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SHARPE NOTE: Sour Grapes of Wrath, Book 7 in the Cozy Suburbs Mysteries, will be released on November 27 as part of the Death and Damages Box Set. This set includes 25 Mysteries and Thrillers by award-winning authors. Preorder now for just 99¢.
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It never occurred to Deena Sharpe that she would be attending two funerals in one month or that she’d be changing jobs again so soon. In fact, what weighed heaviest on her mind that fateful day in early February was whether she should wear flats or heels.
Gary stared in the dresser mirror adjusting the knot on his Ferragamo necktie. “I’m sorry we have to spend our anniversary this way.” Deena had given him that tie last year for their anniversary, and it was his favorite. “I’ll make it up to you.”
Deena stroked mascara onto her eyelashes. “No worries. It’s not like you knew in advance we’d be attending a funeral today. Tragedy has its own calendar.”
“Ah, very wise indeed. Did you read that in a fortune cookie?”
“No, it’s just one of the many brilliant things that pop into your wife’s head. You should expect that after being married thirty…” Deena stopped to do the mental math needed to determine which anniversary they were celebrating.
“It’s thirty-six,” Gary said quickly.
“Oh, that’s right.” She put on some lip gloss and closed her makeup drawer. “According to Hallmark, it’s the year you’re supposed to give antiques.”
“That’s appropriate since you’re an antique dealer.” Gary pointed down the hall toward the guest room. “I’ll just go in there and grab one of those ‘treasures’ that still hasn’t made it out to your booth at the antiques mall and wrap it up for you.”
“Very funny. You know it has only been a few weeks since Sandra came back to the thrift store after her maternity leave. I’ll have more time now that I’m not covering for her.”
“I’m surprised there’s anything left at the thrift store to sell. Don’t think I didn’t notice all those bags you’ve been bringing home.”
Deena leaned over and pecked his cheek. “Let’s get back to your feeling guilty about dragging me to a memorial service for a man I barely knew. And on our anniversary, no less.”
Gary let out a sigh. “Drew Granger. I know he was a client, but I also considered him a friend. It’s so hard to believe he killed himself. It seemed like he had everything going for him. A successful business, a great house, a loving wife.”
Deena put on her coat and tried to stay upright in her funeral shoes—black heels that seemed harder to walk in every time she wore them. She made a mental note to shop for a more comfortable pair the next time she was out.
As they got in Gary’s red sports car—a midlife crisis purchase from a few years back—Deena thought about the list her husband had just rattled off. “I noticed you mention a ‘successful business’ before a ‘loving wife.’ Is that how you prioritize your life?”
Gary rolled his eyes. “Of course not. My list starts with this car.”
Deena gave him a playful punch on the arm. “By the way, how do you know that his wife was loving? Maybe they had a bad marriage and that led to his depression.”
“I guess it’s because he always seemed to make a point of mentioning Allison when we talked about his finances. He included her name in all the paperwork involving the vineyard, even though the business was only his.”
As they drove to the funeral home, Deena thought about the man they would soon be memorializing. It had been in all the major newspapers, even dominated the newscasts for a good two days, but as the restless public hungered for their next meal, the story of Andrew Granger’s suicide was soon discarded like old trash.
Except in Maycroft.
The Grangers were a well-to-do family originally from Lubbock. The family patriarch, Edward Granger, Sr., had made his fortune in West Texas oil. Not quite the Beverly Hillbillies, the family moved east to Dallas where Edward, Jr., parlayed his family’s fortune into millions. They’d rubbed elbows with politicians and the wealthy Southern elite.
However, bad investments in the nineties saw the family fortune fritter away as they tried to keep up appearances. Edward’s wife reportedly died of a weak heart, although some suspected suicide. The grieving widower found God then and invested his remaining money into a struggling vineyard just outside Maycroft in East Texas. His business motto became “Granger’s Grapes: God’s Fruit.”
As the vines matured, so did his two children, Edwina and Andrew, who both joined the family business and were around when their signature wine won its first major award.
Last week when Andrew Granger’s death was determined to be a suicide, the whispers began again as folks wondered if he’d inherited his mama’s “weak heart.”
The chapel of Mortimer’s Funeral Home was sparsely filled as happens when the people who come to mourn the deceased don’t really know each other. Gary and Deena sat near the middle on the opposite side of Drew’s widow. She was decked out in a black dress with small white polka dots. Deena couldn’t help thinking they reminded her of champagne bubbles.
