Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chapter 14

As soon as the lock clicked shut, the phone began to ring. I paused, hesitating to re-open the door. No, I’ll pick up my messages from the office. I turned and walked down the hall to the elevator. The phone died as I pushed the button. Then it began again seconds later. I looked down the hall toward my condo. The elevator arrived and the doors opened. As I stepped inside, the phone was still ringing. The doors closed and the elevator descended to the parking garage.

The past Labor Day weekend had been a fantasy. Paul and I made love bathed in the bright glow of the full moon outside our hotel bedroom window every night. Our shadows on the wall copied our every rythym and stroke. The heaviness of the ochre moon reflected our passion and intimacy. The ebb and flow of the tides echoed our lust and love. No room or surface in our suite was off limits to us. Paul and I ordered room service constantly. We left the room only to run el commando to the ocean to engage ourselves in the warm, salty womb of the sea. As our energy waned, we held each other through much-welcomed naps. Early morning hours was time spent revealing our closest-held secrets. I began to believe that the phenomenon of this second harvest moon was full of kinetic energy. That was the only way I could’ve been the kind of lover I had never been before. Our connection was so beautiful. I knew that I would never forget how Paul looked at me the glow of the moonlight. I would never forget how our bodies felt or what our shadows revealed in its presence.

That day I was feeling pretty sore, the side-effects of what my mother used to warn me about: “honeymoon sex”. She had always made it seem like it was supposed to be a bad thing. Why, at my age, did I still hold on to what my mother had told me from my youth? My mother would never know the good of anything that was pleasurable. I started to sing ‘There’s a Hole in My Bucket’ to get my mother’s words out of my head. (Works every time; I am not making this up.)
Entering the main lobby of the Wiltern, I waved to Joe at the desk, retrieved my mail and picked up a business journal. Thumbing through the latter, looking for possible leads, I waited for the elevator to return to the lobby. When I got off on my floor, I could hear phones ringing. No, not phones, one phone. As I neared my office, I realized that it was my phone. I dropped my mail and bag to the floor. Hurriedly, I turned the key in the lock, pushed the door open, and lunged for the phone on the desk. It had rung its last ring.

“Hello?!” I answered, out of breath. Then I cleared my throat and continued,
“ ‘Pushkin Atelier’.” I really needed an assistant.

“Lois, is that you?” came Paul’s voice, tight and hushed. He sounded like he was under a duvet. Maybe I had drained him to the point where he had become incapacitated and couldn’t leave his bed. I’d have to check on him later to make sure he could still walk.

Relaxing, I went around my desk and flopped into my chair, “Oh, it’s you. I have been plagued with ringing phones all morning. What’s up?”

“Lois, are you sitting down?” Paul asked.

I sat up straighter in my chair, pulling my body towards the desk. “Yes.”

What was this all about? Did he have a big announcement to make? Surely he wouldn’t do it over the phone.

“Lois, Kip was found dead this morning in his bathroom,” Paul revealed quietly. “The police think it was a suicide.”

I stood up quickly, sending my chair slamming into the wall and yelled into the phone, “What? What the hell! Faraday is dead?” I started pacing the length of the phone cord, back and forth across my office. A brain cramp surged over me. I suddenly felt faint. I steadied myself against the desk as gas began filling my intestines. Fight or flight. I used to feel this way every time my mom would call me. It was never a good thing.

“Faraday wouldn’t kill himself, Paul.” I calmly and firmly stated this as a fact.

“Yeah, I know. I think that too, Lo. I think he was murdered,” he added after a weighted pause.

“Where are you now?” I hoped he wasn’t at the estate. Had he found the body? I had to get to him first before anyone started questioning him. He shouldn’t be harassed so soon.

“I’m at home. I hadn’t even left for work yet when I got the call,” said Paul.

“Who called you?” I asked, picking my bags up and slinging them over my shoulder. I shoved the mail inside my office and under my desk with my feet. My mail addiction had instantly gone into recovery.

“Bruce,” he replied.

“I’m coming right over. Don’t go anywhere and don’t answer the phone,” I said and hung up. I stood at my desk, arms crossed over my chest and stared out the window. Faraday was dead, really dead. Dead as a doornail. Gone. Poof! What day was today? Tuesday? What did it mean to die at the beginning of the week, or for that matter, what did it say about someone’s death? Were suicides weekday events and homicides for the weekends and holidays? Had Faraday died during the day or night? Oh, had he died last night? I had forgotten to ask Paul. Maybe he had died over the weekend while we were out of town? That suddenly put a wet blanket on our glorious weekend.

