La Manzana de Su Ojo --------- by Luckymama

The Comfortable Couch
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The words drifted to her in a dream... "Help me, Oh my God, help me please...." They werent in a scream or a cry, but just a mournful plea, low and haunting. And then came the eyes, those dark piercing soulful eyes. Eyes without a face. Pleading with her, pleading for her help, pleading with her as they had done every night for a week. She didnt know who they belonged to, but somehow she sensed she did, somewhere back in the dark recesses of her sub-consciences. A person from her past, a person she thought she never really knew, but somehow she knew she did. She struggled to remember. She struggled to make sense of it all. She could hear her brain cry out, "How?" but received no answer. She woke up with a start, drenched in sweat, staring into the empty darkness, with a feeling of extreme loneliness. Her head was hurting, like she had just tried to solve the worlds greatest problem. And worst of all, she could not go back to sleep.

Chapter 1

Carol Miller stared at her computer screen as if mesmerized by the blinking cursor. She was suddenly startled out of her revelry by another voice.

"Carol, where are you today?" Susan Verdas, Carols best friend and fellow reporter for the Los Angeles Dispatch, waved her hand in front of Carols eyes. Snapping to attention, Carol answered her.

"Nowhere, I was just thinking about this case, that's all."

"You cant fool me Ms. Carol Miller, Ace Investigative Reporter," Susan answered sarcastically, but with loving humor. "I may only cover the society page here, but I can tell from that far away look in your eyes that you had another one of those dreams last night, verdad?"

Carol smiled at her attractive friend. Susan was 5 foot 7 and had a figure that should be on a runway modeling the latest fashions instead of behind a desk reporting on the latest fashions. But Carol knew why that would never be. A car accident as a child left Susan with a permanent limp. Susan took it all in stride, though, and prided herself on staying fit. Carol only wished she had her will power. Running off to follow up leads left Carol with some nasty eating habits, which showed up on her petite 5 foot 3 frame. Carol sighed as she tried to think of something witty to say back.

"I see I cant fool you, Ms. Society Page. I guess we should switch jobs."

Susan grabbed a chair and sat down next to Carol. She looked at the words on the computer screen. "Still working on the Harris murder case, I see. You should let it go until the police get some more leads. Honestly, you torture yourself trying to solve these cases before the police do."

"Hey, you know this is what I live for."

"Yes, but I think you are in way over your head this time. Think about it. When did the dreams start?"

"A week ago." Carols brow knitted into a scowl as she thought back on the weeks worth of sleep she had lost because of them.

Susan continued. "And when did this case come to your attention?"

Carol could see where this was going. "A week ago, but honestly Susan, I have worked on lots of cases before. None of them gave me nightmares. I think the timing is just a coincidence."

Susan thought for a moment. "You have a point. Maybe it is something else...." Susan drifted off in thought.

"Look we could speculate all day about my little problem, or we could both get back to work. Im all for opting for work. Im not going to waste any more of my time on these stupid dreams."

Susan got up. "OK, hermana, Ill let it go for now, but I like a mystery as much as you do, and I plan on solving this one. I hate to see you like this, so far away all the time." Carol could not help but smile every time Susan called her sister in Spanish. Carol and Susan had practically grown up together in East Los Angeles, Carol from Anglo parents and Susan from Chicano ones. The had been very much like sisters, sharing every dark secret with each other. They had both majored in journalism at UCLA and had even gotten these jobs together, just so they could be close. Neither one was married, even though they were both 41. Both had dated, Susan more than Carol, and both even had a serious relationship a piece, but no one had measured up to the love the friendship brought to each of them.

"Good, now I need to get back to this case. I just wish I could get a lead."

"You know what I think?"

"No but Im sure you will enlighten me."

Susan wrinkled her nose up at her friend. "Its not about the case. I just think you should take a break from it. I have an assignment today that I want you to come along on. I need to interview Antonio Hector and I wanted you to tag along to take the pictures. Whadda say?"

Carol frowned. "You know how I hate those star interviews. They are always so full of themselves."

"Well Antonio is the latest hottie to hit the silver screen and I spent weeks arranging this exclusive with him. I need photographer and I want the best. That is you, my friend." Susan continued to watch Carol stare at the computer screen. "Michael Harris is not going anywhere. I doubt he will be rising from the dead. Leave him be for a while and go with me. I promise if it gets boring, well ditch Antonio and find something better to do."

Carols hobby had been photography since she was 10. She had won all sorts of awards for her photos. Even though she was a reporter, she sometimes doubled as photographer for the paper on other stories, especially for her friend, if she was covering something interesting. Star interviews were another story, though. Carol loathed the attitude most stars seem to have. She never could understand the fascination Susan had for them. "Well, even though we are best friends, doesnt mean we have to share every interest," she thought to herself. And the promise of something interesting to do later was intriguing. Susan knew lots of important people and always included Carol when she went to all the exclusive parties. Maybe she would get some leads on the Harris case if Susan had a party to go to tonight.

"OK, OK, you talked me into it." Susan clapped for joy at Carols answer. "I need to run by the house on my way there, though, to pick up my equipment."

"Sure. I was kinda hoping you would drive anyway." Susan hated to drive.

At Carols house, Susan followed her friend inside and sat on the sofa as she waited for Carol to retrieve her camera equipment. "I dont know what possessed you to buy this white elephant," Susan yelled back to Carol.

"You know, Im not too sure about that myself," answered Carol as she returned to the living room with her camera bags. Setting them on the coffee table, she began to rummage through them to make sure she had everything she needed. "It just seemed like a good idea at the time. I have always wanted a big house after growing up in that cracker box we called a house. I still think you should move in with me. There is plenty of room."

"You got that right," said Susan looking around. "Thanks, but no thanks. I prefer my cozy little apartment." Susan suddenly shivered. "Im beginning to understand why you are having nightmares, This house gives me the creeps!" Susan then got a knowing look on her face. "You know something, that might be it. How long have you been in here?"

"Less than a month, why?"

"Do you know the history of the house, its former owners?"

Carol looked incredulously at her friend. "Now wait a minute. You know I dont believe in all that haunted house crap. Im telling you, its just a dream. Itll go away. Im not giving my nightmares any credence!"

Susan continued. "Well there are all sorts of things we mortals cant explain. Who knows? You have to keep an open mind."

"To facts, thats all. I only believe in things I can understand in scientific terms. Now lets drop it, OK?"

Carol grabbed the camera bags and the two women set out in Carols car. Susan gave the directions to the Hector estate, which wasnt that far from Carols house, as it turned out.

A security guard buzzed them through the enormous iron grilled gate of the estate. Wide lawns lined the circular driveway leading up to the 37 room villa. Even Carol was a bit impressed by the architecture of the place. Built like a Spanish mission, the house sprawled out before them.

"Well at least the house is interesting," remarked Carol, as she put the car in park and shut off the engine. Taking her favorite camera out of the bag, she exited the car and immediately started snapping the shutter of her Cannon. Susan quickly came around to Carols side of the car and put her hand up in front of Carols lens.

"I think youd better get permission first. There is a protocol to these things that I want to follow to the letter today. This wasnt an easy interview to secure, and I dont want to blow it, capish?"

"Ok, boss lady, whatever you say." Carol put the lens cap back on the Cannon and grabbed the rest of the bags from the car. Susan took her palm recorder and purse and led the way to the front door. Ringing the bell, a stern looking woman in a gray business suit answered.

"May I help you?"

Susan spoke. "Yes I am Susan Verdas from the Los Angles Dispatch. I have an appointment with Mr. Hector."

The woman eyed Carol with a frown. Susan added, "This is my photographer, Carol Miller."

"I will see if Mr. Hector is ready to receive you. Come this way and I will show you to the study. You can wait there."

The unidentified woman led the two reporters across a large stucco foyer. It was decorated with wrought iron fixtures, in a Spanish villa style. "This guy Hector has good taste at least," Carol whispered to Susan. Susan shot her a dagger look, reminding Carol how important this interview was to Susan. She immediately shut up and decided to keep her observations to herself for now. Looking around at the house, Carol wished she had the money to live in a place like this. She had always admired large houses with character, that is one of the things that had attracted her to the house she bought less than a month ago. Her house was not as large, only 10 rooms, and it was a Victorian style two story. But it was old and elegant and Carol fell in love with it. She didnt know any of the history as Susan put it, but she never thought to ask. She didnt believe in any of that haunted house stuff anyway. But all the same, she wished Susan hadnt brought it up. The sound of the womans voice snapped her back to reality. They had arrived at the study.

"Would you please wait here while I find Mr. Hector." She showed Carol and Susan inside and shut the door behind her.

Susan immediately started in on Carol. "Please try to curb your enthusiasm. This is very important to me."

"Look, Im sorry. I guess I was just taken in by the opulence of the place. Ill be good, I promise." Carol stuck our her lower lip in a repentant pout and Susan smiled.

"Its ok, hermana. I can see why you are excited." Looking around the exquisitely decorated study, she added, "It is a beautiful home."

As they continued to admire their surroundings, the study door opened and a tall, dark, handsome man in his twenties walked in. He was dressed in a sky blue terry cloth bath robe and his feet were bare. "Excuse me, ladies, but I was just finishing my swim. Would you like to accompany me out to the patio?"

Antonio Hector was every bit as handsome in person as he was on the movie screen. Large chocolate eyes dominated his smooth, clean shaven face. His short dark hair glistened from the dampness of the swim. His bronzed skin gleamed with the effort he had just expended in the pool. He smiled as the two ladies were obviously assessing his features. Carol was momentarily stopped in her tracks. She had heard of Antonio Hector, but had never watched his movies. Looking at him, she sensed something familiar, but couldnt put her finger on it. It wasnt long before she realized she was staring at him as she tried to remember. Carol blushed as Susan, who was used to dealing with stars and always the professional, went up to Antonio and extended her hand.

"That is quite all right, Mr. Hector. Im Susan Verdas. This is my friend Carol Miller. We are from the Los Angeles Dispatch. I am honored that you consented to speak to me today about your upcoming marriage."

"With pleasure." Antonio shook both Susans and Carols hands and led them out to the patio in the middle of the house. In the style of Spanish villas, the house had an open central portico garden, but unlike the Mexican and European villas, this one was very large and sported an Olympic sized pool. Antonio waved the ladies to seats on the patio surrounding the pool under a large hunter green umbrella. A young man in a white uniform appeared from nowhere and Antonio asked the ladies what they wanted to drink.

"Iced tea, por favor," answered Susan.

"Lemon water for me please," added Carol.

"And Ill have a lemon water as well," Antonio said as he smiled at Carol. She was not used to being disarmed by a mans charm like this. She blushed at his obvious attempt to flirt with her. She knew he was just being sociable and he had the reputation for being a charming ladies man. She also knew how was very much in love he was with his actress fiancee, Kelli Winters.

"Shall we get started," Antonio directed his attentions to Susan.

"I must ask your permission to use a recorder and to take photographs first."

Antonio waved his hand in the air, "But of course."

Susan set the little recorder on the table and pressed the record button. She instructed Carol to take any pictures she wanted to as the interview progressed.

"I want to start by saying that it is an honor to be able to speak with you today. I know my readers are very interested in you, Mr. Hector and the news of your engagement to Ms. Winters.

"Please call me Antonio. I am happy to grant you this interview. Ask away."

"Well I would like to know how the two of you met."

Antonios eyes gleamed. "Kelli and I were in Rome making "The Italians". We enjoyed the time we spent together and decided we were meant for each other. Pretty simple really, but we are very much in love."

"Have the two of you set a wedding date?"

"Not yet. We are waiting until both of our schedules settle down a bit."

Carol got up and started taking pictures of Susan and Antonio talking. She also got shots of the portico gardens and pool. When there was a break in the interview, she ventured a question of her own. "Mr. Hector, would you mind if I took some pictures of your magnificent home?"

"Please call me Antonio, too. I would love for you to. Please just stick to the public rooms, though, if you dont mind."

"Sure, thank you." Carol picked up her camera and went in to take the pictures as Susan finished up the interview. When Carol had shot 3 rolls of film she found her way back to the portico. Susan and Antonio were on their feet. It was obvious to Carol that the interview must have come to an end.

"Thank you again, Antonio, for the interview and the pictures of your beautiful home." Susan shook his hand.

"It was my pleasure." Antonio raised her hand in his and kissed the back of it. "Thank you for your wonderful company." He took Carols hand and repeated his gesture of gallantry. "Please let me know when the interview will come out in your paper."

"Oh, I will have my paper send you a copy of the interview and the pictures before it goes to print, for your approval," Susan informed him.

"Wonderful," answered Antonio. He walked them to the front door and wished them a farewell.

In the car, Carol and Susan talked about the interview and the house.

"Wasnt his house just magnificent?" asked Carol.

"I guess, you got to see more of it than I did." remarked Susan.

"Well you will get to see all my pictures. I would love to live in a house like that!"

"And with a guy like that, Im sure," Susan kidded with her friend. "I saw the way you were making eyes at him when we first met."

"Give me a break, he is old enough....." Carol saw the look starting to form on Susans face. Age was a sore subject with both of them. " be my way younger brother! No it wasnt infatuation, but a sense of de ja vous."

"What do you mean?

"Well I know I have never met him before and I have never seen any of his movies, but I could swear I have met him before..... or someone like him."


"I just cant figure out where..." Carol trailed off as they pulled into the parking lot of the newspaper. Deciding that this topic had exhausted itself, Carol asked Susan her plans for the evening as she shut off the engine.

"I have a dinner party at 8. It is actually a fund-raiser for the new art gallery. I was hoping you might want to come," answered Susan

"Sure. You need me to take pictures at that too?" asked Carol.

"If you dont mind. I dont have a formal assignment with this one, but you never know when social news will occur, especially at one of these affairs. All the government big shots and fortune five hundred will be there, I suspect."

"Hummm, might be a good place to learn some more about the Michael Harris murder as well. He ran in those circles."

Susan stared at her friend. "Please dont make a nuisance of yourself, for heavens sake. I dont want to make any enemies at this party!"

"I dont make a nuisance of myself. It is just that sometimes you have to be a bit persistent with your inquiries to get any meaningful information from them."

Susan laughed. "Carol, you would make a good cop. Rubber hose treatment is more like it!"

"Im not that crass!" Seeing Susan frown at her she continued, "I promise to be on my best behavior. Im just so mystified by this case. Why would a perfectly healthy, happy, well adjusted thirty year old man with everything to live for take a gun to his head? It just doesnt add up. That is why the police are suspecting foul play. And that is why I refuse to call this a suicide case. No one saw him actually shoot himself. I think the murderer set it up to look like a suicide."

"Your problem is you are too suspicious for your own good. I swear Im going to find you floating in the river someday because you got too nosy!" Both the ladies laughed at that one.

Susan got out of the car and told Carol she wanted to type up the interview while it was still fresh in her brain. Carol told her she would meet her later at the party. She had a class to teach at the YWCA and she needed to scoot or she would be late.

Every Friday afternoon, Carol volunteered her time to the local YWCA in East LA. She taught journalism and photography to the girls who met there. She remembered growing up in that neighborhood and how hard it was for barrio kids to break out of the poverty. Intelligence and a career had been Carols and Susans way out and Carol wanted to give part of it back. This Friday was her darkroom class. With a grant from her newspaper she had set up a small darkroom in the basement of the building. The four girls in her class were waiting for her.

"Que pasa, Carol," Rosalita Diego greeted her. Rosa was the ringleader of the a gang of barrio girls. Carol had befriended her and Rosa started to consider her un carnal, one of her blood family. In this neighborhood, that was a big plus. "What do you have for us to do today?"

"I have something special. I have exclusive pictures of Antonio Hector and his house." The girls gathered around excited, all except Anita Diaz.

"He is a big hot shot that just got lucky," she remarked scornfully.

Rosa dismissed Anitas remark. "Shes just jealous because Kelli Winters got her claws into him first!"

Anita started to lunge at the larger girl when Carol took her by the arm. "Anita, I need you to get the roles of film the class took last week. I want the class to develop them first." Carol usually let her students develop her pictures for the paper after they had developed their own. This way the girls felt like they contributed to the process of news making. After an hour of developing wildlife and kids on park swings, she handed over the rolls of the Hector film to Rosa. "Do a good job with these and Ill pay you all for the prints."

"Si, amiga. We will do a first rate job."

Carol spent the second hour of class supervising the Hector pictures. When Angelina Santos, a smaller quite girl with red hair lifted a close up of Antonio up to dry, Carol nearly gasped. Angelina saw her and inquired, "Did I do something wrong, Ms. Miller?"

"No Angelina, and I told you to call me Carol. No its just that I noticed something about that picture."

Rosa came over to see what was up. "He is a very handsome caballero, isnt he?"

"Yes, but it is something else." As soon as the print was partially dry, Carol took it down and carefully placed clean paper over all of the picture but the eyes. Even in the dim red glow of the darkroom, Carol could see it. The eyes in her dream. They were staring back at her again, but she wasnt asleep this time. She studied them closely. They werent exactly the same, but enough to make Carol wonder if Antonio Hector had some connection to her dreams. She stood staring at the picture for several minutes when Rosa asked her what was wrong.

"Oh, nothing. You girls have done a wonderful job with these prints. Ill make sure the paper pays each of you top dollar for them." Carol gathered up the prints and turned on the fluorescent lights. Each girl blinked to help her eyes adjust to the bright lights. "I will see you all next week. I want you each to find a newsworthy event this week and we will write news reports about them. I want to start a section at the paper about life in the Barrio and get you all to contribute to it. You would be paid contributors if I can swing it!"

"All riiight!" exclaimed the girls and gave each other high fives. The class dismissed and Carol put the prints in the back of her car and headed home to change for the party.

Chapter 2

The party was already in full swing when Carol pulled up to the valet parking. Giving the keys to her Mazda to the attendant, she strolled in to find Susan. She finally caught up with her near a large panel of glass, back lit to show a stain glass scene of the vineyards of Californias Napa valley.

"I got here as soon as I could." Carol told Susan. She looked at her friend and admired the pale green dress Susan had chosen for the occasion. It had off the shoulder sleeves and a long narrow skirt, showing off her curvaceous figure. Carol always felt like a sack of potatoes next to her, but she was never jealous of her friend. Carol had chosen a navy blue suit for the evening. She never went in for dresses much, and felt more comfortable in a tailored suit.

Susan greeted her friend and then turned to the gentleman to whom she had been speaking. "David Jensen, this is my friend Carol Miller. She works for the LA Dispatch with me. Carol, this is David. He is the president of Avetec Industries. They make computer components." David took Carols extended hand and shook it.

"It is a pleasure," said Carol. "I have read about your company. That was a nice move you made cornering the market on download boosters. Congratulations!"

"Well it is not a done deal, Ms. Miller. We still have a few patent battles left to fight in the courts. And your reputation precedes you as well. You did a fine job making a monkey out of the LA detectives on the Brinks heist."

Carol blushed. "That was due more to luck than good investigation. I just happened to find the right person to talk to."

"Susan was telling me that you are helping out with Michaels case right now."

Carol shot Susan a dirty look. She hated to make it known that she was on a case. David was right about one thing, she was becoming too well known as a police foil. It had gotten her into trouble more than once, so she was anxious to avoid publicity. Carol knew this was becoming harder as her reputation grew, though. Even so, she was never one to pass up an opportunity to discover a clue. She decided to try to pump this source for information since it sounded like David knew Michael Harris.

"Were you a friend of Michael Harris, Mr. Jensen?" She estimated Davids age to be about 30, same as Michaels.

"Business friends really. We played squash a couple of times a week and met for dinner occasionally. Mike was doing some advertising for our company."

"I knew Mr. Harris ran an ad agency. Your company was a client?"

"Yes. His company had our account for about a year." David looked a bit hesitant.

Carol paused. She knew she was starting to sound every bit the reporter and she was supposed to be at a social event. She sensed Davids hesitation and tried to lighten the mood. "Im sorry. Cant take the reporter out of the woman, I suppose." She flashed her trademark big smile. Susan once told Carol that her smile could disarm a desperado, it was her most attractive feature. Carol knew this and never missed an opportunity to use it to her advantage. David smiled back and then did something that threw Carol off guard.

"Well how about I take the woman out of the reporter and treat her to dinner sometime."

Carol blushed. It wasnt like she had never been asked out before, but David was 13 years her junior, by her reckoning, and he was handsome, rich and powerful to boot. She felt a little out of her league dating such a man. Susan was beginning to feel the awkwardness of the pregnant pause, so she stepped in and said, "Im sure Carol would love to have dinner with you, wouldnt you Carol."

David just laughed. "You must be her social secretary, Susan."

Carol finally recovered her composure. "She would like to think so sometimes." Carol gave Susan a playful glare. "I would be happy to have dinner with you."

"Great," said David. "How about tomorrow night?"

Carol thought a minute. "Sure, Im sure I am free. What time?"

"How about I pick you up at 7? I have a Saturday meeting and I should be finished in plenty of time."

Carol reached in her purse and pulled out a business card and handed it to David. "This has my home address and phone number as well as the address and phone number of the paper. That number connects directly to my desk at the Dispatch." Carol pointed to the card.

"Great. Hey it was nice to meet you Carol and I look forward to tomorrow night. Susan, thanks for introducing us. I need to scoot. Enjoy the rest of the party." David shook both of their hands and departed from their company.

Susan turned to Carol in a conspiratorial huddle. "Nice score, hermana. David is first class."

"Oh my God, Susan, what have I gotten unto," Carol gasped in response. "He is much younger and more good looking than I am. And look at the circles he travels in. What can we possibly have in common?"

"Oh I think you will find a few things. Besides, he is as anxious to have Michael Harris case solved as you are."

"Come again?"

Susan explained. "Ive known David for a while. I knew he had employed Michael Harris ad agency. He was telling me, before you came in, that he was bothered by the whole case and how the police was handling it. I think, if you play your cards right, you might have a good source of information for your case as well as a good time with a great guy." Susan winked at her friend.

"You are too much." Carol shook her head. "I should have smelled a set up. You would think for as many times as you have done that to me I would have sensed it coming. This case has me blinded!"

"And you are glad I did, arent you?" Susan smiled an impish grin.

"Ill let you know Sunday morning." Carol winked. It was getting late and Carol suddenly remembered the pictures. "Hey, you need me to take any pictures? I brought my small camera, so I wouldnt be so conspicuous."

Susan looked around. "I dont think so. This party is becoming a bore really. No one very interesting came tonight. Except David, of course." Susan nudged Carol so hard, she nearly fell over. The two ladies headed for the door. Outside, Carol gave the valet her parking stub and asked Susan how she got to the party.

"Cab, of course. Why? Are you offering me a ride home?"

"Sure," answered Carol. The valet pulled up and held the door open for Carol. "My friend is going home with me." The valet then went to the other side of the car and held open the door for Susan. When both ladies were secure inside, Carol headed to Susans.