Not surprisingly, several of the sprays of flowers on the front table contained violets and other seasonal purple flowers. The ornate bronze urn sat on a table decorated with baskets of ivy and lush blue and purple grapes. It was a fitting tribute for a man who owned a vineyard.
After settling into their spot, Deena looked around for people she might know. A few faces seemed familiar, but none of Deena’s friends were there. Drew and his wife were younger than Deena and Gary. Allison was a teller at the bank, but Deena had never really talked to her much.
The service followed the usual format: organ music, favorite hymns, a semi-generic sermon by the pastor, and lots of prayers.
The part Deena dreaded was up next as the pastor called for friends and family to pay tribute to the man whose picture stared back at them. This is where some people had the need to share stories about inside jokes they had with the deceased and others fell into a puddle of tears. Both were uncomfortable to witness.
A hush fell over the crowd as those in attendance waited to see who would get up first. A few people seemed as though they were tempted to stand but thought better of it and sat back. Others shook their heads awkwardly as husbands or wives prodded them to get up and say something. Finally, one man stood and made his way to the front as an audible sigh of relief rose from the pews.
Deena whispered to Gary, “Who is that? He looks familiar.”
“Lonnie Fisher,” Gary said, offering no other information.
The man shook hands with the pastor and cleared his throat before bending toward the microphone on the podium. He was a small man, sharply dressed in a gray suit with a lavender shirt and violet tie. His receding hairline was offset by a well-manicured beard. He kept his eyes low as he spoke.
“As many of you know, Drew and I were best friends. In fact, we were more like family than friends. I’ve been with Drew at the vineyard for almost ten years, and in those ten years, I grew to love the man.” He glanced at the widow. “I know we’ll all miss Drew for his kind heart and gentle spirit. Hopefully, he’s in a better place now. May he rest in peace.”
“Amen,” the pastor said as Lonnie walked back to his seat. “Who would like to be next?” He looked around and then back to the row where Allison sat with several family members.
Allison shook her head.
That poor woman, Deena thought. Suicide was such a tragedy for those left behind. Less grizzly than murder, more salacious than a car accident, a suicide left people to wonder and speculate the what-ifs about the deceased.
The pastor proceeded to offer up a closing prayer and then invited loved ones to a reception at the Granger home.
Gary had already told Deena they would be attending the reception. He was always particular about those types of occasions. He thought failing to go to the reception after a funeral was like a guest coming to dinner and getting up to leave before the main course. He got his sense of duty from Miss Manners herself—his mother, Sylvia.
They all waited as the family filed out. Deena wondered which ones were Grangers and which ones were on Allison’s side of the family. The two blondes were obviously sisters or cousins of Allison’s. She wasn’t sure about the others.
As she watched the family walk by, Deena imagined herself in Allison’s position. What if something happened to Gary? Would she be able to hold up as well as Allison seemed to be? The answer was simple: absolutely not. Gary was her rock. Her compass. Her true north. She often told him that if he died before her, she’d never forgive him.
And she meant it.
Just as Allison was passing the back row, an older man stood up and stepped in front of her. Deena couldn’t see Allison’s face, but she heard her say, “I’m surprised you came.”
The man flashed her a wry smile. “Just wanted to make sure he was good and dead.”
The Grangers lived in one of the older neighborhoods in town, where the yards were large and well manicured and the houses were set back from the street. Their house had been updated and stuck out among the others as a diamond in the rough.
It was kind of creepy having the reception at the Grangers’ house, considering the fact that Drew had shot himself in the couple’s bed. That was a tidbit of information Deena had learned from her friend Dan Carson, news editor for the Northeast Texas Tribune. Sometimes it paid to have friends in high-ish places. Gary made Deena promise not to sneak off for a peek inside the bedroom. She had crossed her fingers and made a vague sound that Gary might have interpreted as “okay.”
Neither Gary nor Deena recognized the creepy man who had practically accosted Allison as she had left the funeral chapel. Deena was determined to talk to him if he showed up at the reception. Gary rationalized that he might be a distant relative jealous of Drew’s fortune and success.
The food was catered by a company out of Dallas, and Deena loaded up her plate with potato salad and barbequed brisket while eyeing the chocolate meringue pie for dessert. She followed Gary to a table where Lonnie Fisher, cradling a glass of wine, sat with a few other men. Gary offered condolences and they proceeded with the introductions. As it turned out, Lonnie was the production manager at the vineyard, and the two other men worked for him.