Shit, had Faraday been on the toilet? Oooh, like Elvis. Then it hit me. Oh, oh, oh, my bathroom, my lovely bathroom. I imagined all of the fixtures covered in blood. Or worse, smashed and destroyed. Paul hadn’t mentioned how Faraday had died. Damn it, Lois, forget your bathroom – a man is dead! Does that mean my privacy contract with him is void? Oh, shut the fuck up, Pushkin.

I mechanically locked up my office, my thoughts going all over the place and a mile a minute. I exited the building, habit guiding me, and drove over Laurel Canyon to Paul's bungalow. I was still in shock over the news, slowly absorbing it into my brain as I drove as fast as I could. I had to call Harshy.

“This is J’Neene,” she answered.

“Hey, Harsh, it’s Lois.” I spoke quietly into the phone.


“Lois, Harshy, Lois,” I said louder as I rolled up my window to block out the traffic noise in the canyon.

“Oh, hey, what’s up?” Harshy asked.

“Harshy, are you sitting down?”

“What the hell?”

“Girl, Faraday is dead,” I told her, flat out. I was running out of time as I was nearing Studio City.

“No fucking way!’ she yelled into the phone. I knew that she was standing at that point, Janet Jackson head piece in her ear.

“It’s true. He was found in my bathroom. My newly finished, designer bathroom. We think it was murder,” I explained. “The police are putting it up as a suicide.”

“What do you mean ‘your’ bathroom? Was Faraday at your condo?” asked Harshy. “Did Brian kill him? I always thought that kid was wack.”

“No, no,” I backtracked, “Faraday was killed at his estate in the new bathroom that I designed for him.”

“Oh, well, that makes more sense then.”

Rocket science. “I’m on my way over to Paul’s and he’s a wreck. I want to be there with him when the police talk to him.” I told her.

“Who do you think did it?” Harshy asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything at this point. Paul is freaking and I really have to be with him right now,” I explained. “I just wanted to call you before you found out from anyone else.”

“Cool beans, lady,” said Harshy. “I’m here for you, so call if you need anything. This place can suffer without me.”

Cool beans? Who says cool beans? I know I know someone who says that, but their face is just on the cusp of my brain. “Thanks, lady. I’ll talk to you later, ‘kay?”

“Sure. Call me the minute you know anything more,” and Harshy said and hung up.

I made it to Paul’s seconds later, parked behind his truck, and ran to his front door. I rang the door bell like it was a Vegas slot machine. Slowly, Paul opened the door. His eyes were rimmed red, his hair was a mess (and with no baseball cap on), and his face was ashen. I took him into my arms. He rooted his face into my shoulder and held me tightly. Gradually, I pulled away and led us over to his couch.

“So, tell me what you know,” I asked him, searching his eyes, stroking his face. His stubble was fierce.

Paul ran his hand through his hair, rubbed his eyes and composed himself as best he could. “It was Bruce. Bruce called me. He was hysterical! I think I spent ten minutes trying to calm him down and decipher what he was telling me,” Paul told me. “When he thought I understood, he hung up. Then I called you.”

“Go on,” I encouraged him, holding his hands and stroking his fingers.

“That’s all I know. Apparently the police were at the estate investigating the scene, taking notes, taking photographs, getting everyone’s names and promising to call them for interviews. According to Bruce, they didn’t seem to care too much about Faraday himself. Bruce believed the police thought that it was another “celebrity” suicide.”

Paul hung his head and shook it back and forth in disbelief, studying my hands. There had been a rash of suicides and overdoses in the city lately. Mostly drug overdosed, B-List actors and actresses. Fodder for Fox News.

“Why do you think its murder, Paul?” I asked, stroking his jaw so that he lifted his head.

“Faraday wouldn’t kill himself. You said so yourself. Besides, he had enemies. All powerful people do,” explained Paul.

“Business enemies?” I asked.

“Any type. Business, personal, lovers, whoever, whatever. Faraday lived all aspects of life and affected and influenced a lot of people everyday. Anybody could’ve killed him!” Paul exploded.
“Even you, Lois.”

