“Bravo,” Bartholomew murmured.
Katie still couldn’t find her voice.
“It would be lovely if he had come across my mom, though,” Kelsey said.
“I’m so sorry,” Bartholomew said.
Katie gazed over at Kelsey. She started to speak, then stopped. “Wait! Tell me again—there was a dolphin at your docks. One that watched you. One that seemed intelligent and interested in people?”
“Yes,” Kelsey said slowly.
“Kelsey…oh, never mind! Wait! We’re almost there. You’ll remember when we get there. Never mind,” she repeated excitedly. “Kelsey, your mom was always watching out for injured sea creatures. She helped save all kinds of animals, and instigate legislation, but…I think that dolphin does know you.”
Kelsey frowned. She and her mom had been in a group that had gone out and saved a beached dolphin off of Smathers Beach years ago, and they’d gone north in the state once to help rescue a stranded manatee, too.
Katie turned on her blinker, and they turned off into the parking lot of one of the Keys’s dolphin research establishments, a nonprofit organization that did swims and interaction with the creatures and worked with them on intelligence levels. They also took in old animals that were no longer working at various theme parks across the country.
“You remember this place, don’t you?” Katie asked.
“Yes, of course. We came several times.” She gasped. “Oh, they took in the dolphin we rescued that time! And it somehow made it back to our docks…and came back here on its own. Yes, yes, I do remember! Its name was Morgan. The guys were all drinking Captain Morgan rum after the rescue, and he became known as Captain Morgan!”
“Morgan, for short. They like to work with quick, short names,” Katie said.
She set the car into Park and headed across the stone parking area to the front door. A woman at the counter told them that Betty Garcia, director of animal management, was in, and she would call and see if she was available.
While they waited, Kelsey bought Avery several T-shirts with dolphin emblems and sayings. She smiled as she did so.
Bartholomew groaned softly at a few of her choices, but she ignored him.
Betty Garcia appeared to be about sixty; she had a sprightly step, a beautiful smile and sparkling blue eyes. Kelsey didn’t remember her.
She remembered Kelsey.
“How lovely to see you, Kelsey! You’ve grown up just beautifully. Your mother would be so very proud of you!” She held Kelsey’s hands for a moment, and then turned to Katie, giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “I’m so glad you drove up. Of course, I heard about Cutter, dear. Were you able to see him at all before he died?”
Kelsey swallowed and shook her head.
“Well, well, he led a good life. So, how can I help you?”
“Betty, I think that Captain Morgan might be down by Kelsey’s place again,” Katie said.
Betty smiled. “I think you might be right. He is out. But we don’t worry about him. He’s one of the dolphins we let swim when a storm is approaching, and he always comes back. And once every two or three years, he takes an outing.” Her beautiful smile faded. “He’s all right?”
“Oh, yes,” Kelsey said quickly. “My friend is convinced that a dolphin saved his life.”
“He fell into the water with a conk on his head,” Katie explained briefly.
“Well, look who you’re giving this information!” Betty said. “Are you asking me if I think it’s possible? Yes. Dolphins have been known to go so far as to push drowning victims to shore. They’ve been trained for the military, which, of course, doesn’t thrill me. I always try to weigh human life against animal life, but…well! There are those who think we’re wrong to keep dolphins in captivity, but we have all manner of animals in captivity, don’t we? Many of ours wouldn’t survive in the wild, but to some, that’s not the point. In my mind, God gave the world to all creatures. Man rose above the rest. He eats cows, makes glue from horses’ hooves and does many a deed far more evil than rescuing and learning about wonderful mammals like dolphins.” She laughed softly. “Did you two want a tour? I’ll send someone down in a few days if Morgan doesn’t come back up. I’m not surprised that he’s at your place, though, Kelsey. That animal loved your mother. He was in your little lagoon there right after he was rescued. Don’t you remember?”
“Vaguely,” Kelsey said. “I—I’ve been away a long time. A really long time. I forget.”
“Well, your mother loved that dolphin, and that dolphin loved your mother. If you go in the water, he’ll swim alongside you. He’s very friendly. I just worry about him because he is so friendly. We’ll take a drive down soon.”
“That’s great. Thank you, Betty,” Kelsey said.
“Now, really, how about a tour? It’s been so long since you’ve been here,” Betty said.
