Excerpt: Serial Killer Sudoku

Chapter 1

Kate McDonald shook the rain off her umbrella and shoved it into the crowded umbrella stand just inside the door of Rayette’s Bakery and Café. After three days of torrential rain and the accompanying flooding, the town was a mess. And so was Kate.

She ran her hand over wild red curls. Even with double gel, it still managed to frizz. She smoothed it back, pulled it down, and stepped through the arch to the café.

“Kate, where have you been?” Rayette Lansing, the queen of the sticky bun, slapped her hands on her navy blue skirt, sending clouds of flour into the air. She was wearing a white apron, but somehow her hands always found their way to her skirt.

“At the museum, tax time,” Kate said, looking over the small café. Most of the tables were filled but no one was chatting. All heads were bowed over the round white tables. “Don’t tell me they’re saying grace.”

Rayette snorted. “Honey, that would be a Godsend—so to speak. They’re reading the Free Press.”

“The Granville Free Press?”

“The one and only.”

“Since when did the 4-H fair elicit this kind of attention?”

Rayette pursed her lips, creating dimples in her apple cheeks. “The fair got bumped. They’re reading about the murders. Johnny,” she called to the counter boy. “We need a latte to go over here.”

“Murder?” The question squeaked out as Kate tried to wrap her mind around the idea of another homicide in the small New Hampshire town that hadn’t seen a murder in ten years. That is until she’d returned last fall. Since then . . . she didn’t want to think about it.

“Murders, plural.”

“Murders?”

“If you hadn’t been holed up in the museum all last week, you’d know. But no worry. It’s just a serial killer stalking Boston.”

“Oh,” Kate said, relieved.

Erik Ingersoll folded his newspaper and pushed away from a nearby table. “Ayuh,” he interjected, making no bones about the fact that he’d been eavesdropping on their conversation. “And as long as he stays there, it’s fine by me.”

Kate flushed. She’d been thinking the same thing.

“Anyway,” Erik continued as he searched his pants pockets for change. “That’s old news. Today it’s about the local murder.”

“Alleged murder,” said his breakfast companion, Jason Elks. Jason and Erik were both members of the museum board and the Arcane Masters Puzzle club that the museum sponsored. Like all good Granvilleites, they argued as much as they agreed.

“It don’t say ‘alleged’ in the Free Press,” Erik pointed out.

“The Free Press is covering murders?” Kate asked, feeling more confused than ever. What was going on with their friendly neighborhood weekly?

“Tess Dougan has gone missing. And Henny out of the blue decides to make himself a new garage. Buried her in the concrete foundation. Ayuh.”

“Holy . . .um . . . cow,” Kate said. “I thought she went to stay with her sister.”

“Ayuh. So did everybody else. But she isn’t there. Nobody’s seen her.” Erik shook his head, setting stomach and jowls to wobbling. “Chief Mitchell’s gonna love digging that up.”

“Don’t you take anything the Free Press says as fact,” Rayette said. “Getting people all het up over nothing.”

“I’m just saying.” Erik picked up the check and handed it to Jason. “Your day to buy.”

Jason took the check and squinted at it.

“Don’t you go questioning my math, Jason Elks,” Rayette said.

“I’m not questioning nothing, just can’t see worth a damn since I broke my glasses.”

Rayette took the check from him. “Ten-seventy-eight for two gourmet breakfasts. Count your blessings.”

“Gourmet, hmmph,” wheezed Erik. “Looked like oatmeal to me.”

“Tasted like gourmet baked oatmeal with raisons, bananas, walnuts and maple syrup,” Rayette countered. “Not to mention the four cups of coffee you drank.” She poked him in the chest, depositing a white flour mark on his corduroy shirt.

“Wait a minute,” Kate said, muscling her way into the altercation. “I don’t get it. This is the Granville Free Press, right? They don’t write about things like murder.” She frowned. “Besides, it’s Thursday. The Free Press comes out on Friday.”

“Did.” Erik shook out the paper and pointed to the banner. “It’s a daily now. Got a new owner. What’s the feller’s name, Jason?”

“Finnegan Tucker. Ran a weekly over in Laconia. Now he’s bought out George Franklin and moved here.”

“Right. Finn Tucker. George and Arlene are moving out to Minneapolis to be closer to the grandchildren. Sold it for a song.”

