This eight-chapter novella is the second of two stories set in between the periods of Stranger Things: The College Years and Stranger Things: The New Generation. I advise reading those stories, as well as the third in that trilogy, Stranger Things: World’s End, before reading The Witch of Yamhill County and then this one, which are supplementary and do not involve the Upside Down. Like the Upside Down trilogy, they are works of fan fiction based on the Stranger Things TV series. I do not profit from these stories and they are not canon. There is plenty of Stranger Things fiction to be found online (see here), but if I learn that the Duffer Brothers do not appreciate fan fiction of their work, or if they order a cease-and-desist, I will gladly pull the stories down.
The Black Rose of Newberg — Chapter Six
The Tour Guide
Jim Hopper stared at the lacerated body of Nicki Racine. It was lying on top of her dining room table, and positioned as if for an outrageous centerfold shot in a black market magazine. The plastic flower wedged between her teeth did little to shake Hopper out of his denial.
Black Rose had come to Portland. The sun had risen, and the world turned.
The Portland police swarmed over the house, dissecting the crime scene. They were apparently taking orders from Paul Holland, who was down the hall with Jane in the living room. For the time being at least, jurisdiction had been conceded. Portland was the City of Roses, but black was a whole other league. He was Newberg’s demon.
Thank God he’s not Holland. If Hopper hadn’t been sure of this, he would have been faced with an insurmountable problem. As it was, he stood a good chance of being arrested by Holland before he left the house.
Jane had called him last night and described her escapade at the Hoover House. He had filled her ear with profanity, angered by her reckless behavior, but also by the fact that he didn’t get to the house first. She told him to relax; all was well. The news of her progress had mollified him: Holland and Ridge were no longer suspects. It was either McCormick or Plante. He had congratulated her. She said he worried too much.
Then came her call this morning. It came as he drove to McMinnville. She had tried him at home and then the office before the sheriff’s car. As soon as he put the receiver to his ear, he pulled off the highway and slammed on his brakes. Jane hadn’t lost her mind like this since the day Mike Wheeler left home to kill himself. Nicki had been sliced open by Black Rose, and Jane needed her father to fix the world and make everything sunshine.
He had pieced together what happened as she cried into the phone. She had gone outside for her morning walk, and seen the impossible nailed to her front door: a plastic black rose. A note was attached, scrawled in red marker: Enjoy yourselves last night? I tasted your friend and pieced her. Black Rose had spotted them in Nicki’s car after all. Jane had raced back inside to call Nicki, who of course didn’t answer. Then she had called the Sinclairs. She got Raquel, and told her not, do not, bring Mike back to her this morning; she and Lucas had to keep him for another day at least; no, she couldn’t say what was going on, and please stop hounding her with questions and do as she said. Raquel had yelled for Lucas, terrified by Jane’s hysteria. By the time Lucas took the phone, Jane had hung up and was calling a taxi. The cab came in ten minutes and got her to Nicki’s in five. She had pounded on Nicki’s door, and it had flown open; someone left it unlocked and ajar. In the dining room she had seen what Hopper was seeing now.
Is it you, Shane? Did the police chief’s affable persona conceal a raging demon within? Or you, Walter? Had his friend’s world grown so despairing that he gave himself unto blackness? It was hard to reconcile the sight of Nicki’s corpse with either option.
Hopper had told Jane to stay put at Nicki’s. He had to say it three times to be heard. He said he had no choice but to call McCormick. He was nauseated that he might be reporting a Black Rose killing to Black Rose himself, but there was no way around it. He would also call the Portland police. He was on his way too, but he wouldn’t get there before the city police — or before Paul Holland, whom McCormick would surely send. Hopper had a longer drive: he had almost reached McMinnville when he got Jane’s call. Above all Jane must reveal nothing about Black Rose to anyone; nothing about the Hoover House, or why a Portland woman like Nicki was killed by a Newberg serial killer. Hopper would handle this his own way, when he got there.
“I was careful, Dad,” she had sobbed before hanging up. “McCormick and Plante weren’t acting like either one had seen us.”
“I know,” he had replied gently as possible. “But you stayed longer. You walked around the house. And you were parked close to the house, after visiting hours.” Absurdly close, he didn’t add. Black Rose was a police detective. Either Shane or Walter would have eventually spotted it. He would have had his binoculars, when hiding out somewhere he had no business being. From that point, using Nicki’s license plate to obtain her address was elementary. His daughter didn’t think like a cop. She thought like a hero.
