“She won’t like hearing that.”
“After having spent a very brief time with her, I have already judged her to be nothing like Compton . . . or his advisors,” he added.
“You’d think someone who was going to hand over that much money to one person would want to get to know her,” Dylan surmised.
“I mentioned that very thing to him a few months ago, but he became indignant at the suggestion. He felt his investigation told him everything he needed to know about Kate and her sisters. He was quite the recluse at times—I suppose one would call him eccentric. He had difficulty establishing any sort of personal relationship. I think, as long as he kept his transactions on a strictly business level, he could control them. I was his attorney for the last seven years and found him to be extraordinarily inflexible. He preferred to work through his financial associates.”
“How many are there?”
“Six in all,” he replied. “Four advisors and two accountants. I’ve already given their names to Detective Hallinger.”
Dylan was walking back and forth in the hall of the police station while he talked to Anderson on his cell phone. The door to the lounge was open. The tiny room was furnished with a synthetic leather sofa and a soda machine. Dylan went in and dipped into his pocket for some change as he continued his conversation. He asked the attorney to e-mail him the names and phone numbers so he could do a little checking on them, too. Just to be on the safe side. Who knew, maybe he’d find out something Nate had missed. Remote possibility . . . but still . . .
“Did Compton also want to control the time for the meeting from his grave, or can that be rescheduled?” he asked and then quickly answered his own question. “It has to be rescheduled. There’s just no way it can take place this afternoon.”
“I understand,” Anderson said. “Compton was more flexible about the time. He realized people do get sick and there are emergencies. I believe the only reason he wanted the meeting scheduled two days after his death was to make certain his advisors and accountants would be in Savannah in time for his funeral. It was his way of making sure someone besides me showed up. What about tomorrow evening at seven? Would that be convenient for Kate?” Anderson asked. “Or the day after that? The others are coming in from out of town. They’ll stay in Savannah for as long as necessary. But, you know, the sooner those papers are signed, the better for everyone’s peace of mind.”
And better for her chances of survival, Dylan thought. “How much notice do you need?”
“Whatever you can give me.”
“What about notifying the MacKennas? You said they had to be invited? Right?”
“When I know the time, I’ll call them, though I doubt any of them will show up.”
“Why did Compton want them there?”
“He didn’t say, but I think it was out of spite. Perhaps he wanted to rub their noses in what they had lost.”
“Let’s try for tomorrow at seven, and if I can’t make it happen, I’ll call you to reschedule.”
Dylan realized he was making decisions without Kate’s input. He would have to run his plans by her and get her approval.
He disconnected the call and then went through the rest of his voice messages. Nate had called four times trying to find him. With each message he became angrier. Dylan understood why. Nate felt responsible for Kate’s well-being, and not knowing where she was would naturally infuriate him. Dylan didn’t particularly care how angry he was. The fewer people who knew her whereabouts, the better.
He knew he couldn’t avoid Nate much longer. He got two sodas out of the machine, popped the tab of one, and took a drink. And then he called Nate.
And got his voice mail. “Okay, I’m calling you back. So call me on my cell phone.”
That ought to piss him off, Dylan thought.
Kate was in the chief’s office. Dylan decided she had had enough time to talk to Drummond about the weasel problem, and went downstairs to join them.
She was stuffing papers into her briefcase when he walked in and handed her the other can of soda. Drummond was making notes on his legal pad.
“I’ll get right on this,” he promised. He looked at Dylan and said, “Kate wants to stay the night at home. I think we could make that happen. Don’t you? I could get some men to sweep the house and get a couple more to patrol the grounds. She lives in a cul-de-sac, and that will make the job easier.”
“Did you put him up to this?” Dylan asked Kate accusingly.
“I might have mentioned that I would like to be able to sleep in my own bed tonight.”
“You did a bit more than mention it to me,” the chief countered. “You out and out begged me to get Dylan to agree.”
