“You have a boat?”
“Used to. I took it out only twice in the past three years, so I sold it.”
“I hear ya. I think I took mine out three, four times, and that includes when I put ’er in the water. Only brought ’er out t’day to burn some gas outta the tanks. She’s just a money pit, but what are you going to do? Gotta have a boat.”
“Where do you keep it?”
“I got a slip right on the edge of Tonka Bay Marina. Easy in, easy out. Hadda pay a pretty penny extra for it, too, that slip. It’s worth the rent, though, sure it is. People forever maneuverin’ in and out of the marina, always riskin’ collisions, they see my spot, they gotta be jealous, gotta say, ‘Damn, ain’t that sweet.’ How ’bout you? Where did you keep your boat?”
“In my garage.”
He didn’t say another word. Didn’t even look at me as he picked up his Glenlivet and retreated across the restaurant, putting as much distance between him and me as possible without actually leaving the building.
Damn, my inner voice told me. The rich really are different.
A few minutes later I was joined by a pretty woman with a thin face, pale eyes, and fine blond hair with auburn highlights. She was older than Riley yet still below my lust threshold, although she was close enough to it that I was willing to make an exception.
“May I help you?” she asked.
“No, thank you. I’m waiting for the owner.”
“I’m the owner.”
Her response caught me by surprise, and I hesitated for a few beats. “I’m looking for Juan Carlos Navarre,” I said at last.
“I’ll tell you what I told the other guy. He’s not the owner. He’s not here. I haven’t heard from him in a week. Is there anything else?”
She looked as if she were going to walk away whether I had anything more to say or not, so I thrust my paw toward her.
“My name’s McKenzie,” I said.
She hesitated for a moment before shaking my hand.
“Mary Pat Mulally,” she replied.
I considered making a clever remark about a woman with an Irish surname owning a Spanish-style restaurant but thought better of it. Instead, I asked, “May I have a minute of your time, Ms. Mulally?”
I continued to hold her hand so she couldn’t slip away. She looked at my hand holding hers and then into my eyes. She sighed heavily and said, “Only a minute.”
I released her hand, and Mary Pat led me through the restaurant, moving vigilantly as if she wanted to make sure that no one tried to steal it from her. Instead of a table overlooking Lake Minnetonka, she brought me to a booth with a splendid view of the parking lot, and I thought, smart businesswoman, she’s leaving the best tables for her paying customers. I sat across from her. She waited for me to speak.
“Apparently I’ve been misinformed,” I told her.
“Did Juan Carlos tell you he owned Casa del Lago?”
“No. It was Riley Brodin.”
The way her eyes narrowed, I got the impression that she recognized the name and hearing it made her sad. Still, Mary Pat nodded her head as if it made perfect sense.
“Juan Carlos isn’t the first man who tried to impress a woman with … let’s just say it’s not the entire truth,” she said.
“What is the entire truth?”
“Whom do you work for?”
“Do I need to be working for someone?”
“Don’t fence with me, McKenzie. I’m not in the mood.”
“Riley Brodin. Her boyfriend disappeared. She’s anxious that I find him.”
“She’s the granddaughter of Mr. Muehlenhaus.”
“That’s what I’ve been told.”
“Technically, you work for him, then.”
“No. Not even a little bit.”
Mary Pat must have heard the outrage I purposely put in my voice, because she smiled slightly.
“Not Mr. Muehlenhaus?” she said.
“No, not Mr. Muehlenhaus. Why do you ask?”
“I think he’s looking for Juan Carlos, too.”
“What makes you think that?”
“A private investigator came by the other day. He flashed his ID at me like it was a badge and started asking all kinds of questions that were none of his business. I’m from the north side of Minneapolis, McKenzie. Real cops don’t bother me any; I’m sure not going to be intimidated by a PI. When I refused to answer, he said his employer could make life on Lake Minnetonka impossible for me. I threw him out. I’ve been waiting for someone to knock on my door with bad news ever since. I thought that someone might be you.”
Mary Pat shrugged her shoulders as if she were willing to take my word for it—for now.
“Then you have nothing to do with the Chevy Impala in the back row of the parking lot,” she said.
She tilted her head at the window, and I took a look.
“See it?” she asked.
“Inside is a man who has been watching my restaurant all day. Yesterday there was a different man in a Sentra.”
“A red Sentra?”