“Deena,” Gary said, “I’m sure you remember meeting Lonnie last summer when we visited the winery. He joined us on the personal tour with Drew.”
Nothing like putting her on the spot. She smiled and said, “Of course. And I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Lonnie stared into his glass of wine as though Drew’s picture were floating inside. “Thank you.” He fidgeted with a gold ring on his right hand.
Deena was surprised Lonnie was single, being that he was nice looking, well dressed, and had a good job. He was a triple threat in her book. He wasn’t eating. That’s probably how he kept his trim physique.
No one said much until Gary spoke up. “Do you know what’s going to happen to the business now that Drew is gone? Will Allison get involved or does she plan to sell it?”
“Sell it?” Lonnie bolted upright and stared at Gary as though the notion were unthinkable. He looked as though he might be sick. Not only had he lost his best friend, but he had also lost his employer.
“Oh, Gary,” Deena said quickly, “no one wants to talk business now. Have you tried the brisket? It’s really moist.”
Gary apologized and turned his attention to his plate.
When everyone sat quietly for an uncomfortable amount of time, Deena looked back at Lonnie and asked, “So how did you and Drew meet?” After she asked the question, she realized it sounded like something you’d ask a newly engaged couple.
Regardless, Lonnie’s eyes lit up. “Actually, it was almost ten years ago. I saw an ad online looking for a manager for a small rural company. It didn’t say what kind of company. I was living in Dallas at the time and had just gotten out of a bad relationship. I was ready for a change. Also, you know how Dallas traffic is.” He smiled and took a sip of tea.
“Terrible,” Deena said and nodded.
“The idea of living in the country was tempting, so I applied. When I found out the job was at a winery, I was thrilled. My grandparents moved here from Italy, so we’re wine drinkers from way back. In fact, I was told Pavarotti might be a sixth cousin.”
“Isn’t he that old race car driver?” one of the other men asked.
“No, that’s Mario Andretti,” Gary said.
“Then who’s this Pavarotti?”
Lonnie snorted in frustration. “He’s just the greatest tenor of all time, that’s all.” He fell silent again.
Deena took that as her cue to scope out the dessert table again. As luck would have it, an elderly woman holding a cane was just picking up the last piece of pie. Deena pictured herself grabbing the cane, whacking the old lady, and making a run for it with the pie.
“We’re cutting some more,” a girl with the catering staff said. “It will be just a few minutes.”
Deena smiled and opted to hang out near the table just in case there was another rush on dessert. The mystery man from the funeral was nowhere in sight. But standing near her was Allison Granger in her champagne-bubble frock and high heels. Women like her made it look easy. She probably didn’t have to stand on her feet all day at the bank like Deena did when she was a teacher. Consequently, Deena’s feet were better suited for flats than heels.
Allison was talking to a man in a brown sports coat who had loosened his tie. Judging by Allison’s expression and crossed arms, she didn’t appear too happy with the guy. Deena inched closer.
“No, I haven’t talked to her in years,” Brown Suit said. “I assumed Drew was still in touch.”
“Lord, no,” Allison said. “Apparently, when they had their falling-out with their father, Drew just wrote his sister off. He never would tell me what happened between them, and I never asked. That’s why I didn’t bother to track her down to tell her that Drew was gone.”
“So, you don’t know what happened between her and the family?” he asked.
“No clue,” Allison said. “I’ve never even met her. I mean, she’s your wife, don’t you know where she is?”
He shuffled his feet. “Like I said, she and I split right after she quit the business. I only found out about Drew’s death through seeing it in the newspaper.”
Allison nodded and mumbled, “Uh-huh.” She looked around as though she wanted an excuse to get away.
Deena wanted to rescue her from what appeared to be an uncomfortable conversation, so she walked over and shot out her hand to Allison. “Hi, I’m Deena Sharpe, Gary’s wife.”
Allison, looking relieved, reached out and returned the shake. “Thank you so much for coming. But will you excuse me? There’s someone I need to speak to.” She walked off toward the hallway where a uniformed police officer stood. Deena recognized him as Officer Larry Linndorf.
“Say, aren’t you that murder-solving lady I read about in the local papers?” Brown Suit asked. “I remember thinking, ‘That Deena Sharpe must be really sharp!’”
She offered up a half smile at the lame joke she’d heard numerous times. “That’s me. Actually, I’m an investigator for a law firm.”
“Like a PI?”
