“What in God’s name are you two talking about?” Victor asked, but the two men paid him no attention.
Thor stood stiffly for a minute, then turned to Audrey. “Thanks for opening the door to an entire horde,” he said pleasantly, then turned and left.
They all stared after him. “What the hell was that all about?” Jack demanded.
Genevieve looked at Adam Harrison, who looked back at her and smiled. “Maybe a good thing,” he said briefly.
“We’re all frigging nuts,” Jack said. “Well, hell, this is Key West,” he said proudly.
“Anybody hungry?” Victor asked, looking at his watch.
“Sure,” Jay agreed. But as he spoke, his phone rang. He excused himself, stepping back outside to take the call.
“Well?” Victor said. “Anyone else hungry?”
“Sure,” Bethany murmured.
“Nikki? Brent? Audrey? Uncle Adam?” There was a twist on the last. Genevieve decided that everyone had somehow intuited at this point that Adam Harrison wasn’t really Audrey’s uncle.
“Dinner sounds like a fine suggestion at the moment,” Adam said. “Audrey, what do you say?”
Victor slipped an arm around her shoulders as they left.
Bethany gazed at Genevieve and rolled her eyes. Genevieve just shrugged.
Thor returned to the hotel. He doubted the crew that had been on duty that morning would still be working, but he could at least find out how Adam Harrison was registered.
The clerk at the desk was a young woman. He was prepared, since she wasn’t supposed to give out certain information. He didn’t have the credentials to demand answers to his questions, but he had a number of different legal IDs from various associations that would make it appear he had plenty of authority.
He didn’t need to use any of them. The young woman apparently recognized him and was quick to help him. “I’m sorry, Mr. Thompson, but no. Adam Harrison is registered alone. To the best of my knowledge, no one else came in with him. He’d be more than welcome to have two or three adults in the room, so I can’t imagine why he’d pretend not to have company,” she said very seriously.
He thanked her and walked back into the night.
The usual activity was going on, people wandering aimlessly, stopping to look, to shop, to buy a little trinket here or there from the sidewalk vendors.
He paused for a moment, just watching. Adam Harrison didn’t need to have a roommate for them to have been joined by a young man at the breakfast table. Maybe it had just been some kid hired to put on an act. He found himself irritated to realize, looking back, that there had really been no interaction between the man claiming to be Josh Harrison and anyone other than himself. The kid hadn’t ordered food. He’d never spoken to the waitress or to his supposed father.
It had been a sham, of course. But a convincing one. He should probably be visiting the local high school drama club. Tomorrow morning, he would find the waitress. She would know that Adam hadn’t been alone.
He felt his anger rising, and it disturbed him to know he also felt unease rising beneath it. His anger, he decided, was righteous. The dive was going to hell. First off, Marshall had been sold to him as the ultimate professional. But a professional didn’t disappear in the middle of a project, no matter what. A professional didn’t even call in sick. The only way to get out of this kind of work was to call in dead.
He gritted his teeth, watching as a tall blond woman emerged from the hotel. She was attractive, but there seemed to be an edge to her. As he watched, she caught his eye. She smiled and sauntered over to him. “Hello. Lovely night. Have a light?” she asked, producing a cigarette from her small clutch bag.
Her skirt was short, her shoes high. Her blouse revealed a great deal of cleavage.
“Sorry, I don’t smoke.”
She nodded, dropping the cigarette back into her bag, her eyes remaining focused on his. “Are you looking for company?” she asked bluntly.
He shook his head. Working girl. “Sorry,” he said softly. “And watch out, miss. A woman was found dead, you know.”
She smiled. “Still gotta make a living. Well, I’m sorry, too, handsome. Have a nice night.”
She headed off down the street.
Thor turned, walking down toward the water, determined to get back to Genevieve. He hadn’t liked leaving her earlier, but at the same time, he’d needed some distance. Not from her, exactly, but from the craziness, the whole thing with ghosts and dreams and….
His own sense of impotence, his inability to protect her. It had to stop. But by leaving that afternoon, he’d left her free to spend the day with Audrey and those government-sanctioned ghost hunters.
As he walked at a brisk pace, he nearly collided with Jay Gonzalez.
“Hey,” Jay said, startled.
