Home > The Girl He Wished (Paige King FBI Suspense Thriller #4)(9)

The Girl He Wished (Paige King FBI Suspense Thriller #4)(9)
Author: Blake Pierce

“Did you see Meredith at all yesterday?” Paige asked.

Jessica shook her head, though. “I was working at the other side of the Faire. It can get pretty busy here, especially when it’s the season for the big knight tournaments.”

“Knight tournaments?” Paige said.

“We put on jousting displays and displays of medieval combat, but we also host tournaments for them. Pro jousters and Historical European Martial Arts experts come in to prove that they’re the best. People like it, because they know that there’s something real to it, you know?”

Paige had been only vaguely aware that such things existed until Jessica explained it. It sounded impressive to her, but right then, it wasn’t relevant to the case if Meredith hadn’t been a part of those aspects of the Renaissance Faire. For now, though, Paige and Christopher needed to check the most obvious source of evidence available to them. The one that people had already mentioned.

“Jessica, is there security footage for the restaurant?” Paige asked, trying to keep her tone gentle.

The waitress nodded. “People get out of hand sometimes, trying to have mock battles in the restaurant. Plus, we’ve had some problems with property damage. So there are cameras watching everything, in case we need to call the cops.”

“Can we look at that footage?” Paige asked. “Do you have access to it?”

She saw Jessica nod, obviously determined to be helpful.

“We all get access to the footage for the areas where we work. If you want the footage for the whole faire, you’ll have to send a request to the king’s court.”

“The king’s court?” Christopher asked, sounding slightly confused.

Jessica shook her head, obviously realizing that not everywhere used the same jargon as the Renaissance Faire staff. “Sorry, it’s what we call the management here. They thought it would fit in with the atmosphere. So we have a chief herald instead of a head of marketing, and a chief wizard instead of a head of IT.”

It sounded to Paige like the kind of thing that would be amusing and interesting the first few times one heard it, but that might get a bit much after a while. It was as if everything there at the Renaissance Faire had to fit in with the image that it was looking for, and that in turn pointed to more of a corporate side than Paige had expected from somewhere like this.

“The security footage from the restaurant should be enough to start with,” Christopher said. “Can you call it up for us?”

Jessica nodded, and then went over to the computer, typing in a password and then turning the screen so that Paige and Christopher could use it.

“This will have everything from the restaurant,” Jessica said. “You might be able to download it if you need it. Like I said, I can’t really give you anything from the rest of the Faire.”

“That’s great,” Christopher said, with a charming smile that Paige found herself wishing were directed her way before she stopped herself. “I guess you need to get back to work?”

Jessica nodded. “Just shout if you need anything.”

She left, and Paige guessed that Christopher wanted that space in order to be able to go through the security footage without an audience. He called it up on the screen, a couple of cameras providing different angles on the restaurant, showing all the waitresses and the customers.

“Do you want to make a start on this?” Christopher asked. “I’ll make a call and see if I can get the rest of the footage from around the Renaissance Faire. Although I’ll have to send it over to the techs back at Quantico. There’s likely to be a lot of footage, and I don’t want the two of us tied down searching through it.”

Paige nodded. Maybe with the skills she’d built up as a psychologist, she would be well placed to pick out anyone who was giving Meredith the wrong kind of attention.

She scrolled back through the footage, looking for any sign of Meredith, since she was interested in anyone who was in the room at the same time. Paige found the point where she left the restaurant, waving to the diners there almost as if she were an actor leaving the stage after a well-received performance in a play. She scrolled back before that, stopping and starting the recording to catch different fragments, watching Meredith as she went about her shift.

Would the killer have been in there? Would he have watched her and followed her? It was definitely possible, particularly if Paige assumed that this was a case where the killer had identified her as a victim relatively soon before he killed her. Yes, there were other moments when she’d been walking through the Faire and someone might have picked her out, but the restaurant had been the place where she’d spent most of her day. It seemed like the most likely spot for someone to have decided to kill her, if they didn’t already have some kind of grudge against her.

Maybe even then. After all, the killer could have been sitting in there, waiting for his moment. In any case, it meant that there was a chance for Paige to try to spot the killer as he stalked her. That was behavior that Paige was confident she could pick out, and it might give her and Christopher a chance to catch the killer before he had a chance to strike again.

Paige started to look over the footage, but now that she’d found Meredith in it, she didn’t keep her attention on the waitress. Instead, Paige watched the people around her in the footage, carefully scanning the groups there as Meredith moved between them, looking for anyone who didn’t seem to react in any of the normal ways that people did around wait staff.

Paige was watching their body language, trying to pick out anyone who was paying Meredith more attention than they should, or looking at her with obvious signs of aggression. She tried to narrow down her search a little, working out who she needed to pay attention to. Basic psychological principles helped her to eliminate some people as potential suspects, based on body language or behavior.

Would it be someone in a group? Paige didn’t think so, because this was someone who’d needed to be alone in order to kill. Someone in a group would have had to make an excuse to go off without the others they were with. That would potentially expose them to being caught if their friends went looking for them, and that would be too much danger for most killers.

No, someone about to kill would be alone. That narrowed down the number of people Paige needed to look at considerably. People tended to come to the Renaissance Fair in groups.

She found one person watching Meredith, her attention caught by the relative stillness of him against the crowd. It was a man in his thirties, wearing a suit rather than anything that fit in with the medieval theme of the Renaissance Faire. He was tall and thin faced, quite good looking, and he seemed to be looking at Meredith with a note of curiosity as he sat alone at a table. There was something close to obsession there on his features, something that made Paige keep staring at him for a minute or more.

He didn’t do anything, though, didn’t approach her, didn’t talk to her, certainly didn’t argue with her. As far as Paige could see, he was just one more customer among the others, waiting for his waitress to come over and take his order. Maybe she was wrong about his expression because he quickly faded into the background again. Certainly, the way he looked at Meredith didn’t seem like enough to keep going with.

Paige kept looking, searching for any hint of an altercation, anything that might point to someone who was building up to attacking Meredith. Surely, as a waitress, she had to deal with rowdy customers occasionally? Maybe even be firm with them to stop them from causing damage or upsetting the other customers.

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