“For what it’s worth, I don’t think it would have made any difference to what happened yesterday.”
He raised his hand a few inches and let it fall back on top of his desk as if he weren’t so sure.
“I don’t know why you took the time to tell me all this,” I said. “I appreciate it, though. I’d like to ask another favor, if I might. That young lady out there is convinced you’re going to fire her. Something about club morale.”
“No. I promise that will not happen. I’ve done enough things for this club that I’ve come to regret; I don’t give a damn what the other members say. I will resign first. You can tell her I said so.”
“It would be better if you did.”
We rose together and filed out of the office. When we reached the lobby, I went left toward the door and he went right toward the reception desk. “Ms. Neamy,” I heard him say. I turned my head just in time to see Curran give her a hug.
I decided I was wrong before. I liked him just fine.
With the Audi in the shop, I was forced to drive my old Jeep Cherokee with the heavy-duty rock bumper and swing-away tire carrier mounted on the back. I had parked it in the rear of the lot, but not because I was self-conscious. Club Versailles had lost much of its awe for me. Seeing Mrs. R that way, I was reminded that the rich could die just as badly as the rest of us.
I opened the envelope Sarah had given me and examined its contents. Navarre had claimed Mrs. R’s home as his address and Lake Minnetonka Community as his bank; there was a letterhead statement from Brodin confirming his accounts like the one Anne Rehmann had told me about. Navarre had also claimed ownership of Casa del Lago, which made me go “Hmm.”
Felipe and Susan were listed as his parents, now deceased; Madrid was given as his home, and under “Education” Navarre wrote that he had a titulo de máster in business studies from the Universitat de Barcelona. That should be easy enough for Victoria to check, I told myself. Navarre also included a photocopy of his passport.
“That I can check myself,” I said aloud.
I found my cell phone and used it to call U.S. Customs and Border Protection. After being put on hold for fifteen minutes—there were twelve callers ahead of me—I explained I wanted to determine the genuineness of a Spanish passport. A woman with a polite voice insisted that there was no way to authenticate a foreign passport number. I tried to argue with her. She asked if I wanted to report suspicious activity to Homeland Security. I thought about it, said no, I merely wanted to make sure the man using the passport for identification purposes was who he claimed to be. She suggested that I contact the Spanish embassy in Washington D.C., yet warned, “There’s no way they will give that information to a third party.” I called the embassy anyway. She was right.
“Well, dammit,” I said aloud.
You had to give Mary Pat Mulally credit—she wasn’t one to waste time. There was already a platoon of carpenters hard at work restoring Casa del Lago to its former glory by the time I arrived in Excelsior that afternoon. I had no idea exactly what they were doing, partly because it has long been established that I am hopeless when it comes to hammer and saw, and partly because of the CONSTRUCTION AREA DO NOT CROSS tape that surrounded the restaurant.
I walked up to the edge of the tape and peered through the open door. I could see Mary Pat and Maria. They were both dressed as if they were, well, tearing down and rebuilding a fire-scorched restaurant. Yet their clothes did little to disguise their generous curves, and I thought, one thing you have to say about Lake Minnetonka, the women are pretty.
I caught Mary Pat’s eye and gave her a wave. She waved back. A moment later, she stepped outside, squinting against the bright sun. Her smile was glorious.
“Isn’t this great?” she said.
“You’re not one to let life’s catastrophes get you down, are you?”
Mary Pat flung her hands up as if it were a silly question not worth answering.
“I bet you’re still looking for Juan Carlos,” she said.
“I am. Have you seen him?”
“Nope. You know what? Screw him. If he can’t be bothered to even make a call when his business burns down, screw him. I’ll buy him out.”
“Can you afford to?”
“No, but my new partner can.”
Maria moved to the door and leaned against the frame. Like her boss, she also shielded her eyes against the sun’s rays. I knew she was eavesdropping on our conversation while pretending not to.
“Who’s your new partner?” I asked.
“Riley Brodin is investing money in your restaurant so that you can get rid of her boyfriend? Wow.”
“She was never happy that he was spending so much time here instead of with her, and besides—I doubt he’s going to be her boyfriend for much longer. She’s even more upset than I am that he hasn’t contacted her, that he hasn’t told her what’s going on.”
I flashed on Anne Rehmann’s confession.