"Cinda thinks if she mentally hums and blanks out she won't have to deal with her mom's trauma. So I took the free time available without having to fight for dominance. She doesn't always let me do that when around you or her mom." My stomach rolled with the thought she had been watching me from behind Cinda's eyes longer than I knew and certainly not because my mom was murdered. It sounded like she was using the excuse of my mom's supposed spirit asking for help to make contact with me. She went on adding, "And then all that mental screaming she is doing is giving me a real bad headache. I wish she would just calm down. It's not like I would let anything happen to her. Hell, where would that leave me?" Nice to see she was worried. But she wasn't done by a long shot.
"And now with having her mom gang raped, yeah she did get the picture, she is worried that she will be raped next. You are her best friend so you know how pure the girl is." Interestingly enough that clued me in that Misty had respected Cinda enough to leave it that way. Misty continued, "And now she is thinking she should have done it with that loser last summer at band camp. What the hell was his name?" She looked at me for a name. I shrugged since I hadn't been at band camp. "Oh yeah, Ronnie. God he smelled of pimple cream and french fry grease. Don't even get me started on that twitch he had. That alone was irritating while not even getting to his inability to stop looking at our boobs." That little comment clued me in that had Ronnie boy been cuter and not as obvious Misty would have let him have her. Luckily for Cinda our new friend here Misty had her standards. Part of me wondered if Cinda didn't already have an idea or two that Misty was hanging around her head taking over her body now and then. Not like I was going to bring that up any time soon.
Misty went on with her rants, "Now we have some new jerks that are running around killing and raping. This is not helped with your friends the FBI running around looking for phantoms on the river. Too much focus is here and that is going to cause troubles."
It seemed like Misty was trying to tell me something. The way she said the word 'troubles' didn't ring quite correctly to me. It was like she was saying that there was more going on than I knew. That certainly wasn't news to me but I had that otherly feeling coming off her like there was a huge subtext I was completely missing. I sucked at my smoke and tried to figure out what. Misty grew anxious as it was pretty obvious that I was clueless.
"Never mind. It will all be apparent soon enough." She snorted her own personal amusement at some unspoken thought. We had turned around and were heading back towards the stairwell. Misty was not giving up Cinda's body from the way she was puffing on her cigarette. After I finished mine and disposed of it I looked back as my hand hit the banister to see Misty following me not Cinda. That was curious. I would have thought by now she would have let Cinda show up to take over the questioning by the cops. We were half way up the stairwell when I heard voices coming from the apartment.
"No, stop, you can't do that." The voice was angry and I walked in to see Officer Fisher squaring off with Special Agent Erika Thomason on the receiving end of his verbal blast. I didn't see immediately what the lady had done to get that reaction. Misty noticed instantly and pushed past me growling, "Give that back to me." She snatched Margie's purse from the agent's hands.
The purse was a tan leather bag and half opened. It seemed the FBI was interested in tissues and half used tubes of bright red lipstick. Misty snapped the mouth of the handbag shut decisively while snarling, "Who the hell gave you permission to go through my mother's purse? Certainly not me. And I doubt my mom or Officer Fisher here. So what gave you the right?" Her anger was impressive and more than a bit daunting. Not a Cinda like response but it gave me a glimpse to who Cinda could become with the right attitude. Erika Thomason lifted an eyebrow and asked, "What is your problem?"
Her tone was less than nice but her question was from most likely amazement at the 'new' Cinda than in response to the real situation at hand. She hadn't thought out her reply very well but Misty certainly had.
"My problem-where to start? Let's see, my best friend's mom has been murdered. My mom gang raped. Some mad kidnapper running around here according to your own admission and all you can think to do is come here and begin riffling through my mom's purse?" Misty was ready to tear someone's throat out and both Fisher and I stepped back leaving the options to a minimum. Erika wasn't so smart and stepped closer to Misty trying to intimidate her with the height difference. She wasn't aware of the new and improved Misty. But it sure looked like she was going to be meeting her up close and personal.
Misty had swung the purse back in preparation to clobber the agent with it when Harry walked into the apartment saying, "What have we here?" His voice stalled the motion of Misty's arm and Erika looked up in shock. She lowered her eyes quickly and took a step backwards while saying, "Nothing is going on here. I was just about to explain to Cinda that we needed some phone numbers from her mom when she overreacted."
Harry wasn't enthralled with his associate. This became obvious to everyone with his reply, "Erika, what ever possessed you to rifle through another woman's purse?" His tone was beyond exasperated and bordering on anger. My eyes caught Misty's just in time to watch her flicker out and Cinda take over.
