“Oh? That’s it?”
“I might have overreacted . . .”
She reached behind her seat for the briefcase. “If you had mentioned this sooner, I wouldn’t have gotten upset.” She found the file folders she was looking for and pulled them out.
“What’s all that?” he asked.
“Loan papers my mother signed. I want to read them again. The other folder is from one of the hospitals. In the last year of her life she spent more time there than at home.”
Kate took the next twenty minutes to read each paper, each bill, and each receipt, and she at last understood. Tears clouded her vision. What little insurance her mother had, had run out, and in desperation she’d signed away everything so that her daughters wouldn’t be saddled with her debt.
The hospital bills alone were astronomical. How she must have worried, but in silence, telling no one and keeping the heartache and fear inside.
Tears streamed down Kate’s face. She turned away so Dylan wouldn’t notice. She found a tissue in her purse and quickly wiped the tears away.
“Kate, do you want to tell me what’s going on?”
“I need information,” she said. “And fast.”
“Do you think Anderson is ethical? If he’s going to become my attorney, I’ll need to know he has scruples. Is there a way to find out quickly?”
“I’ve already got someone looking at him. We’ll know something soon.”
“I like him. But he did represent Compton MacKenna, and that worries me.”
“He’s an attorney and obviously a good one or your uncle wouldn’t have hired him. It’s naÏve to think Anderson had to like or respect him or any of his other clients.”
“There are other people I want checked out. Who would give us the name of a good investigator?”
“I could do it for you. This is about your company, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” she said. “But you’ve got enough to deal with, and I need this information soon.”
He didn’t argue. “Let me think about it,” he said.
She put the folders in the briefcase and sat back. Her mind was racing with details she needed to take care of.
“After you sign those papers, what are you going to do with all that money?” he asked.
The question reminded her of yet another errand. “I need to go to a bank in Silver Springs.”
He thought she meant she would transfer the money there. “Anderson will do that for you.”
“You don’t understand. I need to get a loan.”
Dylan had the uneasy feeling that he was forgetting something. He kept replaying conversations in his mind and going over various details again and again, and still he couldn’t figure out what was bothering him.
He knew he was missing something, but what? What wasn’t he seeing?
Kate noticed how preoccupied and withdrawn he had become. It didn’t take long for her to catch on that he didn’t want to talk—his abrupt one-word responses were a dead giveaway—and for over an hour neither of them said a word. The silence wasn’t awkward, though. Had she become that comfortable with him, she wondered, that she could feel so at ease?
They had reached the outskirts of Silver Springs. When he suddenly took an unexpected turn, she asked him where they were going.
“Somewhere safe,” he answered. “And quiet.”
“It’s quiet at my house now,” she said. “We could go there.”
He shook his head. He bypassed her neighborhood and continued down Main Street to the Silver Springs police station.
He drove around the corner to once again park in the back lot.
“What are we doing here?”
“I need to check in,” he said.
He got out of the car and came around to open the door. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Why do you have to check in?”
He offered her his hand. “Even though this is a temporary assignment, I’m working for Chief Drummond, and I answer to him, so it’s my job to keep him informed. I don’t want to do that over the phone. I was also thinking that the chief could be a big help to you with your company problems.”
“He could? How?”
“You said you wanted an investigator to check out the weasel. Drummond’s got the resources, and I know he won’t mind helping. You’ll have to explain why you want the information, but he’ll keep whatever you tell him confidential. I know how worried you are.”
“It would be wonderful if I could get something in my life straightened out. Thank you,” she said, overcome with gratitude.
“The chief’s helping me out, too,” he said. “I’ve already called him several times and given him names to run for me. Hopefully, he’ll have something by now.”
She was smiling. “You must have really impressed him. I remember what Nate told you about the chief.”
“Yeah? What was that?”
“He said he was tough . . . or difficult . . . and because he was retiring soon, he didn’t care who he offended.”
“He is retiring,” he said. “I don’t know how old he is or how long he’s been at the job, but I’ll tell you this. He hasn’t lost his edge. After I met with him to get the badge and gun and we talked, I made a couple of calls of my own. I wanted to know that, if I had to, I could trust him.”
“And can you?”
“Yes,” he said emphatically. “He’s got an impressive record, and he’s a good man. I respect him,” he added, “and I definitely trust him.”
“Okay. Then I’ll trust him, too.”
They started to cross the parking lot, but Kate turned back. “I’ll need my briefcase. The chief might want to look at some of the papers in my mother’s file . . . if he has time to help.”
“He’ll make time,” he assured her as he retrieved the briefcase.
After he’d handed it to her, she whispered, “And you’re certain he’ll keep this confidential?”
“I’m certain,” he said. “You shouldn’t be embarrassed about—”
She interrupted. “I’m not embarrassed. I’m just trying to protect my mother’s reputation. I know you think I’m being silly. My mother wouldn’t care. I just don’t want anyone to think less of her.” They started toward the path again. “I’m glad the chief is helping you,” she said.
“I’m trying to take some of the load off Nate’s shoulders,” he explained. “He’d do whatever I asked him to do, but he’s overworked as it is. He’s trying to track down Jackman, who seems to have vanished from Las Vegas, and he’s also keeping a tail on Roger and the two brothers. I doubt he’s asking for any outside help. He’s new to the Charleston department, and I know he wants to prove himself. The FBI is focusing on the bomber, and from what I understand, they’ve got a couple of solid leads there. They’re also searching for Jackman, and according to Nate, everyone’s still tripping over everyone else. It would look real good on his record if Nate brought Jackman in.” He glanced at the station and said, “It will be less chaotic here.”
Chief Drummond must have spotted them from the window. The back door swung open and he beckoned to them.
