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She fumbled and dropped the piece of dragon roll she’d just picked up. “Are you related to the Claymores who owned the studio and the land around it?”

He nodded. “Distantly.”

“You were born in Ohio! At least, that’s what I’ve read.”

He grinned. “I was born in Ohio. All of that is true. My dad’s great-great-uncle was the original owner of the property here. We don’t have anything to do with it anymore, and I don’t know if the family was still in contact. I do remember stories my grandfather told me about the place. That might be why I wanted to be an actor. Oh! And my name is a secret, okay? I’ve kept it out of the magazines and trash-azines and I’ve even managed to keep it off Wikipedia!”

She shook her head. “I don’t tell people what others say. You know that.”

He nodded. “I do. You’re the one totally trustworthy person I’ve met out here, Madison.”

“Well, if someone does find out—although I can’t see why it would come up—Eddie owns the studio now and Alistair is the one who’s been accused. It doesn’t have a thing to do with you. Anyway, it was Claymore Illusions a long time ago,” Madison said.

“Yeah, that’s true….”

“What kind of stories did you hear?” she asked.

“Oh, funny stories about actors and about the birth of special effects, and how everything’s changed over the years. My grandfather used to come to Hollywood on vacations to visit and spend time here. He was an Ohio farm boy, so the studio was really exciting for him. He did become an actor himself. He was fairly successful on Broadway and did lots of tours. My dad, however, became a scientist and decided that since we were from Ohio, he’d put his mind toward creating a better strain of corn.” He wagged a chopstick at her. “I’ll have you know that farmers consider him a hero.”

“I’m impressed,” Madison said, meaning it.

He grinned. “Maybe, but my family’s boring as hell. Not really. I love my folks and my siblings, and I love getting home for the holidays. Of course, back in good-old-farmboy land, no one knows much about me. I’m just the one who did the family proud in Hollywood.” He grew sober. “That’s why I feel so bad for the girl who was murdered—Jenny. I know what it’s like to be a hopeful. I never thought I’d be this successful.” He shook his head. “I still feel like a fake, and I’m afraid it can end anytime.”

A loud angry voice suddenly reached them from the reception area. A moment later, Helena LaRoux came clip-clopping along the hallway, her little dog in her arms. Today she was dressed in designer workout clothes. She came to an abrupt halt, in front of the doorway to the conference room.

Winston Nash was hot on her trail. “Mrs. Archer, if you’ll just give me a minute, I’ll call up and tell Eddie that you’re here.”

“I don’t need anyone to announce me to my husband!” Helena shouted. “Eddie! Eddie!”

“She doesn’t know his office is upstairs?” Oliver whispered to Madison.

“Of course—I think they stopped her when she started walking toward the elevator,” Madison whispered in return.

“Mrs. Archer!” Winston Nash pleaded. “The studio is in lockdown, and we’ve had a murder, and there are police all over the place. They’ve asked that any visitors be announced and then escorted in—”

“I’m not any visitor! I’m Eddie’s wife!”

“Mrs. Archer, if the president came down from Washington, he’d still have to be escorted in. This is lockdown!” Winston Nash insisted.

Winston Nash was Colin Bailey’s physical opposite—he was about thirty years old, tall as a beanpole and skinny as could be. His lean face was taut with frustration as he spoke, and maybe a hint of fear. But he’d been given his orders, and he was following them.

Helena LaRoux must have heard either Oliver or Madison rustle a paper or do something that drew her attention. She looked into the room. Her brows shot up, but then she let out a long breath. “There’s Madison. And Oliver Marshall. Oliver, you beautiful thing, how lovely to see you. Madison can escort me up to see Eddie. It’s not right for me to be kept standing in reception when my husband owns the whole place!”

Madison rose quickly, and Oliver did the same. Oliver was polite and circumspect, walking over to Helena, giving her a kiss on the cheek and a hug, stroking her little dog’s ears. “Helena, this must be hard for you. We all know you love Eddie and Alistair,” he said.

Madison was astonished that he’d been able to say the words so sincerely—but then, he was an actor, and a very talented one. He’d spoken with just a hint of sarcasm that went right over Helena’s head.

“Oh, yes, of course, Oliver, dear. Thank you,” Helena said. She had a good two decades on Oliver and she was married, but that didn’t keep her from going into flirt mode. She clung to his arm. “Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for being here.”

