Judas Burning

Judas Burning by Carolyn Haines Read Free Book Online

Book: Judas Burning by Carolyn Haines Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carolyn Haines
neither confirm nor deny.
    “I think Eustace did it. I think he took those girls and hurt them.” She lifted her chin, daring him to deny it.
    “Vivian, there’s no indication that anyone took those girls. I believe they’re just working out a wild hair. They’ll be back by suppertime.”
    “And if they aren’t?” Her tone was cool. “That man is a deviant. I will never understand why you protect him. He has my daughter, and Camille may be twenty-three, but she isn’t capable of making that kind of decision.”
    “Until Camille is legally ruled incompetent, I have to allow her to behave as an adult.” J.D. wanted to tell Vivian that Eustace would never hurt Camille or any other young woman, but that would just fuel the fire.
    “You defend him when his actions are indefensible.” She stood up. “One day, and not too far away, you’ll have to admit that you’re wrong about him.” She marched out of the office, her high heels tapping on the floor.
    J.D. leaned back in his chair. It was time to go home. If anything happened, the dispatcher would call him.

    Dixon read Tucker’s brief story on the missing girls. It had been a difficult call to make, but by eleven, when the girls hadn’t returned, she’d finally settled on a small story simply saying they were missing. Her decision not to use names or photographs had aggravated Tucker, but she explained her reasons: no speculation, no panic. It was consideration for the families of the girls that held her back, not worry about the Chickasaw County authorities. As the sheriff had told Tucker, the girls would have to live down whatever was printed in the paper.
    She typed out her four-paragraph story on the closed-door school board meeting and walked to the composing room to hang her copy on a hook for Linda. Once those stories were set and pasted up, the paper would be ready for Tucker to take to Gautier at two A.M., where it would be printed by an offset press. Wednesday before noon, the papers would be hauled to the post office for delivery.
    She stood in the composing room, the backshop of the paper visible. When she’d bought the
, she’d gotten the old press and linotypes, dinosaurs, from a time long past in newspapering. She’d wanted them.
    As a preschooler, she’d frequently gone to work with her father at his politically oriented weekly in Jackson. She’d stood on a crate beside him as he made up the heavy metal pages. Her job had been removing the old slugs of lead from the previous week’s issue. She’d take the slugs to the linotype machines where they would be melted down and reset. Most of the linotype operators were deaf, and they’d laughed in a high-pitched cackle when she deposited her small buckets of lead for them.
    The press had been a roaring monster that rolled forward and retracted on its bed, the steady rhythm frightening—yet also satisfying and exciting. Once a pressman’s fingers had been crushed beneath the press as she watched. The pressman had gone to the emergency room, then returned to continue running the press. Getting the paper out was a matter of honor for all involved.
    Shaking off the ghosts, she sighed. The
press hadn’t run in years and wouldn’t ever again. She was lollygagging in the past. She returned to her desk, picked up the phone, and dialed. There was one last lead to follow. A wary male voice answered on the first ring.
    “This is Dixon Sinclair. May I speak with Tommy Hayes?”
    There was a pause. “He isn’t home.”
    “When do you expect him back?” She tapped the eraser on the pad as she listened to dogs barking in the background.
    “He was supposed to be back at four.”
    The man’s voice sounded worried. He was hoping she was the cavalry. Wrong story—she was the Big Bad Wolf. “I’m the publisher of the
, and I’d like to speak with Mr. Hayes when he returns. Would you take a message for him?”
    “Why is the newspaper calling

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