"Did you get the story finished this afternoon?" Carol asked.

"All but the final editing. How did the pictures come out?" Susan knew Carol let her class develop her newspaper pictures.

"They turned out really well. Id love to show them to you. In fact, there is one I need to show you. You mind spending the night at my place? I cant sleep, Im too wound up about this date. I want you to fill me in about David and we can look at the pictures."

The friends had spent the night at each others places before. But Susan had not been to Carols since she moved. Carol had been looking for an excuse to invite her over. Now she was glad she had one. Susan had always been apprehensive about sleeping in the old house. Carol hoped Susan would not turn her down.

"I guess. You know how I feel about your house. I hope you dont mind if I sleep with a light on."

Carol smiled. She never told Susan that the first week she had to do the same thing. "Sure, what ever will make you comfortable. But it will be OK, I promise."

Carol pulled up to Susans apartment building. "Let me gather a few things and my laptop. I may as well work some more on the article while I am there," Susan observed. She got out of the car and ran up to get an overnight bag. Carol reached into the back seat where she had put the Hector pictures earlier that evening. Pulling out the close up of Antonio that had startled her, she stared at his eyes. She knew there was something familiar about Antonio when she met him this afternoon and she chided herself for not recognizing it earlier. But the more she stared at his eyes in the dim overhead light of the Mazda, the more she realized that the eyes werent exactly the same. Looking through some of the other photos and comparing them, she noticed that this was the only print that reminded her of the eyes in the dream. The others were taken at different angles. Only this one resembled the pleading eyes of her nightmares. The picture began to haunt her as much as the dream. It was only as Susan opened the back door to put her things in the back seat that Carol put the photos back in their envelope and tossed in the back.

"Are those the pictures?" asked Susan.

"Yes, but wait till we get to my house where the light is better." Carol started up the car and put it in gear.

"Are you OK?" Susan asked with concern in her voice. Carols face was pale.

"Sure, why?"

"Well you look like you just saw a ghost!"

Carol sighed. As much as she hated to admit it, her friend might be right.

The pictures lay all over the coffee table as Susan poured over them. Carol sat cross-legged in the big overstuffed recliner, sipping her herbal tea. The ladies had changed into their comfortable lounge around clothes and were relaxing.

"These are great, Carol. You got some excellent shots of the house. I need to get Antonio to take me on a tour when I bring the article by for his approval."

"I want to go with you. I didnt get to see it all and I would love a personal tour. I sorta wandered around to get those pictures. I did get a few dirty looks from the domestics!"

The ladies giggled at this. "I bet you did at that," said Susan. Then she gathered the shots of Antonio in front of her. "These are really good too. Which one is the one you wanted to show me?"

"Here," Carol reached over and grabbed the large 8x10 black and white close up of Antonio. He must have been telling Susan about something serious at that point, because the eyes gazed with sober intent and his face mirrored this.

"What is the problem with this one? Its a good picture, a bit serious, but a handsome face, none the less."

"Look at his eyes."

"He has beautiful dark eyes, what about them."

Carol took a deep breath. She knew Susan would overreact, but what choice did she have. "You are not going to believe me when I tell you."

"Try me."

"OK, Susan, those are the eyes of my nightmare."

Susans own eyes got as big as saucers. "Oh my God, youre kidding!"

Carol slowly shook her head. "I only wish I was. Theyre not exactly the same, but very close. The more I studied that picture, the more I realized that they werent an exact match, but pretty damn close."

"But why would Antonio Hector be visiting your dreams?"

"I dont think he is, just someone who looks like him, or his eyes at least."

Susan stared at the picture and contemplated what Carol had just told her. "You might have something there. Do you know who Antonios father was?"

"No, actually I had not heard much about Antonio. I knew he had become pretty famous in the past year, but I really am not into the movie stars like you are, hermana."

Susan smiled, "Well you forget we grew up together and you werent always like that. In fact it was Antonios father that you had your major crush on, if I remember correctly."

Now it was Carols turn to be shocked. "Alejandro Hezaro was Antonios father?" Tears started to well in her eyes.

"Are you all right?" Susan asked for a second time that night as she became concerned for her friend. "Honestly, I thought you knew."

Carol went back in time to the time she was 17. Alejandro Hezaro was the biggest star of the movies back then. He was only 20 when he made his first movie. He proved himself a great singer and comedian as well. One of the networks was working on a deal for him to star in a weekly variety show. At 27 he was on top. And Carol had the biggest crush on him. She had seen him in person several times while he was touring, first to promote his movies, and then his albums. She had gone to so many of the personal appearances that he started to remember her face. Once, he spoke to her and called her by name. Carol was stunned that he knew it, but he said he remembered signing autographs for her before and would always remember a pretty face. She knew at the time he was just being charming, after all she was nothing to write home about, but she was taken in by his flattery anyway. He even got to flirting with her occasionally at the personal appearances she went to after that. This went on for about two years, till he met his future wife. When he got married at 22 to Linda Sommers, she was heart broken, but still followed his career. She had found out later that Linda had been pregnant before the marriage and she figured it might have been a marriage of convenience, since he was old fashioned in his upbringing. Carol had learned everything there was to know about Alejandro Hezaro. She used to dream at night that he would realize his mistake and divorce Linda. The baby was a son, and Carol thought they had named him after his father. But maybe her memory had started to fail her, if what Susan had told her was true, that Antonio Hector was his son.

Coming back to the present, Carol answered Susan. "No, I always thought his son had the same name."

"He did for a while, but after his mother remarried, she changed the boys name. Antonio was his middle name and she Americanize his last name to Hector."

Carol winced. She remembered when Linda married Chris Lester, Alejandro Hezaros business manager. It had been only six months after Alejandros death. There was gossip about the fact that it was too soon. Carol always thought that it was a callous act on her part. If she, Carol, had been married to Alejandro, she was sure she would never want another man.

Carol could not stop the tears now. She thought back to the day she was sitting in her journalism class in grad school and someone ran in with the news that Alejandro Hezaro had committed suicide. Carol was in shock for weeks. She could not believe he would want to take his life. But the more she read about it, the more she realized it was a clear case. His wife was visiting her mother with their son, but his manager, Chris, had been in the house at the time. He told the police that, while he was in the kitchen fixing himself a snack, he heard the gun go off in the bedroom upstairs. When he entered Alejandros bedroom, he discovered his body slumped to one side on the bed, the gun in his left hand, and a bullet hole in the left side of his head. Alejandro was left handed, so the coroners verdict was death by suicide. It came out later that Alejandro was a drug addict. Carol had a hard time understanding that last fact. Alejandro never acted like he was under the influence of drugs when she met him. So many things about his death didnt add up, but she was too distraught at the time to question any of the reports she read.

For 10 years, on the anniversary of his death, Carol would go and visit Alejandros grave and leave a single pink rose. After the tenth anniversary, Carol met Matthew and she forgot all about her long dead first love. Things didnt work out between Matthew and her, but she never gave Alejandro Hezaro anymore thought, until tonight that is. As her tears flowed, so did the memories. She couldnt believe she still cared after all of these years. She did a quick calculation and realized it was going on 20 years now.

Susan got up and went over to her weeping friend. "It still hurts, doesnt it?"

Carol wiped the tears with the end of her sleeve. "This is stupid. I never had a relationship with the man or anything. And he has been dead almost 20 years. I need to get a grip." Carol took a deep breath and continued. "I guess it was just the shock of discovering that Antonio was his son, thats all. Old memories run deep." Her face became creased with thought. "I am trying to remember his face.... his eyes.... it is hard after all of these years....."

"Well I wouldnt know any reason he would be contacting you, Carol. I mean, his death was a clear case. No, there has to be an other explanation for your dreams. I still think it has to do with this house. Antonio is just a coincidence."

"And this house has nothing to do with it either. In fact the whole dream is absurd and Im not going to give it any more thought. Lets call it a night, huh. Im beat. I doubt Ill even have that dream again, as tired as I am, and the fact that youre here tonight. Youll see."

But she knew as soon as she uttered the words, she would be proven wrong.

Chapter 3

Susan slowly descended the staircase and wandered into Carols kitchen. The sun was barely up, but Susan couldnt sleep. She always felt funny sleeping in a strange bed. She thought she would make herself a cup of coffee and work on the article about Antonio Hector. She was startled by the figure of Carol sitting at her kitchen table in the dark, drinking a cup of tea.

"How long have you been sitting there?" Susan inquired.

"What time is it?" Carol whispered back.

Susan glanced at the wall clock behind Carol over the sink. "Its about 6."

"Well that makes it about four hours now."

Susans eyes got wider. "Youve been sitting her for four hours?!?! Are you OK?"

"No and I dont want to discuss it."

"Sorry, you look like hell and you cant go on like this. You havent gotten a decent nights sleep since these dreams started and it is starting to catch up with you. I am worried about you, hermana."

Carol hung her head. "I know, I just wish I knew what it all meant."

"Look, I doubt you will have another dream today, so go and get some sleep now. Ill wake you up around noon and we can go out for a late lunch and shop for an outfit for your date tonight. Ill work on the article while you nap."

Carol rose from her seat wearily. "You are probably right and I dont have the energy to argue with you if you werent. Please dont let me sleep past noon though."

"I wont, I promise."

Carol crawled up the stairs and slithered into her bed. Mercifully, Susan was right and she spent the next several hours in a deep, dreamless sleep.

The midday sun streamed in Carols window and struck her full in the face as she rolled over into the wide beam that ran across her bed. Through half-closed eyes she glanced at her clock sitting on her night stand. The red crystal numbers read 11:30. She rolled back over and allowed herself a few more minutes to become fully awake. Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, she realized she felt more rested than she had in a week. Grateful for this, she slowly got up and headed for her adjoining bathroom for a shower.

A half hour later, as she was dressing, Carol heard a soft knock on her door. "Im up, hermana. You can come in."

Susan opened the door slowly and entered the room. Seeing her friend was already showered and dressed, she said, "I see you have been up for a bit. How did you sleep?"

"Great. Im glad you suggested it. I feel much better."

"Im glad to hear it." Susan smiled. "I have been thinking about your dreams and I think I might have a plan of action."

"Oh?" Carol looked at Susan with skepticism.

"Yes. I have a friend in at the records office at city hall. I am going to ask him if he would mind getting us in on a Saturday. I want to find out about the former owners of this house. I still think it is at the center of these dreams."

Carol shook her head and smiled. "I can appreciate your nose for a mystery. I have that problem too. You wont quit until you solve this, will you?"

"And I am surprised you havent been as interested in solving it yourself."

"Well I have been, but you want to pursue all of these supernatural leads. I just dont put much stock in them, is all."

Susan looked at Carol with an exasperated expression on her face. "Carol, it is a dream! What else but a supernatural explanation can it have!"

"Every problem has a perfectly natural solution."

"So you say, but wasnt it Sherlock Holmes himself who said that once you have eliminated all possible solutions, that the only one left, no matter improbable, must be the answer."

"He was a fictional character, for starters, and he never believed in supernatural explanations for his mysteries."

Susan was ready for this. "Yes, but his creator, Conan-Doyle was a spiritualist."

Carol rolled her eyes. "You never give up, do you?"


"OK, Ill go with you. I think lack of sleep is turning my brain to mush. Im actually believing that it might be a good idea to check out this possibility!"

Susan laughed and said "Alllriiiight!!!!"

Steven Parker fumbled with his keys as he opened the door to the records office for the county of Los Angeles. Susan was at his elbow, thanking him profusely for giving up a Saturday afternoon to help the ladies. Steven turned to her when the door finally yielded to his key. "Thats all right, sugar, anything for a beautiful lady." Turning to Carol, he amended his statement, "Excuse me, TWO beautiful ladies."

"Flattery will get you everywhere with the right woman, but not THIS woman," answered Carol. She never cared much for Steve. He was a weasly type and she knew he only agreed to this in hopes Susan would repay him with a date. She shrugged her shoulders. What Susan chose to do was strictly her business. The friends had gotten along so well over all of these years because they had an unspoken rule. One always kept her nose out of the others love life. Except for the occasional set up, they had been very faithful to this rule. Carol thought about her own date with David and said, "Could we hurry this along, I have things to do."

"All in good time, doll, all in good time!" Steven gave Carol a weasily smirk and Carol did not return it.

"I owe you, OK," was all Susan said. Carol knew what was on Stevens one brain cell mind. She was not surprised in the least when Steven got a lascivious grin on his face and said, "Im sure you will find a good way to repay me!"

"Enough of the small talk, huh! Lets find what we are looking for and get out of here." Carol looked around at the dark, dusty office. "This place gives me the creeps." What she really meant was that Steve in this office gave her the creeps.

After about 20 minutes of looking through one file after another, Steve finally said, "I think I found something." Crowding around him, Susan and Carol waited for him to reveal his find. "You did say 1313 Mockingbird Lane, didnt you?"

"Funny, very funny," winced Carol. "Quit clowning around."

"Sorry, couldnt resist the Munsters routine! Really, you did say 124 Honeysuckle Lane, didnt you?"

"Yes," answered Carol.

Steve held out a file folder to Susan who promptly took it from him and spread out its contents on a nearby desk.

"It looks like several people have owned it over the years.... Oh, my GOD!!!"

Carol tried unsuccessfully to look over Susans shoulder. "What is it?"

Susan picked up a sheet of paper and clutched it to her breast. "I dont believe it."

"Dont believe what? Share it so I can not believe it too."

"Sit down," ordered Susan.

Carol was growing tired of the games, impatiently she snapped at her friend. "Look I dont want to sit down. Cut out the dramatics and tell me already!"

"Carol, I mean it. Please sit down. It is for your own good."

Exasperated Carol sat down and Susan quickly put the paper she was clutching in Carols waiting hands. Carol quickly glanced at it and nearly fainted. Growing pale, she looked at Susan and said in a barely audible whisper, "It cant be. This is impossible. There must be a mistake."

"What is it?" Steve asked curiously.

Susan quickly realized Steve was still with them. "Carol needs a glass of water. Can you scare her up a glass?" Realizing her faux pas, she added, "Sorry Carol, I didnt mean it that way."

Carol just looked at her friend and shook her head. Susan encouraged Steve to scoot and then came back and sat next to her friend. "Listen, I had no idea, I mean..."

"You couldnt have known. Hell, I didnt know either. It appears the street names and house numbers have been changed since then, that is why I didnt know." Carol looked down at the paper once again and read the name. Alejandro Hezaro! She was living in HIS house. She kept trying to erase the name from the sheet with her eyes, but it kept reappearing with each blink of her eyes. Alejandro Hezaro, Alejandro Hezaro, Alejandro Hezaro! No matter how many times she looked, the name remained indelibly written across the deed to the house. Back when he owned it, the address was 45 Swallow Drive, but the city had changed the names of many of the streets as the neighborhood grew. Carol kept staring and growing more pale. Susan was becoming alarmed at her friends obvious distressed state.

"Are you going to be all right?"

Carol looked in the direction of Susans voice. With all the strength of her will, she forced herself out of her self imposed trance and acknowledged Susan. As she came back to the reality of the situation, the color came back to her cheeks. "Im ok," she sighed. "It was just a bit of a shock, thats all."

Susan shook her head and let out a little laugh. ""Carol Miller, ever the master of the understatement." Carol couldnt help but join Susan in the laugh. It was like the tension of the moment gave way to the release in the form of laughter. By the time Steve returned with the glass of water, the girls were in hysterics. Looking at Steves puzzled look, standing there with the glass of water in his right hand, caused the girls to start another wave of laughter.

"Whats so funny?" he asked as he handed Carol the glass of water. Carol calmed down enough to take a sip of the water without choking on it. She left it up to Susan to come up with a cover explanation.

"Nothing, Steve. Thanks for all of your help," said Susan. The ladies got up and Susan put the papers back in the file and handed it back to Steve, who looked incredulously at the folder in his hand and back at the girls. He finally shrugged his shoulders and replace the file where he had taken it from.

Back out in the bright sunshine, the three of them squinted and Steve asked, as he locked up, "So, when would you like to repay me for my generous gift of time?"

Susan quickly grabbed Carols arm and took off in the direction of the car. She called over her shoulder, "Ill call you. Thanks for your help."

Steve stood there staring at the obvious brush off as the ladies got in Carols car and sped off.

"That was a close one," Susan remarked as they drove away.

"You are going to get yourself in trouble with the wrong guy one of these days if you dont stop doing that to them," Carol observed.

"Maybe, but we found out what we wanted to know, huh?"

Carol sighed as she remembered the words on the deed to her house. They had become burned in her brain. "Yes, but I still cant see the connection. If it is Alejandro Hezaro haunting my dreams, why is he doing it? It still doesnt make much sense to me."

Susan pondered this for a few minutes and then said, "I think we need to go back in time to find the answer to that one."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean the morgue."

Carol swerved the car to the side of the road and slammed on the break. Putting the car in park, She looked at the startled Susan and said, "What do you mean the morgue?"

Susan tried to find her voice. " Carol, have you flipped?! Why did you do that? I only meant the morgue at the paper, silly. We need to go back to when Alejandro Hezaro killed himself and see if we can make sense out of this. Geez, get a grip!"

Carol put her head in her hands and started to weep. "Im sorry, hermana. I think the lack of sleep has frazzled the nerves of this hard-boiled ace investigative reporter."

Susan took Carol into her arms and let her cry it out. "You are not losing it, Carol. It is just an unnerving situation and you are reacting like any warm-blooded person would. You havent given yourself time to react, thats all. Let it out now." Susan held on to Carol tightly until Carols tears were spent. Straightening up, Carol thanked her friend and put the car back in gear. "Gracias, hermana, I really needed to do that. I do feel a bit better now."

Susan smiled. "You are not a robot, Carol, remember that. You need to let go of this with me, OK? Dont keep it bottled up inside any more. That is what Im here for."

"I know."

"Good." The ladies grew silent for a few minutes. Susan then got an idea. "We were going to go shopping for an outfit for your date tonight."

"THE DATE! Oh, my God, Susan, I almost forgot about that. I cant go now, not after what just happened," exclaimed Carol.

"You can and you will," answered Susan sternly. She picked up her cell phone and dialed a number. "Im calling David right now and asking him to wait until 8 to pick you up. This will give me time to help you get ready. This date is just the thing to help you get your mind off this Alejandro Hezaro thing."

The phone rang and then Carol heard Susan say, "David? Susan here. Hi. Yes I need to ask you if you would mind waiting till 8 to pick Carol up. No everything is OK, we are just running a little late thats all. You can? Great! Yes at Carols house. OK, shell be ready. Bye." Susan ended the call and said, "Thats all set. Lets go up to Rodeo Drive and look for a dress now."

The ladies spent the next hour looking through the dress shops till they found the perfect dress for Carol to wear. Back at Carols house, Susan helped her with her hair and makeup and when 7:45 rolled around, Susan looked at the finished product and proclaimed Carol breathtaking. Carol snickered and said, "I sure hope David thinks so. I really want to impress him. He might hold some important information about the Michael Harris case that might bust it wide open for me."

"Just remember to have a good time, ace reporter!" Susan winked at her friend. "David is all male. Dont waste that with too much business, will ya?"

Carol smiled. "Well if this middle aged woman can still spark something in a good looking young stud like David, I might have a good time after all!"

Both woman laughed and were still chuckling when David rang Carols door bell. Susan opened the door and said, "Welcome, David, Come in please."

"You two live here together?" David asked as he entered the foyer and looked around.

"No, Im just visiting. This is all Carols place, and if you ask me, she is welcome to it."

David looked at Carol standing before him uncharacteristically silent. "If the house is half as beautiful as its owner, I can see why she wants to live here."

Carol blushed. "Thank you." She turned to Susan. "How are you going to get home?"

"I think Ill stick around for a while longer and then Ill call a cab. Dont worry about me. You two kids go have a great time. Ill be long gone by the time you wind up back here, I assure you!" Susan winked again at Carol and David and proceeded to push them out the door.

On the doorstep, David put his arm out for Carol. As she took it, she said, "Please excuse Susan. She just lives to embarrass me."

"Thats ok, I know how she operates. I have seen her around the clubs. She means well, Im sure."

"I guess." David assisted Carol into his low slung BMW. Soon they were driving out of the driveway and toward the lights of LA.

Chapter 4

Carol and David spent some awkward minutes in the car in silence. Carol always hated this part of any first date, especially ones that were set ups. She really didnt know too much about David and Susan had not gotten around to telling her much, except what she learned the night of the art gallery fund-raiser. As they reached the city limits, David decided to go first, to Carols great relief.

"Susan tells me you and she have been childhood friends."

Carol thought, "Oh boy, I wonder how much Susan shared with David about me?" To David she answered, "Yes, we grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same schools. I was sort of a throwback, an Anglo in a predominantly Chicano neighborhood. Susan has been a great friend. We practically think of ourselves as sisters most of the time."

"Thats nice. She seems like a nice person, from the little I have actually spoken to her."

"How do you and Susan know each other?"

David stopped at a red light. He put his hand to his chin in a thoughtful pose. "I think it was about 6 months ago at another one of those fund-raisers. She came up to me, actually. She said she always liked to meet new people and I was a new face in the crowd. It actually was my first of those affairs. Being a new company, I wanted to start being more high profile. A friend suggested going to these functions to rub elbows with important people. And he was right, because I have met people that have helped me get my company to the place it is right now." He paused and looked at Carol before he needed to put the car in gear to proceed through the intersection as the light changed. "I guess that sounds pretty mercenary of me."

"Not really. Actually Susan attends all those fund-raisers for as mercenary a reason as you. She is always looking for a good interview for her column on the rich and powerful." Carol thought back a minute on the hundreds of such parties she had attended with Susan.

As they progressed toward their destination, David continued. "Do you usually attend with her?"

"Most of the time, but just to tag along." Carol paused. She decided to be honest with David, hoping that he would be willing to talk about the Michael Harris. "I have to be perfectly honest with you, though. The other night, I wasnt just tagging along. I was kinda hoping that I would get a lead on this case Im working on." Then Carol remembered what David said as he asked her out on this date that night. "But I guess you were hoping to take the reporter out of the woman tonight. So that topic should be off limits?"

"No, thats ok. Actually, its my turn to be perfectly honest with you. Mike was a friend of mine, maybe not a close one, but we had become friendly over the past year and his death is nagging at me. I guess I was really hoping to talk to you about it too." David pulled up to the valet parking at the Brown Derby. "Is this OK for dinner?"

"Sure, I love the food here. This is just fine." Carol loved coming to the Brown Derby. So many famous people ate there and you never knew who you might meet. He came around and opened her door and the valet took the keys from David and drove away. David held out his arm and they walked into the restaurant. At the reservations desk, David gave the matred his name and they were shown to their table. David ordered some wine for the two of them and they spent a few minutes deciding on dinner selections from the menu. When the waiter came back with their wine, he took their orders and left. David raised his glass and proposed a toast. "I know this is just a first date, but may we both have good health, long life and the beginning of a great friendship."

