Page 35 of The Perfect Couple

Merritt looked down as if to remind herself what she was wearing. “Young, Fabulous, and Broke,” she said. “Which describes me.” Her smile faded. “Well, two out of three, anyway.”

Once the glass was all picked up and Merritt had hurried off to find Celeste, Chloe wanted to finish cleaning up and leave. She presented the tray of broken glass to Donna, who frowned but then said, “Happens to the best of us, kid.”

Geraldo said, “Let’s get out of here, chica.”

Chloe had to go to the bathroom. Badly. Siobhan didn’t like them to use the restrooms unless it was an absolute emergency, and this definitely qualified. There was a powder room designated for guests, and now that most of the guests had left, it was unoccupied.

When Chloe emerged a few minutes later, she turned left down the hall toward what she thought was the front door and freedom. But the hall led her into a living room.

“Hey,” a voice said.

Chloe peered into the room but saw no one. Then, from a chair that looked like a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a woman sat up. It was the woman who had been so rude about the cheddar biscuits and had sent Chloe in search of more. And see that they’re warm!

“Hello?” Chloe said.

“Can you bring me a bottle of something, doll face?” the woman said. “Whiskey? Vodka? Some of that champagne Greer was drinking?”

“Uh…” Chloe said. “The party is over, actually.”

“The official party is over,” the woman said. She had a bad dye job, blond turning a rust color at the part. “Now is the after-party and as I’ve run dry, I need your help.”

“I’m only sixteen,” Chloe said. “I can’t serve alcohol. It’s against the law.”

The woman laughed. “Ha! What if I give you a hundred pounds? Or, wait, a hundred… what do you Yanks call them? Bucks!”

A hundred bucks? It was tempting. Chloe knew how easy it would be to pluck a bottle from the boxes waiting to go back out to the catering truck. But she thought of Merritt. One wayward decision might lead to another, she feared.

“I’m sorry,” Chloe said. “I have to get home.”

“Sweetie, please,” the woman said. “I’m desperate. I would have bet my last shilling that Tag Winbury kept scotch in every room, but I can’t find a drop. And you are the catering help, aren’t you? So it’s your job to bring me what I want.”

“I’m sorry,” Chloe said. “I’m off the clock. I’m leaving now.” She gave the woman what she hoped was a professional smile and turned around. She headed back the way she’d come and zipped out the side door of the house. Because, really, how much could she be expected to deal with in one night?

Saturday, July 7, 2018, 12:30 p.m.

THE CHIEF

He has to drive from Monomoy to the station, where they’re holding Shooter Uxley. He has two state policemen back at the scene to make sure nothing is tampered with and no one else flees. He could use two more guys, quite honestly. Nantucket just isn’t equipped for a murder during a busy holiday weekend. That is the stark truth.

The Chief inhales through his nose and exhales through his mouth, his takeaway from the stress management course he’s required to attend every three years. He’ll question Shooter himself and that will likely shed some light on things. He’ll hear from the ME about an exact cause of death. If he still hasn’t figured out what happened, he has the father, the brother, and the groom himself.

But frankly, the Chief likes the best man for this. Why else would he run? Then again, after he’d disappeared last night, why would he come back? What is going on here?

The Chief talked to Nick briefly before he left the compound. Nick said the mother of the groom, Greer Garrison, the mystery writer, had misled him about her timetable. Intentionally, he thinks.

I didn’t like the way our interview went, Nick said. It had a funny smell.

The Chief calls home. Andrea answers. “How’s it going?”

“Oh, fine,” Ed says. Andrea will know he means the exact opposite. He wants to tell Andrea that Finn’s girlfriend, Lola Budd, was the one who ended up finding their main suspect. It’s a good story and it will hearten Andrea to know that Lola has had a chance to shine, but there isn’t time to get into it now.

“How’s Chloe?” the Chief asks. “Is her stomach feeling any better?”

“Not sure,” Andrea says. “She’s locked herself in her room.”

“No locked doors,” Ed says. This has been a rule since back when his own kids, Kacy and Eric, were growing up.

“You come home and tell her that,” Andrea says. “Because I’ve tried and she won’t budge. She’s upset about the girl. The Murdered Maid of Honor, everyone is calling her now.”

“Everyone?” Ed asks. “Is it that bad already? People talking? People giving this story a name? We aren’t even sure she was murdered. Not sure at all.”

“It’s a small island, Ed,” Andrea says. She pauses, and he realizes she has just lobbed his favorite line right back at him. “Would it be awful if while you were out solving this murder, I went to the beach?”

He’s investigating a murder, not solving anything. “Go to the beach,” he says. “But please be careful.”

“You’re sweet,” Andrea says. “Love you.”

He hangs up just as a call comes in from Cape Cod Hospital.

“This is Ed Kapenash,” he says.

“Chief, it’s Linda.” Linda Ferretti, the medical examiner. “Prelims indicate our girl died by drowning around three a.m. The blood work shows someone slipped her a mickey, or maybe she self-medicated. A barbiturate seems to be the culprit. The cut on her foot was the source of all that blood but it was just a surface wound. She has one fingerprint-size bruise on her wrist; my best guess is someone yanked her or pulled on her arm. There are no other signs that she was strangled or smothered and then dumped. She either took pills or was given something. She went out for a swim, passed out, drowned. Could have happened in a bathtub.”

“Okay,” the Chief says. “What was her blood alcohol content?”

“Low,” Linda says. “Point zero-two-five.”

“Really?” the Chief says. “You’re sure?”

“Surprised me too, at first,” she says. “The contents of her stomach were minimal. Either she didn’t eat much last night or, what I think is more likely, she vomited up what she did eat.”

“What makes you think that?” the Chief asks.

“She was pregnant.”

“You’re kidding,” the Chief says.

“Wish I was,” Linda says. “Very early stages. My guess is she was six or seven weeks along? She might not even have realized it.”

“Wow,” the Chief says.

“The plot thickens,” Linda says.

The Chief hangs up and his phone rings again. This time it’s the Nantucket hospital.

“This is Ed Kapenash,” he says.

“Chief, it’s Margaret from the ER.”

“Hey, Margaret,” the Chief says. “What’s up?”

“We have the bride from that wedding,” Margaret says. “Kind of strange? She says she wants to talk to the police here at the hospital rather than at the house. Her fiancé came to check on her. They had words, then he stormed out.”

“Keep her there, Margaret,” the Chief says. “I’ll send the Greek the instant he’s free.”

“The Greek?” Margaret says. “My nurses will be thrilled.”

The Chief smiles for the first time that day. “Thanks, Margaret,” he says, then he turns into the station.

They are holding Shooter Uxley in the first interview room. When the Chief enters, Shooter is fast asleep with his head on the table. The Chief watches him for a second and listens to him snoring. Whatever anxiety he might be feeling is clearly overridden by exhaustion.

Didn’t sleep much last night, buddy? the Chief wonders.

Mr. Uxley has taken off his blazer and untucked his shirt. The Chief looks at his paperwork: Michael Oscar Uxley. New York driver’s license, Manhattan address, West Thirty-Ninth Street. Also from New York City, like the deceased. He wonders if Uxley was the father of Ms. Monaco’s baby.

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