“That’s him sitting right over there.” Jason nodded to a table where two men sat over coffee. One was of medium build and had sandy blond hair that curled tightly to his head. He was busy scribbling in a spiral notebook. The other man sprawled in the chair across from him, his long thin legs stretched out, and his arms crossed. A long dark-brown ponytail hung over the back of his chair.

“Finn’s the blond,” Eric said. “The hippie is his staff photographer. Don’t know what’s happening to this town.”

“What’s happening,” Rayette said, nudging him toward the door. “Is you’re blocking my entrance and I got people waiting for a table.”

“We’re going—Just as soon as Jason pays the bill. And get a whole handful of those mints while you’re at it, Jason.”

But Jason didn’t move toward the cash register. “Uh oh. Look who just came in.”

“Oh damn,” said Rayette and snapped her fingers toward Johnny, who immediately put down the pitcher of steamed milk and disappeared into the kitchen.

Kate turned around to see who had arrived and stepped back.

The fumes enough should have warned her. Henny Dougan, the least liked man in Granville, staggered through the archway, waving a bottle of cheap liquor and a crumpled copy of the Free Press.

“Guess he read the article about Tess.” Erik took a step back, leaving an opening wide enough to let Henny pass.

Rayette stepped in to fill the gap, feet parted, fists on her hips. “Henny Dougan. I don’t serve drunks. So you just turn yourself around and go home and sober up.”

Henny lifted the newspaper and reeled from the effort. “Where’s Finn Tucker? I’m gonna kill the muth—”

“You watch your language. I got women and children in here. Now get.”

Johnny stepped up beside her. “Chief Mitchell’s on his way.”

The counter boy stood shoulder to shoulder with Rayette, blocking Henny’s way. He was the same height as Rayette and just about as stocky. Henny towered over them, or would have, if he could stand up straight.

“I’m gonna kill ‘em. Where izhe?”

All eyes drifted toward Finnegan Tucker who sat grinning cheekily at Henny from across the room. His eye caught Kate’s and he winked.

“Mr. Tucker’s just asking for it,” Kate whispered to Jason, who seemed to be trying to hide behind her.

“Whatcha sayin bout me? Damn lies.” Henny lunged toward Kate and Jason.

Johnny stepped between them and Henny round-housed him. Johnny ducked; Dougan missed, but the momentum of the punch pulled him with it and he fell into Johnny. The liquor bottle flew out of his hand and crashed onto the wooden floor.

Patrons ducked, shoved back chairs and scuttled toward the opposite side of the café, some carrying coffee cups and plates with them.

Rayette grabbed Henny by the shirt collar and attempted to drag him toward the door.

Henny flicked her off. “Don’t make me hurtcha, Ray.” He stood swaying on his feet scanning the crowd, though how he could see anything was beyond Kate. Her eyes were watering from the revolting combination of liquor, body odor and unwashed clothes.

He spun toward the room, knocking a stack of new menus off the counter.

“That does it.” Rayette righted herself and marched back in for another round. Erik grabbed her and held on.

The outer door opened and two young police officers hurried into the bakery section, their heads bobbling as they looked around for the trouble. They were followed by the chief of police who quickly surveyed the scene and motioned to the two officers to follow him into the café.

Kate’s stomach did a little flip as it always did when she saw Brandon Mitchell. Tall, dark, rugged . . . upholder of the law. Totally inappropriate reaction, she reminded herself and stepped aside to let the chief do his job.

He moved past them in deceptively easy strides and with one efficient movement twisted Henny’s arm behind him and force-marched him toward the door.

Henny let out a shriek but after one jerky movement succumbed. “Kill’em,” he whined. “Kill em.” And he burst into tears.

The chief handed him off to the officers who wrinkled their noses but trundled him toward the exit door.

“Lemmego,” whimpered Henny.

“You’ll go once you’ve sobered up,” Brandon said. “Give him a nice comfy cell where he can sleep it off.”

“’Bout time you got here, Chief,” said a voice from somewhere within the crowd.

“Like to see you do it faster,” said another.

Kate rolled her eyes. The Chief was nobody’s favorite. He came from Boston and he’d only been in Granville a year. An outsider, he was tolerated at best. But the general lack of acceptance didn’t stop the natives from taking sides. If one person complained about him, there was somebody ready to stick up for him, even if they didn’t mean it. It was the Granville way.

