“I’d be delighted.”
I gave him directions and hung up. Afterward, I crossed my living room carpet and peeked through the drapes that were hiding my large bay window. The beige Toyota Corolla was parked in pretty much the same spot as it had been the day before—four houses down from mine on the opposite side of the street. I noticed it when I turned onto Hoyt Avenue and headed for my driveway earlier, but pretended I hadn’t. I couldn’t see the driver’s face, but I assumed it was Allen Frans, the sandy-haired young man I scoped out at Rickie’s. I had no idea how long he had been sitting on my house or why he hadn’t been there that morning. Still, I smiled, actually smiled, at the sight of him. For some reason I was humming an old Beach Boys song, the lyric repeating itself in my head: And she’ll have fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the T-bird away …
Heavenly was the first to arrive. She was wearing a silky, sleeveless, knee-length blue shirtdress cut to skim her curves with twelve silver buttons down the front. She must have left her hideout in a hurry, because only five of the buttons were closed. Clearly she was no evangelical Christian. I might have frisked her again, except honestly, where could she have possibly hidden a weapon?
She hugged me the moment she came through the door as if I had just pulled her from a burning building.
“I’ve been so frightened,” she said.
“There, there,” I said while gently patting her back.
“I need your help, McKenzie.”
“I lied to you before. I know I shouldn’t have. This business with the gold—it had me all confused.” She broke the embrace and stepped back so I could get a good look at her taut and fearful face—and probably her exquisite body, too. “I don’t always behave like a good girl should. It isn’t easy being … heavenly. People, men, they try to take advantage. You’d be surprised.”
No, I wouldn’t, my inner voice said.
“To protect myself, I occasionally do things that I shouldn’t. I lie. Not like you. You’re strong and brave, and something else—you have integrity, you have character. I knew that when you took on Wally and Ted, when you rejected me at the History Center. I know I can trust you. Help me, McKenzie. Help me, please.”
I took Heavenly by the elbow and gently guided her to a chair at my dining room table—I really needed to get some living room furniture.
“You said you lied to me,” I told her. “What did you lie about?”
Heavenly lowered her head; she knit her fingers together and dropped them into her lap. Looking down at her, I couldn’t help but notice that her dress was open to the fourth button from the top, exposing the swell of her breasts as well as a glimpse of black lace, and to the fifth button from the bottom, revealing more of her thighs than a modest girl should. I did a quick assessment of my personal integrity and character and decided that Heavenly had been exaggerating earlier. I stepped around the large table, putting it between us.
“I said before that I didn’t know who killed Josh,” Heavenly told me. “Only I’m sure I do know.”
“Tell me about him.”
“Boston and I—we were in a relationship.”
“Before or after Berglund?”
“Did he know about the gold, too?”
“Yes. We were—for a time we were partners.”
“Let me guess,” I said. “You broke up.”
“Was he greedy? Did he want a bigger cut, too?”
“He wanted everything.”
“That is greedy. Why do you think he killed Berglund?”
“For the gold, what else?”
“Why Berglund? Why not you?”
“I don’t understand,” Heavenly said.
“You know as much about it as Berglund. Probably more. Why not shoot you?”
“Maybe Josh discovered something important. He wasn’t completely useless. Maybe Boston found out about it somehow and killed Josh to get it.”
“The same motive could apply to you.”
“I would never kill anyone.”
“Not even with kindness?”
“You’re saying Whitlow would. Kill someone, I mean.”
“Boston—he’s not a nice man. Not like you.”
“I don’t know. He’s certainly polite.”
“What do you mean?”
“I met him yesterday morning.”
Anxiety seeped through her frozen smile, and she held her breath even as the words spilled from her mouth. “You spoke to him?”
“We had coffee together.”
Heavenly got up from the chair and walked the length of the table. She dragged the fingertips of one hand over the top of the other chairs as if she were searching for dust. When she reached the final chair, she turned. She tried to make her face appear smooth and unconcerned; she was unable to hide the distress in her eyes.
“What did he say?”
“He wanted to partner up.”
“I thought we were partners.”