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THIRTEEN

BARR AND ROBIN HAD talked to Jake and Felicia already, to no avail. I didn't know her very well, but perhaps I'd have better luck talking to Felicia Beagle than they had. For one thing, I was a woman, and I'd found women tended to talk more readily to another women. And then there was also the fact that I wasn't Detective Robin Lane.

Jake had gone back to the office. If Felicia was at home, she'd likely be alone.

The Beagles lived in a new McMansion in a recently developed neighborhood on the east side of town. Their house had a turret, for heaven's sake, and enormous columns flanked the stone steps. I felt like a poor cousin as I parked my old truck in the driveway and got out. There were no vehicles in sight, but there wouldn't be. These were not people who parked on the street.

The doorbell reverberated inside, a long musical tone that would have driven me nuts after a month. Maybe they didn't get many visitors. Maybe Felicia was tone deaf. She opened the door almost immediately, and I wondered whether she was expecting someone.


"Hi," I said. "I don't think we've formally met, but I'm a member of the Cadyville Regional Artists' Co-operative with your husband."

"Of course," she said. "Ms. Reynolds, isn't it?"

"Sophie Mae, please."

"And I'm Felicia. Won't you come in?"

"Thank you."

The interior was decorated expensively, but still felt comfortable and welcoming. The furniture-lots of leather and dark wood-was oversized, which probably suited Jake just fine. Several of his framed photographs adorned the walls, along with a variety of drawings and simple watercolors. The intense, almost cloying perfume from a gardenia in the hallway drifted around us as we walked by, the sound of our footsteps echoing back faintly from the vaulted ceiling.

Felicia herself, perfectly coifed as always, wore white capris and a white T-shirt with a short white jacket. Her manicured toes were painted deep red, and housed within thin, white strappy sandals.

"Can I get you anything to drink?" she asked as she led me into the living room.

"Thanks, but I'm fine. I hope I'm not disturbing you," I said.

"Oh, no," she said. "I'm taking the day off today."

On my days off I wore sweats or shorts and a T-shirt. Heck, I wore the same things when I was working. I sat in a wingback upholstered in butter-soft red leather. No chair should be allowed to be that comfortable. Visitors would never leave.

"Where are you working?" I asked.


Her chin lifted. "I volunteer for a variety of organizations in both Cadyville and Seattle. I'm particularly interested in the theater." She settled gracefully into the matching leather sofa.

I cocked my head, recognition dawning. "You were an actress, weren't you? I recognize you now. What were you in? Let me think…"

"I like to say I'm still an actress, though, truth be told, I haven't been paid for it for years." Her voice was smooth and pleasant, her manner warm.

I held up my palms. "I'm sorry. I can't remember where I know you from."

"Most people don't recognize me at all. I did a few commercials, years ago. And I played Malissa Harris on Mountain Time for part of one season."

"Of course! I watched Mountain Time when I was in college. It was one of the first prime-time soaps, and since I lived in Colorado I loved that it was set in Vail. You," I pointed at her, "were a very evil lady."

She laughed. "I was indeed. Downright ruthless. I loved playing that character. I only wish it could have lasted longer. But Malissa was written in specifically with the intention of killing her off."

"So why don't you act more now?"

Shrugging, she said, "Cadyville is pretty far from the center of things. I don't need to work. Heck, Jake doesn't even need to work, but he enjoys his practice, and I wouldn't want to take that away from him. Maybe one of these days we'll move closer to the city, but for now we like living here."

I wondered. Felicia, self-possessed as she was, seemed isolated. It didn't seem to bother her, but then again, she didn't seem like the type to let you know if something bothered her. And she was nicer than I'd anticipated. Someone I'd like to have dinner with.


"Enough about my defunct acting career," she said. "Was there a particular reason you dropped by?"

"Well, as I mentioned, I'm part of CRAG, and I know Jake. You know about the murder there, of course."

She nodded. "Of course. Jake's been very concerned about the other co-op members." Her hand flew to her mouth. "Oh, and weren't you the one who found her? How silly of me. You're here to see Jake, aren't you?"

"No, I'm here to see you. Like Jake, I'm worried about how this terrible incident has affected the co-op members. I'm really here because I wanted to check in with you about how Jake is taking it."

Her eyes narrowed. "Why would Jake be taking it worse than anyone else?"

I shrugged. "He seemed more upset about Ariel's death than some. He's a very caring man"

She held my gaze for a long moment. "Meaning?"

I licked my lips. "Nothing. Only… you know… he's a nice guy."

"Particularly to Ariel."

Thin ice here. I could feel it beginning to crack under my feet. "I don't know. Was he?"

Felicia stood. "I'll let Jake know you stopped by."

"Oh. Um, okay. Thanks." I rose to my feet as well.

She walked me unceremoniously to the front door and opened it. "Thanks for stopping by, Ms. Reynolds. 'Bye, now."

"Um," I said, nonplussed by how smoothly she'd kicked me out. The door shut in my face.


No wonder Barr and Robin hadn't gotten very far questioning the Beagles.



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