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“I have the files. Liam is a detective now. He’s been given leave to reopen the case. It’s time that it’s done.”

“They never even had another suspect,” Katie said. She bit her lip. She saw the slight tensing of his features. “I mean, they never had a suspect at all-”

“Other than me.”

“You were never really a suspect, were you?” She flushed slightly, looking away. Of course he’d been a suspect!

“Just a ‘person of interest,’” he told her. “And you’re right-there was never another suspect. And there had to be a reason for that. Either the police continued to believe that I had done it, or they were protecting someone else.”

“Like who?” Katie asked.

“I don’t know. But I intend to find out. Tanya deserves justice.”

“Her family is long gone, you know,” Katie told him.

He nodded, looking away. “I know. Her mother never recovered from what happened, but she came to see me, telling me that she knew I could have never done such a thing. I never saw her father, except at the funeral, and he took Tanya’s mother away the next day. They moved up to St. Augustine, and he had a heart attack a month later and died. Her mother went into psychiatric care, and she died about five years later. Tanya had an older brother-Sam-and to the best of my knowledge, he’s still doing charters out of Key Largo.”

“Oh,” Katie said, surprised. “I thought he had left the state.”

“Just Key West.”

For a moment, they were both silent. To her surprise, it wasn’t an awkward silence, just a sad one. And she did understand why he hated to see the museum reopened.

She reached a hand out to touch his across the table. Sparks seemed to jump into her, and she realized that he was far more tense and vital than she had imagined. “I’m sorry, really sorry,” she told him.

“Well, you see, their lives were destroyed. Our family was torn apart-I couldn’t stay here. I really couldn’t stay here. I might have been running away, but I honestly don’t think so. I just couldn’t stay. The destruction of lives and families was just too much. But now, I know that I will never really be fine with myself if I don’t discover the truth, no matter what it takes.”

“That’s ominous,” Katie told him.

“No, I don’t intend to hold people up at gunpoint or anything of the like. But I’m going to delve until I find something. A young woman was murdered. She had to have fought-Tanya was fond of living, believe me.”

Katie frowned. The case had been years ago. Of course, everyone had been talking about it at the time. It was a small community, especially as far as true conchs-those who were born and bred in Key West-went. Even fresh-water conchs-those who had been in Key West at least seven years-were often rare. Naturally, a scandal, a murder that involved one of the city’s oldest families, was a cause for endless horror and gossip.

“I’m sorry, I don’t remember much about the case. I mean, to be honest, we all whispered about it, but our parents would always hush us up. And my brother was upset, of course, and we went to the funeral-everyone in town went to the funeral. But I don’t know a lot about what was discovered. The body was found in a fairly pristine condition. She hadn’t decomposed much… They should have been able to discover some facts regarding the case,” Katie said. She flushed, realizing the things she was saying had to be painful, since he had known Tanya so well. Loved her, at least at some point in his life.

He stared at her a moment. She realized she was holding her breath. But he let out a soft sigh and she was grateful that he didn’t seem angry, or that he hadn’t taken her words as callous.

“Our relationship was over,” David said. “I was sad, maybe enjoying being a bit heartbroken. I wasn’t angry. I’d been gone a long time-military service had seemed like the right course. I know at the time my grandfather had been worried about finances and he was determined that we get to college, so…I figured that would make it easier on him. I had a partial scholarship and the government to back me up. But I was gone way too long for a young woman with little to do down here but bask in the sun. I wasn’t that surprised that she left me. Tanya was a party girl. We’d parted ways-she had written me before I returned home to tell me that time and distance were too much, she felt that we should break off the engagement. We never even fought. I hadn’t seen her since I’d come home-I’d been avoiding her-though I heard she intended to talk to me that evening, to meet me face-to-face to apologize for what she had done. She didn’t mention the other guy in the letter. I’d heard about that through others, but I was hardly surprised. She was supposed to leave in the next few days to live in Ohio but I’d heard from others that she may have decided to stay. Supposedly, she’d had a change of heart. That night. Or maybe it had been brewing. She was trying to get her courage up to come see me. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. I thought that we were over. I’d helped out at the museum while waiting to head up to school. I loved working in the museum. I’d always loved the Carl Tanzler story-I mean, it’s just too bizarre, even for Key West! I was telling it with relish, I believe. And then, there she was. Tanya-where Elena de Hoyos should have rested.”

