"When I went out by the pool. Her stone stairs. I think I missed a step or something, because of all the medicine and my fever and everything. I remember crying. I remember that. Because it hurt, really hurt, and I thought about calling her but why bother. She doesn't like it when I'm sick or hurt."

"You broke your toe going down to the pool and thought of calling Lucy but didn't." He wants to make this clear.

"I agree," she says, mockingly. "Where were my pajamas and robe?"

"Neatly folded on a chair near the bed. Did you fold them and put them there?"

"Probably. Was I under the covers?"

He knows where she is going with this, but it is important that he tell her the truth. "No," he replies. "The covers were pulled down to the bottom of the bed, were hanging off the mattress."

"I didn't have anything on and she took pictures," Henri says, and her face is expressionless as she looks at him with hard, flat eyes.

"That figures. She would do something like that. Always the cop." "You're a cop, Henri. What would you have done?" "She would do something like that," she says.

8

Where are you?" Marino asks when he sees Lucy's number in the W display of his vibrating cell phone. "What's your location?" He always asks her where she is, even if the answer isn't relevant.

Marino has spent his adult life in policing, and one detail a good cop never overlooks is location. It doesn't do a damn bit of good to get on your radio and scream Mayday if you don't know where you are. Marino considers himself Lucy's mentor, and he doesn't let her forget it even if she forgot it long years back.

"Atlantic," Lucy's voice returns in his right ear. "I'm in the car." "No joke, Sherlock. You sound like you're in a damn garbage disposal." Marino never misses an opportunity to give her a hard time about her cars.

"Jealousy is so unattractive," she says.

He walks several steps away from the OCME coffee area, looking around, seeing no one and satisfied that his conversation isn't overheard. "Look, it ain't going so good up here," he says, peeking through the small glass window in the shut library door, seeing if anyone is

70 * inside. No one is. "This joint's gone to hell." He keeps talking into his

tiny cell phone, moving it back and forth between his ear and mouth, depending on whether he's listening or speaking. "I'm just giving you a heads-up."

After a pause, Lucy replies, "You're not just giving me a heads-up. What do you want me to do?"

"Damn. That car is loud." He paces, his eyes constantly moving beneath the brim of the LAPD baseball cap Lucy gave him as a joke.

"Okay, so now you're starting to worry me," she says above the roar of her Ferrari. "I should have known when you said this was no big deal, it was going to turn out to be a big deal. Dammit. I warned you, I warned both of you not to go back there."

"There's more to it than this dead girl," he replies quietly. "That's what I'm getting at. It ain't about that, not entirely. I'm not saying she ain't the main problem. I'm sure she is. But there's something else going on here. Our mutual friend," he refers to Benton, "is making that loud and clear. And you know her." Now he means Scarpetta. "She's gonna end up right in the middle of shit."

"Something else going on? Like what? Give me an example." Lucy's tone changes. When she turns very serious, her voice gets slow and rigid, reminding Marino of drying glue.

If there is trouble here in Richmond, Marino thinks, he's stuck, all right. Lucy will be all over him like glue, all right. "Let me tell you something, Boss," he goes on, "one of the reasons I'm still walking around is 'cause I got instincts."

Marino calls her Boss as if he is comfortable with her being his boss, when of course he is anything but, especially if his remarkable instincts warn him that he is about to earn her disapproval. "And my instincts is screaming bloody murder right about now, Boss," he is saying, and a part or him knows damn well that Lucy and her aunt Kay Scarpetta see his insecurity when he starts trotting out bravado or bragging about his instincts or calling powerful women Boss or Sherlock or other less polite appellations. But he just can't help himself. So he makes matters worse. "And I'll add this to the mix," he continues, "I hate this stinking city. Goddamn, I hate this stinking place. You know what's wrong with this stinking place? They ain't got respect, that's what."

"I'm not going to say I told you so," Lucy tells him so. Her voice is setting like glue very quickly now. "Do you want us to come?"

"No," he says, and it gripes him that he can't tell Lucy what he thinks without her assuming she should do something about it. "Right now, I'm just giving you a heads-up, Boss," he says, wishing he hadn't called Lucy and told her anything. It was a mistake to call hen he thinks. But if she finds out her aunt is having a hard time and he didn't say a word, Lucy will be all over him.

When he first met her she was ten years old. Ten. A pudgy little runt with glasses and an obnoxious attitude. They hated each other, then things changed and she hero-worshipped him, and then they became friends, and then things changed again. Somewhere along the line, he should have put a stop to progress, to all the changing, because about ten years ago things were just right and he felt good teaching her to drive his truck and ride a motorcycle, how to shoot, how to drink beer, how to tell if someone's lying, the important things in life. Back then he wasn't afraid of her. Maybe fear isn't the right word to describe what he feels, but she has power in life and he doesn't, and half the time when he gets off the phone after talking to her, he feels down in the dumps and bad about himself. Lucy can do whatever she likes and still have money and order people around, and he can't. Not even when he was a sworn police officer could he flaunt power the way she does. But he's not afraid of her, he tells himself. Hell no, he's not.

"We'll come if you need us," Lucy says over the phone. "But it's not a good time. I'm into something down here and it's not a good time."

"I told you I don't need you to come," Marino says grumpily, and being grumpy has always been the magic charm that forces people to worry more about him and his moods than about themselves and their

72 moods. "I'm telling you what's going on and that's it. I don't need you.

There's nothing for you to do."

"Good," Lucy says. Grumpy doesn't work with her anymore. Marino keeps forgetting that. "I've got to go."

9

Lucy touches the paddle shift with her left index finger and the engine kicks up a thousand rpm with a roar as she slows down. Her sonaradar chirps and the front alert flashes red, indicating police radar somewhere up ahead.

"I'm not speeding," she says to Rudy Musil, who sits in the passenger's seat, near the fire extinguisher, and he is looking at the speedometer. "Only going six miles over."

"I didn't say anything," he replies, glancing in his side-view mirror.

"Let me see if I'm right." She keeps the car in third and just a little over forty miles per hour. "The cop car's going to be at the next intersection looking for us yahoos who can't wait to hit the coast and haul ass."

"What's going on with Marino? Let me guess," Rudy says. "I need to pack a suitcase."

Both of them keep up their constant scans, checking mirrors, noting other cars, aware of every palm tree, pedestrian, and building on this flat stretch of strip malls. Traffic is moderate and relatively polite at the

74 * moment on Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach, just north of Fort

Lauderdale.

"Yup," Lucy says. "Tally ho." Her sunglasses are fixed straight ahead as she passes a dark blue Ford LTD that has just turned right off Powerline Road, an intersection with an Eckerd's drugstore and the Discount Meat Market. The unmarked Ford slides in behind her in the left lane.