But she was right this time, and he knew.

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“Okay, young lady, give me your hand when we head down,” he replied lightly.

None of it meant anything then. She, Jackson and Jake went down to the basement. But nothing seemed to be there, and though they waited, walking the perimeter, exploring various objects that had been stashed there, nothing happened. Calls to the crew at the screens to ask if there was anything on them brought disappointed and negative replies, and eventually they came back up.

Despite Will’s lament that his breakfast had been ruined, everything he had cooked tasted delicious, and when they complimented him, Jenna wanted them all to know that it had been her swift chopping and dicing at his commands that had made the omelets what they were.

“So, what’s the agenda?” Jake asked Jackson.

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“Gambling,” Jackson said.

“Cool. On Uncle Sam’s dime?” Whitney asked, pleased.

“No. On your own,” Jackson said, laughing.

“I’ll last about two minutes,” Will said.

“Three of us will go. We need to chat up a few of the waitresses—and the croupiers. I need to know if Grable Haines was really gambling all day when Regina died.”

“I’m good at talking to the crowd at a craps table,” Jake said.

“I knew you would be,” Jackson said.

Jake laughed. “Is that a compliment?”

“Talking to people is a strong point. I meant what I said. Actually, though, I’m going to take Jenna and Will to the casino. Jake, you’re going to head back to the Church of Christ Arisen and appear to be really interested. Angela and Whitney, go back to the museum on Royal Street, and go through the new exhibit. It will have opened. See what else you can find out about the house and anything else that we don’t know already about Madden C. Newton’s reign of terror here.” He hesitated, and then said, “Angela, study all the pictures you see of any of the characters involved in Newton’s day, all right? Oh, and no one comes home alone—we’ll meet at Café du Monde at, say, 3:00 p.m.”

“We’re all on it,” Angela told him. “Whitney, make sure that your cameras are set for while we’re gone. I’ll get everything cleaned up and we’ll be out of here.”

She didn’t really have to handle it alone; they all hopped up to put the salt and pepper, hot sauce, ketchup, butter and jelly away. The dishes arrived scraped at the sink, and Angela quickly rinsed them for the dishwasher and scrubbed the few pans Will had used.

She didn’t need to see Jackson to know that he was near. He slipped an arm around her. “Are you good?”

She turned; they were alone in the kitchen. She had to grin.

“I’m imagining that should be for you to judge.”

“I’ll hold all I have to say on just how good for later. I mean…”

“No regrets,” she assured him.

“But besides that,” he asked, dark blue eyes intently on her then, “last night…whatever you saw in the mirror…anything else?”

She shook her head. “No, and I actually tried this morning. I’m sure you would have told me if there had been any kind of problem, but Gabby and her family are fine, right?”

He nodded.

“You’re sure?”

“I went and talked to Andy at the station this morning,” he told her.

“I’m still worried.”

“So am I. But I’m going to trust Andy Devereaux and the police to keep an eye on her. There’s not much else I can do at this moment.”

“Have the bastard arrested.”

“On what charges?”

“There has to be something.”

“Probably. When we dig deep enough. But if murder is going to be among those charges, we have to play it all by the book.”

The casino wasn’t rampantly busy, but even at noon, the play for the day was heating up.

Jackson left Will and Jenna to walk around together and headed straight for the craps tables; Will would get into a poker game in the next few minutes, while Jenna would sit in for a few rounds of roulette and peruse the slots.

He found that there were three active craps tables, and he decided to play each of them. At the first, he struck up a conversation with one of the croupiers, and he talked about how much he loved the game, but remained a conservative player. He mentioned that he knew people who had gotten into trouble at craps. One of his was a local friend, who bet with bookies, but sure loved casinos as well. He described Grable Haines. He played that table for a while, hoping for a response, but none was forthcoming.

He bought a hot dog, and tried to engage the vendor in conversation to see if he knew anything, but the man behind the machine just looked at him blankly when he mentioned the senator’s and Grable’s names.

Before going to the second table, he worked a few slots and struck up conversations with a few of the cocktail waitresses. He tipped well, and they were happily chatty, and he finally found a girl who knew Grable, liked him a lot and was pretty sure she remembered the day that Regina Holloway had died; it had instantly been on the news.

