He couldn’t do that. He still didn’t have the reliquary.
He had to stop thinking about her.
In her room.
Locked in. It irritated him beyond all reason that she locked that door. Why? Why the hell would she lock the door in her house, when she was alone, and when she was with the cop?
And why…why in hell sleep with the book?
Kelsey, in the room, naked, sweaty, making love to the cop.
The reliquary was the prize.
But he had waited long and patiently.
The prize would come now as he chose it.
Well, the cop had to go to work. Investigating him! Ha ha, that was a laugh.
The cop would go to work.
And he would be alone.
It was time.
He smiled suddenly. He rose and moved in silence through the house. He knew the house so very well.
There were things he could do this night that would ensure all would come to him tomorrow.
That morning, Kelsey beat Liam downstairs. When he dressed and came down for work, she was reading the newspaper. The sacrificial murder of the goat was the lead story.
“Poor goat,” Kelsey said softly. She turned, leaning against the counter, and told him, “Yesterday, Katie took me by the dolphin center, and we spoke with Betty, the director there. I think the dolphin in back did save Avery. I’m pretty sure it’s a dolphin we called Captain Morgan, and my mom was instrumental in saving him years ago. Isn’t that amazing?”
He reached for a coffee cup. “Amazing, and amazingly good—for a change,” he said.
She looked down at the paper again, a small smile on her face. “Well, the coffee is good, too. Bartholomew brewed it.”
He nearly dropped his cup. He forgot all about the coffee. He set the cup down and turned to Kelsey. “What?”
“She sees me, old fellow. I told you she would,” Bartholomew said. Liam frowned, not seeing him. He walked to the entrance to the dining room. The ghost was comfortably seated at the table, his feet up on the next chair as he read from Cutter Merlin’s book.
He carefully looked back at Kelsey. “You—see a ghost?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Describe him,” Liam said skeptically.
“He’s very handsome, actually. And quite charming,” Kelsey said.
“Thank you!” Bartholomew called.
Kelsey walked to stand in the doorway with Liam. “Great hat, white hose, buckled shoes…brocade coat, waistcoat, fantastic poet’s shirt. Really, Liam, you should have introduced us at the very beginning.”
“I was supposed to tell you that we have a friendly neighborhood ghost?” he asked.
Kelsey smiled and walked back into the kitchen. “He’s an amazing ghost.”
Liam caught her by the shoulders and turned her around to face him. “You really see him? And hear him…and talk with him?”
She smiled. “Yes.”
“And you weren’t…afraid?”
Her smile deepened. “Well, I did have a bit of a start, but I began to see him slowly…but no, I’m not afraid. I’m thrilled to know him. It means that there really is more,” she said softly.
He pressed his lips to her forehead. “Well, good, then.”
“I really wish I could see my mom, that’s all.”
“None of us, including Bartholomew, really understand how it works, who stays, and why,” he said to her.
She nodded. “I understand. I’m still—glad.”
He leaned to kiss her lightly. She moved against him.
He eased back, knowing he had to go to work. “You’ve heard from Avery?”
“Yes, he’s doing well. David is going to drive up with Sean and pick him up—and Vanessa, of course. They’ll be back by early this evening.”
“Good,” Liam told her. “All right, I’m out of here. I’m going to go over and tear Gary White’s place apart, give the guys in Forensics some time to work the computer picture and to track down that number that was calling you. Keep in touch.”
He started out, then came back. “Kelsey?”
“Do me a huge favor. Stay locked in. Don’t go visit the dolphin, don’t get your mail—stay locked in, please?”
“Liam, it’s broad daylight—”
“Just today, please, Kelsey. Bartholomew is with you. Handsome and charming, right?”
She laughed. “Are you jealous of a ghost?”
“He should be!” Bartholomew called.
“Handsome and charming is in love, did he tell you? Her name is Lucinda, and they like to haunt the streets together,” Liam told her.
“Lovely. Go to work. I’ll stay in. I’ll be fine. I have a lot of reading and a whole lot of looking to do.”
“A needle in a haystack,” Liam said.
Kelsey smiled. “I have a few ideas,” she assured him. “The religious angle. All paths to God. Hey, I haven’t found it yet. I’m thinking about a few things. I think that it all fits in together. I’ll call you as soon as I have found it.”
