“Oh, God!” Paul exclaimed, burying his face in his hands.

“A body! And now I am to go, too?” Francois Vaille demanded. “But what about my cafe? I will lose money as it is, since I do not have Yvette working the sidewalk tables.”

“Your concern for your employee is admirable,” Javet said dryly. “This must come first. Sergeant Clavet, call in an escort to take these men to the morgue. As quickly as possible. I know Yvette myself, and will see that there is a bulletin sent out.”

He turned back toward his office, then paused, instinct warning him that Francois was about to strike out at Paul again.

He swung back, his voice bellowing out “One more move, Francois, and I’ll have you locked up for the day, which will not do your business any good at all!”

That would halt Francois, he knew.

In disgust, he entered his office again. He had barely drawn out the proper paperwork before his door opened again.

Inspector Trusseau, the Paris man, was there. Naturally, Trusseau thought himself above knocking. He considered himself superior to any of his village coworkers, though his instructions had been to work with Javet

“What is it?” Javet asked somewhat irritably. “Do you have Dubois?”

“No, I do not,” Trusseau said. “Despite the hour of our arrival, Professor Dubois was not in residence.

A neighbor, rather temperamental after being awakened in what she considered the middle of the night, informed us that she hasn’t seen him in at least a day, maybe two.”

“What about the American, the digger, Brent Malone?”

“A strange coincidence. Mr. Malone has not been seen at his apartment in quite some time, either.” Javet nodded. “All right.”

He looked back to his desk, ruing the fact that things seemed so out of control. He would find the men, of course. He had waited too long to bring them in.

“So, Javet?” Inspector Trusseau said, a certain mockery evident in his words, and in his lack of courtesy in eschewing Javet’s title.

“So, you should be back on the streets, searching for the men,” Javet said. He stared pointedly at the man sent from Paris. “Now.”

“There are other things that should be done—”

“And I will do them. Thank you, Inspector.”

His door closed. Javet picked up his pen and began to write on the forms that sat before him. He picked up the phone as he wrote, informing the morgue that he was sending men in who might be able to identify the headless corpse.

“Ann!” Tara burst through the room, rushing to her cousin’s bed, and then on to the balcony. She stopped short, breathing hard, heart thundering, as she saw that her cousin was standing there, staring at her as if she had lost her mind.

A noise behind them alerted them to the fact that others had come in behind Tara. Ann’s delicate brows arched high. “My goodness, what is this, a party in the middle of the night? Mr. Malone... my goodness...!” Her eyes traveled from Tara to Brent, and a slight smile played at the corner of her mouth.

“Did you join us for the evening, Mr. Malone? I go to work one day, come home a bit worn out... and it seems I have missed a great deal.” She was teasing, but there was a still a perplexed look in her eyes as she added, “Grandpapa!”

That was said sternly. “What are you doing out of bed? And no slippers, no robe! You will catch your death of cold, you will wind up with pneumonia once again, and you must not Roland! What is Jacques doing up so?”

“Going back to bed,” Jacques said wearily. His tone was relieved, but still laced with a certain concern.

“I don’t know if I need bother to try for a little more sleep or not,” Ann said, yawning. “It’s nearly time for the alarm to go off, and I really shouldn’t be late.” She walked in, going to Jacques. She kissed his cheek. “I love you, Grandpapa,” she said.

He kissed her back, holding her face between his hands. “Child! You are as cold as ice! You will catch your death of cold. You must get back in bed!”

“I’m going, as soon as I see that Katia and Roland have you back in bed,” she assured him.

Jacques nodded. Tara saw that his eyes met Brent’s then, over Ann’s head. She saw assurance touch her grandfather’s expression. He seemed to relax enough to be able to go to sleep.

The three left, and Ann stepped forward, shutting her door, leaning against it, and staring at Tara and Brent.

“What are earth are you doing?” she demanded angrily of Tara. “I never, never bring anyone home to sleep here! It is the most disrespectful thing you can do! There’s no reason, of course, that you two shouldn’t have your little liaison, but not under Grandpapa’s nose!”

“He wasn’t sleeping here,” Tara informed Ann.

“Oh?” Ann remained angry. And skeptical. “Well, I now know why Tara was wearing hay in her hair yesterday.”

