Home > Come Back to Me (Waters of Time #1)(4)

Come Back to Me (Waters of Time #1)(4)
Author: Jody Hedlund

Minutes later, Marian pulled onto St. Peter’s Lane and parked in front of the tall terraced house her dad had purchased when he’d taken the position in Canterbury. As she exited her car, she released a breath containing the tension that had been building since Harrison called her with the news of the coma.

The street was always quiet even though it was situated within the original city walls and just a block away from shops, restaurants, and theaters.

She started up the steps to the front door, appreciating the Regency style of the house with its white brick exterior, multitude of large panes, and the half-moon window above the door. With four floors and seven bedrooms, the house certainly had space for two grown daughters who only came sporadically.

Even if the place was too big for Dad, Marian couldn’t begrudge his choice. In her opinion, it was one of the most stunning properties within the old city walls as well as one of the richest in terms of history. It had lovely fireplaces in many of the rooms, shutters, lofty ceilings with ornate cornices and ceiling roses, a spacious welcoming hall, a Georgian-era staircase, and much more.

The home had come furnished, but her dad had hired an interior decorator to add the finishing touches, making it a unique but lovely blend of modern and Victorian.

Marian lifted the key to the lock but froze as the door inched open. Not only was the dead bolt not secured, but the door hadn’t been closed tightly. Perhaps in the throes of distress and haste to reach the hospital, Dad had neglected to lock up.

A strange prickling formed at the back of her neck, an intuition that someone was watching her. She glanced both ways up and down the street, viewing more of the fashionable terraced homes and a few parked cars, but seeing nothing or no one out of the ordinary.

She shook off the unwelcome sensation and pushed the door fully open. The moment she stepped into the wide front hallway, she stopped abruptly at the destruction that met her. Upended tables, shattered glass, overthrown rugs. Every framed painting and porcelain plate that once so proudly graced the walls now littered the floor in broken pieces.

Marian pressed a hand to her mouth. What had happened? And was the intruder lurking in the shadows?

She held herself motionless for long seconds, listening, waiting. But only the eerie silence of a deserted home remained. Finally, she tiptoed through the debris into the front room, the lounge, only to find it had been ransacked like the hallway. The sectional couch cushions had been pulled out, the decorative pillows tossed aside, even the large Oriental rug at the center was tousled.

The adjoining dining room had suffered the same fate. Everything that could be emptied had been, every drawer in the mahogany sideboard and every chest. Antique coins, valuable knickknacks, and her mother’s sterling silver place settings were kicked helter-skelter across the floor.

Marian made her way through the house, up the steep stairway to the next floor, her dismay and anxiety multiplying exponentially with each step she took. As far as she could tell, the break-in hadn’t been done by thieves hoping to steal valuables. None of her father’s expensive electronic devices had been taken. And none of the items of historic value had been stolen either.

She swung open the door to her father’s study, her shoulders sinking at the disaster spreading out before her. Dad had never been tidy, but the room had been ripped apart from top to bottom until nothing remained in its original place—not a book, file, or spreadsheet. It was as if an F-5 tornado had been trapped in the room.

Had he been home when the intruder struck? Did that have something to do with his coma?

She shook her head. No, all the tests—the X-rays, MRIs, CTs, PET scans, and even a DXA—revealed no bodily trauma whatsoever.

If she had to guess, she’d say the break-in occurred after he’d gone to the hospital. Otherwise, he surely would have reported the vandalism.

What about the library? Her dad’s collection of books was his life. When he wasn’t working, he was reading. She backed out of the office and headed to the next room.

She flipped on the light switch to reveal the full destruction. The floor-to-ceiling shelves that covered three walls had been emptied of every single book, now strewn on the floor. All that remained on the glossy oak panels were dust bunnies.

Whoever had been there had left no nook or cranny unturned.

With trembling fingers, she reached for the closest hardback, which had fallen open to the first page. The Architectural History of Canterbury Cathedral by Robert Willis. She carefully smoothed the yellowed paper, noticing the tome had been written in 1845. Dad might be a scientist to the core of his being, but over the past ten years of living in Canterbury, he’d collected a sizeable number of history books as well.

She set the cathedral book upon the shelf, picked up several more, and then stopped herself. Before she moved anything or started cleaning up the place, she needed to alert the police. This was a crime scene, and if she had any hope of finding out what had happened and why, she needed help. She pulled out her phone and dialed the emergency number 999.

* * *

“The police constable claims the break-in was a random act of violence.” Marian set the container of tikka masala from Kashmir Tandoori on the hospital tray table next to Harrison. The spicy cayenne wafted around her, making her stomach growl, especially with the realization that she hadn’t eaten anything substantial since arriving in England.

After meeting with the police, she’d managed a quick shower and changed into one of her more casual outfits, a rose-colored blouse with gray twill trousers and a pair of ankle-strap heels. She’d pulled her hair up into a French twist and refreshed her makeup. Now she felt like a new person—even though she was still tired.

She retrieved two sets of plastic silverware from the takeout bag along with paper plates. “I told the police I want an investigator to come out to the house anyway.”

“I could phone them and add my insistence to the matter.”

“If they won’t assign an investigator to our case, I’ll hire a private detective.” Marian began to divide the Indian food between the two plates.

Harrison touched her hand, pressed a finger against his lips, and tilted his head toward the door. Gravity drenched every move he made.

Without a word, she crossed the room and closed the door. On the way back, she paused beside her dad, squeezed his hand, and waited a fraction, hoping he’d squeeze back. But his fingers were as clammy and still as the last time she’d held his hand only five minutes ago. With a sigh, she released him and adjusted his sheet.

His skin had always been pale like hers, probably from spending so much time indoors. Plump, but clean shaven, his face reflected his gentle spirit. The grooves next to his eyes had been the result of constant study and reading.

Wake up, Dad, she silently pleaded before bending and pressing a kiss to his forehead. Whatever trouble he was in, she wanted him to know she’d do anything to help him.

As she lowered herself into the chair beside the bed, she picked up her plate. “So what’s really going on, Harrison?”

“Your father’s office at the lab was torn apart too.” His tone was low and ominous.

Her blood turned cold. “It was? When?”

“I went over yesterday morning after I left here to let everyone know about Arthur, and I saw the upheaval then.”

“Why would anyone wreck Dad’s home and office? And who?”

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