A cold shiver ran down Jane’s spine as she looked at the dimly illuminated jacket clutched in her hand.
“Ted, I know it was right here, this is just proof that someone has been in the house!” Sadie continued, she was high-strung, and her voice could be distinctly heard. “It must have been the old gang!”
Someone hushed her quietly, and responded to her; Jane could barely pick out the words.
“Don’t panic, you probably just put it up in the closet.” He answered.
Jane’s heart skipped a beat; she could hear the footsteps from the living room drawing closer, the outline of a man could be seen at the front of the hall. The slight gap in the door allowed Jane to watch every step of the shadowy figure as it drew nearer, frantic with fear and practically paralyzed in the darkness.
There was a trench coat hanging on the opposite side of the closet, a scarf next to it, and a few pairs of shoes on the floor; but aside from the cleaning equipment behind her, there was nothing to conceal her in the closet.
Stepping back slowly against the cold wall, the footsteps of the unknown man came to a halt outside of her door; the opening where the light was mildly streaming in before, was entirely blocked now.
Jane Darcy’s mind raced for solutions; hoping against hope that she would come up with an idea, or the man would look in another closet for his jacket. Should she drop it? Will the shadows be enough of a disguise?
Just as the doorknob was about to be pulled open; something stopped him.
“Ted, do you hear that!” Sadie called from the hall, “Ted, Ted listen!”
Jane instinctively listened, as did the man whose hand was on the doorknob; and she heard the same thing he did. A wave of relief and worry swept through her, it was the sound of sirens.
“It’s the police!” the man said, hastening away from the door and Jane moved back to peer through the gap once more.
“How could they have found you? I knew I never should have helped you break jail! Why did I ever get mixed up in this?” Sadie was close to tears, and the sound of a shattering vase on the ground took Jane by surprise.
“You have to hide, and fast!”
The footsteps came back towards her again and stopped just a few feet away,
“No, not in the closet!” she called, “Go out the back, go somewhere, get as far away from here as you can, go, go!”
Rapid movement could be heard as it faded off into the distance, and the doorbell rang. Sadie went to answer it, and with hesitation; she pulled the door open to reveal two men in police uniforms.
“Ma’am,” Jane heard a familiar voice, it was the town deputy; she knew him not well, but the sound of his voice was a comfort in the myriad of strange things that had happened.
“Yes?” Sadie answered with astonishing calmness.
“Your neighbor reported a flashlight moving around in your house. She thinks it might have been a burglar?”
“What? No, that’s absurd; I’ve been here all night. It’s only me here.” she laughed nervously, “I, the, well, the lights in the living room wouldn’t come on. Nothing to worry about, the lights are on now.”
“Are you sure? Would you like us to take a look around?” The deputy offered,
“No!” Sadie retorted quickly, “No, no need officer. Thank you, and have a good night.”
With a quick jerk, she closed the door in the officers’ faces and turned around once more. Jane could see Sadie walking out of the living room and disappear through another door.
This was Jane’s chance to escape; and she had to make her getaway fast. Silently pushing the door open to the closet, she ducked out into the foreboding hall and continued onward. There was thankfully, another door; and it led into an unlit kitchen, presumably the same exit the man before her had taken.
The door to the outside was left open, and Jane dashed quickly for it; stumbling over a chair, leaving it falling to the floor, she caught herself on the counter edge and fled for the shadows. Just moments later, Sadie could be seen walking into the kitchen, and flicking on the light switch.
“Ted? Ted are you here?” she asked, looking around the kitchen, and pulling the chair upright.
That was that; she had made it out of the house, with the jacket in hand and more evidence than she thought was possible to overhear. Just as she retreated further into the heavily weedy backyard, she collided into a shadowy figure; catching a glimpse of his face in the moonlight.
Grabbing her by the elbows, she struggled to break free; her purse began to slide off her shoulder, and she managed to wrestle away from his grip.
Turning towards the woods, she broke into a run, glancing over her shoulder now and then as she brushed through the tall wet grass.
“Come back here, you little sneak!” the man called from behind her, “Sadie, someone just ran out of the house! Bring the flashlights!”
This man seemed dangerous; someone wanted by the police could only be trouble. Jane reached the forest edge, weaving between the trees and stomping into the overgrowth. There was no turning back now; if only she could reach Margaret and make a get-away in the sedan.
Staring back through the trees, she could see Sadie and the man named Ted, both equipped with flashlights, running across the yard towards her.
…To be continued, next week on Sunday, May 6th! Jane Darcy needs your help to solve the hair-raising mystery surrounding Pinecrest; keep your magnifying glass handy, and don’t miss the next exciting chapter!