The chief glanced at Kate and she smiled in reaction. She quickly wiped it from her face only to see it transferred to the chief’s. He turned to Rayette. “Do you want to press charges or shall I just arraign him on drunk and disorderly.”

“Just let him sleep it off, then let him go,” said Rayette. “I don’t want to get on his bad side. He’s mean when he’s drunk. Mean when he isn’t, come to think of it. But he would never have come in here except for that article in the Free Press. You can blame that on Finn Tucker. Practically accused Henny of killing Tess and burying her body.”

“I saw it,” the chief said. “It’s not really my jurisdiction, libel. But I’ll talk to Finn Tucker all the same.”

“See that you do that,” said Erik, who had grown cocky ever since the chief hadn’t arrested him for murder the previous winter. “He’s sitting right over there. Bumped the announcement of the Cambridge Killer Sudoku winners to make room for that garbage.”

“And the 4-H fair,” added someone else. “Our kids didn’t take care of those animals all winter just to have their hard work and award ribbons ignored.”

“That’s right.”

“You tell em.”

“Aw. Shut up. Everyone knows who got which ribbon. And everybody knows who won that puzzle thing. God knows Erik’s told anybody who would listen.”

“Twice.”

Erik narrowed his eyes until they were slits in his chubby face. “You’ll be singing the same tune, Ben Hollowell, when your next Monster Wheels meet gets ignored.”

“Just as long as there’s no more talk about murder.”

“Better than having nothing to talk about.”

“Better than reading about murder in Granville.”

“You gonna dig up Henny’s garage, Chief?”

Everyone seemed to have forgotten that Finn was sitting right there, and Finn seemed to be enjoying it immensely.

“That’s enough,” Brandon broke in.

Immediately, the heckling died down and people began returning to their seats.

The voice of authority, thought Kate and smiled, though she knew that in another second, they would switch gears and return to complaining about the “new” police chief.

Brandon caught her smiling and walked over, but just as he reached her, a really familiar voice rose out of the crowd.

“Katie. Yoo-hoo. Katie. Over here.”

Brandon winced.

Kate stifled a groan. Her Aunt Pru’s tall, lanky figure rose out of the seated patrons like a flag pole. She was standing at a table by the window, waving furiously.

Great, Kate thought. Caught me talking to the chief.

The chief took a step back. “Guess I better get back to work. Kate. Rayette.” He nodded toward the two women, then turned on his heel and strode out the door to the street.

“Guess you’re staying for breakfast,” said Rayette, squatting down to pick up the menus. “I’ll send Lynn over to take your order.”

Resigned, Kate threaded her way through the closely placed tables to say hello to her aunt.

Today Pru was dressed in a purple running suit with a bright yellow stripe running down each leg. Her hair, dyed blue since Kate had returned home last fall, was swept up in a fancy twist. Kate had seen the same hairdo on several of the ladies who frequented Karen’s Kurls in the last few weeks.

Across from her, Alice Hinckley, Pru’s long time friend and main squabble mate, sat perched on the edge of her chair, wisps of white hair pulled back into a bun, her hands in her lap, and a white cardigan sweater draped over the shoulders of a floral print shirtwaist.

“Morning, Katie,” said Alice, looking up at her with sparkling blue eyes that held just a touch of impish humor.

“Sit down,” Pru invited, brooking no argument. Kate sat in one of the two vacant chairs at the table. “It’s a disgrace. A man that drunk at this time of morning.”

“At any time of day,” corrected Alice.

“I’m thinking this is still last night for Henny,” Kate said.

Pru pursed her lips.

Alice leaned forward. “Do you really think Tess Dougan is buried under their new garage?”

“I’m sure she’s alive and well and living the good life.” At least Kate hoped Tess Dougan was alive and well. There had been far too many murders in Granville lately.

“Well, I say there’s never smoke but there’s fire. Ayuh.” Pru punctuated her sentence with a snap of her napkin.

“Unless, it’s totally fabricated by the newspaper,” said Kate. “I hear the Free Press has a new owner.”

Alice put down her cup, patted her lips and returned her napkin to her lap. “He looks like a very nice young man.”

“Hmmph,” Pru said. “Finnegan Tucker. He brought his own news photographer with him. Like we need another photographer in Granville.”

Kate broke in before Pru started in on her praises of Sam Swyndon, a good, local “boy” and until recently the only photographer in town.