“We’ll come back,” Katie promised. “I just wanted…I just wanted Kelsey to have a chance to see you and ask about Captain Morgan.”
“Anytime, girls. And we’d love to have you back as volunteers.”
“I actually live in California now,” Kelsey said.
“Ah, well, this will always be home though, won’t it?” Betty asked. She gave them a wave. “I’ve got to get back to work! Therapy session with some of my best girls and some autistic children this afternoon. Now, that’s something so enjoyable! If everyone just saw those children with the dolphins… Ah, well, it takes all kinds to make a world, right?”
Back in the car, Katie smiled at Kelsey. “Okay, so I couldn’t give you the ghost of your mom, but…I don’t know. Maybe Captain Morgan came back as her representative?”
Kelsey felt Bartholomew’s hand on the back of her head, a gentle stroke.
“Love never dies, Kelsey. Maybe that is her way.”
“And that from a ghost,” Kelsey said. “I’ll take it. Thank you. Thank you both.”
Liam took the short drive to Stock Island by himself.
The last key before Key West, it had been so named because, for years, it was where all the stock had been kept.
Now, of course, it still had much more land for animal facilities, but it also had its own share of bars and restaurants and hotels, a theater and much more.
He was at the third farm that sold goats when he met with success.
“Yes, we sold a goat just yesterday,” the clerk in the farm’s office told them. “Henry. He was a three-year-old, sold to a man with a preserve up in the middle Keys.”
“How do you know that?” Liam asked.
“Because the man told me!” she said.
“Please tell me that it was a credit-card sale,” Liam said.
“Oh, no. The man paid cash!”
Liam winced. “You wouldn’t still have any of those bills in the register, would you?”
“No, I’m afraid we deposit every night.”
“You have a bill of sale?” he asked.
“Of course!” she said.
“May I see it?”
“Of course,” she said again, eager to be helpful.
“What did this man look like?” Liam asked.
“Oh, um, regular height. He had a beard, a mustache…and he was regular build. You know, not skinny, not heavy.”
“What was he wearing?”
“A sweatshirt with a hood. It has been cool a few of the days lately.”
She was describing anyone, he thought.
She handed him the bill of sale.
He wasn’t surprised to see the name of the purchaser. Bel Arcowley.
“Go to the cemetery,” Bartholomew said.
Kelsey turned back to look at him. “You think that…we might find my mom?” she asked. “Or Cutter?”
“I haven’t seen them yet,” Bartholomew said patiently. “But I thought you might like to meet Pete Edwards.”
“Will I be able to see him?” Kelsey asked.
“I don’t know,” Bartholomew said. “But Katie will.”
That seemed good enough.
Katie drove to the Key West cemetery, parking as close as she could to the open gate.
They had been there just a few days ago, Kelsey thought.
They walked down Passover Lane, moving slowly.
“Where does he usually hang out?” Katie asked.
“By the Confederate Navy section,” Bartholomew told her.
Kelsey glanced over at Katie, wondering what she was seeing.
“Anyone?” she whispered.
Katie glanced at her. “Several people,” she said softly. “I don’t know how to tell people to see ghosts. Just…I guess just knowing that they may exist is the best way.”
“Open yourself up,” Bartholomew told her.
She wasn’t sure how one “opened” themselves up, but she tried to concentrate on the cemetery. It was peaceful, eclectic and beautiful in an odd way. A glorious angel rose above one tomb, and she appreciated the beauty of the funerary art.
“I believe I see one of the Curry women,” Katie said. “She’s mourning the death of her husband. She might not know that she has joined him.”
Kelsey looked. The air seemed to ripple.
“She’s a lovely woman in a draping dress, short bobbed hair,” Katie said. In the same tone, she continued, “Do you think I’ve had too many island drinks?” she asked Kelsey.
Kelsey smiled. “I know that we’re walking with a handsome man in a hat and elegant brocade coat who is manly in tights,” she said lightly.
“Hose, my dear girl. Hose. I do not wear tights,” Bartholomew said.
The woman to whom Katie had been referring suddenly began to become a form before Kelsey’s eyes. First there just seemed to be an outline of a figure, and then Kelsey saw her.
Katie gripped her by the arm. “Don’t stop and gape.”