Page 62 of Smoke in Mirrors

She looked hesitant. Then she shrugged. “All right.”

Panic assailed him, rendering him briefly speechless. She had accepted the offer of food. He prayed fervently that he had something on hand he could use to make a sandwich, any kind of sandwich. He vaguely recalled some cheese in the refrigerator. The bread was a little old but maybe it would be okay if he toasted it.

“Great,” he said weakly.

Intent on heading for the kitchen, he moved past her. He stopped at the entrance to the living room. The day was gray and misty outside, but the living room was as dark as the interior of a cave. Was this how the place looked to her every time she came here to give him a yoga session? It was damned depressing.

“I’ll open the curtains,” he said. He changed course and headed for the nearest window.

She gave him a brilliant smile. “Good idea.”

He went from one window to the next, parting the curtains to let in the gray daylight. When he surveyed his handiwork he concluded that the room was still a little gloomy. He switched on a couple of lights before he went into the kitchen.

He found the cheese on the middle shelf of the refrigerator and examined it closely. There was no obvious sign of mold. Relieved, he turned his attention to the half-finished loaf of bread. No green stuff on it, either. Definitely his lucky day.

Cassie made coffee while he constructed the sandwiches. It felt good to have her here in the kitchen with him. He wondered how she felt about it.

“Not exactly lasagna and apple pie,” he said when he put the plate containing the toasted cheese sandwich in front of her a short time later. “I need to do some grocery shopping.”

“It looks great.” She sat down across from him and picked up half of her sandwich. “I’m hungry.”

He watched her eat the food he had prepared, fascinated. Why hadn’t he ever thought to invite her to stay for lunch?

She paused in mid-chew and gave him an inquiring look. “Something wrong?”

“No.” Embarrassed, he picked up his own sandwich and bit into it.

They ate in silence for a while. Rain dripped steadily from the porch roof outside the kitchen window.

“There’s something I have to ask you, Deke,” she said eventually.

“Sure.” He swallowed. “What?”

“When this business is over, do you think you’ll be able to let go of Bethany’s memory? Or is she going to haunt you all of your life?”

He went very still.

“I need to know,” she said quietly. “It’s important.”

He closed his eyes for a few seconds while he worked to find order in the chaos of his thoughts.

When he opened his eyes he found Cassie watching him very steadily.

“It’s been all jumbled up for a long time,” he said, stringing the words together carefully, trying to get it right, for his own sake as well as hers. “Three days before Bethany was killed, I told her that I wanted a divorce.”

“I see.” She ate some more of her sandwich.

“I felt a lot of guilt at the time. I knew she needed me to take care of her. But I needed something from her, too. After three years of marriage, I knew she couldn’t give it to me.”

“What did you need from her?”

“I wanted a wife.” He raised his shoulders and lowered them. “Someone who slept with me, not in her office. Someone who occasionally remembered that I was a man, not a butler or a personal secretary. I wanted kids. She said they would interfere with her work.”

“I get the point. How did she take it when you told her you wanted out of the marriage?”

“I’m not sure she even heard me that day, to tell you the truth. She had been completely wrapped up in her Mirror Theory for several weeks. Totally focused on her work. She said we would have to talk about it later because she was very, very busy. She didn’t come home for the next two nights. The third night, Ed Stovall showed up at my door to tell me that she had driven her car to Cliff Drive and jumped off the bluff.”

“I hate to ask, but are you certain there wasn’t another man?”

He shook his head. “Positive. If you had met her, you would understand. Bethany lived only for her work. She wouldn’t have had any interest in an affair.”

Cassie slowly lowered the last portion of her sandwich. “That made your sense of guilt a whole lot worse, didn’t it?”

“Yes.” He groped for a few more words. “It would have been easier for me if I thought she was involved with someone else. I would have felt justified in filing for a divorce. As it was, I just felt bad because I knew she depended on me to take care of everything.”

“Now you feel that you have to do this one last thing for her, is that it?”

“Yes.”

“It’s okay, you know,” Cassie said gently. “If anything terrible and mysterious ever happened to me, I’d like to know that someone cared enough to go after the truth.”

He took a deep breath, released it slowly. “I would care.”

That didn’t sound right.

“A lot,” he added.

That didn’t sound right, either.

“Hell, I can’t even stand to think about something bad happening to you, Cassie.”

“Good,” she said. “Because I can’t stand to think about anything terrible happening to you, either.”

It wasn’t exactly a declaration of love, he decided. But it would do. For now.

Thomas brought the SUV to a halt in the driveway of Andrew Grayson’s home. Leonora examined it through the window.

The large house occupied a pricey stretch of waterfront property. Lush, green gardens framed an airy, modern structure that was oriented toward the view of the lake and the office towers of downtown Seattle on the other side. Two very expensive-looking vehicles of European extraction were parked outside the garage at the edge of the broad drive.

“Deke was right,” she said. “Whatever happened after the murder of Sebastian Eubanks, Andrew Grayson doesn’t seem to have suffered too much financially.”

“Judging from his attitude on the phone when I called him a while ago, he isn’t shy about discussing it, either.”

They got out of the SUV and walked toward the entrance. The double front doors were lacquered in a rich, gleaming red. They opened just as Thomas reached out to ring the bell.

A silver-haired man with patrician features stood in the opening. He wore a cream-colored shirt and hand-tailored trousers. Intelligent curiosity lit his eyes. There was also a measure of caution in his gaze.

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