“I wouldn’t call it normal. But I will say, I like that we’re together. It’s nice to be unusual together.” Kelsey paused. “You didn’t ask about Tyler.”
“Oh. Yes, well, what about Tyler?” Allison tried to sound casual. But she fumbled with the switch as she turned on a hallway lamp, lighting their path to the stairs.
“Tyler is a great guy. He was one of Logan’s best friends before we started this. They were both Texas Rangers.”
“Yes, I knew that.” Allison nodded.
“Everyone looks at Tyler and thinks, ‘Hmm, tough guy. He must get anything he wants and be as hard as a rock.’ He’s not like that at all.”
“He’s very courteous.”
Kelsey laughed. “That’s what you think, is it?”
“What do you mean?”
“It means we can see sparks when you’re with him,” Kelsey said.
Allison felt her face heat with a fiery blush. “I don’t know anything about his life or his…relationships.”
“Does he go out? Yes. Is he in a relationship? No, not that I’m aware of, and I believe I would be. He’s very private. He’s kept what he knows, sees and does from almost everyone around him. I don’t think Tyler could form a relationship with someone who wasn’t…unusual, as well. He couldn’t live a lie. Anyway, that’s my two cents on the matter.”
Allison realized she’d paused to stare at Kelsey when Kelsey said, “Maybe you should give Tyler a call now, and tell him about your talk with Martin Standish.”
“Yes, I should do that.”
Kelsey smiled and walked down the stairs.
Allison called Tyler. He listened to her gravely and asked, “He’s sure it was a woman?”
“He sounded sure,” Allison said. “I guess that would suggest Sarah, Annette or Cherry Addison.”
“Sarah’s dead, so…”
“She still might have called him. She wasn’t dead then.”
“In that case, you could ask her.”
“You want me to go back to the morgue?” Allison asked.
“You were the one she talked to.”
“Kat’s there now, right?”
“Yes. Maybe she’s made contact, but according to Kat, ghosts don’t usually like to be around when an autopsy is being done on their remains. We’ll go there sometime today.”
Allison agreed. She wished Sarah was more like Julian—and that she wasn’t haunting the morgue, of all places.
“I’ll see you soon,” he said, and hung up.
When she came downstairs, Adam Harrison was gone. He’d see them later at the gallery. Sean was adjusting a camera, and Jane beckoned them into the salon where she’d been working. Allison told the others about the phone call.
Logan, as usual, was pragmatic. “It’s not conclusive that the same person called this man and then attacked Julian, but it’s certainly a lead,” he said. “And if it was a woman…”
“Do you think Annette Fanning will come to the art show?” Kelsey asked Allison.
“I assume so,” Allison said. “We—the guides—supported the board members whenever we could. And vice versa.”
Julian was there, staring down at prints Jane had made from the work she’d been doing.
“It’s uncanny!” Julian breathed as Kelsey and Allison came into the room.
Logan smiled at Allison. “You really need to take a look.”
“I took the picture of you off your Facebook page,” Jane told her apologetically.
“Tyler is on to something,” Logan said. “Check out the transparencies Jane’s been working on.”
Jane worked with mixed media, some of her examples done by transferring images on the computer and others using her own sketches.
Allison was a little afraid of what she was going to see.
But when they showed her what they were talking about, it was chilling.
Jane had juxtaposed pictures of Allison and paintings of Lucy Tarleton. When their faces were at the same angle and transparencies were placed on either image, they melded almost completely.
“You really do resemble her,” Julian said. “I always thought so, but back then any pretty dark-haired, blue-eyed young woman could look something like Lucy.”
She stepped back. “But I don’t understand what this means. I’m not Lucy Tarleton come back to life. We’ve seen her ghost.”
“We need to learn what the relationship is,” Logan said. “It may matter.”
“I think I know what it is.”
Allison swung around. Tyler had returned, standing in the doorway of the grand salon.
“What?” Allison asked him.
He smiled. “I think your father’s family did adopt a child. Not recently. I think they adopted him or her during the Revolution. I’m willing to bet that Lucy Tarleton had an illegitimate child—which her family would have covered up at the time—and that child was taken in by the Leigh family.”
