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She paused, looking at him. “So you were hanged? You never told me that you were hanged!”

In his astral form, he puffed up, shoulders back, head high. “I was a victim of false arrest, Miss O’Hara. And my end was untimely and unjust!” He appeared to let out his breath. “But that doesn’t matter now, Katie. What does matter is that you seem to be getting chummy with a murderer.”

She shook her head, thinking she might be crazy. “He’s not a murderer, Bartholomew. He’s not.”

“How do you know?”

“I just know. I just-know.”

“You must keep your distance,” Bartholomew said.

“Don’t worry-my brother’s on his way here. And, supposedly, Liam Beckett has the files now and they’re working the murder as a cold case.”

“I don’t like it, not one bit,” Bartholomew said.

“Well, I’m sorry. And please hush up and mind yourself. My uncle may own O’Hara’s, but I’d just as soon his customers don’t all insist to him that I’m crazy and talk to myself!”

What seemed to lurk in the human soul was odd, David decided. Being in Key West didn’t bother him. Being in his grandparents’ home didn’t disturb him, either; it was actually good. The old place spoke of conch chowder on nights when the temperature dipped to forty, lemonade and good seafood. Some aspects of the house needed updating, and some remained cozy and warm. His grandmother had knitted throws for the furniture, and they were as neat and tidy as the day she had died. Her tea service remained on a small Duncan Fife table by the kitchen. His room had changed little-his rock band and Sports Illustrated posters were still on the wall. Okay, so that needed updating.

Being here, however, was not painful.

The museum was painful.

And when he walked into O’Hara’s Pub with Liam, it was painful, as well.

It was the last place anyone admitted to seeing Tanya alive.

O’Hara’s hadn’t changed. The bar was well-crafted mahogany, and there were a number of booths with deep cushions and high wooden backs. Wooden double doors opened to the sidewalk. Air-conditioning slipped out, but that happened with most establishments on Duval Street. O’Hara’s served typical Irish fare, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and a choice of corned beef or Canadian bacon and cabbage. “Leprechauns” were thin-sliced beef rolled in pastry and “banshees” were drink concoctions that seemed to mix every alcohol known to man.

The stage offered Irish music during the week, and now, karaoke some nights. It was apparently a popular notion because the place was packed when he entered with Liam. It seemed, however, that unlike many places on Duval, the music was kept at a nondeafening level, and at the back tables, it would actually be possible to carry on a conversation. Closer to the stage, it was louder, but not so painful that your head pounded or you felt the need to escape.

Katie was at her computer, listening to a group of girls, smiling and suggesting something, as they seemed perplexed over their choices. They all smiled and stepped back. Katie looked up at him suddenly, almost as if someone had tapped her on the shoulder and pointed out that he was there. She didn’t smile, she just stared at him. Then again, he told himself, at least she didn’t appear to be angry.

He noticed that a lot of locals still came to O’Hara’s. It was a little closer to the southern side of the island than some of the other popular and must-see haunts, such as Sloppy Joe’s or Captain Tony’s. Many of the bars didn’t sell food, either, especially after a certain time. O’Hara’s served until 1:00 a.m., and when Jamie O’Hara was home, it might serve as late as 5:00 a.m., depending on Jamie’s mood and who was in the place. That wasn’t written on any of the brochures given out by the Chamber of Commerce.

“What would you like?”

He turned. Liam was smiling at the waitress, calling her by name. Obviously, he knew her. Clarinda.

“Shepherd’s pie and a Guinness,” he said. “Thank you.”

At first, it appeared that the girl was trying not to look at him, then she stared him in the eyes and cleared her throat. “Welcome back, David,” she said.

“Thank you.”

“I’m Clarinda. I’m a conch, too,” she said.

“Nice to meet you, Clarinda,” he said.

She blushed. “You spoke to my class when I was in grade school. You talked to us about being a soldier.”

“I hope I said all the right things,” he said.

She smiled. “You did. Well, um. Well. Welcome back.”

She went off to get their order. A group of young people in Florida State T-shirts were singing a Kiss song. They weren’t bad.

“You know, I don’t mind being here-but what are we doing here?” Liam asked him.

“Having dinner?”

“There are lots of restaurants here,” Liam said.

