“I’ll sign for the loan,” Riley said. “I have plenty of collateral.”
Brodin studied his daughter the way a parent does when he feels his authority is being challenged.
“If that doesn’t satisfy your … bank, then I’ll make the loan myself,” she added.
“You don’t understand,” Brodin said.
“If that doesn’t work out, I’ll loan Mary Pat the money she needs,” I said.
Riley spun to face me, a surprised expression on her freckled face. Brodin stared as if he were estimating my income, subtracting my overhead, and coming up with a balance in the red.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“My name’s McKenzie, and I have five million dollars that I can convert to cash in seventy-two hours.”
“That fucking McKenzie,” Brodin muttered in reply. He glared at Riley as if he couldn’t believe that she would allow herself to be seen in public with such a disreputable character.
“I take it you’ve heard of me,” I said.
“My father-in-law hates your guts.”
“Now you know why.”
“This is all moot.” Brodin’s voice became indignant. “First, we must wait to hear what the insurance company has to say. Of course, Ms. Mulally, one way or another Minnetonka Community Bank will find a way to accommodate you.”
Mary Pat reached out and grabbed his hand as if Brodin had just done her a favor.
“Thank you,” she said.
“We must get inspectors in here to provide a detailed analysis of the damage…”
“And, of course, reliable contractors to estimate the cost of repairs.”
“Yes,” Mary Pat repeated. She stood. The expression on her face went from despair to cheerful just like that. It was as if she could see the future. “I know people. I’ll start making calls.”
“I’ll speak to my people as well.”
“What people?” Riley asked. “You’re president of the bank. You own the damn thing.”
“Riley.” Brodin was unable or unwilling to disguise his anger. “You have no idea how things work.”
He left the patio and walked briskly to his car. Maria watched him go. She looked as if she were wrestling with the question of whether she should stay or leave as well. Mary Pat provided the solution when she took the young woman’s arm.
“We must ask the firemen if it’s okay to go inside now,” Mary Pat said. “There is much work to be done.”
Before she left the patio, though, Mary Pat turned to me.
“Why did you say what you did?” she asked. “We don’t even know each other.”
“Partly to help you and partly to annoy Brodin,” I said. Which is pretty much the reason you’re assisting Riley, my inner voice reminded me. “Partly because a man all but accused me the other day of doing nothing with my money except buying toys to play with. This was my chance to be a philanthropist.”
She reached out and touched my arm. “Thank you,” she said.
The touch and words somehow closed my throat. I couldn’t speak. Instead, I nodded my reply and watched as Mary Pat and Maria left the patio and made their way to the fire truck.
Damn, McKenzie, my inner voice said.
“That was awfully kind of you,” Riley said.
“I’m a helluva guy,” I told her, and for half a second, I actually believed it. “Besides, it showed me something, the way you stood up for your friend. It made me want to stand up for her, too.”
“I’m a helluva girl.”
You’re certainly an interesting girl, my inner voice said.
I took Riley’s arm and gently led her to the railing, where we stood and looked out over Gideon Bay. There was a boat in the center of the bay just bobbing along.
“Have you seen Navarre?” I asked. “Have you heard from him?”
“How long have you been here?”
“A couple of hours. I came as soon as I heard.”
“Navarre didn’t show?”
“Why would he?”
“I didn’t want to say anything in front of Mary Pat or the cops, but I think that’s why the fire was set. A lot of people believe Navarre owns Casa del Lago. For some reason he wants them to believe that. I believe the fire was set to draw him out of hiding. Think about it. If someone torched your place, wouldn’t you show up?”
“Why, though? Who? The kid in the parking lot that Mary Pat mentioned?”
I figured it was a good time to come clean, so I showed Riley the photos I took with my smartphone and told her what I had learned.
“Mexican Mafia?” she said.
“Not the actual Mexican Mafia. A street gang in West St. Paul.”
“What has that to do with Juan Carlos? He’s not from Mexico. He’s from Spain. He’s only been in the U.S. for six months. How could he have anything to do with a gang that doesn’t even exist anymore?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know or you don’t want to tell me?”
“I’ve told you everything.” The expression on her face suggested she didn’t believe me. “Have you told me everything you know?”