3 Men and a Body

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Authors: Stephanie Bond
CDs—the Beatles,
    Allison Kraus, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Evanescence, and some
    blues singers and rock groups she’d never heard of. While
    she loaded the CD player, she listened to Coop’s voice as
    he talked to the microphone on his visor. He used an
    economy of words, but stil managed to come across as
    friendly and warm. The people on the other end of the line
    all seemed happy to hear from him—especial y the
    women. A handsome, single physician…he must have a lot
    of opportunities for dates, she acknowledged.
    He made sure that his pickups were covered while he was
    gone, and handled some business for his uncle’s funeral
    home that kept him on the phone for nearly an hour. He
    kept throwing Carlotta apologetic glances, but she didn’t
    mind. It gave her a chance to study him.
    Cooper Craft had a nice profile, strong and interesting,
    with kind eyes and a wel -formed nose. He had a habit of
    stabbing at his glasses, and he was quick to smile. He had
    nice teeth, the kind that came from drinking lots of milk.
    She imagined him sitting at a table at home eating a gril ed
    cheese sandwich and drinking a glass of milk…alone. For all
    his amiability, Cooper seemed to hold himself aloof from
    others, careful y guarding his privacy. Most of what she
    knew about his past, she had heard from Jack and from
    June Moody, a friend of hers who owned the cigar bar she
    sometimes visited. They’d given her sketchy details about
    Coop’s fall from grace as chief medical examiner because
    of his drinking. Cooper seemed to have come through his
    personal trial intact, but wary.
    She certainly knew how that felt.
    He reached up to disconnect a call. “That was the last
    one,” he said. “I’m sorry I’ve been ignoring you.”
    “No need to apologize. You’re stil working, after all—
    unlike me.”
    “How is your arm?”
    “It’s itching like crazy,” she said, tapping the fiberglass
    cast. “But otherwise, it’s fine. I have to go next week for an
    X-ray to make sure it’s healing okay.”
    “Any pain?”
    “The Percocet the doctor gave me has helped.”
    He nodded. “You have refil s?”
    “Yes, plenty, I think.”
    “It’s a miracle you weren’t hurt worse. It’s lucky that Jack
    was there to break your fall.”
    “And that you were there to take care of me until the
    EMTs arrived,” she added.
    Coop winked. “My pleasure. I’m sorry about your friend.
    Have you spoken with him?”
    Just thinking about her former coworker Michael Lane
    made Carlotta’s heart squeeze painful y. “No. I heard on
    the news that he’s being held in the psychiatric ward at
    North-side Hospital.”
    “So he hasn’t been charged yet?”
    “Not yet.” She fingered the seat belt and changed the
    subject. “Wil we drive on to Boca Raton tomorrow?”

“Yeah, but we won’t pick up the body until the day after,
    Sunday morning. That wil give us a little time for some
    “Her death is al over the news. Have you seen it?”
    “Yeah. It’s sad.”
    “I can’t believe how quickly the media coverage
    “Newspapers keep updated obituaries on file for
    celebrities, just in case they die suddenly.”
    “Please be kidding.”
    “Nope. Especially for someone like Kiki, who was making
    the news regularly for partying hard and erratic behavior.”
    “Like not wearing panties?” Carlotta asked dryly.
    “I said erratic behavior.” He grinned. “If you ask me, not
    enough women go without panties.”
    She laughed and shook her head. It was nice to see this
    fun, flirty side of him. “I do feel bad, though. Hannah and I
    were watching an interview with her on TV the other day
    and I was actually feeling envious.”
    “Envious? Why?”
    Carlotta gave him a wry smile. “Young, beautiful, rich, with
    a glamorous life. Gee, I don’t know why I’d be envious.”
    “You’re young and beautiful.”
    “I wasn’t fishing for compliments. But please go on.”
    He laughed. “And your life seems pretty

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