THIRTY – SHARDS
Jenni Malone turned her Subaru up the driveway and parked in front of Tony’s garage.
She hopped out of the car and fished her set of keys for the house out of her handbag. She’d never found the time or courage to return them to Tony—just as she’d never returned to pick up her things.
She covered her head with her coat against the rain and ran up the walkway toward the front door.
Even as she put the key in the lock and opened the door, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to find.
She thought she could deal with it if Glory was there with Tony. She had plenty to say if she found Glory alone. She thought she could handle it if neither of them was there. But if she found only Tony, and if he were acting irrationally, she wasn’t sure what she’d do.
She fingered the pepper spray attached to her keychain, realizing at the same time that she wouldn’t have the guts to use it.
Whatever he’d been like in the last few weeks, she still loved him. She just wanted to know what had happened and why.
She was completely unprepared for what she found when she opened the door.
The house was a shambles, though she’d half expected that. Paintings, sculptures, drawings everywhere—all of them of Glory. Everywhere she turned, the bitch’s face and figure haunted her.
But the broken windows in the studio surprised her. That and the fact that the artwork had obviously been ill used.
Fear gripped her heart like ice-cold talons. What had happened here?
“Tony?” she called out tentatively. “Tony, are you here? Are you all right?”
It suddenly occurred to her that Glory might be some kind of confidence trickster. Perhaps she was stringing Tony along to get to his money—or the vastly larger Frost fortune. Perhaps she had drugged him to make him more pliable. Perhaps that was why he’d been acting so strangely.
Still, the doctors found no evidence of drug use in their tests. Nor did the A-frame look like anything had been stolen. Even in the sorry state the studio was in, Jenni felt fairly certain that nothing was missing.
Nothing except Tony.
The shards of glass on the floor inside of the panes told her that the windows, and even the huge sliding doors, had been broken in, not out. She wasn’t sure what that meant, but it seemed less likely that Tony had done the damage himself. If he’d decided to start throwing things, surely the glass would have been on the outside.
She checked both downstairs and up, but found nothing more to tell her what had happened, only more artwork—more Glory.
“I should call the police,” she said to herself. She couldn’t imagine that Tony would have left his precious art to the mercy of the elements. Something must have happened to him.
The tragedy of the art being ruined by the rain—even if she found most of it hideous, even if it all featured the bitch he’d thrown her over for—touched something compassionate in Jenni’s soul.
She decided to move the canvases away from the windows before looking for the phone. As she did so, she noticed a small flash of fire out on the lake. Something was burning out by the old sandbar.
A cold shiver ran down Jenni’s spine. Something inside told her Tony was out there, in danger for his life.
She abandoned the art, but it took her the better part of ten minutes to find the well-buried phone and reconnect it to the wall jack.
Then she called the police.