Cyrus and his siblings sat in their friend, Miles, home with Kevin. As Miles poured coffee for the group, the clear stress was written all over the officer's face.
“The private investigator has given us enough evidence to move forward with the case.”
Holly perked up. “That’s great. So the case is back open. We take this asshole down.”
Kevin shook his head no. “Not exactly, sweetie. Miles, tell them what we found out.”
Miles sat down placing a plate of cookies on the table. “I hate this. This is not why I went into the force. My best friend is on this. The officer who was with me the night Cy and Mia were arrested has been leaking intel to Grayson. I found out he’s on the payroll.”
“Who is he? He looks familiar.” Holly questioned.
“Blake Turner. He used to have a beard and has lost weight.”
Holly went pale at the sound of the man’s name. “I thought I recognized him. He was one of the men at the bar that night. He came in giving me shit saying that if I made any trouble he would make sure I went to jail. He was flashing around his badge being an asshole. After he harassed me that night, he left me alone in the back of the bar, right before Grayson and those men came in. I was playing darts in the back room alone. He’s the one who arrested me after it all went down.”
Miles nodded, folding his hands together as his shoulders slumped over. “I’m so sorry, Holly. Blake knew what they were planning. I found some old surveillance footage from that night and it showed Grayson paying him off.”
“So that’s why they arrested her and not them.”
“I’m afraid so. After talking to some locals from the bar, it seems Grayson had his eye on Holly for a while before she went to work at the sideshow.”
Holly looked away with disgust. “He’s sick.”
“There’s more.” Kevin sat back in his chair, grabbing a cookie from the plate. “We have reason to believe the DA and judge are under Grayson's payroll too. All the land he has taken from people was under false pretense. The bank downtown has been funneling money for him to make it look like those properties were in foreclosure. Grayson turns around with the people’s own money and buys the property in an auction. It’s all a big scam.”
Wraith shook his head in disgust. “Are there any properties that are currently under this? I want to help those people if we can.”
“Well, yes, but one that was a big red flag was your parents' old place. The cabin was owned free and clear but for some reason, it now shows that it is up for sale because of back taxes.”
Wraith shook his head no. “That’s not right. Cy and I have always split the property taxes. It’s all paid up.”
“I hope you kept records because they are going to step in next week. Want to bet who co-owns the auction house that is behind the sale?”
“Bingo. When Kevin had his investigator friend look into this, it was all in plain sight. They didn’t even try to hide all the corruption and the DA and judge are in on it. There are things that were uncovered that reach deep. Grayson may even be looking at federal embezzlement charges if we can get the hard proof.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Not so fast. There is one other thing. Did you know your mother had filed rape charges against him?” Miles pushed over a file.
Cyrus opened the file looking confused. “What? This says it happened the week before the accident.”
“It was. The officer on the case refused to take a payoff. He’s retired now but he is willing to testify he was approached by one of Grayson's goons to hide the evidence. They forced him to quit the force and threatened his family. A week later your parents were killed.”
Cyrus shook his head in disbelief. “How could he do this to our mother? I can’t imagine what pain she went through and we had no idea.”
Wraith pulled the file to him. “Then that’s it. There has to be evidence.”
Miles shook his head no. “This file was supposed to be destroyed. I looked. The evidence box is gone. Someone tampered with it.”
Holly slammed her fit on the table. “So what your saying is we have no damn proof of any of this. It’s all circumstantial.”
Miles rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Without a confession, Holly’s right. We can’t prove any of it. Everything we uncovered ends up at a standstill.”
Cyrus shook his head in frustration, trying to fight back tears. “I can’t believe this. He hurt Momma. This nightmare is never going to end.”
Wraith hugged his brother and Cyrus let his head fall on his chest weeping. “It’s okay, brother. We will figure something out.”
Miles’ police scanner went off and he listened to the call. “Sorry, guys. I have to go. There was an accident on Whippoorwill Road. The rain today has us busy. People can’t drive for shit in this weather. If we found anything else we will keep you updated.”
After leaving the graveyard, Mia headed back to the cabin to gather things for her, Cyrus, and Elias. She went to Tammy’s room smoothing the lace afghan over the end of the bed. A small photo by her bed of Tammy and her son caught Mia’s eye. She went over picking it up and holding it to her heart.
