God, no, my inner voice shouted, and then, Yes, you were, weren’t you? You just can’t help yourself. It’s a wonder Nina puts up with you.
I said, “Ms. Bressandes, I’ll answer your questions, but only off the record.”
“I’ll tell you what I know. You can fill in the blanks and do with it what you will.”
Bressandes fluffed her hair again.
“It’s a great story,” I said.
“Start with the man who was arrested for breaking into your house,” she said.
“His name is Allen Frans. He works for Timothy Dahlin, although he’ll probably deny it.”
“Timothy Dahlin the wealthy former home mortgage guru, that Timothy Dahlin?”
“That’s the one.”
“What does he have to do with all this?”
“The letters Allen was looking for were written by Dahlin’s mother and mailed to her sister about seventy-five years ago, most of them before Dahlin was even born. Some people, including Dahlin, got it into their heads that these letters would somehow lead them to a cache of gold bullion.”
“The gold Frank Nash was supposed to have stolen and hidden in St. Paul before he was killed,” Bressandes said.
“These are the letters that Berglund was killed for?”
“That’s what they tell me.”
“This Allen Frans, you say he works for Dahlin.”
“You say he killed Josh Berglund.”
“Nice try,” I said. “No. I never said that. Never even suggested that.”
“He could have, though, right?”
‘There are a lot of people who could have.”
“You’re going to have to ask the cops about that.”
“Give me a hint.”
“Bobby Dunston has interviewed at least nine viable suspects in addition to Dahlin and Allen Frans,” I said. “All of them have motive. You should ask Bobby for a list.”
Oh, he’ll love that, my inner voice said.
“The letters,” Bressandes said. “Why do people think they indicate where Nash hid his gold?”
“Nash had a lot of friends among St. Paul’s high society. Dahlin’s mother was one of them. She and a few others spent time with Nash in a nightclub the evening of the day Nash pulled the robbery, and some people think he might have told her something.”
It was an abbreviated version of the truth, of course; my plan to embarrass Dahlin and implicate him in a murder didn’t include denigrating his mother. A small distinction, I suppose, yet one I would honor nonetheless.
“Where are the letters now?” Bressandes asked.
“You could say they’re in the custody of the St. Paul Police Department.”
Bressandes studied my answer for a moment before asking, “When did they gain custody?”
I glanced at my watch. “About a half hour after you leave,” I said.
“McKenzie, you have the letters. Let me see them.”
I shook my head. “The letters are personal. They don’t even hint at the gold. Why people think they do is beyond me. Just grasping at straws, I guess.”
“If you let me see them—”
“It would be unfair to Dahlin’s family.”
“You could always talk to Dahlin himself,” I said. “He loves publicity. He’s writing a book, you know.”
Bressandes leaned back in her chair. “I’ve been at this long enough to know when someone is trying to manipulate me, McKenzie,” she said. “You want me to pursue the story. You want me to put Dahlin in the spotlight. Why?”
“You misjudge me, Bressandes.”
“Hey, you called me, I didn’t call you.”
“You know, McKenzie, I asked around,” she said. “People tell stories about you. They say you’re some kind of freelance troubleshooter. Helped the Feds, the cops; mostly you help friends, though. For free. What’s that about?”
“What can I say? I’m a helluva guy.”
“Sure you are.”
“Bressandes, when the story breaks—and it will—I’ll make sure you get an exclusive.”
She weighed my promise for a moment. “Call me Kelly,” she said. She fluffed her hair.
I sat in the kitchen after Kelly Bressandes left, thinking how tired I was, thinking how nice it would be to go upstairs and take a nap. Only the phone rang; the display told me that Heavenly was calling again.
“Now what?” I said aloud before I picked it up.
“The two men, they came back,” Heavenly said. Her voice had the same breathless quality as the first time she called. “I knew they would come back. They’re outside. They’re trying to get in—”
“Call the police,” I said.
“McKenzie, help me. McKenzie—”
The phone went dead.
I started to punch 911 into my keypad, but something made me stop after the second digit. The first time Heavenly had called me, she was genuinely frightened. This time there was fear in her voice, but somehow it didn’t sound the same. It sounded like she had practiced what she was going to say before she said it.
I took a chance and hung up the phone without finishing the call. I cleaned up as quickly as I could, grabbed my keys, and headed for the Audi after first making a quick pit stop in my basement.