Sam was Pru’s number one candidate for husband. Kate’s husband. He was the nephew of Elmira Swyndon, one of Pru’s many friends and Granville’s police dispatcher. Kate and Sam had gone on several dates, but neither of them was hearing wedding bells.

The waitress came over with a menu. “Hi, I’m Lynn and I’ll be serving you this morning.”

“Hi Lynn.” Kate smiled at the young woman. “You’re new here.”

“Yes, ma’am. I came over from the Brick House after we had that fire last month.”

“Oh yes. I read about it,” Kate said.

“In the old Free Press,” Pru said.

“Yes ma’am.” Lynn placed the red leather menu in front of Kate. “I’ll be right back to take your order.”

“That sweater is a lovely color of blue, Katie,” Alice said. “It matches your eyes.”

Kate glanced down at her sweater. She’d dressed for the weather that morning, not for fashion. She always kept a pants suit at the museum in case she needed to look official, but she wore slacks and sweaters for everyday. There was nothing she could do about her hair.

She stole a look at her aunt, who always had an opinion on both her clothes and her hair, but for a change Pru was scrutinizing the back of Finn Tucker’s head.

“The idea. Turning the Free Press into a daily. There’s not enough news in the whole county to make up a daily. So he’s got to write about all that nonsense.”

“There’s a new serial killer in Boston,” Alice said with more excitement than censure.

Kate nodded to Lynn who had returned to fill her coffee up.

“Hmmph, Boston,” said Pru. “Just like them to have a serial killer. Ayuh. And don’t think I didn’t see you talking to that . . .that chief of police.”

The change of subject was so abrupt that Kate nearly choked on her first sip of coffee. “I was saying hello. Just being friendly.”

“Hmmph.”

“Now, Pru, you leave Katie alone. She was just showing proper respect.”

“Alice Hinckley. You must be getting dotty. Who fined you for selling jam without a license? I just ask you that.”

“That was last year. And we’ve come to an understanding since then.”

“Some understanding. He paid for the license. You’re nothing but a traitor.”

“I’m no such thing. I just give credit where credit’s due.”

“Well, never mind," Pru said, suddenly perking up. “Look who just walked in.”

Alice and Kate both turned to look. Kate felt a little stab of disappointment to see that the chief hadn’t returned.

Norris Endelman, owner of Endelman Garage and Auto Parts, was taking a chair at a table near the door.

“Now, if you’d played your cards right, young lady, you could be Mrs. Endelman by now. Norris has job security. He’s big and strong and if any serial killers do decide to come to Granville, he could protect you.”

“Heaven forbid,” said Alice and crossed herself.

Kate felt like following suit, only she was Presbyterian.

Pru sighed heavily. “If you aren’t going to marry Sam, you might as well marry Norris.”

Lynn returned to take Kate’s order.

“I really can’t stay. I’ve got to finish up the museum’s taxes. I’ll just have a latte and a sticky bun—to go. I’ll pick it up at the counter on my way out.”

“You can’t live on sticky buns,” Pru said. “Ever since you became curator at that old museum, you hardly have time for anything.”

“But she’s done such a lovely job of restoring the museum.” Alice reached across the table and patted Kate’s hand. “Professor Avondale would be so proud.”

Kate smiled and stood up.

“Hmmph. P.T. might be proud, but even he would agree she works too hard.”

Kate doubted it. Puzzles had been the professor’s life. “I’m just really in a hurry today. Besides taxes, Johansson's is delivering the new chairs for the boardroom. A gift from Marian Teasdale and I want to be at the museum when they arrive.”

“Well, you just stop by Norris’s table and say hello on your way out. And be sure to have a wholesome lunch.”

It was still raining when the chairs arrived late that morning. Kate watched from the circular front porch as two workmen in yellow rain slickers maneuvered them though the wooden gate and up the sidewalk to the front door of the puzzle museum.

Kate stood admiring the new chairs long after the delivery truck drove away. They were heavy framed with cushioned leather seats. They looked substantial. Smelled fresh and filled with promise. They would last a long time.

And so would the museum.

Finally, she closed the door on the board room and walked back down the hall, pausing to look into each exhibition room on her way. Every room had a fresh coat of paint, thanks to her apprentice Harry Perkins and several other teenage boys. The exhibit cases shone with polish and Windex, thanks to Alice Hinckley and the Granny Activist Brigade, known affectionately—and sometimes not so affectionately—as the GABs.