“Retracing the past,” David said.

“The last place she was seen,” Liam said. “God, David, you know I want to help you. I just don’t see what being here is going to do for us.”

David lifted his hands. “I don’t know, but doesn’t it seem odd that the principals are reappearing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Liam, you’re the detective,” David said. “All right-so I can’t help but see things that may not be here on this. But look who just got a job busing the place.”

Liam turned around as David suggested, and saw that Danny Zigler was cleaning tables in the back.

“He wasn’t working here when I talked to him this morning,” David pointed out. “And let’s see if I’m right… Yes, yes, I am. There’s Sam Barnard at the bar.”

The FSU kids left the stage; a group of balding businessmen went up to butcher Billy Joel, but they seemed to have a good time doing it.

“Sam is here because you’re here,” Liam said flatly. “David, I pulled the files, I supported you in there today, I’m on it. I intend to give it my all. But locals have been coming to O’Hara’s forever. It’s a hot spot for those who live on the island.”

“All right, Sam is in town because I’m in town-I spent some time with him today. And I’m sure Sam is in O’Hara’s tonight for the same reason I am-it was the last place Tanya was seen. But what about Danny Zigler?”

“Zigler is always looking for work. He lost out when the museum closed,” Liam pointed out.

Clarinda came with their stouts. “Food will be right up, gentlemen,” she said.

“Thanks,” Liam told her. “How’s Jonas?”

“Doing well, thanks. He’s still doing dive tours. He’ll be by later.”

“Great, we’ll see him then. Hey, Clarinda, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. You’re not walking home alone after your shift ends are you?” Liam said.

“I never do. Yell at Katie, though. She’s terrible. I’ll be right back,” she said, and hurried over to another table to take an order.

A man David vaguely remembered as being Marty… Something went up to sing. He was good. He had a deep baritone and did a sea ditty.

Katie announced that they were gearing up in Key West for Fantasy Fest, and then Pirates in Paradise. Any folks who returned for the party days would see Marty Jenkins performing.

People started clanging beer mugs on the tables. They were chanting something. Katie stood up and beckoned to Clarinda.

The girls did a Broadway number. It was actually very funny, and David discovered that it wasn’t exactly Broadway, but rather Off-Broadway. The language was fast and furious, and both girls, though laughing, excelled with it. The audience went wild with clapping, but Katie quickly moved on, announcing an Elvis number by a fellow who would also be performing at Fantasy Fest.

Elvis announced that during Fantasy Fest, he painted on his show duds. He sang, and again, he was someone who did a really nice rendition of “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Their meals arrived. David had his fork halfway to his mouth when he noted that Katie was staring out the door. When Elvis finished, the place clapped enthusiastically. Katie didn’t seem to notice. She seemed unaware of anything; she stared at the open doors as if the bright lights of heaven had suddenly exploded there.

As if she had seen a ghost.

To his incredulity, she stood, totally heedless of Elvis leaving and her empty stage. She raced to the doors and straight through them.

He leapt to his feet, and followed.


H e was stunned to see Katie O’Hara suddenly on the street. She was staring after someone-as if she had just seen a long-dead relative.

And she was making her way down Duval. The crowd had thinned, but she was oblivious of the people who remained out.

She was chasing someone.

David Beckett was on the street, too, searching for Katie, then following her.

She seemed to be in some kind of a daze, intent on nothing but her purpose.

“Katie!” Beckett called, seeing her, racing after her. He reached Katie. Caught her by her shoulders and spun her around with surprise.

He couldn’t have known her, couldn’t have really known her, she’d been a kid back then.

But he’d known her brother, of course. Sean. Who had gotten out of town when it all broke, as well.

Beckett shook her gently, saying her name again, and then once again.

It was bizarre. She snapped out of whatever spell had gripped her. She seemed surprised to be in the street, there, with him. He was touching her. And her eyes met his. There was no hostility in them, just curiosity.

She shook her head then. Beckett was still concerned. Katie seemed to be determined to assure him that everything was all right. What was she saying to him?

He could tell…

There was just something about the two.

There was tenderness in Beckett’s eyes. It wasn’t the same kind of tenderness a man might show the younger sibling of an old friend.

And his hands. The way that he touched her…