“Sort of.” Not wanting to explain that she was not a licensed private detective, but instead worked on a contract basis with Ian Davis, she looked for her own excuse to get away.
Luckily, the caterer came out of the kitchen with a tray full of desserts.
“Oh look. It’s pie,” she said. Grabbing two pieces, she excused herself and scooted past the man to make her way back to Gary.
“Thanks, hon, but you know I don’t like meringue,” Gary said as she set the plate in front of him.
“Yeah, I know.” She pulled his plate closer and dug her fork into the creamy slice of heaven. The pie made it almost worth being drug there on her anniversary.
As she expected, the conversation at the table turned to sports. Lonnie got up and joined another group of mourners while Gary and the winery employees talked about basketball. After finishing her pie and eating just the meringue off Gary’s, she got up to find the restroom. If she just happened to open the door to the master bedroom, it would practically be an accident.
A portrait of Allison in her wedding gown hung in the hallway. She looked beautiful in her beaded dress and long train. Gary had said the couple had no children. Deena thought Allison would have no trouble finding another man to spend the rest of her life with.
The hallway looked like the typical three-bedroom arrangement and all the doors were closed. Guessing the first door on the left led to a guest bedroom, Deena skipped it and headed for the second, thinking that it could be the master or possibly a second guest room. She turned the knob and opened the door to find Officer Linndorf talking to Allison. “Excuse me,” she said and quickly closed it.
Just then a woman walked out of the bathroom on the other side of the hall. Deena ducked inside and locked the door behind her. Not only was she embarrassed, but she didn’t even get a good look at the bedroom. She stared in the mirror and took a few deep breaths, trying to slow down her heart rate.
Could the police really be questioning poor Allison at her husband’s funeral reception? If so, she was going to have a word with Detective Guttman. That just wasn’t right. Allison had looked upset and Linndorf was standing there with his hands on his gun belt like the police do when they want to look tough or when they’re preparing to draw a weapon.
Deena planned how she’d escape this situation without having to face Allison again. She texted Gary, saying she would be coming out of the bathroom in one minute and that they needed to leave right away. She got a return message saying “Ok” and then put her ear to the door. She didn’t hear any voices or footsteps and figured the coast was clear. She slowly opened the door and hurried to her waiting husband.
When they got outside, he asked, “Are you okay? Did all that pie make you sick?”
She walked ahead of him to the car. When they got inside, she let out a sigh of relief. “I’m fine, I was just ready to go.”
Gary started up the car. “But I didn’t even get a chance to speak to Allison.”
“I spoke to her for both of us,” Deena said as she put on her seat belt. “Don’t worry. I’m sure I made an impression on her.”
A few days later Deena got a call from her boss’s new secretary, Paulette. She said a woman who wouldn’t give her name wanted an appointment to meet with her.
“With me?” Deena asked. “Are you sure she wanted to meet with me and not with Ian?”
“She asked for you by name. Do you want me to set it up?”
“Sure,” Deena said, wondering who in the world would ask for her directly.
The more she thought about it, the more certain Deena felt that it was likely someone trying to sell her life insurance or to get her to sign up for some pyramid scheme. Either way, Deena was excited to get back to the office. Since she had been working at the thrift store after Sandra and Ian’s baby was born, she was itching for a new assignment. Hopefully, Ian would have some cases that required her special investigative talents. She didn’t care if it was trailing a cheating husband or spying on a crooked employee, she was just ready to do something useful.
When she pulled up to the restored Victorian house that served as Ian Davis’s law office, she noticed a woman sitting out front in her car talking on her phone. Deena wondered if this was the woman with whom she had an appointment. She didn’t want to stare, so she went inside and greeted Paulette. Deena had only met her once before.
Paulette had a wide, welcoming smile. “How are you, Mrs. Sharpe? Is there anything I can get you?” She grabbed Deena’s coat to hang it on the hall tree.
“First of all, please call me Deena. And second, I can manage my own coat.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs.… I mean, Deena. I’m still getting used to working in a real office. When Mr. Davis gave me this job so I could meet the terms of my probation, I started watching different TV shows to see how I was supposed to behave. I’ve been practicing.”
Deena smiled. “Relax. I’m sure you’ll do fine. Do you know if that woman sitting out there in her car is waiting for me?”
Paulette went to the large front window and looked out. “I don’t know. I don’t recognize her though.”
“Well, I’ll be in my office. Just ring me when she gets here.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Paulette said, taking her seat back behind the desk.
