“You shredded that theory when you made the deal to hand over the number of that offshore account in exchange for my help in finding out whether or not she was murdered.”
“Did you come up with another theory?”
“I was damn sure Meredith wasn’t the type who had close friends. Couldn’t see any of her acquaintances giving up a good job and moving here to Wing Cove for a while just to get some answers about her death. Knew there had to be another reason why . . .” He broke off abruptly.
She arched one brow. “What?”
He looked at the eyeglasses in her hand, frowning intently. “That temple looks a little loose.”
She followed his gaze. “Yes, I know. I’ve been meaning to find an optometrist and get it tightened. Haven’t had a chance.”
“You’re going to lose that screw if you’re not careful. Here, let me see those.”
He reached across the counter and plucked the glasses from her fingers. Before she could ask him what he planned to do he opened a door next to the refrigerator and disappeared. A light came on in a small room.
She hopped down off the stool and went to stand in the doorway. She found herself gazing into a room filled with gleaming tools of all sizes and descriptions.
Thomas stood at a workbench, studying a box filled with very small screwdrivers.
“I think I’ve got one that will fit. Yeah, here we go.”
He took a tiny screwdriver out of the box and went to work on her glasses.
When he was finished he handed them back to her. “How’s that?”
She tested the temples. They were both snug.
She put on the glasses. And was oddly pleased.
“This is great,” she said. “I’ll have to get myself one of those itty-bitty screwdrivers. Then I wouldn’t have to look up an optometrist every time I need to tighten a temple. Thanks.”
She looked at him. “I’m here in Wing Cove for the same reason you are, Thomas.”
“I know,” he said. “A family thing. I’ve got that much figured out now.”
He smiled faintly. “And here I’ve been thinking that you and I had nothing in common.”
She’d been telling herself the same thing. Over and over again.
Thomas and Wrench walked her back across the footbridge a short time later. The fog had moved in, cloaking the cove. The low lamps that marked the jogging trail and the narrow bridge glowed weakly. The lights of the town at the tip of the wing were a blurry glow in the distance.
At her door, she said good night, locked up and then went to the window and pulled the curtain aside. She stood there, watching, until Thomas and Wrench disappeared into the mist.
There was something similar about the way both man and beast moved, she mused. An easy, fluid, deceptively unhurried quality that was the hallmark of natural-born hunters.
A couple of junkyard dogs, all right. She wasn’t buying that line about Wrench being a reincarnated miniature poodle for a minute.
The ancient swivel chair squeaked when Leonora leaned back in it. She waited a couple of seconds to make sure it wasn’t going to collapse under her weight. When she was sure it would hold, she stacked her ankles on the edge of the battered wooden desk and reached for the phone. She punched out a familiar number.
Gloria answered on the second ring, sounding slightly distracted.
“It’s me, Grandma. How was bridge last night?”
“I came in first.”
“Of course you did. Someday you’ll have to decide how you’re going to invest all those quarters you’ve won during the past couple of years. You could probably afford to open up your own personal casino by now.”
“I had good cards,” Gloria said, brimming with false modesty. “It’s about time you called. I’ve been worrying about you. Are you all right? What’s going on up there in Washington?”
“I’m fine.” Leonora glanced out the door of the tiny office. She checked the aisles between the floor-to-ceiling bookstacks to make sure she was alone. “Nothing to report yet but, as we in the detective business like to say, progress is being made.”
“Forget the progress, get to the good stuff. How are you and your Mr. Walker getting along?”
“I keep telling you, he’s not my Mr. Walker. For the record, Gloria, Thomas and I have both concluded that we don’t have anything in common other than a mutual interest in finding out what happened to Meredith and his brother’s wife, Bethany.”
“But if it makes you feel better, Thomas’s dog likes me.”
“Well, I suppose that’s a start. Has Mr. Walker taken you to dinner?”
“Well, yes. Last night, as a matter of fact. But it was solely for the purpose of discussing our mutual problem.”
“Did you go back to his place or your place?”
Leonora took the phone away from her ear, stared at it for a second and then put it back to her ear. “His place. But only for a few minutes. It was on the way. Sort of.”
“Did he make a pass?”
“No.” Leonora took her feet down off the desk and sat forward. “He tightened the screw in my glasses.”
“It was amazing. He had one of those little tiny screwdrivers. You know, the kind that optometrists use.”
“Imagine that. I do like a man who is handy with his tools. Such a useful talent.”
It was impossible to argue in the face of such determined optimism. Leonora gave up, told Gloria to say hello to Herb and ended the call.
She sat back, steepled her fingers and brooded for a while.
It was a strange experience. She rarely brooded. She tried to get into it. It wasn’t like she didn’t have stuff to brood about. It just wasn’t easy. Her thoughts kept going back to Thomas and his little jewel of a house.
A low, sighing groan snapped her out of the odd mood. The sound emanated from the other side of the wall behind the card catalog.
Startled, she swung around in the chair and stared at the old wooden catalog. A second groan and a squeak followed hard on the heels of the first. She could have sworn she also heard a muffled giggle.
The easy explanation was that the sounds were coming from people in the room next to the library. But she was certain that there was no one in that chamber. The door was closed and locked.
She left the office and hurried through the stacks to the door of the library. She was about to step out into the hall to see if anyone was about when she caught the dim flicker of movement in the old convex mirror that hung on the opposite wall directly across from where she stood.