When All The Girls Have Gone(9)

By: Jayne Ann Krentz



“Maybe not,” Daniel said. “But someone should have done something.”

“Take it from me, you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.”

“Yeah, Mom said that a few times, too.”

“If what you’re telling me is accurate, Louise did eventually get herself and her life together, right?”

“Yes, exactly,” Daniel said. “She’d been doing great for quite a while—years. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. She loved her work at the foundation. She got to travel and hang with celebrities.”

Max decided not to mention that celebrities were notorious for going in and out of rehab because of drug issues.

“Anything else I should know?” he said instead.

“She volunteered several hours a week at a local women’s shelter—because of her past, you see. She credited a shelter with saving her from the streets years ago. She felt very strongly about paying it forward. And she had good friends. Another sign of a stable person, right? She and a few of her pals formed an investment club. She was planning for her future. She wouldn’t have put it all at risk by going back to drugs.”

“Did she date? Was there a man in her life?”

For the first time, Daniel seemed uncertain. “I don’t think so. I mean, Louise dated from time to time, but usually just when she needed an escort for one of her charity functions. To tell you the truth, I don’t think she liked men. I know she didn’t trust them—except for me. Please say you’ll take this case, Mr. Cutler.”

Max took another look around the condo, absorbing the gloom. Then he looked at the earnest young man who was waiting for a response.

“There are definitely some questions here,” Max said. “I’m willing to see if I can find the answers.”

Daniel looked as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

“Thank you,” he said. “I really appreciate this.”

“One thing you should know before I start turning over rocks.”

“What?”

“Sometimes, in situations like this, clients don’t always like the answers I come up with. Are you sure you’re okay with that?”

Some of Daniel’s relief faded. “You mean you might find out that Louise really had gone back to hooking and drugs?”

“All I’m saying is that sometimes people don’t like the answers that I give them. Sometimes the dead take their secrets to the grave for a reason. I want you to be sure you can live with whatever I discover.”

“Yes.” Daniel shoved his hands into the pockets of his windbreaker. “What I can’t live with is not knowing the truth.”

“All right, I’ll look into your cousin’s death.”

Daniel nodded once. “Thanks. About your bill. Louise left this condo and her car to me. I’m going to sell the condo. I’ll pay you out of the proceeds.”

Max decided not to point out that condos in which the former owners had been found deceased were sometimes very hard to market.

“All right,” he said. “I need to be alone here in your cousin’s place for a while. I want to take a look around. Make some notes. Take a few photos.”

“No problem. I’ll give you the keys to this place and the ones to her storage locker downstairs and the mailbox in the lobby. Stay as long as you want. I’ll let the door staff know that you have my permission to come and go whenever you want.”

“Probably best not to let them know I’m investigating Louise’s death. That will make everyone in the building nervous and that, in turn, will make them uncooperative. Just tell the people at the front desk that I’m helping you settle Louise’s estate.”

“Right.” Daniel nodded. “I can do that. And it’s even true in a way.”

“Whenever you’re telling a lie it’s good to go with as much of the truth as possible. Less chance of making a mistake that way.”

“Makes sense.”

“One more thing before you go,” Max said. “I want to take a look at Louise’s car.”

“Sure. It’s in the garage. I found the keys in her bag.”

“Let’s go take a look at the vehicle together.”

“Okay.” Daniel shot him a curious glance. “Mind telling me why you want me with you when you look at her car?”

“Condo owners and managers get very uneasy when they see strangers wandering around inside a garage. I’m not looking to get picked up for car prowling.”

“Oh, yeah, I see what you mean,” Daniel said.

He went toward the door, clearly energized now that someone was going to do something about his cousin’s death. Max followed him out into the hall, pausing to lock the door.

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