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“Just what I was trying to explain to you. She wanted some liquid courage. She wanted to be strong when she saw you. She wasn’t sure anymore. She’d seen you from a distance, and she felt as if the years had all gone away. She needed courage, but not to tell you goodbye. She needed courage because she was afraid she wanted to ask if she could come back, instead of telling you goodbye, and she was afraid of what you would have to say to her.”

He’d heard it before. Somehow, that information, coming from Sam especially, still hurt.

He didn’t know if it was true or not.

He just knew that it hurt.


Dying Love, Dead Loss was the name of the most popular book that had been written on the subject of Tanya Barnard’s murder. Naturally, there had been dozens of newspaper reports and the sensationalism of the way she had been left had drawn coverage from across the country.

Katie had never purchased the book. She didn’t feel that anyone should make a profit off such a contemporary tragedy.

That day, however, on her way back from the cemetery, she stopped by a store to purchase the book. She bought it in one of the tourist shops on Duval that sold sandals, clothing, souvenirs and about ten titles that were pertinent to the Keys. Two of the books held maps and histories, two were on water sports on the island, another was on housing styles. There was a book on Carl Tanzler, one on Key West ghost stories and one on the murder of Tanya Barnard. The shop was owned and operated by Eastern Europeans new to the area, but it was still a small world. It wouldn’t be any secret that she had bought the book.

She picked up a tuna croissant sandwich from one of her favorite restaurants and headed home with her book. She had several hours before she had to return to work.

Saturday night.

It was going to be busy.

Friday nights started the craziness of weekend revelers, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties and general let’s-drive-down-to-Key-West-and-get-plastered celebrations. Also, Fantasy Fest would be starting the next week, so many people who intended to enjoy that week of bacchanalia would start filtering in.

As she walked to her house, lunch and reading material in hand, she suddenly felt an odd sense of apprehension.

It was broad daylight. Tourists were everywhere, walking, on bikes, in rental minicars. Music was blaring from a dozen clubs. She wondered at first if she was being followed by a ghost who had suddenly discovered the need to talk.

Tanya. Maybe Tanya Barnard was walking around Key West, and she had seen her brother and her onetime fiancé again, and discovered the need to try to help them find the truth.

But looking around, she saw no one, not even the usual crowd she sometimes saw, all from their different eras, sometimes seeing one another and sometimes not. There were a few Spanish conquistadors who hung out near the wharf fairly frequently, and many of the seafarers seemed to see one another and gather near the docks, almost as if they could taste the beer and grog being served by the waterside restaurants now. An early-nineteenth-century pirate seemed to look around Captain Tony’s now and then, and rumor had it that he’d been seen by a number of people.

But the dead were quiet this afternoon. She had no idea why she’d felt the chilling sensation, as if she had been watched.

She felt it again when she reached her house and turned the key in the lock, so much so that she turned around to assure herself that she hadn’t been followed. “Bartholomew?” she muttered, turning one last time before releasing the knob. Her ethereal houseguest might be feeling that she needed to be more careful than she was. But, apparently, Bartholomew was still hanging around the cemetery. Every now and then, he got a kick out of trying to breathe down someone’s neck and give them a chill or a scare. He could also make leaves rustle, and sometimes, tap on glass or some other hard surface. He loved seeing pretty young women squeal with fear.

Sometimes, he followed the ghost tours around. He’d stand next to the guides, and blow out their lanterns now and then. She didn’t really blame him. Surely, after nearly two hundred years of hanging around, he needed a form of entertainment. But Bartholomew didn’t seem to be playing jokes-not on her-at the moment.

She stepped inside and quickly closed the door behind her, locking it. Once inside, she felt somewhat silly, but she still checked the locks anyway. With her sandwich, a cold glass of tea and the book, she curled up on the sofa in the parlor and started to read.

The author first painted a picture of Key West at the time of the murder; then she told the Carl Tanzler story, and gave a history of the Beckett family. Their history was similar to that of her own family. David Beckett-the original David Beckett-had been a pirate who had claimed that he had actually been a privateer, attacking only Spanish ships in the name of Great Britain. The Becketts purchased lands, probably with ill-gotten gains, became wreckers and salvage divers, supported sponging and, by the eighteen hundreds, had become rich. They were able to shift with the winds of time, owning tourist businesses as the days of wrecking became bygone, investing in a number of different ventures. Into the mid-nineteen hundreds, the family was still hanging on, but with their worth more in property than bank accounts. Few families were more respected. Her own family was named along with the Barnards. They weren’t the earliest, like the Whiteheads and Simontons, but they had family members who had remained through the decades.

