Page 50 of Smoke in Mirrors



“Well, he’s really into computers.”

“I see.” She wrote down nerd. “Anything else Herb should know about him?”

“I can’t think of anything. Call me back as soon as you can after you talk to Herb, okay?”

“All right, dear, I’ll see what I can do.”

“Oh, and, Gloria?”

“Yes, dear?”

“While you’re asking Herb about my friend’s problem could you ask him one other quick little question?”

“What’s that, dear?”

“Ask him—” Leonora broke off and cleared her throat cautiously. “Ask him if he thinks there’s any possibility of a long-term, committed relationship between a divorced man who likes to work with his tools and who doesn’t plan to ever marry again and is afraid to have kids, and a . . . a woman who is from a somewhat different background.”

“How different?”

“Well, she’s more academically inclined, I guess you could say. And she does think she might like to get married. And have kids. Assuming the right man comes along.”

Gloria was proud of herself. She didn’t miss a beat. “No problem, dear. I’ll get back to you as soon as I talk to Herb.”


“Everything else going all right up there?”

“Yes, I think we’re actually making some progress. Thomas is talking about taking the information we have to the cops. I have to say, it would be a great relief to turn everything over to the authorities.”

Gloria frowned. “Does that mean you think Meredith and this other woman, Bethany Walker, really were murdered?”

“I’m afraid it’s possible, yes. Drugs may be involved. We still don’t know exactly what’s going on here.”

“Dear heaven.” She thought about that for a few seconds and then tightened her grip on the phone. “Leonora?”


“Listen, dear, you’re not in any personal danger there in Wing Cove, are you?”

“Good grief, no. Don’t worry about that, Grandma. I’m fine. Honest.”

“You’re quite certain?”

“Absolutely certain.”

“Very well. I’ll go talk to Herb and then call you back.”

“Thanks. Bye for now.”

“Good-bye, dear.”

Gloria ended the call and sat studying her notes for a long moment. A man who likes to work with tools . . . a woman who is from a somewhat different background . . .

She tossed the notebook aside, grabbed the walker that stood next to the chair and hauled herself to her feet.

She paused in the bathroom long enough to apply a coat of bright-red lipstick and then she headed toward the door of her apartment.

To hell with her swollen ankles. She would worry about elevating them later.

She made the trek to Herb’s apartment in excellent time. He opened the door in short order.

“If you’re here to chew me out because my column is running too long, forget it,” he said. “Not my fault half the subscribers want advice from ‘Ask Henrietta.’ ”

“I’m not here about the column, Herb, this is personal. I think Leonora is falling in love. We need help. Fast.”

“Huh.” He stood back. “Come on in. I’ll see what I can do.”

She maneuvered the walker into the apartment, turned around and sat down on the attached seat. “She called on the pretext of getting advice for a friend. But toward the end of the conversation she threw in the zinger about the man she’s interested in herself. At least, I think she’s talking about herself.”

Herb sat down in the chair in front of the computer and put on his reading glasses. “Give me what you’ve got.”

She ran through her notes very quickly.

Herb thought for a while. “This is easy.”


“Well, I’m sure Leonora and her friend will make it a lot more difficult than it needs to be on accounta when you’re that age, this kind of thing is always more complicated. But we’ll see what we can do. Get her on the phone.”

Gloria took her cell phone out of her pocket and punched in Leonora’s number.

Leonora answered on the first ring.


“Yes, dear. I’m here in Herb’s apartment. He’s ready with his advice.”

“Great. I’ve got a pen and some paper. Fire away.”

Gloria looked expectantly at Herb.

“Feed ’em,” Herb said.

Gloria frowned at him.

“What did he say?” Leonora asked.

“Hang on a second, dear.” She looked up. “What did you say, Herb?”

“I said, tell Leonora and her friend to cook up a real nice meal for those two men they’re after. Way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Always has been, always will be.”

Gloria spoke into the phone. “Herb says to cook a nice meal for the gentlemen in question.”

“Cook for them?” Leonora sounded skeptical. “Isn’t that a little old-fashioned?”

Gloria held the phone away from her face. “Leonora says that sounds old-fashioned.”

“Look, you came to an expert for advice,” Herb said. “I’m giving it to you.”

“Take it easy, I was just double-checking.” She went back to the phone. “Herb says the old adage about the way to a man’s heart being through his stomach is still valid.”

“Well, all right. Any advice on the meal?”

Gloria held the phone away again. “Any advice on what to serve, Herb?”

“Lasagna would be nice.” Herb leaned back in his chair and got a wistful expression on his face. “With lots of cheese. And maybe a nice green salad made with romaine lettuce and some of those little crouton things. Some red wine. Good bread. And don’t forget dessert. Dessert is real important.”

“Are you getting this down, dear?” Gloria asked.

“I got the part about the lasagna, salad, bread and red wine. What about dessert?”

Gloria looked inquiringly at Herb. “What’s best for dessert?”

“Pie,” Herb said. “A big slice of hot apple pie with homemade crust. The flaky kind, not that ready-made cardboard crap they sell in the supermarkets. And a big dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.”

“I can tell someone is pining for the days when he didn’t have to worry about his cholesterol medication.” Gloria chuckled. She went back to the phone. “Did you hear that, dear? Apple pie and ice cream.”

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