“I promise, Eli will always know you. Rest in peace, Tammy.”
As Mia went back to the truck, she couldn’t help but feel like there had been darkness looming over her all day, and it wasn’t from the funeral. She looked around knowing that she was being watched. Quickly, she jumped in the truck and locked the door, shivering from being wet most of the day.
“Must just be the gloomy day. I need to get to Wraith’s and by a warm fireplace with some hot tea and relax.”
Mia started up the old pickup truck and headed to the main road. The rain was coming down again and it was starting to get dark.
The winding road did nothing to help the driving situation. As she turned a corner, a bright light shone in her eyes making her swerve as she hit a pool of water. Mia struggled to straighten the truck, as the passing driver hit the horn. She drifted a little close to the center line and eventually regained control.
Trying to calm her nerves, Mia turned on the radio to see if she could get any weather reports. Since it was spring, tornado warnings wouldn’t be all that surprising on this muggy, wet, night.
As Mia turned onto the road heading to Wraith’s home, a truck was parked on the side of the road. She slowed to pass with caution, as her eyes veered to look at the driver, light from an oncoming car flashed across the person’s face and their eyes met.
An evil glare spread across the man’s face and Mia knew something was wrong.
Crossing the intersection of the mountain road, suddenly there was a sound of screeching tires, crumpled metal, and broken glass flew around her. The impact was so hard Mia felt like her head would burst open as the truck rolled to its side.
In the flash of an eye, the pickup truck was tumbling over an embankment and slid down the mountain into a tree. The impact knocked Mia out cold. Her last thought was Cyrus’ face and little Elias. In her mind, she prayed to see them again before everything went black.
The ride back to Wraith’s home was quiet. The siblings had no words for what they learned about the pain their mother had endured. Holly sat in the back seat softly crying to herself while Cyrus was biting his nails and watched the rain drip down the passenger's side window.
Wraith strained his eyes seeing flashing red and blue lights blocking the road. “There’s a wreck up ahead. That must be the call Miles got earlier.”
Cyrus sat up to see if he could see what was going on through the rain. “Can you see who it is?”
“Nah. Just flashing lights. Looks like we will be here a while.”
Holly shifted in her seat. “Can’t we take the back way. I’m cold and want to go to bed.”
“Sorry, sis. There’s a tree down that way. I heard it on Miles' scanner earlier.”
Cyrus’ blood ran cold knowing how dangerous Whippoorwill Road was at night. “Who was in the accident? What did the car look like?”
“A pickup truck. The girl was just cut from the wreckage and is in pretty bad condition.”
Holly pulled off her seatbelt, jumping from the car. “MIA!”
Wraith jumped from his SUV, gabbing Holly. “Sis. We don’t know that. Officer? What kind of truck was it?”
“Old Chevy, I think. Black with Doom2 on the license plate… oh no...” The officer looked mortified as he realized the connection.
“That’s my truck! Mia! Flower! I’m here!” Cyrus ran from the SUV as Wraith and Holly followed.
Just as they reached the wreckage Mia was being put into a StatFlight helicopter.
Miles ran over to meet them, holding Cyrus back.
“They are taking her to the university hospital in Knoxville. It’s bad, Cy. You all can follow behind me. I’ll give you a police escort.”
Wraith grabbed Cyrus who was almost falling to his knees in despair. “It was Mia?”
“Yes. I’m afraid so. You know who did this, Wraith. I’m putting out an APB for him. This time he’s not getting by with this. There was a witness that said he was parked by the side of the road right before the accident.”
“We are going to Knoxville. I’m not going to rest until Grayson pays for this. This ends now. Come on brother. Mia needs us.”
Holly helped Wraith get the distraught Cyrus to the truck. He wasn’t speaking and barely responding.
Just as he reached the SUV Cyrus let out a yell through the darkness, pleading for Mia. He had been through so much. He couldn’t lose her too. Holly looked at Wraith with sadness. They knew, if Mia didn’t make it, Cyrus wouldn’t be able to make it through this time. She was his lifeline. His heart.