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“Okay,” Liam said.

“’Bye. Thanks again,” Kelsey told him.

They watched him go. Kelsey was very afraid that the mood was broken, but Liam’s arms came around her waist. “Where were we, now? Oh, yeah!” Again, he swept her off her feet. They entered through the family room, and he balanced her weight to lock the door.

“Ah, hell, the front!” he said.

She laughed as he whirled her around, pretending to whack her head into the wall as he hurried through the house to lock the front door.

He started toward the stairs, and to her surprise turned back. Still balancing her weight, he headed to Cutter’s office. He opened the door, turned on the light and looked around. He turned off the light and headed for the stairway again.

He must have felt her tense.

“I’m all right on this, really,” he said softly.

She didn’t protest. He carried her up the stairs, and once in her room, he dropped her on the bed and gasped dramatically.

“Oh, you jerk!” she laughed.

He fell down on the bed, reaching for her.

She eluded him, jumping up to run to the bedroom door.

She locked it.

He stared at her, frowning, but she ran for the bed and pounded down on it, crawling on top of him and slipping her arms around his waist as she leaned down to kiss him.

Neither of them asked any more questions.

The funeral home had served the residents of Key West for years. It would be on the ghost tour tonight, but hopefully, the visitation for Cutter Merlin would be a quiet and decent affair.

Liam and Kelsey met with the funeral director at ten o’clock, Sunday morning, to finalize the details.

They were both stunned to see the many arrangements of flowers that had arrived, especially since the event hadn’t been well-publicized.

“Wow,” Kelsey whispered to him. “And sadly, Cutter would be horrified. He would have told people that they had much better use for their money these days. I should have written somewhere that he would have preferred donations to charity.”

“I’m sure some of these are from the old-timers here and around,” Liam told her. “And they would feel that a funeral needed flowers, no matter what you had said.”

She nodded. They spoke to the director for several minutes, and when all the final arrangements had been made, the director asked Kelsey, “Do you want an open or closed casket?”

She opened her mouth without speaking, apparently taken aback by the question.

“Closed,” Liam said firmly.

The director scratched his answer on his notepad.

“And what about the family? Do you want a private viewing first?”

“No,” he said, answering for Kelsey again.

“As you wish. Then, we’re all set. The hours for visitation have been set from seven to nine. If you arrive about six-thirty, that will be fine.”

They walked out into the bright sunlight.

Then Kelsey asked him, “Why were you so determined that I not see Cutter’s body? Was there something about his death that you haven’t told me?”

He hesitated, wanting to tell her the truth and not really wanting to do so.

“Liam, I want to know,” she said stubbornly.

He looked down the street. It was just after ten. Music was beginning to pour from a number of the bars over on Duval.

“Kelsey,” he said, looking at her at last, “I told you—he wasn’t found immediately.”

“I know that,” she said quietly. “But the funeral director didn’t make it sound as if it were so terrible that I shouldn’t have seen him. Sadly, I’m not a stranger to seeing the bodies of those I love when they’re in their coffins.”

“I don’t think you should see him, Kelsey. That’s all.”

“No, it’s not.”

He sighed. “I gave you his belongings. His ring, his watch—and the book and casket he was holding when he died.”

“You’re still not telling me everything,” Kelsey said, confused.

“All right, Kelsey. It appeared that he’d been scared to death.”

“Scared to death? You mentioned that before, but I thought you were just trying to get me to be more cautious,” she said incredulously.

“I’m trying not to make you nervous,” he said.

She laughed. “You don’t want me to be nervous, but you don’t really want me staying in my own house. I guess it’s better if you’re staying there?”

“Of course.” He paused, looking down at her. “And what’s with you? We lock the house—but you want the bedroom door locked, too.”

She shrugged, looking away. “I don’t know. If those kids did break in again, I wouldn’t want to be taken by surprise, that’s all.”

“That’s not why,” he said.

She stared at him. “Yes, yes, it is.”

She was stubborn, and she wasn’t going to say anything else. That was that.

“Breakfast?” he asked her.



She smiled and nodded. “That sounds good. Blue Heaven still here?”

“It is.”