A far cry from the neglected Victorian mansion that it had been when the professor had summoned her home. Then the paint was peeling, the old sign was sagging and unreadable. Half the overhead lights were burned out and the exhibits were covered in dust. The backyard maze, once a favorite attraction, was completely grown over.

Kate sighed. Thinking about those days was always bittersweet. The house and the museum had belonged to her friend and mentor Professor P.T. Avondale, a brilliant, reclusive man who had been her only friend when she was growing up as a neglected child genius in Granville.

Now the museum belonged to her and one day it would belong to Harry. She’d promised the professor that she would take care of the puzzles and his apprentice.

It was a promise she would never break. She smiled with satisfaction. It was just a beginning, but The Avondale Puzzle Museum was on its feet again.

Alice came in at one o’clock. She and the GABs took turns manning the front desk. They’d stepped in when Kate had lost her secretary, and they enjoyed it so much that Kate had kept them on. When she’d suggested payment, they became insulted, and she’d never mentioned it again, though she did donate to their favorite causes.

Since the museum didn’t open until two during the school year, Kate made herself a peanut butter sandwich, got a can of Coke out of the ancient refrigerator in the downstairs kitchen and went upstairs to wade through an accumulated pile of bills, notices, and professional announcements, hard copy and email.

She sat down behind the old knee hole desk and popped open her soda. She heard the familiar clunk that told her Aloysius, the museum’s Maine coon cat, had jumped down from the bookcase and was on his way to check out her lunch.

He leapt to the desk top in a flash of gray-brown fur and curved his feather duster tail around the stack of Sudoku books at the corner.

“Hello, Al.” Kate reached over to scratch behind his ears while Al rumbled a low purr and kept an eagle eye on her sandwich.

“Sorry fella, but you are too f-a-t. It’s expensive, nutritional canned food for you until further notice.”

“Yeow,” Aloysius said and swiped at her sandwich. She barely managed to snatch it out of his way. With a look of disgust, Al jumped from the desk and padded over to the professor’s—now her—big wing back chair near the fireplace. He jumped to the seat, made his ritual three turns, then curled up on the cushion and returned to his nap.

The rain continued to fall. Kate opened her tax preparation folder. As a theoretical mathematician, she always enjoyed putting her knowledge to practical use, even when it meant taxes. She was soon immersed in the pleasure of number crunching.

The outside world faded away as the rain and her own concentration created a cocoon in the lush, darkly wainscoted office. She wasn’t aware of another thing until Harry burst through the office door at four o’clock.

Harry was fourteen, almost six feet, all arms and legs with copper hair and freckles that spread from ear to ear. He dropped his backpack on the floor and stood over her, broadcasting excitement. Kate clicked out of her tax program.

“Good day at school?”

Harry gave her a look.

Harry, at best, was bored at school, even though, as he had informed her when they first met, he was only an almost genius, not as smart as Kate or the professor. But Kate had her suspicions. Brandon had considered sending him to a private school, but Kate convinced him a home life was more important—just like she’d convinced him to let Harry move in with him in the first place. She still thought she’d made the right decision.

“Guess what?”

“You aced your chem test.”

“I always ace my chem test.”

“English?”

He reached into his back jeans pocket and pulled out a crumpled copy of the Granville Free Press.

Kate groaned. “Et tu, Harry?”

“Huh?”

“Everybody was reading it at Rayette’s this morning.”

“Oh, the article about Henny Dougan. This is from Saturday. Much cooler. You know I told you the chief had a house guest.”

Kate remembered. She never thought someone like Brandon, so self contained—for lack of a kinder term—would ever entertain guests in his personal space. He and Kate had been sort-of friends for half a year and he’d never once invited her to his house.

“Uh huh.”

“He’s wicked cool. He and the chief used to be partners back in Boston and—this is the coolest—He was working on the serial killer case before he came on vacation.”

Harry slapped the paper down in front of Kate. “How cool is that?”

“Very . . . cool,” said Kate. “I wonder that they let him take a vacation in the middle of an investigation.”

Harry frowned—for a nanosecond. “Hel-ck. They have the entire Boston force working on it. Detectives get leave time just like everybody else.”

Everybody but her it seemed. Not that she minded. There was no place she’d rather be than at the museum.

