Key of Light Page 32

“Hmm, no. But something about the style.”

“Exactly. Something about the style. I can’t quite place it, but it’s nagging at me. I’ve seen this artist’s work before, somewhere.” When the file was copied, she switched to another, put in a fresh disk. “If you remember, give me a call. Day or night.”

“Sounds urgent.”

“If I’m not having a psychotic episode, it may very well be.”

“Does this have anything to do with M. F. Hennessy? Are you working on a story for the paper?”

She goggled. “Where did that come from?”

“You were seen having dinner with him the other night. I hear everything,” Tod added.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with him, not directly. And no, I’m not writing a story. Do you know Flynn?”

“Only in my dreams. He’s very hot.”

“Well . . . I think I might be dating him. I wasn’t going to, but I seem to be.”

“Lip lock?”

“Several of them.”

“Rating?”

“Top of the scale.”

“Sex?”

“Almost, but cooler heads prevailed.”

“Damn.”

“Plus he’s funny and interesting and sweet. Pretty bossy in a really clever way so you barely notice until you’ve been bossed. Smart, and I think tenacious.”

“Sounds perfect. Can I have him?”

“Sorry, pal, but I may have to keep him.” She snatched out the disk, then carefully closed documents and shut down. “Mission accomplished with no loss of life. Thanks, Tod.” She threw her arms around him, gave him a big, noisy kiss. “I’ve got to get to work on this.”


SHE hunkered down in her apartment, systematically going through the data, cross-referencing, eliminating, until she had a workable list. By the time she left for Flynn’s, she’d winnowed The Gallery’s client list by seventy percent.

Dana was already there when she arrived.

“Had dinner?”

“No.” Malory looked, cautiously, for Moe. “I forgot.”

“Good. We’ve got pizza coming. Flynn’s out back with Moe for their daily romp. You’re okay that I told him about your dream?”

“Yeah. We seem to have brought him into this.”

“Okay. Go in and flop. We’ll have some wine.”

She’d barely done so when Zoe arrived with Simon in tow. “I hope it’s all right. I couldn’t get a sitter.”

“I don’t need a sitter,” Simon declared.

“I need a sitter.” Zoe hooked an arm around his neck. “He’s got homework, so if there’s a corner he can use. I brought the shackles.”

Dana winked at him. “We’ll use the dungeon. Can we torture him, then feed him pizza?”

“We’ve already had—”

“I could eat pizza,” Simon interrupted. Then he let out a whoop as Moe charged in from the back of the house. “Wow! That’s some dog!”

“Simon, don’t—”

But boy and dog were already rushing together, caught in the throes of mutual love at first sight.

“Hey, Flynn, look what Zoe brought us. We get to make him do homework.”

“I’ve always wanted to do that with somebody. You must be Simon.”

“Uh-huh. This is a great dog, mister.”

“The dog’s Moe, I’m Flynn. Zoe, can Simon take Moe back out so they can run around like maniacs for a while?”

“Sure. Twenty minutes, Simon, then you hit the books.”

“Sweet!”

“Straight out the back,” Flynn told him. “There’s a ball out there with toothmarks and drool all over it. He likes you to chase it and fetch it back to him.”

“You’re funny,” Simon decided. “Let’s go, Moe!”

“Pizza,” Dana announced when the bell rang. “Want to call him back?”

“No, he’s fine. He just finished eating three helpings of spaghetti.”

“Flynn, be a man. Pay for the pizza.”

“Why do I always have to be the man?” Then he zeroed in on Malory and grinned. “Oh, yeah. That’s why.”

Dana sat on the floor with a fresh notebook in her lap. “Let’s be organized about this. The librarian in me demands it. Zoe, pour yourself some wine. We can each report what we’ve found or thought or speculated on since the last time we got together.”

“I haven’t found much.” Zoe took a folder out of her canvas bag. “I typed up all my notes, though.”

“Aren’t you a good girl?” Delighted, Dana took the folder, then pounced on the first box of pizza when Flynn dropped two of them on the coffee table. “I’m starving.”

“There’s news.” He sat on the sofa beside Malory, turned her face toward him with his hand, then kissed her long and firm. “Hi.”

“Gee, don’t I get one of those?”

At Zoe’s question, he shifted and leaned toward her, but she laughed and gave him a light shove. “I’d better settle for the wine.”

“If Flynn’s finished kissing girls,” Dana began.

“Which won’t be until I’ve drawn my last, gasping breath.”

“Settle down,” Dana ordered. “We know about Mal’s experience. I have the typed report of it here, which I’ll add to the collection of notes and other data.”

“I’ve got more.” Since it was there, Malory took a slice of pizza from the box and dropped it onto a paper plate. “I have a list of people—clients through The Gallery—who’ve purchased or shown interest in classical and/or mythological subject matter in art. I’ve also started a search of like styles, but that’s going to take some time. I intend to start making phone inquiries tomorrow.”

“I could help,” Zoe offered. “I was thinking that maybe we should do a search for paintings that include the element of a key. Like a theme.”

“That’s good,” Malory acknowledged, and tore a sheet off the roll of paper towels that stood in for napkins.

“I’ve got some appointments tomorrow, but I’ll work around them.”

“I’ve been working on the clue itself.” Dana picked up her wineglass. “I’m wondering if we should take some of the key phrases and do a search on place names. Like restaurants or shops. Take the Singing Goddess, for example. I didn’t find anything on that, but it’s the sort of thing that could be the name of a shop or a restaurant or a site.”

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