I pulled back, eyeballing Paul for sincerity. He held my hands firmly, weighing the seconds and measuring this new idea, wanting to truly know if I was capable of killing Faraday. I believed that he really only wanted to know if he could trust me completely with everything that was him at this precise moment in his life. He knew that I trusted him completely as I had worked through the idea that, yes, he could actually love me for who I was. Now it was his turn to trust me with his soul.

“I did not kill Faraday, Paul,” I assured him. “It is against my company policy to knock off my best-paying clients.”

“Bad joke, babe.” Paul looked away and then looked back at me. “This isn’t funny, Lois. A man was murdered.”

I pulled my hands out of his grip and laid back into the couch. This was going to be a
long day and after an already exhausting weekend. “Then don’t accuse me of killing him. Why do you care so much, Paul? Yes, your best, long-time, wealthy client is dead, and that’s a shame for you and your business, and yes, you suspect murder, but why care so much beyond that and basic human empathy? Let the police investigate and do their job.”

Paul was quiet for a long time. He looked into the fireplace, looking far away. I got up. He grabbed my hand. “I’m just going to make us some drinks,” I assured him. I came back with some gin and tonics and slid close to Paul, offering him a glass.

After taking a sip and letting the cool briskness calm him, he began to talk, quietly, “I worked for Faraday for many, many years. I started working for him as part of a construction crew in high school. When I started at UCLA, I left the crew, but Faraday still called me to do small jobs for him at his various estates. I don’t know why he remembered me out of the whole crew, but he apparently liked me and the money helped with tuition.” Paul paused, remembering. “When I graduated, Faraday asked me to work for him full time. I had said no. I had some ideas I wanted to follow career wise. He asked me if I would still do handyman jobs for him and I agreed. Long story short, construction became my full-time career and Faraday my best and most loyal client. I don’t owe the man anything, but for all of his faults and plethora of screwed-up relationships, he was a good man at heart and a true friend to me, always. I feel obligated to take an interest in his death as his friend. I owe him that.”

I sat, stunned. Revelation bloomed slowly over my brain. This was like Paul losing a brother or even a father. With this history, no wonder he had had a direct connection to Faraday over Bruce and Trevor. This explained his free run of the estate and autonomy for all projects. This train of thought quickly jumped me to my next thought.

I blurted out, “Did you kill Faraday, Paul?”

Shocked, Paul looked me in the eyes for sincerity. “No,” he finally said, quietly. “No, no, no, of course not, no.”

His eyes drifted to the void in the fireplace again. I grasped his thigh and put my arm around his shoulders. Sighing, he turned back around and slumped against me, chin on the back of the sofa, staring into the morning sky. I stroked his hair and tugged at his ears. After a while, Paul told me that the police had called when I was on my way over. Damn! He had given the police my name because I had worked at the estate and let me know that they’d be calling. Paul hadn’t mentioned our relationship to them, figuring that would come out later, as need be. I told him not to worry about me and that he should probably go upstairs to sleep. I would join him later after I made some phone calls and cleared my appointments for the next few days. I wanted to stay with him during that time and help him through these next difficult days.

When I heard his bedroom door close, I sat on the couch, phone in hand, staring at the same fireplace void and wondered what the hell was going on. How could I handle this? My first great, well-paying client turns up dead. Bad kharma? Perhaps the kinetic energy of the harvest moon was both good and evil. Yin and yang. As my rubber band was expanding, had Faraday’s snapped? What had he done that would make someone feel so passionately as to want to kill him? Or was it really the passion of suicide, as the police suspected? Was there passion with the desire to kill one’s self or was it a lack of passion? I would never suspect Faraday to be without passion. I was beginning to feel more comfortable with my belief that Faraday had indeed been murdered.

I also believed in Paul. I could believe Faraday was murdered, but by whom? And why? Why? By a guy? Guy! I could call Guy. Should I? I thought about this for a long time before I
finally dialed his number. The phone rang a good while, and I was about to hang up when a breathless voice answered.



A throat cleared and then there was a pause. “Yes, this is Guy Arbuckle, Private Investigator. How may I help you?”

“Guy, it’s me, Lois Pushkin.”

“Lois! How’s it going? Long time, no hear. Miss ya at the Formosa. See Harshy a bit, we talk some. Well, I talk more than her really. Anyway, what’s up?” asked Guy.

“Guy, I’m calling about something serious.” I paused, rethinking my decision to retain him.

“Guy, I don’t know how much information is already out, but I must have your word for discretion now.”

“Sure, of course. Are we entering a PI-client relationship over the phone now?”