“Don’t you listen to your messages?” he asked Dylan in lieu of a greeting.
“I was just about to do that,” he replied.
“When you do, you’ll hear me tell you to call me. We’ve got a real interesting situation here,” he announced.
He tipped his head to Kate and said, “Good morning, Miss MacKenna.”
“Good morning to you too, Chief Drummond, and please call me Kate.”
“All right then.”
Southerners, Dylan was learning, were always polite, no matter what the circumstances.
“You have a situation?” Dylan asked, trying to get his attention.
“Real interesting,” he said. He stepped out of the way so Kate and Dylan could go inside first, then made sure the door locked behind him.
“A fella came in here about a half hour ago. Said his name was Carl Bertolli.”
“Carl’s here?” Kate asked.
The chief nodded. “You heard right. He’s here.” He led the way up the stairs to the first floor.
Kate waited impatiently for him to explain, but he didn’t seem to be in any hurry as he proceeded down the back hall and pushed open the door to his office.
She hurried inside and turned to face him. “Why is he here?” she asked.
“He said he drove all this way to pay you a call, Kate, but you weren’t home, and so he decided to come on down here and turn himself in. Please, take a seat.”
She dropped into one of the chairs facing his desk. “But what is Carl turning himself in for?” She was thoroughly confused.
Drummond made himself comfortable in his old squeaky chair. He folded his hands on his desk and said, “He told me he was responsible.”
Kate looked at Dylan, who had closed the door behind him and was leaning against it with his arms folded across his chest. He seemed to be taking the news in stride. She wasn’t. She was flabbergasted.
She carefully placed her briefcase and her purse on the floor next to her chair, her mind racing with questions.
“What is Carl saying he’s responsible for?” she asked the chief.
Drummond shifted his weight and tilted his chair back on two legs. “That’s a good question. I thought I would give him a few more minutes to settle down, and then I’d try once again to get an answer out of him.”
“Settle down?” Dylan asked, not understanding.
Drummond nodded. “I want to question him, I sure do, and just as soon as I can figure out a way to get him to stop crying, I’ll start in.”
Kate now understood why the chief looked so bewildered. He’d obviously never encountered anyone quite like Carl.
“He’s . . . dramatic,” she said.
“Yes, he is,” the chief agreed.
“And he can be temperamental. He’s an artist,” she hastened to add, so Drummond wouldn’t think she was criticizing her friend. “He majored in drama at the university, and he’s been in several local theater productions. And as I’m sure you know, some creative artists are high-strung and . . . emotional.”
“He’s emotional all right.”
“How do you suppose he knew you were looking for him?” she asked Dylan.
“I’m guessing his fiancée,” he answered. “The police questioned her about his whereabouts. She must have gotten word to him.”
“You want to take a shot at him?” Drummond asked Dylan. “He should be calming down about now.”
“I’ll talk to him,” Kate said.
“I don’t know about that,” Drummond said.
Dylan was shaking his head, but she ignored him as she stood, picked up her things, straightened her skirt, and asked the chief to please take her to Carl.
When he didn’t immediately hop to, she said, “Where is he waiting? In a conference room or a lounge? Chief, if I have to open every door on every floor to find him, I’ll do it.”
“We do have a nice conference room, and we’ve got a lounge with a soda machine, but Carl isn’t in either one of those rooms. He’s in a cell.”
“You locked that dear man in a cell?”
He didn’t give her time to get all worked up. “Now hold on. I didn’t want to put him there. It wasn’t my idea.”
“Then whose idea was it?”
“His,” he answered. “He insisted that I lock him up.”
That didn’t make any sense to her. “But why did you arrest him?” she asked.
“I didn’t arrest him. He wanted me to lock him up, so I did. I figured a cell was as good a place as any for him to calm down.”
“Where are the cells?”
“Will you please take me to him? He must be beside himself with worry.”
“No, I’m not taking you to his cell, but here’s what I will do. I’ll bring Carl down to the first floor and put him in the interrogation room. You can talk to him there.”
“Thank you,” she said.
“Don’t thank me yet. You’ve still got to get around him,” he said, nodding at Dylan.
“I’ll talk to him,” Dylan said. “And I’ll tell you what he had to say.”
“She could stand on the other side of the two-way mirror and watch and listen,” Drummond suggested. “We just had it installed,” he announced proudly.
The chief was clearly on her side, and that made her like him all the more.
“Kate has something she would like to talk to you about,” Dylan said. “Now would be the perfect time.”
“Oh, that can wait until after I talk to Carl.”
“I plan on being here all day,” the chief said.
She took a step toward Dylan. “Carl and I are friends. He’ll talk to me. He isn’t going to hurt me, and if that’s your reason for not wanting me to talk to him, then come in with me. Just don’t—”
She sighed. “Scare him.” He looked exasperated. “And don’t intimidate him.”
“How old is this guy? Ten?”
“He’s sensitive,” she muttered. “Unlike you.”
Dylan had to move out of the way so the chief could open the door and leave. Kate seized the opportunity and slipped past Dylan on Drummond’s heels.
Drummond pulled a huge round key ring with only three keys dangling from it off a wooden peg attached to the wall and headed toward the open staircase. “The interrogation room is the second door on the right. You two wait in there, and you better decide who’s talking to him and who’s listening, and then get on with it because, Dylan, you know you’ve got to call this in to Charleston and let Detective Hallinger know Carl’s here. And he’ll have to let the FBI know, and that means that you’ve got about an hour tops after you make that call before they all come tearing in here to snatch Carl away.”
“They’re going to have to wait,” he said. “I’ll make the call after I find out what Carl knows. I also want to run a couple of things past you,” he explained.