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Saw him kill.

“Poor girl, poor Jenny Henderson—and poor Alistair,” he murmured.

“Alistair didn’t do it,” Madison said. Her voice was low, but her words were passionate. “It happened just the way you reenacted it. He was ahead of her and then he got to the door. Someone was already in here, waiting. Someone who knew that Alistair came to see the noir movies on Sundays, and someone who also knew about Jenny. Yes, it was taking a chance that Jenny would show up and that Alistair would fall in with her plans, but it wasn’t really that big a chance.”

“Someone—or the kid. The kid does tell it your way. But there’s nothing to exonerate him.”

Madison was startled by the voice of Benny Knox. He’d come in behind them. She’d been concentrating so hard, she’d forgotten he was with them.

“Yep, according to the kid, he walked to the door—and the thing came out of the tableau. I don’t know what the kid was on, but temporary insanity or whatever is probably going to be his best defense,” Knox went on.

“If he says that’s what happened, it’s what happened. Alistair isn’t on drugs, and he doesn’t drink. He’s a good kid—which is pretty amazing when you realize the money he has access to and how everyone tries to suck up to him because of what his father might be able to do for them!” Madison said angrily.

“Whoa.” Knox lifted a hand and took a step back in mock-horror. “Well, when they need character witnesses, they can call you to the stand.”

Madison tried to check her temper, but he continued quickly, “Look, I’m sorry. We are going to investigate. If the L.A. police weren’t determined on that, you can guarantee the FBI would be. But you’ve got to understand—you’re looking at a locked-room mystery here, and the thing is, if a room is really locked, the people in that room are the suspects. Nine times out of ten what you see is what you get.”

“What you see is a kid in shock and a brutally murdered young woman,” Sean Cameron said. “And I wouldn’t go counting on there being no other answer. For one thing, a costume is missing from the studio.”

“Missing?” Knox asked sharply.

“It’s not on the mannequin,” Madison said, “where it should be—where it was before I left the studio on Friday.”

“So it may just be somewhere else?”

“It’s the robe the priest wears,” Sean said. “That’s definitely worth investigating.”

Knox didn’t dismiss his words, but he didn’t seem too impressed, either. “That studio is filled with shelves and desks and nooks and crannies and…stuff. The robe may turn up easily. Yes, we’ll investigate—I’m sure you will, too, Agent Cameron,” he said to Sean. “I intend to go through all the steps on my end. I’m just telling you it isn’t looking good for young Archer. When you show me another way in and out of this locked room, I’ll be happy to reexamine the evidence.” He pointed to the tableau. “As you can see, those mannequins just stand there—they don’t move around. They don’t speak, argue or step down to commit murder. But you’re right. We have all kinds of hairs and fibers and plenty of blood. In fact, we’ve got forensics up the wazoo. We’ve checked the locks, we’ve gone over the security footage…and nada. So when you find something, let me know.”

As he finished speaking, they were all shocked by a noise from the tableau. Some piece of the little scenario had shifted. The three of them immediately looked over at the characters. There was Sam Stone, ready to race across the room to save his femme fatale. And there was the man in the robe, his fingers twined around the terrified woman’s neck. There was the sarcophagus and the snakes—cobras posed moving across the floor and in strike mode.

The scene had shifted, of course, because the crime scene techs had been up there, photographing, fingerprinting, moving things around. That obviously explained the odd, off-kilter look of the tableau. And yet…

Madison swallowed uncomfortably. Dianna Breen seemed to be gazing not at the mysterious man in the robes about to strangle her—but at Madison. Huge blue glass eyes seemed to stare across time and space.

For a moment—just for a moment!—she thought there’d been another presence in the tunnel.

Sean Cameron walked back toward and through the tableau. “Gravity, I guess. Something shifted from being handled by the crime scene techs.”

“Of course,” Knox said. His voice was harsh, and Madison looked over at him. Maybe the hard-boiled just-the-facts detective was a little on edge himself.

Madison tried to define exactly how the tableau had changed. The police and technicians apparently hadn’t uncovered anything they considered evidence; they’d left the scene almost as they’d found it. But it had changed. And Dianna Breen still seemed to be staring at her with horrified eyes.

Last night, those realistic glass eyes had witnessed a murder.

