Page 43 of The Perfect Couple

When Celeste looks up, tears are streaming down her face. “Is there any way we can be finished for now?”

Nick scans his notepad. This was not your typical wedding. The maid of honor was sleeping with the groom’s father. Nick will call the Chief and have him question the father; Nick would likely lose his cool with the guy. He’s beginning to have emotions about this case, which is never a good thing.

But then Nick thinks about Greer Garrison. Which of Greer’s answers had Nick found suspicious? All of them, really. She had seemed bloodless, soulless, unaffected, and… unsurprised. And she had intentionally not told Nick about going to the kitchen for a nightcap. Greer writes murder mysteries. If anyone would be able to plot a murder and get away with it, Nick thinks, it would be her.

Right?

If she knew about this affair, she would be a prime suspect.

But Nick can’t leave any stone unturned here. Featherleigh Dale was at the table after both Celeste and Thomas left. Featherleigh might be able to say for sure if Tag took Merritt out in the kayak.

Nick writes on his notepad: Find Featherleigh Dale!

The sound of Celeste crying brings Nick back to the present.

“We can be finished,” Nick says. “For now.” He gets to his feet. The poor kid. It’s pretty clear she’s going through more than just her best friend dying. “I’ll send Patty back in.”

Saturday, July 7, 2018, 2:00 p.m.

THE CHIEF

Shooter Uxley wants to lawyer up, which is his right, although any cop in America will tell you the same thing: It doesn’t look good. Why lawyer up if you have nothing to hide? The Chief tries to point this out to Shooter gently, without making his true motivation known, his true motivation being that they need answers, and fast.

Keira, the Chief’s assistant, informs the Chief that before he went off duty, Sergeant Dickson was able to locate and speak to Ms. Monaco’s brother, Douglas Monaco, of Garden City, New York, and that Mr. Monaco said he would contact his parents and would, when the time came, make the necessary arrangements for the body.

“How did he sound?” the Chief asks. “Did he have any questions?”

“He was shocked,” Keira says. “But he hadn’t talked to her since last Christmas and he said his parents hadn’t spoken to her in years. They had a falling-out.”

“Did he ask you what happened?” the Chief says.

“He didn’t,” Keira says. “He just thanked me for letting him know and gave me his contact information.”

“Good,” the Chief says. The last thing he needs now is aggressive, upset family members demanding more intensive police work. And yet the complete opposite of that feels sad, even though it makes his job easier. “You can release the name, age, and the hometown—use New York City—to the press and tell them the matter is under investigation. No further comment.”

“Also?” Keira says. “Sue Moran from the chamber of commerce called. She’s concerned.”

“About what?”

“Weddings on Nantucket generate over fifty million dollars, she said. A Murdered Maid of Honor is extremely bad for business, she said. She wants us to try to keep the wedding angle quiet.”

“Fine,” the Chief says. “We’ll try. But you might want to remind her that it’s a small island.”

Uxley chooses a local attorney, Valerie Gluckstern. The Chief knows Val well, and while she’s not his favorite lawyer on this island, neither is she his least favorite. She started out as a trust and estate attorney and switched to criminal defense six or seven years ago, once there were enough wealthy and connected lawbreakers to keep her in business. Val is willing to relax certain rules because they live thirty miles out to sea and big-city procedure doesn’t always apply.

For example, instead of wearing a suit and heels, Val shows up at the station wearing a beach cover-up, a straw hat, and flip-flops.

“I came right from the beach,” Val says, and in fact she has sand breading the backs of her legs. “My brother is here with his four kids and his pregnant wife. I wasn’t exactly unhappy to be called away.” She cocks an eyebrow at the Chief. “Do you ever have houseguests, Ed?”

“Not if I can help it,” he says.

“Wise man,” Val says. She looks around. “Where’s the Greek? I thought he was investigating this case.”

That explains Val’s prompt arrival more than the houseguests, the Chief thinks. Every woman on this island will jump through hoops of white fire for the Greek.

“He’s interviewing a witness at the hospital,” the Chief says.

Val nods. “Let me talk to my client.”

“He tried to run,” the Chief says. “It doesn’t look good, Val. You should let him know that.”

“Let me talk to my client,” Val says again.

While Val is in with Shooter, Ed checks his phone. He sees a text from Nick that says, We need to find a wedding guest named Featherleigh Dale, and the Chief curses under his breath. Here he’s liking Shooter Uxley for this and now there’s a new person of interest? The Chief calls the Winbury house to speak to Greer.

“We’re looking for someone named Featherleigh Dale,” he says.

“Yes,” Greer says. She sounds unsurprised.

“Do you have any idea where we might find her?” he asks.

“She’s staying at an inn,” Greer says. “Let me check which one. I have it written down.” A moment later she comes back to the phone. “The Sand Dollar Guest House, on Water Street.”

“Thank you.” The Chief hangs up and dispatches one of his patrolmen to the Sand Dollar to bring this Featherleigh Dale in for questioning.

Nick calls on his way from the hospital to the compound. “Talked to the bride,” he says. “She was a gold mine.”

“What did she give you?” the Chief asks.

“Our maid of honor wasn’t exactly honorable,” Nick says. “She was sleeping with the groom’s father, Tag Winbury.”

The Chief closes his eyes. He’s so hungry, he’s seeing stars—then he remembers that Andrea packed him a lunch: turkey BLT, two ripe, cold plums, a thermos of chilled cucumber-coconut soup. He loves his wife. As soon as he gets off with Nick, he’ll eat.

“I talked to Linda Ferretti, the ME,” the Chief says. “Victim was seven weeks pregnant.”

Nick sucks in his breath and the Chief feels a renewed sense of purpose. This woman’s death was no accident. They have a real situation on their hands.

“She was pregnant with Winbury’s kid,” Nick says. “I wonder who knew. Celeste didn’t tell me that. I… I don’t think she knew. I wonder if Greer Garrison knew.

“I dispatched Luklo to go pick up Ms. Dale at her inn,” the Chief says. “How is she involved?”

“She was sitting under the tent late last night with Merritt, Tag, and Thomas, the groom’s brother. The brother, Thomas, went up to bed, leaving Merritt, Tag Winbury, and Featherleigh Dale. She should have something to tell us.”

“Yes, we need the Dale woman,” the Chief says. “Now that we know what we know. So why am I talking to Shooter Uxley? Why did he run? Where is he in all of this? Why did he, of all people, lawyer up?”

“I guess we’ll find out,” Nick says. “Who’s his attorney?”

“Valerie Gluckstern.”

“I like Val,” Nick says. “And she likes me.”

“Let’s hope that works in our favor and we can get the kid to talk,” the Chief says. “After I’m finished with Uxley, I’ll talk to the father.”

“I’ll talk to this Dale woman,” Nick says. “Once we find her. And, hey, if you need help swaying Val Gluckstern, let me know.”

“Thanks, Prince Charming,” the Chief says.

Saturday, August 12–Monday, August 21, 2017

CELESTE

She takes a week’s vacation from the zoo in August, coordinating with Benji’s vacation, and the two of them go to Nantucket.

Merritt says, “You do know how lucky you are, right? Having a rich boyfriend with a huge waterfront home on Nantucket?”

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