“I tried to keep her home. I tried! At first I said –”
“Stop,” said Hopper. “This is my fault, not yours. Just hang up the phone and wait. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
But first he had finished his drive to McMinnville. It was only five minutes away, and he needed something. It was the reason for his Sunday trip to the sheriff’s office: a photo he wanted to bring to the museum. At first he couldn’t find the photo. He had torn open every desk drawer, swearing at the top of his lungs. Finally he found it behind a book leaning face out on its shelf. He had snatched it, hurried out to the car, and raced up to Portland.
Now he was looking at Nicki — what was left of her — and preparing himself for what he was about to tell Holland. Nicki’s body had been a paragon of sensuous beauty. Black Rose had made a mockery of that perfection with twenty-seven cuts of a blade. Hopper felt intensely unready to confront Holland. He dreaded seeing Jane.
Clenching his teeth, he moved past the forensics team and left the dining room. He went down the hall and looked into the living room. Paul Holland was there, disheveled, and lashing out at anyone who came within his comfort zone. He was pacing the floor in front of Jane, who was sitting in one of Nicki’s chairs. She looked pale and wasted; she hadn’t stopped crying since she called. Holland observed her with not a trace of sympathy.
Hopper stormed into the room. “What the hell’s going on here?” he demanded.
Holland turned to him and smiled. Newberg’s officers had learned to fear that smile. “Mysteries, Jim. Mysteries upon filthy mysteries. And your daughter has been most unhelpful in raking away the muck.”
“That body in the other room was her best friend. You better go easy or I’ll make another corpse in here right now.”
“Now, now.” Holland wasn’t a big man, but he wasn’t afraid of Hopper. Holland wasn’t afraid of anyone.
Hopper walked over to Jane and took her in his arms. She was a different person from yesterday. Jane Hopper had fought evil in its ugliest manifestations. But it was evil from the shadow world that she knew; from cannibal witch huts. Not from police precincts. She could fight the Upside Down in her sleep. She couldn’t take on humanity at its worst. She was sobbing and unable to speak. She had thought she could protect Nicki.
Hopper knew, and felt her pain. He had made the same mistake five years ago. In the Dancing Hut. His dreams still punished him for those kids: Travis Mitchell; Leigh Davis; Dash Nyberg. Like Nicki, they had died seeking danger, believing themselves shielded from it. We never learn.
He broke off and faced her. She was a mess; she needed to be away from here. “Just sit here for a few minutes while I talk with Holland.” He looked up at the detective, who appeared ready to spit nails. Hopper stood and jerked his thumb to the doorway. “You and me. Outside.” He walked past Holland without waiting for a reply.
They were on the front porch. Blue lights flashed in the parking lot. Neighbors milled about in their yards. The innocence of a Portland neighborhood had been smashed.
“I thought you once told me you adopted her,” said Holland.
“I’m sorry?” asked Hopper.
“Your daughter,” said Holland. “I thought you adopted her.”
“I did adopt her.”
“Then how did she inherit your smart-ass mouth?”
“You’re lucky your mouth isn’t broken, you asshole. Her best friend was just killed — by the one you haven’t been able to catch!”
“Perhaps I’ll settle for you instead,” said Holland, unfazed. “Why would Black Rose kill in Portland? I’m presuming it’s no coincidence that the victim was a friend of your daughter. Who just happened to be in Newberg a few days ago. Job shadowing you,” he added trenchantly.
“It’s no coincidence,” Hopper admitted.
“Ah. I thought not.” Holland flashed his barracuda smile. “Your daughter has been most uncooperative, Jim. She has refused to answer any of my questions, and offered me nothing but uncouth vanity. One wonders. One doubts. One would think she would be most eager to help those who are trying to capture her friend’s killer.”
“Listen to me, Paul. Jane and I know who Black Rose is. He’s one of two men. And you have my daughter to thank for what I’m about to tell you.”
Holland’s eyes were those of a predator. “Well. How did your illustrious smart-ass daughter come by this bit of knowledge?”
“She got it from the fourth victim. Lindsey Wyatt. In the hospital before she died. Her attacker –”
“Stop. Right there. Lindsey Wyatt was in a coma. Which she never came out of. Do you take me for an idiot?”
“So the nurses told you,” said Hopper. “I asked them to keep quiet.” An outrageous lie.
