Home > The Girl He Wished (Paige King FBI Suspense Thriller #4)(7)

The Girl He Wished (Paige King FBI Suspense Thriller #4)(7)
Author: Blake Pierce

“It’s a Ren-Faire,” the archery instructor said. “That means on an average day, we have the actors playing the knights not able to agree who should win their grand duel, a bunch of kids running through the place having their own mock battles that no one scheduled, people getting drunk because they don’t get how strong mead is, arguments because everyone says they’re a princess or a knight, people arguing about the historical accuracy of all of it…”

Meaning that even in a place like this that seemed as though it should be relatively carefree, there might be a bunch of arguments and unresolved conflicts lurking under the surface, any one of which might generate enough animosity for a killer to strike out at someone.

“Did you see Meredith last night, before she left to go home?” Christopher asked.

The archery instructor shrugged. “I saw her leaving. Plenty of people did. Meredith always understood that this is a show, so she always tried to make even leaving for the day as part of the performance.”

“And you were here?” Paige asked, because the more people who they could establish locations for at the time Meredith was killed, the more chance there was of spotting anyone who wasn’t where they should have been, or who lied about it.

He nodded. “There are always people wanting to shoot bows, right up to the minute we close the Faire. I had a group of tourists who had come to Kentucky for the horse racing, and decided to come over here for the afternoon.”

“Thank you,” Paige said. “Can you point us to the employee parking lot?”

“It’s just over that way,” the archery instructor said, jerking his head towards a spot behind several of the buildings that dominated the Renaissance Faire, one of them labelled “Royal Armory” and another labelled “Dungeon of Horrors.”

Paige headed in the direction he’d indicated. It was still pretty early in the morning, but already the crowds were building up, and it didn’t seem that anyone was put off by the news that someone had been murdered here. Certainly, none of the business seemed to be closed off or shut down in response to the situation.

The employee parking lot cordoned off with police tape that made it clear that no one was to pass, although there wasn’t currently a forensics team there. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any police presence at all, beyond one uniformed officer making sure that no one came in.

That confused Paige, because the crime scenes she’d been to in the past had been much busier places. She showed her badge to him as she and Christopher approached.

“Where is everyone?” she asked. There should have been a couple more officers around, at least.

The uniformed officer shrugged. “They just said to keep people out until the feds arrived. It’s your case, and your crime scene, now.”

Paige frowned at that, not understanding. On the last case she and Christopher had worked, the local police liaison had been more than helpful. They’d actually worked out of a local police precinct. If anything, the presence of the local detectives had been a little too much.

“This happens, sometimes,” Christopher said. “The local PD doesn’t want to put resources into a case once they know that the FBI is involved. They probably won’t obstruct us, but they’re not going to help us much either.”

Meaning that she and Christopher were on their own. The thought of that made Paige a little nervous. It was just down to the two of them but then, it was always ultimately the two of them trying to solve cases and catch killers.

“It doesn’t matter,” Christopher said, sounding a lot more confident. “There’s a field office in Lexington we can work out of. For now, I want to get a look at the crime scene.”

He stepped past the tape, with Paige following in his wake, wondering what there really was to see there now that the body had been moved and any forensic team was gone.

“We can get an FBI forensics team in if we need one,” Christopher said. “But I think the locals collected most of the evidence that was here. We’ll get their evidence reports at least. I don’t see any cameras covering the employee lot, but I saw a few as we passed through the main Faire.”

That surprised Paige a little, seeming almost the wrong way around for a place that was selling people a taste of the past when they came there. But she guessed that it made a kind of sense that a place like this cared more about protecting its customers than it did about watching over the cars of its employees.

Would the killer have known that there were no cameras here? Had he picked this as a location for the murder because of that, knowing that there would be no evidence to show the world who had done it? Had he scouted it ahead of time? They would need to check for any sign of him on the camera footage the Renaissance Faire did have, but Paige had already seen the crowds out in the area. It would be hard to work out which of the people on any given camera shot was the one who had killed Meredith.

Paige could see Meredith Park’s car there, a small silver Citroen, a few flecks of blood still visible above its wheel arches. Paige tried one of the doors and found it unlocked. Was that down to the forensics team, or had Meredith been trying to get into the safety of her car when she’d been killed?

Paige didn’t know, but she found that she could at least picture the crime scene now that she was here. Meredith would have been lying… there, which meant that the killer must have approached from over… there.

“He came from inside the Renaissance Faire,” Paige said. “Or at least, that’s the direction he made his final approach from to kill her. If he’d come around from a different side, then Meredith wouldn’t have been where she was while she was trying to get to her car.”

“I agree,” Christopher said. He was obviously reading the scene just as Paige was.

“I want to go back in there,” Paige said. “It’s possible that someone saw something, and I want to check up on that metal fleur-de-lis. It sounds like the kind of thing that might have some kind of connection to this place.”

They headed back into the Renaissance Faire, back among the tents and the stalls, trying to find someone who might potentially know about the fleur-de-lis.

Paige saw a blacksmith working in front of an open air forge, while a stall next door sold the things that had been made there. The blacksmith was a heavily built man in his thirties, wearing a leather apron over his tunic and hose. He worked a set of bellows one handed, building up the flames of the forge to the point where he could put a billet of metal into it, softening it slowly so he could work on it. The space around him was filled with metal objects, from ornaments to candelabras, sections of railing to replica weapons.

He looked up as Paige and Christopher walked over. Paige showed her ID as they approached.

“What can I do for you, agents?” the blacksmith asked.

“We’re looking into what happened to Meredith Park,” Paige said. “Did you know her?”

“I saw her around,” the blacksmith said, he sounded suddenly somber. “She was always friendly. I can’t believe that anyone would want to kill her.”

“Did you see her last night?” Christopher asked.

“I think I saw her as she was leaving,” the blacksmith said. “I was busy putting on a demonstration for a group of kids, though.”

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