Chapter 28 Sleuthing before Romance

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Victoria took a miniature fork and stabbed the deep fried morsel. It was salty and fatty and the malted vinegar spiked the back of her throat. She took a sip of her beer and looked out the window. The air was misty and the boats were swaying at the dock. As she watched them, the nagging feeling returned. She was missing something important. She was about to take out Winifred's sketches again, when she saw Walter stepping into the restaurant. He handed his umbrella to the waiter and took off his hat and coat before coming over to her.

"I'm sorry, Victoria, a long board meeting and slow traffic."

She smiled. "I was beginning to worry that some newspaper boys had coerced you into an interview."

Walter grimaced and sat down. "Would that amuse you?"

"Of course not, Walter," Victoria said. "I'm just trying to make the best of it."

A waiter came up and gave Walter a beer and took their orders. When he left, Victoria asked, "They aren't still pestering you from last summer, are they?"

He shook his head. "No, thank God. The last one was a telephone call a few weeks ago. Now, all I need is for the world to forget that you're my wife." He looked at her and took a deep breath. "I didn't mean that, you know. It came out wrong."

Victoria nodded. "I understand."

"I only meant that I'd like them to leave me alone." He took a deep breath. "The publicity is fine for you, you don't choke up, but these last six months have been...difficult." He glanced over his shoulder and lowered his voice. "Sometimes, it looks like someone is going to approach me and my heart begins to race and I feel like I can't breathe. I want to turn and run the other way. That sure does sound crazy, doesn't it?"

"There's nothing crazy about being a private person. Some people thrive on attention and others would rather stay out of the spotlight."

Walter looked down and sighed. "I'm proud of what you've done, but I'm relieved that it's over. I was beginning to think that I might have to change my name and start living incognito."

"Or go on a remote fishing trip?" Victoria asked. She looked up. A man in a worn suit came up to them and took off his hat.

"Excuse me, Lady, but aren't you that detective dame?"

Victoria glanced up at him then away. "No."

He smiled and snapped his fingers. "Sure you are, I'm a typesetter at the post. I saw a photograph of you last summer with the Sergeant Inspector. You're the one who helped the cops solve that nasty murder with the rich old bag. Man, I wish I had my notebook with me. I collect autographs and I'd love to have yours."

She picked up her glass. "I really don't know who you've mistaken me."

The man reached into a bag and pulled out a camera. "Maybe I could just get a quick photograph, here in the restaurant and a little follow up story about what crimes you been solving lately?"

Victoria turned to the man and set her beer down. "I want you to leave."

"Now, there is no need to be bashful, sister. The readers love this stuff..."

Walter stood up and grabbed the reporter's arm. "Listen buddy, the lady asked you to go."

"All I wanted was a statement," the he objected, shaking off Walter's hand. "My editor would love it. That dame's big news in this town! Sherlock Holms meets Jane Wyman."

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