Chapter Two

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Six-twenty p.m. and the sky was still light when I heard a husky voice whisper, "Where have you been all my life?" I didn't open my eyes.

I wasn't asleep. I'd been leaning my head against the rear doorframe of the cruiser and hadn't gotten to the point of dozing yet. I remembered the voice from a murder investigation more than a year before. I'd been a suspect until the real killer tried to murder me. The time gone by had been long enough that I no longer winced when I thought of Police Lieutenant Karl Karlson, but not nearly long enough for me to want to see him again.

When I blinked, I beheld the lieutenant grinning at me through the open side window with his very best movie star gleam. His teeth almost outshone his mirrored Oakley sunglasses for brightness.

"Can I go home now?"

Lt. Karlson took off the sunglasses and tried a serious expression, since his brightly lit grin hadn't produced the desired result. "I need to talk to you first, but we don't have to talk here. Let me take you home."

In another life that might have sounded like a tempting offer because Karlson was tall, blond, and handsome, but I had already wasted enough time on this particular specimen.

I stared deeply into Karlson's blue eyes, but I wasn't smiling. "Can't we wait until tomorrow, Lieutenant? I've already told my story three times for Officer Hansen and twice for the sergeant. I have to sign my statement tomorrow anyway. Can I meet you then?" I allowed myself a tiny rueful smile. "It isn't as if I don't know the drill."

"I need to hear your version now, tonight, before you forget anything," he said. "What if I buy you coffee?"

Clearly, I wasn't going home any time soon. And I was unlikely to get much sleep, now or later. Behind my eyes a vision lurked. I didn't want to see it again.

So I climbed into his unmarked white Caprice, which screamed "Police Car" even without the lights and sirens. Karlson had Hansen drive my car home which meant that yet another police car had to go there and pick Hansen up. My tax dollars at work.

In silence, we drove the short distance from the brokerage firm to the Mary's Market at Edgebrook. This little corner establishment was an off-shoot of the great Mary's empire that included a larger restaurant on East State Street, a tiny satellite at a golf course, and a huge catering business right behind the big restaurant. Karlson didn't know yet, but we were about to enter my own little corner of heaven.

Mary's is where I go to think. The thoughts come more quickly whenever I order my usual double Black Forest coffee—a mocha with cherry syrup, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. This particular concoction goes down better with a slice of Mary's special cheesecake, the usual New York-style, smeared thickly with a layer of raspberry jam and coated in chocolate.

I don't go for alcohol; caffeine and sugar are my drugs of choice. Karlson couldn't have chosen a better place to get me to spill my guts if he'd hired a psychic.

The place was slow for a weeknight. A few tables at the front were filled with middle-aged white women sporting trendy haircuts and reddish dye jobs. The back was deserted but for one black guy of indeterminate age sipping a latte. I noticed from the cover that he read an old Robert B. Parker novel.

We found a quiet table in the back. I looked into the gathering darkness out the plate-glass window to my right while Karl got the java and my cheesecake.

This offshoot of Mary's was in a tiny mall. Larger than your average strip mall, this upscale block housed a large Ace hardware, a great children's bookstore, a camera store, a Hallmark, and the busy bridal shop across from my window seat.

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