Chapter Thirty Eight
The El Camino slowed to a stop in front of the old carriage house. Jayne pulled on the bright yellow rubber gloves Griffin had gotten for her from the farmhouse kitchen before handling the Mason jar that now contained the glowing rose bud.
“We’re not being a little overly cautious about things, are we?” Griffin huffed.
“I can’t afford any distractions. Stop taking this so personal! Remember, I could have left you behind, but I asked you to come with me without being under the influence of this thing.” Jayne held out the jar.
“I still think we would have been fine back at the farmhouse.”
“Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that I am better equipped to handle things from my own base of operations.”
“Base of operations? My, aren’t we sounding tactical this evening!”
Jayne sighed, exasperated.
“Griffin, I’m afraid you are not taking this as seriously as you need to. That old woman tagged you with this so that people could find you or signify that you were the one they were looking for. There has to be some reason for all this covert activity. I need you to focus and cooperate with me until I can figure out what is happening. Okay?”
“Jayne, I live with the sheriff. I’m totally safe from whatever imaginary evils you think are out to get me.”
“Sure you are. She did a great job back there with the tape lady. Let’s get inside where I know we’ll be safe.”
The house was small yet comfortable. Although referred to as a carriage house, the dwelling appeared to have never had actually been used for that purpose. More than likely it served as a guest suite or possibly servants’ quarters. The walls were lined with built-in bookcases that framed a generous fireplace mantel at the far wall. The shelves were filled to capacity with any overflow stacked in and around a large desk to their right. Everything looked as if it were original to the home except for the red plastic pedal car parked near the fireplace hearth.
“So, where’s Lil’ T?” Griffin asked, the thought being triggered by the sight of the toy coupe.
“He’s at the sitter’s house. He’s there ‘til morning. Make yourself at home while I put this someplace where it won’t do more harm.”
Jayne hooked the leg of a chair with her foot and pulled it from beneath the desk.
“Nice place,” Griffin commented as he settled into the desk chair.
“Thanks. It has kind of an interesting history. The carriage house was once part of a much larger estate that had been razed by developers to make way for this god-awful colonial-themed time-share complex decades ago. The land owner agreed to the sale of the property as long as he could keep the carriage house and its immediate plot as his own.” Jayne’s voice continued from the other room. “The money from the sale was to be put into an account that would support and maintain the house and its surroundings for the foreseeable future. The property has been in the family’s possession prior to the creation of the original colonies and will be passed from generation to generation.”
“So, how did you come to live here?”
“I’m house-sitting. The owner doesn’t like it left vacant while he is away. Certain things need daily monitoring and he needs someone he trusts to watch over them.”
Griffin’s eyes drifted across the piles of leather-bound tomes that lay before him. A primitive-looking hand bound scrapbook of sorts sat propped against a small stack of black journals. A piece of worn notebook paper covered with scrawled notes and symbols bookmarked the parchment pages. He would have thought nothing of it except for the fact that he noticed the name “Hannah” and the word “sheriff” circled mid-page. He plucked the scrap from the binding for a closer look. A column of icons ran down the left side of the page. Next to each icon was a series of names, all of which had lines through them except for the final name. The first symbol, a snake, had the name “De Leon” then the word “Me” scratched out followed by a question mark. The names next to a drawing of a fish ended with the name “Reese”. Hanna was the only name Griffin recognized. It was the last in a list adjacent to a drawing of a peacock. Griffin headed towards Jayne in the other room, list in hand.
“What is this all about…about…about?” Griffin’s voice echoed, startling him.
“Get out of there!” Jayne grabbed Griffin by the arm and yanked him into the space to his left.
“That room needs to remain void of any contents at all times!” Jayne warned.
“It has to do with the relic. It’s complicated.”
“Jayne, you keep sidestepping my questions, and when you do answer me you keep everything so vague you might as well have not answered me at all. I can deal with it if I’m the only one involved, but apparently I am not!”
Griffin thrust the list forward.
“Now I see Hannah is involved, and I am not willing to put her in jeopardy. Talk!”