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Chapter 01 The Angel's Bell

Trask drove slowly, almost of two minds about leaving, eager though he was to see the family, relieved as he felt to exit a mortifying situation.

Flakes spiraled down, small and sparse, as he rolled up and down hills, around and past the many curves on his route home. The ground was frozen, while clear days had dealt with the small accumulation from earlier snows. No fear of slippery conditions so long as buildup remained slight, and the fall wasn't heavy enough to interfere much with visibility.

Headlights glared from in front, but no traffic showed behind. The truck handled well, responsive to a touch on the steering, the brakes and tires in good shape, the rear wheels sufficiently loaded by his tools and clothing.

Not by the VCR, though. How would Charly handle that little problem—fling it out?

She'll be happy to overlook her scruples.

As miles swept by the hills became more rolling, the curves less sharp. Traveling westward brought an increase in snow—the flakes larger and falling more thickly. He braked, speedometer dropping below forty-five as he approached curves and intersections. Near the state line he slowed further, curiously hesitant to rush despite the road flattening and running straighter.

Shouldn't be much more than an hour now before a major interrogation covering his obscure life this past half-year. He only hoped the new material would make them drop the Karen question—hoped he need never hear her name again. But as to the more recent stuff…

No doubt the glaring lights and rubber hoses were ready.

* * *

Charly sat on the bed until Frankie called up the stairway.

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