“So we have.”


“Would I be moving in with you or would you be moving in with me?”

“We could find a place that we both like. Somewhere in the city. Somewhere with a view of the river.”

I liked that she said “the city.” I’m a St. Paul boy, born and raised, and can’t imagine living anywhere else, although … When I came into my money I moved my father and myself to a house on Hoyt Avenue. I thought I was moving to St. Anthony Park, a smart neighborhood near the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until after I made an offer that the house was on the wrong side of the street; I had inadvertently relocated to the suburb of Falcon Heights—and Bobby Dunston and my other childhood friends have been teasing me about it ever since.

“Whose name would we put on the lease?” I asked.

“Mine, of course.”

“Why of course?”

“If things go sour, I’ll be the one throwing you out.”

“Why can’t I throw you out?”

She stood and spread her hands wide as if she were revealing herself to me.

“Yeah,” I said. “You’ve got a point.”

Despite my best lobbying efforts, Nina insisted on taking a shower and getting dressed alone. Apparently she needed to go early to her club, and I wondered if this was what she meant by compromises. It took me twenty-five minutes to drive from her place in Mahtomedi, a suburb northeast of St. Paul, to my home. That’s something I won’t miss, I told myself as I pulled into the driveway—the long commute. It wasn’t until I put the Audi in park and turned off the engine that I noticed the back door to my house was standing wide open.

I started the Audi again, opened the garage door with my remote, and drove inside—I didn’t want to be exposed to the open back door when I got out of the car. I exited through the side door of the garage, dashed across my lawn, and hugged the side of my house. I was carrying the SIG in both hands, the safety off, as I edged along the stucco wall until I reached the open door. I poked my head around the jamb, glanced inside, and quickly pulled it back again. I didn’t see anyone, and no one threw a shot at me so I looked again, this time lingering for a moment. The house had a lot of windows, especially the kitchen. The morning sun shone through them, giving it a light, airy, and empty appearance. I eased myself inside.

The dining room was on the right; the “family room,” as my father called it, was on the left. I went left because if I were waiting to ambush me, that’s where I would be hiding. The room was cluttered with furniture, overflowing bookcases, vinyl records and CDs and the machines needed to play them, speakers, personal computer, flat-screen TV, and Blu-Ray player. Nothing seemed out of place. Even my Dr. Who sonic screwdriver had been left undisturbed.

Most people who find their homes broken into but nothing missing would be relieved. I was nervous with the realization that the intruder had not come to steal. Plus, he was savvy enough to bypass what I had been led to believe was a state-of-the art security system.

This is the second time someone got past your home defenses, my inner voice reminded me. You’d be better off keeping geese.

It was easier to search my house after I left the family room because there were so few places to hide. My dining room consisted of a matching table, buffet, and a half-dozen chairs. There was no furniture in my living room and two of the upstairs bedrooms at all. I bought the house for my father and myself. That’s why I took the price on Teachwell—to buy the house and guarantee my father a comfortable retirement. My mother died when I was in the sixth grade, and it had just been the two of us. Unfortunately, he passed six months later, and I never got around to furnishing it properly.

A quick glance in my basement proved that the floor safe where I stowed a few guns, cash, and a couple of false IDs was unmolested. The safe and its contents got me thinking. If Navarre was from Spain, he must have a passport, right?

I returned to the kitchen. There were dishes on the table and a couple of empty Summit Ale bottles that I hadn’t noticed before.

Really? my inner voice said. The sonuvabitch raided my refrigerator?