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David smiled. “I guess there’s some logic to that.”

Morgana’s smile deepened, and then faded.

“She really wasn’t a bad person,” she said. “She just-well, you know. She just didn’t get the real opportunities in life. Both her folks are dead, at least that’s what she told people. Whatever, she went from foster home to foster home and I guess she kind of learned how to survive. You understand?”

David nodded. He set a hand on Morgana’s. “Morgana, you certainly don’t have to excuse your friend to me. She didn’t deserve what happened to her. She had her quirks, she might have been a petty thief and even a prostitute. But I understand. She’d never physically hurt anyone.”

Morgana nodded vehemently. “That’s it, exactly. I’ve seen the news. Some of those reporters are making it sound like she almost deserved what happened because of the life she led.” Tears formed in Morgana’s eyes again. “Oh, God, it must have been horrible. I can just imagine… I hope she didn’t suffer long.”

David said, “Morgana, I saw her. I think it was very quick. She might not have known anything at all-until it happened. And she probably lost consciousness very quickly, and died after she had passed out.”

“You think?” she asked. “I mean, we’re all going to die, aren’t we? I just pray that she didn’t suffer.”

He waited for her to go on, but she seemed lost in thought.

“Morgana, please, help me,” he said softly.

She stared at him and nodded. “Right. She came back in, and she worked until late. Three or four in the morning. But she was all excited. She’d met a college kid. He’d been in here earlier with friends. I think she was seeing him after. She didn’t tell me, she wouldn’t-because I don’t turn tricks. I won’t. Okay, maybe I’m a fairly naked dancer and I do posture in front of old, hairy men, but I don’t turn tricks!”

“So she wouldn’t tell you about it-but you think she went back out to find someone. Was it a real date, do you think? Or was she out looking, hoping to make it a real date?”

Morgana was thoughtful. “I’m trying so hard to remember what she said… All right, I think she had a run-in with the police. No! Wait, not a run-in. I think she escaped because someone else got nabbed, but let go.”

“Why do you think that?”

“She said something about the ‘poor kid’ being a cutie and she sure hoped that she could make it up to him.”

“All right. She was out-picking a pocket. She returned, and she went back out again. But you think the kid-or young man-she went out to find had been in the club?”

“I think so, yes.”

“Would you recognize the men who had been in?”

“Probably. Maybe,” she said softly.

David leaned back. “You’ve been helpful, Morgana. You’ve been great.” College kids. He was sure they were the kids he’d helped Pete with on the street the other night. He was already making a mental note of the local places that he’d need to go to find them again. Liam was already on the case, of course, and he’d already done a lot of the questioning that might be pertinent to this new information. “Let me walk you home,” he told her.

“I’m way down on the south end. Off the really far south end of Duval.”

“It’s all right. I’ll walk you,” David assured her.

She smiled. Just as she did so, someone suddenly burst out from the bushes behind them, streaking into the light of the bar’s patio area. She was running so fast she plowed directly into their table.

David stared in amazement while Morgana said, “What the fu-?”

David jumped up to steady the whirlwind, already confused and angry.

Even before she looked at him with wide, green eyes, he knew who it was.

Katie O’Hara.

“When I said wait for me, I didn’t mean in a dark alley. There’s a murderer on the loose.”

David was seriously aggravated with her. Even before they had dropped Morgana at her apartment, his jaw had seemed locked, his words had been stilted and, when he touched her, it certainly wasn’t with affection.

And what in God’s name did she say?

You’ll never believe this, but I see ghosts. And yes, they can startle me at times, but I’m not afraid of them-they’re just looking for something. They’re here because they need help.

Her brother had already warned her. She didn’t want to be known as the crazy woman who lived in Key West.

She didn’t know what to say. She decided that she had to be on the offensive.

She shook her head. “David, look. I like you. I really like you. But I grew up here. I work here. This is my home. I have walked these streets thousands of times. I can’t lock myself in and forget about my life just because you’ve suddenly come home, determined to catch a murderer, certain that what went on in the past is relevant to today.”

