“What’s going on?” I asked.
“McKenzie, we’re going to have to establish some rules. You’re paying Ivy Flynn’s bills, but I’m her attorney. Not yours. You don’t get privileged information.”
“I understand. I won’t kibitz, I promised. I just wanted to know what’s happened to her.”
“Nothing, yet. Ivy claims she’s innocent and refuses to turn herself in for a crime she claims she did not commit, and the St. Paul Police Department has made no attempt whatsoever to arrest her.”
“It’s just a matter of time,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“I appreciate that you’ve known Ivy for a couple of years, that you’re friends,” G. K. said. “I know you think she killed Josh Berglund. I’ve looked her in the eye when she says it’s not true. I believe her.”
Nina took a sip of Pinot Noir and scrunched up her face.
“What?” I said.
“Considering how much money you have, it amazes me that you insist on buying cheap wine.”
“Cheap? I paid twenty-eight fifty for this at Big Top Liquors.” Nina rolled her eyes at me. “If I had known you had such demanding tastes when we met—”
She kissed my cheek. “You still would have fallen for me head over heels,” she said.
She had me there.
Nina was sitting up in my bed, in my arms, her back resting against my chest, my back against the headboard. The photocopies I had made of Kathryn’s letters were scattered on the bed and floor around us. We had read them each again, yet they had not led us any closer to Jelly’s gold than they had the first time we read them.
“Why do you think the answer is here?” Nina said.
“Josh Berglund thought the answer was here.”
“He was wrong.” Nina took another sip of her wine, this time without the dramatics. I drank some of mine. It tasted just fine to me.
“I’m missing something,” I said. “Something fundamental. I can feel it. I just don’t know what it is.”
“I don’t know what to tell you, McKenzie. I suppose we could read all seventy-three letters again.”
“Wait. What did you say?”
Nina turned in my arms. “I said we could read all seventy-three letters—”
“Seventy-three letters? Why did you say seventy-three?”
“We counted them, remember? Downstairs in the dining room the night we got them.”
I slapped my forehead with the flat of my hand. “Dummkopf,” I said, which was about all the German I knew. I rolled off the bed and put on my robe.
“What are you doing?” Nina asked.
“I want to count the letters again.”
“Because there should be seventy-four.”
Nina slid off the bed and began to help me collect the photocopies we had carelessly scattered. She didn’t put on a robe, which I appreciated very much. After we gathered the letters, we counted them carefully. Twice. There were seventy-three.
“Which one is missing?” Nina asked.
To find out, we arranged the letters in chronological order and examined the dates. Kathryn had faithfully written her sister, Rose, once every two weeks. Except we discovered a four-week gap. On August 30, Kathryn wrote I do not know what to do because Messer wouldn’t give her a divorce. On September 29, she wrote I am free!
“I wonder what Kathryn wrote in the missing letter,” Nina said.
“I wonder where it is,” I said.
Shelly Seidel didn’t seem surprised to see me standing on her doorstep.
“McKenzie,” she said. “What brings you by this bright and sunny Saturday morning? Say, you’re not here to take advantage of a poor fishing widow, are you?”
“Dang. Well, there’s always hope. Come on in.”
She held the door for me as I entered the house. It still had the sweet aroma of freshly fried donuts.
“It’s the opening day of the fishing season,” Shelly said. “Why aren’t you up at Lake Mille Lacs with the governor?”
“I wasn’t invited to share that photo op.”
“Neither was my family or a sizable percentage of the rest of Minnesota, but that didn’t stop them. So, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I found the letters you gave to Josh Berglund.”
“I turned them over to the cops.”
“Do you think I can get them back once they’re done with them?”
“Sure. Just call. Do you have Lieutenant Dunston’s number?”
“He gave me his card when he was here yesterday.”
“The thing is, Shelly, one of the letters was missing.”
“You tell me.”
“How would I know?”
“Why don’t we just call Dunston and let him sort it out.”
I removed the cell phone from my jacket pocket. Instead of using the memory, I made a big production out of pressing numbers.
“Wait,” Shelly said.