Winona examined the driftwood more closely. It was old and gray. But there was nothing written on it; there was no evidence that it had ever seen paint of any kind.
Jason sat down and started drumming the table with his thumbs. “Sometimes I think I’ve lost my mind. I mean… a piece of driftwood that has messages on it that change. It’s crazy, but I’ve seen them. Don’t you?”
Winona placed the driftwood gently on the table. “No, Jason, I don’t see anything on the driftwood. But the woman who was clinging to it is safe.”
Jason stared at Winona. “You knew she was safe all this time and didn’t tell me?” He stopped drumming the table and stood up quickly, slapping the table with his hands while the chair clattered to the floor behind him. “Does Detective Conrad know?”
“No, not yet anyway.” Winona slipped her iPhone out from her jacket pocket. “We’ve been keeping an eye on both of you.” She glanced at the screen to find a message waiting. “Good thing too, or Gene Conrad would probably be dead.”
Jason grabbed Winona’s wrist; “what are you talking about? The bicycle accident was just that, an accident. Wasn’t it?”
“If we hadn’t been tailing him, he might not have gotten to the hospital in time. He could have died on that street, the victim of a hit and run.”
Jason watched as a red mark slowly scrawled a message up her forearm. “Trust,” ran in longhand script from her wrist to her elbow in bright red lettering.
Winona watched as Jason ran his fingers up and down her forearm. “Jason, what is it?”
“Dermography, skin writing. I’ve seen it before, but I’ve never seen it suddenly show up like that.”
“There’s nothing there. Just like there’s nothing on the driftwood except sea salt and some barnacles.” She pried Jason’s hand off her wrist and shook her arm.
Jason picked up the piece of driftwood and flipped it around a few times. “You’re right. There’s nothing there, now. But there was, I could swear.” It clattered on the table after he dropped it. “And I should trust you, but why? You’ve kept things from me.”
Winona’s phone shook her pocket again. She pulled it out and looked at the message. “You have company,” it said. “Jason, were you expecting anyone today?”
“We need to get out of here,” Winona started to move Jason towards the front of his condo after noticing shadows out on his deck. “Now!”
Jason wasn’t about to argue with a woman holding a gun and followed her obediently. They heard the glass shatter in the dining room as the intruders entered through the sliding door. Winona stopped abruptly after opening the front door. A man with a very large gun ushered them back into the dining room after relieving Winona of her weapon.
“What do you want? Winona demanded. One of the three intruders raised his rifle to Winona’s face, but she stood firm. “I said ‘what do you want’ and I expect an answer.”
“A name,” the reply came from behind them from a man wearing an expensive suit.