“Gee. What a concept,” he said, his tone grating. She looked at his face. If his features became any more tense, she thought that they might crack and then shatter, like glass.

He stopped dead. They were alone; the street was deserted.

He spun around to stare at her, not touching her, his hands at his sides and far too knotted to do so. “What the hell were you doing?” he demanded. “That was the most ridiculous excuse I’ve ever heard! I just decided to go the quiet way,” he mimicked. “And there was a rustle in the grass, and silly me, I just panicked. My God, is that a crock!”

Staring back at him, fighting for both composure and the right words, she felt ridiculously like crying herself.

It was really so hard. So hard to find someone in life who could make her feel the way that David made her feel. She’d spent so little time with him, and yet, when bizarre things hadn’t been happening, he hadn’t been just sensually and sexually amazing, he’d been someone who really knew her world, loved her world, diving, boats, the water, island life…

She lifted her hands. It hadn’t gone that far, and by the look of him, it wasn’t going any further. Stop it all right now before she was in deep, before it all hurt more than it already did.

“Look, I don’t know what to tell you. I felt that I needed to be out. I’d intended to stay on Duval with a zillion other people. Then I idiotically cut off and-this should please you-managed to scare myself half to death. Nothing happened. Nothing happened at all. I heard a leaf rustle, and in my present mood, I crashed back into light and noise as quickly as I could. How the hell did I know you were going to be there? Okay, sorry, I did know you were going to the strip club, but I didn’t know that you’d be out on the patio. I mean, they strip inside. Except at Fantasy Fest, and that’s not really stripping, that’s just folks who like to show off their body paint.”

He just stared at her incredulously. Then he shook his head.

“Why are you lying?”

“I’m not lying!” But she was.

He stared at her awhile longer. She realized that she had caught her breath.

“Please, I’m sorry, and yet I’m not. I live here, this is my life,” she told him. “You left, and now you’re back, but that doesn’t change the island and I-I can’t let it change me. Please understand.”

He let out a sigh of impatience.

He took her by the crook of her arm.

“All right. I’m not getting anything else out of you, not tonight anyway. Let’s get you home.”

At least he wasn’t going to walk off, just leave her in the street.

They started walking, almost ten blocks down Duval. Again, music grew loud.

They turned off and came to her house. She opened the door, and looked at him.

“Am I invited in?” he asked flatly.

“Yes, of course. To stay,” she added softly.

They walked in.

And there was truth to tension, passion and emotion creating something wild and turbulent. In the hallway, they were in one another’s arms.

As they moved up the stairs, they were already removing one another’s clothing and their own.

In her room, they didn’t touch a light or even the bedspread.

They just crashed down, naked and hot, seeking one another’s lips and flesh, and making love as if they had known one another forever…

And as if there would never be another tomorrow.

David talked to Liam first thing in the morning, asking him if anyone had reported a burglary-other than the pickpocket the night before Stella Martin had been found. Liam brought up the reports for the night and the next day and told him no.

“Why are you asking?”

“I talked to Stella’s friend Morgana.”

“So did I,” Liam told him.

“I know. She said that you were a gentleman.”

“Well, gee, shucks. Glad to hear it,” Liam said. “I’ve been checking out the angle you’re talking about. I’m assuming that the guy you and Pete met up with Saturday night-the guy who filed a pickpocket report-is the guy who Stella worked over. Maybe those college guys involved in the fight are the guys Morgana is talking about.”

“Morgana said she thought that Stella met up with a college student,” David said.

“But the thing is, I don’t think she was killed by a college student. Not that a psycho can’t be that age-just that I doubt one of the kids down for the weekend would have the what-have-you to get into that museum, steal the tape and disappear without leaving behind a fingerprint, hair or single skin cell.”

“Do you know that there was no physical evidence?” David asked.

“If there is, the crime-scene folk don’t have it so far.”

“Still, I’m going around to see if I can find out who was with Stella,” David said.

“I’ll give you a list of where I, or other officers, have already been,” Liam told him.

“Thanks,” David said.