Next morning I asked Don to meet me at Dewey’s for lunch. I didn’t think he’d told me everything he knew about the initials on the cryptic notes Cindy had left behind, and I wanted to question him some more. Betty dropped by the office with the list of names I’d requested, and we chatted awhile about some of the people I might talk to. Then it was time to see Don.
I drove to Dewey’s in silence. I couldn’t think of any CDs I could play that would prepare me for what I was about to do.
Don was already seated in a booth when I arrived. Dewey rushed up to me as soon as I came in the door. “Claire, did you know Don was here?” he whispered.
“Yes, I asked him to meet me here.”
“Oh, good. I didn’t want a scene.”
I gave a short laugh. “Okay, Dewey, since you don’t want a scene there won’t be any. We’ll be perfectly civilized, I promise. Now dig us up something from the alley so we can eat.”
“You got it.” Dewey practically ran back to the kitchen.
I slid into the booth and faced Don. “Hi. Thanks for meeting me.”
“No problem. I’ll go anywhere for lunch if a beautiful woman’s buying. You said this was about the Kagel case?”
“Yes, and I promise this will be our last meeting on the subject.” I pulled the paper out of my purse and laid it on the table. “You said the initials on this page meant nothing.” He nodded. “Then how come the letters FBI leap offthe page at me? Surely you contacted them.”
“Yes, of course I did. They swore they knew nothing about Cindy before her murder, and weren’t investigating her.”
“Maybe they were using her as a snitch. From what I understand, she was a handful for a while and ended up living on the street for a few months.”
“Yeah, that’s true. I told the fibby I talked to I was in deep doo”doo over the case, and I really needed some cooperation. He swore he was being straight with me. That’s why I came to the conclusion the initials stood for her bank.”
Our meals came, and we began eating. “These other initials, HC and CRF””nothing made sense with those either?”
Don shook his head while he finished chewing a bite of salad then spoke. “I told you at the station—everything I looked at deadended.” His brown eyes lost their warm glow. “I’m telling you everything, Claire. I’m not holding anything back.
I spoke softly, trying to calm him. “I’m sorry, Don. I know you wouldn’t play games. It’s just that the mom’s so upset. I’d like to help her put a name and face to her daughter’s killer.”
He twisted the salt shaker around on the table. “Yeah, I know. We never meet these people at a good time.”
“Did you get a feeling about any of the people you talked to, like maybe they were hiding something?”
“Just Seabold, as I told you. Never could pin anything definite on him, though.”
We ate in silence for awhile, then I spoke. “One other thing. You and I both know you have sources of info I can’t tap into since I’m not on the force anymore. Did you turn up anything else that might help me?”
“No. Oh, oh.” Don reached for the cell phone on his belt. “Excuse me, I’m vibrating.” He held the phone to his ear. “Hello.” He turned slightly away from me and lowered his voice. “Hi. Yeah, Lori, we’re still on for tonight. I’m busy right now. I’ll call you later, okay?” He put the phone back in its case.
My hands balled into fists in my lap. I could feel my fingernails digging into my palms. He’d moved on! I tried to sound casual. “Who’s the lucky lady?”
Don blushed. “Just somebody I met at the gym. We’re going to see a movie tonight.” He slid to the edge of the booth. “Gotta go now. Good luck.”
Good luck. That was it. Good luck. I couldn’t figure out if I was more upset that Don was seeing someone else or that I hadn’t found anyone first. I paid the check and slammed out of the restaurant. During the ride to the office, I put my feelings about Don aside and concentrated on the job at hand. Bobby Spears was going to be my first target. I’d have to do some background work on him first, though. After the next few days, I’d know him as well as I knew my own brother.
To be continued