Sweet Dreams, Irene

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Authors: Jan Burke
Tags: Fiction, General, Suspense, Thrillers, Mystery & Detective
be a pretty straight-ahead murder made to look like a ritual killing.”
    “Why Mrs. Fremont?”
    “It’s so hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to kill her, I honestly can’t give you much help there. But I think we should look at old-fashioned motives, not just bizarre cults.”
    “So is there a tie-in with the D.A.’s campaign or not?”
    “Hard to say. There are apparently a number of members of an occult group of some kind living at the runaway shelter Mrs. Fremont started. They’re kids, and I can’t imagine why they would ever want to harm her, but you might want to see if you can find out more about the coven they’re in—something tells me there may be some kind of offshoot group that’s into the really weird stuff.”
    “How do you know about it?”
    I told him about my basement conversation with Jacob and the talk I had with Sammy at the shelter. “Sammy has taken off from the runaway shelter. She left a message on my machine that sounded like she knew something was up last night. I’m worried about her, Mark.”
    “I can see why. Well, thanks, Irene. Maybe I can talk to some of these other coven members.”
    “That would be great.”
    “And I’ll put in a good word with John—I’ll let him know you’ve helped me out.”
    “Thanks.”
    I went back to my desk. A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was Geoff, letting me know my visitor had arrived, and that Danny was taking her to the same place I had met Jacob.
    When I entered the storage room downstairs, the young woman who was sitting there waiting for me jumped out of her chair. She had that look one sees in those who have begun to lose their innocence, but who have not yet entirely relinquished their hold on it. No longer an angel, but not yet damned by any means.
    “Miss Kelly?”
    “Yes. Julie? Have a seat.” I pulled the other chair up next to her. The presses were running, so it was hard to hear.
    “I’m here because I have to do something to help Jacob.”
    “Does your father know how eager you are to come to Jacob’s aid?”
    “No. Well, maybe. I begged him not to put that flyer out, but he never listens to me anyway. He doesn’t know I’m here, if that’s what you mean.”
    “Are you and Jacob seeing one another?”
    She looked down. “Off the record?”
    “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! You political brats are going to drive me wild!”
    She looked so taken aback, I realized my lack of sleep was starting to affect my self-control. “Forgive me, Julie. I’m a little edgy today. Yes, okay, off the record.”
    “No one can know.”
    “It’s hell to try to keep that kind of thing a secret.”
    “No kidding. But we’ve managed to keep it quiet for almost a year. We met at a Christmas party they held last year, for all the families in the D.A.’s office. Jacob and I talked, and it just seemed like we both had something in common—you know, our dads and all. Like you said, political brats.”
    “You have sisters and they don’t know about it?”
    “My sisters and I don’t get along very well. They couldn’t care less. In fact, most of the time, everybody in the family is so wrapped up in their own problems, they don’t even notice whether I’m there or not.”
    It was hard to imagine anyone not noticing her. Julie Montgomery was a beautiful, dark-haired girl with large brown eyes. She had the kind of figure that causes morning traffic to slow down in front of high schools.
    “You said you wanted to help Jacob. What did you have in mind?”
    “I know he isn’t a witch or a Satanist or any of those things.”
    “What am I supposed to do? Write that Jacob Henderson’s anonymous girlfriend swears he’s just not that kind of guy?”
    She looked down. “We’re going to tell our parents after the election is over. Right now it’s impossible. I can’t.”
    “What I’m trying to tell you is that even if you let me use your name, I have to have more than just your affection for him on the scale. I need

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