“I need to know if I’m doing you a favor as a friend or if you are a paying client. Defines my scope of work,” explained Guy.

“Yes, then we are entering a client/PI relationship as of now. I need your professional service,” I said, “as a friend.”

“Way to complicate it,” replied Guy. “So, Friend, what can I do you for? Someone stalking you?”

“No, nothing like that. This is bigger than me. Guy, do you remember my client, Kip Faraday?” I asked.

“Yeah, the wack job on Mulholland Drive. The one with the goofy contractor you had to work with,” he confirmed. “Harshy told me that job was finally over. Bet you’re glad you don’t have to deal with that bozo anymore.”

Well, this was news. Goofy? Bozo? Who the hell did he think he was? George Clooney? Who was he calling a bozo – Faraday or Paul?

“Yes, well, anyway, we found out this morning that he’s dead. We think it was murder,” I revealed.

“Oh shit!” yelled Guy. “Freaky Faraday is dead, murdered? Holy crap!”

“He’s dead, Guy,” I affirmed, “but we’re the ones speculating that it’s murder. The police are calling it a suicide right now.”

Guy was suddenly quiet. “Who is ‘we’? Is Harshy with you? The two of you aren’t sticking your noses in this, are you?”

Oh shit, I thought. So much has happened and so much time has gone by that Guy doesn’t really know about Paul and me. He would naturally assume it was Harshy and Me.

“No, no, ‘we’ is Paul, and me. Paul is – was- Faraday’s ‘goofy’ contractor. We’re, um, actually dating now.”

“Oh, ho! So he got his apartment re-designed, did he? He could afford your rates?” sneered Guy.

I was quietly debating whether to hang up. The line was dead silent for a time.

“I’m sorry, Lois. That was low and uncalled for. I’m sorry.”

“And none of your business,” I added stonily.

“Touché. I am sorry.”

"Apology accepted. I’m sorry you had to find out this way,” I said. “I didn’t know you felt that way.”

“Ah, you weren’t my type anyway. So okay, I’m serious now. Let’s let bygones be bygones. You called me. How can I help you?” asked Guy, trying to redeem himself and stifle his bruised and embarrassed ego.

“Could you do some research for me on Faraday? Find out who could’ve wanted to kill him?” I asked. “I haven’t told Paul that I’m asking you to look into this. I don’t even know if I can afford your rates. Especially when I don’t know the status of my career if I become a person of interest to the police. But I knew this would pique your interest. Maybe if you’re successful this would give you some publicity to start your own firm. I know you have that goal.”

I was desperate to find any hook to get him to take on the job. I needed to know and keep track of what happened in the bathroom, how the murder took place, and what direction the police investigation was going.

“Yeah, that sounds doable. Hadn’t thought of the marketing angle,” replied Guy. ”If I needed it, do you think you could introduce me to people from the estate I think could provide me with information? I would also need my expenses paid as they’re incurred at the least.”

“No problem on the expenses. As far as introductions go, I’ll try. But I’m still a newbie in this billionaire circle, so I don’t know how many useful people I would know. I think you’ll have to be resourceful and creative. Plus, we’ll have to watch each others backs. Everything involving that estate is part of an inane three-ring circus.”

Guy laughed. “Yeah, I know how you are. I’ll be watching my own back.”

“Very funny. So you’ll help?” For my peace of mind, I needed to know right then. I didn’t know what else at that point. I wanted to show Paul that I took his concerns seriously and that I was with him in this all the way.

“Of course. Let me snoop around and I’ll call you if I find out anything,” agreed Guy.

“Thanks, man. This really means a lot to me.”

“No problem. Talk to you soon.”

I hung up the phone and stared at it, trying to remember my office number. My day was mentally shot. As I started to dial, Paul’s cell phone rang. More ringing phones. I almost dropped it to the floor as I answered it.

“Hello?” I said, fumbling to get it set to my ear.

“Mr. Atkinson, please,” a man’s voice inquired.

“He’s not available right now. Who’s calling please?” I answered in my receptionist voice.

“This is Dectective Patrick from the Los Angeles Police Department, Downtown Division. Who is this?” the voice came back.

“This is Lois Pushkin. What can I do for you, officer?”

“Oh, OK. Well, I actually need to talk with you as well. I’m calling regarding the Faraday suicide,” explained Detective Patrick.

“Suicide? Was it really suicide?” I was completely taken aback by his matter-of-fact statement. Had the case been closed already? That was quick for the LAPD.