She closed her briefcase and placed it on the floor. “I don’t beg,” she said. Turning to Dylan, she asked, “Did you know that Chief Drummond was a detective in Los Angeles? He retired after twenty years of service and moved here because he got tired of all the traffic.”
“I think she’s trying to convince you that I’m qualified for the job.”
“We’ve already talked, Kate,” Dylan answered. “He knows all about my background, and I know a considerable amount about his. I think the chief knows how much I respect his experience.”
Kate stood. “Then I can go home now.”
“Sit right back down,” the chief ordered. “You aren’t going anywhere until your house has been swept. And the street,” he thought to add. “Is the attorney going to bring the papers here for Kate to sign?”
Dylan had previously talked to Drummond about the possibility. “No. It was nonnegotiable. If Kate agrees, we’ll try for seven o’clock tomorrow evening. That should give us enough time to get organized.”
“In Savannah?” the chief asked.
“That’s too bad. You’re going to have everyone but me taking charge then.”
“Everyone?” she asked.
“Savannah’s in another state,” he reminded her. “The FBI isn’t going to be left out. This really should be their case. And then you’ve got Charleston PD wanting to stay in charge. The first explosion did take place in their jurisdiction, and now you also have to include Savannah PD, especially if you think something might happen.”
“The Savannah police? Why would you want to involve them?”
“Because you’ll be in their yard,” the chief said. He looked at Dylan and added, “Think how they’re gonna feel if there’s gunfire or something gets blown up and they’re not consulted.”
Dylan nodded. “We’d never hear the end of it.”
They were joking . . . weren’t they? If all those people showed up, there wouldn’t be enough room inside the Smith and Wesson building.
And then it hit her. If there was gunfire or a bomb—which did seem to be the favored weapon of destruction—some of those people could die.
“No,” she blurted. “I don’t want anyone to go to Savannah with me. I’ll go alone.”
“I’ll let you handle this,” the chief said to Dylan as he pushed his chair back. “I’ve got things to do.”
After Drummond left, Dylan leaned against the desk waiting for Kate to explain.
She was waiting for him to argue with her. When he remained silent, she demanded, “Did you hear what I said?”
“And?” she was frowning up at him.
What had set her off? “Sure,” he said. “If you want to go alone, you can go alone.”
She immediately became suspicious. This was too easy. “Thank you.”
“How are you going to get there?”
“Wasn’t your car blown up?”
How could she have forgotten that? “I won’t drive my car.”
“I guess not.”
“I’ll rent a car.”
“Kate, what’s this about?”
You, you big dummy. You’re what this is about. You could get killed. Oh, God, she couldn’t even think about that. And what about all the other detectives and policemen? All of them could die in one big boom. She shook her head, letting him know she wasn’t willing to explain.
He didn’t take the hint. “What’s this about?” he repeated.
She gave in. “It just struck me. People could die protecting me . . .”
Tears pooled in her eyes. Dylan must have seen them because he pulled her to her feet and hugged her. “It’s okay. You’re just a little overwhelmed.”
“I guess I am,” she said. She waited for him to give her a few words of comfort, to say something, anything, that would make her feel better.
He didn’t seem inclined to do more than hold her, and after a moment she realized that was all she really needed.
Kate lifted her head from Dylan’s chest. “What about Carl?”
“What about him?”
She put some space between them. “Are you convinced that he had nothing to do with any of this?”
“Yes, I’m convinced.”
“Then he can go home?”
“No, not yet. He’s going to have to convince some other people first.”
Two FBI agents and another detective from Charleston PD who were helping Nate out arrived at the police station an hour later and took turns questioning Carl. After they had finished with him, they let him go home. He kissed Kate on the cheek, squeezed her hand, and whispered, “Be brave, darling.”
They questioned her next. She was weary of having to go through every little detail again, starting with that first explosion, but she cooperated and answered every question as thoroughly as she could. By the time they ran out of questions, she had run out of patience.
