I spaced out petting the cats since they had decided I was worthy of attention and now they both were on my bed. Their purrs were soothing and I relaxed for the first time in ages. I don't know if I slept or simply drifted. Banshee had decided the pillow was large enough to share and her head was next to mine. Her eyes were nearly completely closed but I watched the flickering underneath as she dreamed. I was pretty sure her dreams were laced with biting and clawing. El Diablo was resting his huge head on my stomach and his heavy purring was satisfying in some primal way. I never thought I was much for animals but these two were definitely something. Time seemed to fold and soon I was startled by the phone ringing. The cats graciously let me get up without clawing or growling so I got the phone on the second ring.
"Hello Gwendolyn, you feel better?" Harry was smooth and calm.
"Yes, thanks. We leaving soon?" I peeked out the window and saw the winter storm had slowed but there had to be over two feet of snow outside. Twilight was nearly gone and the sun nowhere in sight. The sky was deep gray and the snow not much lighter in the shadows. Dark would be here soon. I figured that was when we would head out.
"About another hour. Art is still hiding under the covers pretending to be asleep." Harry was laughing as Art was startled into saying, "What? I'm awake!"
Harry said, "Sure you are, Art, now. I knew that."
Whatever Art was hiding from Harry was definitely keeping him scared. I could taste the fear from here. Harry said, "Be ready in an hour and meet us down in the lobby ok?"
"Sure," I replied. I hung up the phone still feeling Art's fear rolling through me. It had to be a pretty good story since killing his mom wasn't bad enough to be afraid of the FBI. I mean after all he had told us about that. Maybe it was just Harry that made Art nervous. I'd make sure I watched Art carefully once we got back on the road.
I fed the cats and let them go outside to prowl and take care of their personal needs. Once I had returned from the snowy hike late last night with Harry I had tossed my torn shirt on the floor with the jeans. The oversized t-shirt I had worn was quickly packed. I put last night's clothing in one of the laundry bags in the closet and stuffed it into my luggage. My duffle bag was soon ready. I had put on some new jeans and another shirt and my jacket once the cats were outside. Somehow the cats watching me undress and dress made slightly uneasy. It was like they were judging me and mocking my lack of fur.
They clawed to get in and I obliged. The spare cans of tuna and can opener had gone into my luggage. Then it dawned on me I had to figure a way to get them back out into the car without the innkeepers knowing. A knock on the door made me jump. The cats had returned to the spare bed and looked at me like I was crazy. I used the peek hole and saw Cinda on the doorstep.
"Hi," she breezed in once I opened the door. I saw she had her duffle bag and another bag I recognized as one of Erica's three bags. Erica didn't travel as light as the rest of us.
"Good, you are packed. It dawned on Harry that the cats wouldn't fit into your bag and he sent me up with mine empty and Erika's spare bag." Cinda was in fine form and grinning widely. I upped my count for Erika figured she had four pieces of luggage not three if this was the spare.
She continued chatting while setting the luggage on the bed for the cats to sniff. And they did. While Cinda turned back to talk with me the cats pawed and sniffed at both bags on their bed. The cat talk was murmured and I was pretty sure El Diablo was swearing.
"So like, Lynn, you would so be surprised at how neat Erika turned out to be. She and I talked for a bit and she is not nearly as stiff as she pretends. And oh my god, when we got in the room she called someone she knew in records and found out what was up with Art!" Cinda glowed with excitement.
Another knock at the door interrupted Cinda's tale.
So again I looked out to see it was Art. I guess I wouldn't be hearing Cinda's story now. Slowly I opened the door to let Art inside, he rushed past me saying, "So you ready to go, Lynn?" Then he saw Cinda. He stopped dead and tried to look invisible. Something about Cinda was setting him off nearly as much as Harry did. Slowly it dawned on me that Art picked up on the supernatural elements and was having major issues with all of us.
"Yes," I calmly replied handing him my bag. The cats had slinked next to the bags and each picked one they would be willing to get carried to the car in without too much trouble. Neither Cinda nor Art took a step closer to the cats so I petted and coaxed them inside the bags. Cinda and Art shared the duty and I was left with my own bag which Art had dropped when he was handed the live kitty carrier. I didn't blame him since he got El Diablo who had a low growl going on inside the bag. I stifled a chuckle and followed them out. I glanced back into the room and thought about all that had happened in the past twenty-four hours.