“I visited Lindsey Wyatt on Wednesday morning. Jane was with me, shadowing. I let her hold Wyatt’s hand, and the victim came awake. Long enough to tell us about her attacker. He was wearing a mask, so she didn’t see his face. But she saw that he had a police badge. It was a Newberg badge, and it was gold. The victim only got a brief look but she was sure: it was a gold Newberg shield, no question.”
Holland made a face as if the sheriff had just told a tasteless April Fool’s joke. He’s going to arrest me. Holland didn’t arrest him. He sat down in a porch chair and slowly lifted his head to the sky, as if in supplication to some unseen deity. ” ‘A gold Newberg shield, no question.’ From a comatose victim no longer comatose. Hmm. I do believe that Sheriff Jim is swimming in B.S.”
“Paul, cut the shit! Work with me here. I’m giving you more about Black Rose that you’ve scraped together for a month. Which, correct me if I’m wrong, is pretty much nothing.”
Holland ceased his lampoon. “You want me to believe this? That one of my colleagues is a murdering psychopath? And do really want me to believe that you instructed medical staff as you claim you did?”
“You know I wouldn’t accuse SIU unless I was absolutely sure,” said Hopper.
“What I know is that you’re dancing on waves of deceit,” said Holland. “I can only guess at what game you’re playing. Why are you only telling me this now, as I’m questioning your daughter? Better yet, why are you telling me at all? According to your story, it sounds like I could be the killer.”
“Jane and I know that you and Gavin aren’t Black Rose. But only since last night. And we knew it wasn’t Ed. It’s either Shane or Walter. That’s proof of my objectivity. I never could believe Walter was Black Rose. But it turns out he might be.”
“Whoa-ho. That’s another unimpressive shit you just took. How, please, are you and your big-britches daughter so sure that neither I nor Gavin nor Ed are garnishing corpses with black roses? How, again, do you conclude that the guilty party is either our unassailable fearless leader, or the ever depressed Walter Plante?”
“You were at the movies last night.” Holland’s movie had probably ended long before Black Rose drove up to Portland and killed Nicki, but for now this should work. And it did.
Holland stood up, suddenly furious. “You’ve been tailing me?”
“We’ve been tailing everyone!” Hopper would never explain to him how Jane “tailed” people in the Void. “You were at the movies. Gavin was working late. I’m telling you –”
“Gavin wasn’t working late, you liar.” Holland had lost his sarcasm. That happened a few times a year. Even at the worst inappropriate times he couldn’t hold back his blistering wit. Now he was boiling with rage. “I worked past five, and Gavin was gone when I left. Don’t fuck with me, Jim.”
“I’m not saying Gavin was at the office. He was out in the field, hiding in his car, trying to catch vandals or something.”
“It keeps getting richer,” said Holland. “You were tailing me while your daughter was tailing Gavin?”
“Does it matter which of us was tailing whom?” asked Hopper, deflecting.
“Everything matters to me, you shit,” said Holland. “Who was tailing Ed? The Ghost of Christmas Past?”
“We had ruled out Ed from the start. He was in Florida with his family during the week Fiona Ray was killed.”
“Aren’t you both the Dynamic Duo. I’m afraid none of this explains what happened here, to Nicki Racine.”
“It explains it completely.” Hopper would have to start lying now. He was not about to tell Holland anything about the Hoover museum. Not yet, anyway. “On Wednesday I brought my daughter to the police department. I introduced her to all of you, under the pretense of job shadowing.” Which was true enough.
“You were baiting the killer with your own daughter?”
Of course not, you asshole. Hopper had been making a connection between the killer and his daughter, so that Jane could spy on him safely from the distance of her home in Portland. But there was no room in this reality for psychic powers and Voids. Hopper had to confirm Holland’s accusation and make himself look bad. “Jane agreed to be used as bait. We thought it was the best strategy at the time. We had just learned from Wyatt that Black Rose was a Newberg detective. We couldn’t tell you or Shane — and we still can’t tell Shane. Baiting the killer was the only way. Or if not baiting, at least seeing if Jane could trigger some kind of reaction in one of the detectives. She’s 26 and attractive.”
“You’re disgraceful, Jim. And you’re passing gas. Your daughter is still breathing. Why did Black Rose go after her friend instead?”
