They entered the back door of the cabin near the kitchen, placing the bags on the large table in the center of the room, and while Emily began to unpack and organize their wares, Nancy walked RJ back into the living room. The news of the foiled rescue was no secret because their guards boasted openly about how easy it’d been to squash the effort. They also knew the local sheriff and one of his deputies, a female, were chased down and killed by their captors. This left the group demoralized, so when Nancy came in, whistling and carrying a bouquet of wildflowers, she drew several annoyed looks. She returned RJ to sit on the sofa next to his sister, continuing to whistle. She caught Ericson’s attention and held up the flowers in a gesture to him. He returned her gaze with a puzzled look.
“You go out to pick up food, and you have time to pick flowers?” Sue Ellen Del Monte scoffed sarcastically.
“No, Congresswoman.” Nancy smiled back at her pleasantly. “I do believe these were left by an admirer.”
“Humph,” grunted the congresswoman. “One of the guards, probably.”
Julie and several other people chuckled at the comment, drawing a vindictive glare from the politician.
“While Mr. Hapke has offered to entertain me in the past,” Nancy replied, keeping a polite smile while looking at the politician in a way that made it clear she’d crossed a line, “he is not gallant enough to think of flowers.”
Nancy said no more on the subject, because her sister-in-law had dated Hapke for almost a year after her husband’s death. She stopped seeing him after she found out how brutal the man could be. Nancy instead turned her focus to Ericson. “Josh, do you remember the young officer in Subic Bay who used to leave me those exotic flowers he found in the jungle?”
Ericson looked confused. “I do, but what does that have to do with this situation?”
“Oh, probably nothing.” Nancy smiled at her old friend with a confidence he remembered from better times. “The flowers were just left in the same way. They’re fresh cut, in a vase—or, in this case, a large mason jar. They’re from a meadow on the far side of the island. It’s the only place here they grow. The forest is too dense.”
The puzzled look on Ericson’s face was replaced with a sly smile. While many in the group still looked confused or even indifferent about the conversation, several who’d known the Summers family shared in Ericson’s response to Nancy’s statement.
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