Madison didn’t think she’d ever seen a better performance of a heroine cast into tragedy. Her portrait of gracious womanhood belonged on the silver screen.

“Helena, come in and sit with us for a minute,” Oliver encouraged her. He was either really being kind or having the time of his life. Madison wasn’t sure which.

Nash stood by the doorway and peered in as Oliver led Helena to a chair. He looked at Madison in desperation. “Mr. Archer is with one of the policemen—or one of the FBI people. I got a call that he wasn’t to be disturbed. By anyone.”

“I’m not anyone!” Helena snapped. “I’m his wife!”

“Of course you are, darling,” Oliver said. “But give this a few minutes. Talk to me. What’ve you been doing lately? You know, I saw you onstage once. I think it was the Red Box downtown. You were wonderful!”

“You thought I was wonderful?” Helena asked.

“Absolutely,” Oliver gushed.

“Oh, thank you. It’s true what they say—film does love you, Oliver,” Helena said.

This mutual admiration meeting would be going on for a while. Madison wondered if she should excuse herself and go back to work, but as she started to rise, Oliver kicked her under the table and frowned at her. She sat down again. It was turning into a long lunch.

* * *

Sean got most of the bone dust and tunnel muck and grime off before coming to Eddie’s office.

As he entered, Eddie stopped drawing on his sketch board and looked up. Maybe he hadn’t gotten off enough spiderwebs and bone dust, Sean thought, because Eddie stared at him as if he were seeing a ghost.


“Eddie, we need to talk.” He sat down in the chair across from Eddie’s desk. “Now.”

Eddie raised his hands. “I’m ready to talk.”

“You’re aware, in a situation like this, that we scrutinize those closest to the victim. When a husband or wife is killed, the spouse is immediately in the running. In this instance, we’re pretty sure you were the target. Alistair is the patsy, another victim, in fact, and you’re the target.”

Eddie gazed at him blankly. “Jenny Henderson is dead, and Alistair is going to trial accused of her murder.”

“How does someone hurt you, Eddie? Through Alistair, right?”

“What do you want to know?”

“First, why did you and Benita divorce? She still seems to care about you. And you obviously care about her.”

Eddie was silent for a minute. He seemed acutely uncomfortable. Then he sighed. “I don’t generally discuss this, and neither does Benita, mainly because it’s nobody’s business. She prefers…someone else.”

“So she was cheating on you.”

“She didn’t see it as cheating.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It was a woman. She likes men but prefers women,” Eddie said. “Look, I know Hollywood is wide open and all that, but some people feel they’ll risk their chances of being seen as sexy or getting certain roles. I think Benita figured she could be loyal to me without being monogamous—either that, or I’d be turned on by the fact that she had sex with women. I don’t give a damn about anybody’s choices, but it didn’t work for me on a personal level. Man or woman, to me it was cheating. Our divorce wasn’t ugly, and I still love her as a dear friend. I don’t explain it, as I said, because my personal life is nobody’s business. And I have no intention of saying things she doesn’t want said.”

Sean nodded. He believed Eddie. It just wasn’t the answer he’d expected.

“What else?”

“I need to know about the elevator key,” Sean said.

“What about it?” Eddie looked confused. “You have it, don’t you?”

“Who, besides you, has a key to that elevator?”

Eddie shook his head. “No one. I went to the basement once when I bought the place, with a building inspector. The support beams were all good. The building was solid. I knew I wouldn’t use the basement for storage or work. California might be damned dry, but that basement is dank. I don’t go there. No one does.”

Sean leaned on his desk. “Eddie, someone got hold of your key, copied your key and has been using your key. The basement connects to a labyrinth of tunnels—crypts, like the catacombs. That’s how the killer got in and out. I found the bloody robe the killer wore down there, and forensics will be testing it. You need to think long and hard. Because if you’re the only one who has a key to get down to that basement, either you’re guilty yourself, or someone close to you—maybe someone you’ve slept with at one time or another—is the murderer.”


Madison was eager for the workday to come to an end. While Logan had remained nearby throughout the day, she hadn’t seen Sean since he’d left her room early. She had a feeling that he’d found something in the tunnels. Something that would directly affect the case.