Finley only got midsentence before a high-pitched scream turned into a long, anguished moan. Others at the table turned, trying to figure out what the nerve-wracking sound was and where it came from. Another series of screams and moans jolted Peter and Finley to their feet and made them head for the stairs. Whitt wasn’t far behind, the others moving more quickly now to uncover the source of the unnerving noise.
Peter’s age didn’t slow him down, as he raced down the stairs and rounded the corner, sprinting once he got to the hall on the second floor to reach Gavin first. He dropped to his knees near Gavin’s prone figure. Gavin was crouched, almost in a fetal position, near the door of one of the rooms.
When Whitt and Finley reached him, they thought he was ill by the way he was rocking and moaning—perhaps a ruptured appendix. He clutched the jacket in his hand, thrusting his arm out from time to time. No words came, just a deep guttural sound that conveyed his anguish. Finally, he formed words. “Ross. Ross is dead,” he said, thrusting his arm out again, but this time looking in the direction of the open atrium.
Finley stood, walked to the atrium railing, and looked down. Anna and Julien joined her at the rail. All three gasped as they took in the sight below. There, hanging like a rag doll from the massive brass chandelier, was Ross Malcolm. His neck was contorted in an unnatural position and a trickle of blood stained his cheek. His face revealed no fear or concern. He was beyond that. He was definitely dead.
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