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“You’re going to double-check anyway, aren’t you?” Liam asked.

“Wouldn’t you?”

“I’m doing my best on this, you know that,” Liam told him.

“I know. I know you’ve got my back, and I’m grateful,” David assured him.

He was just closing his phone when Katie came down the stairs. She was freshly showered, her hair wet and back, wearing a terry robe.

“Good morning,” he said a little huskily.

She came up to him. He was perched on one of the bar stools at the kitchen pass-through and she sat on the one beside him, setting her hands on his knees.

“I think I know where Stella might have been murdered,” she told him.

He frowned and asked carefully, “Oh?”

She nodded, her gaze meeting his steadily. But she didn’t speak again; she stood and walked around to help herself to coffee.

“Walk with me, and I’ll tell you what I think.”

She sipped her coffee black, staring at him over the rim of the cup.

“Why do you think you know?” he asked her.

“Logic,” she told him flatly.

“Maybe you want to explain that logic?” he said.

“Come with me. Give me a minute-I just have to hop into some clothes, and I’ll show you what I’m talking about.”

“All right,” he said gravely.

She smiled, and he realized that she had been waiting for him to believe in her.

“I’d like to get home, though. I need to shower and change,” he told her.

“Go to Sean’s room, just grab something of his for this time,” she said.

“Isn’t Sean on his way home? I feel a little strange, helping myself to his belongings.”

She shrugged. “He told me ages ago that if he hadn’t taken things, they didn’t matter that much. And you two were friends. His room is down the hall from mine.”

“Okay, thanks. But I still have to get home for a bit.”

“Of course. But let’s do this first. I may really be able to help you.”

“All right.”

She still stared at him for a moment. Smiling.

He should know the feeling. She looked at him the way people had once looked at him. He remembered his grandparents, his aunts and his cousin. Remembered what it was like to know that they didn’t look at him with suspicion, but complete belief.

She turned and headed for the stairs. He followed her a second later. Sean and he were about the same size. He felt like an intruder, but he also hated putting on the same clothing after a shower. He figured Sean wouldn’t mind a friend borrowing a pair of button-fly jeans and polo shirt.

He came downstairs, perched on the bar stool again and waited for Katie.

As he sat there, the newspaper sitting on the table, with a headline reading Murder in Paradise, suddenly rustled-and moved.

He frowned. He walked over to the table, thinking that the air-conditioning system must have a vent over the table.

But there was no vent.

He moved the paper. Nothing happened; there was no erstwhile bug hiding under the paper.

His imagination?

No, he’d seen it move.

Even as he still pondered the strange rustling, Katie came running back down the stairs, now wearing a pin-striped sundress.

He found himself watching her.

She was…

Katie. Stunning, perfect and with that smile and those eyes that seemed to offer so much honesty, and yet…

Not really. She was keeping something from him. He hoped that she’d trust him soon, and tell him what it was.

“Are you ready?” she asked.

He nodded.

They left the house together. He was silent, waiting for her to talk as they came around Duval.

She pointed. “There-the museum where Stella was posed.”


“I’m thinking that the person she was with stayed just on Duval-one of the cheaper places. But he didn’t stay in a massive room with a bunch of other people. So, I was thinking there-” She paused and pointed across the street. There was a little inn above a swimsuit shop. “Or there.” She pointed on the same side of the street, just down from the bar and the strip club.

“Possibly,” he agreed.

“Now, if they were on this side of the street, she might have come through the back, trying to avoid the cops. Assuming that Stella did rip someone off. The cops tend to be on Duval. So if she ran around in back… Come on. I’ll show you what I mean.”

During the day, especially this early, the patio was quiet. There were people walking around, sipping coffee here and there, but not that many. The place really began to come alive in the afternoon.

Katie took his hand and led him across the bar’s patio and to the alley. There were private homes and B and Bs lining that side of the street, with a Vespa rental place at the end of the corner.

“Here. Right here,” Katie said.

She stood beneath the shade of a beautiful, old sea grape tree. The branches were overgrown, and it could certainly offer cover. If she had come here, though, and been murdered, she had to have been followed.

