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TWENTY-FOUR

"I DON'T THINK WE'RE going to be able to make a case against Gabi Kaminski," Barr said.

We were almost halfway home. I felt like an idiot, caught in my stupid lie, and silence had settled over us for several miles. I jumped when he spoke.

"Does that mean she didn't kill Ariel, or that you can't prove she did it?" I asked. "Because if she didn't, you made me look like a real jerk in there."

"Sorry. How was I supposed to know you were going to manufacture a lost watch?"

"But you said we'd lie and cheat!" I protested.

"I said we could if we had to. We didn't have to."

I sniffed.

"Anyway," he continued. "I'm unconvinced she's a murderer. She was extremely cooperative, and her husband vehemently assured us that she was home all that night." He cracked the window. "He was pretty angry that we questioned her at all. I can't really blame him." Barr didn't look regretful, though. All just part of the job for him. I, on the other hand, still felt sick to my stomach.


"Great," I said. "And you have yet another alibi provided by a spouse." I twisted toward him in the seat. "But Gabi told me herself that sometimes she stays up all night spinning and Rocky never knows. She could have easily left the farmhouse at night without anyone knowing."

Barr frowned. "How early does Rocky go to bed?"

"When I was there the other night? Around nine, I guess. The twins, too. He's an early riser, and the twins are only six."

"She might have had time to drive down to Cadyville. It would be cutting it awfully close, though, to fit in that eight-to-ten o'clock timeframe."

"But it's possible," I said. "And what about the way she acted about the bamboo fiber?"

He lifted a shoulder and let it drop. "Ariel gave it to her. Brought it up the last time she visited. Can't prove her wrong. And she didn't seem too worried when I took that sample."

"Hmm. I just don't see Ariel dropping the big bucks for that fancy fiber, just to give it to the sister-in-law who didn't even really like her."

"Maybe she was trying to make nice."

Maybe so. Maybe Gabi had been making headway with Rocky, trying to convince him to stop lending his sister money, and Ariel needed to get on her good side.

"Then why was she so upset about us being there?" I grumbled.

"Believe me," Barr said. "I've interviewed a lot of people. That was mild. Rocky was far more upset than she was."

"So that's it? She gets away with it?"


"Well, at some point we might be able to link forensic evidence to her."

I thought he might be humoring me now, but I still asked, "Is that in the works?"

"We didn't find much. I was hoping they'd find evidence under Ariel's fingernails, but there was nada."

"Maybe Gabi came up behind her, and Ariel never had a chance to fight back."

"God, Sophie Mae. Your imagination kind of scares me."

"You'd have this conversation with Robin in a heartbeat, and her imagination would be useful. Just because I'm not-" tall, auburn-haired, fashionable, and a sure shot with any kind of firearm ever made "-a police detective doesn't mean I can't figure a few things out."

We got back to Cadyville around seven-thirty, and Barr went to update Robin on the new information from La Conner. I drove home and spent a mundane evening with Meghan and Erin, watching a movie on DVD, doing my best to push Ariel's murder out of my mind. If Gabi really had killed her, I might have to come to terms with the fact that she'd get away with it.

Great in theory; not so easy in practice. I went to bed early, but slept fitfully, my slumber punctuated with dreams of being caught in a huge sticky web, surrounded by laughing spiders with all too human faces.



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