“Give me back the keys to my Lexus, since you won’t be driving home.”

“Are you going to tuck me into bed, too? What a wonderful woman you are, Nina Truhler.”

“Yes. Yes, I am. By the way, I was thinking I might take your advice and start playing the piano again. This place practically runs itself now…”

There was more—something about a trio and taking up where Blossom Dearie left off. I wasn’t listening, though. Instead, my head was filled with thoughts of Riley Brodin and my inability to find her, much less look out for her, as I had promised. Did she love Navarre so deeply that she was willing to risk her life to be with him? Would she turn her back on her family, on the Muehlenhaus name and all that it meant—not to mention the money? I couldn’t think of anything more foolish, and yet people have done that sort of thing before, haven’t they? Many times. With tragic consequences. Shakespeare wrote about it. So did Leo Tolstoy and Alexandre Dumas. I was sure Nina would find it very romantic. ’Course, she had always been a glass-half-full kind of gal, while I prided myself on being a realist—on seeing a glass that’s neither half full nor half empty, but rather one that’s twice as big as it needed to be. I heard her mention a piano teacher and refresher courses …

“Are you listening?” she asked.

“Sorry. Guess I’m a little preoccupied.”

“You have to give him credit.”

“Give who credit?”

“Juan Carlos.”


“He did get the girl, didn’t he?”

“I doubt he’ll keep her long.”

“You’re just being cynical.”

“Says the women with three stitches in her head. I thought you were voting that Juan Carlos Navarre was legitimate?”

“Yeah, well, the more I think about it, the more implausible it sounds. I think now what happened was that David Maurell—”

“You mean Jax Albana.”

“Whoever. I think he saw Riley in college, fell hopelessly in love, and spent the past seven years changing his life so he could come back here and win her hand. Don’t you think that’s romantic?”

“I would if he had actually changed his life, but he didn’t. Navarre didn’t go to school. He didn’t become a doctor or engineer or someone of consequence so he could impress the lady. He used the money he stole from the Nine-Thirty-Seven to steal even more money from the U.S. government. Change his life—all he did was change his name.”


“Nina, you can’t possibly be on this guy’s side. Listen, he didn’t even know Riley when he masterminded the destruction of the Nine-Thirty-Seven. He didn’t know her when he tried to seduce his way into Macalester College. None of that was for her. Nothing he ever did was for her. It was for himself. Think of the women he’s used along the way. Navarre is a very selfish man.”

“Yet he came back for Riley,” Nina said. “He could have gone anywhere, done anything with the money he stole. Yet when all was said and done he came back for her. He risked everything to come back for her.”

“Yes, he did. Now what?”

“I suppose living happily ever after is out of the question.”

“Navarre knows about Collin Baird. That’s why he’s in hiding. Baird must have remembered his obsession with Riley—for lack of a better word—and cornered him here. Navarre must also assume, because of the heat generated by Baird, that the feds are hot on his trail by now, too. Not to mention the Nine-Thirty-Seven Mexican Mafia, or what’s left of it. So he’ll run again. Which might have been his intention from the very beginning—get in, get the girl, get out. He rented Mrs. R’s house instead of buying, after all, and he never did put the cash down for a membership at Club Versailles.”

“Will Riley run with him, do you think?”

“You’re the hopeless romantic, sweetie. You tell me.”

“I’m asking you.”

“I believe Riley is such a contentious young lady because she hasn’t quite figured out who she is yet.”


“Now we’re all going to find out. Dammit. Where can they be? I don’t know where to look. It’ll be easier after a period of time, after they’ve had a chance to settle in somewhere. Then there are all kinds of tricks you can use—everything from chasing Social Security numbers to reviewing the mailing lists of the magazines they read. Right now, though…”

“Have you spoken to Riley’s mother? After Collin Baird was shot, he drove two hundred and eighty miles to see his mom. If I were in trouble, I’d probably do the same thing. Mothers—even after everything Abana and Baird did, their mothers still love them, still want to protect them.”

I wagged my finger at Nina.