Jack thought for a moment. “Hmm. Ate lunch, had a beer. Sat here, had a beer. Ate dinner, had a beer. How about you?”
“Oh, I ran home. My place is on the northeast corner of the island, off Roosevelt. I’m not as close as Genevieve.” She shrugged, grinning. “Actually, most of us could go home at night, but it’s a lot easier and kind of cool staying at the resort. You still live on Stock Island, right? That’s not much farther than me.”
“Yeah, I’m still on Stock Island,” Jack said. “I’d sure love one of those old Victorians like Genevieve’s, but who the hell can afford one now?”
“Maybe we’ll all be able to afford one—if we find the ship,” Bethany said.
Jack was startled when a hand fell on his back. “Jack, old buddy. You going to buy me a brewsky?”
He turned. Victor had arrived. One thing about their group and Key West, at some time during the evening, they were all going to show up at the bar.
Victor had spoken lightly, but he looked strained. Like he needed a beer.
“Sure. Draw up a chair.”
Without being asked, Bruce brought over another beer. “First round is on the house tonight. From the look of the news, you guys need it.”
“Thanks.” Victor took a long swig from the bottle.
“So what have you been doing?” Bethany asked him.
Victor shrugged moodily. “Oh, this and that. Stuff to take care of—you know.”
They all stared silently at the television again. Alex arrived just as an artist’s rendition of the dead woman’s face appeared. He took the beer Bruce offered him. “At least with that picture out,” he said, “they might find out who she is. Someone must be looking for the poor woman.”
“There’s Jack,” Victor said as the interview was shown yet again.
Jack didn’t feel quite the same pleasure he had earlier. He didn’t like the way Victor had spoken. His words had carried a strangely bitter edge.
“Jack, you’re famous,” another voice commented. He looked up to find that Marshall had arrived. His arms were crossed over his chest, and he sounded weary.
“I thought it was better to talk to the woman than piss her off,” Jack said defensively.
“I’m not sure we needed to tell her that Genevieve had spotted the corpse earlier, but then none of us could find it,” Marshall commented.
“Come on. Not even the police divers saw it that day,” Jack told him. “Bruce, get Marshall his beer, huh?”
They were all still staring at the television, even though the anchor had gone on to report an accident in Florida City, holding up traffic in and out of the Keys, when Jay made his way into the bar. He was there, standing beside Jack, for several seconds before anyone noticed he’d arrived.
“Sad day, huh?” Jay said after a moment.
“Do you know anything more?” Bethany asked.
“Preliminary reports. The M.E. said she’d been in the water five to seven days,” Jay told them.
Bethany swallowed. “Was she…drowned? Or…killed first, then weighted down?”
Jay looked at her, wincing. “Weighted down…and drowned.”
Bethany trembled. “She must have been terrified. I mean, she must have known…must have been desperate for breath….”
“Do they have any idea where she was killed?” Victor asked.
“In the water,” Jay said dryly.
Genevieve came in then, and they all turned toward her as she neared the bar. “Gen!” Victor said, raising his beer bottle.
Jack watched her walk in. Jeez, she was something. Casual and elegant all in one. She perched atop a bar stool next to Jay.
“Anything new?” she asked him.
Jack couldn’t hear his reply, because he lowered his head to speak with her. She said something back to him, her expression anxious, but Jack couldn’t hear that, either.
“We’ll talk. We can have dinner some night this week,” Jay said, his tone normal. “You don’t have to hang with this sorry bunch every night, do you?” he teased.
She shook her head. “No. And I really need to talk to you.”
Though she had spoken very softly, Jack was able to make out the words.
Just then Thor Thompson arrived. Jack studied his employer. Thor wasn’t the tallest guy he’d ever met, or the buffest. But he had something. A presence. A way of walking, maybe, or just being. When Thor entered a room, no matter how softly he moved or how quietly he spoke, everyone knew it.
“Hey,” he said simply, taking a seat on a bar stool.
“Bruce, a beer for our northern comrade!” Alex called.
“Northern?” Thor said.
“Jacksonville. You’re practically a Yankee.”
Thor shrugged and laughed, but Jack thought he looked distracted. He noticed as Thor glanced toward Genevieve and seemed relieved to see her sitting next to Jay. He had clearly been anxious about her. Jack couldn’t help but wonder why. Genevieve certainly didn’t look like a lunatic now, in light of the day’s grisly discovery.