"Ill drink to that!" Carol took a sip. It was obviously an expensive wine from the taste of it. David was very gallant and very handsome. Carol found herself wishing she was about 10 years younger. She was still a bit puzzled as to why such a handsome, young man would want to date an older, average looking woman. She decided it wasnt important right now. She would just enjoy the evening and worry about that later.

David continued the conversation from the car. "I hope you dont think less of me wanting to talk about Mike. I know I told you that I was taking you out to get away from the reporter, but as I said, his death wont let me rest right now."

"Its ok, I really dont mind talking about it. It is on my mind too. Things dont add up and I want to know why." Carol took another sip of her wine. "Ill tell you what. I wont do the reporter act, getting out my pad and writing down everything you say and quoting you. Lets just talk and if we put our information and heads together, maybe we can come up with plausible solution."

"Fair enough. But I think it might help me to have you ask the questions."

Carol smiled. "Thats easy for me. You have a deal." They shook hands. "Ok, first question. How old are you?"

"Huh?" David looked at Carol with a surprised expression on his face. Carol noticed how his sandy colored eyebrows rose high on his brow when he looked puzzled. She had to give out a little giggle at this. Then she blushed when she realized how forward she sounded. "Im sorry. I was just trying to establish your relationship with Michael Harris. I was thinking you were around the same age."

"Oh, my, do I look that young? Actually I am 40."

"Nooo, really?" It was Carols turn to be shocked. "You sure dont look it!"

"I guess that makes me too old for you now, huh?"

"Are you kidding with me?" Carol was the one with the puzzled expression now. "How old do you think I am?"

"I know better than to guess a ladys age. But I was figuring you were much younger than me."

"Well I hate to risk driving you away, but I am 41."

"You sure dont look it."

Carol continued to blush. "Thanks. I guess we both must be doing something right, if we dont look our age."

"Must be. Now that we know how old each of us is, whats next?"

Carol tried to think of the next question to ask David. She was still taken aback by the revelation that he wasnt that much younger than she was. She started seeing him in a new light. He was good looking. Carol had always found the darker, more Hispanic looking guys more attractive. This might have been due to growing up in the barrio. David was far from this type. Tall, with sandy reddish blond hair and a fair complexion, he was more the Nortic male. When he smiled his dimples indented deeply in his cheeks, right next to a trim mustache. Maybe he had more date potential than she first thought. She must have been staring, because he looked hard at her with his deep blue eyes and said, "Well?"

"Oh, Im sorry. I was just thinking of what I should ask next. I know he worked with your company on its advertising and that you played squash and had dinner together. What did you know of Michael Harris personal life?"

A look of relief swept over Davids face. Carol got the impression that he was glad she didnt ask any more personal questions of him. "Well I know he had just gotten married, but for the life of me, I could never figure out why. They didnt seem right for each other. They fought all the time and always did things separately. I didnt like to pry, but I was always puzzled by their relationship. It was like he needed a trophy wife or something."

"He married Patricia McDonnell, didnt he?"

"Yes. Her dad is Fortune Five Hundred, but I know it wasnt for money. They both had plenty. The house they lived in cost a bundle."

"Do you know how they met?"

David thought a minute. He put his hand to his chin, like he did in the car. Carol was beginning to see that this was Davids gesture for deep thought. "I remember Mike telling me something about a weekend in Malibu, but Im not sure he went into great detail. I think they were introduced by a mutual friend or something."

"Was this before or after you hired his company."

"Before, actually, but not that much before. I hired his company 11 months ago and this was a couple of months before that, according to him. For a while they had been dating. Actually, come to think of it, 7 months ago, there was a big row and they broke up, only to get back together again the next week Then they flew to Vegas and got married. It was all very sudden."

Carol gulped. "They eloped?"

David smirked. "Yeah, and was her family ever hot. I think most of the recent fights were about them having a big church wedding for her family. He didnt want to do it. I think he figured since they were already married, her dad would expect Mike to pick up the tab. I dont think he got along too well with his in-laws."

"Hummm...." Now it was Carols turn for thought. From what she read about Michael Harris, what David said added up. Michael had once got arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, but the charges were dropped on some technicality. She wondered if David knew much about that. "I had heard that Michael Harris was arrested."

David shrugged his shoulders. "You mean the D&D arrest. His father-in-law dropped those charges. Seems that Mike had too much to drink at one of the old mans shindigs and threatened him in front of a few guests. Mike never hit Mr. Donnell, so there really wasnt a case. I think that is why it was dropped, that and the old man didnt want the publicity. I think he only had Mike arrested in the first place to scare him and show off in front of the guests." David paused. "Quite frankly, tact wasnt one of Mikes strong points. He was a bit of a hot head, especially if he had been drinking."

"I had heard something to that effect. Did he have enemies?"

David let out a little chuckle. "Dont we all? But seriously, Im sure Mike had a few, his father-in- law at the top of the list, but no more than anyone else, I guess. I know the police suspect Mr. McDonnell, but I doubt it was him. He is more talk than action. Whoever it was wanted people to think Mike was depressed and distraught and made this look like a suicide."

Carols mouth dropped. "So you dont buy the suicide story either?"

"Nope, Mike was a lot of things, but suicidal was not one of them. He had just landed a big account for his company and was very up about it. I had dinner with him two nights before he died and I can tell you, he was in a very good mood. Landing that new account was all he could talk about."

Dinner came at this point and the conversation turned to small talk. Carol let it drift to talk about their perspective work. She really didnt learn too much more, but David had confirmed a lot for her. One thing was for sure, Michael Harris was murdered. But how and why still eluded her. She had a feeling that David was as much in the dark about that as she was. But for both of their sakes, she was determined to solve this mystery. David seemed genuinely concerned that justice be done in his friends case, and she would see that it was.

After dinner the couple went for a drive. David got Carol to tell him more about herself and she even got him to talk about his life. The more they talked, the more Carol hoped that she would see David again. Not just for the Harris case, but because she knew she was starting to take a shine to David. When they finally wound up at Carols house, she took a chance and invited him in for a drink. She was a little disappointed when he turned her down. "I wish I could, Carol. I had a great time and I want to see you again sometime. I have an early meeting tomorrow and I need to get some work done in preparation for it. I hope I can have a rain check sometime."

"Anytime. I really enjoyed myself too." They got out of the car and David walked her to her door. "Will you let me know if you find out anything about Mikes death?"

"Of course. You have a number where I can reach you?"

David took out his wallet and handed her a business card. "Thats my cell phone number. Call me anytime. And not just with info about Mike, OK?"

Carol blushed. David reached down and kissed her sweetly on the lips. "Good night. Ill give you a call this week and see what your plans are."

"Sure. You still have my number?"

"Yes." David headed back to his car as Carol opened her door. He waved to her as he drove off. She closed the door behind her and went around shutting out the lights and locking the doors for the night. David was right about one thing, it was late, but Carol knew she could sleep in the next morning. Too wound up to sleep, she got out her lap top and worked on the case some more, putting down what David told her while it was still fresh in her brain. After that was finished, she made her way to bed, hoping she would not be plagued with the nightmare tonight. But it came again, and, too exhausted to care, Carol tried to go back to sleep after she was awakened by it. After about an hour she was successful and was able to get a better nights sleep.

Chapter 5

Monday morning, when Carol arrived at her desk, she was surprised to find Susans vacant. Susan was an early bird and always arrived before Carol. Susan had a family gathering to attend on Sunday, so Carol had not had the chance to talk to her about the date. Bursting with the story, she was disappointed to find Susan was not in her usual spot. Thinking she might have been called out on a last minute assignment, she collared Tim, one of the cub reporters, as he strode past her desk. Only 23, Tim always reminded Carol of Jimmy Olsen from the Superman comics.

"Hey, Ace! Have you seen Susan anywhere?"

Tim smiled at Carol. He aspired to her job one day and loved when the older woman called him "Ace". "No, beautiful, cant say that I have." Turning to the rest of the news room he shouted, "Any of you snoops seen Ms. Verdas today?"

Carol winced. She hated when reporters were called "snoops" and worse, when one of her own did it. She tugged on his shirt sleeve. "Hey, I coulda done that. No need to shout!"

Bud McGrath, at the sports desk, answered back. "Yeah, she breezed in here about 30 minutes ago and hardly said a decent "good morning". When I said "hi", she said she was heading to the morgue on an important assignment." Bud shook his head and muttered, "Dame reporters."

Carol knew Bud was sweet on Susan but didnt want it to be known. He was a throwback who thought the news room was no place for women. "Thanks, Bud." She turned to Tim. "Thank you too, sweetie," and kissed him on the cheek. Tim blushed. Carol grabbed her pad and pencil and headed for the papers morgue.

When Carol opened the heavy door to the basement that housed the papers collection of back issues, she crinkled her nose. The place was kept at a constant temperature and as sterile as was possible. Carol always thought it smelled like a hospital ward. The back issues were not actually kept here, that would take up too much space. Everything was kept on microfiche and was slowly being converted over to computer files. When that was finally completed, the morgue would not be necessary, since any reporter would be able to access it from their desk top computer. The Dispatch was not as big as the Times, so the switch over was taking a long time. The owner, in his infinite wisdom, decided to have the techs scan the more recent issues first and work backwards. It was a long and laborious task and they were nowhere near the place where Carol knew she would find her friend. Rounding a shelf of microfiche holders, she spotted Susan hunched over a reader at the desk nearest the back wall. This part of the room was kept dark to make it easier to read the film.

Carol didnt purposely sneak up on her friend, but when she got behind her and said, "hi", Susan jumped.

"Dont scare me like that," she scowled at Carol.

"Hey, I didnt do that on purpose! You musta been pretty absorbed in something if you didnt hear me coming. These shoes were clicking on the cement floor loud enough to raise the dead."

"Funny you should put it like that, hermana." Susan glanced at Carol with a mysterious look on her face before she put her own face back to the reader. She continued as she scanned the film. "Your friend Alejandro might just be coming back from the dead to tell you something at that."

Carol looked incredulously at Susans hunched body. "And just why would he do that?"

Susan looked back up at Carol. "Im telling you, this case is far from cut and dry. I am beginning to think your friend Alejandro might not have committed suicide."

"Why do you keep calling him my friend. I barely knew the guy." Suddenly the full impact of what Susan had just revealed to Carol struck her like a brick. "What do you mean, it wasnt suicide?"

"I wish they had gotten to converting these files to computer already. I want hard copies right away." It seemed as if Susan ignored her friends question. "Where are the techs. I need to order copies of all of these right away." Susan got up from the desk but was met by Carol blocking her way.

"I need to know what you meant by "it might not have been suicide"!" Carol was adamant and it looked like she would not let her friend leave if she didnt get and answer immediately. Susan stared hard at her friend.

"Carol, if you want to look for yourself, there it is." She pointed to the reader. "I only scratched the surface searching for stories on Alejandro Hezaro. I havent even gotten to the reports of his death yet. But I am telling you, something is not right about all of this. Let me ask for hard copies of anything on Alejandro Hezaro. It might take a few days, Im sure there are gobs of stuff. He was pretty famous and in the news a lot over the seven years he was in Hollywood. We might be a while before we can read through it all." She stopped and smiled at her friend. "I think you may have stumbled onto a bigger mystery then you bargained for here, mi amiga."

Susan walked off in search of a tech to hassle about the hard copies. Carol figured she had some time before Susan came back, and she was burning with curiosity at what Susan told her. She sat down and looked at what Susan was reading before Carol found her. It was an article on the surprise wedding of Alejandro Hezaro and Linda Sommers. It seemed everyone in Hollywood was surprised about the hush-hush wedding. Alejandro Hezaro had been dating quite a few famous and beautiful actresses before he met Linda. He was even reported to be engaged to one, and after that didnt pan out, was very seriously dating another, which everyone, including his close friends and family, thought would end in marriage. But then he met Linda on a vacation trip to the Bahamas. Linda worked on the islands. They had met in a bar one night, and, according to the account in front of her, it was love at first sight. Apparently the couple could not bear to be separated when Alejandros vacation came to an end, so they flew back to Hollywood and Linda moved in with him. This must have been a well kept secret, because the paper reported this fact only after learning about the wedding. The ceremony was a small one, in a chapel in Reno. Only family and close friends had been there and the press were kept in the dark till after the fact. There was a picture of Alejandro and Linda kissing as they cut the cake and another one of the couple with their parents on either side of them. Carol stared at Alejandros eyes. His face had a smile, but his eyes look like that of a caged animal. Carol shuddered. They looked like the same eyes of her dream. And this time it was an exact match.

It was Susans turn to make Carol jump, she was so absorbed in what she was reading. When Susan said her feeble "sorry" and Carol had started breathing again, she said, "This is amazing. I thought that Hollywood knew all about Linda and Alejandro before they were married." She thought a minute and added, "But you know, now that I think about it, I dont think I knew he had been dating this girl before the wedding either. I guess when the story broke about the wedding we all assumed the relationship was well known. I know Alejandro craved privacy, but this is....." She let her voice trail of as she pondered all the implications."

"I never was as hung up on the guy as you were," remarked Susan to break the awkward silence, "So I really dont remember much about it. But it really is a mystery how he was able to keep her from the media for so long. I doubt it would have happened today. Look how the paparazzi hound famous people today. If you are in the spotlight, you are in the news."

"Just remember you and I are included in that pack of wolves," Carol said soberly. The ladies fell into a knowing silence. It was a part of their profession that neither one was particularly proud of, but both had tried to personally maintain a level of ethics that would avoid the stigma that others in their industry didnt seem to care about. Carol hated that topic, so she decided to change it. "This is a masterful piece of sleuthing, hermana! I think Id better be doing a better job, or you will be looking to take mine!"

Susan waved her hand and shook her head. "I dont want your job. The only thing that has inspired me to pursue it is the fact that it involves the father of a star, one I am currently interested in professionally, and more to the point, it involves my best friend, mi hermana." To emphasize the point she pressed her right index finger into Carols shoulder.

Carol thanked Susan and said. "I know and I think that you think I should have been more interested in pursuing it than I have been."

"You have had other things on your mind, hermana. Current murders are more your specialty, anyway. I think if it had been a slow news time for you, you would have been more interested. I know you are involved with Michael Harris." Susan stopped and then asked, "In all of this talk of the distant past, I forgot the immediate past. How was the date with David?"

Carol didnt know why she thought to say this first, but it was the thing that seemed to stick out on her mind the most from Saturday night. "Did you know he is 40?"

For the first time in a long time Carol realized she had scooped her friend on an interesting tidbit about the rich and powerful. Genuine shock registered on Susans face. "Youre kidding! I thought he was in his early thirties. Most of these computer entrepreneurs are."

"I was just as surprised as you, amiga. He really knows how to keep in shape, that is for sure."

"Well you dont look 41, so this should prove an interesting relationship.

"He said the same thing. And dont get any ideas." Carol saw that conniving grin on her friends face. "I still think he is too rich and powerful to be taking an interest in the likes of me." At that moment the phone on the wall above the microfiche readers buzzed. It was an intercom as well as an outside line. The intercom light was flashing. Carol pressed it and said, "Carol Miller here."

The voice on the intercom squawked back in Pat Rowlings nasal twang. Pat was the receptionist for the paper. "There is a phone call for you, Ms. Miller, line seven." Carol pushed another blinking light next to the button marked 7 and said, "Hello, Carol Miller speaking."

Susan could not hear the other end, but when Carols face brightened and then turned red, she knew it must be David on the other end of the line. She tried to saddle up to the receiver with her left ear, but Carol waved her away with a frown.

"Hi, David. Its funny, we were just talking about you," Carol answered. Susan smiled at her friend. Carol always teased her about flirting with guys and always made herself out to be above that kind of behavior. Yet, Susan saw that Carol wasnt beneath a little school girl flirting when the right guy was involved. She mimed her most outrageous flirting stance at Carol and Carol frowned and tried to ignore her. David must have said something funny at this point because Carol laughed. Susan was dying to be in on both halves of the conversation and quietly pleaded with Carol to switch the phone to conference. Carol rolled her eyes at Susan in a reluctant agreement. "David, Susan is here too. You mind if she joins us in this conversation?"

He must have given his assent, because Carol reached up and pushed the conference speaker button and hung up the receiver. "Hi Susan," came Davids voice, with a mechanical ring to it, over the tiny speaker. "I was just telling Carol that I hoped you werent talking bad about me."

"Oh, no," Susan started. She was going to add more but Carol shot her a "youd better not embarrass me" look and she decided not to.

"Good. Actually I have something to share with the both of you. Are you both free for dinner tonight?"

Carol and Susan looked at each other and Carol said, "Sure, I guess so...." with more disappointment in her voice than she really meant to put there. David must have picked it up because he said, "I know, sweetheart, Ill make it up to you some other time. I have some business that both of you should hear." Carol blushed at the term of endearment and knew she would be in for a heap of teasing later by Susan.

"Sounds important," said Susan, not letting on her amusement at Davids obvious affection for her friend.

"It is. If what I have found out can be confirmed, you both might have stories to write for that newspaper of yours. But I cant talk about it over the phone. Ill pick you both up at the newspaper. What time do you both get off?"

Carol took the upper hand once again. "We can be ready to leave around 5." Newspaper people didnt keep regular business hours, but she suspected David might. It really didnt matter when the ladies checked out.

David came back with, "That good. I can pick you up around then, maybe a little after, depending on traffic." Carol and Susan both knew that rush hour in LA was a nightmare. Carol answered, "Anytime after 5 will be fine. Just have us paged at the newsroom and we will be down to meet you in the lobby."

"Great, cant wait. Gotta run to another meeting. See you lovely ladies tonight," and the phone went dead.

"I wonder what kind of news he has to tell us?", Susan asked in earnest. Carol was just as puzzled. The only thing David and she had talked about Saturday night, except for themselves, was Michael Harris. She knew why David would discuss any news about the case with her, but what was Susans part in this.

"Im not sure, but I know we will find out tonight." Carol looked at the microfiche in front of her. Several cans lay next to the reader. Changing the subject back to the first mystery of the day, Carol asked, "Did you put in a order for these in hard copy?" tapping on the cans.

"Yes. The techs told me that it would take a week, but then I used a little leverage and got them to agree to put a priority rush on it. We should have them sometime tomorrow."

Carol shook her head at Susan in amazement. She knew what kind of leverage Susan had used and hoped that one day it would not get her fired. "I think I want to peruse through these some more. The Michael Harris story is stalled for the moment, so I have some time. You mind?"

"No help yourself. The techs are working on a rush job for the boss right now, so you have some time. I need to put the finishing touches on Antonios story anyway. I have made an appointment for tomorrow to go and see him for his approval before the story is submitted. You still want to go with me?"

"Por favor," answered Carol. Then with a flash of insight she said, "I wonder how much Antonio remembers about his father?"

"Not much, from what I heard, but I have also heard he doesnt like to talk about it either, so this topic is vedado, comprende?"

Carol knew when Susan was very serious, she accented this by speaking in Spanish. Carol also knew that Susan was as curious about this whole thing as Carol was, maybe more so, from her obvious involved research this morning. So she knew if the opportunity presented itself, Susan would ask Antonio herself. Nothing more was said and Susan left to go back to her desk while Carol spent several more hours pouring over the microfiche. She was almost glad for her eyes sake when the tech came for the films and Carol handed them over to him. It was an interesting morning.

It was closer to 6 before Carol and Susan were buzzed from the receptionists desk in the lobby that David Jensen was here to pick them up for dinner. Trying to compose themselves and not appear too excited, they emerged from the elevator and went over to the desk where David was engaged in small talk with the night receptionist, Tina. Tina was a student at UCLA and worked evenings at the receptionists desk. David looked up as the ladies approached him and said, "I dont know what I did to deserve a date with the two finest looking women in the country."

Both the ladies blushed at Davids attempt at flattery. He held out each arm to them and Carol grabbed his right while Susan took a hold of his left. They walked out of the building and down to Davids waiting limo parked in front. Carol was surprised.

"Wow, David, it must be a special occasion. Limousine service and everything! Im impressed."

"Well it is a special night when I can take two beautiful women to dinner. Besides, I think the two of you should be given the first class treatment."

Susan giggled, "Boy I wish all the guys I dated felt that way."

"Then you should date a better class of guy, one more suited to your loveliness. In fact I have this friend I would love for you to meet."

Susan hesitated as she stooped to get in the back of the limo. "Oh, my, this isnt a blind date, is it?"

David, holding the door open for her, quickly reassured her. "Oh no, I would never spring a surprise like that on you, Susan. That would be crass. No, I meant what I said on the phone earlier, this dinner is business. I was just thinking how it would be nice to double date sometime. Tom has been anxious to meet a nice lady and I think you and he would hit it off."

They got in the car and drove off. Susan was still a bit taken back by the offer of the blind date. "Who is Tom?"

"Tom is Thomas Windham of Windham Industries. He and I have been in on a few mergers lately. He and I are the same age and are both single, if you can believe that!"

Carol made an effort to diffuse some of the tension still lingering in the car. Susan hated to be set up as much as Carol did. "He sounds like an interesting guy. And if he is anything like you, Im sure we will have a great time, right Susan?"

Susan just stared at her friend and said nothing. David sensed the moment was becoming very awkward, so he decided to drop it. He leaned up to the driver and said, "Chez Georges." Both Carol and Susan looked at each other puzzled. Contrary to the sound of its name, the restaurant was not a fancy high-priced French restaurant, but a more moderately priced bistro with a relaxed atmosphere and a wide range of cuisine. It was the kind of place you went if you wanted not to be seen. David gave the directions to the driver and then settled back between the ladies.

"So what is this all about, David. You told us you had some news," Carol said impatiently.

David shook his head and said, "Susan, I think your friend will always be reporter at heart!"

"Well she is not the only one. What you said, or more to the point, didnt say on the phone earlier has both of us piqued with curiosity."

"OK, OK, I dont mean to keep you both in suspense." David cleared his throat and began. "Susan, do you know Vincent Carothers?"

"Isnt he that high powered attorney from Atlanta? Specializes in high profile divorces, I think."

"The very same one. I found out, talking to Mikes secretary, that Pat hired him about a month before Mike died." David grew silent to allow the impact of this fact sink into their brains.

Carol was the first to take the bait. "Patricia was planning to divorce Michael? Why? All of my sources indicated they were getting along great. In fact, wasnt she pregnant with their first child?"

David nodded his head. "Yes that is the way it seemed to appear, but Lydia tells me differently." He saw the puzzled look on their faces and enlightened them. "Lydia Matheson is, I mean, was Mikes personal secretary at his company. She is meeting us at Chez Georges. She has a lot to tell us that she doesnt want made public, at least not yet."

