Chapter Thirty-one

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As I left Liz's office and walked to my car, I pondered what to do next. All Harriet knew was that I was at the doctor. I doubted she would quiz me about my tardiness. Therapy with Liz was during my lunch hour, but I'd covered the driving time to and from Liz's office by arriving to work early. Sadly, there had been no lurking Simone to spook.


I'd checked, and Barney wasn't due in until late because he had both breakfast and lunch dates with clients. I was free to have a little chat with the Irish bride herself.


Once seated in the Renault, I locked the door and started the motor before the wind rustled the paper on my windshield.


I got out, grabbed the note stuck underneath my left wiper blade, and climbed safely into my car to read it. As before, the note was cut out of newspaper letters and glued to a green steno sheet.


This one read: Does you're mother know that you see a shrink, Porker? STOP SNOOPING or you will be SORRY.


I needed to see Odin on the double.

***


The Lieutenant wasn't at all pleased to see me. "Why didn't you call me?" he said once we were safely ensconced in an interview room. Greenberg sat at Odin's right hand. He nodded vehemently at Odin's question. Yours Sincerely was in deep kimchee.


"I came right over," I replied. I knew perfectly well that his anger stemmed from my having conveniently forgotten to mention the first note. It was Greenberg who drew first blood.


"Do you realize that your life is in danger, Paulette?" Greenberg held a little white notebook in front of him, but he didn't write in it. His tone reflected the barely suppressed frustration one would feel while dealing with a particularly backward child. Odin merely shook his head as if he couldn't believe my stupidity.


I sighed because this wasn't the reception I expected. "Look guys," I said. "I didn't take the first note seriously. I thought it was some kind of joke."


"You could be the next victim," Greenberg said. He stared straight into my eyes and wouldn't let me look down. "You'd better stop whatever it is you're doing." If it hadn't been Greenberg bitching me out, I might have squirmed in my seat.


"Is that what you want?" I said. "Because without me you'd have nothing."


I glanced at Karlson, who was cooly examining the edge of the table where his hands were folded neatly.

"Is that so," he said. Though he wouldn't look at me, his words were clearly a challenge, and I'd never been able to walk away from one yet.


I held up the thumb on my right hand.


Point one," I said. "The cute Irish cousin is also the wife. They're supposed to be getting an annulment."


Greenberg appeared interested in what I had to say, but Karlson's smirk didn't move an inch. I added my index finger to the thumb.


"Point two," I said, "try looking into Wilhelm Jaffarian. Rumors in the Chicago office make him out to be a major player, so how did he get stuck here in Rockford?"


I added my middle and fourth fingers to the other two.


"Points three and four have to do with Barney Dunbarton and Harriet Maple. They've been working together side by side for ten years. Story is that she adores him, but the feeling isn't mutual. Meanwhile, he diddles everything that moves. Need a motive? Try jealousy."


I still stared at Odin when Greenberg started writing in his white cop's notebook. Karlson studied his perfect manicure when I stopped to take a breath. The silence made him look up and catch my eye.


"And your point would be?" Before I could think up a sarcastic rejoinder, he smirked. "Stellar police work, Ms. Goddard. Only one problem. You aren't on the force."


"So?" I said.


"So, you need to quit snooping around before it gets you killed."


"That's it?"


He glanced at Greenberg. "Yes, Ms. Goddard, officially that's it."


"And unofficially?"


Karlson turned back to bore his baby blues into me. "You're going to continue snooping anyway," Karlson said. "Despite everything I've said."


I noticed that he phrased this as a statement rather than a question. Maybe he'd engaged that psychic because he was right. I had no intention of quitting now no matter what anyone said. The threatening notes merely pissed me off.


Odin cleared his throat to get my attention. I looked first at Greenberg and then at Odin. I didn't want any of this to be easy for them. Finally, I nodded. No way was I backing down.


"Then, unofficially, Ms. Goddard," Odin said, "I've got your back." The Norse God smiled then with all of his white, white teeth.

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