“Isaac Marshall was hanged by the neck and pronounced dead at 6:05 this morning, putting an end to a dastardly conspiracy that instigated a city-wide plague of strange, complex, and grotesque crimes that were at times too strange to believe. Twelve members of the public and his daughter, Miss Cora Marshall, were the official witnesses to Marshall’s death. Miss Marshall, herself a victim of her father’s deeds, was said to remain composed throughout the execution but refused to speak to the press afterward. And now for the weather. It’s a bright, sunshiny—”
Cora changed to another station, and then another, searching for music. She had just found a jaunty little jazz number when Sam stepped in from the kitchen with coffee and the morning mail. She ran a hand over the radio before taking a cup from him. “I can’t believe you got it back. I thought it would be stolen forever.”
He grinned, settling beside her on the couch. “I had to shake down a few pawnshop owners, that’s all. The jewelry is probably gone for good, though.”
“I don’t care.” She had already taken off her black dress and shoes, and was now only in her underclothes, cuddling against him. “Everything important to me is right here in this room.”
He nuzzled her neck before turning his attention to the mail, squeezing her nearest thigh whenever he had a free hand. She looked out the big window across from them, watching a raft of white ducks in the pond.
It would have been a lie to say she felt normal. After all, she had watched her father die less than an hour ago. But she did feel good and happy, and she most certainly felt loved.
“What do you want to do today?” she said, once the sunlight had brightened into true day.
“I think this letter might answer that question.” Then he handed it over for her to read. “It’s from Miranda Dewhurst, the famous actress. She says there was a murder during a play she was in, and that the police consider her a suspect. She’s asking for my help.”
“Hmm.” Cora quickly read through it. “I know her a little. Dramatic like all actresses, but she doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body.”
“Feel up to visiting her today?”
She pretended to think about it. “As what, your assistant?”
Sam smiled again, the look in his eyes all but melting her heart. “No, Bunny. As my partner.”
Then he kissed her, and the last of her somber thoughts from the morning vanished. Maybe she would always sense the ragged edges of her mind where her father had taken her memories, but that was all right. She was making new ones. “Absolutely, Detective.”
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