Carol looked knowingly at David, "I remember her now. I tried to talk to her but she kept giving me the brush off. Im glad you thought to talk to her. I guess knowing you were Michaels friend and a good looking male gave you a bit more leverage with her than I had."

It was Davids turn to blush. "Well I have been doing business with Mike through her for almost a year. She felt she could confide in me. After she told me her story, I asked her if it would be all right to share it with you. She was very reluctant at first, but I think she agreed when I told her that I had spoken to you and you were interested in seeing justice done, not just sensationalizing the story. For some reason she asked if Susan could be there too. Seems she is a fan of your column and felt more comfortable talking to both of you. She wants to see justice done and is tired of dealing with the lies that are being told about her and Mike."

They arrived at the restaurant. David helped the ladies out of the limo and they went in to get a table. David asked for one in the far corner. Once they were seated and the waiter, a college kid in his 20s, took their drink order, David resumed his narrative.

"It seems Mike and Pat were not getting along too well the last couple of months. Mike started working late at the office more days during the week. Lydia started working late too, but only a few days a week. Mike apparently started confiding in her about what was happening at home. Lydia swears that nothing sexual happened between them, but that is what she was being accused of and why Pat hired the divorce lawyer."

David looked up and saw a long legged blond enter the through the front door. He waved to her and said, "Since she is here, Ill let her explain this. It is incredible."

David rose to his feet and helped Lydia to her seat. He introduced the ladies and waved the waiter over to get Lydias drink order. "Just water, please," Lydia said. David told the waiter they needed a few more minutes before they ordered dinner.

Lydia fidgeted in her seat, looking around to see who was in the restaurant. Carol could sense she was not too comfortable doing what she was about to do. Carol tried to put her at ease. "David tells me that you worked for Michael Harris for a number of years."

"Yes that is right, ever since he opened the business. I know more about what went on there and at his house than I have told anyone. Honestly Im not sure why I have decided to tell you all of this, but I am tired of being talked about behind my back....and most of it is lies. I have always been on the up and up."

"I understand. Let me assure you that none of what you tell us tonight will go into print without your approval. I want a story, but I want to get to the bottom of this mystery even more."

Lydia visibly relaxed and said, "David told me you were not like some of those vulture reporters. I decided not to grant interviews to any of them because I didnt know who to trust. What I have to tell, the cops dont even know about. I have been Mr. Harris personal secretary, and I take my job seriously when it comes to confidentiality. But the poor man is dead and his good name is being dragged through the mud. And it looks like mine is going with it." She took out a Kleenex and wiped a tear from her eye. "I guess that is why I let David talk me into talking to you. I dont know what to do anymore."

David put his arm around her in comfort. "I know you might have to divulge this information to the police sooner or later, but it might help to tell Carol and Susan first. They are both very level headed and can tell you the best course of action."

The waiter came back and took the orders and disappeared again. Lydia started her story. "I dont know how much you know or how much David has told you, but I guess it is best if I start at the beginning. Mr. Harris had hired me long before he met his wife. As I said earlier, I have been with him since he started his company. I never thought he should have married that McDonnell girl. Her family has given him nothing but grief since they eloped. He wanted someone who would give him more status in the business world, but I dont know if it really was worth it. I dont think she really loved him. I think she was looking to get out from under Daddys thumb. I know Mr. Harris love her very much, but he was more and more unhappy with his marriage. Then the Harrington account came up and Mr. Harris started working later to do all he could to land this account. It was the biggest account Mr. Harriss company had ever been asked to do. Six figures, from what I heard. I stayed late a few times to help him, but there were other people with us. Mrs. Harris got wind of this and started to accuse us of having an affair. That is why she hired a fancy divorce lawyer. Mr. Harris didnt want a divorce. God love him, he still loved her, even after he started figuring out some things about his pretty bride!"

The meals were brought out and the story took a bit of a break. Carol realized she was sitting on a gold mine here with Lydia. She knew what Lydia was telling her could be construed as hearsay in court, but she also knew there were ways to corroborate all of this.

Once they had eaten a bit of the excellent dinner, Lydia was ready to resume her narrative. "The nights I worked late with Mr. Harris, we talked about our lives. I was going through a rough time with my current loser boyfriend and he started telling me things about Mrs. Harris, things that didnt add up to him. She had always been a bit of a cold fish to him, even when they dated, so he never expected her to be madly in love with him. He knew she was using him to get back at her father, but then she started becoming more and more jealous of his time away from home. She had never really cared all that much that he worked late hours when they were first married, she had her social life. I dont know whether it was the interference of her mother and sister, or some snooty friends, but all of a sudden she got the idea that Mr. Harris and I... " Lydias eyes welled up with tears and the words caught in her throat. David put his arm around her again to comfort her, but Lydia gently brushed it away. "Thank you, Ill be OK. It is just that I can hardly believe this myself." She wiped her eyes and continued. "Mrs. Harris talked of hiring a divorce lawyer and Mr. Harris tried to assure her that it wasnt necessary. He even took her away for a weekend skiing at Lake Tahoe. It was after this that she found out she was pregnant. Mr. Harris was overjoyed, but Mrs. Harris was still acting jealous and a bit suspiciously, if you ask me. I decided to do a bit of snooping on my own. I had two good reasons for this. One was I felt a lot of loyalty to Mr. Harris. He treated me with respect and I appreciated him for that. The other was that I was being implicated in this divorce and I wanted to know where I stood. I have a brother who is a PI and I asked him to do a little snooping for me. Turns out Mrs. Harris was the one doing the cheating and it would not surprise me if Mr. Harris isnt the father of her kid!" She sat back and let the full impact of her statement sink into the brains of the two reporters.

"Are you sure of this," said Susan, being the first one to recover her shock. "I mean, this has potential defamation lawsuit written all over it!"

"I have proof of the affair, and I am sure there are ways to confirm the paternity," answered Lydia, coolly. "My brother is good at what he does and he took pictures."

Carol finally got over the shock and leaned forward and in an almost whisper she said, "Pictures? Do you have them?"

"No, but I can get them. She was fooling around with the guy who drove for the Harris. Not that I could blame her, he is a great looking guy, but I am not ashamed to admit I always thought Mr. Harris was a great looking guy too. And he loved her! She was the one who was being the cold fish in the marriage. He was very tired one evening and I guess very vulnerable. He admitted to me that there had been a definitely lack of intimacy the last couple of months. That is when I proposed the weekend away. She probably jumped on the idea, thinking it would cover up the pregnancy," she added cynically.

"The trip was your idea?" Carol asked incredulously.

"I know that seems highly irregular, but Mr. Harris was desperate to save his marriage and asked me for advice. So I thought of the trip. When he came back, he was a different person. I gathered the trip was a success. He was happy and whistling. I did ask if they had a good time and he kissed me on the cheek and said, Excellent, thank you for suggesting it. It was a few weeks later that she found out she was pregnant. Instead of being happy, she became more jealous of Mr. Harris. She would call at work. I never would eaves drop, but she practically shouted over the other end of the phone. I was in helping Mr. Harris with the accounts when she called and I could hear as plain as day her accusing us of an affair. When Mr. Harris came in one morning with the saddest face I had ever seen, he told me that she had hired the lawyer. I couldnt believe it and decided I needed to find out what was going on. I asked my brother to follow Mrs. Harris to see who she was talking to, in hopes to find out who was telling her we were ...." Lydia blushed, "Well you know. Instead of finding that out, he found out that Mrs. Harris and Jake, the driver, were carrying on like a couple of rabbits. I never shared this with Mr. Harris, because I knew it would tear him up inside. Then he supposedly kills himself? I dont believe it for a minute. SHE had him murdered, Im sure of it!" Lydias voice dropped to a determined whisper. "Ms. Miller, if you can find out who did this, I would be eternally grateful. I supposed I secretly loved Mr. Harris. Mike was always kind to me. He deserved better than that rich bitch he married." She broke down in long sobs.

It was now Carols turn to offer a comforting arm to Lydia. She accepted it and the four sat in silence for a bit as Lydia slowly regained her composure. When it looked like Lydia had gotten a hold of her emotions, Carol offered words of comfort. "I will do all I can to see that who ever did this gets caught, she said reassuringly. "And I want to thank you for what you have shared. I promise I will not print a word of this with out your permission, OK?"

Lydias face brightened. "Thanks. I do appreciate that. I will let you see the pictures if you come by the office sometime. I keep them in a private safe. I guess I should go to the police with this, but I wasnt sure what to do."

"Let me see what you have and then I can advise you what to do. In the mean time, keep this to yourself. Ill check on a few things to give your story the back up it will need and then I think we can take this to the police." Carol gave Lydia a hug and then turned to David. "Can you see she gets home? Susan and I can get a cab."

"OK, if you dont mind." David reached over and gave Carol a kiss in front of the other two ladies. Susan smiled and Lydia blushed. "Ill call you later. Thank you for being so understanding and listening to what Lydia had to say."

"No problem. I think it might be very useful. Ill be in touch, Lydia. Do you have a number where I can reach you?"

Lydia fumbled in her purse and produced a business card. "The top number is my number at work and my number at home is the second one."

"Thanks, and dont worry. Ill get to the bottom of this." They all left the restaurant. Susan and Carol shared a cab and the driver took Susan home first. Both promised to collaborate on this story, since they were both intrigued by Lydias revelations. Carol bid her best friend buenas noches and took the cab home.

Chapter 6

That night, the nightmare came and went and Carol decided she needed to ignore it in order to get her work done. She was now in the middle of not one, but two mysteries and she needed to keep her wits about her. She looked out over her dark room, staring into the darkness after the nightmare woke her. She caught her self asking the darkness, "OK, Alejandro, what are you trying to tell me? You have been dead almost 20 years. Why do you need my help now?"

Of course her logical mind told her the darkness would not answer her, but somehow in her heart she expected an answer and her subconscious mind waited for an answer. When none came, she rolled over and went back to sleep.

The next day, Susan was waiting for her as she came into the Dispatch office with her camera bag. "Im sorry I am late, overslept," Carol said breathlessly.

"That dream again?"

"Yea, but lets forget it for now, OK?"

Susan smiled at Carol, "Whatever you say." The two ladies headed for Carols car.

The ride to Antonio Hectors house was a quiet one. Carol was still trying to wake up and Susan didnt want to intrude on her friends thoughts this morning. She had the visit with Antonio on her mind anyway.

Carol pulled up the driveway and put the car in park. The ladies got out and went to the door. The same woman in the gray suit greeted them in the same cool, businesslike manner and showed them to the same study they had been the last time they visited. It wasnt long before Antonio, coming in from playing tennis, welcomed them. He took them on a tour of his home and allowed Carol to take more pictures. Susan had given him the ones Carol had taken on their first visit. He was very impressed and asked her if he could have copies. Carol told him to keep the ones Susan had given him and told him about the girls at the Y and how they had been the ones who developed them.

"That is a great thing you are doing in the Barrio. I always try to find ways to help kids get a better start in their lives. If there is anything I can do to help your work there, let me know."

"Sure," answered Carol. "The YWCA is always looking for sponsors for their programs. Some of these girls show real promise as photographers."

"They did a fantastic job developing these pictures," said Antonio.

After the tour of the house, Antonio took them back out pool side. Susan handed him the story she had written and he took some time to read it. Drinks had been served and the ladies sat in silence looking around at the gardens and the pool while Antonio read.

"This is a great piece of writing, Susan. I would be honored if it were published in your paper."

Susan blushed a little. "Gracias, Antonio. I hoped you would be pleased with it. Now if you would just pick out which pictures you would like to go with the story."

They spent a few minutes going over the pictures. Carol made notes as to which pictures Antonio and Susan picked. When Antonio picked up the black and white photo that had reminded Carol of her dream, he got a very serious look on his face, as if to mirror the expression in the picture.

"What is it?" Susan asked, seeing his expression.

"Nothing really," answered Antonio. "Its just that this picture of me reminds me of another picture I have. Not of me, though, its one of my dads photographs that my grandmother gave me after his death."

"Forgive me if I am being a bit forward, but may I see it?" Carol ventured. Susan shot daggers with her eyes at her friend, but Carol didnt care. The dreams were finally starting to get to her.

"Sure, I dont mind," Antonio said. "Let me get it. I will only be a minute."

When Antonio left to retrieve the picture, Susan said to Carol, "What are you trying to do, nix this for me?"

"Look, I know you said he doesnt like to talk about his dad, but he brought it up and I didnt think it would hurt anything to ask."

Susan looked in the direction of the door. "Maybe not, but please be careful what you ask him, por favor." She suddenly dropped her voice. "Shhhh, hes coming back."

Antonio sat back down and handed a large pewter frame to Carol. In it was a black and white photo of Alejandro Hezaro. He was probably about 22 when the photo was taken. Even though it was in black and white, Carol remembered the coffee color of his smooth skin, close to the color of his sons. His mustache was very distinguished, framing his upper lip with distinction. His hair was longer than the current styles dictated, but was very much in fashion back then. The photo was probably a publicity shot. What Carol noticed right away was the similarities between father and son. Both had the same large, piercing, soulful eyes. Alejandros right eye drooped slightly, though, giving him a come hither look. Both had long eyelashes as well. Carol put the two pictures and placed them side by side. Antonio was definitely his fathers son.

"Spooky, isnt it?" Antonio said, breaking the silence.

"Yes," Carol whispered.

"Are you OK?" Antonio asked.

Susan figured it was time to try to get control of the situation. "She is OK. It is funny you should use the word spooky, though."

Antonio looked puzzled. "Why."

Susan and Carol looked at each other, trying to wordlessly communicate with each other as to how to proceed.

Carol seemed to think that Susan would be the best person to handle what to say, so she gave her a little nod, as if to tell her, "Go ahead."

Susan cleared her throat. "I know that you dont like to talk about your father that much, but we have stumbled on a mystery of sorts and it involves your dad."

"My dad has been dead for 20 years. How could anything involve him anymore." Carol could detect a mixture of bitterness and sadness in Antonios voice.

"If you would rather not talk about this, we wont," Susan said on the defensive.

Antonio looked at the two pictures sitting in front of Carol and lovingly picked up the picture of his father. Giving a little sigh, he said, "I dont remember too much about my dad, except that he loved me. I dont talk about him much because I guess I am still a bit angry at him for the way he checked out on me. It never made sense to me really, why he loved me so much and yet he abandoned me. My mom always told me it was because he was a drug addict, but I dont remember that part of him." Looking up at the ladies with a few tears glistening in his eyes he added in a very puzzled tone, "What mystery is my dad involved with, and how are you ladies connected with it?"

Susan continued, "My friend Carol bought your dads old house."

"Verdad?" Antonio exclaimed.

Carol took over the narrative. "Yes. I didnt know it belonged to your father till just the other day. I have been living there for almost two months. The thing is, I think you father is coming to me in dreams asking me to help him. I dont know how or why, but he is very insistent and persistent. He has come to me every night for the past few weeks. Believe me, I am losing sleep and would like to get to the bottom of this." Carol hung her head. "I suppose you think I am some kind of kook."

Antonio looked at her. He lifted her chin and gazed into her eyes. "Actually, I believe you."

It was now Carols turn to be puzzled. Antonio continued. "You see, I have been having dreams about him too. Dreams about how he would take me places and have a good time with me. I had forgotten how much fun my dad and I had before...." He paused and then continued. "I was bitter for a long time and now, all of a sudden, it is like he wants me to remember the good stuff. I just wish I could understand why he did what he did. Mom always insisted it was the drugs and my step-dad told her to shut up and then would tell me my dad was a loser and to forget him. He was his manager and was there the night my dad shot himself. I dont think he ever got over it. He finally drank himself to death. I wasnt sorry, really. I never liked Chris. I asked my mom once why she married him after dads death and she said it was because he loved her and helped her get through a difficult time. I never understood this much either, since all they seemed to do was drink and fight. Mom did take Chriss death pretty hard. She told me right before she died that she wanted me to know that she loved my dad and that he was a good man. She was sorry if she had led me to believe he was a loser. That was a year ago and after that I started having all of these dreams." Antonio lowered his head. "I dont know why I just told you both all of that. You both seem to be understanding when it comes to my dad. I would appreciate it if you could keep that to yourselves. I think my parents had enough pain in their lives without all of that becoming public."

Carol now took Antonios hand and said. "We would never do that to you or the memory of your dad. I want to let you know I had some pretty strong feelings for your dad back when he was alive and I wouldnt want to tarnish him memory any more than it already is." Then Carol had an insight and her face brightened. Susan knew this look and became worried.

"What is it, hermana? I know that look and it usually means trouble."

Carol smirked at her friend. "I just had a thought, is all. I am wondering if your father hasnt somehow maneuvered this meeting and engineered the dreams in order to set something right about his memory. His death is still a mystery, you know."

Antonio dabbed his eyes with a napkin. "You really think so? I always was led to believe it was a clear cut case of suicide brought about by drug use."

"Well so did I until I started.." Carol looked at her friend... "I mean, we started looking into your fathers death. I think there might be more to it than a simple suicide."

Susan added, "Antonio, it would be wise to listen to what she has to say. She has a sixth sense when it comes to rooting out the truth about mysterious deaths. That is her real job at the paper and she is very good at it. She has helped the police solve some of the most baffling cases on record."

"Well it sounds like you are just the lady I need to get to the bottom of this, then," said Antonio. "What would you like me to do?"

Carol got all businesslike. "Well it would help me to have you write down any impressions you remember from the time you lived with your dad. And the contents of the dreams would be helpful as well."

Susan got a brainstorm. "Carol, why doesnt Antonio come over to your house. He might be inclined to remember some things, being in his old house after all these years."

Carol thought hard. "That is not a bad idea. Sorta like returning to the scene of the crime. And it did actually take place there, I understand, but you werent there that night, correct?"

"Verdad. My mom and I were visiting my Nona. I wouldnt want to intrude on your home."

"It wouldnt be an intrusion. But maybe there are too many bad memories there."

Antonio shook his head. "Actually all I have are good memories of my dad, it is just this feeling of not understanding that is negative. If remembering can help me to understand, maybe I can get past the negative and finally put the past to rest and move on. I am kind of getting the impression that is what dad wants for me too."

"Well then, anytime you want to come over, let me know. We still have a lot more research to do in the meantime," said Carol.

Susan stood up. "And we have this story to get to print, too. Thank you for taking us into your confidence about your dad. I promise.... I mean WE promise that this is just between the three of us for the time being. If we find out anything that would be worth publicizing, it will only be after all three of us have agreed to it, OK?"

Antonio and Carol also rose to their feet. "That sounds very reasonable. I know it is hard being you are both reporters and this is news. I respect you both so much more now that you have agreed to keep a lid on this."

"Well I cant speak for my profession, but I know when it is better to tell and when it is better to keep quiet!" Carol gave Antonio one of her most charming smiles.

"You almost look like my dad when you smile like that. He had a very disarming smile, you know. My mom once told me that is how he hooked her!"

Susan and Carol both smiled and Carol blushed a bit. "Give me a call when you are free to come to my house," said Carol as she handed Antonio one of her business cards.

Antonio thanked her and escorted the ladies to Carols car. "Muchas gracias, again, for all of your understanding." He held the door for Susan.

"Mums the word, we promise," said Susan as she lowered herself into the car seat.

The ladies drove off, heading back to the paper. Susan couldnt contain her excitement about what had just transpired, but Carol was strangely silent. Finally after a few minutes of "Can you believe this" from Susan, she paused and looked at her friend. A small tear was running down Carols right cheek. "Are you OK?"

Carol slowly pulled the car over to the side of the street and put it in park. "No, actually. Would you mind driving me home. You can take my car into work."

"What is it?"

"Nothing, it is just that I want to be alone for a while. This is affecting me more than I thought it would. Hearing Antonio talk about his dad brought back a few memories of my own. I guess I never really got over Alejandro. He was a very charming, handsome man."

"Hey, I understand." Susan and Carol got out of the car and Susan took over as driver. She drove Carol home and then went back to the paper to finish the story on Antonio.

Carol let herself in and went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. She took her tea into the living room and took out the packet of research she had gotten form the papers morgue. It had just arrived on her desk that morning and she had grabbed it on her way out to see Antonio. Carol really hated to deceive Susan like that, but she really did want time alone with these first. Pulling that crying act was not her style and it wasn't entirely an act, but she was glad it worked. Carol knew Susan needed to get back to work and Carol wanted privacy and time to go through these. Susan would have insisted on helping her with this task, but Carol couldnt wait. She knew Susan would be mad at her for tricking her, but she would deal with that later. Some of the things Antonio told her had piqued her reporters curiosity. Carol spent the rest of the day pouring over the accounts of Alejandro Hezaros public life, trying to get clues to his mysterious death. In Carols mind, it was no longer a clear cut case of suicide.

By 7:30 Carol started to get hungry. She was on her way to the kitchen to fix herself something to eat when she heard a car pull up in the driveway. She looked out the curtain that draped over the small window of the front door. Susan was getting out of the car and it looked like she had packages from the local Chinese take-out. She was grateful for the food, but knew she needed to fess up with her friend.

As Susan approached the door, Carol opened it and took some of the packages out of her overloaded hands. "Well, what did you discover, hermana?" asked Susan.

Carol hung her head. "I should have known I couldnt deceive you."

"I dont know why you even bothered to try, but I knew what you were up to. I guess all my gushing on about how it was great that Antonio wanted to help us made you realize I would not be of any help this afternoon." Carol went to apologize for tricking her friend, but Susan raised her hand to stop her. "No, I had work to do and you were right in thinking I would have ditched it or made you wait till I got it done to help you. I should be the one to apologize for causing you to think you needed to trick me. Peace?"

Carol put the bags on the dining room table and turned and hugged her friend. "Peace! I guess this is why we stay friends all these years. We understand each other too well, mi amiga. Maybe that is the scariest mystery of all!"

The two ladies laughed and sat down to eat. "So what DID you find? I can forgive the deception, but not keeping me in suspense any longer."

"Well," started Carol, finishing a bite of egg roll. "I have looked at all of the articles the paper provided at least once and some of them I was on a second go around." Carol wiped her mouth with a napkin and took a sip of her Coke and continued. "Alejandro was about to sign a contract with Warner Bros. television for a syndicated variety show to the tune of $2 mil! And his appearances in Vegas were netting him a handsome sum as well. If he took his life because of money, that doesnt jive."

"Well if he was a junkie, he would go through that like water."

Carol paused. "According to his accountants quoted in the paper, his accounts were very stable. I will want to see if I can find any financial records of Alejandros accounts. After this much time, it might be difficult."

"Do you know what accounting firm handled his accounts?"

Carol flipped through the stack of papers strewn across the table. She picked up one and read, "Smithson and Porters is what is quoted here. I wonder if they are still in business?"

Susan got up and walked into the kitchen where Carol kept her phone book. She returned with it opened to the yellow pages. "We will see. Hummm....." She flipped a few more pages as she sat back down again. Finally she exclaimed, "Got it.... Smithson, Porters and Magee, CPAs. Specializing in celebrity accounts since 1924. This firm must be as old as the industry."