“I happened to arrive very early,” Brent said evenly, staring at her.

Tara was surprised when Ann’s eyes fell.

“So tell me, Ann,” Brent said. “What were you doing out on the balcony at such an hour?” She arched a brow. “It is my balcony.”

“You shouldn’t have your doors open like that.”

“I’ve kept my doors open many a night for years,” Ann informed him. She sniffed and waved a hand in the air. “I had to get rid of that ridiculous garlic—the heat and smell created between the closed doors and the garlic was unbearable! What is going on here? Grandpapa has lost his mind. If this continues... I fear he may really need care.”

“Jacques is doing fine,” Tara said.

“Oh, yes. Our house is riddled with garlic, and our grandfather is doing fine,” Ann said. She yawned again, slumping against the door. “I am so tired! I sleep and sleep, and still ... ” She stared at the two of them. “Well, this has been fun, but... I may have a half hour left to sleep. You were leaving, weren’t you, Brent?”

“He’s staying for breakfast,” Tara said.

“Right, breakfast,” Ann muttered. “Fine, do whatever the hell you like. I have to be at work this morning, there’s so much that I have to do.”

“What do you have to do that’s so important?” Tara asked her.

Ann frowned, as if trying to remember. “Oh, yes, it’s the American novel. I must decide if we’re going to buy it, and if so, what kind of a bid we’re going to put in. And I haven’t read the damned thing through once yet, much less given it serious thought.”

“Do you have it here? I can read it for you.”

“I—you’re not an editor or a critic, Tara. You’re an artist”

“I can still read!”

“Maybe ... no, no, I have to go to work.”

“Call in late,” Brent suggested.

Ann’s lashes flicked low over her eyes. “I shouldn’t I really shouldn’t Not after ...”


“I took a long lunch yesterday,” she murmured.

“Still, you should call in late,” Brent told her.

“No, no, it wouldn’t be good,” Ann murmured.

Tara was surprised when Brent walked across the room and took her cousin’s face gently in hand, meeting her eyes. Ann didn’t pull away from his touch. She listened as he said, “They value you very much, where you work. You can call in late. Tara can glance through the book, and she can tell you whether it is good or not. If you can get some sleep, you must” To Tara’s astonishment, Ann agreed. “Yes, I will sleep, if I can,” she said. She yawned again, and walked by Brent, then came to Tara, smiling at her. “I am so tired.” She touched Tara lightly on the shoulder with affection. “Good night.”

With the two of them still in the room, she crawled back into bed, pulled the covers to her shoulder, and closed her eyes. It seemed that she was instantly asleep.

Brent walked over to the bed and looked down at Ann. He touched her hair, smoothing it from her face, and seemed to study her very seriously. A sound like a weary sigh, barely perceptible, seemed to escape him. He walked to the balcony doors, closing them, locking them. And he replaced the garlic bulbs Ann had discarded.

With all arranged, he came back to Tara, eyes hard on her, strange, both defiant and commanding.

“Let’s leave her to sleep now.”

Tara stared at Brent as he opened Ann’s door, indicating that they should leave. Tara preceded him into the hallway. He closed the door quietly behind him.

“What the hell was that all about?” Tara asked him.

“She really needs her sleep.”

She kept watching him. “I don’t believe that she paid such serious attention to you.”

“You don’t believe anything yet, no matter how many signs stare you right in the face,” he said softly.

“Signs!” she murmured, and started out ahead of him.

He caught her by the shoulder, pulling her back. She wished that she didn’t feel his slightest touch so acutely. She stared at his fingers upon her silk clad shoulders then to his eyes, but if he noted any kind of a withdrawal within her, he gave no sign.

“The time is coming when it’s going to be very dangerous for you not to believe,” he told her. “You with your logic—and your fear that anything you can’t taste, feel, or touch is mad and insane, fantastical. And, of course, if you were to accept the fact that there were things beyond your realm of understanding, well then, you would be giving in to madness. There are such things. What do you think that dream was, Tara?”

“A nightmare.”

“A nightmare? Or a warning?”

She arched a brow as imperiously as her cousin. “A warning—about Ann? Ann was fine, just cooling off out on the balcony.”

“Cooling off? Her skin was like ice.”

“When you’re very hot,” Tara said with aggravation, “it feels good to get cold!”