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“Eddie!” one of the seamstresses called out. “Will we have police protection through the day? I saw that we still have about four cop cars out there.”

“The police are guarding us, yes,” Eddie assured her.

“Eddie, how are you doing?” another asked.

Eddie smiled. “I get my strength from God, my family and you. Thank you. But if you choose not to be involved, all you have to do is let me know. There isn’t a soul working here for whom I wouldn’t write a glowing letter or recommendation! And I’ll be here,” he said. He indicated Tyler, Kelsey and Kat. “These three agents are from the FBI. Please answer their questions and show them around if you’re asked. They’re here to protect us, and to investigate. Now, I’ll be up in my office if you need me.”

When he’d finished, Andy Simons took his place. “I could give you a long speech about how much we appreciate your talents and your loyalty. But you all know that. And you know that you’re working with one of the most brilliant minds in the business.” He gestured at Eddie and grinned. “So…work, people, work!” he said, then headed for the hallway.

Mike had been standing behind him, ever supportive. “Okay, people. We’ve got a few days we have to make up for, if we’re going to stick to our schedule.”

The employees split up. They’d be whispering among themselves all day, Sean was certain, but they were getting back to work.

“I want to go down to the tunnel,” he told Tyler. “I have the key, but I’d like to bring in a few cops to watch the elevator doors. We don’t want anyone joining us down there.”

“I’ll see to it,” Tyler promised. “I’ll meet you back here in ten.” He inclined his head, pointing across the room. “There’s a star on the premises,” he said.

Sean looked up and saw that the actor, Oliver Marshall, had appeared. People hailed him and he seemed pleased by their friendliness, responding with waves and handshakes as he walked through the work areas to reach Madison’s station. She rose as he approached. She’d said they got along well, but Sean studied the man—it was the nature of the game. You had to be suspicious of everyone. And yet he felt his heart beating a little faster. Oliver Marshall seemed to know Madison well…and to like her. He greeted her with a kiss on the cheek and a warm hug. She offered him her beautiful smile in return and hugged him back. He could see that she was speaking to him, gesturing at the costume pieces on the table and something she was working on that had to do with foam and rubber and fabric. He realized they were referring to the knee pads Oliver needed for his costume to add a little protection during some of his stunts. Apparently he had a stunt double but was doing the less dangerous scenes himself. Madison was gathering up folds of material to hand him so he could be properly fitted in the costume with the knee pads inserted.

She seemed happy to be working again, seemed to enjoy her job.

“Logan will be up here,” Tyler reminded him. “Madison will be safe.”

Sean nodded. It was time for them to make their way down to the tunnel, search all the corridors, and when they’d done that, he was going out to the cemetery to look for another entrance.

He kept his eye on Madison as her assistant, Alfie Longdale, a tall, platinum-blond man in his early twenties, approached her and Oliver Marshall. More greetings took place. Then Alfie picked up a measuring tape and some pins and they moved toward the curtained area that was the studio’s fitting room.

He watched the seamstresses sit down at their machines and the construction crew collect around a table while the head of the project discussed the plans.

He watched, and it looked like a busy, working studio. The murder simmered just beneath the surface, but as the minutes passed, people seemed to become more and more immersed in their jobs.

Mike Greenwood walked up to him. “Sad thing, huh?”

“Sad, but you and Eddie have the studio up and running as smoothly as could be expected,” Sean said.

“We have a good group of workers, and people believe in Eddie. You treat people right year after year, and in the end…” Mike shrugged. “Too bad his choice in women is…well, Eddie’s such a nice guy. He can be kind of a sucker. Don’t quote me on that, please. I’ve been with him from the beginning, but…”

“I don’t repeat conversations, Mike,” Sean said.

Mike pursed his lips grimly. “Helena acts like she’s supporting him all the way, but you ask me, she’s nosy. She’s trying to keep on top of every move the police make. And you people, of course. She didn’t go to that movie last night because she wanted to see it.”

“Mike, what really happened between Eddie and Benita?” he asked.

Mike shrugged again. “I don’t know. He came in one day and asked me if I knew a good divorce attorney. I suggested he might want to attend some counseling first. He hadn’t been married that long. But he said, ‘No, Mike, counseling won’t help. We’re amicable, but it’s over. I can’t live a lie.’”