Deena looked around her small office. Except for a thin layer of dust on her desk, everything looked as she had left it. She felt right at home. After all, Sandra wasn’t just the boss’s wife, she was Deena’s best friend. In fact, she and Gary were baby Sylvia’s godparents.
Ugh. She still had a hard time accepting that the Davises gave their baby the same name as Deena’s mother-in-law. She hoped baby Sylvia wouldn’t grow up to be a snooty busybody.
The phone rang.
“Ms. Deena, your appointment lady is here. I can’t tell you her name because she won’t give it to me.”
“That’s fine,” Deena said. “Let her know I’ll be right out.”
Note to self: Talk to Paulette about her phone etiquette. Deena took an old red scarf that had been hanging in her office and wiped off the desktop before straightening her jacket and walking out to greet the mystery woman.
“Hi, I’m Deena Sharpe.” She reached out her hand.
The petite brunette did the fingertip shake and simply said, “Hi.”
That was usually the sign of an insecure person or a genteel Southerner. From her appearance, the woman could be either. She wore a cheap polyester dress that was a size too large and had on loafers in serious need of a good polish. Her mousy-brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail—not the high-up, cutesy kind, but the low, lying on her neck kind. With no makeup and eyeglasses that made her look older than she probably was, all Deena could think of was an elementary school librarian in serious need of a makeover.
Deena led the woman down the hall. She really wasn’t used to meeting with clients in her own office; they usually met in Ian’s office or in the small conference room.
The woman took the chair across from Deena’s desk and clutched her handbag in her lap.
“So, what can I do for you?” Deena asked. “But before you say anything, I want to make it clear that I’m not a lawyer.”
“Oh, I know that, Mrs. Sharpe. You’re the reason I’m here. My name is Edwina Granger, and I want to hire you to catch the person who killed my brother. And, I know who did it.”
Deena was totally caught off guard. “Are you talking about Drew Granger?”
“Yes, ma’am. I know that the Maycroft police said he killed himself, but I think he was murdered.”
“I see. So you’ve talked to the police.”
“No, ma’am. I read about it in the newspapers.”
There was a slight twang in her voice, and she sat pencil straight as though she were applying for a job. Except for the posture, nothing about her said “upper-class heir of the Granger fortune.” If she were indeed on the Granger family tree, her branch must have broken and fallen off.
Deena realized she should be taking notes and fumbled in the desk drawer for paper and pen while she collected her thoughts. Not being a licensed private detective, she couldn’t take the case on her own. Perhaps the woman wanted to hire the law firm. Either way, Deena needed to hear her out. She was a Granger, after all. “Let’s start at the beginning. You say your name is Edwina Granger.” Deena wrote it down. “And you state that Drew—”
“Andrew…” Edwina corrected.
“Andrew Granger was your brother.”
Could this be the sister she overheard Allison talking about at the reception? If so, the woman hadn’t been in touch with her brother for years. “Are you Andrew Granger’s only sister?”
“Yes, ma’am. And he’s my only brother.”
Ah-ha. The estranged sister was back in town to make trouble. To Edwina she said, “What exactly was your relationship like with your brother before he died?”
“Oh, we were close. We talked at least once a week.”
Her answer came quick, almost as if rehearsed. “Really? In person or on the phone?”
“On the phone. I don’t live around here.”
None of this jived with what Allison had told Brown Suit. She had said Drew had cut all ties with his sister. Perhaps they kept up their relationship in secret. But why?
“Where do you live?” Deena poised her pen over the notepad ready to write down the address.
“Not in Texas. I live in another state.”
That narrowed it down to forty-nine. “Um, could you tell me which one?”
“No,” Edwina said and squeezed the patent leather handbag tighter in her lap. “Not until I know if you are going to help me.”
Deena was used to questioning hostile witnesses, but usually they were on the other side of the case. Potential clients were generally more forthcoming than this.
“Well, then can you tell me when you last spoke to your brother?”
“It was Wednesday, the day before he was murdered.” She said it with the same emotion a person would use when placing their order at a McDonald’s drive-thru.
“And how was your brother when you talked to him?”
“Fine,” Deena repeated. “What did you two talk about? Did he say if he was worried about anything? Did he seem upset?”
“No. He was fine.”
“Got it. Fine.” Deena thumped her pen on the legal pad.
“Look, I know I may sound like a crazy person, but I’m telling the truth. My brother wasn’t the type to take his own life. He was a strong man.”
