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He held her with strength and warmth, smoothing her hair back.

“Don’t patronize me?” she pleaded.

“I swear, I’m not. I don’t know what I believe…but…”

She looked up at him.

“Katie, I believe in you,” he whispered again.


Sean was awake, back out at Katie’s desk, working at her computer, when David came downstairs in the morning. He had showered and dressed quietly, not wanting to wake her, although a glance at the bedside clock had informed him that they’d slept until well past two in the afternoon.

That happened, he decided, when you finally had some sleep when the light was coming up.

“Morning,” Sean said, hearing David come down and head over to him. He looked up at David. “Or afternoon,” he said dryly.

“Yeah, it’s late. Have you been up long?”

“Only half an hour,” Sean said. “Did you put the coffee on a timer last night?” he asked. “If you were the one who did it, your timing was perfect.”

“No. Katie seems to have it rigged to start in the morning.”

“Just to be brewed fresh when the first person makes it down the stairs. And I sure didn’t wake up in the morning. Odd,” Sean mused.

“She must have set it. Great plan, in my opinion,” David said. He felt they had a great deal more to worry about than coffee. “I’m going to my place. Danny Zigler had three books on his table when-when I checked out his place. I had Katie get me the same books from the library. I’m going to my place to read. When Katie gets up, want to bring her over?”

Sean nodded at him, studying him. “Sure. I won’t let her come alone. I promise you that!”

David thanked him. Sean locked him out of the house.

The newspaper lay on the front lawn. The headline blazed, Local Found Murdered and Decomposing in Festivity Decoration.

David read the article quickly. There was nothing there, except for the facts he already knew. Danny Zigler had been found, his body in a bad state of decomposition. The body had been removed to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s office for autopsy.

He started to leave with the newspaper, but then decided not to do so. Danny had been murdered; his body had been discovered. By Katie. Her seeing the story wasn’t going to change what had taken place. They’d both see the bloated remains of Danny Zigler in their minds for years to come, he was certain.

He reached his house and opened the door right when he heard wheels in the drive. He turned around to see that Liam was pulling into the driveway.

David walked to the driver’s side of the car. “Anything?” he asked.

“No answers,” Liam told him. “But we’re getting help. The streets will be filled with our own force tonight, and with officers down from Miami-Dade. The chief is considering canceling a lot of the events, the commissioners are going crazy and Pete has been nuts, prowling the streets.”

“It’s a good force. Your chief is a good guy-he’s been up the ladder, he’s local and he intends to make it the best force in the world, as he says,” David said.

“He put through a call to the FBI. We’re supposed to have a team of agents and profilers down here by the start of next week,” Liam said. He winced. “Some folks aren’t happy about that. We were the Conch Republic, briefly. Some of the guys are convinced we could have solved it all ourselves, but the chief says that pride isn’t worth a life. Anyway, I was actually headed to Katie’s place, looking for you. I’m going up to the M.E.’s office. Danny’s autopsy is scheduled.”

“Is that an invitation?”

“You hitchhiking?” Liam asked.

“Hell, yes.”

He got into the car. “Thanks.”

Katie woke with a start. She had been deeply asleep, but when she woke, she remembered the dream.

And that she had told David that-ghosts came to her.

He hadn’t believed her. Neither had he walked away. She had told him about Bartholomew. He hadn’t said that she was stark, raving mad.

She shivered, remembering herself as the corpse of Elena de Hoyos.

Maybe it meant nothing. No, it meant that two women had already been left that way!

They always came back to the hanging tree.

That was what was important, she thought.

When she came downstairs, she didn’t see David, but Sean was at the computer. She thought that he was working. But he was looking up sites on the Internet. Sites that had to do with Key West.

“Hey. Where’s David?” she asked.

“He went to his place. He wanted to read through the books that Danny Zigler had apparently been reading,” Sean told her. He rose and stretched, pushing away from the computer chair. “You know, just a few years ago, they dug up seven bodies from the cemetery, trying to match them with DNA to missing persons cases.”

“I remember, vaguely.”

“And you know where most of our investigations into unnatural deaths are centered?”