“Yeah, I think Grable was here. You might check at the craps table over there,” the girl told him.

He started at the second table by playing it wild. Luckily, his ridiculous bets on playing the eleven all came in, so he was flush enough to keep up his chatter. And at that table, he struck gold again.

Though the croupiers were working, and certainly knew that their pit boss was near, they were fine with casual conversation. Necessary to keep up the camaraderie that kept folks gambling.

“Grable?” the croupier to his left said at his inquiry. “Yeah, hope he’s doing okay. I haven’t seen him in here since the day Senator Holloway’s wife died. Nice guy, Grable. He was in here that day, all day, which I think really disturbed him.”

“You mean later, because he was playing and having a good time while the senator’s wife was dying?” Jackson asked.

“Yeah, poor fellow. He had been winning, too, I think,” another one of the dealers added.

“Sad day, sad thing,” Jackson agreed.

It was Jackson’s turn for the dice; he played out a winning streak, and left the table. He saw Will sitting at a poker table, and nodded to him. Will finished out his game.

“So Grable’s game is craps?” Will asked.

“Yes, and he was here just like he told us.”

“So, you think he’s clean?” Will asked.

“I do. Someone had to have had the time to get into the house and out of it. Regina died right at dusk.”

“According to the coroner’s report,” Will said. “Right?”

“Right,” Jackson agreed.

“Probably no more than thirty minutes before Senator Holloway found her body.”

“Or…” Jackson said thoughtfully.

“Or?”

“Senator Holloway didn’t find her body. He knew exactly where it was because he caused it to be there.”

Angela was glad that she and Whitney had been chosen to go back and view the new exhibit at the museum—not that they’d had a chance to see any of the old exhibits, yet, really. It was an easy walk through the Vieux Carré, and they window-shopped as they strolled to it, stopping at Community Coffee for a pecan-flavored roast of the day, and admiring some of the clothing and hats in boutiques, and the Blue Dog art by Rodrique as they passed the studio shop.

She had always loved walking in the city; the air of fading and decaying elegance was poignant and beautiful, and still a part of day-to-day life. Someone was always repairing something, and someone else was planting something beautiful to flow over a railing, flowering vines or other such visual treats.

They reached the museum and paid their entry. The silver-haired woman was there, and she was delighted to see Angela back. Angela and Whitney exchanged a few casual words with her while she extolled the virtues of the excellent if small museum.

“Didn’t you see most of the museum already?” Whitney asked her.

“No—it was like being in a film that was sped up ridiculously. Mostly, Jackson stared at the sign that said the new exhibit would open tomorrow.”

“Okay, then we’ll be real tourists,” Whitney said.

The first part of the exhibit was a display on the city when the French first arrived, and brought them through the great fire that raged through the city and brought down a huge percentage of the original architecture, a second fire that had been another kiss of death, and into the Spanish period, when most of the buildings still standing had been built. Crime had been high on the busy waterfront, with beggars, murderers and thieves haranguing those on ships as well as the wealthy landowners. The exhibit touched on the cruelties of the slave trade. One area focused on the legend of Madame and Dr. Lalaurie, who, according to oral tradition, had brutally operated on and tortured slaves, detaching and reattaching limbs, and leaving behind slaves incarcerated in a basement, whose screams for help created ghost legends. Those poor souls were only discovered after death. The exhibit had a disclaimer, reminding everyone that the story was oral legend.

Sex and scandal were not overlooked, even before they reached the new exhibit.

Models had been made of Gallatin Street, and Storyville. Long before the days of Storyville, Gallatin Street provided base, cheap pleasures for river men, sailors, and whoever dared wander there. But in 1897, Sidney Story, councilman and respected individual, became horrified by the amount of prostitution in the French Quarter and introduced a Control Measure. It didn’t actually make a decent thing of prostitution, but it sent one of the world’s oldest professions down to one section of the city. Prostitutes were banished to an area that was bordered by Basin, Iberville, St. Louis, and North Robertson streets. There, a new era of raunchy entertainment began. Small houses, or “cribs,” allowed for even cheaper entertainment. Larger houses and mansions allowed for a higher class of debauchery, and there, music began to play. The bordellos contributed to the development of Dixieland jazz.

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