She walked over to the open door and looked out, eyes squinting into the brightness. She closed her mouth and inhaled the fresh ocean air. Another tour bus rumbled by but there was no lingering smell of exhaust this time. "How much time do you have?"

"I got all day."

She turned toward him, arms folded loosely across her chest. The sunlight coming in through the open door brought out the streaks of red highlights in her hair. "I need for you to follow up behind the police for me."

John waited patiently for more information but none came. He was still trying to figure her out when he asked, "follow up behind them for what?"

Suddenly she decided to come clean. "I was with him the night he died." Her voice trailed off and her eyes went back to the window and they busy intersection. She looked to be remembering and worried.

"May I ask who he is?"

"Well," she said, "you taking my case? I think I should know that first."

John couldn't help but wonder if there was really a legitimate case here at all. So far he had to find a dead man and check behind the police. It all seemed trivial. But trivial might pay a bill or two. And adding to the strangeness of the possible case, he found himself intrigued by the woman. It wasn't just her looks. It was something totally new to him and he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was just yet. He needed more time with her. "Consider the case mine."

She settled back in the chair he had offered her when she first stumbled in. "I was with Michael Gallager the night his car ran off the road and into a concrete light pole. I wasn't exactly with him in his car during the accident. We had been together earlier that night."

It was the way she said the word accident and how her gaze dropped to the floor after she spoke. The gesture meant something. She was holding back. John felt like a chunk of metal being pulled helplessly toward a huge magnet. "You mean Michael Gallager the head of Oceanfront Records and some sort of music management company?"


"That's the one."

"I remember hearing about that accident. Wasn't it over there near Copper's Ditch in Chesapeake?"

She nodded, picking at her fingernails again. John could not believe how beautiful she was. She was a work of art.

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