“Bartholomew,” he called.
“I’ll be here, I’ll be here!” Bartholomew assured him.
He left the house at last. His first stop: Gary White’s apartment.
Kelsey sat at the dining-room table with Bartholomew, going over everything with him and wondering if truth and lies and perception weren’t the same thing. Was she really talking to a ghost? Was it a mass hallucination? Had they all hypnotized one another?
She preferred the concept that she was carrying on a conversation with a charming ghost named Bartholomew.
“Well, was it worth it? He almost dropped his cup when I mentioned that you had brewed the coffee,” Kelsey said.
Bartholomew laughed. “Ah, yes, the look on his face. Well, he deserved it. He was the worst skeptic in that group. Poor boy, though. He never had a cup of coffee.”
“And it really is excellent,” Kelsey said.
“Well, down to it! The truth, the answers, are in this note, I know it. Listen, I’m going to read it again,” Kelsey said.
“Kelsey was always my little wonder child. She was fascinated with history. Her friends’ parents sometimes thought I must be very odd, even scary, because of the objects I collected. But Kelsey knew and understood peoples and cultures, and as we often discussed, there are so many paths to God. Kelsey knew that the true path to God only came through great sacrifice. She knew this even as a child.”
Bartholomew shook his head. “I don’t understand. If he’s giving you clues, I’m not getting them. Why not just say where he left the reliquary.”
“He couldn’t do that. Someone else might have found the book and the notes,” Kelsey explained.
“So, what you’re getting out of it is—religion?”
“Yes, and he’s using it for two reasons—he found a great hiding place, and because he was a believer in a higher power—God.” She smiled. “He was also a believer that love—love for each other or love for God—sometimes involved making sacrifices. He didn’t believe in the book he was holding. But he held that book because the perpetrator believed in the power of that book. Oh, I’m not sure, nothing is a direct clue. But, anyway, time to get started.”
“Where?” Bartholomew asked.
“Corner table, the runes and the masks of the Norse gods. The cabinet with the chalices, the mummy and the voodoo altar,” she said.
“I’m not much help,” he said ruefully.
“Being with me helps me,” she assured him.
“Start with Odin,” he suggested.
Gary White’s room was a cluttered mess.
Liam knew that officers and a crime-scene unit had gone through it and found nothing, but he wasn’t satisfied.
He was certain that Gary White had been in on some part of what was going on. He had been too young to have been guilty of subtly finding a way to kill Kelsey’s mother. He went through the clutter of magazines—most of them old, taken from coffeeshops or tables on the streets—paper bags, fast-food containers and junk. He wasn’t sure if he was sorry for the man or angry when he saw the musician’s guitar sitting next to the one overstuffed chair.
The drawers were full of worn clothing; the hamper was overfull. He was about to leave the apartment in frustration when he looked at the chair again.
He strode to it and pulled up the cushion. It was heavy, with a zippered upholstery cover over it.
He unzipped it and stuck his gloved hand into the cushion. He felt around.
And he found something. A book.
He pulled it out. It was the book.
Had he been killed because he had held out on someone?
Or had the murderer never thought that Gary White could hide something so completely?
“Not in Odin, eh?” Bartholomew asked, leaning against the wall as he watched her.
“Not in Odin. Not in the chalices, not in any of the rune cases,” Kelsey said.
“The mummy?” Bartholomew suggested, wrinkling his nose.
She walked over to the mummy. Though the coffin was open, there was a sheet of glass over it, keeping the mummy from deteriorating. She lifted the glass. This mummy had been dug up long, long ago. Long before they had known about preservation techniques. Though the sarcophagus was nice, handsomely painted, she knew that it was common for the upper-class working masses. The mummy hadn’t been buried with jewels or anything of value.
“I’ll probably break it to dust,” Kelsey muttered. She had on a pair of gloves, not the best, but the kind that came with certain hair products. She’d found them under the sink. Cutter’s last housekeeper must have used them.
“Dust to dust,” Bartholomew reminded her.
She tried to feel around the mummy. The old wrappings made her sneeze.
“How about the sarcophagus?”