“No sign of the weapon yet, right?” Sean asked.

“No. Before you arrived today, two dozen of our guys—the best at their jobs—went through the studio. We needed that many, which won’t surprise you. The place is a hotbed of fake weapons and fake blood and fake—well, you name it.” He shook his head. “But no, we don’t have the weapon yet.”

“So, how are you figuring that Alistair murdered the girl, fell in the blood, passed out, came to and got emergency help and somehow hid the weapon?” Sean asked him.

“Here’s the thing, Agent Cameron. The kid was here alone. We have experts still going through all the surveillance. He claims he raced toward Ms. Henderson and the ‘thing’ killing her and that he fell in the blood, went down and passed out. According to him, he regained consciousness, called the security guard and came back with him when the guard rushed in, followed by the cops. He claims he passed out. God knows what he was really doing or what really happened. And if someone else was here, why kill the girl and not him?”

“How can you have a scapegoat if you kill everyone?” Sean asked reasonably.

“That’s right,” Madison said. “If Alistair had been killed as well, he couldn’t have been blamed for the murders.”

Knox was quiet a moment. “I’m not discounting any possibilities. I’m just not emotionally involved. Are you done here for the day? We’re closing up until tomorrow and—”

“What about Colin Bailey?” Sean broke in. “Did you confirm that he was in the studio, in the security station, watching the cameras the whole time?”

“Bailey was the only other person on the property at all,” Knox said. “Everything pans out—and, of course, we verified his background. His record is clean as a whistle, he’s worked here twenty years and his story checks out. We’re not stupid local dicks, Agent Cameron. So, are you done here?”

“Yes, thanks, Detective Knox. Can one of your guys give us a ride to Archer’s place?”

“Sure. Go on out. There’s a fellow named Duffy in his car.”


She nodded, said thank you to Knox, then followed Sean out. She noticed that Knox was behind them and had to wonder if he—hard-boiled L.A. detective—didn’t want to be in the tunnel alone.

“You’re going to Archer’s house?” Madison asked Sean. Her part was finished for today, wasn’t it? She felt as if she were in limbo. She had no idea what was happening with the studio the next day. Were they all on hold?

“I’ll go with you,” she said.

He looked down at her. “Why?”

She found herself bristling again. “Because Eddie asked me to be in on this. Because the studio is my life. Because I may be able to help.”

He stared back at her. She had the uncomfortable feeling that she was being assessed—and found wanting. He was going to tell her no, that she’d done her duty. To her surprise, he didn’t.

“Fine. We’ll both go,” he said.

She looked away, wondering how she could feel so attracted to a man and so hostile to him at the same time. He was physically impressive, she decided. That must be it. He was also a stranger, even though he’d become a legend at the studio, and it was too easy to admire what she’d heard about him. She had to remember: he was law enforcement here, and she was not.

Maybe she was crazy. Maybe she should go home and get out of this now, while she had the chance.

But she knew she couldn’t. She did have…an extra sense. And it was possible that she could help Eddie. She just hoped it wouldn’t mean sucking up too much to Agent Cameron!

“Is Eddie there?” she asked. “I thought he was going to go and stay with Alistair.”

“He’ll come home,” Sean assured her. “I need to get more of a feel for the lay of the land,” he added.

“You suspect someone close,” she said. “First, Bailey, who’s been the most loyal watchdog in the world. Bailey! And now, someone in Eddie’s household?”

“I suspect everyone,” he said simply. “And this isn’t your fight, not really.”

“Oh? Think again. I live here and I work here, Agent Cameron. The studio—and Eddie—are everything to me.”

He smiled suddenly and she had no idea what he was thinking. “Do you have plans for the day?”

“Yes, I’d planned to work. Now, I’m not working, so I plan to do everything I can for Eddie and Alistair. No, I’m not FBI or a cop, but Eddie asked me to help you.”

She didn’t want to tell him she wouldn’t have had any plans. Not social plans, anyway. Life had made her too much of a loner.

Except, of course, for her unearthly friends.

She straightened, trying to appear calm, confident—and determined.

“Officer Duffy is waiting,” Cameron said. “He’ll take us to Eddie’s. If you’re sure you want to plunge in.”