Drummond came to get her. “Come on, Kate. It’s time to go home. Your house has been searched from top to bottom, and is clear.”
“He’s waiting for you in back.”
She collected her purse and briefcase from his office and followed him to the back door.
He put his hand on her shoulder. “You’re going to get through this just fine,” he said. If she wasn’t sure of his good intentions, she might think he was chastising her with his abrupt order.
“I’ll be over later with dinner,” he added.
“You don’t have to go to all that trouble—”
“Yes, I do. I looked inside your refrigerator. I’ll bring something,” he said curtly.
She was glad hadn’t protested when she arrived home and looked in the refrigerator. There really wasn’t anything there she wanted to eat. Her stomach was grumbling. Neither she nor Dylan had eaten anything since breakfast, and it was already after six.
“Time flies even when you’re not having fun,” she remarked as she walked into the front hall.
Dylan followed her up the stairs carrying their bags.
“You’re not having fun? I guess we’ll have to do something about that.”
He didn’t ask her if she wanted him to share her bed. He put his bag in the guest room and dropped her bag on her bed.
She was not going to ask him to sleep with her. Absolutely not. She went into the bathroom, locked the door, and took a long shower, hoping that would revive her.
It didn’t help much. She put on her favorite pair of old jeans and a T-shirt and actually did feel a little better then. She combed her hair and went downstairs.
Dylan was in the backyard talking to a police officer. She watched him from the kitchen window while she chewed on a wilted celery stick. He looked tired, she thought. And wonderful. He certainly seemed to be coping better than she was. There were moments when she felt she was going to fall apart.
Not wanting him to catch her staring at him, she forced herself to turn away. She listened to the messages on her home phone. Most of them were for Isabel, and none of them were important.
She was feeling out of sorts and restless. She got a bag of potato chips out of the pantry and put it back unopened.
She knew what was wrong with her. Dylan. How long was it going to take her to stop loving him, she wondered. Was it even possible, or was she doomed to live in misery the rest of her life? There was no one to blame but herself for her unhappiness. She had known from the very beginning what she was getting into with him—he loved them and he left them. He didn’t make any excuses about the way he lived. He was what he was.
And she was what she was—a complete idiot because she had fallen in love with him.
Definitely melancholy tonight, she decided. Stress was putting her on edge. That’s what it was, all right. Stress. And feeling completely helpless.
The doorbell rang, and she was forced to stop feeling sorry for herself. She assumed it was Drummond with dinner, and she was suddenly ravenous. It wasn’t Drummond, though. It was Nate, and when she opened the door for him, he looked astonished to see her.
He was quick to recover. “What are you doing opening this door?” he demanded.
His glare made her flinch. “You rang the doorbell. Answering it seemed the proper thing to do. Please, come in.”
“Are you alone in here?” he demanded as he stormed past her. “What the hell’s wrong with you? Don’t you know someone’s trying to kill you? Or don’t you care?”
“Yes, I know, and yes, I care,” she said softly. “Please stop shouting at me. My ears are ringing.”
He took a deep breath before continuing. “I’ve got to yell at someone. Where’s Dylan?”
“In the backyard. There are deputies in the front and the back,” she said. “So it was all right for me to open the door.”
“That’s not why I’m angry,” he snapped.
She chased him to the kitchen. “Then why are you?”
“Because I didn’t know where the hell you were last night. Not good,” he snapped. “You two just . . . vanished. What if I had vital information? What then? Dylan wasn’t answering his cell phone, and you weren’t answering yours . . . what the hell’s the matter with him? He knows better. Where is he?”
Nate was on a rampage. “I just told you,” she answered.
“Tell me again,” he demanded.
“In the backyard,” she said. “Have at him.”
“Don’t you dare open that front door again. Understand me?”
He didn’t wait for an answer but tore the kitchen door open and went outside. The door slammed shut behind him.