Linda was eating breakfast with Todd the next morning. She asked him, “Would you like to join Shana and me when we visit Charles Wolf?”
“Why on earth would you visit him? I don’t think it’s safe for you to go there!” said Todd, his dark eyes flashing at her.
“Don’t be angry…that’s why we’re asking you to come along with us. His name came up when we’d conducted a search of End House on the internet. He sits on the Board of Directors of a holding company that owns the house.”
”I’ve never liked or trusted Wolf, but I’ll come with you. Never go anywhere like that without me! Promise me!”
“I promise. Can we go right after breakfast and bring Shana with us?”
“Of course, I’ll do whatever you want; just as long that I know that you’re safe. Sam won’t be able to join us today, but I’ll inform him later of our visit.”
When he looked at her with those big brown eyes, all she wanted was to be in his arms, safe and sound. But for some unknown reason, he was determined to keep her at arm’s length. They never discussed anything personal—that is, outside of End House or Oasis. But he seemed to care about her…and worry about her. When she got up from the table, she felt his eyes on her…following her…silently watching her.



Linda entered Minnie & Frank’s Grocery Store, which shared a bright red-and-white awning with the sheriff’s office next door. The grocery had two large corner windows with dark green shading. She had never understood why each store had some kind of green tinting on its windows. Some stores had deeper tints than others: the grocery store, Hank’s auto shop, and Shirley’s store were more heavily tinted than the other stores along Main Street.
Frank was working the register, while his wife, Minnie, was trying to soothe their crying baby. The playpen was set up in the center of the store—right in the middle of the long aisles of food where customers browsed while having loud conversations. Watching the baby scream and wail at the top of her lungs, Linda couldn’t understand why the playpen hadn’t been placed farther back in the store, where it was much quieter.
Linda walked up to Frank. “Did you receive an invitation to the party at End House?”
While glancing back at Minnie, he answered as if he didn’t want Minnie to say anything, “No—we heard about it, but we aren’t invited.” Minnie added, “We have a baby anyway and it’s hard to go out at night.”
“Of course,” Linda replied. “How silly of me! I should have realized that you wouldn’t be able to go.”
Minnie moved closer. “Be careful…Don’t trust everything that you see.”
Linda couldn’t answer because Frank was monitoring their conversation and casting warning looks at Minnie. She almost ran out of the store. They were strange, and she never did like the sound of their baby’s high-pitched cry.