Gretchen, anxious to help and at her wits end, encouraged Annie to go to the patio restaurant and have lunch. She promised to stay on hand and let her know if the police had questions for her. Annie, looking down at her dusty clothes and tangled pony tail almost burst into tears again.
She pulled herself together and went to the bedroom to shower and change. She felt much better fresh out of the shower and felt a simmering anger begin to bubble. She wasn’t going to let this change anything. She could, she would, rewrite the book. She had notes in her apartment in San Francisco, she was almost sure if it. And Ben, Ben still had the copy she’d printed for him. It didn’t include the first part or the rewrite or any editing changes…or the ending. Her heart sank. No. This was good. She could work it out. She felt the anger swell as she began her long over due unpacking. It was ridiculous, she’d only been here for one night and she felt as if her whole life had turned upside down.
She put some makeup on, carefully lining her eyes, brushing on a light coat of mascara, then swiped her lips with a rosy red that always cheered her up. She looked at her hair critically. It was still damp. She hardly ever used a dryer on it but she decided to make an exception. When she swung her head back and looked at herself she made a promise to do it more often. It made her long heavy curls shine with a dull reflected light, draping down her back below her shoulder blades. She pulled two wings back and up and allowed the long curls to swing free.
She pulled on a pair of dark washed skinny denim jeans, then a pair of glove leather black knee boots over top of them. A burgundy wrap top in silk jersey and a feather weight fitted black silk jacket. She transferred her essentials to a small, vintage patent leather clutch, the clasp a sparkling golden lion, and smiled at herself in the mirror. It was a watery smile, weak and dim, but it was a start.
This theft was actually a good thing, she told herself. This way the publishing house couldn’t expect the end of the book until she’d rewritten the whole thing. That would take a couple of months, with her notes. She had notes. Somewhere. By then she’d be in the swing of things and just bang out that ending. She would shake the thieves hand if she could, she told herself bravely.
She slid a delicate gold necklace of thin plates, each one etched with a small scroll, on her slim throat. She’d loved the piece since she’d seen it and was rarely without it. It picked up the highlights of her eyes. Yes that would do. She looked good, she felt good, she just needed some lunch and then she would call Ben. She felt a tremor of unease. Ben was going to be furious. He’d told her often enough to back up her work separately from her computer. He’d even given her a program, that she didn’t use, that backed it up automatically every 5 minutes, storing it on a server somewhere. Eliza…she would help. She would never let her forget this but she would help. Oh Ben was going to be furious! Annie, closed her eyes and tried not to think about it right at that exact moment. Maybe she’d call Eliza or Sanjay. They could break it to him.
Yes. That was the best way.
Caden, steeling himself, watched Chief Doats settle down into his office chair. “There anything you want to tell me, Kelly? Before I look over the tapes?” Chief Doats saw Caden look at Emma, who was obviously angry. Fiona hadn’t looked too happy either as he’d passed her on his way in. Doats looked between them. “Trouble in paradise?”
Caden sighed and began to tell his story.
Annie was looking out over a beautiful garden patio, birdsong wafting over the tiny puffs of warm air that brought the scent of flowers and the ocean towards her. The patio was laid out on three levels separated by a falling stream of water dividing the two sides. The footbridges between the two sides were lined with beautiful painted and fired terra cotta tiles lending a splash of color that was almost overwhelmed by the blossoming tulips and daffodils, tubs of hyacinth, paper whites and narcissus. Linen umbrellas protected the diners from the warm spring sunshine. It was both private and open, a trick of design that Annie marveled at. Every table appeared to be occupied and there were several people waiting to be seated.
“Ms. Sparks?” Annie turned and found a short, rather chubby man at her elbow. “I spoke with Gretchen a short while ago. She informed me that you will be joining us for lunch today. My name is Bill Simpson. I’m the food and beverage manager of Bridgewater.” He gazed at her cooly, and Annie blinked. With an impatient sigh he accepted that Annie wasn’t dazzled by his title. “We are rather booked today but you should know that Waverley come’s with a standing reservation to both Printemps and The Shepherd Room.” He paused again. Annie hurried to assure him she was delighted.
“I’m not familiar with the layout of the Inn yet…of course I’ve heard of the Shepherd Room.”
“It’s spectacular.” Said Bill Simpson “This is the first day we’ve been able to use the patio so we are enchanted that you were able to join us.” He took a menu from a tall woman near the hostess stand and led Annie past the line. “Will anyone be joining you today?”
“I’m not sure if my friend will be able to come, I haven’t heard yet…”
“Of course it’s no problem. They have only to mention your name.”
“Thank you so much, Mr. Simpson. I’m sure I’ll be well taken care of.”
She was led to a small table on the lowest level looking over the gardens stretching away, one of only two tables on the smallest patio. It hung over a tiny pond, bejeweled with lilies and water plants. The stream had vanished behind her, sinking into the tiles to spill out below her with a musical tinkling. Annie was enchanted.
“What a lovely setting!”
“Here’s Paolo, he’ll be serving you today. May I recommend a glass of pinot Grigio to start?”
Annie hesitated. Wine might not be a good idea on her empty stomach but she really felt wound up. It might be just the thing. “Yes, please. That would be lovely.”
Paolo, a striking young man with a heavy Italian accent was definitely not a local. He was a professional waiter, proving it immediately by producing a small carafe of glittering wine and pouring it into her wine glass ready laid on the table. Sparkling water followed by warm bread and spiced olive oil appeared like magic. Her stomach growled and Annie turned pink.
“Music to my ears, Ms. Sparks.” He smiled. “May I have the honor or choosing a starter for you? Unless you prefer to wait until your party joins you?”
“No. That would be perfect. I trust you, in fact, with my entire meal. Just bring food and put it in front of me, I’ll tell you when to stop.”
“Ahh, the perfect patron. I’m afraid I have the dubious honor of serving a more difficult patron. You see the table for two, yes? It is for a man who prefers his privacy. He has requested that he have the entire lower patio but we have set a table here for you. I have placed your chair, just so…you see? The garden, the flowers, the birds. Mr. Jackman will not ruin your day.”
Annie sighed. Ruin my day? Hardly. What else could go wrong?