“I don’t know why he went after Nicki. Because Shane or Walter didn’t want to kill my daughter? The daughter of a cop they know?” In truth, the killer must have targeted Nicki after spotting her car at the museum. As a cop, Black Rose would have used the make and license to find out Nicki’s address in no time at all. Hopper had no idea why he had abstained from trying to kill Jane, but it was a lucky choice. Had the killer broken into Jane’s house, he would be dead now or in jail.
But Hopper kept silent about the Hoover House, last night’s spy adventure, and the calling card left on Jane’s door. He didn’t want Holland taking control of the museum yet. Hopper was going there himself, as soon as he was done here. His daughter’s best friend had just been killed, and as usual, it was his own fault. He should never have involved Jane in the case. But he wasn’t about to slink to the sidelines while Holland cleaned up his mess. He owed it to Jane to fix this himself, and see it through.
“Was Nicki Racine in Newberg with Jane?” asked Holland. “On that Wednesday?”
“Yes,” said Hopper, seizing the convenient lie. “She came down with Jane. I didn’t bring her inside the police station, but she waited outside for us. Anyone could have seen her.” As long as Holland didn’t cross-examine Jane on that point, it was a safe lie.
“There’s a stink all over you, Jim. You’re concealing more than revealing.”
“This is what I ask, Paul. Find out where Shane and Walter were on the nights of the killings. You have the resources to do that. I don’t.” And while you’re doing that, I’m going to play my last card at the museum.
“I don’t know,” said Holland. “I might have more fun throwing you in the slam, instead of Black Rose. For obstructing justice.”
“Just do what I say,” said Hopper. “If it goes nowhere, you have my promise: I’ll resign with a public apology to the Newberg police for my malfeasance. And you can lock me up as long as you want.”
Hopper watched as Holland weighed what he had been told. He couldn’t just ignore what Hopper was saying. Paul Holland was an asshole, but he was a damn good homicide detective. His callous wit masked a relentless obsession to get at the truth. Hopper was glad that he wasn’t Black Rose.
“Okay,” he finally said. “I’ll look into this. What you’ve said. Everything you’ve said. You and your daughter stay out of it. I mean it. If you’re lying about anything, I’ll feed you your liver.”
“Fair enough,” said Hopper. Holland could do his worst. Hopper had too many failures under his belt to worry about vindictive consequences.
He went back in and got Jane.
The museum-house didn’t open to visitors until 1:00 PM, but Hopper left his home at eleven. Staff might already be there. Jane was with him, despite his initial protests. They had arrived at his home around ten, and Jane had taken a shower, and then tried to eat a small brunch he made for her. On zero appetite she got down a bit of fruit and slice of toast. He had asked her to rest, knowing how stupid he sounded. Jane rarely slept. Five years ago she had eaten an orange apple from a magic tree, and her waking hours had stretched from six in the morning to two at night. She never tired unless she used her powers. The dining room display of Nicki had all but turned Jane’s blood into caffeine. She insisted on coming to the Hoover House. Black Rose was personal now.
He was there in five minutes and parked on River Street. Jane said it was close to where she and Nicki had parked last night. Hopper made a face but kept his thoughts to himself. She and Nicki may as well have been waving a flag in the middle of the road.
They got out, and Hopper grabbed the manila envelope that contained the photo from his office. He and Jane went through the picket fence and passed the flag. Hopper realized he had lived for ten years in Newberg but never been inside this tourist attraction. He neither knew nor cared much about President Hoover.
He knocked twice on the front door before a young man appeared. He must have been a late teenager, maybe eighteen or nineteen.
“Good morning,” he said. “Can I help you both?”
“I hope so,” said Hopper. “We’d like a tour of the museum. I know you’re not open yet, but this can’t wait. I’m Sheriff Jim Hopper, Yamhill County.”
“Oh!” The young man looked flustered. “Well, um, I guess that’s okay. I’m the tour guide. My name is Brett Fowler. Come on in, sheriff.” He stepped aside and held open the door.
Hopper and Jane entered a reception area, with larger rooms hanging to each side, and a staircase immediately ascending. Fliers and brochures hung on a wall display. The nearby rooms looked colonial; Hopper and Jane could see antique furniture and paintings.
Brett clasped his hands, looking unsure how to begin. “So I guess this is police business?”
“Yeah,” said Hopper. “This is Jane. She’s assisting my investigation.”
“Hello Jane,” said Brett.
“Hi,” she said. “Are you the only one here now?”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Brett. “The director will be in sometime after we open, but for now it’s just me.”
“Who’s the director?” asked Hopper.
“Mary Caswell. She should be here by two at the latest.”
