Page 16 of Smoke in Mirrors

“We don’t have a lot to work with here, do we?” Leonora asked finally.

“We know one thing for sure,” Deke said. “We know that things don’t add up. We’ve also got these clippings and this book. That’s more than we had before you arrived in town, Leonora.”

“But where do we go now?” she asked.

Thomas unsteepled his fingers.

Leonora and Deke both looked at him.

“What?” Leonora prompted. “Got an idea?”

“If you want to start somewhere, Deke,” Thomas said deliberately, “I guess you could check out the murder of Sebastian Eubanks.”

Leonora frowned. “Why?”

“What good would that do?” Deke demanded. “Eubanks was killed thirty years ago.”

“I’m not saying it will get us anywhere,” Thomas said. “But as Leonora just pointed out, we haven’t got a lot to work with. One of the few facts we do have is that, for some reason, the Eubanks murder apparently interested Bethany enough to cause her to make copies of the newspaper stories concerning the case and later Meredith put them into a safe-deposit box for us. That’s something. Not much, I agree, but something.”

“You’re right.” Deke flattened his palm possessively on the photocopies. “I’ll get on it right away. Doubt if there will be anything out there on the Net because the story is so old but the library has microfilm of the Wing Cove Star that goes back to the founding of the paper.”

There had been a distinct change in Deke since she had first met him an hour ago, Leonora thought. There was a new crispness in the way he folded his spectacles and dropped them into his pocket. His facial expression was more alert, more alive. The moody, gloomy quality was gone. In its place was renewed determination. Deke was now a man with a mission.

She glanced at Thomas. Something in his face told her that he had mixed feelings about the transformation. She understood. Deke might very well take a turn for the worse, psychologically speaking, if their investigation went nowhere. False hope could be worse than no hope because it fed fantasies and nurtured delusions.

So be it, she thought. She was on Deke’s side in this thing. She had come here to Wing Cove to find answers and the only way to get them was to follow every possible lead even if it led to a dead end.

“I told you that we needed a new point of reference if we were to have any chance of finding something that the investigator missed last year,” Deke said to Thomas. “This book and the clippings may give it to us.”

Leonora sat forward. “You hired a private investigator to look into Bethany’s death?”

“Sure,” Deke said. “But he got nowhere. All he came back with were the same rumors about drugs that Stovall gave us. I fired him after a month.”

Wrench’s bent ear twitched. He lifted his nose and aimed it at the front door. A second later, someone knocked forcefully, interrupting Leonora before she could ask any more questions.

“That will be Cassie.” Deke shut the catalog of looking glasses and got to his feet with unexpected alacrity. “My yoga instructor. I’ll let her in. Open those curtains, will you, Thomas? She’s always complaining about how dark it is in here.”

“No problem.” Thomas rose from the big chair and yanked the curtains away from the nearest window with unmistakable zeal. “Can’t say that I’m real fond of the décor, myself,” he added in a low voice meant only for Leonora’s ears.

Deke raked his fingers through his unkempt hair and beard and opened the front door.

Leonora turned and saw an amazon with short, curly red hair and a figure that could have been used as a model for the Statue of Liberty. Except that Lady Liberty was not dressed in sweats.

“Cassie, this is Leonora Hutton,” Deke said. “She’s a friend of Thomas’s. Leonora, Cassie Murray.”

“How do you do?” Leonora said.

“A pleasure.” Cassie crossed the room with long, ground-swallowing strides. Her right hand was extended.

Leonora scrambled up out of her chair and braced herself.

Wrench hauled himself to his feet and wagged his tail. Cassie patted him on the head and then grasped Leonora’s hand and pumped it enthusiastically a few times.

“Nice to see a new face around here.” Cassie gave Leonora a brilliant smile. “I’ve been telling Deke for months that he needs to widen his circle of acquaintances and make some new friends. He spends his days in this cave, looking into the totally artificial light of a computer screen, and then wonders why his energy lines are obstructed.”

Cassie had to be at least six feet tall, Leonora mused. She towered a good two inches over Deke and she wasn’t wearing heels. There didn’t appear to be anything wrong with her energy lines. She practically vibrated with vitality.

“Hello, Cassie.” Thomas opened another set of curtains. “How’s it going?”

“Fine, just fine. Here, let me give you a hand with those.” Cassie went to the nearest window and snapped open the heavy drapes. “Can’t do good yoga without some natural light. What do you think of Deke’s beard, Leonora? I’ve been trying to convince him to shave.”

Leonora glanced quickly at Deke. She could have sworn that he was blushing. But there was something else going on. He watched Cassie as if she were a gift he dared not open.

“Each to his own,” Leonora said gently. She didn’t think the beard did much for Deke, but she had no wish to add to his obvious embarrassment.

Cassie snapped the last set of drapes apart and then stood back to survey the results.

“Much better,” she announced. “In yoga one must reach for the sun, not the darkness.”

“It’s foggy outside, Cassie,” Deke said. “You can’t see the sun.”

“Doesn’t matter. Natural light is the key. Fog is natural.”

“Whatever you say.” Deke shrugged. “You’re the expert.”

Thomas touched Leonora’s arm, silently urging her toward the door.

“We were just about to leave,” he said. He helped Leonora into her coat. “Right, Leonora?”

“Yes.” Leonora hastily seized her satchel. “We’ll let you two get on with your yoga lesson.”

Wrench was already at the door. Thomas attached his leash. The three of them went outside into the fog-shrouded morning.

Thomas pulled the collar of his jacket up around his ears. He said nothing as they walked down the road toward the footpath.

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