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Suarez was the one who let him go, after having shut him in the interrogation room alone for at least an hour.

He released him simply, opening the door, popping in his head. “You can go.”

“What?” Victor said sharply.

“Leave. You can go.”

“I thought you were pressing charges against me?”

Suarez shrugged. “Change of heart. I just work here.”

Victor rose, telling himself that they didn’t have a damn thing on him, and they couldn’t get the owner of Key Klothing to press charges.

As he walked past Suarez, he felt his every muscle tightening, and he couldn’t stop himself from saying, “I may be suing. False arrest!”

“You were never arrested.”

“Police brutality, then.”

“We never touched you.”

“Mental cruelty.”

“Hey, buddy, we’re not getting divorced or anything here,” Suarez protested.

“I promise you, I’ll have my eye on you,” Victor threatened.

“Funny. I was about to say the same thing.”

Victor lifted his chin. He decided it was time to beat a hasty retreat before the detective found another reason to detain him.

Audrey awoke. Her mind was in a pea-soup haze. She was tied up, nearly smothering, and in pain, but she couldn’t figure out where she was, or how she had gotten there.

Then it all began to come back to her.

She was terrified, trapped in tight quarters, a gag in her mouth, the lingering thud of the drug in her head, and the bindings chafing at her wrists and ankles.

As the fog cleared, she became more aware of her position.

She could barely breathe, down here in the hold; she needed to keep still, to save her oxygen.

Despite that, she cried. Wet tears that slid down the grime on her cheeks.

She remembered how it had happened, step by step.

And realized she was going to die.

So far…just the torture. Inflicted because her attacker had an ego that seemed to know no bounds.

How much more torture?

Could she do anything…play into it?

She wondered if air could get in? She realized all the things she didn’t know about the sea, about boats.

She was going to die. When the game of torturing her grew old.

She could only put it off….

She resolved to herself that she would put it off. She would play along, say anything—good God, do anything—if it could keep her alive for one more minute.

Someone would finally figure it out, surely.

She wasn’t the one he had really wanted, she knew. She was just a poor substitute.

Substitutes were so expendable….


She had to fight, had to stay alive, say anything, do anything….

Oh, God.

Genevieve. Eventually she, too, would be here.

And she, too, would die.

Despite the circumstances, Genevieve appeared to be in the best of spirits as she opened the door to see Thor and Brent standing on her porch.

“Victor is out,” she said first, without preamble.

“Oh?” Thor asked cautiously.

“They have nothing on him, of course,” she said indignantly.

He cleared his throat. “He was the last one seen with her.”

“But ask Bethany—he couldn’t have been with her long because he got back to his cottage too quickly,” Genevieve said with a wave of her hand. “I’m onto something, though, but first—” she looked past him, smiling at Brent “—what did Sheridan have to say?”

“That there’s more to this than meets the eye, basically. Our Anne left letters in the box. She was afraid of someone. And she was waiting for someone else to come and give her assistance. It’s kind of convoluted. She goes on about some truth, but the truth is worse than a lie. He’s only translated one of the letters so far.”

Genevieve smiled. “I have the truth,” she told them.

“Oh?” Thor said.

“Come on in and sit down,” she said.

“Any word of Audrey?” Brent asked.

Genevieve’s brilliant smile collapsed. “No.”

Adam, Nikki and Bethany were in the parlor. Someone had apparently just brewed tea.

“Want something?” Genevieve asked.

Thor’s stomach was growling, but he shook his head. Information first. “Give us what you know,” he told her.

“Anne wasn’t desperately in love with Aldo. She despised him,” Genevieve announced.

“Oh?” Thor said skeptically.