“Before you show us around, I have a few questions,” said Hopper.
“Have you had any problems with break-ins?”
The tour guide frowned. “People breaking into the museum? Not that I know of.”
“I don’t mean anything necessarily stolen or vandalized. We think there’s someone who manages to get in at nighttime, after the staff leaves, and stays here for a while — maybe a half hour or an hour, maybe longer. Sometimes with another person.”
Brett looked shocked. “That’s very surprising. We always lock up. And we have a security alarm.”
Door locks on a house like this wouldn’t stop a detective. Especially Black Rose. But how did he obtain the code to deactivate the alarm? “So the rooms never seem messy or out of place?”
“I don’t think so. Or at least not to my knowledge. I’ve never seen them look messy. But I’m just the tour guide. You should ask Director Caswell when she gets in.”
“I will,” said Hopper.
“Do you want me to start the tour?” asked Brett.
“We’ll take the tour,” said Hopper. “But I want you to look at something first.” He opened the manila envelope he was carrying and took out the photo from his office. “Do you by any chance recognize anyone in this photo?”
It was a large 8″ x 11″ group shot of five people: the Newberg Special Investigations Unit. Taken two years ago during an awards ceremony hosted by the mayor. The SIU team had been singled out for their dedication. Each detective was in the finest dress, including Holland. McCormick was the center attraction, wearing a red shirt, red tie, and black pants. As in real life, you could lose yourself staring at him. On the left side of the photo, Holland stood to the police chief’s right, sporting a yellow shirt, green tie, and green pants. His hair was the usual mess. On the far left, next to Holland, Barnes wore a brown suitcoat and pants, with a white shirt and black tie. On the right side of the photo, and to McCormick’s immediate left, Gavin Ridge blazed a uniform purple: his shirt, pants, coat, tie, and even shoes were violet. Plante stood to his left, on the far right of the picture, looking relaxed in a sky blue shirt, darker blue tie, and an even deeper shade of blue pants. Together, the SIU team radiated a sworn pact to keep Newberg safe. One of these men had violated that covenant.
The tour guide looked at the photo and suddenly went rigid. “Oh,” he said.
“What?” asked Hopper, fully alert.
“Yeah, that guy.” Brett pointed at the right side of the photo. “The blue suit.”
“Plante?” asked Hopper and Jane at the same time. Hopper felt instantly sick. Damn you, Walter. Christ, this is so wrong.
“He was here,” said the guide. “Twice. I didn’t like him.”
“Why didn’t you like him?” asked Jane.
“What was the second time for?” asked Hopper, before Brett could answer Jane’s question.
“Same as the first,” said the guide. “He took the tour all over again, like a month later.”
“He took two tours of the museum?” asked Hopper.
The guide thought for a moment. “At the start of August, I think, and then he was back the day after Labor Day.”
“Why didn’t you like him?” repeated Jane.
“I don’t know, he had this attitude. Like I wasn’t doing my job well enough, or didn’t know enough about the house’s history. I think he just didn’t like teenagers.”
“And you can swear to this?” asked Hopper.
“Oh, I can swear to it. That guy had it out for me.”
“Do you recognize anyone else in the photo?” asked Jane.
The guide shook his head. “I’ve never seen any of the others.”
Hopper put the photo away. “That settles it,” he said to Jane. “We have to go.”
“Don’t you want the tour?” asked the guide.
“We’ll be back with more police to go over the house thoroughly. You and Director Caswell can show us around then. Right now we have to leave.”
Brett said he would be working until five, and wished Hopper and Jane luck. They thanked him for his time and left.
“Fucking Walter,” said Hopper, banging through the gate of the picket fence. He had prepared himself for this revelation — or tried to.
“I’m sorry, Dad,” said Jane. “This must hurt you.”
“It sucks. Big time.”
“And it means there should be a winged chair with blue upholstery in one of the upstairs rooms. It’s what I saw Plante sitting in. He was sobbing like a baby. Why do think he’s obsessed with this house?”
“How the hell should I know?” he snapped.
“So what are we doing now?” she asked.
“I’m calling Shane,” he said. He got in the sheriff’s car and picked up the phone. He dialed the police chief as Jane got in the passenger side.
McCormick picked up: “Yep?”
“Shane, it’s Hopper.”
“Hey, what’s good, Hopp?”
“Nothing’s good. You need to arrest Walter Plante right away.”
“I need to what?”
