You’re kidding, my inner voice remarked. Both Ivy and Heavenly, two such lovely women—there must be more to Berglund than meets the eye.
“It was while working on a project—McKenzie, I’m the one who first uncovered the intel about Jelly Nash. I’m the one who researched the bank robbery in South Dakota and learned about the theft of the gold. I’m the one who used the Freedom of Information Act to examine Treasury Department records to verify the truth of it. I’m the one who determined that the gold was still hidden in St. Paul. I asked Josh to help me find it because, because—”
“You were in love,” I said.
“Yes. At least I thought I was. Josh—he said it was like we were ancient spirits that have known each other for a millennium. To my great regret, I believed him.”
“Greed happened. What else? Josh decided he wanted a bigger share. He decided that he deserved half even though I’m the one who did all the work. I thought it was unfair. Next thing, Josh takes up with that slut Ivy Flynn—I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that, but look at it from my perspective, McKenzie. He stole the information that I gathered and then ran off with another woman to search for the gold.”
“When did all this happen?”
“He left me three weeks ago.”
“Ivy said that she had been seeing Berglund for a few months.”
“I know that now. Not then. Back then I thought he loved me. How could I have been so blind?”
“How old are you, sweetie?”
“Don’t call me sweetie. I’m not a child.”
“No, and you’re not particularly sweet, either. Still, you’re what, Heavenly? Twenty-five?”
“A lot of people your age use that word carelessly—love.”
“Are you discounting my feelings, Mr. McKenzie?”
“You were wondering why you didn’t see it coming. Now you know.”
Heavenly leapt to her feet, her hands clenched. She was either going to leave the café, throw a punch, or sit back down. While she was trying to decide, I said, “You didn’t bring me here to talk about a schoolgirl crush gone bad, Heavenly. You brought me here to talk about the gold.”
“Yes,” she said. She slowly returned to her chair.
“The gold belongs to me,” Heavenly said. “It’s my gold.”
“Seems to me the gold belongs to whoever finds it first. Assuming anyone finds it. Assuming it even exists.”
“I’ll sue in court.”
“That’s certainly an option. Only what is it they say, possession is nine points of the law? Besides, I have access to the best lawyers money can buy.”
“There are other possibilities.”
“Are you referring to your friends outside?”
“You saw them?”
“Of course. Red Chevy Aveo. Do you want the license plate number?” She shook her head. “Let me guess. They called you on a cell as soon as they saw me enter the History Center. That’s how you knew it was me in the library.” Heavenly sighed like a roulette player who keeps betting red and keeps spinning black. “I’m not impressed,” I said.
“No, I don’t suppose you are.” Heavenly scooped a dollop of whipped cream off her drink and slowly licked it off her finger. “What are we arguing about?” she said.
“About whether or not you’re going to get your way,” I said. “I’m guessing that you nearly always do.”
“Nearly always,” she said. “McKenzie, why don’t you and I form a partnership?”
“Your friends might object.”
“Acquaintances. The way you handled them yesterday, I doubt they’d be a problem.”
“What’s in it for me?”
“Ivy and Berglund offered me a third.”
“I’ll go as high as a third.” Heavenly rested her hand on top of mine. “Perhaps I can provide additional incentives as well.”
I brought her hand to my lips and kissed a knuckle.
“How many presidential elections have you voted in?” I asked. “One? Two? I make it a rule to only get involved with women who have voted in at least four.”
Heavenly pulled her hand away. “That’s ridiculous.”
“Maybe so, but it’s kept me out of a lot of trouble over the years.”
“Mostly my girlfriend.”
From the expression on her face, she seemed to have a tough time believing me. “How many presidential elections has she voted in?”
“We stopped counting after five.”
“Oh, wow.” Heavenly began to chuckle as if the idea that I would reject her for an older woman was just too humorous to contemplate. “Really,” she said and chuckled some more. “I guess we’ll have to do it the hard way.”
“Is there any other?”
Heavenly stood. “I’m warning you,” she said. “I’m going to find the gold first, and you had better not get in my way.”
“Fair has nothing to do with it.”
“Then may the best man win.”