"Almost. And it sounds like they took on another partner since 1980.

"Yes.... Hum.... you think we should call them?"

Carol looked at the clock on the antique hutch. "Maybe in the morning, huh?" She let out a little laugh.

Susan laughed with her. " I have gotten so caught up in this, I forgot what time it was." Putting the phone book down and circling the ad with a red pen, she continued, "So we suspect money wasnt a motive for suicide, then what else?"

Carol took a bite of sweet and sour chicken and swallowed. "I am beginning to believe it wasnt suicide, but since that is the coroners verdict, lets continue with that assumption. Money wasnt it, I dont think, but I will still check on that. He was being sued by an old agent for breach of contract, but that happens quite often in this town. Young stars get to signing contracts without the advice of legal council and then want to back out. I think that is all that was happening here, but we can check on that as well. I am sure those legal fees were piling up. Lawyers can be such vultures when big money is involved."

"You have the name of the lawyer?" asked Susan and she wiped her fingers and took up the phone book once again.

"Burke, Mc Donough and Sneed," Carol read form one of the papers. Susan circled it in the book and put it down. "Anything else?"

"Well the most puzzling thing was the drugs. I dont find much said about it till after his death. It says here that he was under the care of a psychiatrist." squinting her eyes and reading, "a Doctor Riley... something about dealing with the pressure of his career." Carol put the paper down and rubbed her eyes. "I guess I have been at this too long. My eyes are starting to give out."

"Well stars see shrinks all the time. I guess it is a lot of pressure being famous. Did it say anything about the doctor prescribing drugs?"

Carol leaned back and closed her eyes. "Yes I do remember that. The one article published right after his death said that Dr. Riley had been prescribing Valium and Methaqualone for a few years."

"Ludes?" Susan exclaimed, "Arent they illegal?"

"Now they are, but back then they were the drug of choice among the trendy psychiatrists. What I dont understand is why both? They are essentially the same kind of drug. They are both pretty powerful and can be abused very easily. Maybe the coroner was right, he took too many and got paranoid and just shot himself." Carol hung her head and cried a real tear this time.

"You really do care, dont you," Susan said gently when she saw her friend upset for real this time.

"I know it is stupid, especially after 20 years, but it was such a waste. He was such a talented, bright young man with a wonderful career ahead of him and everything to live for. If he had been abusing his prescriptions, why didnt any one see it and help him?"

"I dont know," answered Susan. The two ladies got quiet. After about ten minutes of eating in silence, Carol got up and started clearing away the empty cartons. "I think I have had all of this case I can handle for one day. Its late and we do have work tomorrow. I really need to get back to tracking down the leads that Lydia gave me on the Harris case. Can I give you a ride home?"

"I brought stuff to spend the night, if that is OK with you?" Susan said.

"Sure, you are always welcome to stay. In fact, maybe it is a good thing that you do. After all of this reading, I am afraid of what my dream might be like tonight. I could use a friend if it is a bad one.

"I figured as much. Besides I also figured we would be up late and I didnt want you to have to drive me home afterwards."

The ladies cleaned up the dinner things and got themselves ready for bed. As Carol laid her head on her pillow, she thought about Susan in the next room and said a prayer for her friend, thanking God that he had given her someone who was so understanding of her quirky nature. She was soon asleep.

Chapter 7

The dream came as always, but this time there was an urgency to it that Carol noticed right away. When Alejandro pleaded with Carol he kept calling over and over...manzana, manzana. As always she woke up with a start and in a cold sweat. But this time, standing by her bedside, was Susan staring down at her.

"Hermana, wake up."

Carol opened her eyes. "Im awake. What are you doing here?"

Susan sat on the side of the bed. "You were calling out in your sleep."

"What did I say?"

Something that sounded like manzana. But why would you be asking for apples for in the middle of the night? Are you hungry?"

Carol made a face at Susan, wrinkling up her nose. "No, but it is funny you should say that I was calling out that word in my sleep. Alejandro was calling that word out to me in my dream."


"No, in Spanish...manzana. He never did that before tonight. And there was a real urgency in his he wanted me to find an apple or something. I dont understand." She laid back down and stared at the ceiling. "Why is he troubling MY dreams?"

"Well I might have an answer there. You said it yourself earlier today. Maybe Alejandro is engineering this. He knows you bought his house. He might know you had a thing for him and now he knows you have met his son."

"Maybe." Carol yawned. "I was thinking before I went to sleep that we might have to enlist Antonios help with the lawyers and the accountants. Legally he would have a right to the information concerning his fathers estate, but we wouldnt."

"You have a point there," answered Susan. She mimicked Carols yawn. "I think the two of us should get some more sleep. We have a lot to do tomorrow."

"Well I have decided I need to talk to Lydias brother, the PI, first thing tomorrow. Maybe you should call Antonio and ask him about helping us with the lawyer and accountant. If you think about it, ask him if manzana means anything to him."

"OK, I will if you promise to let it go and get back to sleep."

Carol smiled and hugged her friend. "I will, I promise. Good night, hermana."

"Good night yourself!" Susan shuffled back to her room and Carol laid back down and tried to go back to sleep. After about 15 minutes, she was successful.

The next day the ladies discussed each of their assignments while getting ready for work. Carol would call Lydia and get her brothers phone number. She wanted to reassure Lydia that she hadnt forgotten the Harris case. Carol was hoping to set up a meeting with Lydias brother that day if possible. Carol liked to follow up leads as soon as she could. She would call David later and let him know what she found out, if anything.

Susan was going to call Antonio and ask him for his help. She would get back to Carol with his answer.

Michael Harris business was still running, in spite of the death of its founder. Lydia answered her phone after the receptionist patched her through.

"Hi, Ms. Miller. Do you have any new information?"

Carol cringed. She hated being called by her last name. It always sounded so formal. She was never one to stand on formality with anyone. "Please, call me Carol. I wish I had some more info, but I am working on two cases right now. The reason why I called is, I would like to talk to your brother about the information he dug up on Mrs. Harris. Are you able to give out his phone number?"

"Sure. His cell phone is 555-3453. He is never in the office or at home it seems like, so this is the best number to try and reach him. He could set up a place to meet. I will try to call him too, and let him know it is ok to talk with you. He is a bit hesitant about talking with just anyone about his cases. Confidentiality and all of that."

"I understand. Thanks for doing that. How are you holding up?"

Carol could hear an audible sigh on the other end of the phone. "Thanks for asking, Carol. Im doing OK, I guess. Mrs. Harris has taken over, although she is hardly here. I still have my job, but I dont know for how long. She doesnt like me and is not hiding that fact. I think it is only because I know so much about the business and have so much seniority around here that I am still on the job. The other partners in the firm need me to help them. There are only two other partners, but so far they have out numbered her about my staying on."

"Well, hang in there. Ill give you time to call your brother and then Ill give him a call myself. Talk to you later."

"Bye." Carol heard the click of the receiver on the other end and slowly replace hers. Susan came over and said, "Well, any luck on your end?"

"She is calling her brother to let him know it is ok to talk to me. I want to give her a few minutes before I call him."

Susan nodded. "Good! That will give me just enough time to tell you my news. Antonio said he would help us. He said he could talk to the lawyers and the accountants for us, but he wanted to know if we wanted to send him the questions he needs to ask them or whether we wanted to go with him."

"I would love to be there in case I think of anything on the spur of the moment. Ask him to see if the lawyer and accountant would agree to that."

Susan turned to leave and then turned around suddenly to face Carol. "I just remembered, I did ask him about the term manzana. You are not going to believe this."

"What?" Carol was not in the mood for twenty questions.

"It turns out that this was Alejandro pet name for Antonio. I asked him why his dad would call him manzana and he said it was short for la manzana de mi ojo."

"The apple of my eye, hum, an interesting pet name. I guess he really did love Antonio. I wonder why Alejandro was calling it out to me?"

"I didnt tell him why I asked him about the name, but he was curious. I told him you would tell him when you talked to him again. He wants to come over after he visits the lawyers and the accounts. Let me call him back to let him know to ask them about you and I coming along with him."

"OK," Carol called to her friend as she rushed away. She picked up the receiver on her own phone and dialed the cell phone number Lydia had given her. After a couple of rings, a man with a deep voice answered. "Matheson Detective Agency, Jim speaking."

"Jim Matheson, this is Carol Miller. Did your sister Lydia call and tell you about me?"

"Yes, she told me to help you out with any information I gathered on Mrs. Harris. When and where do you want to meet. I am free all day. Just finished a case about an hour ago."

"Why dont you pick me up at the Dispatch office and well just take a ride around if you dont mind."

"Sounds good. Ill be by in about 10 minutes, OK."

"Great. Ill be waiting in the lobby. What kind of car do you drive?"

"88 Olds Cutlass. Puke green. Cant miss it."

"OK, see you in ten, then!" Carol hung up the phone and waved to Susan who was still on the phone. "I gotta run. Im meeting Jim Matheson downstairs in ten minutes." She started grabbing her notebook and her purse, checking inside of it for her palm recorder.

Susan waved back and mouthed. "Good luck. Antonio says it is ok to go with him."

Carol gave her the thumbs up and raced out of the office and into the elevator for the ground floor.

Out on the street, parked in the loading zone of the Dispatch parking lot, Carol spotted Jims Olds. He got out and opened the passenger door for her. When she was seated, he slammed the door and got back behind the wheel.

"You werent kidding about the car," said Carol, trying to break the ice.

Jim smiled. "What she lacks in style, she more than make up for under the hood where it counts. This baby has gotten me out of some narrow escapes!"

"Mmmm, I have to remember that the next time I am in the market for a car."

Pulling out of the parking lot, Jim asked, "Where to?"

"Anywhere, I guess. Maybe just drive around. Less likelihood of being overheard."

" Youre a smart cookie. I like the way you think. You would make a great PI. I could use a partner."

Carol chuckled at Jims obvious attempt at flirting. "The offer is tempting, but Ill pass. I need to know all you found out about Mrs. Harris for your sister."

Jims demeanor changed to all business. "That dame was doing it on the side with her driver. I have pictures to prove it. I dont know what her game was, but her accusing my sister of having an affair with her husband was absurd, considering how those two were carrying on. I kept following her and the boyfriend around after the husband was eighty-sixed. He took her to a little clinic on the outskirts of east LA. My guess is that her pregnancy is no more. What she plans on telling the family, I havent a clue, but it is all kind of suspicious if you ask me. Do you want me to keep following them?"

Carol was writing furiously, but pause when Jim asked her this question. "Do you mind?"

"Nope, I would consider it an honor to work for you, beautiful!" He grinned at her.

"Thanks for the complement, but I think we had better keep this professional, if you dont mind. Your poor sister has been through a rough time and she needs her brother to help her right now."

Jim stopped at a red light. He threw his hands up in a surrender stance. "Hey, I didnt mean to offend. My sister means the world to me and I want to help her. I am very professional, Ms. Miller."

"Hey, Im sorry," said Carol in a less formal tone. "I know you love your sister and you have done a fantastic job with this. Lets be friendly, for her sake, OK? And its Carol."

Jim smiled again as he put his foot back on the accelerator. "OK, Carol. I am sorry I came on to you. I havent met too many dames in this profession who had brains and looks is all."

"Ill take that as a complement."

"Well it was meant as one."

Carol smiled. She had not had this much attention in a long time and was beginning to like it. "You wouldnt happen to have copies of the pictures you took, would you?"

"Sure, doll, on the back seat in the file box. The file folder has Harris on it." Jim kept his eyes on the road as Carol rummaged through the file on the back seat.

"Do you always keep your office in the back seat of your car?" Carol chided him good humoredly.

"Only during office hours. I put them back in the safe at night. I am rarely in the office during the day. Im not rich enough to afford a secretary I can keep calling when I need to know something."

"I see.... Got it!" Carol righted herself in the front seat once again. She perused through the file as Jim kept driving around the city. Finally he found a parking space in a nearby park and shut off the engine.

"I hope you dont mind I take a rest a bit. The old gals temperature is off right now. I need to take her in the shop to get the radiator flushed, but I havent had the time."

Carol looked around in half interest, being absorbed in her reading when he parked. "Sure thats OK. Boy this stuff is dynamite. Youre good!"

"Thanks," answered Jim in a modest tone, the first time he had used that all day. "You think you can use any of this stuff to nail the bitch?" Jim drew in a breath as Carol looked up suddenly at him. "Oh, sorry about my language. I just hate what she is doing to Lydia, thats all."

"Hey, I know and dont apologize to me. You should hear the language that is thrown around the news paper office!"

They both had a good laugh about that. Carol closed the file and asked, "You mind if I make a copy of this and give it right back to you when we get back to my office?"

"Sure, go ahead. If you think you can use it, its yours."

Jim cranked the car up again and put it back into drive. Maneuvering out of the space, he turned into traffic and headed back to the Dispatch. Carol told him to park in Susans spot, since Carol had driven both the ladies to work that day. She then invited him in so she could make copies. She treated Jim to a coke from the machine on her way through to the copy room. Susan rushed in as Carol was running the copies.

"Hey, how was it?"

Carol pointed to Jim. "Susan, Id like you to meet Lydias brother, Jim Matheson. Jim this is my best friend, Susan. She is helping me on this case, by the way, so you can say anything in front of her."

Susan and Jim shook hands and exchanged "HIs" and "nice to meet yous".

"My sister told me about you too, Susan. I hope you both can figure this mess out."

Susan smiled reassuringly. "If anyone can get to the bottom of this, its mi hermana."

Carol handed each piece to Susan as she finished copying it so Susan could look at it before putting it back in the file for Jim. When they were finished, Carol thanked Jim again and the ladies escorted him to the lobby.

"It is a pleasure to meet you both. Good luck and I will make copies of anything I get and send them to you here."

Carol thought a moment. "Better have them sent registered letter to my home address." She gave Jim her business card. "I dont want to risk anything getting into the wrong hands."

Jim held on to Carols hand as he took the card from her. "I still wish you would consider working with me. We would make a great team. I like the way you think!"

Carol smiled and said. "Tempting offer, Jim, but I think I will stick to the paper. Ill talk to you soon."

Jim released her hand and walked toward the glass doors. He turned and waved good bye to the ladies. Carol and Susan walked back toward the elevators and headed back upstairs to the newsroom.

"Looks like you have someone else sweet on you, hermana!" Susan chided Carol. "This is the second one this week."

"Jim?" Carol looked at her friend incredulously. "Hes just being charming, thats all."

"I dont know...."

Carol decided to change the topic. "Well, when are we meeting with the lawyer and the accountant with Antonio?"

Susan let the teasing drop. "He has an appointment with both of them tomorrow. I guess he is a big enough star that he was able to get them right away. I took the liberty of inviting him over to your house for dinner afterwards. He said that would be great."

"I dont mind, but what will his fiancee think of all his running around with two women?"

Susan anticipated her. "I asked him about that and he said she is out of town right now on a movie location. He called and told her he was hanging out with us on a story for the newspaper. A plausible lie, I thought."

"Well I guess if it is OK with him, I have no problem. Are you expecting me to cook, though?"

"Well I figured we would split that duty. He told me to keep it simple. He is not really a big eater. He is into health food too, so wed better go shopping this afternoon to the health food market around the corner from me."

"Sounds good." Carol took the copies of the Harris file she obtained from Jim and put it in her briefcase. "I need to follow up on a few leads this afternoon. What time you want to leave today?"

"Well I have to go with Kevin to the opening of the dog show this afternoon." Kevin was one of the regular staff photographers. "I should be back here around six."

Carol looked at her watch. "Well Im going to order lunch and then Ill be out and about checking up on a few things. I can be back by six, no problem. Have a fun afternoon."

Susan smirked and then laughed. "I doubt it. These things are such a bore and Kevin is not much better. Have fun sleuthing."

"Hey, you know I will."

Susan gathered up her things and left to find Kevin. Carol sat at her desk and ordered take out from the deli and then made a few phone calls. When the deli guy arrived, Carol gulped down her salad and Coke and gathered up her things to check on some leads the phone calls had yielded.

At six oclock, Carol met Susan in the parking lot next to her Mazda. The ladies headed toward Susans apartment. They stopped at the health food market first and got some things to make for dinner the next night. Carol dropped Susan off and then went home. She made herself a light supper and settled in front of the TV for a few hours to get her mind off of the cases she was working on. When she went to bed that night, she tried to put them out of her mind in hopes to be able not to dream, but the dream came as usual. Carol was getting so used to it by now, she was able to go back to sleep fairly quickly after it was over.

Chapter 8

The next day, Carol was picked up by Antonio at 8:30 in his chauffeured limo. As the chauffeur held the door open for her, Antonio and Susan helped her in. "This is nice," remarked Carol.

"Well I thought it would be nice to be chauffeured around for a change." Antonio smiled. "Besides, you are both cooking for me later, so I felt I should repay that some way."

"Its nothing," said Carol and Susan nodded in agreement. "We are just grateful you are willing to help us with this. Cooking dinner is the least we can do to thank you."

"Well I am getting to the point that I would like to see this have some resolution. You ladies seem to know what you are doing. I know I can trust you with this. I loved my dad and I would love to see his good name cleared, if that is possible."

The trio rode to the lawyers first. In the limo, Carol brought Antonio up to speed about all she had discovered so far. By the time the limo arrived at the law firm, Antonio had a pretty good idea what to ask the lawyer about.

"This whole thing is incredible," Antonio said as they rode the elevator to the 4th floor where Mr. Burkes office was. He was the lawyer assigned to Alejandro Hezaro.

"I know, but we dont know the half of it, that is why we need to have some of this conjecture confirmed," said Carol. She had told him about the lawsuit and his dads accounts, but felt it best to not speculate about his mothers role in his fathers death. Susan had told her the day before to tread lightly on that topic. After all, she was sure Antonio loved his mother too.

In the law office, the ladies and Antonio were seated in a plush waiting room as the legal assistant let Mr. Burke know his appointment was here. After a few minutes of waiting, they were shown back a corridor lined with cubicles, all filled with people working very hard. Opening a large oak door, they were shown into a corner office that afforded a magnificent view of the city and the Pacific ocean. Mr. Burke, a distinguished looking man in his early 60s shook their hands as Antonio first introduced himself and then the ladies. They all took seats and Antonio began.

"As I told your personal secretary on the phone," Antonio began, "I am interested in any information about my late fathers estate."

"Well, since you are his only living heir now, you are entitled to that information," answered Mr. Burke. "I had Shellie pull his file before you came." He had a large file folder sitting on his desk. "Maybe if you as me your questions, I can look up the answers, if they exist."

Antonio shifted nervously in his chair. Carol could sense that he was very uncomfortable delving into his fathers past like this, so she gave him a reassuring smile.

"Well, for starters, I understand that my father had a pending law suit at the time of his death."

Mr. Burke opened the file and started rummaging through it. "We had two open cases at the time, although the second was very recent and had never been researched at the time of his death."

"TWO?" Antonio practically shouted then quickly composed himself. Carol and Susan practically shouted with him. They had all been aware of the former manager lawsuit, but that was the only one. "Excuse me for my outburst, but I was only aware of one, with a former manager."

"Well that one he had been in litigation with for some time. I kept advising him to pay the man off and be done with it. It was costing him more in legal fees pursuing it than it would have to settle it. I am afraid your father was a man of principal and felt he had justice on his side, but it looked like he would have lost in the end anyway. Even though he was only 19 when he signed that contract, he was still of adult age and he did sign it of his own free will. We tried to argue that he was not represented by council at the time, but that is not necessary in the state of NY or anywhere else for that matter. Your father was a very persistent man, I am afraid, and still wanted to pursue it. It was never settled 100% but between you and me, I was expecting a ruling a week after your fathers death, settling the whole thing in favor of the former manager. I think your father knew this too. I often wonder if that wasnt one of the things that led to what he did."

Antonio shifted again. "You mentioned another legal suit pending at the time of my dads death."

"Yes, actually this was one he did not initiate, your mother brought suit against your father."

All of them moved to the edge of their seats. "This was getting interesting," thought Carol.

"My mother was suing my father," asked Antonio in a incredulous tone. "What for?"

"Divorce," answered the lawyer in a matter of fact tone.

"I never knew she wanted to divorce my dad," said Antonio in disbelief. "She always told me she loved him."

"Well, according to the files, my office received papers from her law firm stating that she was suing him for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty brought on by addictive drug abuse. The suit only came into my possession two weeks before Mr. Hezaros death. I called him to set up a meeting to discuss it with him. He told me that she couldnt be wanting a divorce and that he would talk to her and get back with me. He did act rather surprised. He never did get back to me and the suit was only filed, never researched."

Carol was making all kinds of mental notes to remember for later. She knew it would be unwise to write them down now. This revelation about the divorce was like a bomb shell. She was itching to ask some questions of her own, but held her tongue waiting for Antonio to give her an opportunity. Antonio looked at her with and exasperated expression. She could sense that he read her face and he said, "Mr. Burke, I have two good friends with me today who are interested in helping me with my research. Would it be OK if they were allowed to ask you some questions. I give them full legal rights to the information."

"I think that would be all right, since you are here on a discovery mission. Ladies?"

Carol looked at Susan with a you mind if I go first expression on her face. Susan just nodded and Carol began. "Thank you, Mr. Burke, for your time today. I just have a few questions. Did you know Mr. Hezaro was under treatment by a psychiatrist and that this doctor was prescribing Methaqualone and Valium to Mr. Hezaro?"

"Yes he told me he was seeing a Dr. Riley for depression. I had asked him what he was depressed about, since his career was very successful. He shared with me that the entertainment business can be very lonely at times. Besides, I am sure there is great pressure to perform as well, when so many people are depending on your talent for their livelihood."

Antonio nodded his head in agreement. "I know all about that first hand. It is a rough business and you have to watch your back every minute."

"Do you think he was abusing the drugs prescribed to him?" Carol asked the lawyer.

"I never saw evidence of that, but it is what was stated in the divorce suit. I always wished I had the opportunity to look into that. I always felt in my heart the one very regretful thing about his death was the tarnish it put on his reputation." Mr. Burke dropped his professional demeanor momentarily and turned to Antonio. "I was your fathers attorney for 7 years and I think I can honestly say he was a good man and a good friend. He would have been proud of the way his son turned out."

Antonio blushed and Carol shifted nervously in her seat. She knew the next question was a delicate one. "Mr. Burke, did Mr. Hezaro leave a will?"

"Yes, Antonio got the bulk of his estate in trust and the trust was turned over to him on his 21st birthday."

"Was this his only will and were others provided for in the terms of the most valid will," Carol continued.

