Page 28

 Catherine Coulter

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“So one of the Hispanic guys struck you down. Were any of the dead men Hispanic?”
“No. Like I told you, they were all like him, Caucasian.”
He squeezed her hands. “It shouldn’t be much longer before we know the dead man’s identity.”
“So Anna didn’t know who he was?”
“Anna told Ruth she’d spoken to him only a couple of times, said he was friendly, but she didn’t know his name, or anything about him, only that he was new in town.”
“Where is Anna? Why hasn’t she come back to see me?”
“She’ll show up when she can. Tell me more about the men in your dream.”
“His face is here in front of my eyes, Griffin, all their faces, really, plaster white, like they aren’t real, but I can see dark whiskers on their cheeks. They won’t go away.”
“Tell me about their faces.”
“Their faces are full—well fed, I’d guess you’d say—boyish, and their eyes are open like his were. They look surprised, Griffin, their mouths open, too, showing their front teeth. But the blood, so much blood.” She fell silent, looking inward, then, “I told the sheriff I’d seen the dead man near Holcombe’s Bank and in Maurie’s Diner, but I remember now I might also have seen him on Breaker’s Hill, Griffin, three days ago, when Anna and I were snowboarding. Anna took a wild turn and went skidding toward the trees and fell on her butt. I was yelling at her and laughing, and I saw a man standing in the maple trees beside the trail and I remember wondering what he was doing there, since I didn’t see him holding a sled or a snowboard. He moved back, really fast, like he didn’t want anyone to see him. But Griffin, I think it could have been the dead man in my bathtub.”
Now, this was interesting. “In your dream, all of the dead men screamed something at you—think about this, Delsey. Can you now make sense of any of the sounds?”
She eyed him for a moment. “No, it’s just jumbled noise. You’re thinking the dream was a sort of message to me? You think they were telling me it was my fault the man was murdered?” She looked beyond him, at the drifting snow outside her window. How beautiful the scene outside looked from inside the warm hospital room. But the man in her bathtub wasn’t warm, not any longer.
He felt her corrosive fear and dropped it. “Nah,” he said, and gave her a final squeeze. He’d bet his favorite Rossignol skis the dead man in her bathtub had been the same man she’d seen in the woods on Breaker’s Hill. Was he following her? Surveilling her? It sure sounded like it. But why, for heaven’s sake? Because she saw something she wasn’t supposed to see, or overheard something she wasn’t supposed to hear?
Griffin eased her back down, patted her cheek. “You did good. Now, for a reward I’m going to get you pistachio-pineapple ice cream. Used to be the only flavor you’d eat. Can you get it in Maestro?”
“Look, Griffin, I’m being crazy, I mean, look at what my mind conjured up—a whole bunch of dead men. Why would I deserve a reward for that?”
“You’re not crazy, your mind’s trying to sort things out and make sense of them. You’ve got a great brain, Delsey. Hey, your brain and mine, together we could rule the world.”
“I don’t want to rule the world. I wouldn’t mind winning an Oscar for best musical score, though. That pistachio-pineapple ice cream sounds nice, too.”
Saturday evening
It was Anna Castle who showed up with Delsey’s pistachio-pineapple ice cream after Delsey had Griffin call her. It was Anna who’d convinced Maurie of Maurie’s Diner fame to put pistachio-pineapple on the menu, since the local grocery stores didn’t carry it. Anna grinned. “Maurie bitched and moaned, but Delsey gives him a good profit on every servin’, not to mention all the other converts she’s brought in. I think it tastes weird, myself, but there’s no accountin’ for taste, now, is there? At least Maurie’s a happy camper.”
Griffin watched Anna’s mouth while she spoke—A very nice mouth, he thought—and enjoyed her drawl coming out of that mouth, enjoyed the way she dropped g’s. It was unconsciously charming. He found himself smiling back at her. He watched Delsey dig a spoonful out of the small carton, lick it slowly, and run her tongue along it to get every last bit off the spoon. Griffin had to laugh, because she looked like a happy little kid on her birthday.
Anna said, “One of the regulars, Ray Dunlap, saw her eatin’ the ice cream like that. I thought the poor guy was gonna hyperventilate and I got a paper bag ready, in case.”