Deena nodded and proceeded slowly. “Like you, I too have read about your brother’s death in the newspaper. It was a shock to everyone here as I’m sure it was for you. From what I read, a neighbor heard a noise and called the police. When they got there, he had a gun next to him and was…gone.”
Edwina, stone-faced, stared back without speaking.
Deena pressed on. “His prints were on the gun.”
“So, what makes you think your brother was murdered?”
“I have three reasons.” She held up her hand to tick off each point. “For one, his wife wanted him dead. Number two, she was cheating on him. And number three, he wasn’t depressed like the police said, and he wouldn’t kill himself.” She stuck out her chin as though she’d just had a drop-the-mike, slam dunk moment.
Deena looked back at the notepad and scribbled down the list. Everything Edwina had stated was circumstantial. “Are you saying you think your sister-in-law, Allison, killed your brother?”
“That’s exactly what I think.” She paused, then added, “Poor Andrew. He didn’t deserve that. He was nothing but good to that woman and to me.” A few tears slid down her cheek.
Deena passed her a tissue. “What would Allison’s motive have been to kill her husband, in your opinion?”
“Money, of course! That’s all she ever wanted.” More tears came now.
This sounded like a typical case of grief overtaking reason. Some people just couldn’t accept the fact that their loved one was gone, especially by his or her own hand. Maybe she should suggest a grief counselor or support group.
The desk phone rang and Deena could see it was from Paulette. She lifted the receiver and said, “Not now, I’m busy,” and hung up. She handed Edwina more tissues as the phone rang again. “Paulette, I’m with a client—”
“I know, Ms. Deena, and I wouldn’t call you if it wasn’t important, but it is.”
Deena waited for more. When Paulette didn’t speak, she gritted her teeth and barked, “What?”
“Oh,” Paulette said, “Mr. Davis wants to see you.”
“Did you tell him I was with a client?”
“Yes, ma’am, but he said it had to be right now.”
“Okay,” Deena said, hanging up. The woman was still blotting tears. “I’m sorry, Ms. Granger, but I have an urgent matter. I’ll be right back.”
Deena left the office and closed the door behind her. She couldn’t imagine what was so important that Ian had to interrupt a client’s interview.
He was standing next to his desk when she walked into his office. His tie was loose and his jacket was thrown over the credenza. He motioned for her to take a seat. She recognized the grave expression on his face as the one he used when delivering bad news.
Suddenly, she felt a grip in her chest. “What is it? Is it Gary? Did he have an accident?”
“No, no,” Ian said, holding up his hands. “It’s nothing like that. Everyone is fine.”
She let out her breath and released her white-knuckle grip on the arms of the chair. “Then what?”
“It’s about…your job here.”
Uh-oh. This didn’t sound good.
Ian stared down at his hands. “I’m afraid I can no longer have you working for me.”
Deena’s jaw dropped. “But you promised you wouldn’t replace me while I was out covering for Sandra.”
“I know, and I haven’t replaced you, not yet anyway.”
He sat down on the corner of his desk. “It’s the funding from the state. They’ve changed some of the requirements and are offering incentives for public defenders to hire employees who are in the system.”
“The legal system. Like people on parole or on probation. It’s part of the reintegration program.”
Deena nodded slowly, afraid if she spoke she might cry.
“I know how excited you were to be back, I just wasn’t aware you’d be here today. I was working up my nerve to call you when I found out you were here with a client.” His eyes showed genuine concern. “You know how many pro bono cases I handle. If I had the money, I would absolutely have you here, you know that.”
The phone rang and Ian picked it up. “Give me just a minute, Paulette.” He held the receiver against his chest and looked mournfully at Deena. “Are you going to be all right?”
She wiped away a lone tear traveling down her cheek. “Sure. I understand.”
Ian put the phone back to his ear. “What is it, Paulette?” After a brief pause he said, “Okay, I’ll tell her.”
He stood up and walked back around his desk and sat down. “It seems the woman you were meeting with wasn’t keen on waiting.”
“You mean she left? Did she leave a phone number?”
“Nope. She told Paulette to tell you she’d be calling you in the next few days. Paulette gave her your cell phone number.”
“Oh my.” There were so many questions Deena had wanted to ask her, like, why did she think Allison was cheating on Drew and why hadn’t she talked directly to the police?
Ian drew in a deep breath. “Under the circumstances, I suppose you need to tell me what she said.” He reached for a pad of paper.
Deena nodded. “Fine. But hold on to your hat. This is going to be a tricky one.”
To be continued…
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