The Marradith Ryder Series, The Art of Shadows: Part 35
Ryan Doherty slept over at Shannon’s house, and woke up after nine thirty, a luxury for a detective who was used to pulling early morning and late night hours.
It was Wednesday, and he had requested the day off. There would be errands to run later, including a realtor that he needed to talk to. Over the past month Ryan and Shannon had discussed the progress of their relationship, and he firmly believed it was time to move forward with plans for the future.
Shannon’s flight home was scheduled for Saturday. That gave him three days to make sure he had things in order before she got back.
His one bedroom apartment was too small ; Shannon’s loft smacked too much of singledom. It wasn’t the kind of home he imagined, with a backyard and space for a dog, and extra bedrooms for children, eventually…
The ringing of the doorbell shook him from his thoughts.
Ryan wasn’t sure who would be on Shannon’s doorstep at ten in the morning, but already had the gut feeling that he would not like it.
“Hello, can I help you?”
Miranda crossed her arms. The man leaned across the doorway. His voice was kind but she caught the irritation in his stance. His hair was dishwater brown, and slightly mused. He wore plaid pajama bottoms and a white t-shirt. His feet were bare. The smell of coffee wafted into the hallway.
“I am Miranda Vega,” she said coolly. “You must be Ryan.”
He invited her in. Shannon’s stepmother. He didn’t feel he really had a choice in the matter.
Miranda was a tiny thing: he guessed she was only five feet tall. Her black hair was long and wavy, hastilly pulled back in a ponytail. The fine lines around her eyes and mouth were barely visible. She was probably in her early fifties, though wrinkles didn’t give it away. He’d seen other women with that look before. There was a hardness to her.
He told her to help herself to some coffee. He went into the bedroom and quickly changed into a pair of jeans. When he emerged she was stitting on a stool in the kitchen, stirring cream into her mug.
“Well it’s nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Vega,” he said. “Shannon talks about you all the time.”
“Really?” she said. “I wouldn’t have thought so.”
He shrugged. “Well I hope you won’t be dissappointed, but she’s not here right now. In fact, I don’t expect her back until this weekend.”
“Is she on assignment?”
“I see. I was so looking forward to seeing her.”
“Have you tried her cell?” he asked.
“I don’t have the number.”
That struck him as odd. He knew that the two of them were reasonably close. How could she not have her stepddaughter’s phone number?
“I left New York rather inexpectedly,” she said, avoiding his eyes. “I didn’t have time to get all my numbers together, but I did have the address with me. So I came.”
“Is something wrong?”
“I believe I should come back another time, when Shannon is here. I am sorry to have disturbed you, Detective.”
He caught the disdain in her voice, the phrasing that made his title sound like an epiphet. As far as he knew, Miranda had never been in trouble with the law. So why was she reacting this way?
“Well, is there a number that Shannon can reach you at?”
She shook her head. Picking up her purse, she headed for the door. “It was a mistake, my coming here. I should have known better.”
“Wait. What’s going on here, really? No one comes all the way from New York just to turn around and leave. What is it that you want with Shannon?” he demanded.
“You can tell her that …I took care of something, for her and her brothers.”
“Wait,” he put a hand on her arm just as she was about to open the door. “This doesn’t have anything to do the Wolves, does it?” Miranda’s eyes grew wide with disbelief. For a moment, Ryan thought that she had no idea what he was talking about, and that he’d have to make up a clever lie to explain his way out of it.
“She told you?” Miranda said, her face growing red. “She told you about the Wolves?”
“She told me about Granthem,” Ryan replied. “About Pablo and the connection Granthem had to the Vegas. Maybe it’s time you tell me the rest of the story, the part that you came here to tell Shannon.”
©2011 Lori Titus
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