The newscaster returned to showing a picture of the murder victim, asking the viewers for help in discovering the woman’s identity.
“Go figure,” Alex said. “I didn’t want another lecture from Sheridan, but I sure didn’t want to get out of it this way.”
“You’re still getting the lecture from Sheridan,” Marshall said dryly. “Monday morning.”
“It won’t be that bad,” Thor informed them all, his eyes on the television. “He’s made a model of the ship. Sounds kind of cool.”
“Hey, has anybody seen Zach and Lizzie?” Marshall asked.
“They decided to play tourist,” Victor informed them. “They were going to do the Conch Tour Train, Audubon house, Hemingway’s place—all that stuff. And then they were going to take a sunset dinner cruise.”
“How romantic,” Bethany said.
“Bethany, if anyone invited you on a sunset cruise, you’d look at him as if he’d lost his mind,” Victor informed her.
“Not true. I don’t care if I’ve been here my whole life. A sunset cruise is still romantic.”
“I’m glad you think so, because we’ll probably stay out a lot later Monday to make up for this,” Marshall said. “It will be a great sunset cruise as we all head back in.”
Jack watched as Genevieve slipped from her bar stool and said something to Bethany, who nodded. Then Genevieve gave them all a wave, saying she was heading out.
Jack noticed that everyone in their group watched her leave. Odd. Everyone still seemed concerned about her or…
He shook his head and swigged his beer. Genevieve. What the hell was going on with her?
Thor made no pretense of doing anything else. As soon as she left, he followed her.
Okay, he was a stalker. Definitely a stalker. But he was more worried about her than ever.
She stopped a block from the bar, turned and waited for him.
“I’m all right,” she told him.
“I’m really worried about you,” he said flatly.
“Don’t be.” Strange, after the day they’d spent, the last thing she wanted was for this man to be worried about her. She didn’t want to like him, but she did. She wanted admiration and respect from him. She even, she admitted to herself, wanted him to think she was cool, savvy and sexy. What she didn’t want was for him to be worried about her.
“You walked off on me all of a sudden,” he reminded her. “You ran away. Great way to end a date.”
“We weren’t on a date.”
“Great way to end lunch and a drink with a friend, then.”
She flushed. “I’m sorry. It was just…well, this hasn’t been a great day.”
She started walking again, not that she really knew where she was going, but just because she felt awkward standing around on the sidewalk. He fell into step beside her, silent for several minutes.
“Genevieve, what did you mean that…the woman you saw in the water wasn’t the woman we discovered today?”
She shook her head. “I must have been mistaken.”
“You really might have been,” he said gently.
“Please don’t tiptoe around my feelings as if I’m really ready to be committed,” she told him.
She saw him half smile, shaking his head. “At the moment, I’m not. Any time you’re in the water, you can be taken by surprise. The water can play tricks and she was, well, she wasn’t in good shape. You might have seen seaweed or fish moving around her, and that might have made her seem alive, hard to recognize when you saw her again later.”
“Right,” she murmured.
“But you don’t believe that.”
“I said you could be right.”
“Then again, maybe you did see a different woman, and that’s a much more frightening and serious thought.”
She stared at him sharply. “What do you mean?”
He sighed. “I mean the killer might have had more than one victim,” he said.
A chill snaked along her spine, and she shook it off.
“Sorry,” he murmured.
“No, no…you’re right.”
“Actually, at the moment, it doesn’t seem as if anyone in the area is panicking. It’s sad, but it feels distant to people. I certainly hope there won’t be any panic, but I think women need to be careful,” Thor murmured. “Um, where are we going?” he asked.
She paused, half laughing. “Frankly, I don’t know. I guess I just needed to get out of there.”
“Strange day,” he said. “You keep going into bars, then running out of them. It’s as if you don’t want your own company, but you’re not sure you want any other company, either.”
“You’re right. I’m not sure what I want,” she told him, then hesitated. “I’m also certain that either Victor or Alex played a prank on me this morning, and that’s still driving me crazy. There was a mannequin on my porch when I got up, and I dumped it in the water. Then it was gone—and the real corpse was there.”