A Cookbook Conspiracy

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Authors: Kate Carlisle
Tags: Mystery
there’s a small couch in the
     ladies’ room, so I sat down and closed my eyes for a minute.”
    “Did you fall asleep?”
    “I didn’t think I did.” She squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them. “Maybe I did
     fall asleep for a few minutes. I must’ve, because when I came out here, all the lights
     in the place were off.”
    “When you left to go to the ladies’ room, who was still here?”
    She thought for a moment. “Peter, Kevin, Baxter, Margot, and Monty.”
    “That’s almost everyone, isn’t it?”
    “Is it? Wait.” She thought for a moment. “Colette was still here, but she was just
     leaving. Raoul had left an hour earlier. He wasn’t feeling well, so he took a cab
     back to the hotel. Colette had their rental car and I was thinking of asking her for
     a ride back to your place, but she’d been so cranky all day that I didn’t want to
     spend another minute with her.”
    “Why was she cranky?”
    Savannah lifted her shoulder. “Can’t say for sure, but those two weren’t getting along
     very well.”
    “Raoul and Colette? Are you kidding? Who doesn’t get along with Raoul?”
    “His wife, apparently.” She met my gaze and almost smirked. “I know, right? Raoul
     is such a doll. She must be nuts.”
    I noticed Derek’s sideways glance at us.
    “We’re going off topic,” I said. “Let’s see. Was anyone else still around? Any waiters
     or kitchen staff?”
    She stared at the ceiling and tried to think. “One of the bartenders stayed to serve
     us drinks, but after a while he cleaned up and left. A few of the kitchen staff were
     still here, prepping for tomorrow. But we stood around talking for so long that they
     all left, too. It was getting really late. By the time I took off to the ladies’ room,
     everyone but the chefs had left.”
    “Okay, and how long do you think you were in there?”
    “Maybe eight or ten minutes?”
    “And you came out and the lights were off. What did you do?”
    “It was a little creepy,” she said. “I called out ‘Hello,’ but nobody answered. Then
     I saw the kitchen light was on, so I went in there.”
    “And Baxter was on the floor?”
    She swallowed with difficulty. I’d forgotten to get her more water, so Derek went
     behind the bar, found a full bottle of water in the refrigerator, and handed it to
     her.
    “Thanks.” She twisted off the cap and took a big gulp. “Yes, he was on the floor.”
    “Was he dead?”
    “No.” Her shoulders shook and she rubbed her arms to stave off the chills. “He was
     still gasping for air, so I didn’t think, I just grabbed the knife and pulled it out.”
    “And that’s when we walked in?”
    “Well, a few seconds later.” She took another drink of water. “He gasped and choked
     first, then, yeah. He died.”
    “I’m sorry.” I reached over and took her hand.
    She seemed lost in her own world for a minute, then said, “That fish knife was his
     pride and joy. He told us how he found it in Singapore.”
    I’d seen the knife. It was massive, bigger than any kitchen knife I’d ever seen. The
     blade was about twelve inches long and eight inches wide, curving dramatically along
     the razor-sharp edge.
    “He bought it from one of the roughneck Asian fishermen who sold their catch right
     on the dock next to their boats. He’d never seen another one like it.”
    “Why is it curved like that?” I asked.
    “It makes carving up the largest types of fish a lot easier. You slide the blade under
     the gills and just start slicing.”
    “Interesting,” I said, frowning.
    “He said he paid six dollars for it.”
    “Sounds like a bargain.”
    “I’ll say. It would cost several hundred dollars at Williams-Sonoma.” She tried to
     snicker, but her face crumpled and she began to sob.
    “Oh, honey.” I grabbed her and held her. My eyes got watery, too, since I was constitutionally
     incapable of letting her cry alone.
    After a minute or two, her shoulders stopped shaking. She hiccupped

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