“But how could Lucy have done everything she did, carry on with her espionage, even walk around Philly, pregnant?” Allison demanded.
“Supposedly queens and nobility managed to hide the births of their lovers’ offspring throughout history,” Tyler said. “That would explain why Lucy’s trying to get through to you. She’s afraid for you and she believes the only way you’ll be safe is if you find out who’s killing people at this house—and why.”
“An interesting theory,” Jane said. “Allison, don’t look so stricken. It’s a good thing—if it’s true. It means Lucy will do whatever she can to protect you.”
“Which, I’m afraid, isn’t all that much.” Julian grimaced. “I’m a ghost and what can I do? Hope to sound an alarm? Blow cold air at someone?”
“You moved paper today,” Jane reminded him brightly.
“It took incredible will and practice,” Julian said.
“Ah, but Lucy’s been around for over two centuries,” Tyler pointed out. “She’s had time to learn. We don’t know what she’s capable of.”
“Not talking to her fellow ghosts, I can tell you that much,” Julian said with a sniff.
“Let me show you what else I’ve come up with,” Jane told them. “I took pictures of the paintings and worked with them. I made three-dimensional head shapes—the same as I did with Lucy and Allison,” she said. “And here’s what I have of Beast Bradley.”
Allison walked over to the end of the table. Jane had devised a picture that blended the two images of Beast Bradley, the one from the study and that from Lucy’s bedroom.
The person she’d portrayed was a new man. He was older than he appeared in the study painting, but the eyes were those from the painting in the bedroom. What they saw was a serious man, worn with the rigors of life, but thoughtful rather than cruel.
“Great image, Jane. It combines the two images into what’s probably closest to truth,” Tyler said.
“So…where are we? I might be a descendent of Lucy’s illegitimate child, and Beast Bradley was human. That doesn’t tell us who killed Julian,” Allison said.
“No, but we’re getting there.”
Logan nodded slowly. “It was a woman who spoke to Martin Standish, and the one who has the most to lose—being the last descendent of the Dandridge family—is Cherry Addison. We’ll see if we can trip her up tonight.”
“Phone tap?” Tyler suggested.
“I’ll speak to Adam.”
“I need to go back to my house,” Allison said. “I guess now would be as good a time as any.”
“I’ll walk you over,” Tyler offered.
“Kelsey said she didn’t mind…” Allison began.
“No, but I could use a walk. Helps me think,” he said. “We’re going to stop by the morgue, as well, remember? So on second thought, we’d better drive.”
Allison nodded, feeling excitement sweep through her veins. She turned quickly, not wanting anyone to see.
She was even willing to go back to the morgue for time alone with him. Well, sort of alone…
When she’d first met Tyler, she’d never imagined she could feel about him the way she did.
As much as it thrilled her, it scared her, too. Maybe, subconsciously, she felt she had to sabotage the possibility of the two of them being together. Maybe her last affair had been such a fiasco that she didn’t trust her own instincts.
“Anyone who wants to shower or shave or get ready in a real bathroom with lots of hot water is welcome to come to my house,” she said.
“Thanks,” Logan called to her.
No one else responded. They were already talking again, working again.
It wasn’t right to feel this way about a man she’d just met.
But she did.
Even Dr. Grant, who’d spent a great deal of time with Kat, knew Adam and had been as patient as a saint with them, was perturbed when Tyler told her they needed to see the body again.
She didn’t deny his request, but looked at him very strangely.
“Dr. Sokolov was here with me during the autopsy. I assure you, everything was done correctly and thoroughly,” she insisted.
“You know she was killed by a snakebite. We believe that snake was purposely put in Ms. Vining’s car to kill her,” Tyler said. “Did her heart give out?”
Dr. Grant nodded absently, clearly somewhat confused. But she allowed them to go back into the freezer and pull out the corpse. Tyler distracted her with questions about the autopsy, while Allison touched Sarah’s face. She’d closed her eyes and was completely still for several minutes. Dr. Grant began to stare at her, so Tyler distracted the doctor again with news about the accident.
“By the way, animal control found the snake. It was coiled up beneath the driver’s seat.”