The receptionist, a scrub-faced young woman of college age, looked up in greeting. “Good morning, ladies. With whom do you have your sessions today?”
“We are both with Rachel. My session is first and then my sister’s. She’ll just read while she waits,” Whitt added. Finley simply smiled and nodded. “My mother and a friend will be coming in later.”
“No worries. Rachel normally doesn’t work on Saturdays, so we have moved her to a different room,” the receptionist, whose nametag read Patty, explained. “She is just setting up. She’ll come get you once you’ve changed.”
At the receptionist’s request, they signed in and were each handed a fluffy white robe and celadon slippers before being led into a changing room that matched the slippers in color and smelled of lemon and verbena.
“The scent makes you feel so Zen!” Whitt had slipped out of her striped sundress and was hanging it in the locker. Her sister had changed into her robe and was standing by the door to the anteroom that separated the lockers from the session rooms.
“You sure are in a hurry today,” Whitt drawled. “Slow down. No one’s chasing you!”
“I know.” Finley shifted her weight from foot to foot. “I’m just antsy for some reason.”
“Well, if there is no one in the waiting room, we can play a round of the Murder Game to distract you!”
Finley shook her head. Given her druthers, that girl would play that game all day. How she comes up with this stuff, I haven’t the slightest. Let’s just hope she never wants to try any of it out on folks that get on her nerves.
Whitt found an Elle Décor magazine and sat down to read. Finley pulled out her camera and began scrolling through the frames. She had some nice shots of the dunes, and the series of pictures of the sand etchings would make an intriguing wall collection.
Rachel stuck her head out of one of the session rooms. “Be with you ladies in just a bit. I am almost rea—”
Before she could finish the sentence, a deafening wail followed by a piercing scream wracked the room.
“What the hell?” Whitt dropped the magazine on the table and stood, looking at Finley as she tried to determine the nature and direction of the sound. By that time, both the receptionist and Rachel had come into the anteroom.
“Are you all right?” the receptionist asked. She and Rachel exchanged glances.
“It’s not us,” Finley said. “I think it came from one of the rooms. I thought it was this one.”
Finley crossed the room swiftly to the first distressed wood door on her right. It was slightly ajar. She pushed is open slowly, expecting to find a woman on a chair screeching at a field mouse. Instead, she found a young woman who had backed herself into a corner. Her face had lost all color and fear had rendered her mute.
The room appeared normal—set up for a massage with the blinds partially closed, New Age music playing softly in the background, and patchouli and other essential oils offering more ambiance from a small stand to the right of the massage table. A man was lying on the table, facing away from Finley, Whitt, and the others who had entered the room. His arms hung relaxed over the edge of the table, a sheet covering the rest of his body.
“Suzanne, what’s going on?” Rachel asked.
“I think he is dead!” the woman in the corner managed to say. She was a ruddy-complexioned woman with a robust stocky build, but drawn up in the corner, she looked like a frightened child. “He’s not breathing.”
Finley and Whitt approached the table. Whitt took the man’s arm to check his pulse and shook her head. “I think you had better call an ambulance.”
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