By her mark-or her john for the night?

Or by someone else. Someone else who may have known her lifestyle and her hours, and who might have followed her. If all the timing was right, she had been taken in the early or even late afternoon, before the real nightlife and music started.

Frowning, he came to stand beneath the sea grape tree. There were a lot of wild crotons in the area as well, making it a place where there was cover-where people might be hidden.

As he did so, he looked around, studying the patches of overgrown grass and weeds around them.

The wind rustled the leaves on the tree.

The sun glinted through.

David frowned and walked a few feet. He bent down. Something had caught the sun for just a moment.

It was a charge card, a “gold” card.

“You have a tissue?” he asked Katie.

She produced one. He carefully picked the card up by an edge. It bore the name Lewis Agaro.

Lewis Agaro. He was the kid he had chased down in the street for Pete Dryer. The kid who had been accused of being a pickpocket, when it was probably Stella Martin who had done the picking.

“You know the name?”

“Yes. I know who the kid is, but I sure don’t see him murdering anyone. He was terrified when the cops looked at him for maybe being a thief. I’m pretty sure Pete will remember him, too. I think the kid was innocent, Pete just let him go. I think a few guys had been rolled by Stella, and they’d complained, and Pete was ready to call her out for her extracurricular activities.”

“So, you think-”

“No, but I want to talk to the kid myself before the cops do. And I want to find Danny first.” He frowned pensively. “Look. There’s something sticky on the card.”

Katie studied the card, as well. “What does it mean-anything?”

“Maybe. If Stella rolled her last john, she might have lost something along the way-this guy’s stolen credit card. If you’re right about her being killed here, it might help us. If you’re right, it might lead us to the kid Stella spent her last night with-Lewis Agaro,” he said. “But what the hell is on the card?”

She started to touch the card, but stopped, aware they might need to find prints on it. She looked him in the eyes. “If I’m not mistaken,” she said, “I think it’s the remnants of drying chocolate ice cream.”

“Danny Zigler,” he said.


“I just don’t see it, I really don’t see it,” Katie said. “I can’t believe Danny could be a murderer. He worked for your grandfather. I’d have had him work for me. Seriously, if we had to arrest everyone down here who didn’t make a fortune and was happy just to be, we’d be arresting a lot of people. And he’s responsible-he’s not living off anyone else. He does work. He just doesn’t need to own the world.”

“Katie, I came back, Sam Barnard came back-and Danny Zigler was suddenly busing tables at O’Hara’s. Don’t you think that’s a little suspicious?”

“No,” she said stubbornly. “Everyone is grabbing extra help with Fantasy Fest on the way. Hey-I don’t manage O’Hara’s, and I don’t want to,” she said. “Jon Merrillo hires on extra help when Uncle Jamie is away. Danny Zigler has worked there before.”

“Look, I don’t want Danny to be a bad guy, either,” David said. “But he was at O’Hara’s the night Tanya died, and he’s hanging around there now-and he was seeing Stella Martin. That makes him suspicious.”

“I don’t think that’s politically correct anymore,” Katie said. “He’s a person of interest.”

“Right. And I’m interested. And I want to talk to him before they get him down at the station, but I don’t want to hang on to evidence too long.” He looked at her. “Katie, I’m going to talk to Danny Zigler. I have to find him, of course, but he should be at the ice-cream parlor. I…”

“You don’t want me around,” she said.

“It will be easier for me to speak with him alone. And…”

“David, look, I appreciate the fact that you’re afraid for me, I really do. But it’s broad daylight. I’ll hang in clear sight, all right?” Katie said. He was still staring at her. “David, this is my home. A home I love. I intend to stay here, live here and be part of whatever the future brings. I cannot become afraid of my own home.” She inhaled, meeting his eyes. “I know how badly you want the truth, and I understand completely. But Tanya’s death went unsolved for more than a decade. Let’s face it, sometimes, things are never solved. I can’t become paranoid, but we should always know how to be very careful.”

“Do you ever carry Mace or pepper spray or anything like that?” he asked her.

“No. And I’m afraid I never took karate classes, either.”