Both Cinda and Art were already mucking their way down the snow filled stairs when the door next to mine opened. To my utter surprise the couple who had been thumping on my wall exited in front of me. For some reason I had been expecting some gorgeous couple. These two looked like they were on their way to the doctor's office for a full physical. He was a big man with a large build. She was equally large and had a long face. They both were well into their middle years, I wouldn't even hazard a guess at their ages but older than my mom. The woman was still very upset by the way their evening had ended while the man was utterly clueless.
"Ernie, let's just go grab a bite to eat. The roads should be cleared by tomorrow." She was dour and way unhappy.
"Helen, this storm isn't going away any time soon. I can feel it in my bones," he growled. They pushed past me without a word focused on keeping their balance on the slippery concrete walkways.
It dawned on me that we might not be heading out on schedule. Just because we were hauling out stuff down didn't mean we would be actually going anywhere. Looking out to the end of the parking lot I noticed there was a lot of snow just lying around at the end of the drive. And just because we loaded up the station wagon didn't mean we could get on the road. My head spun with the notion this was not some quick overnight delay but the beginning of some horrific tragedy.
I went into the lobby to see Harry and Erika already waiting at the desk and Cinda and Art still missing. My bag was heavy and awkward so I dropped it on the floor without saying a word. As it was Erika was talking softly to Harry and when she saw me she abruptly stopped. Gee, I guess she was talking about me. Not a shock at all but I was still a tad uneasy. Harry didn't miss a beat but turned to me saying, "There you are. So did you get some help with your things?"
"Sure and we may have a new problem." I said softly. There was nobody in the lobby but I could sense Kitty wasn't far away.
He tilted his head and said, "And that would be?"
I jerk my head back as Cinda and Art burst inside. Cinda was talking animatedly, "Gosh, Harry, you wouldn't believe how much snow is out there!" She didn't have the bags with the cats so I presumed they left the kitties in the car while we discussed what we should do.
"We ran into this couple, the lady was pretty mad at her husband and told us we were fools if we thought we would be going anywhere tonight. And then they walked over to the other motel, that ugly one over there," she pointed outside as if we could see through the building and see the couple walking, "Because she said Ernie owed her something good for putting up with his snoring." She slowed down long enough for Art to speak.
Art shook his head as he looked to Harry, "She isn't kidding. It is really bad out there. I don't think there has even been a snowplow through since late last night. It must have snowed two feet since then at least."
I looked over to Harry. When we had gone out with the bodies the snow was bad but we were able to navigate the roads. There were deep trenches from truckers making their late night runs and other than some minor slipping, we drove both unfamiliar cars easily. I guess the snow had kept falling all day. That would work in our favor as the signs of where we parked the cars would probably be covered.
We had found a lookout point a few miles from the motels in the opposite direction from the way we were heading. Harry told me when we got to the place that he had noticed it was fairly secluded when we drove by on the way to the motels. His predatory behavior naturally worked out such things in advance, I'd gathered from how quickly he led me to the spot. I hadn't even noticed the pullout until Harry had indicated for me to turn at what looked to be little more than a wide spot in the road. From there we went off towards the woods and positioned the cars next to each other. After we took their bodies and positioned them under a tree with a blanket and some of Melinda's sex toys, set the scene for their tragic death. To my question about the lack of blood Harry had mentioned nearby animals would be feasting before the bodies finished chilling. I took his word for it.
I focused back to the conversation going on and found that Cinda had babbled some more tidbits she had picked up from Helen and Ernie in their brief conversation. Nothing caught my attention but Harry was listening intensely. She truly had a knack for getting folks to spill their guts. I found that now I was mildly curious about Art's story. If he was scared of the FBI it really did have to be good.
Just then Kitty and Jasper shuffled from their side of the motel.
"Well, I guess you all will need the rooms another night?" Jasper was grinning while Kitty flipped through the book.
Harry laughed and flipped off some more money onto the counter.
"You got rooms for us still?" Harry asked knowing nobody would be driving up to get their rooms regardless of what the reservation chart said.
"Sure thing, Kitty, let them keep their same rooms okay?" Like he had a huge choice. I didn't see anyone driving on the road or into the parking lot. Hell, I wondered how they got the cats in the station wagon. Art must have shoveled off the snow before coming up to check on me.
So with that we were all stuck here for another night. Kitty was pleased to sign us into her book again and kind words were exchanged by all. No mention was made of the occupants of room 220 and I was happy to pretend I didn't know their fate. Art made another run at the store for supplies for dinner and breakfast. Kitty was more than happy to help him. Erika and Jasper swapped more 'remember when' tales and soon we were finished.
Once the payment was done Art and Cinda went back for the luggage and cats. We arranged to meet up in my room ten minutes later. We needed to all talk.