“Accident victims? Drunk drivers?” Katie asked, pouring coffee.

Sean said, “No. Drowning and diving and snorkeling accidents.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Katie said. “Sean, what are you trying to do?”

He shook his head with disgust. “Find anything that we don’t know about Tanya’s murder. Instead, I think I’ve just become a walking encyclopedia of trivia on my hometown.”

“Nothing we learn can ever hurt,” she told him.

Bartholomew took a seat at the computer. “Morning, Katie,” he said.

She ignored him. He was purposely trying to annoy Sean, she thought. He hit a computer key, and pages started flashing by.

“You really have to replace that thing, Katie,” Sean told her irritably. “Or is it the cable company? I think I had better service on the China Sea.”

“The Internet is great-when it works,” she said, staring at Bartholomew with a glare that meant, Behave!

“Sean,” she said to her brother, “I’m going to go on over to David’s.”

“All right. I’ll walk you.”

“It is broad daylight, and the streets are busy.”

“I’ll walk you.”

“All right, thank you.”

“I’ll walk you, too,” Bartholomew said. He stood up and fluffed her brother’s hair. Sean spun around, eyes narrowed.

“It’s just Bartholomew,” Katie said.

“What?” Sean demanded sharply.

She inhaled deeply. “Sean, for the love of God! You’re not blind, you’re not an idiot. I know you’ve spent your life afraid that people will think I’m crazy, and I get that! But you have to feel it, you have to have seen things move. Please, Sean, right now, it’s important that you believe in me!”

He rose. He dragged his fingers through his hair. “I don’t want to believe!” he whispered.

“Admit that there’s something!” she told him.

He held his breath; he let out a sigh. Bartholomew laughed, and tousled Sean’s hair again. Sean jumped.

“It’s Bartholomew, and-” Katie winced. “He’s my friend. He wants to help us, and maybe he can. Please, Sean, for once, and now, believe in me!”

Sean was still for a long moment. “Yes, there’s something in this house,” he said.

“Someone. It’s Bartholomew. He’s real, Sean.”

Her brother’s face was hard. Then he grated his teeth, and let out a long breath. “Bartholomew. All right. Bartholomew the ghost. Tell him that I have to be in love-and that I am heterosexual-to enjoy anyone messing with my hair,” Sean said.

“I’ve told you. He can hear you,” Katie said.

Bartholomew proudly made a mess of Sean’s hair again.

“Eh! Tell him to stop that,” Sean said. His eyes narrowed. “If he’s a damned ghost, why can’t he help us solve the killings?”

“He doesn’t know,” Katie said.

“Why doesn’t he just ask the other ghosts?”

“Sean, I’ve tried to explain. They don’t know.” She turned away from him. “I’m just going to grab a cup of coffee quickly, all right?”

“Sure. Then I’ll get you over there. I’m running up to my room for a minute. I’ll be right back down.”

She went to pour herself coffee. Bartholomew leaned against the counter casually. “So?”

“So what?”

“Danny Zigler has nothing?” he asked.

“Bartholomew, if I knew who the killer was, I’d be announcing it to the world.”

Bartholomew was thoughtful. “So, Danny was taken by surprise, from the back, just like the others. Odd, though. I have a feeling that Danny knows something.”

“He’s not a talkative ghost. Except for…”


“Last night, I had a dream, or a nightmare, whichever way you want to look at it. Danny was in it, and so were Tanya and Stella. First, I asked him about the books and the money. He received a threatening call-to drop looking into the books. Then, he found the money under his doormat. I don’t think that the killer wanted to kill him, but finally felt that he had to. Oh! He saw Stella before she died. Maybe the killer thought that he might have seen something.”

“But he didn’t.”



“I begged them to help me.”


“We went on a ghost tour together.”

“Danny did enjoy giving a ghost tour,” Bartholomew said.

“The dream ended at the hanging tree. Bartholomew, you must know something more. Let’s say that we’re figuring this thing correctly. The killer is an islander. Someone with an old grudge, trying to relive a past they don’t even really know. Can you think of anything?”

“Hey, it’s not a descendant of mine!” Bartholomew said defensively. “I was avenged.”