activity, ready to step in if a team member needed him.
“Yeah, I guess he should have.” Will sighed. “We’re falling deeper and deeper into this quagmire.” He stopped pacing and looked at Logan. “I forgot to tell you—Stewart Landry bought the knife we found in the Jerry McGuen. The salesman remembered him perfectly, even though he bought it about a year ago. Landry bought a lot of his dive gear there.”
“And now Landry is dead. He didn’t kill himself and we’re running out of suspects,” Logan said. He nodded at Will. “You’re acting like a caged tiger.”
“It’s just that—”
“Oh, you don’t have to explain,” Logan told him, smiling. “Except that you’ll have to get used to it. Usually, it won’t be this bad. In this case, Kat seems to be the catalyst. Naturally when she’s the one out there the most, you’ll worry about her. It’s not a bad thing—it’s instinct. But, trust me, if you want any kind of a future…well, you can’t change what someone is, what she wants to be, and what she wants to do with her life. Kat isn’t going to sit home, ever, while you take off to chase evil. She’s not the delicate creature the he-man protects. Under our current circumstances, every member of the team will rally around her. She is the one in greatest danger on this case. So, yes, go ahead and worry. But if I were you, I’d keep that worry to myself. She is what she is, and she’d never understand that you’d want to take risks that you feel she shouldn’t.”
Will looked at Logan for a minute, recognizing the wisdom of his words. “Can it work?” he asked quietly.
Logan smiled again. “So far, it works for me. I just keep remembering that we have one another’s backs at all times. That helps. You never walk into danger if you don’t have to, and when you do, you use your training. And you trust all your team members to do the same.”
“I do know that trying to stop people from what they feel they need to do is a mistake. And,” Will said, shrugging, “I know that because I found where I was meant to be—with the Krewe of Hunters. If you took that feeling from me, from anyone, a relationship would be doomed.”
“Hard to live with sometimes,” Logan said. “But…yeah.”
However, when they finally gathered back at the hotel, Will asked as evenly as he could how Kat and Tyler had ended up at Landry Salvage when he’d left them doing research at the hotel.
“I was sure that Sherry Bertelli was lying to save her boss. I’m still sure of it. Except that Landry is dead now,” Kat said.
“You came out to talk to Sherry, but Stewart Landry wound up dead?” Will asked.
“We were at the reception desk, talking to Sherry, and saw someone slipping furtively out the back door—Landry,” Kat explained. “We followed to find out why he was running away. He started shooting. We started shooting. But someone else was out there. Someone who’s growing careless, because the position of the bullet hole—the angle of entry—would have been almost impossible for him to achieve on his own. The idea was for us to find Landry and either believe we’d killed him, which means the killer didn’t pause to think about different weapons, bullets and shell casings, or that he killed himself. But a bullet dead center in the forehead isn’t logical because of the way our thumbs and fingers fit on a trigger. There’s always an angle.” She hesitated, looking around at the Krewe. “I’ll go in when Dr. Randall does the autopsy tomorrow, but imagine the length of your hand and a gun. Imagine manipulating your fingers and taking straight aim. Also, if he’d killed himself, there would’ve been a darker stain of gunpowder.”
“It feels like we’re back to square one,” Jane said. “Everything points to Landry. Except that now Landry is dead.”
“Great.” Kelsey shook her head. “We have one survivor who swears a mummy tried to kill him. We have four dead. And two of them, Landry and Amanda, might have been involved.”