The hat, and the letter, sat between them, Strand and Sanders. Berger, Sanders’s second lieutenant was the only other person in the room. “Hinkle was my best man, you shouldn’t have killed him.” “You shouldn’t have threatened me.” “I want more than to be Edwin Strand’s enforcer.”
The two stared at each other for a moment. Sanders was visibly angry, but Strand appeared cool. “Sanders, the primary thing I want to know is why now?” “Simple, if I’m right, you’re on the verge of launching this power play. A month from now, you would be so big I couldn’t stop you. It was my time to get mine now.”
Strand didn’t answer, as if he was waiting for something. Just then, he saw the look in Sanders eyes. He was dead in a few minutes. Strand had brought the hat in, but Sanders never picked up on his gloves.
Edwin had laced the hat with poison, before going in and handing it Sanders to examine. While he hadn’t touched the part that had the poison on it, he was careful in taking off the gloves. Quickly, he grabbed the letter, exited the room, and told Berger he was the new Pick Axe head.
Berger would wait five minutes, until Strand was gone. Then he would open the door, tell the rest that Sanders had a heart attack, and quickly bury the body. No one questioned Berger, which explained why it was so easy for Strand to use him.
He had wanted the same thing Sanders had, power. Strand had promised it to him, and now he had a new general. Of course, Berger, like all the rest to Strand, was expendable.
Meanwhile, Pin and Estelle, as well as Carl and his family, were coping with the news of Harriet’s reported death. No one, not even Edward Mallory, knew she was still alive. St Louis was convinced that they had to be careful, he suspected that someone wasn’t who they appeared to be.
Across the country, Ralph Hearns was finally safe. It had taken a desperate move to accomplish it, but he had slept peacefully for the first time in days. Minerva’s men found him in the town he was hiding in. He barely got away with his life, but now he was safe.
Tomorrow, he would have to feed the lions, and setup the tent, but they would be two towns away. Two days later, they’d leave the state. It would be a tiring life, but it would be a safe one.
A lion tamer’s assistant had to sleep pretty near the cages, but he didn’t mind. For Ralph, joining the circus wasn’t about viewing America. It was about living, and never seeing Minerva again.
Every player was in place, except for two. One of these was Artemis. He didn’t like the fact that Aunt Minerva’s plan hinged on the other person. It meant that something could still go wrong. “Edwin won’t admit to himself that Aunt Minerva is slipping.”
Ten years ago, she would have sowed it up by now. If she hadn’t notified him by the end of the week, he would act alone. Artemis wanted Grandpa’s plan too, but was prepared to hurry it along. That impatience could prove costly, for one Alaskan policeman next week.