"Actually this was Alejandros second will. The first was drawn up when he was married and left most of the estate to his wife with a smaller legacy left to his parents. His parents died and a week before his death he came into me and handed me a holographic will. He said he wanted me to make it more formal, but he did ask me if it would be legal if something would happen to him before my office had the chance to make it into a more formal document. I told him yes, if I got witnesses to sign it right then. He insisted that I do that and I had the paralegals working for me witness his signing and they countersigned."

"What was different about this second will?" Carol was very curious now. She sensed that Susan and Antonio shared her curiosity.

Mr. Burke took out a hand written document from the file. "Well in the first one, like I said, Mrs. Hezaro got most of the estate. In the new will, the holographic one, Antonio got all of the estate. He named me as executor as well. He originally had his current manager, Chris Lester listed as executor. I asked him why the changes, and all he said was his parents were dead and he had a son to look after now. I never got the chance to ask about the provisions for his wife or about the divorce suit." Mr. Burke put the papers down and put his fingers to his eyes. "I can remember that day as if it were yesterday. After he signed the will, he looked at his watch and said he had another appointment to go to and quickly departed the office. It was the last time I saw him alive. A week later he died and this last copy of his will was in effect. I still get the shivers thinking about how he somehow knew what was going to take place. I still think it was that visit and the will that cinched the verdict as suicide. It was like he planned all of this."

Carol knew her time would be up soon so she pressed on. "Did Mr. Hezaro have any life insurance?"

"Yes, but it was made null when he committed suicide.... there was a no suicide clause. So the insurance company never paid out."

"Who was the beneficiary?"

"I think Mrs. Hezaro and her son. I would have to check with the company for you."

"Thats OK." Carol looked at Antonios growing uneasiness and the clock on the desk and decided to cut the rest of her questions short. "One last question, if I may."

Mr. Burke nodded.

"To the best of your knowledge, did Mrs. Hezaro know about the contents of either will?"

"I know she knew of the first will, because they were both here making out wills that day. I dont think she knew about the second, in fact I am pretty sure she didnt. She acted very surprised when she was here for the reading of the second will. She and Mr. Lester were in a whispering fight over it. He sounded like he wanted to contest it, but she talked him out of it. I did get an inquiry from her law firm a few months later asking about the validity of the will, but I guess I sent them enough information to satisfy any challenge they might have been mounting to contest it, because they never did."

Antonio looked at Susan to see if she had any questions for the lawyer. Susan shook her head and Antonio stood up.

"Thank you for all of your time today, Mr. Burke." Antonio extended his hand to the lawyer.

The rest stood up on cue. "It was my pleasure. If you have any further questions, please dont hesitate to call the office. Alejandro Hezaro was more than my client. He was a good man."

Antonio, Carol and Susan exited the law office and walked to the limo in silence. There were too many people around to discuss what they had learned. Once in the limo, the floodgate of conversation burst.

"I am so sorry, Antonio. I feel so bad about learning about the divorce. That must have been painful," said Carol in a penitent tone.

"No, you didnt know. Look I knew that delving into my fathers past might bring up a whole lot of pain. I need to know what really happened that night in my dads bedroom. Now more than ever, in fact. Some things just dont add up." Antonio put his hand on Carols shoulder in a reassuring gesture. "You are a good reporter. You know all the right questions to ask. I am glad you were with me today." He turned to Susan. "I hope I read your face right when it looked like you didnt have any questions to ask."

Susan smiled. "This is Carols racket, and she is good at it. I am just here for the support, really. I know when to let her do her thing."

"OK, but if you ever want to ask anything, just let me know."

Carol giggled. "Oh, mi hermana is not shy about asking questions when she wants to know something, believe me." Turning to Susan she added, "I guess I was a little piggy back there hogging the time. If you do have any questions, shut me up, will you?"

"Sure thing, hermana."

Antonio looked at the ladies in a puzzled way. "Are you two sisters?"

"As close to it as two people can be without sharing blood," answered Susan. Antonio smiled at her.

"Thats nice. I always wished I had a brother or a sister growing up. I was destined to be an only, Im afraid. Just like my dad, in fact."

"He had some half brothers and sisters, didnt he?" asked Carol.

"Yes, one of each. His dad had been a widower when he met my abuela."

"I see. I grew up with a lot of brothers and sisters, but Susan was an only too. She had plenty of cousins, though."

"Yes my house was always full of kids to play with, so I never missed not having a brother or sister," said Susan. "Besides, Carol has been like a sister to me for a long time, since we were kids."

"Yes, well all of this small talk is nice, but I need to get this information down before I forget it." Carol took out her pad and wrote notes while the limo threaded its way downtown.

"Would you ladies like some lunch before we go to the accountants? Its on me."

Susan said, "Wed love to, right Carol?"

Carol didnt look up from her pad. "Mmm, sure that would be great."

Antonio instructed the driver to stop at a small restaurant on the west side of Hollywood. The atmosphere was cozy and there was a large selection of health foods on the menu. Carol and Susan both ordered salads and Antonio had a sandwich platter. They talked some more about their findings of the morning over the lunch. In the middle of the conversation, Carols cell phone rang.

"Hello," Carol answered. "Carol Miller here." It was David Jensen on the other line.

"Hello, beautiful. I hadnt heard from you in a few days and I wondered what has been up with you. You are a hard lady to reach. I tried at home and at work. They were good enough to give me your cell phone number, by the way. I hope you dont mind. I was pretty insistent."

"Oh my, no not at all. I have not gotten to putting it on my cards. They know to give it out at work. I only got the darn thing about six months ago. I am behind the times technology wise."

"Thats ok. Anything new on Mikes case?"

"Yes, quite a bit in fact," Carol looked up at Antonio and Susan speaking in low tones trying to give her a little privacy. "I really dont have the time to go into it right now. Im at lunch with other people."

"Oh, thats ok, I figured I might have caught you at a bad time. How about dinner tonight."

Carol shifted nervously. "I sorta have plans for tonight. I know this sounds like I am avoiding you, but I am not." Then Carol had an idea. "Hey hold on a second."

"Sure, sweetheart."

Carol put her hand over the receiver and turned to Antonio and Susan. "Its David. He wants to have dinner with me to get caught up on the Harris case."

"I figured," Said Susan. "I was just telling Antonio all about that case."

"Yes, I have been reading things about it in the newspapers," added Antonio.

"Well, would you both mind if I invited him over to dinner with us tonight. It would make it a foursome. David is cool, Antonio, and he would not breath a work about your dad if we told him it was confidential. He owns a computer company and they know all about keeping secrets!"

"Its OK with me. Having another guy over might make the evening interesting and Kelli cant accuse me of having a fling with two beautiful women!"

Carol smiled and blushed at Antonios attempt to flirt with them. "OK, let me ask him then." She took her hand away and spoke to David. "I am having a little dinner party tonight at my house. I was wondering if you would come."

"Sure, but I was kinda hoping to talk about Mikes case tonight, no offense."

"We still can. It is only going to be Susan and another guy."

"Oh a double date?"

Carol smiled and blushed. "No, not exactly. The other guy is a friend who happens to be another client of sorts. Susan and I are working on a case for him. He is engaged to be married."

"Oh, anyone I know?"

"You might. His name is Antonio Hector."

David gave an audible intake of air. "The actor? Boy you do run in all the right circles. I might have some stiff competition there!" He laughed a little in Carols ear.

"Yeah, not likely. So can you make it?"

There was a pause and a shuffling of papers in the background. Then David came back on. "Sure, what time?"

Carol thought a moment. "Why dont you just come by after work. We should be home by then."

"Fine. See you then. I have to scoot to another of my endless meetings. That is all I seem to do anymore at work. Bye, sweetheart."

"Bye David." Carol pushed end and put the phone back in her purse. "Thank you so much for letting me invite David tonight to our little dinner."

Antonio waived for the check. "No problen!" he said in a thick Hispanic accent. "Susan told me you two are dating and I wouldnt dare come between amor!" He smiled at her.

"Ooo you know you look just like your dad when you do that." Carol observed.

Antonio smiled again. "So I have been told by a few of Dads friends in the business. This Harris case sounds interesting."

"Yes it is and I am bound and determined to crack it. I dont think Michael Harris committed suicide and I am determined to prove it. David is helping me."

"Hum, sounds a bit familiar." Antonio rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

A knowing look came over Susans face. "You know, I thought there might be something familiar about both of these cases."

Carol added, "Well it is sort of funny, now that you mention it." She looked at her wrist watch. "We need to get going to make our next appointment in time."

The trio exited the restaurant and got back into the limo. The ride to the accountants was short and they soon found themselves in the office of Mr. Porters. He was also a man in his 60s, but not as distinguished looking as Mr. Burke was. Mr. Porters looked like an accountant, with thick glasses and small dark eyes. He was nearly bald, with a few wisps of gray hair at his temples. After Antonio took care of the introductions, Mr. Porters pointed them to their seats.

"It has been a lot of years since anyone has inquired about your fathers accounts, Mr. Hector. Maybe I ask why you are interested in them after all of these years?"

Antonio was a bit more confident this time. "It is only because some things about my father are not making sense to me and I am trying to get information to make things clearer."

"Well our firm has been handling entertainer accounts for many years. I dont think you will find any discrepancies in our handling of your fathers accounts."

Antonio smiled. It dawned on him that Mr. Porters was under the mistaken notion that he came here to accuse them of misdealing. "No, Mr. Porters, I am sure your company did a first rate job with my fathers money. I just wanted to ask you a few questions about his accounts for my own enlightenment. Por favor?"

"I see." Mr. Porters relaxed visibly. "What would you like to know?"

"Well, did you handle all of my dads accounts?"

"Yes I did, for the 7 years he was out here in Hollywood."

"Would you consider that my father was well off?"

Mr. Porters looked thoughtful. "His assets were very solvent at the time of his death. As you know when you turned 21, he left you a sizable estate."

"Yes. I just asked because there had been rumors at the time of his death that he was quickly going into debt."

"Well I am not at liberty to say why, but he was spending quite a bit on litigation. I was able to invest some of his assets in some good annuity plans and this helped off set his financial losses in litigation."

Antonio smiled at Mr. Porters. Carol thought his charm seem to work on both sexes. He was also doing an excellent job with his questions. She spent her energy making mental note of all that was said.

"I know all about his law suits, Mr. Porters," Antonio reassured him. "We had an appointment with Mr. Burke this morning."

"Well if he informed you of that part of Mr. Hezaros business, there is really little I can add."

"One more thing, if I may," Carol spoke up.

"And you are?" Mr. Porters gave her a hard, puzzled look.

"As I told you when I introduced the lovely ladies, they are my friends who are helping me," Antonio enlightened the accountant. "Please answer their questions as if I were asking."

"Ok, Ms. Miller. What would you like to know," said Mr. Porters with a hint of suspicion still lingering in his voice.

"Was Mr. Hezaro in any trouble with the IRS?"

Mr. Porters became indignant. "Absolutely not. Our firm prides itself on staying on top of the federal tax bureau."

"Oh I am sure." Carol didnt let his defensive demeanor sway her inquiries. "Was Mr. Hezaro spending large amounts of money on prescription medications?"

"Mr. Hezaros medical history is protected by law under doctor/patient privilege. You would have to talk to his doctor about that."

"Well we would if we could, but it seems Dr. Riley is consulting with Mr. Hezaro in person these days." Carols attempt at black humor was lost on the accountant.

After a few minutes of puzzlement he said, "Oh I see what you mean. Humm, well Mr. Hezaro was purchasing quite of bit of medication the last few months before his death. Anything else?

"Who handled the estate trust when Mr. Hezaro died?"

"That was handled by Mr. Burkes office. They took on the account after Mr. Hezaros death. I suppose they had their own set of accountants handling it, I really dont know." With that remark Mr. Porters wordlessly made it clear that he was too busy to answer any more questions. Antonio picked up his non verbal cues and stood up. "Thank you for your time, Mr. Porters."

"Yes, well I hope you were able to get the information you were looking for," said Mr. Porters coldly.

"Yes, gracias, senor. Have a pleasant day." The ladies also rose and Antonio led them out to the waiting limo.

"Gee, he was the warm and friendly type," Carol observed sarcastically.

"Accountants usually are," said Antonio. "I always thought they had this idea it was their own money they were managing. My accountant isnt much better, but she is better looking!" He grinned.

Carol and Susan shook their heads and smiled. They were beginning to see how Antonio operated. "Well, where to now ladies?"

"My house, I guess. Nothing else to follow up on now."

Susan looked at her friend. "By the way, what was that comment back there about Dr. Riley?"

Carol smirked. "I guess you didnt get my little joke either. Sorry Antonio, no disrespect for your father, but that Porters guys attitude was getting to me. Dr. Riley is also deceased, Susan. I found that out before you came for dinner the other night."

"Oh, I see now. It isnt a very funny joke."

"It wasnt meant to be. Porters was just being a jerk."

The rest of the ride home was more silent. Carol was hoping that she hadnt insulted Antonio with the remark about Dr. Riley. But as the evening wore on, she was reassured he was ok about it.

At Carols, Antonio made himself at home in her living room, looking through her scrapbooks of her various past cases while the ladies made dinner in the kitchen. After about a half hour, David arrived and Carol introduced him to Antonio. The men talked while the ladies finished their preparations. It sounded to Carol like David and Antonio were becoming fast friends. Laughter would emanate from the living room from time to time.

When dinner was ready the four sat down at Carols dining room table. As they began the meal, Carol turned to David. "So what were you two laughing about in there earlier?"

"Women, my dear, and how inconsistent they can be sometimes," David answered.

"No more inconsistent then guys," remarked Susan.

Antonio tried to change the subject. "David was telling me all about the Harris case and I told him what we have been finding out about my father."

"Oh?" inquired Carol.

"Yes," added David. "You promised to tell me what you found out yesterday."

Carol finished chewing and said. "Humm, well that is very interesting. I spoke with Lydias brother and saw the pictures of Mrs. Harris and the chauffeur in some rather compromising positions. He also mentioned that he has continued to follow her after Michaels death. One of the places they went was a little clinic on the outskirts of East LA. I went there and it turns out that Mrs. Harris had an abortion."

"How did you discover that?" David said, trying not to choke on his food.

"Well, lets just say I have a few friends in the right places. Someone in that office owes me a favor."

Susan shook her head. "One of your network of less than reputable sources, no doubt."

"Hey, they might be kinda shady, but their info is first rate and they are reliable."

"Well that would explain something I learned yesterday," David said.

"What was that?" asked Carol.

David looked at Carol. "I called Lydia yesterday to go over my account and she said that she over heard Mrs. Harris on the phone to her mother telling her she had a miscarriage the other night."

"A likely cover up. I think she did this so the paternity of the baby would not come into question. The chauffeur and Michael were totally different types, if you know what I mean."

Antonio looked at Carol with a puzzled expression. Susan shook her head and enlightened him. "My friend likes to make these little jokes, Im afraid. Remember this afternoon? Jake, the chauffeur, is African American and Mrs. Harris is Caucasian."

"Oh..," said Antonio.

"Yes, sorry. I forgot you didnt know," said Carol apologetically. "What I still dont get is why she was accusing him of an affair with Lydia, trying to cover up the pregnancy and suing him for divorce? Too many inconsistencies there," mused Carol. "She is one complicated lady."

"No, like I said earlier, she is a woman."

Susan put her hand on Davids shoulder. "You had better lay off the macho stuff, Carol isnt impressed."

"Sorry. I was only kidding really. Pat is certainly not like you sweetheart." He kissed Carols hand. "Forgive me for my sweeping generalizations at your expense."

"OK, but no more jokes about women." Carol couldnt help but be enamored by David when he was trying to be gallant. "Lets leave the Harris case alone for a while." She got up and started clearing away the dishes. "Ill serve coffee in the living room. I want to get Antonios impressions of the house."

"Ill help you," said David. "Its the least I can do to make up for my rude remarks."

"OK," said Carol. As they brought the dishes into the kitchen, Susan took Antonio on a tour of the house. In the kitchen, David stole a kiss from Carol after she put a stack of dishes in the sink.

"Mmm, what was that for?" asked Carol after their lips parted.

"Just to tell you I missed you. And not just for the information about Michael."

"I could tell." Carol blushed. "I missed you too, David."

"Does that mean I can ask you out again sometime soon?"

Carol thought a minute. "Im free this weekend."

David grinned, "So am I. How about dinner and the movies. And no talk of murders, OK?"

"Sure." Carol went back to the sink. "Only if we can get it out of our systems tonight. Did Antonio tell you that he used to live here?"

David grabbed a dish towel and began to dry as Carol washed. "Yes he did. Can you imagine that, living in the same house as a movie star?"

Carol shivered. "Yes, well it would be exciting except for what happened here, and in my very own bedroom too."

"Antonio told me you were having dreams about his father and that is how you got mixed up in his case. Ooo, that must be creepy."

"It is and I wish they would stop. Maybe if we can discover what Alejandro wants his son to know, I can start sleeping at night."

"From what Antonio told me about his fathers case, there seems to be a similar pattern with Mikes case," remarked David.

"Maybe, he mentioned that at lunch today. I guess I need to concentrate on one mystery at a time, though," answered Carol. David let it drop.

They finished the dishes and brought the coffee and fruit into the living room. Susan and Antonio were seated on the sofa when Carol and David entered.

"Well, Antonio, what do you think of the house? Does it look much different?" Carol inquired.

"Not too much. I did get a chill up my spine in the master bedroom though," answered Antonio as he accepted a cup of coffee from Carol.

"Thanks, I didnt need to hear that! The dreams are more than enough to haunt me."

Antonio took a sip of coffee. "Sorry. You know something though. Standing in your bedroom I started to remember something from when I was a little boy."

"Yes?" Carol finished serving and sat down next to David on the matching love seat.

"Yes. I remember my father showing me a box in that room. He told me all of his treasures were kept in that box. He showed me a really old ring that had belonged to his father and his mothers wedding band." Antonio paused and closed his eyes, trying to recall the items in the box. "There were some things from his youth in there too. I think I remember a game ball signed by the NY Yankees and some other things. The thing that took up the most room in the box, though, was a book. I remember asking him if it was a story book. My father loved to read to me, especially at bedtime. He said it was, the story of his life and that someday he would let me read it." Antonio sighed and looked sad. "I never got to read it."

"I wonder what ever happened to the box?" asked Susan.

Antonio shrugged his shoulders. "I dont know. I don think my mom knew about it. I asked her once and she looked at me like I was making it up. I guess it got lost when they moved from here. He used to keep it under a loose floor board under the bed in his room. He showed me the place once."

Carols eyes got really big. "Maybe it is still there?"

Antonio looked at her with disbelief. "I would doubt after all these years..."

Carol sprang to her feet. "You never know. You mind if we look?"

Antonio rose and Susan and David followed suit. "Sure, if you want to."

The four mounted the stairs and headed for Carols bedroom. Antonio went over to her bed and he and David pushed it one side. Antonio got down on his hands and knees and felt around the floor. Finally after a few minutes, he located a loose board and shifted it one side. The rest crowded as Antonio reached down in the dusty recesses of the alcove. "Well Ill be damned," he exclaimed as he drew from the hole a large metal box, partially rusted with age. Carol looked longingly at the box.

"Lets take it down stairs and open it in the living room." She hesitated for a minute. "Unless you would like to open it in the privacy of you home. I am sorry my enthusiasm intruded on your feelings."

Antonio smiled. "I would not do that to you, dear lady. You have as much right to see what is in here as I do. It is in your house, so I guess it makes it yours anyway."

"Maybe, but I would never dream of keeping it. It is yours. But I would love to see what is in it, all the same."

Susan and David nodded their assent to this request.

"Well, to the living room then, mi amigos. We will all see together."

The guys put the bed back after Antonio replaced the board. They rushed down the stairs and Antonio place the box on the coffee table after Carol cleared it off. He carefully examined the lock on the box. Lifting the chain from around his neck he located a small gold key among the medallions hanging on the chain. "My father gave this to me when I turned 5. He said it was the second key to this lock. He wanted me to have it in case..." His voice trailed off as he began to get choked up. He wiped a tear from his eye with the back of his hand and composed himself. "Excuse me, I dont know what came over me."

"Thats ok," said David. "It is quite understandable. You have kept that key all these years, even thought you didnt know what became of the box?"

"Yes, it was one of the few things I had left of my fathers. I wonder if it still works." He carefully placed the little gold key in the lock and turned. The lock mechanism clicked and the lock disengaged. Antonio removed it from the clasp and slowly and lovingly opened the lid. Inside were the things he described earlier. He passed the rings and the baseball around to everyone. Lastly he lifted the book from the bottom of the box. Opening the cover gingerly, the pages rustled with age. "This is my fathers private journal." He read the date on the top of the first page. "He started this when he moved to California." Antonio cautiously flipped to the back page and read the date. "The last entry was the day he died. That means this covers the seven years he was a star."

Carol looked longingly at the journal. What she had to say was one of the hardest things for her to say at that moment. But she knew in her heart it was the right thing to do. "Antonio, as much as I am dying to know what your father wrote, I must insist you keep that for yourself to read. It is personal and I am sure your father would want it that way. If you feel there is any information that is important to our investigations, let me know."

Antonio reached over to Carol and took her hand. Bringing it to his lips, he kissed it and said. "You are a gem of a woman. Muchas gracias, senorita. I will read it and share anything that might be important with you as soon as I am able." He got up and put the journal back in the box along with the other contents. "If you dont mind, it has been a long day and I am tired. I am anxious to read this, but it might have to wait until the morning. My father has waited 20 years to tell me his story, I am sure he will not mind waiting one more night." The others got up and escorted Antonio to the door. He looked at Susan and said, "Are you ready to go? I need my driver to take you home."

"Ill take her home," offered David. "She is on my way. You go home and rest. It sounds like you have had a day of it."

"Thank you, mi amigo. I hope to get to talk to you again. It was nice meeting you this evening. Good luck with your friends case." Antonio leaned in to Davids ear and whispered, "and with that beautiful lady." He winked and nodded. Carol had over heard and blushed. Antonio kissed her hand again and then Susans and said. "Gracias for the cena muy delicioso. Hasta luega y buenas noches."

"Buenas noches," answered the rest. Antonios limo drove off.

David turned to Susan. "Any time you are ready, my dear. I have some early meetings to attend."

"Im ready." Susan kissed her friend on the cheek. "Buenas noches and suena dulce esta noche, verdad?"

"Verdad. I will try."

David reached over and kissed Carol on the lips. "I will see you tomorrow night, sweetheart. Do like Susan says and have a good nights sleep tonight. I am sure Alejandro has accomplished what he set out to do.

"I sure hope so, but I am still feeling a bit unsettled about all of this. I hope Antonio can put some closure on it when he reads the journal."

"I am sure he will. Try not to think about it tonight, OK?" David kissed her again.

"Ok. Buenas noches to both of you."

David and Susan got into his car and drove off. Carol straightened up the living room and turned off the lights as she made her way to bed. That night the eyes smiled and said "Gracias" to Carol. This time she didnt wake up after the dream ended.