"Hello, Harry, thanks for coming." Cinda's voice was soft and needy. Bobby had been behind Harry. Bobby edged around Harry carefully and went to Cinda's side. Any attraction Bobby had held for me was long gone as Cinda whimpered slightly. I could see that I wasn't going to have to worry about who was taking care of Cinda. Between Misty and Bobby they had all the bases covered. Bobby probably had bit off more than he knew but at least that was one worry I could cross off my list.
Harry's eyes grasped the difference immediately and he lost some of his obvious anger, "Hello, Cinda. I am sorry for Agent Thomason's callous behavior. We do need some phone numbers and I had mentioned your mom seemed to know everyone in town. Apparently in her eagerness to impress me she misinterpreted my comment. I had not realized what happened to your mom until Bob here found us. And in his haste to let me know there was more happening in town he forgot that you both were headed back here." Bobby hung his head in shame while Erika glared at us all. She acted like we were to blame for her actions.
Cinda nodded and graciously replied, "Well, certainly you can have her phone book." She calmly removed the article in question and handed it past Erika directly to Harry. Harry met her gaze with a smile.
"Thank you. I will personally return it when we have what we need." His manners were impeccable. Erika looked at the large address book with obvious lust. Cinda shrugged past Erika and took the purse to her bedroom down the hallway, just before her mom's room. I shadowed her to make sure she was okay. We nearly had a follower but Bobby was held up by his partner's demand, "Officer, can you come here for a minute?" It was in the form of a question but refusal was definitely not an option.
"Yes, sir." With that he went to see what he needed to do.
Cinda was still in charge when she reached her room. I trailed her and closed the door shutting out the raised voices in the living room. I could hear both Harry and Bobby talking nearly simultaneously. Harry's voice was laced with anger and reprimanding Erika for her behavior. Bobby's voice was defensive. Once the door shut the voices were muffled somewhat.
The room was still in the middle stages of adolescence. It was at least double the size of my little room. Her walls had posters pinned up with heartthrobs from ten years ago still prominently displayed. The top of her ancient dresser was covered with stickers and layers of nail polish from years of us 'decorating' ourselves and the furniture. She set the purse on a bare corner of the dresser after removing her mom's wallet.
"We will need it for the hospital forms." That was true but I think she also wanted to keep snoopy Erika from having more information about Margie. I didn't bother to explain that the FBI had tons of resources at their fingertips. Cinda was feeling defiant and the gesture gave her comfort. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. It seemed nowhere was truly safe for me anymore. Misty was completely absent from Cinda when she turned to me saying, "Lynn, all this is getting out of control."
She had no idea.
Harry called out to us to come join them in the living room. Reluctantly we did. Erika was gone as were both the cops. Cinda looked crestfallen for a minute then a small light went off in her brain and she went up to Harry.
"Harry, what are we supposed to do?" Her eyes were now sparkling with both Cinda and Misty. He noticed and stepped back a bit. Harry glanced at me and softly shook his head as I was ready to step forward and see if I could defuse the situation. I was more than happy to let him deal with her. Or as the case may be both of them.
"Well, Cinda, I took the liberty of having Erika book you and Gwendolyn into the inn run by a Miss Tina over off Main Street." I was puzzled as I hadn't realized that Tina Nova even owned a home much less was renting out any rooms. But with the FBI in the house I hoped we would be safe. Last I time had seen Tina was about a year ago when she was trying to do what appeared to be a lounge act in the local church choir try outs to dismal results. She was about a half dozen years older than Cinda and me. Her impassioned rendition of "Send in the Clowns" made most folks sob. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
We both thanked Harry and quickly gathered up our overnight bags. Mine was easily done since I really hadn't unpacked anything. While we were getting ready Harry put in a call to the hospital and was able to find out that Margie was holding her own and would be staying the night. After talking with some hospital personnel he got Margie on the line. She asked that we didn't visit just yet and she would call us tomorrow morning and let us know when to expect her. Harry had let her know we were staying at Tina's and neither Cinda nor I got the chance to speak with her. I found it a bit odd but shook it off as Cinda kept flipping back and forth between Misty and her own self. I was exhausted trying to keep track of who was in control.
Tina's inn was a very old oversized family home. There was a shiny new six inch brass placard screwed in above the door bell. Fancy lettering identified the structure as "Tina Nova's Inn" just so there would be no confusion. Cinda and I exchanged confused looks as neither of us even knew there was a new inn. The paint on the house looked very fresh and Harry just walked inside without even so much as a knock. I guess that made sense but it seemed strange to just walk into a stranger's home. But it was definitely redesigned inside. Instead of a foyer there was a large rectangular marble countertop with a large registration book propped open with a quill pen arranged artfully over the page set dead center on the top of the counter and a small wooden handled bell to the right next to the set up. Harry picked the bell up and shook it softly. A tinny sounding ring came from the clapper hitting the brass and immediately there was a clattering on the stairs to the left of the countertop. Tina had changed in the past year.