“He’s been telling me all about it. The things that aren’t classified, I mean. And I have some theories.”

Kate shuddered. Harry was an ace at codes and ciphers, and Kate had long ago given up the hope that he would find a nice safe occupation like dentistry or veterinary sciences until he took over the museum. She’d even accept a desk job with the CIA or FBI, decoding terrorist threats. That should be safe.

After all, she’d been working for a highly classified government think tank, herself, before giving it up for the museum and moving back here permanently. And she’d never been involved in anything more dangerous than trying to get the last cup of coffee from the community coffee pot.

All the same, Harry’s increasing interest in crime and enthusiasm for detecting made her cringe.

He propped one hip on the desk, knocking over the Sudoku books stacked there. He didn’t seem to notice. “See. This guy has been able to elude them so far because his victims and the locations appear random. But what if—”

He broke off long enough to reach down for his backpack, knocking over more books. He pulled out a dog-eared stack of paper, shoved the books he’d just knocked over out of the way and spread several sheets out in front of Kate.

Kate couldn’t help but smiling. How many times had the professor been just this oblivious to his surroundings when he was excited about something. Her throat constricted.

“What?” asked Harry, his pencil stub arrested above the page.

“What, what?” echoed Kate.

“You’ve got a kind of sappy smile on your face.”

Kate shrugged. “Just enjoying your enthusiasm.”

It was all Harry needed to rocket him into a long, convoluted explanation of his killer profile. “I’ve been working with Ted, that’s the chief’s friend. And he says I have a really analytical mind.” Harry grinned. “Duh.”

“Duh, right back at you,” said Kate. “So have you and Ted narrowed down the suspects?” She couldn’t imagine Brandon taking part in this arm chair investigation. He had strong opinions about Harry’s and her involvement—read: meddling—in detective work.

“We’re still working on it,” Harry said.

“So tell me about Ted.”

“Oh, you’ll probably meet him when the chief comes to pick me up. We’re going to Rayette’s for dinner. Man, since she started staying open at night, our eating habits have sure improved.”

“No more pizza?”

Red crept up Harry’s face until the rest of his face matched his freckles. “Sometimes. But I hardly have to pay anymore. Just when I get really po’ed at something. The chief . . .”

“You don’t have to tell me,” said Kate. “He’s having a harder time cleaning up his language.” It was a game they had started originally to eliminate four letter words from the teenager’s vocabulary. He’d been living with an abusive uncle until Kate had foisted him on the chief. He knew words that Kate had never heard of, and she’d worked for the government.

She and Brandon knew he would never succeed at the local middle school if he didn’t clean up his act, so they made up the three-cuss-words-and-you-buy-pizza rule. It worked fairly well. Harry had toned it way down. Kate, who didn’t use expletives that often, had gotten better. Only Brandon was still having to buy a lot of pizza. Kate blamed his job as chief of police, but she still let him buy dinner.

“Yeah, well. After meeting Ted, I kind of understand the chief better.”

“Oh?” This was intriguing. Kate didn’t think she’d ever understand how Brandon’s mind worked. Then again she wasn’t a rocket scientist in the social skills department. Too many brains, according to Aunt Pru.

“Yeah. They used to be partners, the chief and Ted. That’s how Ted got his limp.”

“He has a limp?”

“Yeah. Pretty bad one, too. You kinda have to concentrate not to stare, ya know? But I’m getting used to it. Anyway. They were conducting a raid that went south and the chief got it in the gut—”

“He was shot?”

“Yeah. But it was a long time ago and it didn’t hit anything important. Just broke a couple of ribs.”

Kate swallowed bile. She’d never thought about Brandon’s former life as a Boston detective and he sure didn’t volunteer any information on his own.

“So Ted went back to drag the chief out of the line of fire and the bast—bad guys plugged him in the leg. Shattered the humerus bone. Totally.”

Kate shuddered. “How awful.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of amazing. He really gets around okay. And man, the guy has some biceps.”

“Well, I can hardly wait to meet him.”

“He wants to meet you, too. I told him all about you and the museum.”

“And our experiences in detecting?”

“Yeah, but only when the chief wasn’t around, and I swore him to secrecy.”

Kate let out a heartfelt sigh. “Harry . . .”

“I know. The chief would be seriously po’ed. Don’t tell him.”

“No problem.” She didn’t want the chief seriously po’ed at her.

 

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