Chapter 9

The sun streamed in the room as Carol awoke. Stretching, she slowly made her way to the bathroom. While she was going about her morning ablutions, she realize that for the first time in almost a month she had what most people would consider a normal nights sleep. The two mysteries in her life were still wide open, but she felt more rested than she had been in a long time. With a renewed vision, brought about by adequate rest, Carol vowed to bring closure to both of these mysteries very soon. She felt she was close to discovering the real motive behind Michael Harris death, and as every good detective knows, once you have a motive, the killer appears out of the woodwork. She knew that it would not be long before she would know the truth about Alejandro either. But that had to wait on Antonios reading of his fathers journal and whatever he chose to share with Carol about it. She let out an audible sigh as she dressed for the day. Carol was realistic enough to know that the Hezaro mystery was an old one and probably only of interest to the family. And that seem to only consist of Antonio now that his mother and step father were both deceased. Still, Carol could not help but reminisce about her infatuation with the charming and charismatic Latin actor. "Alejandro sure was a sexy man. And he seemed so nice," she pondered. "I sure hope Antonio finds out that he really wasnt responsible for his own death. I guess I never really believed it myself, even after all these years. I guess all this time I was wishfully thinking he wasnt at fault, but now it seems like my wish might come true."

Carol finished getting ready and headed into the office. At her desk she waded through a mound of messages. Susan wandered over while Carol was sorting them into priorities.

"Youd better answer that one from Jim Matheson first," commented Susan to her friend. "He has called several times this morning. He sounded like it was very urgent that he speak with you."

"OK thanks, Susan," Carol answered in a cheerful voice.

"Wow, what has gotten into you? You seem different this morning?"

Carol smiled, "It is amazing what a good nights sleep will do for a persons outlook."

"No more dreams?" Susan inquired.

"Just a very brief one. Alejandro was just saying gracias to me and then went away."

"Humm, well I guess he is happy now that his son has his journal. You havent heard from Antonio yet, have you?"

Carol shook her head as she looked up Jim Mathesons cell number. "No, but that journal was rather large and spanned 7 years of Alejandros life. I suspect Antonio will be at that a while."

"You are probably right. I guess I am as anxious to find out what Alejandro had to say as you are." Susan gave her friend a hug. "Im glad things are starting to get back to normal for you at least."

"If you can call having two mysteries still hanging open normal, I guess you are right."

Susan laughed, "You love every minute of that. I just meant the dreams."

Carol smiled back. "Yes, I am glad that part is over. I still feel so bad for Alejandro, though. I still cant help thinking if more had been done while he was alive...."

Susan turned to go. "I have more work to do so I will let you get to yours. Talk to you at lunch, OK?"

"Sure, but I suspect it will have to be a quick one. I have a few more leads to follow up on the Harris case and I have no idea where Jims urgent business with me will lead. Talk to you later."

Susan walked back to her desk as Carol picked up the receiver on her phone and dialed the number she had in front of her.

"Mathesons Detective Agency," a deep male voice said on the other end of the line. Carol could hear the roar of traffic in the background.

"Jim? This is Carol. You called? Whats up?"

"You are one tough lady to get a hold of."

"Yeah, well I slept in a little this morning. What do you have for me?"

"Well I have been keeping an eye on Mrs. Harris like you asked and things are getting pretty ugly here. That boyfriend of hers was called in for questioning yesterday by the cops and I think that shook the whole family up. After he got home, the old man came over and there was a big argument. The boyfriend stormed off and went for a drive. I was tempted to follow him, but I figured he would probably just drive around or go to a bar somewhere, so I stayed at the house. I couldnt hear a lot, but I have been getting pretty adept at reading lips, and the way father and daughter were going at it, it wasnt hard to fill in the blanks. I couldnt swear to this in court, but I think Mr. McDonnell was trying to convince Mrs. Harris that she should turn in the boyfriend and cut him loose. Im beginning to wonder who really eighty-sixed Mr. Harris. Did the boyfriend do it or are they making him the fall guy? If he did do it, I am sure that she was mixed up in it, but I am also sure daddy will get her off!"

"Well this is a beginning," said Carol after Jim was finished his narrative. I have the abortion lead to follow up. You keep watching the Harris house. I might have a friend who can watch the McDonnell residence too. Hopefully we will have enough to go to the police with in the next couple of days."

"I sure hope so. My sister is keeping her ears open at the office, but it is becoming more and more difficult for her to work there. I think that she might quit once this is all over."

"Maybe it would be good for her to move on after this is all over. She is a nice lady."

Carol could almost picture Jims big smile on the other end of the phone. "Gee, thanks, Carol. She is the best sis a guy could have and deserves better than what that Harris dame is putting her through. Ill call ya back if I get anymore dirt."

"Great. Dont break the law, but see if you can get more solid evidence, the kind they like in court!"

"Sure thing, doll. I aint good at what I do for nothin! Talk to you later."

"Bye, Jim." Carol hung up the phone and chuckled. Jim was hard-boiled, but he had a heart of gold. Carol would have to remember him for future cases. Right now she had a couple of errands to run. Some business can be conducted over the phone and some just had to have the personal touch. These last two, Carol knew, needed the personal touch.

The little clinic was a bit dingy on the outside, owing to the neighborhood, but inside there had been an effort made to make the place more cheerful and inviting. She knew the director of the clinic, an old friend from high school who went on to medical school when Carol entered college. She asked the receptionist if Dr. Ruiz was in as she handed her a business card. Carol knew some of the workers at the clinic, but there was a large turnover in personal that Carol couldnt keep up with. The receptionist took the card in the back and soon a middle-aged Hispanic woman came out and greeted Carol.

"Carol Miller, how are you. It has been too long amiga. Come on back and Ill buy you a cup of coffee." Dr. Ruiz led her friend back to her office.

"Carmelita, que pasa?" Carol looked around the office. "Nothing has changed, has it?"

"No, it is still mean on these streets. Still, I like to think I make a difference in this neighborhood."

Carol nodded her head. "I know what you mean. I hope I am doing that with my journalism classes at the Y too."

Carmelita nodded back. "It is a hard life in the barrio, for the girls especially. You know that we have seen a 75% increase of STDs and unwed pregnancies in this past year alone. These girls are looking for their self worth in all the wrong places. I feel like I am trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose."

"I know, Carmelita, but at least they have you putting out the fires you can. Education is the key and you are educating these women that there is something better."

"And so are you, mi amiga. Rosalita was just in here the other day for her routine physical. She told me how she wants to go to college to study journalism, because you have shown her a better way. She would have never been as diligent about her health a few years ago if she had not been given a vision for a better future. She told me she wants to be healthy enough to make it. She has a bright future, thanks to you."

"Well it is like you say, Carmelita, it is like putting out the forest fire with the garden hose, but if we reach one person, it is worth the effort."

The two women nodded in silent agreement. Then Dr. Ruiz broke the silence. "Well amiga, I know you havent just come down to the barrio to chat about social issues. What can I do for you today?"

Carol shifted nervously. She knew what she was about to ask was illegal. She knew she would never be able to use it as evidence, yet she had to know in order to proceed with her other leads. "Well, Carmelita, I am going to ask you something that I know I shouldnt, but I need to know anyway. I wouldnt ask, except the information is a matter of life or death."

Dr. Ruiz sensed what was coming and stood up. She looked out the window as she answered, "I know what you are here for. I, too, read the papers. You know what you are asking me to do...."

Carol hung her head in shame. "Carmelita, I know it is against the law, and I know it cant be used as evidence, but if my hunch is correct, it might help me bring a murderer to justice."

"Yes, Carol, Patricia Harris came in my clinic to terminate a pregnancy."

Carol hated to tell her friend that she already knew this. It would mean someone might lose their job. She decided to play dumb for the moment about that. "I see. Was there a request for paternity?"

Carmelita turned and faced Carol with a bit of surprise registering on her face. "As a matter of fact, there was one requested, by the boyfriend. It was very unusual. Mrs. Harris didnt want to know, but Mr. Washington was pretty insistent. I wound up doing a blood test on him and ...."

"I know, it is confidential. Look I dont want you to break the law, but tell me something indirectly and I wont ask you anymore. You dont even have to say the words, just indicate with your head, and I promise you wont even come into all of this."

"OK, but I know I have told you more than I should have already."

Carol nodded knowingly. "I know, that is why I dont dare bring you in any deeper. The question is this.... Could Michael Harris have fathered that baby?" Carol knew that the Carmelita could never reveal the true father, but this question was on the fringes of the doctor/patient privilege law.

Carmelitas head ever so slightly moved back and forth one time. Carol went up to her and whispered, "Gracias, amiga. I know that was hard for you and I promise no one will ever know."

Carmelitas face brightened and she hugged Carol. "I cannot refuse you, and you know it. We need each other, amiga. Un carnal."

Carol smiled. "I always like to think so, even if I was born an Anglo!" The two ladies laughed and said their good-byes. Carmelita asked Carol to say Hola to Susan for her and Carol promised her she would.

Carols second stop that day was to another business establishment in the barrio. The sign painted on the glass inset in the door read, Juan Gomez, PI". Carol turned the grimy handle and entered the poorly lit room. "Hola, Maria, is Juan in?"

The girl at the desk looked up from her Latin Style magazine and said, "Hola, Senorita Miller. Si, Senor Gomez is in." She pointed to the door indicating to Carol to go right in. Carol knocked and entered when she heard a gruff, "Entrar".

"Hola, Juan, que pasa?"

"Poco, no mucho. You dont perhaps have a job for nustro amigo, do you?" Juan smiled hopefully, showing his nicotine stained teeth.

"As a matter of fact I do. I need you to stake out this address." Carol handed him the paper she had written the address to the Mc Donnell estate down on. Juan looked at it and whistled.

"Madre de Dios, this is on the very rich part of Los Angeles. Why do you come to me with this. Dont you need someone classier to do this job? I am afraid I might stand out like un pulgar adolorido!" He raised his thumb in the air for emphasis.

Carol laughed. "Juan, mi amiga. I need you. You have just the right nariz for this job."

Juan put a puzzled finger to his nose and Carol corrected herself. "No, no, I meant instinto. I keep forgetting that expresions de ingle dont always translate into espanol. I will provide you with a newer car and nicer clothes. I will make sure you dont stick out." She raised her thumb and smiled. "Will you do it?"

Juan smiled back. "For you, mama linda, I would do anything. You are so generous to nustro amigo viego."

Carol shook Juan's hand. "Then it is all set. Report back to me if you find out anything, even the smallest thing. I will have a cell phone in the car you are using. You can use it to get a hold of my cell phone. Here is the number." Carol handed him a card with her cell phone number written on the back. "I will also have all the surveillance equipment you will need and the information you need in the car when I send it to you."

"OK, Senorita Carol. Juan will be on the watch."

"Thanks Juan. I know I can count on you."

Carol headed back to the Dispatch in time to pick up Susan for lunch. When Susan saw Carol she said, "I hope you dont mind, but David called while you were out and I invited him to lunch with us. He sounded like he wanted to talk business, but I knew you wouldnt mind that!

"You know me, hermana. I could use to talk to the two of you as well. The pieces are starting to come together, but I still have a few loose ends before I can go the police with anything. I think they are starting to see that there is more to this case, though."

"Oh?" inquired Susan as she got into Carols car.

"Yeah, Jim told me that they had Jake in for questioning yesterday."

"Well that could have been routine."

"Maybe..." Carol trailed off as she put the car in gear. "Where to, for lunch?"

"I told David to meet us at Chez Georges again."

"Sounds good." The ladies headed for their lunch date with David.

At the restaurant, the matre'd showed the ladies to a table already occupied by David Jensen. He rose and greeted Carol and Susan. Susan got a hardy handshake and Carol got a loving hug and kiss. "I have missed you, sweetheart. We need to go out more. You have been way too busy lately."

The three seated themselves around the table. The waiter took their drink orders and left.

"I know, bebe, but I promise this will be over soon."

"Till her next big case that is," teased Susan. "Lets face it, David. If you plan on becoming serious about the ace over here, you have better get use to it."

Carol nudged Susan under the table with her foot. David smiled and said, "I guess so, but it is a small price to pay to date such a lovely lady. I dont mean to sound anxious, but by soon, do you mean you think you have figured out who killed Michael?"

Carol shook her head. "No but I am fairly certain now that he was murdered. I am on the track of the murderer as we speak. I think I have narrowed down the suspects. If you dont mind this being a working lunch, Id like to bounce a few ideas off of the two of you. I do my best thinking aloud."

"This is something else youd better get used to," added Susan. "She does this to me all the time."

"Oh, I dont mind, I find it all so fascinating," answered David while he stared at Carol adoringly.

"Oooo he has it bad, Carol. I think you have your hooks in this one good." Carol blushed and David looked at Susan. "I think you maybe right. But enough of that, you are embarrassing your friend."

Carol gave Susan a friendly glare and said, "Well if you are through, let me tell you what I have so far."

Carol was destined for interruptions that afternoon, because the waiter came back at this point with their drinks and to take their orders. When he finally left, Carol let out a sigh. "Maybe now I can get to business. She looked at David and Susan and both gave her silent nods to continue. Neither dared interrupt her now.

"I kept thinking all along that there had to be a motive behind the killing. Money, power, exposure of a secret, lust, these are all good motives, and all might apply in this case, but there were too many and too many suspects, I am afraid. So I had to narrow this down by asking myself, Who had it in them to kill Michael. So I went down the list." Carol pulled out her worn notebook and opened to a page neatly laid out in a chart. At the top of the first column was the word PERSON the next column had the word MOTIVE written at the top and the third had OPPORTUNITY penciled in.

"These are the three basic things you have too look at. I had hoped that this would make the case more simple, but this case doesnt lend itself to easy formulas. But it was a place to start. I then asked myself, who would benefit from Michaels death and how. I thought this might be the easier question to answer first.

"I started with Patricia Harris. From talking to Lydia and Jim, Patricia was not happy with her husband. I think she had hoped Michael would take her away from the overprotective thumb of her father, but Michael was a work-a-holic, just like her dad. I think she was beginning to see too many parallels in her marriage with that of her parents marriage. I am sure her mother had occasion to complain to Patricia what it was like to be married to a work-a-holic. Maybe her mother even encouraged her to get out before it was too late. That is all sheer speculation. At any rate, Patricia was unhappy and did find solace in the bed of another, namely Jake Washington.

"Now he is an interesting character. His mother is Anglo but his father is an African American banker. They have money, maybe not in the same league as the Harris or the McDonnells but pretty close. Jake raced cars till a crash took him out of the action. I think his parents arent too happy that he is chauffeuring, they expected better for their son, but Jake was happy to be working on and driving expensive cars again. Being that Jake is a handsome, fair skinned mulatto, I can understand why a lonely woman like Patricia would find him attractive. I understand that Jake is a bit of the playboy type anyway. So Fact 1: Patricia was cheating on Michael with their chauffeur, Jake Washington.

"Lydia knew things werent too hot with Michael and Patricia, Michael had shared that with her. She suggested a romantic weekend away. Patricia seemed to jump at the chance, yet the affair had been going on for some time at this point. Why would Patricia be anxious to go away with her husband, whom she didnt seem to care for any more and be away from her lover, whom she did. That didnt make much sense to me. Then I got a clue when Lydia told me that Michael told everyone that Patricia was pregnant, supposedly conceiving while on this same romantic weekend. I asked myself, was Patricia trying to cover up her already pregnant state by Jake so Michael would think the child was his? This seemed to be the case, but there were too many holes in it. Lydia said that Michael and Patricia werent sleeping together before this, so her motive for going on the weekend seemed to point to her wanting to cover up the pregnancy. But Jake was still part African American, so there was a real chance that the baby could have features that would point to the real father. I am sure both Michael and her family would have had a field day with that news. Maybe she didnt realize this till after she announced the pregnancy. Maybe Jake didnt even know about the baby before she announced she was pregnant. When he found out, I am sure he had plenty of questions for her and maybe that is when she realized the ruse wouldnt work. Now the two of them were in a pickle. Someone came up with the idea that divorce might be the only out, since she would get a nice alimony settlement, but there still was the problem with the baby. Fact 2: Patricia Harris had an abortion shortly after Michaels death and told everyone she had miscarried due to the stress of his death. I found out, but I cant tell you how, that Michael wasnt the father. I guess this would be Fact 3, except I cant use that piece of evidence unless the court has a way of finding this out legally.

The food came and the conversation dwindled momentarily. When each of them had taken a few bites of nourishment, Susan said, "This is incredible."

"Wait," said Carol. "It gets better. Patricia needed grounds for divorce. If anything, Michael was the one who had grounds, so Patricia had to think of something. So she used Michaels work-a-holism against him and invented this story about the affair between Lydia and Michael. Boy, I give her a lot of credit for cajonies. SHE was the one having the affair, but accused him of it. Anyway, I think the plan all along was to have the abortion, say is was a miscarriage due to the stress of the divorce, get divorced and then..." Carol shrugged her shoulders. "Who knows." But something went wrong. This is the part I am not sure of. I am sure that something is up, though. Jim told me that there was a big argument between Patricia and her dad right after Jake was hauled in for questioning. I get the impression daddy knows all about Patricias love affair and is now trying to do damage control. David, would you be a dear try to find out what lawyers dad might be bringing in to clean up this mess. Lydia might be of help there."

"Sure thing. It sounds like this is finally coming together."

Carol sighed, "I only wish. I am close, I can taste it, but anything further would only be speculation on my part. Unfortunately I dont have the best reputation down at police headquarters, so I need hard facts right now. Jim is watching the Harris estate like a hawk and I have another friend keeping an eye on the McDonnell estate. I know Lydia cant wait to leave the Harris agency. Jim says Patricia has been giving her a hard time. I need her there a while longer, though. Use your charm on her to get her to stay."

Susan laughed. "See, I told you, she has this network of spies and informants and it wouldnt be long before she enlisted you in them."

David smiled, "I dont mind. I want to see Michael vindicated and I think this is exciting.... better than all the boring meetings I sit in on day after day."

"Gracias, I really appreciate this. Maybe we can have dinner together real soon."

David kissed Carols hand. "I sure hope so. By the way, have you heard from Antonio? He seemed like such a nice young man. I have been wondering if he found the answers he was looking for in the pages of his fathers journal."

Just then Carols cell phone began to ring. "I havent heard yet," answered Carol as she answered the phone. "Hello, Carol Miller speaking."

Her face registered shock as she intently listened to the person on the other end of the line. Susan and David inched to the edges of their seats as electricity charged the air. "Oh, yes... I see..... tonight? Yes, Im free..... yes..... sure, when? 9? Sure, no problem. Alone? I guess..... I see. Yes she is. OK, gracias, I am glad...... Adios, nos vemos esta noche." Carol pressed the end button and looked incredulously at David and Susan. "Do either of you believe in Kismet, Karma or the like?"

"What?" David and Susan exclaimed practically in unison.

"That was Antonio. We were just speculating about him and he calls. Seems like he couldnt put his fathers journal down once he started. He just finished it and wants me to read parts of it tonight." She looked at Susan and added. "He asked if I could be alone this one time. He said it would be ok for me to tell both of you later about it, but there is something rather personal about this that he just wanted me to know about for now. He is coming over my house at 9 tonight."

David looked at his watch when Carol made reference to time. "Oh, I am going to be late for another one of those boring meetings I was telling you about. Lunch is on me and I will see you both later, I hope." He kissed Carol goodbye and winked at Susan as he flew out of the restaurant. Carol and Susan stayed for desert and more conversation before heading back to the paper.

Chapter 10

Carol had a light dinner salad and was pouring over her notes on the Harris case when the doorbell rang at nine o clock. She opened the door and Antonio was standing there with his fathers journal under one arm of his tailored suit jacket. She greeted him and showed him into the living room.

"Thank you for letting me come tonight. I dont think I could have slept if I hadnt gotten the opportunity to share this with you, seeing how you have been in contact with my father too."

Carol looked puzzled for a moment, "In contact? Oh, I know, the dreams. Well I had only one more last night and all he wanted to tell me was gracias."

Antonio smiled. "Well let me add my muchas gracias to his. If it werent for you, I would never have found out the truth. I will admit, though, it was a lot more painful than I hoped it would be. I am not sure what to do with this knowledge, but for now, at least I know the truth. Maybe you can advise me there."

"Well I would need to know what it is you are talking about first," kidded Carol.

"Oh madre de dios, I am forgetting myself. I brought dads journal. I have marked passages I want you to read. It would take too long to read it all. I suspect you know more about my dads career than I did anyway. Still, I think you will be in for quite a shock. I was."

Carol took the large book from Antonios hand. She sat down opened the journal to the first page indicated by a paper bookmark stuck in-between the worn pages. She saw that it would take her a while to go through all the tabbed pages so she said to Antonio, "I might be a while reading this. Can I get something for you to help you occupy your time?"

"No, Ill be ok here. Actually I hope you dont find me rude, but I am curious to see your reactions to what my father has to say while you read them. I want to see if I wasnt the only one taken back by this story." Antonio smiled again.

"OK, I guess I dont mind someone watching me read." Carol started to read the first indicated entry and was soon so lost in the narrative that she forgot Antonio was studying her every facial expression.

October 25th 1974 9:42 am

Today I am the happiest man alive, I think. At least I should be, but I wish I could shake this feeling of foreboding. In a few hours I will be marrying the mother of my baby. A new life that I helped to create. I wonder if it will be a son or a daughter. I love its mother, but I am not sure if I am ready to be both a husband and a father. I keep thinking, Alejandro what have you gotten yourself into. Linda is a beautiful woman and I love her, but am I really ready for marriage? Chris tells me I am a lucky dog and Papa keeps telling me I need to do right by her, now that she is carrying our child, but I still cant help feel like this is a mistake somehow. I guess I am just entrarle miedo a uno, getting cold feet. I am glad Chris was able to keep all of this out of the media. They are such buitre sanguinario, bloodthirsty vultures. I dont want them to find out what has happened, not yet anyway. After it is over, then we will make up the plausible lie to tell them. Let them think what they like, I dont care. Still, I wish I wasnt giving up my freedom. I hope I can be a good husband to Linda. She deserves that. She is a good person, and doesnt need a philandering playboy for a husband. I just hope I can keep my eyes off of the ladies.

"Did your father always note both the date and the time on all of his entries?" Carol asked as she finished the first entry.

"Yes, he was a methodical man," answered Antonio.

"He was also a very unsure one when it came to marrying your mother. I see it was true that she was pregnant with you before they were married."

"Yes I always knew somehow that this was the case, but it was never spoken of in my house. I guess anyone who can add would see that from the dates anyway." Antonio hung his head.

"Well it sounds like you dad did love your mother, he just wasnt sure he was ready to settle down. Being forced to decide that can be hard."

