Promise Not to Tell(10)

By: Jayne Ann Krentz

Anson’s jaw tightened. “Those eight little figures represent the innocent victims.”

Cabot contemplated the cluster of children for a moment and then shook his head. “I think they somehow serve as a sort of judge and jury in the paintings. The kids are condemning Zane for his crimes.”

“I agree,” Virginia said. “Aside from Zane, there are no other grown-ups in the pictures. Just the kids. I’m very familiar with Hannah’s work. When it comes to her art, I’m the expert. She knew that. I’m sure she expected me to get the message that she was sending in this picture.”

“You said that in the other paintings the figure intended to represent Zane had dark hair down to his shoulders,” Cabot said. “This shows him with short hair.”

“Yes,” Virginia said. “The short hair cut in a very modern style was the first thing that jumped out at me.”

Anson rubbed his jaw. “No boots. Looks like he’s wearing running shoes. And a black parka. The hood is pulled up over his face.”

“There’s a small portion of a car in the background,” Cabot said. “Looks like a late model. Silver or gray. Definitely not Zane’s black SUV.”

“There are no cars in the earlier pictures,” Virginia said.

Cabot took one last look at the photos and then he fixed Virginia with his intent gaze. “You think she actually saw him before she died, don’t you?”

His tone was exquisitely neutral, but that very quality told her just how much control he was exerting over his own reaction to the painting.

“Yes,” Virginia said. “Here’s the thing about Hannah Brewster. She had trouble dealing with reality, but that was why she painted. She said it was the only way she could get at the truth.”


Anson contemplated the image again. “There’s no indication of the age of the figure in this sketch. Zane was in his midtwenties when he fired up his cult. He’d be in his forties now.”

“He did such a good job of deleting his own past that we’ve never even been able to pin down his age,” Cabot said. “Are you sure Hannah Brewster never left the island after she delivered those first two paintings to you?”

“I can’t be absolutely certain but I seriously doubt it,” Virginia said. “Hannah wanted to stay hidden. Why do you ask?”

Cabot pointed at the vehicle in the background of the painting. “If you’re right—if Brewster did see Quinton Zane—then he must have taken a ferry to the island. Those communities in the San Juans are small. There’s a possibility that someone else noticed him, too.”

Relief crashed through Virginia.

“Does this mean you’ll take my case?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Cabot said. “We will definitely take the case.”

The icy certainty in the softly spoken words sent a flash of unease through Virginia. There was a fine line between keeping an open mind and full-on obsession, she thought. She ought to know. She had been walking that line herself for years.

She had wanted a private investigator who would take her concerns seriously. That was why she had tracked down Anson Salinas. She had hoped he could advise her, and she had been hugely relieved to discover that he was now in Seattle and part of an investigation agency. But it was clear that, while Anson would be involved, he wasn’t the one who would be actively working the case. She was pretty sure now that she would be dealing primarily with Cabot Sutter.

As if he had read her mind, Cabot met her eyes.

“What’s the matter?” he said. “Having second thoughts?”

She tapped her finger on the desk. “It just occurred to me that it’s one thing for me to wonder if Zane is still alive and if he murdered Hannah Brewster. After all, I’m the client. I’m entitled to my suspicions.”

“But it’s something else altogether if the investigators are on board with your personal conspiracy theory, is that it?”

“I think we need to be concerned about maintaining a degree of objectivity here,” she said, trying for a diplomatic response.

“Sorry,” Cabot said. “You’ve picked the wrong investigation agency if you want objectivity. When it comes to Quinton Zane, this is Conspiracy Central.”

Anson scowled at him. “Stop trying to scare the client, Cabot.” He turned back to Virginia. “Don’t worry. Appearances to the contrary, he’s a very good investigator. In fact, after he got out of the military, he spent a couple of years as a chief of police.”

“Really?” Virginia looked at Cabot. “Why did you leave the police chief job?”

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