Home > Dream Man(15)

Dream Man(15)
Author: Linda Howard

Lou and Bill looked at each other and shrugged helplessly, shaking their heads.

“No family? Brothers, sisters?” More head shaking.

“Girlfriends?” he growled.

“No,” Lou repeated a bit testily. “No one. She even takes care of the yard work herself, instead of hiring a neighborhood boy. I’ve never seen anyone over there except for the mailman.”

Dead end. He was frankly puzzled by it. He glanced at Trammell and saw the small frown that said his partner was just as buffaloed. Men could be loners, but women seldom were. He tried another tack. “Does she go out much?”

“Not often, no. She sees an occasional movie, I think. I can’t believe she’s in any sort of trouble. Why, when Bill broke his leg two years ago, she’d stay with him whenever I had to go out.” Lou glared at him. Dane noticed that she was saving it all for him, rather than including Trammell in her bad graces.

He flipped his notebook shut. “Thanks for your help.” Some help.

The neighbors on the right had basically the same comments, except the lady of the house had two squalling rug rats hanging on her legs and couldn’t be expected to pay a lot of attention to the comings and goings next door. No, she’d never seen anyone visiting Marlie.

They went back to the car and got in, both sitting in silence and staring at 2411 Hazelwood. It was a neat, solid little bungalow, typical of houses built in the fifties, though it had been spruced up with a cool, sand-colored paint and enlivened with the kind of touches women put on their nests, the trim done in what he thought of as ice cream colors, which only women and gays knew the names for. The front porch was decorated with a couple of ferns and some pinkish flowers, all in pots hanging from hooks. So what had they just found out? That their most likely suspect sounded like some kind of nun?

“That big thud we just heard was us, hitting a blank wall,” Trammell finally said.

Dane scowled, but there was no denying it. He felt frustrated and angry, but underlying it was a certain … relief? Damn, what was wrong with him? He was feeling relieved because a murder case was turning into one big headache, and he couldn’t come up with anything on the best lead they’d had?

“She had to have been there,” he said. “She knew too much.”

Trammell shrugged. “There’s another possibility.”

“Like what?”

“Maybe she’s psychic,” he suggested lightly.

“Give me a break.”

“Then you explain it some other way. I can’t. I’ve been thinking about it, and nothing that we’ve been able to find out about her even hints that she’d be involved in something like this. Weird as it sounds, maybe there’s something to it.”

“Yeah. And maybe aliens are going to land on the White House lawn.”

“Face it, buddy. That neighbor lady is the type who peeps out the window every time a pizza delivery car goes down the street. If Marlie Keen went out, or had anyone over, you can bet it would have been noticed.”

“We still haven’t checked out her friends at work, who she has lunch with.”

“Yeah, well, let me know how it goes. I for one know how to recognize a dead end when I see one.”


SHE SAW HIM IMMEDIATELY WHEN SHE LEFT THE BANK. HE WAS alone in his car, just sitting there, watching for her. The late afternoon sunshine glinted off the windshield and prevented her from clearly seeing his face, but she knew it was him. Detective Hollister. Though she could really only discern the width of those heavy shoulders and the shape of his head, some primal sense of self-preservation, an alertness to danger, recognized him.

He didn’t get out of the car, didn’t call to her. Just watched her.

Marlie strode to her car, stonily refusing to react to his presence. When she pulled out of the parking lot, he pulled out right behind her.

He stayed there, tight on her rear bumper, as she threaded her way through the normal afternoon traffic. If he thought he could rattle her with this juvenile game, he was in for a surprise; her nerves had been tested in circumstances far more dire than this, and she had survived.

She had errands to run, things she would have done over the weekend if she hadn’t been overwhelmed by that nightmare vision. She didn’t let his presence stop her; if he wanted to see what she did after work, he was in for a real thrill. She stopped at the cleaners, leaving a few soiled garments, picking up the clean ones. Next stop was the library, where she returned two books. Then she went to the neighborhood grocery store. At every stop, he parked as close to her as possible, twice right beside her, and imperturbably waited until she returned. When she came out of the grocery store, he watched as she wheeled the cart, loaded with four bags, to the back of her car. She put her foot on the cart to keep it from rolling while she unlocked the trunk.

He was out of the car and standing beside her almost before the sound of the car door slamming could alert her. Her head jerked up and he was there, as big and grim as a thunderstorm. His eyes were hidden by a pair of very dark sunglasses. Sunglasses had always made her vaguely uneasy. As before, his physical presence was as forceful as a blow. She had to restrain herself from automatically stepping back. “What do you want?” she asked in a cool, flat voice.

He reached out one big hand and effortlessly lifted a grocery bag from the cart into the trunk. “Just helping you with the groceries.”

“I’ve managed all my life without you, Detective, so I can manage now.”

“It’s no problem.” The smile he gave her was both humorless and mocking. He stowed the remaining three bags in the trunk beside the first one. “Don’t bother saying thank you.”

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology