When All The Girls Have Gone(10)

By: Jayne Ann Krentz

A few minutes later they exited the elevator deep in the bowels of the garage. Daniel led the way to a dark blue sedan. Max used the remote to unlock the vehicle.

There was nothing of interest in the trunk. The glove compartment contained the usual assortment of vehicle paperwork, a small box of wipes and a spare pair of sunglasses. If you lived in Seattle, you could never own too many pairs of sunglasses, Max had discovered. When the sun did decide to emerge, it invariably caught you by surprise.

He sat quietly in the front seat for a moment, studying the odometer. “How long did Louise own this car?”

“It’s fairly new,” Daniel said. “She bought it earlier this year.”

“Not a lot of mileage on it.”

“One of the reasons she liked living downtown was that she didn’t have to drive to work. The headquarters of the foundation isn’t far from here.”

Max cranked up the GPS and reviewed the last destination that had been programmed into the device.

“Who did Louise know in Loring, Washington?” he asked.

Daniel frowned at the readout. “I have no idea. But she was a professional fund-raiser. I suppose she might have gone to Loring to talk to a potential donor.”

“Whatever the reason, it looks like that was the last long drive she made in this car.”

“Do you think it’s important?”

“It’s just a question. At this point that’s all I’ve got. Questions.”


Charlotte unlocked the door of Jocelyn’s condo and went through the ritual of deactivating the alarm system. Jocelyn was more than a little obsessed when it came to security. Not only had she installed a state-of-the-art system complete with discreetly concealed cameras in her own home, she had attempted to set up a similar arrangement in Charlotte’s apartment.

Charlotte had agreed to the fancy locks and the alarm, but she had flatly refused to allow cameras to be installed. The thought of walking around her own apartment in her underwear knowing that there was a camera aimed in her direction was flat-out creepy. But, then, she was the one who had covered the built-in camera lens in her laptop with a Band-Aid.

We all have our little eccentricities, she thought.

She set the day’s mail on the glass-topped console and went through it quickly. As usual, there wasn’t much that looked important—Jocelyn handled all of her bills and the majority of her other personal business online. The only item that didn’t look like it was junk mail was a small padded envelope. It was postmarked Seattle, but there was no return address. Jocelyn had asked her to open any mail that looked like it might be important, so she put it on the hall table and reminded herself to check it before she left.

She dumped everything else into a paper sack and left it in front of the door to grab and drop into the recycle bin on her way out.

Next, she set about watering Jocelyn’s plants. She was pleased to see that the large bamboo palm was thriving. The stately dracaena was also coming along nicely.

The plants were her idea. Shortly after moving to Seattle she had given the palm to Jocelyn, who had been distinctly ambivalent about accepting the gift. But Charlotte had insisted because it was clear to her that something was needed to soften the sleek, modern interiors of the condo.

Jocelyn’s home was a sharp reflection of Jocelyn herself—cool and glamorous in the way of a classic black-and-white film. The only touches of real color were the cobalt blue throw pillows and the dramatic cobalt blue wall behind the white leather sofa.

Jocelyn’s decision to book a monthlong stay at the Caribbean island convent had been startling, to say the least. For one thing, the closest she had ever come to the concept of a retreat was the occasional long weekend at an exclusive spa. But she had been resolute about leaving most of her expensive vacation wardrobe as well as her tech behind. She had departed Seattle with only a backpack. True, the backpack carried a designer label; but, still, it was just a backpack. Jocelyn never traveled light.

Finished tending to the greenery, Charlotte ran some water in the sinks and flushed the toilets to keep things fresh and then she headed for the door, pausing in the hall to pick up the padded envelope.

She ripped it open. There was a smaller envelope inside. She could feel the hard shapes of a set of keys—three of them.

There was also a handwritten note on the back of the little envelope that contained the keys.

I’m probably just being paranoid here, but you know what they say—even paranoids have enemies—so I’m taking some precautions. In case it turns out that I’ve got a reason to be worried, I wanted to let you know that my copy of the file is in my condo storage locker. As we agreed, I didn’t put any of the information online. Looking forward to buying you a drink to celebrate your return from the tech-free wilderness. Louise.

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