K is for Killer Page 95

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Like most people who see my apartment for the first time, he looked around with interest. "Pretty slick," he said.

I indicated a stool, sneaking a look at my watch. "Have a seat."

"This is okay. I can't stay long anyway."

"I'd offer you something, but about all I've got is uncooked pasta. You like rotelli, by any chance?"

"Don't worry about it. I'm fine," he said.

I perched on one stool and left the other for him, in case he changed his mind. He seemed ill at ease, standing there with both hands stuck in the back pockets of his jeans. His gaze would hit mine and then flicker off. The light in my living room wasn't as kind to his face as the light in his own kitchen. Or maybe the unfamiliar surroundings had created new lines of tension.

I got tired of waiting to hear what he had to say. "Can I help you with something?"

"Yeah, well, Leda said you stopped by. I got home around seven, and she's pretty upset."

"Really," I said, giving it no inflection. "I wonder why."

"It's this business about the tape. She'd like to have it back, if you don't mind."

"I don't mind a bit." I moved over to the desk and removed it from the manila envelope Hector had tucked it in. I passed it over to J.D., and he put it in his jacket pocket without really looking at it.

"You have a chance to listen?" he asked. He was being way too casual.

"Briefly. What about you?"

"Well, I know pretty much what's in it. I mean, I knew what she was doing."

I said, "Ah," with a noncommittal nod. Inside, a little voice was going, Wow, what's this about? This is interesting. "Why was she upset?"

"I guess because she doesn't want the police to find out."

"I told her I wouldn't take it to them."

"She's not very trusting. You know, she's kind of insecure."

"That much I get, J.D.," I said. "I'm just wondering what's got her so uneasy she'd send you all the way over here."

"She's not uneasy. She doesn't want you thinking it was me." He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, smiling with embarrassment, using his very best "aw, shucks" routine. "Didn't want you puttin' the hairy eyeball on me. Scrutinizing." If there'd been a little dirt on the floor, he'd have stubbed the toe of his boot in it.

"I scrutinize everyone. It's nothing personal," I said. "In fact, since you're here, I have a question for you."

"Hey, you go right ahead. I got nothing to hide."

"Someone mentioned you went into Lorna's cabin before the cops showed up."

He frowned. "Somebody said that? Wonder who?"

"I don't think it's any secret. Serena Bonney," I said.

He nodded. "Well. That's right. See, I knew Leda'd put the mike in there. I knew about the tape, and I didn't want the cops to spot it, so what I did, I opened the door, leaned down, and clipped the mike off the wire. I wasn't even in there a minute, which is why I never thought to mention it."

"Did Lorna know she was being taped?"

"I never said anything. Tell you the truth, I was embarrassed by Leda's behavior. You know, by her attitude. She treated Lorna kind of snippy. She's young and immature, and Lorna's already giving me a hard time about her. It I told her Leda was spying on us, she'd have either laughed her butt off or gotten pissed, and I didn't think it would help their relationship."

"They had a bad relationship?"

"Well, no. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't that good."

"Leda was jealous," I suggested.

"She might have been a little jealous, I guess."

"So what are you here to tell me? That really everything's all right between you and Leda, and neither one of you had any reason to want Lorna out of the way, right?"

"It's the truth. I know you think somehow I had something to do with Lorna's death…"

"How could I think that? You told me you were out of town."

"That's right. And she was, too. I was set to go fishing with my brother-in-law, and at the last minute she decided to go up to Santa Maria with me while I picked him up. Said she'd rather hang out with her sister than stay here by herself."

"Why are you repeating all this stuff? I don't get it."

"Because you act like you don't believe us."

"Gosh, J.D., how could I fail to believe you when you provide such nice alibis for each other?"

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