“What-what about the fellow from Ohio she fell in love with?” Katie asked. “Did they ever question him?”

“Mike Sanderson. He was in Ohio, or on the road to Ohio,” David said. “He’d left several days earlier. Tanya had actually stayed behind to get herself organized. She also told people that she’d wanted to see me again-without Mike around. She was a party girl, but a very decent human being. As far as I remember. And that’s painful. I remember her dead far better than I remember her alive.”

“So, the new guy was out of state…” Katie murmured.

“It’s easy to see why I appeared to be the perfect suspect,” David said. “Especially because, at times, I was alone in the museum that night. Between tours. We didn’t find her until the following morning, and I thank God for the coroner. He insisted that she had been killed before nine the night before, and there were a number of people who swore that I couldn’t possibly have left the museum with enough time to kill her.”

“Because she wasn’t killed at the museum?”

He nodded. “She had been killed and lain somewhere long enough for lividity to set in-and the way her blood had settled, she’d been on her side for a while after she was killed.” He winced. “You’re thinking that I shouldn’t be able to talk about her this way?”

She looked at him. “No! Actually, I wasn’t thinking that at all,” she said. “I was just wondering how on earth you could begin to go back to find out what did happen.”

He stood. “Well, it’s quite a challenge. I may fail. I have to try.”

She stood, as well. It was obvious that he was leaving.

“What if you find out the truth?” she asked him.

He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Say you manage to lay all your ghosts to rest. Will you leave again?”


“Then, if all was solved, you just might feel differently about the museum.”

She shouldn’t have spoken; she saw a spark of anger in his eyes. “I see where your sympathy for my plight lies, Miss O’Hara,” he said, his words pleasant enough.

“I didn’t mean-”

“Yes, actually, yes, you did.”

“If that’s how you wish to feel, fine. There’s little I can do,” she said with a shrug.

He started toward the door but stopped and turned back. “Thank you for the coffee.” He hesitated. “Do you manage to suck everyone in like this-then irritate them beyond measure?”

“I-I, no! I wasn’t sucking you in. I was listening. And I would dearly love to see the murder solved. It was an injustice all the way around. A killer got away with murder. Lives were ruined. I-and surely everyone else-would like to see that rectified. In fact, and seriously, with no side benefit, I’m more than willing to help you in any way. I just can’t begin to see how.”

He walked back to her. He loomed tall, and she felt a slight tremor touch her, but it wasn’t fear. He was simply a charismatic man, whether talking thoughtfully, or staring at her the way he was now.

Even wagging a finger at her.

“Don’t! No, I mean, don’t! Don’t help me, don’t look into this, don’t be involved in any way. Please, and I mean it. Do you understand me-don’t help, don’t ask questions-just don’t!”

“Hey! All right!” Katie flared. “What-do you have this problem with everyone who attempts to be nice to you?”

He let out a breath. His eyes were an intense blue as he stared at her, and yet they seemed to spark with a different emotion, as well.

“No, I just don’t want anyone involved in any way, all right?”

She lifted her hands. “Hey, you’re on your own. I won’t darken your door, I won’t even speak on your behalf!”

He nodded, turned and headed to the door. Once more, he turned back. “Seriously, thanks for the coffee.” He lingered for a moment. She was surprised to see something of a nostalgic smile on his face.


“I don’t know. Remembering times…before, I guess.” He looked at her a long moment. “You don’t remember. I came here one day to see your brother and you were mad at him. You opened the door for me, and then slammed it in my face.”

“I did not!”

“You did.”

She flushed. “Hey, he was quite a bit older, and very superior at times.”

“It’s all right. I knocked again, and Sean came down. He threatened to lock you in your dollhouse.”

“I never had a dollhouse.”

“Then he must not have been all that mad.”