opportunity to occupy for a few hours after Detective Cook finished sharpening her teeth on me. The thought that this might be a phone call from Kyle had filled me with a mixture of excitement and dread. The thought that this might be a phone call from my editor had never crossed my fatigue-addled mind.
“Hello, Eileen,” I managed, and Cassady sat bolt upright in the other bed with a whoop of surprise.
Eileen Fitzsimmons was more than my editor. She was a blight upon my life. Not that her predecessor and I had been bosom buddies, but Yvonne Hamilton and I had found a method of working together and getting along that could pass itself off, to the generous observer, as amicable. Yvonne had given me a fair amount of leeway and I’d given her a sympathetic ear, even though most of the problems on which she held forth were caused by her abrasive personality and her lack of managerial finesse. But we’d made it work.
With Eileen, it just felt like work. Chewing sandy clams kind of work. Eileen made things at the magazine far more difficult than they needed to be, mainly because she liked to see people exert themselves trying to please her. She seemed to equate it with affection.
“Were you going to inform me at some point that you were down there with your little fanny parked in the middle of the juiciest story to happen in at least two weeks? Or were you just going to keep it to yourself and screw us over again?”
Eileen always spoke smoothly, calmly, but with plenty of poison around the edges. She had cold green eyes and wore
her black hair in spiky bangs that often got tangled in her eyelashes and she was always batting them away with the back of her hand like an agitated kitten grooming itself.
“No, and there’s no story yet,” I said, wishing desperately for caffeine in any form. I had not gotten to bed until very late—more correctly, very early—and, thanks to Detective Cook, once I was in bed, I was too agitated to sleep. I was ready to suck on coffee grounds to give me the strength for the rest of this conversation. Across the room, Cassady rolled out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Yeah, a shower was going to feel good, too.
“There’s a dead body there’s a story”
“Who’ve you been talking to?” It was horrifying to think of the story having reached Manhattan already. I knew Mr. Vincent and Richard had been up even longer than I had, maybe all night, preparing a statement and girding the families for the onslaught, but it seemed a little early for it to have hit the news.
“I have friends.”
I resisted the impulse to express surprise. “Then they probably told you everything I know. The police are playing it pretty close to the vest.”
“Isn’t that your specialty getting into policemen’s … vests?”
I would have liked very much to hang up at that point, but, in the absence of a cooler head, the balance on my MasterCard prevailed. I gritted my teeth instead. “Did you call for a specific reason, Eileen, or do you always get up at six o’clock in the morning to give people grief?”
“No. On weekends I usually don’t start until seven. Stay on this story.”
“Excuse me?” When I got involved with Teddy’s murder, I hoped it would move me into serious journalism. It hadn’t
occurred to me to do anything with Lisbet’s death. Yet. But Eileen asking me to follow the story didn’t really qualify. It didn’t even make much sense. “For which magazine?”
Yeah, right. Immediately following the debut of Car and Driver’s baking column for NASCAR moms and the dads who love them. Zeitgeist is a “woman’s lifestyle magazine,” which means we write about the Three S’s: sex, style, and slimming down. Or, as Cassady insists, the Three F’s: fat, fashion, and … yeah, well, somehow Cassady can get away with talking like that. Cassady’s smoky voice and offhand delivery are like a British accent—they automatically make things sound more