Genevieve nodded. “I don’t know if you remember or not, but I’ve done a lot of reading on the Marie Josephine. Some of the letters and memoirs were written by pirates who sailed with Gasparilla, and they talked about his deep love for Anne. Remember there was the suggestion that Gasparilla hated being scorned, that he might have killed Anne? Well, he didn’t. He tried to save her. There was a mutiny on board the Marie Josephine. Aldo—the supposed great love of Anne’s life—was the one who killed her. Gasparilla was on his way to save her. He’d promised to do his best not to kill the crew and to see that her father was safe. But he was too late. Aldo was the one who couldn’t bear the fact Anne had scorned him. He murdered her. In the same way these women were murdered now. He weighted her down and threw her overboard. Gasparilla was on his way. He attacked the ship, found the crew dead and battled the mutineers. The Marie Josephine was already breaking apart. Cannon fire did her in. Well, I’m speculating on some of this, but I swear I’m right.”

Thor stared at her, frowning. “How do you know all this?”

“It was incredible,” Bethany breathed.

“What was incredible?” Thor asked.

“She went back. She lived it all as Anne,” Bethany said.

Thor felt his temper rising. This was ridiculous, so why did he feel…


“What the hell are you talking about?” he demanded. He stared at Genevieve hard, then turned his glare on Adam Harrison.

“Hypnosis,” Adam said evenly.

“What?” Thor exploded.

“Thor, stop it,” Genevieve said. “Please.”

“Hypnotism is a valuable tool,” Nikki said. “People have quit smoking with the help of hypnosis. They’ve lost weight, made other important changes in their lives.”

Thor wasn’t appeased. “Go on.”

“I simply painted a picture of the day,” Adam said. “Then I asked Genevieve questions.”

“You should have heard her. It was like she was living it.” Bethany was so obviously still under the spell of what she’d seen.

Smoke and mirrors. The power of suggestion. Maybe it was all a form of hypnotism.

He folded his arms over his chest. “Great. You think you know what happened on the ship.”

“It makes sense,” Genevieve said. “And,” she pointed out, “it fits in with everything Sheridan was telling you. Just wait,” she said stubbornly. “Wait until he’s read more of the letters. You’ll find out I’m right.”

In this group, he wasn’t going to win so he simply ignored the topic and moved on.

“So Victor has been released. What about Audrey? Any word from the cops on the identity of the corpse? Or from Marshall?”

Genevieve’s face fell. She shook her head. “Jack, Alex, Lizzie and Zach went out right after you left. They were going to see if Audrey was out…if anyone ran into her, if she said anything to anyone…anything at all.”

“You haven’t heard back from them?” Brent asked.

Genevieve shook her head. “But I can just call them.”

“No, they’d have called you if they’d discovered anything. Want to head out with me?” he asked.

She frowned, her eyes indicating that she had company. “Where?”

“Miami,” he said. “We’re going to see if we can’t find out something about Marshall.” She kept staring at him. “We’re not getting anywhere here,” he added quietly.

“Are you going to drive all the way to Miami and back today? It is kind of late. And what about the dive?” Bethany asked.

“Sheridan doesn’t seem concerned about the dead women,” Thor admitted dryly. “But we have to leave the area to the cops for another day. That’s assuming they’ll sanction us going back down on Thursday. We’ll be back by tomorrow night.”

“Hey, Gen. I’m just leaving with these guys,” Bethany called, interrupting them. She smiled assurance to Genevieve. “Don’t worry. I’m sticking to this group like chewed gum on the bottom of a shoe.”

“Keep in touch,” Brent told Thor.

“Actually, we are getting somewhere,” Genevieve said as soon as everyone else was gone. “And I want to get hold of Helen—that reporter who’s Father Bellamy’s main squeeze. I want her to do a story about what happened on the ship.”

“We don’t know anything yet,” Thor reported.

“I’ll have her write it up as my theory,” Genevieve told him.

“You can call her from the car,” Thor said curtly. He was suddenly in a hurry to get out of here.

He needed a little distance from all the insanity.

But could they really get away?

Or would they be followed?

By…? he taunted himself.


He was back.

Audrey could hear his footsteps overhead.

From the noises, it sounded as if he were getting ready to take the boat out.

Oh, God!

It was time. If they went out to sea…

She could fight. Yes, now that she knew, she could fight.

And never win. Look where she was right now.

So this was it.

Tears sprang into her eyes again.

But then, very distantly, a phone began to ring. His cell.

She couldn’t hear his words, only that he had answered, and his tone was as blithe as if he had a fish in his hold.