Detective Patrick cleared his throat and adjusted his receiver on his phone. I could hear muffling and then he was back on. “Well, no ma’am. It hasn’t been officially declared a suicide. I apologize for that. It is officially still an open case, but we’re pretty convinced that that was the situation.”

I propped myself up on the couch with pillows for what I could tell would be another trying phone call for me today. “Okay, so why do you want to talk to me? What could I possibly tell you that’s any different from what you already know?”

“Just procedure, ma’am. I’ll just need to ask you some general questions. Are you ready?”

“Yes, go ahead.”

“How long did you know Kip Faraday?”

“Almost a year,” I answered.

“What was your relationship?” asked Detective Patrick.

“I am, I mean, I was his interior designer. I designed the remodel of his executive bathroom…”

He briskly interrupted, “Could you please repeat that?”

“I’m an interior designer…”

“No, the part about the bathroom. You were closely involved with the bathroom remodel construction?” inquired Detective Patrick more aggressively.

“Yes, I was. I worked with Mr. Faraday’s general contractor, Mr. Atkinson,” I offered.

“Interesting,” he murmured and I could hear the clicking of his keyboard over the phone.

“Detective, I know Faraday was found dead in the bathroom and…”

He cut me off again. “Where were you Monday night, Ms. Pushkin?”

I relayed my whereabouts and he noted my alibi. I was back in my condo by Monday
night. “Do you know where Mr. Atkinson was?”

“Monday? No.” I lied.

The detective suddenly changed his line of questioning. “Do you know Trevor Gerard?”

“Trevor? Yes, I know Trevor. He was one of Mr. Faraday’s assistants,” I acknowledged.

“Have you had any contact with this man or do you know of his whereabouts since Monday night?” Detective Patrick inquired further.

“Trevor? No, I’m not his mother.” I wanted in no way to have any association with Trevor.

“And what was your relationship with Bruce Hansen?” he asked, going down another road.

“We had no relationship other than a working one. He was Mr. Faraday’s first-tier assistant and I typically communicated with Mr. Faraday through him,” I explained.

“Have you had any contact with this man or do you know of his whereabouts since Monday night?” Detective Patrick asked about the time again.

“No, neither.”

“Thank you for your time, Ms. Pushkin. Please remain available to us should we need to contact you for further questioning,” concluded Detective Patrick. “Is this a number we can reach you at?”

“No. You can reach me at my office.” I gave him that number.

“Ms. Pushkin, I appreciate your cooperation with our investigation. One more thing if you don’t mind. Why are you answering Mr. Atkinson’s phone?”

As I had been talking to him, I was hoping that he’d forget that he had called me at Paul’s. “Mr. Atkinson was using the facilities and couldn’t come to the phone.”

“That doesn’t explain why you’re at his house.”

Good point. I bullshited my response as any inkling of Paul and I’s relationship would surely spark further interest in our relationship with Mr. Faraday. “Mr Atkinson and I were going through project files to close out Mr. Faraday’s project. Tuesdays were our standing project meeting days.”

“I see. All right. Is Mr. Atkinson available now?” he asked.

“No, Paul’s still in the bathroom.”

“I see. All right. Please have Mr. Atkinson call me as soon as he is available. I have follow-up questions from my interview with him this morning.” Detective Patrick left me his direct number and told me he would be calling back if he hadn’t heard from Paul in the next hour.

I hung up the phone for the third time this morning. Standing up, I stretched my fingers as high as they could go and stood on my tippy toes. The police can just leave messages. Paul and I don’t need to be bothered right now. Not that the police are that adept anyway. I doubted Detective Patrick would call back. He didn’t even verify if it was actually me on the phone. I could’ve been the murderer. Could a woman have killed Faraday? How was he killed anyway?

I tiptoed down the hall and went into Paul’s bedroom. I whispered in his ear that I was going over to my place to get some clothes and overnight things. I definitely didn’t want him to be alone for the next few days. He murmured something in recognition. Gathering my bags, I left.

All the way home, I blasted Sleater-Kinney trying to drown out the hamster wheel of speculation in my mind. The up and down cadence of Laurel Canyon road relaxed my body like a lullaby relaxed a baby. At home, it was quiet in the parking garage and my ears rang from the music. I slumped out of the elevator at the top floor, trudged down the hall, and melted at my front door. Kashmew wasn’t waiting for me when I opened the door, but came racing out from my bedroom, startled by my untimely return. I petted him, laid my stuff on the counter, and went straight to my bedroom.

