Before I Wake
to talk with the maid in a few minutes. Your assistant’s office is located where?”
    “Behind the check-in desk.”
    “Would you also pull the security log for this room; let me know when she came and went from her room since the time she arrived.”
    “I’ll start work on it,” the manager agreed and left.
    * * *
    “Sir.” The initial responding patrol officer stepped into the room to offer a folded note. Nathan took it as two more officers joined him.
    He held out the car key. “Let’s see about finding her rental car in the parking lot; maybe we’ll find something there to get us to next of kin.”
    “Yes, Sir.” The officers headed out to get the search started.
    Nathan opened the note.
    5’7”, blonde hair, green eyes, designer eyeglasses. She has a workout jacket with an LA gym logo above the pocket. She left the exercise room about 7:40 p.m. Saturday heading for the hotel sauna and after that said she had a late-night, first-time date to see the movie Holiday Park . She’s a freelance reporter with the Chicago Daily Times and the National Weekly News .
    He turned over the note. It wasn’t signed.
    Nathan stepped to the door. “Who gave you this?”
    The officer pointed down the hall to a group of guests watching what was going on. “The lady in blue.”
    Rae Gabriella.
    She was talking with a young teen, making notes on a pad of paper. She was dressed for a morning out in a simple and elegant dress, her hair pulled back by a red ribbon and the high heels accentuating her graceful posture and long legs. Nathan watched her for a moment, making herself at home in the investigation with the ease of an officer assigned to the case.
    Rae had a room at this hotel, and Nathan had never met a cop yet who wasn’t curious. She’d probably stepped out of her own room and into this scene. Nathan walked toward the group, not sure what he wanted to say to her, deeply appreciating the note she had passed him, while knowing this was probably a crime scene she shouldn’t be involved with.
    Nathan paused as the elevator opened. The coroner stepped out; a spry man at sixty, the doctor and former medical naval officer was one of the county’s irreplaceable personnel. Nathan had never seen Franklin Walsh lose his focus even at the most awful of crime scenes.
    “What do we have, Nathan?”
    Nathan glanced down the hall at Rae and left that conversation for later.
    * * *
    Nathan turned back to room 3712 and held the door for the doctor. “She’s young. Peggy Worth, twenty-eight, according to her driver’s license.”
    Franklin set down his bag and walked over to the bedside to lean down and study her face. “Tell me what you’ve found in the room.”
    “No medication of any kind, not even an aspirin. The only food in the room are the remains in the trash of a bagel and cream cheese, granola bar wrappers, an empty Diet Mountain Dew can, a chocolate sack from the shop downtown.”
    “Bag them for me. I wouldn’t think food allergy, but we’ll rule it out. Any inhaler for asthma, a medical card?”
    “Nothing so far. We believe she was working out in the hotel exercise room last evening around seven-thirty, and then may have visited the sauna. The damp towels in the bathroom suggest she might have also gone for a swim at the pool.”
    “Anything that looks like performance-enhancement drugs or even simple vitamins?”
    “Not so far. We’re still looking for her car and any more luggage.”
    The coroner loaded film in his camera and took several photos; then he set it aside and pulled on gloves. He moved back the blankets. “There’s no gross sign of physical trauma, no bruises on her neck or her arms.”
    He opened her eyelids to study her eyes. Using a tongue depressor, he opened her mouth and studied her tongue and gums.
    “Maybe a seizure, rather than a heart attack. Her shoulders are a bit drawn under her like her chest had lifted up, and these look like bite marks on her inner lip. Her eyes are a

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