They walked down Duval. On a Sunday morning, despite the fact that some of the musical acts were already starting up, the street was fairly quiet. Kelsey commented on the slogans on the T-shirts in the windows they passed, Liam pointed out that the models in the windows now had gigantic breasts.

They were halfway down the street when Liam’s phone rang. It was David, asking him if he wanted to meet him and Katie for breakfast. Liam told them to head over to Blue Heaven.

The building had been there for over a hundred years. Once, the structure with its great patio beneath an array of trees had served spirits to thirsty guests. Then it had been a venue for cockfights, and, at one time, there had been boxing matches that took place there, with none other than Key West’s famous one-time-resident Ernest Hemingway presiding. In the early nineties it had become a restaurant, and since then, its popularity had grown.

The food was good. There was usually a bit of entertainment going on. The place had a Ping-Pong table for idle guests as they waited for their tables, and, of course, a shop.

Kelsey and Liam opted for Ping-Pong, which was fun, with both of them spending most of the time chasing after the ball rather than hitting it back across the table. David and Katie arrived, and they tried doubles, which worked somewhat better, with all of them arguing over who got a ball in bounds, and who didn’t.

It was during the game that Liam saw Bartholomew. He was standing beneath the old almond tree, his arms crossed over his chest as he watched. Liam, distracted by the ghost, missed a ball as it went flying by him. Kelsey batted him on the shoulder, laughing.

Bartholomew nodded to him, as if he had something to tell him.

Katie O’Hara was the one in their group who tended to see and befriend ghosts. David could see Bartholomew now, as could Sean, though the others didn’t have the same talent as Katie to sense, feel or see other spirits that might be around.

If it had been just the three of them, they could have spoken to Bartholomew as they ate without anyone noticing.

Frankly, Liam hadn’t believed that spirits could roam the earth after death in any way—until, of course, he’d found out about Bartholomew. Katie insisted that she wasn’t psychic—she simply saw ghosts. She couldn’t tell the future, and she didn’t read palms. She had always seen ghosts. Sean had kept her from admitting it until Bartholomew had come so strongly into all their lives.

Liam found himself wishing that he could introduce Kelsey to Bartholomew. But things between them were on the edgy side. He knew she wasn’t telling him everything.

But he could ruin whatever tenuous relationship he had with her now if he sat down and tried to explain that his friend, the dead privateer ghost Bartholomew, had something to tell them. Bartholomew, meet Kelsey; Kelsey, meet Bartholomew. It was difficult enough as it was. He was a high-ranking officer in the police department. Best for people not to think that he was a total lunatic.

“Game!” Kelsey said, lifting her arms.

“What?” David protested. “No, it’s game point now.”

“I say we call it a draw,” Katie said.

“Yeah, ’cause wait, I might have miscounted!” Kelsey agreed.

She looked happy, laughing with Katie. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes appeared exceptionally blue and, in the sunlight, her hair was still as glossy as a raven’s wing. She’d started to acquire a tan, and he realized that, in his mind, she was the perfect woman. Not too tall, not too short, lean and athletic, beautifully shaped, not enormous in the chest but perfectly formed and firm and…if she weren’t, he’d still be crazy about her, her honesty, her laughter…

“Hey, let’s look around in the shop for a minute, Kelsey,” Katie said. “My side is hurting.”

Katie, of course, knew that Bartholomew was there, and that he apparently wanted to talk to Liam, and for once Bartholomew wasn’t going to try to get him in trouble or make him look like a fool.

There were a few tables near the bar. David and Liam took a seat and Bartholomew came over to join them. “So, what’s up?” Liam asked. People walked around them, not noticing anything. Every once in a while, he saw someone pause. They didn’t see Bartholomew, but they had a touch of the sixth sense that let them know something was in the air. Usually, they would stop whatever they were doing for a heartbeat, frown and move on, forgetting the sensation.

“I described the book to Lucinda,” he said. “And she remembered it. We were chatting in the cemetery, and another fellow came by. Pete Edwards. His real name wasn’t Edwards, of course, but that’s what he was called after his death. He owned the book at one time, and I believe that Cutter Merlin bought the book from his estate. Pete died and his estate went into probate for ten years. Then his belongings went up for auction.”

“And?” David prompted.