I changed into my Donna Karan sweats and a Gap tank. Then I returned to the kitchen for a light snack of apples, cheese, and chocolates to stabilize my blood sugar and calm my brain. Setting the plate on the island, I reached for the phone. I’d forgotten to check my messages and clear my calendar. God, I needed an assistant right then. I also needed to call Harshy.

With the line ringing, I heard a tap on my slider. I looked over, phone in the crook of my neck, and saw Brian. He waved. I waved back and then pointed to the phone. He motioned to the TV. I flashed the OK sign. No new messages. I called my appointments and postponed them all until the following week. It was really no biggy. Fall was my slowest time of year, and people were so busy with the pending holidays that many were glad to have the reprieve. I usually used the down time to entertain clients, do my marketing, and clean and organize my office. My stomach growled menacingly. I obeyed and inhaled my snack followed by a cold, Starbuck’s bottled coffee chaser.

Stomach and brain sated, I walked across the living room to the slider. Kashmew caught up with me and hopped out onto the warm patio as I slid the door open. Brian popped his messy blonde head up from the couch. Had he gotten highlights? Lois, get real.

“Is something wrong? Why are you home now? Are you sick? I don’t want to catch nothing, no offense,” he said.

“Hello to you, too.” I flopped down onto the couch next to his stretched-out body. I looked at him a while before I spoke again. “Faraday was found dead in his bathroom Tuesday morning.”

Brian stared at me. “What?! The bathroom you just finished? Did he off himself on the john?”

Such tact. “That’s nice, Brian. Actually, no one really knows, but Paul and I think he was murdered.”

“That’s heavy,” opined Brian. “Are you OK?” He straightened up and turned toward me.

“Yeah, I’m dealing. Sort of. I’m really just shocked and overwhelmed. Plus, my curiosity to know what really happened is driving me nuts. I can’t sit still. I feel like I’m vibrating all over inside, like a meth head.” I leaned my head back into the couch cushions.

“So what are you going to do?”

“Nothing. Right now, I’m going back over to Paul’s. Don’t expect me home tonight or for the next few nights. If it gets cold, you can sleep in the guest room. I’ll leave the slider unlocked. I need you to feed Kashmew, ‘kay?” I said.

“Cool.” grinned Brian in spite of himself. “Yeah, sure, no problem.”

“If anyone calls here looking for me, tell them I’m unavailable ‘til tomorrow.” I was thinking about Detective Patrick and his innuendos.

“I am not answering your phone,” countered Brian.

“Cool. Whatever.” I got up and walked back inside to get my things for Paul’s place. I suddenly had a thought that perhaps it would be prudent to contact a lawyer. But why, Lois, if the police think it’s suicide? Because you know it’s murder. And the police will find out it’s murder and they’ll want to question you. Better to have a plan before it gets to that point.

The only lawyer I’d ever known was an old boyfriend of my mother’s in Portland, Oregon. I looked him up on the Internet and dialed the number, leaning over my kitchen island picking chocolate-covered pistachios out of my aunt’s 1920’s silver candy dish. After a grilling by his personal secretary, the old lawyer came on the line. I explained who I was and he remembered me. Course, what he remembered most was the pink Mohawk and the safety pin through my ear. I told him where I was living and what I was doing for work before I told him about Faraday’s death. After I explained to him my relationship to the situation, he advised me to contact colleagues of his in Los Angeles, The law offices were in Westwood. That gave me confidence. He told me to call his colleagues if the police came to question me in person or hauled me down to the district precinct. He advised me to also give them my new lawyer’s card at the onset of any interviews.

I thanked him for his advice and hoped he wouldn’t be sending me a bill. My mother dumped the man because he was a miser. Always made her go dutch with him. You can bet I was writing this off as a business expense if I did get invoiced. Someone died in one of my design projects – I’d call that business related. Especially if my business was now going to be compromised because of it and police-related activity.

My thoughts drifted to Detective Patrick and to what he had said to me. I returned to the patio and got Brian’s attention.

“If, for some bizarre one-in-a-million chance a guy named Trevor or Bruce calls here or comes by, call me on my cell immediately. The number’s posted on the bulletin board next to the fridge. Check the caller ID at least if you’re not going to answer the phone. It could be me as well.”

“Will do, boss lady.” Brian saluted me stiffly. I frowned, he smirked, and I left.

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