A Brilliant Plan

Chapter 35

THE TROLLEY WITH the diner shooed Ron away and the next opening came about an hour later when we all found ourselves in the queue to the restroom.

“Explanation please,” he stomped his foot on the cabin floor.

I smiled innocently. “Come on, we all want something to happen on this case, right?” Ron nodded suspiciously. “What is better than to heat up the stove to increase the pressure on whoever has the jewels? So far, the whole affair has taken place mostly in hiding. Let’s get a move on and move it out into the open.” Good tagline.

“This had been a Team Moonstone decision?” He said flatly.

“Well, the next time you are the target of a killing madman, feel free to take the initiative yourself. The best thing from my perspective is that you can’t undo it.” We stood eye-to-eye. “Think it through on the flight.”

It was my turn to enter the restroom and I left him standing there.

Although the rest of the flight was relatively uneventful, we had a two-hour delay and then Ron had problems getting his rental. It was almost two a.m. when we finally crashed at my place. I simply went to the cabinet, fetched blankets and cushions, threw them down to him from the gallery, and fell into my bed without brushing my teeth or changing.

So this is how it feels to grow old—I didn’t even think about sex with Ron—not for one second.

We overslept, whatever there was to oversleep. Ron was lying on the couch, wrapped and entangled in several sheets, snoring away. Coffee to get started, hot shower and fresh clothes. We walked to the Petit Casino to catch a late breakfast, not talking much.

We sat on the white plastic chairs out front and did some intensive people watching while we ate. I had taken along my big sunglasses and put them on, not to defeat the glare of the weak autumn sun but to remove myself from the world. And Ron.

Come to think of it, I had three problems. One—the ongoing curse of Thomas Cornelius and my promise toward him to find ‘The Max.’ Thomas and Billy Bounce were not interested in who killed the night watchman and Phoebe Eastman; maybe it was them anyway. The only thing they cared about was the jewels. Problem two—the murderer or the murderers of the Eastmans, who were also probably behind the attack against me. To save myself, I had to find the murderer. Problems one and two were directly connected, I was sure of that. If I found ‘The Max,’ I would find the murderer.

Munching my lower lip and picking at a croissant didn’t reveal anything spectacular. Ron was turning the pages of his L.A. paper; the story hadn’t made it to the US print media, yet.

Problem three—five feet away from me, reading the funnies. Ron. How was I to catch the killer and find the jewels with him tagging along? ‘Honey, you stay home tonight, your partner has to break in and search the homes of several suspects.’

Problem three was standing in the way of successfully resolving problems one and two. Which meant—tackle problem three first.

I cleared my throat, “Ron?”

He looked up from his paper.

“Go home.”

“Beg your pardon?” he said.

“Didn’t you say that the solution to ‘The Max’ puzzle might be inside my pretty head?”

“Did I really say ‘pretty?'”

“You did. And it might be true.”

“You know the killer?”

“I don’t know; give this pretty head some room to think.”

After breakfast, he gave me a kiss on the cheek, got into his rental, honked, waved a tired hand and drove away to San Diego. It was hard to see and feel what went on in his head right now. Was he worried about me? He hadn’t really shown concern. Was he counting on unconventional Calendar activities? Maybe. Did he like me at all?

I let go a sigh so loud it made the heads turn on all the other tables.

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