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Cooper eyes her as warily if she were a cheeseburger he’d ordered well done that had arrived medium rare.

Gavin takes this opportunity to announce, “This… this is bullshit.” Then he pivots around on his heel and leaves the brownstone, banging the front door noisily behind him. I hurry to Cooper’s open window and lean out from it just in time to see him run down the front stoop and head toward Sixth Avenue, his shoulders hunched, his fists buried in the pockets of his jeans.

“Gavin,” I call after him. “Wait! Where are you going?”

Gavin’s shoulders tense, but he doesn’t respond. He doesn’t even turn his head, even though I know he’s heard me. Every drug dealer on the corner has turned and cried, “Oh, hey, Heather!” in a pleasant way.


I wave to the drug dealers, then duck back into Cooper’s office.

“I don’t get it,” I say, to the room in general. “Where does he think he’s going?”

“Where do you think?” Sarah says, bitterly, from the couch. “He’s going to see her.”

I blink at her. “He is?Why? ”

“Why do you think?” Sarah demands wildly, shoving a wave of thick dark hair from her face to glare at me. “God, when did you get so dense? Are you blind? Jamie Price looks exactly like you. Except, you know.Younger.”

Too shocked to know how to reply to this, I opt for saying nothing. For a second or two, the room is silent, save for the sound of Lucy’s contented licking, shredding, and chewing. Then Cooper says, “Ooookay. So when exactly did we all hop on the train to crazy town?”

Sarah heaves a shuddering sigh, then says in a small voice, careful not to meet either of our gazes, “Look. I’ve got to talk to Sebastian.”

We both glance at her. Slowly, she raises her gaze from the floor.

“They let them have visitors?” she asks, looking suddenly much younger than her twenty-two years. “In jail? Right?”

“With suspected co-conspirators,” Cooper says, “in order to get their stories straight? Yeah, not so much.”

I swing around to stare at Cooper in shock, just as Sarah sucks in her breath… and promptly bursts into tears again.

“How—how c-could you?” she cries. “I never—you have to know I would n-never—” She breaks down into loud, hic-cupping sobs, burying her face into the arm of the sofa.

I give Cooper a sour look. He stares at Sarah in astonishment, then looks up at me. “What’d I say?” he wants to know.

“Don’t give me that,” I growl at him. “You know exactly what you said. Suspected co-conspirators, my ass. Sarah.” I cross the room to sink down beside her on the couch, then try to gather some of her copious hair from her eyes. “Sarah, he didn’t mean it that way. He didn’t mean he thinks you’re a co-conspirator. He meant that from the prosecutor’s perspective, that’s how it might seem if you were to ask to see Sebastian right now—”

“Oh, Heather, you’re home.”

With his usual perfect timing, my father appears in the doorway. He’s holding a large cardboard box of his belongings. My dad’s been moving out, slowly but surely, for the past week.

When he notices Sarah, and her theatrical sobs, his happy grin that I’m home from work fades, and he says, “Oh dear. I see this isn’t a good time. I did hear the news, you know. About your boss. Such a shame. People do seem to die at an alarming rate at your place of work, Heather. I don’t believe in that sort of thing, of course, but if I were a superstitious man, I might almost start to suspect that Fischer Hall is, in fact, cursed.”

Lucy, seeing my dad, gets up from her now almost completely shredded magazine, and, her tail wagging, goes over to give him a lick on the hand.

“Oh, hello, Lucy,” he says. “Not now, dear. We’ll have our walk in a little while. I have to get this box uptown. Which reminds me, Heather, when you have a moment, there’s something I need to speak to you about. A little business proposal Larry and I have been meaning to discuss with you. It could work out to be quite advantageous for all three of us. It’s something I think you’ll quite like, actually. But, er, I can see now is not quite the time… ”

As Sarah’s sobs rise in volume, Dad flings a questioning look in Cooper’s direction, since I’m obviously too busy trying to stanch the flow of Sarah’s tears to reply.

“My fault,” Cooper says, indicating Sarah. “I’m a heartless cad. Insensitive, too.”

“Oh,” Dad says, nodding. “Yes, of course. I’ve always liked that about you. Uh, Heather?”

I look up from rubbing Sarah’s back. “Yes, Dad?”

“Tad called. Apparently he’s been trying to reach you on your cell phone. He’d like you to call him back. Just wants to see if you’re all right, considering… well, all that’s happened.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Well.” He gives one last look at the stricken figure beside me on the couch, then shrugs. “I think this will be my last night here at the brownstone. If there are no objections, I’d like to make braised short ribs for dinner for all of you. I have them marinating now. I assume you’ll both be home for dinner?”

Cooper and I nod. Dad looks pleased.

“Excellent,” he says. “I’ll see you around eight o’clock then. You, too, Lucy.” To Sarah, he says, “You’re welcome to stay for dinner, as well, young lady. Hopefully you’ll be, er, feeling better by then. Plenty for everyone. Well. Bye, now.”

And off he goes. Lucy, disappointed he didn’t take her with him, goes sulkily back to ripping Giselle Béndchen’s face off. Cooper’s gaze strays out the window, at the pinkening sky, just visible over the roofs of the brownstones across the street. Sarah’s sobs, meanwhile, have slowed. She seems to be mellowing a bit, if the way she’s wiping her nose on her sleeve is any indication. I look around for a box of tissues… then remember where I am.

I manage to find a pile of napkins from Dunkin’ Donuts that don’t look too used. I pass them to her. Sarah raises her head, takes the napkin wad, then blows her nose. Then she looks at Cooper, and, hatred—it’s hard to mistake—glittering in her eyes, says, “I had nothing to do with Owen’s murder.”