“And he never said anything else?”

Mike shook his head. “Not a word. I know she still cares about him, and he cares about her.”

“What about the rumors that she was cheating on him?”

“I think they were just that—rumors,” Mike said. “But if you were to ask him yourself, he might tell you.”

“I’ll do that.”

Tyler returned with two police officers to guard the elevator.

Then Sean, Kelsey and Kat went back down, armed with flashlights—and their Glocks.

* * *

Vengeance was worried. The FBI agents were spending too much time in the basement. Vengeance knew because there were so many people at the studio who innocently gave information away. It was good to be trusted.

Still, even if they found the tunnels, even if…

They wouldn’t know everything. They couldn’t know everything.


Vengeance made a call. “It’s me, and listen, listen well. Find out exactly what’s happening now. We may have to do a little cleanup.”

“Not me, no, no, not me!” she replied. “I can’t—I’m being watched. I know I’m being watched. I can’t—I won’t. I won’t get any more involved. You’re being paranoid!”

Yes, Vengeance thought, because my hands are the bloody ones….

“You have to be involved. I’m going to need help. Tonight. Do you understand me?”

“I may not be able to get out.”

“You have to. Do you hear me? You have to.”

Vengeance gave her instructions.

“After all,” Vengeance reminded her, “the whole thing was really your idea.”

“No, no, I was just talking. I never thought—”

“Yes, you did,” Vengeance said. “It’s what you wanted. Well, tonight, my friend, you’re going to get your hands dirty.”

* * *

“Tough times here, huh?” Oliver Marshall said to Madison.

She nodded grimly. “I’m glad you came in, that you weren’t afraid and you didn’t stay away,” she said.

They were almost alone; she was standing outside the curtain while he changed. She was ready to work on the material and rubber that would go under the shield during his hallucination scene. She needed to be sure it would allow him easy and comfortable movement. Alfie had gone off for some basting thread.

He poked his head outside the curtain. “To be honest?” he said softly. “I’m here with my agent. He thinks it’s going to be a popular thing for me to have done. I wish I was brave—like Sam Stone—but I’m not. And, of course, you know how the saying goes: If you repeat that, I’ll call you a liar.”

Madison grinned. She liked Oliver. He’d already told her he was gay, which she kept a secret as she’d promised. “Oh, one day, with any luck I’ll be as big as the guys who can admit anything,” he’d said. “I don’t lie. I just don’t answer. And I do love women and flirt with them all the time. But when you play action heroes and romantic leading men, a certain…discretion is best.”

“Are we safe here?” he asked her now. “Is there any danger to life or limb?”

She grimaced. “You mean you don’t believe what the media say? That Alistair did it?”

Oliver shook his head. “Alistair? Kid’s a marshmallow. He’d scald himself in boiling water before he’d hurt anyone, especially that girl. She was kind of annoying, but I’m sure I was annoying to people when I was starting out, too. This is the weirdest business. You can’t get an agent or a casting director to remember your name one day, and the next you’re in a movie that hits, and you can do no wrong. But…are we safe?”

“Oliver, the place is crawling with cops and the FBI. You’re safe.”

“Yeah, it wasn’t some crazy shooter, right? It was all planned out. Man, I can’t believe Jenny Henderson could’ve made an enemy who hated her so much!” he said.

“I don’t think she did. I think someone wanted to hurt Eddie—or even Alistair.”

Oliver sniffed. He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Well, in my opinion you wouldn’t have to look a lot further than the stepmother. I mean, if Alistair’s locked up for life, who gets Eddie’s fortune?”

“I’ve thought about that—except they must have a prenup. And Helena’s more interested in using Eddie’s contacts, anyway. I’d say that most of us who know and love him try to keep our mouths shut about his marriage,” Madison said.

Oliver was thoughtful. “Well, if you have an in with the cops, I’d suggest they look at her really closely. She was in here with Eddie one day when I was with the producer and director of Sam Stone. She was sidling up to everybody, trying to stay in the conversation. I saw her right next to Eddie—just about fondling him in public. I’m almost sure she went into his pockets and came out with something. I don’t know what, but I wouldn’t trust her any farther than I could throw that yapping dog of hers.”