Yeah, there’s a lot of things Navarre hasn’t told her, my inner voice said.
“The only reason she was dating him in the first place was because of her family, because the people on Lake Minnetonka thought she should be dating somebody,” Mary Pat added. “That’s what she said, anyway.”
“When was the partnership concluded?” I asked.
“This morning. During lunch, actually.”
“Well, I was having lunch. Riley called and said let’s do this. She seemed very excited. She said she should have invested in the restaurant from the very beginning.”
“Why didn’t she?”
“We were both afraid that it might get in the way of our friendship. Anyway, Alex Brodin already sent papers over to be signed. I’m waiting to have my lawyer review them first, though. I don’t entirely trust Brodin. If it weren’t for Riley, I probably would have taken my business elsewhere.”
Riley didn’t tell her what happened outside her building that morning, my inner voice said. I wonder why not.
“How long have you known Riley?” I asked.
“Couple years,” Mary Pat said. “We met at the U. I was taking a noncredit business course at the Carlson School of Management.” Her eyes took on a faraway look as she wrestled with her memory. “Riley was earning extra credit or something, working as a TA for the professor. She reviewed a paper with me that I wrote for class. I remember the dress she wore. It was blue, and I thought it was a little too revealing. For a while I was convinced she was involved with her professor, that she was more than just his teaching assistant. We went for coffee together and I found out it wasn’t true. Oh, here…” Mary Pat reached into her pocket and produced a business card. “Take this.”
On one side of the card was a photograph of Casa del Lago taken after the fire but before work began. A headline read: “We’re burned up, not burnt out.” On the back of the card was a photo of the club taken before the fire. The copy read: “Good for one complimentary dessert during our Grand Re-Opening” followed by the restaurant’s address and Web site.
“I didn’t have the nerve to put down a date,” Mary Pat said. “Why tempt fate, huh? If everything goes according to plan, though, and the county inspectors don’t mess with us, we should be up and running in two weeks. Three at the most.”
I flicked the card with my finger.
“I’ll be there,” I said. Mary Pat smiled some more. I glanced over her shoulder at Maria. She didn’t look happy at all. “In the meantime…”
“If I hear from Juan Carlos, you’re third on my list,” Mary Pat said.
“Right behind Riley and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department.”
I sat in my Jeep Cherokee for a few minutes, unsure where to go next. Navarre was still out there. I could have rented a boat, I suppose, and searched Lake Minnetonka, but if the county deputies couldn’t find him, I doubted my chances. Mrs. R’s killer was out there, too. I had no idea where to look for him. I searched the parking lot and the area around Casa del Lago, thinking he might have staked out the place the way wannabe gangster Arnaldo Nunez had. He wasn’t there. Nor were there any other members of the 937 Mexican Mafia loitering about.
I called on my long-ago partner.
“Well, Anita,” I said aloud. “What would you suggest?”
My inner voice answered, yet it was her words: You don’t know? When in doubt, you always follow the money, Rook. Who did you sleep with to get this job, anyway?
The receptionist at the Lake Minnetonka Community Bank had green eyes that glowed like the numbers on an ancient calculator, the kind you used to be able to buy at Radio Shack. She was happy to inform me that Mr. Brodin wasn’t available, yet she would not reveal where he was or when he would return. So I dropped a bomb on her.
“Mr. Muehlenhaus is anxious that I speak to him immediately.”
Thirty seconds later I was walking away with Brodin’s location written out in a neat and firm hand on the bank’s stationery.
The sign read FUTURE HOME OF BRODIN PLAZA and featured a color illustration of a silver office tower surrounded by green grass, trees, and a glistening lake. All I saw beyond the sign was construction equipment, brown dirt, and a hole in the ground. Granted, it was a big hole …