Paula K. Perrin - Small Town Deadly

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Authors: Paula K. Perrin
Tags: Mystery-Thriller
go
around the back of the house to our garden shed and get a shovel while I get a
box, and we’ll give this cat a proper burial.”
    Meg had never again referred to
the pet she’d brought home when she was seven, but she planted primroses on his
grave and often sat beside it.
    Even allowing for Jill Ferguson’s
melodramatic nature, I had seen that Meg’s behavior had frightened her.  Had
Meg kept that promise?  Had she accepted a part in the play for easy access to
Andre in order to kill him?
    The picture of Andre’s ruined head
rose in my mind again.  My cold hands covered my eyes as I groaned.
    “Are you all right?”
Gene asked.
    I dropped my hands.  They made
fists in my lap.
    “You look sick.”
    “I’m all right,” I
said.  It came out a whisper.
    “Let me get you some
coffee.”  He went to the doorway, called to someone.  A little later he
thrust a mug into my hands.
    I took a sip, nearly burning my
tongue.  “This is wonderful,” I said in surprise.
    “Millay takes his coffee
seriously,” Gene said.
    “But in books they always say
how wretched the coffee is in police stations.”
    “That’s fiction.  Jeez, Liz,
get a grip.”
    I laughed.
    “Can we go on now?” he
asked.
    “Yes,” I sighed.
    “Okay, when was the next time
you saw Fran?”
    Dear God, please forgive me.  
“At the house after I got Bunny.”
    “How long would you say she’d
been gone?”
    “I don’t know.”
    He glared at me.
    “It seemed like things would
go fast, then as if time stopped.  All I know is when I last saw her and when I
saw her next, and I’ve told you that.”
    He sighed.  He smoothed his
moustache.  “Okay, now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”  He grinned like
an executioner who’d just offered his client a place to rest his head.

CHAPTER NINE
     
    “There’s something I’d like
you to clear up for me,” Gene said.  He cleared his throat.  “A lot
of people around town have wondered about Andre’s sexual orientation.”
    I laughed.
    He shrugged.  “His assistant
Barry was definitely light in the loafers.”
    I scowled at him.  “The word
is gay.”
    “Whatever.  They lived
together.”
    “Barry had his own apartment over
the garage.”
    Gene shook his head impatiently. 
“I want to know about Andre.  What was your impression?”
    “My impression was that he
enjoyed women very much, in every way imaginable.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “I’m not going to give you
details,” I snapped.
    “I’m trying to learn as much
about the victim as possible, and I need to know this.  You dated him.  Did you
have sex with him?”
    I broke eye contact and got up,
paced around his desk, and looked out the glass door into the parking lot
beyond.  “I think Barry was in love with Andre, but I don’t know what
Andre felt about him beyond a close friendship.  They’d known each other for
years, since Hollywood.”
    “I hope you took adequate
precautions.”
    I whirled and glared at him. 
“That’s going way beyond what’s any of your business.”
    His face reddened, but he
persisted, “If Andre swung both ways, and Barry died of AIDS—”  He
stood.  “Look, Liz, I know you’re smart, and I hope you take care of
yourself.  But how can I know what you know?  If it’d been me, I wouldn’t have
gone near a guy I wasn’t sure was completely straight.”
    “This is great coming from a
man who’s slept around as much as you have.”
    “That’s been exaggerated, and
not that it’s any of your business, I’ve been extremely careful.”
    I gripped the back of his worn
black chair.  “Look, I want to get out of here.  Ask me what you need to
about Andre’s murder and let me go.”
    “Do you know of anyone else
who had an affair with Andre?”
    Reluctantly, I named a couple of
women.
    “Do you know if Andre had any
enemies?”
    “No.”
    “Do you know of anyone with a
motive to kill Andre?”
    “No.”
    “Do you know anything about
his political

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