The Accident

Free The Accident by Linwood Barclay

Book: The Accident by Linwood Barclay Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linwood Barclay
    Belinda’s heart fluttered. She wondered whether she was going to faint. She felt herself starting to shake again.
    Just before she dissolved into tears, she realized that she’d just said something that had never occurred to her before.
    So if the envelope was in the car —
    She’d always assumed it was. Everyone had. This was the first time she’d even considered it might not have been. Was there a chance in a million it still existed? And even if it had been in the car, was there the same chance it didn’t go up in smoke? The car had burned, but from what Belinda knew, the fire had been extinguished before it was completely destroyed. Belinda’d heard the casket was closed more out of concern for the little girl than because the body had been consumed by flames.
    There were questions she’d have to ask.
    Hard questions.

    I was back at the Slocum house in five minutes.
    I thought Kelly would be waiting at the front door, watching for me, but I had to ring the bell. When no one showed up after ten seconds, I leaned on it again.
    Darren Slocum, opening the door, looked surprised to see me. “Hey, Glen,” he said, his eyebrows slanted down quizzically.
    “Hi,” I said.
    “What’s up?”
    I’d assumed he’d know why I was there. “I’m picking up Kelly.”
    “You are?”
    “Yeah. She called me. Can you get her?”
    Hesitant. “Yeah, sure thing, Glen. Wait here a second and I’ll go see what’s going on.”
    I stepped into the foyer without being asked as he headed off through the dining room to the left. I stood there, looking around. To the right, a living room with a big-screen TV, a couple of leather couches. Half a dozen remotes lined up on the coffee table like prone soldiers.
    I heard someone coming, but it was Ann, not Kelly.
    “Hello?” she said. She looked as surprised to see me as Glen had. I didn’t know whether I was reading her right, but she seemed troubled, too. She had a black cordless phone in her hand. “Is everything okay?”
    “Darren’s gone to find Kelly,” I said.
    Was it alarm that flashed across her face? Just for second?
    “Is something wrong?”
    “She called me,” I said. “She asked me to come pick her up.”
    “I didn’t know that,” Ann said. “What’s wrong? Did she say what was wrong?”
    “She just said to come and pick her up.” I could think of any number of reasons why Kelly might have decided to bail on her sleepover. Maybe she wasn’t ready to be away from home this soon after her mother’s death. She and Emily could have had a fight. Maybe she’d had too much pizza and felt sick to her stomach.
    “She never asked to use the phone,” Ann said.
    “She has her own.” Ann was starting to irritate me. I just wanted to get Kelly and go.
    “Yes, well,” Ann said, and seemed momentarily distracted. “Eight-year-old girls with their own phones! It wasn’t like that when we were kids, was it?”
    “No,” I agreed.
    “I hope the girls didn’t have an argument or anything. You know how they can be. Best of friends one minute, mortal enemies the—”
    “Kelly!” I shouted into the house. “Daddy’s here!”
    Ann raised her hands as if to shush me. “I’m sure she’s coming. I think they were watching a movie in Emily’s room, on the computer, for a while. We told her she couldn’t have a TV in there, but when you have a computer, who needs a TV, you know? You can watch all the TV shows online now anyway. And I think they were writing a story, making up some sort of adventure or something like—”
    “Where’s Emily’s room?” I asked, starting for the dining room, figuring I could find my way through the house faster than the Slocums could get Kelly to the door.
    But then, suddenly, she appeared, coming from the living room, with Darren trailing after her. Kelly seemed to be making an effort to stay ahead of him.
    “Found her,” he said.
    “Hey, Dad,” she said sullenly.
    She had her jacket on, backpack

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