Marked Masters
progress stopped at the elevators.
    "Ma'am, do you live here?" asked a man in a
dark suit, his badge clipped to his belt and peeking out behind the
right flap of his suit jacket. Detectives onsite already. This
didn't look good.
    "No, Detective, I'm here to see a friend. We
made plans yesterday to meet this morning." Oop! Too much info.
Slow down, Laurel, and keep with one sentence answers.
    "And your friend's name?" He poised a pen
over his notepad.
    I reminded myself about perception, and
flashed my best I'd love to talk, but I'm really in a hurry smile, and said, "Tina, Tina Schroeder."
    His dark gaze hit me like a sudden laser.
"Please step over here for a moment." He introduced himself as
Detective Roblo and led me to the corner farthest away from the
doors and elevators.
    Yep, the worst. Just as I'd feared.
    All the gory details aside, Tina was found
about thirty minutes before in the alley behind the building. A
probable victim of robbery, according to the detective, but I felt
a shiver when he said her throat was cut. Okay, so that was one
gory detail. I bit my lip to keep from blurting out how her death
was just like the fat man in Italy. I did not want to get into that
with Miami law enforcement.
    "Was anything of value taken, Detective?" I
had to know.
    "Yeah, the thief grabbed her purse and
ran."
    And I was pretty certain the snuffbox was
part of this supposed thief's loot.
    "But why kill her? Was she…violated?" I knew
my questions were natural, and I wanted to appear absolutely
genuine. Well, my grief was, after all. I really had liked
Tina.
    The detective put a comforting hand on my
shoulder. "No, there was no evidence of anything sexual."
    Which would have been a relief if it didn't
make her subsequent murder just so much more unnecessary in a
simple snatch-and-run robbery. Still, I was grateful for the
information. "Thank you." Tears stung my eyes.
    He took my contact details. Of course, at
this point I wasn't sure how long Jack and I would be in Miami, but
I told the detective I was leaving after the day's art event and I
was in Miami to attend as a representative of the Beacham
Foundation. Apparently my grandfather's name still carried enough
cachet to offset the mess my father did to it in the greater
Miami/Dade area, because the detective raised his eyebrows when I
showed my ID, and he quickly waved me on.
    My cabbie, on the other hand, chose the
opportunity to move on to greener pastures, since he'd required my
green before I'd left the vehicle. One of the uniformed cops called
for another cab, and I waited at the curb debating my options. I
wasn't sure if I should go on to the event and get in during the
confusing early setup or do some nosing around here first.
    A black Lincoln Town Car slid noiselessly to
the curb in front of me, and the back door opened. Yes, Jack
stepped out. I didn't know whether to let my anger speak over being
left earlier, express my gratitude he'd shown up when I was still a
little shaken by the news of Tina, or walk quickly away because I
was more than a little apprehensive about where he'd been during
the time frame of the murder. Not to mention the serendipitous way
he showed up so soon afterward.
    Irritation and apprehension moved to make my
decision. "No, thank you. I have a cab coming." Still, this was
Jack. He'd had ample opportunities to kill me and leave my body
hidden in places it would have never been found. Of course, he
wasn't a murderer. However, there were things I needed to say to
him, but this was not the time, and a closed car was not the place.
At least, not until I had ample opportunity to mull things over.
Things like, why did Jack happen by this place right now, and where
had he been previously?
    "Laurel, don't be obstinate. Get in."
    "The cab is already on its way. I don't want
him to drive all the way down here and have no fare. Cabbies need
respect too."
    "In this neighborhood, he'll be quickly
dispatched to another fare. Never fear. We have just enough

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