Thursday, November 20, 2008


Later they will have dinner, at a small restaurant near Priory on Sea. He will wear plain khaki slacks and a deep green dress shirt. She will outclass him in almost every way, from the pearl earrings and necklace to the little black sheath.
Her legs will look astonishingly good.
This is what Peter Boyd does not anticipate, on a cold, foggy Saturday night not long after the death of Fin Dawley (or John Bryson, depending on one's point of view). He steps out of his car expecting... well, he doesn't know what to expect. Smoky eyes, for a start, that get him like they haven't ever before. The harsh light of an interrogation room is nowhere near the same as the soft yellow glow of a candle. The way Maria's dark hair glistens and her plum-jam lips curve in a winsome smile; sometimes she'll play the coquette expertly. He knows these things all too well.
He knows them, yet he is only just beginning to discover them.
She looks less like a woman playing dress-up and more like a film star from the earliest days. All dolled up, he could easily believe a hardened criminal would fall in love with her. Men are notoriously foolish when it comes to a pretty face. Boyd cannot decide who the bigger fool is: her half-brother, the mobster, or the Detective Superintendent.
Over spaghetti, the small talk turns to more serious matters. The little black kitten's funeral was just this morning - hence, the touch of mourning garb. Poor Soot, and poor Tigsy as well - seeing one's kin murdered does horrible things to any mind, feline or human.
A lingering glance; dark brown eyes on blue, as dark as the sea and the midnight sky, and the shadow of a killer on the deck of a doomed ship.
And then the sea itself, cradling its daughters, canvas-adorned brides all. She reaches up and, with one finely manicured finger, traces out someone's initials in the stars. Not FD, mind. But they're very similar indeed.
The light changes, and the mood as well; a smile, from face to face. White teeth shine as she laughs under the streetlamps. There's his car, but he's hesitant to identify it. He might inadvertently break the spell he's doubtless fallen under.
Star light, star bright... only star I see tonight...
After she has gone (leaving two blurs of maroon on his right cheek), he traces the stars himself. There's the M, and the L beside it.
Perhaps he will stargaze again next weekend.

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