Then-the murder.

Everyone involved with the museum had been questioned. Pete Dryer, a uniformed cop at the time, had been at the museum during the discovery, and he had perfectly preserved the crime scene-except that the murder hadn’t taken place in the museum, according to the medical examiner’s report. Where she met her fate, no one knew. No one had broken into the museum, and there were no security cameras at the time. Crime-scene units had not been able to find hairs, fibers or any other microcosm of evidence. David Beckett had naturally fallen under suspicion; Key West was a small place. Though extremely improbable, it was possible that he had slipped out-and come upon Tanya.

Katie scrambled over to the kitchen counter for a notepad. The police were convinced that the murderer was someone who had lived on the island and knew their way around. They also thought that the murderer was probably a very strong man. She listed the people who had been on the tour: four female college students; Molly and Turk Kenward from Portland, Oregon; Pete Dryer; his sister, Sally; her husband, Gerry Matthews; and the Matthewses’ children, Suzie and Whelan.

She scratched out the names of the female college students, then the two Matthews children. She was about to scratch out the names of Pete Dryer and his sister and brother-in-law, but she didn’t. Nor did she scratch out David Beckett’s name. She did scratch out Molly and Turk. Not only were they not local, but they were also listed as “senior citizens.” It was possible, of course, that they had been a pair of homicidal octogenarians. It simply wasn’t probable.

She leafed through more pages, searching for the names of locals who had been questioned. Lily and Gunn Barnard, Tanya’s parents, were dead; Sam Barnard, Tanya’s brother, was alive and well and in Key West now. Danny Zigler had been questioned, and all the Becketts living in the Keys had been questioned, including Liam, who now worked investigation in Key West. Her own brother, Sean, had been questioned, along with many of those who had gone to high school with Tanya.

Katie frowned, seeing Sean’s name. She had never realized that the police had questioned him.

Bartenders up and down Duval had been questioned. Once again, Katie was surprised when she saw where Tanya Barnard had last been seen.

O’Hara’s Pub.

Her uncle Jamie had been questioned! Jamie, and Sean. She hesitated and wrote down their names.

She was still so stunned by what she read that she jumped a mile when her cell phone started to ring. She frowned, looking at all the numbers on the caller ID.

“Hello?” she said, feeling a strange sense of trepidation.

“Katie, it’s Sean,” her brother’s voice said.

“I was home because it was summer,” Sam Barnard said to David as they sat in the sidewalk bar. “I’d gone to college for a straight business degree, then decided I wanted a minor in marine sciences. It was going to take me five years to get my degree. I never went back for the last year. Doesn’t matter-I never wanted to breed trout anyway. I have a good business-I learned enough to keep up five charter boats and a Gulf-side house right on the water up in Key Largo. I was fishing with my dad during the day, and I saw Tanya around four when we came in. I think I told her she was a jerk. Because of the Ohio State guy. I was on your side, though, of course, now I know that none of us can ever tell anyone else what to do. But like I said, she didn’t tell me to fly a kite, kiss my ass or any other such thing. She said she knew she had messed up, but that if you didn’t want her, she was leaving. She asked me if I thought she was a bad person, not knowing until you were back-all in one piece-before thinking that she’d made a mistake. I told her, yeah, she’d kind of been a selfish bitch. She’d wanted everything-the parties, the good times and then the guy she’d cheated on. She didn’t even get mad. I was a jerk, and it was the last time I ever saw my sister alive.”

“So she left the house after four that afternoon?” David said after a moment.

Sam nodded.

“Danny Zigler saw her at five at O’Hara’s Pub. In the police reports, Jamie O’Hara said that he served her a pint of Guinness, and that she was nervous. She smiled at him, and told him to wish her luck, stayed until around seven-and then she left, and no one saw her alive again,” David said.

“You’ve seen the police reports?” Sam asked, curious and surprised.

“My cousin is working it as a cold case,” David said.

Sam pointed a finger at him. “I remember something. Your cousin, Liam, was one of the people who saw her at O’Hara’s.”

“At least ten people saw her at O’Hara’s that night,” David pointed out.

“The question is, which of those ten people weren’t seen in the bar after? Or, oh, hell, that would be the point here, huh? No one knows who saw her once she left that pub. Somewhere, in the next hour, someone found her and killed her. That’s nothing new, not really. I’m sure the police must have narrowed down the timeline when it happened. And, of course, the problem around here isn’t that there was no one on the streets. There were hundreds of people on the streets. And it was a long, long time ago now,” Sam said. He hesitated. “She wasn’t raped. So it’s not as if they can suddenly find a miraculous match with honed DNA science.”