“I’m not at home right now. I’m still at the St. Paul Police Department. Would you like to meet here? Do you know where it is?”

“Yes, on Grove Street.”


“Why don’t you come over. I’m on the second floor in the homicide department. Tell the desk sergeant that Lieutenant Dunston said it’s okay for you to come up.”

“I know Bobby Dunston,” Bressandes said. “I can be there in fifteen minutes,”

Bobby Dunston? my inner voice said. How ’bout that?

“I’ll be waiting,” I said aloud.

I deactivated my cell and stood by the window, watching as Bressandes climbed into the van and drove off.

“Pretty girl,” I said aloud. “Not too bright, though.”

I have two toasters, one for bread and a Dualit Vario two-slice toaster hand-built in England exclusively for bagels that I paid way too much for—but I do like my gadgets. I split a bagel and was toasting it when I heard another knock on my door. I was thinking that Kelly Bressandes might not be as naive as I thought when I looked through the spy hole. Someone else was standing on my porch.

“Heavenly,” I said when I opened the door.

“You asshole,” she told me.

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“A good morning to you, too.”

“You ratted me out to the cops.”

“Of course I did.”

“You bastard.”

“Are you insulting me according to the alphabet? What comes next?”


“Come on in.”

Heavenly crossed the threshold and stood expectantly while I shut the door. She didn’t expect me to shove her backward hard against the wall, though. Her head hit with a thump, and while she was moaning about it, I spun her around and leaned heavily against her body. My hands went under her arms, along her waist, between her thighs, and down her legs. Satisfied, I pulled her bag off her shoulder and searched it. I stepped away from her, and she pivoted toward me.

“What was that about?” she wanted to know.

I tossed her bag to her; she fumbled it but managed to keep it from hitting the floor.

“Just checking,” I said.

“Did you think I had a gun?”

“It’s not beyond the realm of possibility.”

“I had nothing to do with what happened to Josh.”

“So you say.”

“You dick.”

“D’s are easy. It’s the E°s that are tough.”


“I stand corrected. Want some breakfast?”

I wasn’t thrilled about turning my back to Heavenly, but I didn’t want her to think I was afraid. Besides, she wasn’t armed. I didn’t really need to frisk her; she was wearing another body-hugging dress just like the one she wore the previous morning—this one maroon—and I would have noticed any unsightly bulges. Only what better way to let her know I didn’t trust her?

“I was toasting some bagels,” I said. “Want one?” A moment later, she joined me in the kitchen. “I could make you something else. Eggs. Waffles. Sno-cone.”

That stopped her. “A sno-cone? At nine in the morning?”

“It’s not just for breakfast anymore.”

“A bagel would be nice,” Heavenly said.

“Strawberry, blueberry, or original cream cheese?”


Right on cue, the halves of my bagel popped up. I slid them onto two small plates and smeared each with strawberry cream cheese. Meanwhile, I toasted two more halves.

“Coffee?” I asked.


“Cream? Sugar?”


“Thatta girl.”

I poured two mugs, using my Vienna De Luxe automatic espresso and coffee machine, and gave her one.

“Why do you have a fully loaded kitchen, yet not a stick of furniture in your living room?” Heavenly asked.

“I’m fighting a battle against consumerism.”

“You have a six-hundred-dollar coffee machine and a two-hundred-dollar toaster just for bagels.”

“I didn’t say I was winning.”

Still, it said something that Heavenly would know how much my gadgets cost at a glance. I regarded her carefully while she sipped the coffee. She looked more like hell than heaven. Her hair was unkempt and in need of washing; her dress was wrinkled and seemed not to fit her properly; her eyes were red and had trouble focusing.

“Rough night?” I asked.

“The police knocked on my door around midnight, got me out of bed—barely gave me time to throw on some clothes—and brought me downtown. You know, they actually said that, ‘We want you to come downtown,’ just like the movies. I was in an interrogation room for six hours.”

“That explains it.”

“Explains what?”

“Why you look so good.”


“We’re up to G now. Making progress.”

Heavenly made mouth movements as if she wanted to insult me again but couldn’t think of an appropriate word.

“Geek?” I said.

She shook her head. “No fair helping.”

The second bagel halves popped up, and I spread strawberry cream cheese on both. I gave one to Heavenly, and she took a large bite out of it.

“Why are you here, Heavenly?”

“I didn’t kill Josh.” She spoke around the bagel. “I had nothing to do with that.”


“It’s true.”


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