“Walter is Black Rose.” Hopper closed his eyes. It hurt, saying it for the first time.
There was a stretch of silence. “That can’t be right, Hopp.”
“I know. But it is. You need to get patrol cars to his house right away and bring him in for questioning. You need to search his house — for knives, plastic black roses, any evidence –”
“Whoa, whoa, slow down. I need a warrant for that, and you need to explain yourself. What the hell is going on? And where are you?”
“Shane, just listen and trust me please. I’m at the Hoover Museum with my daughter. We’re on our way to City Hall right now. I’ll explain everything to you there. A few days ago my daughter learned that Black Rose is a Newberg police detective. We’ve been trying to find out who it is, and we just did. I couldn’t come to you, because you’re a gold shield.”
McCormick hollered protests and demands. Hopper ran over him. “Shane, listen. If I’m wrong about this, you can hang me out to dry. Just get Plante to the corrections building now, and search his house. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” He hung up the phone.
Another five minute drive, and they had parked near City Hall. They got out of the car and started walking.
“It’s deja vu,” said Hopper.
“Deja vu?” asked Jane.
“We’re going to solve a horrible mystery by the end of today. Like we did five years ago. But only because I use people. Those three kids. And now you. And Nicki’s dead because of it. Just like Travis and Leigh and Dash.”
“Nicki’s my fault, not yours,” said Jane. “I took her to this house behind your back.”
“No it’s not your fault,” he barked. “It’s mine. You’re innocent in all this mess.”
Suddenly she was in front of him and he had to stop walking. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Shut up,” said Jane. She looked ready to tear his head off.
“I said shut up. I’m tired of hearing you go on like that.”
“What are you even talking about?” said Hopper.
“I’m tired of you trying to keep me innocent and pure while you assume ownership for what I do. It’s disgusting.”
Disgusting? “I’m a cop! It’s my job to be responsible.”
“Don’t give me that!” she said. People on the street had stopped to watch the shouting match. “What you do isn’t about ‘accepting responsibility’. It’s about burying yourself in other people’s guilt. It’s gross. You’re not the center of the world, and you’re not that important.”
He gaped at her, pulverized.
“I’ll say it again,” she said. “You had nothing to do with Nicki’s death. I’m the one who used her — not you — on a stakeout I had no business trying to pull off. Stop trying to erase me.”
“Erase you?” yelled Hopper. His daughter was the mayor of crazy town. “Do you even listen to yourself?”
She spun away from him, and Hopper grabbed her, furious. His hand was thrown violently off her arm; she had used her power, enraged. Then, astoundingly, she turned on him, pulled her arm back, and smacked his face so hard that he almost went down.
Hopper thought he was dreaming. Jane had never struck him, let alone in public. The spectators gasped at what looked like an assault on a police officer. Which it was.
Jane ignored them and got up in her father’s face. “Two nights ago, someone grabbed me like you just did. He yelled at me like you just did. He did plenty of other things too. I liked it. I hate it coming from you.”
Hopper couldn’t speak. He was in a foreign land.
“You want to talk about your ‘job’ to be responsible for everything?” yelled Jane. “You want to play that game? I’ve got more power than all the fathers and cops and sheriffs in the world to cancel you out. I’ve bailed your ass out more times than I can count, not to mention saved your life — you would have died in that witch’s hut if not for me. But somehow you need to be the only one who’s accountable for anything. For being human and making mistakes. Maybe that’s how you make yourself feel better. But it’s conceited and I’m sick of it. Nicki was my friend, not yours.”
He still had no response. As far as he could tell, his daughter was possessed.
“Excuse me, ma’am?” A man in his thirties had stepped out of the crowd and approached Jane. “I think you need to calm down, and treat the officer –”
“Who is this?” said Jane to her father, jerking her thumb at the man but not looking at him. “And why am I listening to him?”
“Ma’am,” said the man condescendingly. “This is unladylike –”
“Why is he standing here?” screamed Jane. She hadn’t deigned to look at the presumptuous ass.
“Sir,” said Hopper, “you need to move on and mind your business.”
“Certainly, sheriff,” said the man unctuously. “I was only trying to –”
“I just told you. Buzz off.”
The man backed off. The spectators watched, their faces wide O’s.
“Are you done?” Hopper asked Jane. “Can we go inside now?”
She turned from him and went up to the police station without waiting.
Next Chapter: Black Rose
(Previous Chapter: The Hoover House)