“Hello. You didn’t go to dinner with everyone?” Thor asked. He still didn’t know if Jay Gonzalez was on his suspect list or not. The man’s wife had died under mysterious circumstances. And he’d been around for the previous disappearances.
“Duty called,” Jay said.
“Oh?” Thor said sharply.
Jay shook his head. “No more bodies. No real ones, anyway. A fellow working garbage detail freaked out. Went to empty his truck and thought he had a bunch of body parts. In a way, he did. Someone hacked up a mannequin and disposed of it all along Duval Street.”
“A mannequin? Did he find the head?”
Jay looked at him curiously. “Yeah. Why?”
“Was it blond?”
“Yeah, there was a blond wig.”
“Have you got anything on it?” Thor demanded. “There’s some kind of prankster out there.”
Jay frowned, shaking his head. “Thor, it’s not a crime to dispose of a mannequin.”
“Genevieve claimed someone left a mannequin on her doorstep the morning the body was found. She thought the body was a mannequin, in fact, and then it turned out there was a real victim. Doesn’t that strike you as something that should be investigated?”
Jay groaned. “Come on, Thor, there’s a big difference between chopping up a mannequin and killing a flesh-and-blood person.”
Thor just stared challengingly at him.
“All right. I’ll put in a few hours tomorrow and try to find out which shopkeeper was missing a dummy, and who they sold it to or why it wasn’t reported as stolen, if that’s the story.”
“Thanks. Anything new on the victim or the killer?”
Jay cast him a weary look. “A hooker found dead, any trace evidence pretty much gone. What do you think?”
“I think you’re going to solve the crime,” Thor said.
“A ghost tell you that?” Jay asked irritably.
“Actually, I was going on the premise that you’re a good police officer. You don’t want to go with that, fuck you.”
Jay let out a sigh. “Sorry. Listen, I won’t be on the dive tomorrow. We’re running short of manpower. They’ll still give you the boat.”
“Anything more from Marshall? Has he called anyone at the station again.”
Jay shook his head. “No.”
“Aren’t you getting a little worried?”
“Yes,” Jay admitted.
“He wanted this dive,” Thor said.
“I know. Look, I’ve got word out in Miami.”
“No one knows where he’s staying?”
“You could pull the phone records, find out where he called from.”
“Yeah, I’d need to do some paperwork for that,” Jay said. “But I will. And like I said, I arranged for you to have a police dive boat.”
“Thanks.” He couldn’t help adding, “We have the mighty Brent and Nikki, right?”
“Hell, this whole thing is about as professional as a party boat,” Thor grated.
Jay grinned. “Some people have connections. You know that—you use them yourself.”
True enough. “Point taken,” Thor said.
Jay waved a hand in farewell. “They were going out somewhere for dinner. Check along Duval. You’ll find them.”
Thor did find them. By then Lizzie and Zach had found them, as well. “I think it’s an absolutely charming idea,” Lizzie was saying as he approached the table. There was an empty seat. He realized they had planned on him joining them at some point.
“What’s a charming idea?” he asked, sitting down.
He was located between Nikki Blackhawk and Audrey. Audrey was the one who answered him. “A funeral service.”
“A funeral service is charming?” he asked.
“A service for poor Anne,” Audrey said. “To lay her ghost to rest.”
His face must have looked like a thundercloud, and he couldn’t help staring at Genevieve, seated farther down the table between Victor and Jack.
“There’s nothing otherworldly about it,” Audrey said. “Father Bellamy has been asked many times to do services for people lost long ago.” She shrugged. “I happen to know he’s available tomorrow morning. And I have a friend at the paper.” She noted the wariness in his look and spoke quickly. “A friend who writes good things. We want your permission, of course. But she thinks it’s a lovely story, a beautiful young woman caught between pirates, the love of her life and a strict father, then dying young. It’s got all the elements. You’re not superstitious, of course, but a lot of sea people are. So what do you think?”
He looked up and down the table. Jack shrugged. Victor grinned. Genevieve was just staring at him.
“Really, Thor,” Lizzie chimed in. “Come on, the work is only going to get harder. Let’s go for it.”
Thor stared across the table at Adam Harrison. The man was looking at him impassively.
“Mr. Harrison, what do you think?”
Adam lifted his hands. “I certainly don’t see any harm in it.”