His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 36
“Can you tell me who? I’d like to thank this person.”
“Actually, it was another real estate agent who, for obvious reasons, would prefer to remain anonymous.”
Patty’s smile tightened. “Well, there’s nothing more gratifying than the respect of a rival.” She gestured toward the door she’d come through. “Won’t you join me in my office?”
I nodded to the receptionist, pulled open the door, and followed the corridor toward the back of the building. Patty walked behind me, her steps muffled by the thick carpeting, her blazer and skirt rustling softly. The décor remained much the same, but the photos of natural landscapes gave way to aerial photos of more huge estates and sprawling Spanish mission homes.
“Second door on the left,” she said, her voice low.
I entered her office and turned to face her as she came in behind me and shut the door.
“Please,” she said, gesturing toward an armchair. She stepped around her desk, settled into her black leather desk chair. “Can I have April bring you anything? Coffee, tea, a soft drink?”
I sat. “No, thank you.”
“Well, then, why don’t you tell me what you’re after?”
I couldn’t tell if she was talking about real estate, or had assumed, because I was a myste, that I had come for a different purpose.
“I understand that you handled the purchase of Regina Witcombe’s home in Paradise Valley,” I said, unsure of how else to break the ice.
“That’s right. Is that your price range?”
I laughed. “No. I don’t have that kind of money. She must have been pleased with the work you did for her.”
Another tight smile settled on her face, though it failed to reach her eyes. “If you need further references, I can provide them, Mister Jay.”
Yeah, this wasn’t working.
“My name isn’t Jay,” I told her. “At least not my last name.”
“I don’t understand,” she said, though clearly she did. “If you’re not–”
“April misinterpreted something I said. My name is Jay. Jay Fearsson.”
She couldn’t have looked more surprised if I had told her I was from Mars. But it didn’t take her long to recover.
“You’re a private investigator. I read about you online a couple of months ago. And I assume you’re seeking information about Regina.”
Fame wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, especially when exacerbated by my own overly aggressive questions.
“Guilty as charged. But I’ll admit that I was curious about you as well. Your friendship with Missus Witcombe gave me an excuse to come here.”
“We’re not friends.”
I faltered. “My mistake. I didn’t know you were a weremyste. Do you take after your mother or your father?”
Her gaze dropped. “I’m not sure I want to talk about that, either. I think you should go.”
“Mine came from my father. That’s why I ask. I’m wondering if my mother left my father for another myste, or if she found in your father someone who was–”
“I don’t want to talk about it!” She stood. “You should leave.”
I didn’t flinch from what I saw in her eyes, nor did I move. “I’m curious: if you’re not friends with Regina Witcombe, why were both of you on flight 595 on Thursday? Did you go to Washington with her?”
She stared back at me; after a few seconds she lowered herself into the chair once more, perching on the edge of it. “It was a coincidence,” she said. “She was as surprised to see me as I was to see her.”
“You were in Washington on business?”
“Yes. Is your father still alive, Jay?”
I nodded. “Your mother?”
“Yes. She lives in Tucson now.”
“I was sorry to hear about your brother.”
She toyed with her wedding ring. “Michael was always very . . . sensitive.”
The way she said it made me think she meant to call him weak, but thought better of it.
“You must have been very surprised the first time you met Missus Witcombe. I can’t imagine that many of your clients are mystes.”
“Yes, it was quite a coincidence — another one; both of us were surprised. Just as you and I were today.” Her voice had a hard edge to it. Despite the words, she assumed I hadn’t been surprised. I said nothing to convince her otherwise.
I wanted to ask her if she had ever seen Regina Witcombe do any dark spells, but I couldn’t bring myself to pose the question, and I trusted the instinct that kept me from doing so. I didn’t believe for a moment that mere chance had put the two of them on that plane. If Regina was working with other dark sorcerers, so was Patty, and I didn’t want to draw any more attention from their kind. Not yet, at least. But I was there, and Patty would be wondering why. Fortunately, I had the perfect excuse.
“On Thursday, after your aircraft rolled back to the gate and all of you were asked to deplane, where did you and Missus Witcombe go?”
“Are you working with the police again?”
“Like you did on the Blind Angel killings.”
She nodded. “We stayed in the gate area. That’s what the gate agents told us to do.”
“Did either of you leave the area for any reason?”
She shook her head. “Not until the police showed up. At that point, Regina took me to the airline’s club lounge. We knew it would be hours before we took off, so we asked the detectives. They had a few questions for us, but then they allowed us to go.”
“So you didn’t even leave to use the rest room?”
That didn’t mean one of them hadn’t killed James Howell, but it did make proving it more difficult.
“Can you tell me why Regina Witcombe would fly on a commercial jetliner? I understand that she owns a jet of her own.”
“She owns two. And her daughters currently have them both, one in Belize, where the Witcombe family has a second home, the other in Anchorage.”
“Leaving poor Mom to fly with the masses.”
Patty’s expression brightened. “Precisely.” She stood once more and smoothed her skirt with an open hand. “Now, I really do think you should go. I’m not going to answer any more questions about someone who was once a client, and may well be again. I’ve probably already said more than I should.”
This time I stood as well. “Thank you for speaking to me. My apologies for surprising you the way I did. It wasn’t really fair of me.”
“No, it wasn’t. But I understand why you did it. Our families . . . well, let’s just say that some bonds can’t be broken, no matter how much we want them to be.”
I held out my hand, which she took. “Thank you,” I said. “Don’t be too hard on April. She made a simple mistake and I twisted it into a lie.”
“You’re sweet to be concerned for her. Don’t worry. Our punishments here at Sonoran Winds aren’t too extravagant.” She said it with humor, but I had to resist the urge to shudder. I wondered how many more of the agents here were weremystes, and how many of them engaged in dark castings.
She led me out to the reception area, shook my hand once more, and wished me a good day. I pushed through the entry and walked back to my car, trying to act casual, and all the while expecting to feel a fire spell hit me between the shoulder blades. I was sure Patty was watching me, and I was equally certain that she would be on the phone to Regina Witcombe as soon as I pulled away from the curb.
That was fine. There was someone I needed to speak with as well: Amaya’s friend out in Buckeye.