As for the UT boys, Ty, Chase and Markie had been questioned and released. Ty was given a sedative. The other two had been given Sprites and chicken sandwiches and told to please go away. They were the first to leave the island. I watched them go, and they stared at me nervously from the back of the police boat.
I had no desire to tell on their little drug smuggling problem. They would have enough to deal with when they got back. I would neither help them nor bust them. They weren’t kids after all, I decided. They would figure out a solution, or go to the police, or face some gruesome consequences. It was their problem, not mine.
That left Lane and Garrett—a situation which was not so easy to put on a boat and forget about.
They were sitting in front of the police tent after their interviews. Garrett’s chair had been cleaned up. He had, too. He’d managed to wash the soot off his face and pull a fresh Hawaiian shirt out of his luggage. Lane was sipping coffee, watching the sun go down. The sunset made her face look healthier, her eyes brighter.
Garrett acknowledged me with a brief nod as I sat on the canvas tarp next to him.
“It’s just now sinking in, little bro. I can’t believe Alex is gone.”
“He was something.”
Garrett drank his beer. The smell of Lane’s coffee drifted by and was blown away by the sea breeze.
“We can leave soon,” I said. “The ferry should be here in half an hour.”
Garrett shook his head. “I’m not going just yet. I need some time to think about the island.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He locked eyes with me. “Alex left it to me.”
I stared at him. I tried to wrap my mind around what he was saying. “You mean…Rebel Island?”
“The papers he gave me last night,” Garrett said. “That was his will. He said if anything happened to him, he wanted me to know. He was leaving the place to me. He named you executor.”
Garrett looked back at the smoldering wreckage. “Congratulations.”
Part of me wondered why Alex would do such a thing. It would make Garrett a suspect. He’d have a strong motive for threatening Alex’s life. But Alex had never thought that way. He hadn’t been a killer, just a lonely man who’d tried to live up to Mr. Eli’s trust.
After all this, coming here to say goodbye to Rebel Island, my brother had ended up owning it. There was a lesson there somewhere—one of life’s little ironies. But I wasn’t sure how to take it.
“What’ll you do with the place?” My tone probably said what I was thinking: Why would you want it?
“Do with it?” Garrett looked out at the sea and breathed in, as if clearing the smoke of the ruins out of his lungs. “Don’t know. Maybe a smaller house. Maybe nothing at all. But I like being here.”
“And you?” I asked Lane.
“I’ll stay the night with Garrett,” she answered. “They’re leaving the tents set up until morning. Then I’m going back to the mainland.”
“What about your ex-husband?”
“I’ll confront him,” she said. “And bring charges.”
“If you want help—”
She shook her head. “I appreciate it. But I’ll tell you the same thing I told Garrett. I have to do this myself.”
She looked nothing like the crying lady she’d been at the start of the weekend. I wondered if she was just putting on a brave face, if she would crumble again in the presence of danger, but something told me she would not. She’d left her fear behind in the burning hotel along with most of her luggage—the last reminders of her failed marriage.
“You’ll bring the police,” I said.
She smiled ruefully. “I’m not stupid.”
“And when she’s done,” Garrett said, “whenever that is, she might come back here.”
“I might,” she agreed.
It was tenuous. As tenuous as the idea that my brother could ever live on this island. Or ever have a relationship, for that matter. But at the moment, Lane and he were holding hands. They seemed at peace. And they really didn’t need my presence.
“Good luck,” I said.
I shook my brother’s hand, told Lane goodbye, and walked away toward the ruins of the ferry dock.
“You weren’t even arrested,” Maia observed, “much less killed.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Kind of disappointing.”
We watched from the ferry’s stern as Rebel Island receded into the distance.
The sunset made a blood-red sky and a copper bay. Without its hotel or lighthouse or palmetto trees, Rebel Island looked like nothing much—a sandbar, a trick of the light. A shallow break where Jean Laffitte might run a Spanish ship aground. The kind of island that vanished in the space of a breath.
And yet…It was still there. It probably looked more now like it did three hundred years ago, when Cabeza de Vaca was shipwrecked nearby and hunted for lizards with the locals.
The ferry rose and fell on the waves.
“According to the EMT,” Maia said, “I’m due any minute. He was amazed the baby held out through the weekend.”
“Tough kid,” I said.
She kissed me. “Tough parents.”
We watched the island disappear. It didn’t feel like the final goodbye I’d imagined. If the island really was Garrett’s now, I might be forced to come back someday, but that didn’t bother me. I wasn’t so much worried about the things I was leaving behind. I was more interested in what I was going back to.
“I might take a PI case once in a while,” I said. “If the right one came.”
Maia raised an eyebrow. “If it didn’t interfere.”
“It would depend on the case,” I said.
She tried to hold a poker face as long as possible, but finally a smile made its way to the surface. “You almost made it seven months. Not bad.”
“Oh, be quiet.”
“Hey, when we broke up, you stayed away from me a whole year. Should I be insulted?”
“I shouldn’t have brought this up until we were closer to the shore. Twenty minutes trapped on this ferry with you. Gonna be a long ride.”
She kissed me again. Between us, the baby kicked. It felt like a tiny reminder, the kid telling me, Get a grip, Dad.
“Not such a long trip,” Maia promised. “Tell me what you want to do first when we get home.”
And so we sat together in the stern of the ferry, and we talked about the future.