" I can only imagine. I know I am a bit apprehensive about marriage, who isnt? But at least Kelli and I are free to decide without the added burden of a child in the picture."

"Verdas," answered Carol. She found the next paper tab and opened up to the next entry.

March 16th, 1975 3:22 am

Well Alejandro Antonio Hezaro Junr. was born today. His mother is looking very beautiful and mother and baby are doing fine. He is very handsome, mi hijo, just like his papa. I am truly happy. I know that I will make a good father, the good Lord willing. Linda is resting. She had a hard time, but I know she will be all smiles tomorrow (actually today, just later) Thank you God for my wife and my new little boy, la manzana de mi ojo. I should probably get some sleep too.

"It sounds like your father gave you that nickname right from birth," Carol remarked at the end of the second entry.

"Yes. My mother always said I looked so much like my father. He was so proud of me."

"Yes, it sounds like it. It also sounds like your father settled down in his apprehensions about the marriage too. He sounds like an adoring husband as well as father."

"Yes. My mother always told me he loved her too."

Carol turned to the third paper tab.

December 10th 1975 4:30 pm

The doctor tells me that the stress is bringing on my sleepless nights. I said "what stress?" He said that it is not uncommon for people in the acting profession to be under a lot of stress. He prescribed some Valium, Quaaludes, and a sleeping pill to help me to calm down. I sure dont want to be starting taking drugs for my problems. Linda says it is all right. People sometimes need the help. She was the one who started this, complaining that my pacing was keeping her up at night. I guess her doctor knows what he is talking about. Ill give them a try, but if they make me less of a man, I am ditching them.

Carol continued to read the next indicated passages.

March 16th , 1980 9:34 pm

Mi manzana turned 5 today and I am so proud of him. He is turning into a fine young boy. He will be starting school in the fall. I just wish I could be around more for him... Work is pressing in on all sides of me. Linda needs more, the lawyers are eating up all I make on that lawsuit with that crook I signed up with back in the early part of my career. They keep telling me I cant win, but I have to keep trying so others like him dont rip unsuspecting young actors off.

I got another offer on a variety show. I think I might take this one. Linda doesnt want me to work so hard, but keeps asking for more money. I tell her you cant have it both ways. Chris says this deal is a good one and I might be home more if I do it, so maybe I will take it.

In honor of my sons fifth birthday I gave him a key to my box. He saw me looking at it a few days ago and I wanted him to have a key. These should be his memories someday too. He put the chain it hung on around his neck and gave me a kiss and a big hug. No matter what happens to me, he will always be la manzana de mi ojo. I love him so much. I want him to have the best of everything. I think I need to go and change my will someday soon. With Ma and Papa both gone now, I need to make sure he gets everything. I will still provide for Linda, but she is getting too demanding these days. I think the medicine the doctor gave me is still working for the professional stress, but this personal stress is getting to me too. I should ask him about a higher dose.

April 5th, 1980 6:23 pm

I cant believe the bitch did this to me! I cant believe she wants a divorce! I have always cared for her and provided for her, even though her demands were getting very expensive. She blames me for mental cruelty because of drugs, it was HER damn doctor that prescribed them in the first place and her bitching about money that drove me to have to take more. Damn her. She hasnt slept with me in months, saying I am never around, and she is the one suing ME! I told Mr. Burke I would handle it, not to worry and not to bother with the inquiries. The last think I need right now is a leak to the press. I have to get my act together here and see if I can get her to stop this nonsense. Maybe one more pill to calm down and then I will find out from her what this is all about.... Maybe it is nothing more than a misunderstanding. Mi manzana is at his nonas. Now is as good a time as any....

11:02 pm

Well thats it, I see. She is not going to budge. I was able to convince her to wait a while before continuing with the divorce. I offered her more money and her freedom if she would put it off for a bit till the TV deal was final. And she agreed. Stupid bitch. I think she was after my money all along. And I fell for her. I loved her. God this hurts......

11:16 pm

I had to take another pill to get calm and think about things. She is going to go to her mothers for a few days. Unfortunately, mi manzana will have to go with her. God, I miss the little guy. I want to make sure I get time with him. If I lost my son, I would die. I will have to check into things. First thing I think I will do is have a tail put on Linda. I am still not sure where this divorce thing is coming from. Something still doesnt add up about it.

April 12, 1980 11;07 pm

Well I have the private dicks report on my desk and I still cant believe it. Chris and Linda. I guess I suspected Linda was cheating on me, but with Chris?!?! This really cuts it. If I didnt see the pictures, I wouldnt have believed it. Well she is in for a messy divorce, let me tell you. I think Id better change that will first. She might get something out of me in the divorce, but she is not getting one penny from me after I am gone. Mi manzana will get it all. I read that you can make a holographic will. I will write one of those tonight and take it in to Mr. Burke first thing in the morning. I need to find out about a new manager too. I will need to ask to look at that contract too.

April 13, 1980 6:24

Well Mr. Burke has my new will and I am happy that it is legal. I decided to wait for a bit to check into firing Chris. I dont want them to know I know about their little torrid affair just yet. Need to think about the best way I can handle this. Need to find the right lawyer for advice. Burke is good, but I need someone who is experienced in sleazy divorces. This one could turn out to be the sleaziest! I think I will go out to celebrate alone tonight. Maybe Ill find someone to celebrate with. Someone discrete. God it has been too long since I have had any of that kind of attention. A man has needs too. To bad Lindas been givin it all to Chris. She sure was good. Well two can play at that game, honey!

April 20th 1980 7:16 pm

Chris came over to help me with the contracts for the show. If he only knew how much I hate him these days. He acts so cool, if he only knew I know! I have a headache and he told me to lie down for a while and take some more of my medicine. I have noticed Linda keeps harping on me taking my medicine. It is like the two of them think that Valium and Quaaludes are the solution to all my problems. I wish I didnt need them to calm down, but I guess if I only take one. I want to have my wits about me when I sign this contract later. Dont want to make any foolish mistakes. Too many of those in my young life. God, I wish this world wasnt so cynical. Linda and mi manzana are at her mothers house. I think I need to call that private dick and make sure he is watching over there tonight.


I dont believe it. I went to call the PI and Chris was on the downstairs line. He didnt hear me pick up so I decided to listen in, especially when I heard Lindas voice on the other end. I guess they thought I was asleep. So its murder they are planning. The divorce was all a ruse, something to establish my drug habit. Chris plans on poisoning me and making it look like an overdose. This way they can get all my money. Too bad they dont know about the new will. Too bad they dont know I know! She sounded like she wanted to rethink it, sounded like she just wanted the divorce instead. What she doesnt know is now I will add this little plot to my divorce suit. She wont get a dime. And her precious Chris will get jail time, if I play this right. Hummmm gotta think. Too agitated. One pill to calm down and I will think better. Then I will take my gun and go confront them. She is coming over. Ill wait till she gets here. She wants to be here after I eat his dinner and croak. But I will fool them. Ill ditch the dinner and pretend to be sick. Then they will both who they have been messin with.

7:55 pm

Well Chris brought up the dinner. I fooled him into thinking I was hungry. Told him I wanted to be alone, though, when I ate. He was cool with it. He doesnt suspect that I know, the fool. They are all fools. I am the only smart one. I just wish my head would clear. Getting harder to think straight. Maybe I have taken too many pills to think. I am calm though. Need to be calm to confront them. Let me find somewhere to ditch this dinner. Maybe under this plant. Dig a hole and put it in it. Then when the cops come later I will have them test it for drugs. That will prove that they were out to kill me. There it is well hidden. Now to wait till I hear her come in. Then I will fake being sick. Then they will get what is coming to them. Mi manzana, I know one day you will read this. Know that I loved your mother. I love you. I dont know for sure how all of this works out, but know I love you.

Carol looked up with tears in her eyes. Antonio looked at her with a knowing look on his face. Tears started to form in his eyes as well. There was no more. The last entry had been dated just hours before Alejandros death was reported to the authorities.

"What do you think I should do?" Antonio asked, almost in a whisper.

"I dont know," Carol managed to choke out between her tears. "I dont know if there is anything to do. I can only speculate that your father re-hid the journal and confronted your mother and Chris with his knowledge and some sort of fight ensued and Alejandro was shot. I guess Chris and your mother thought it best to make it look like a suicide. It could have been accidental. It was obvious that there was a plot to kill him, but not the way it happened. They are all dead now, so we might never know the whole truth."

"I remember one time when my mother and Chris had been drinking and arguing. I think they thought I was asleep, but I overheard my mother accusing my step father of killing my dad. I thought is was just a dream, but they did fight a lot. Maybe it did happen." Antonio hung his head in his hands. Carol put the journal on the coffee table and went over and put her arm around Antonio.

"Maybe you shouldnt have found this out."

Antonio looked up at Carol and said, "No, I needed to know the truth. I will go to Mr. Burke in the morning with the journal and ask his advice. I dont think it will change anything legally, so maybe it is best to let the dead rest. I think it good that my dad wanted me to know. You can share this with Susan and your friend David. I know they will keep this a secret. Dad avoided publicity, and I know how he felt. It has been the hardest thing for me to deal with in my own career. I will tell Kelli. But I think we should just keep this to ourselves."

"Whatever you say. I appreciate you taking me into your confidence like this. After all I am a part of the buitre sanguinario your father despised!" Carol let out a feeble laugh.

Antonio echoed her laugh with a hearty one of his own. "I guess you have become such a good friend to me that I forget you are a reporter. I know this will be hard on your reporters instincts for a good story. I will never forget you for this, amiga."

Carol and Antonio embraced and Antonio picked up the journal. "It is getting late. I will let you know if Mr. Burke wants me to do anything about this information, but somehow I think he will agree with us to keep it a secret. Somehow I dont think dad will mind if we do either."

"Sounds like he really loved you, Antonio. I hope you can move past this now."

"It will take some time, but I know I will." They walked to the door. Antonio raised Carols hand to his lips. Muchas gracias, mi amiga, for all of your help."

"De nada. Hasta luega, Antonio. Make sure you tell Kelli I think she is getting a fine young man for a husband!"

Antonio blushed and waved goodbye to Carol as he drove off in the night.

Later that night Carol had another dream. This was not like the other dreams. In it she was walking beside a stream when she came across a person seated on a large rock by the bank. It was Alejandro as Carol remembered him from years ago, young and handsome. He patted the space beside him and indicated to her to sit down.

"Muchas gracias for everything, senorita Carol."

"De nada, Alejandro. I only wish it wasnt such a painful memory you needed to share with your son. He has grown to be a fine young man. You would be proud of him."

"Oh, I am, mami linda. I wish things had not have happened the way they did either, but life can be ugly sometimes."

"I have only one question still lingering on my brain," said Carols dream self.

"Only one?" Alejandro chuckled. "I would be surprised."

Carol blushed. "Yes. Why me?"

"Well that is not too hard to explain really. There were many reasons you were the perfect person to contact. The first is you moved into my house. That took a bit of maneuvering on my part, but I am glad you decided on that house. The second is your nature. I knew you would stick to it till you solved the mystery. The third reason I am almost embarrassed to admit to you. You see, you think I dont remember you from the old days, but I do."

"HUH?" exclaimed Carol.

Alejandro looked at his feet and continued. "I remember when you would come to see me at all of my personal appearances. I got to know who you were. I asked one of my press people to find out more about you and they told me you lived in the barrio. I think you were a senior in high school at the time. Even though you were 18, my people advised me not to date a fan. Yes, dont look so shocked, I was considering asking you out, but like the young fool that I was, I listened to the advice of others." Alejandro took hold of Carols chin and looked deep into her eyes. You have turned out to be a fine looking woman with a heart of gold. What I wouldnt give to have the chance to do it over. Your friend, David is a damn lucky man."

Carol really blushed now, not knowing what to say. Alejandro reached down and gently kissed her on the lips. "I want to do one more thing to say gracias to you for all you have helped me to do. Your Michael Harris, I have spoken to him here. I am not allowed to tell you much, or I would have come right out and told you about what happened to me, but I am allowed to tell you that if you look at my death, your answers to Michaels will become clear. Adios, mi amor. Have a good life."

Carol woke up with a start. The dream had seemed so real, right down to the kiss. She pondered it in her heart for almost an hour before she could go to sleep again. She knew Alejandro would never come to her again, and that knowledge, for the first time, saddened her. Did he really want to date her, or was that part just the projection of her desire and her now fertile imagination? She knew she would never have the answer to that one, but she smiled to think it might be true. The rest of the dream played on her mind. How was the Michael Harris case like Alejandros death. She remembered the off handed remarks Antonio and David had made once about the parallels and as she thought about it, she could see them too. An idea was forming in her active brain and she thought of a new scenario for Michaels death. She couldnt wait to tell David and Susan and find the evidence to take to the police. "Gracias, amor mio," Carol whispered into the silence of the night as she drifted back to sleep.

Chapter 11

The next day Carol called David up and asked him over for dinner. "Sorry, bebe, but I have to have Susan here for this one too. I have some news to tell both of you. I promise we will go out, just the two of us, as soon as I am finished."

At work she told Susan of the dinner date and then left her to wonder what Carol was up to. Carol busied herself with a thousand details and leads, now that the focus had been shifted. She checked in with Jim, Juan and Lydia and made calls to leads they had given her. By the end of the day, Carol knew she had all she needed to take the case to the police.

Eight oclock came and Carol opened her door. David and Susan stood on the stoop. David had picked up Susan and brought her with him to Carols house. Once inside, Carol was barraged with a dozen questions. All she did in response was put her hand up and say, "You will have to wait."

At the dinner table, Carol began. "I feel I am calling you both together for a reading of a will. In a way, it is like that. Two people died due to the actions of others and under mysterious circumstances. One will probably never have his story told except to those who care about him, but the other will hopefully have his death brought to justice."

"Cut the dramatics, Carol, and get to the point," said Susan, in exasperation.

"Sorry. Well let me start with Alejandro. It appears his death was an accident. We, Antonio and I, cant be 100% sure, but it looks like his father found out that Linda and Chris were having an affair and were plotting to poison Alejandro, making it look like an OD. When Alejandro found out, he decided to confront them. His journal doesnt say what happened exactly, but we think that a fight ensued and in the scuffle, Alejandro was killed. We think that Chris and Linda decided to cover it up by making it look like a suicide. I didnt tell this to Antonio, but I suspect that Alejandro was probably killed by a blow to the head and that Chris took him, sat him on the bed, put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. Since the gunshot was so close to the time of death and since there would be trama in both cases, the coroner would not be able to tell whether there was any other trama that killed him, except the supposed gunshot wound. Linda fled and Chris came up with the story about the suicide. Whatever did happen, Linda and Chris were outsmarted by Alejandro. They both seemed to be out for the money, but neither got a dime. Even the insurance wouldnt pay, because he had a no suicide clause in his policy. Antonio never saw any insurance money either, but I think his dads estate more than compensated for that. Linda and Chris died with the guilt about their part in this. I think that is why they both drank themselves to death, Linda, to try to forget, and Chris, to shut her guilty whining out. Antonio remembers them fighting about something to do with his dads death, but those are the memories of a young boy, buried under years of mental pain. He thinks there is nothing to gain by publicizing the story after all of these years. He is taking the journal to Mr. Burke for his professional opinion and he will tell Kelli. He gave me permission to share the story with the two of you, but he would prefer if we would keep it to ourselves."

"Of course," said Susan. David nodded in agreement.

"Well that is mystery number one. A postscript to that one is the dream I had last night. It really was the key to tying up the loose ends to mystery number two. Alejandro came to me last night for the last time to thank me again for helping him. At the end of the dream he said that he wanted to help me in return. He couldnt tell me much, but that if I looked at his death, my answers to Michaels will become clear."

"Ooo sounds mysterious," said Susan.

"Not really," countered David. "I told you that there were some similarities in the two cases."

"I know and I blew your comment off," responded Carol with a bit of apology in her voice. "Antonio hinted at that too and I didnt listen to him either. But when Alejandro told me, I took a second look at both of your comments and the cases and things started to dawn on me. I think I might know now what happened to Michael. This is some speculation on my part, but I think I have enough hard evidence to give to the police to start their investigation. I think it would be best to start by telling you what I found out today."

Both Susan and David nodded and Carol continued.

"I called Jim. It seems that Patricia fired Jake. He was sent packing early this morning. I called Juan Gomez, he is the PI I had watching the McDonnell estate. Patricia arrived around 10 and has been there all day. Some guys in suits and fancy black cars have been going in and out all day too. I ran the license plates that Juan gave me and they are lawyers from some expensive law firm in Hollywood.

"I asked Lydia if she had heard anything, and all she could tell me was that Mr. McDonnell was in the office around 3 telling all the workers that they were not to talk to anyone on pain of dismissal. I checked with Juan and he told me that Mr. McDonnell had gone out in the afternoon, around 2 and didnt get back till almost 5. Lydia called me back and said she got a call from some law firm asking her to come in tomorrow. Something about a cash settlement for information about her alleged affair with Michael. She told them they were barking up the wrong tree, she never had an affair with Michael and hung up.

"I asked Jim to tail Jake and told him to give him my number. Jake called me about an hour later and said he was tired of taking the rap. He would tell me what he knew, but he was afraid for his life. I told him that I would ask Jim to watch him. Jim is now Jakes body guard. I met with them at a bar in Malibu and Jake told me the whole sorted story. He and Patricia had an affair, she became pregnant with Jakes baby, she had an abortion to cover it up. I told Jake I knew this much.

"What I only started to figure out and Jake confirmed for me was that Patricia wasnt really interested in the divorce. She started that to get Michael mad at her, she was hoping he would threaten her and give her cause to kill him in self defense. He didnt take the bait. He confronted her, but only to get her to come back to him, to forget about the divorce and think about the baby. In desperation, she decided to tell him the baby wasnt his and about her affair with Jake, taking her chances that he wouldnt go to her dad, that he would get mad at her and attack her instead.

"According to Jake, Patricia told him Michael was prone to violence. Jake never saw that in Michael, except when he was drunk and mostly verbally against his father in law. But he took her word for it. Turned out, Patricia asked Jake to be there with his gun that night, that he might have to pull the trigger in her defense if she couldnt. Well Michael got mad, but came at Jake with fists flying, not at Patricia. Jake is not the kind of guy to kill a person in cold blood if he is unarmed. He punched Mike on the jaw and this sent him flying across the floor. Mike bumped his head on the edge of the fireplace and was knocked unconscious. Jake went down and felt his pulse. Michael was still alive at this point. When he told Patricia this, she went ballistic. She said this was no good, he had to die or he would tell the whole sordid story and blow their cover.

Not knowing what to do, Patricia told Jake to take him up to their bedroom. Jake sat Michael down on the bed and Patricia gave Jake Michaels gun. She said she had another idea. "If you use Michaels gun, it will look like suicide," she had told Jake. Jake didnt want any part of that, so Patricia started calling him names and wound up shooting Michael herself. Jake helped Patricia stage the suicide scene and cleaned up the mess around the fireplace. The fingerprints on the gun had been wiped clean and Michaels were the only ones found. Patricia said that any faint ones of hers could be explained anyhow.

"They thought they had gotten away with it. But then Patricia wanted to go through with the abortion. Jake had some twisted notion that since Michael was dead, she would marry him and they would raise the kid. God love him, I think Jake really loved Patricia. Jake was mad, but what could he do, Patricia held all the cards.

"After the abortion and the ruse about the miscarriage, the police started snooping around. I think the hints I had been dropping were finally getting to our boys in blue. But the police didnt have any evidence and were fishing in the dark. Jake told me they didnt seem to have a real clue when he went in for questioning, that all they questioned him about sounded like they thought Jake was a material witness. The joke was, he could be, but also an accessory after the fact to murder. When he got home from the police station, Patricias cool facade began to crack and she threatened to turn Jake in as the murderer if he talked. Finally she brought her dad in on the mess, and he advised her to cut herself off from Jake and he would get her a good lawyer. Jake thinks that she may have told her dad that he pulled the trigger. Jake tried to tell Mr. McDonnell that Patricia was the one who did it, but her father wouldnt believe him. He wasnt that surprised. She finally kicked him out and continued to threatened to tell the cops he did it and that they would believe her over him. He was scared and wanted help. He knew he was in for something illegal, but he didnt want to take the rap for something he didnt do. I have Jim looking for a good lawyer for Jake right now."

"Wow, I knew Patricia was capable of mental cruelty, but this," commented David when Carol had concluded her narrative. "Poor Michael, and Jake too, for that matter. Patricia is turning out to be a real black widow spider in all of this."

"Well never underestimate the power of money. I think money was at the root of this story too. Just like in Alejandros case," Susan said, shaking her head. "Money and lust. Affairs and power struggles, it is a sordid world out there."

"Truth, hermana." Carol sipped her wine. "But in Michaels case, I think I have dug up enough evidence to see Patricia convicted. I will turn over all of the pictures Jim and Juan have taken and Lydia is willing to testify. Seems she knew more than she was telling us too, but it just repeats what I have told you. Fortunately it backs Jakes side of the story. If it werent for that, I think it would have been his word against hers. I dont know how the courts will decide, but I will be in there rooting for Jake to get a light sentence for turning states evidence against Patricia. Once the police investigates his story, I think he will get off easy. I am sure even the police will be able to find physical evidence in her house enough to convict her." Carol smiled at her little police joke. "Well gang, that about wraps it up." She raised her glass. "A toast, to another case solved."


A few days after the dinner party at Carols house, April 20th came around. Carol had not been out to his grave in 10 years, but felt she needed to this year. When she arrived, she found out she was not the only one there. Pink rose in her hand, she decide to wait until Antonio finished his business with his father. While she was standing there, he turned around and spied her by a large oak. He waved to her and she knew she couldnt ignore him.

"Sorry, I didnt mean to intrude."

Antonio smiled at her. It was a carbon copy of his fathers smile. "No need for an apology. I think I would have been surprised if you hadnt shown up." He looked at the rose in her hand. "It was you all those years ago, wasnt it?"

"Huh?" Carol answered.

"When I was younger, my mother and I would come out here and there was a single pink rose always left on top of the stone. I asked my mother who left it and she said it must have been an angel. Ten years ago they stopped. Why?"

Carol hung her head. "Yes they were mine. Antonio, can you keep a secret?"

Antonio nodded. "I have asked you to keep his, so of course I will keep yours."

"I was in love with your father. He really never knew me, although we met many times as a fan and a star meet, at public appearances. I had a hard time letting him go after he died. Ten years ago I met a man I thought would help me to forget him. He turned out to be bad for me, but he did cause me to forget about Alejandro. It was only when I moved into Alejandros house and the dreams started that my memories of your father came back to me."

"Well I should tell you another of my fathers secrets then. You didnt get to read all of his journal, only the parts I gave you to read. He spoke about you in there too."

"What?" Carol looked puzzled.

Antonio looked at Carol, his dark eyes glistening with tears. "My father found out who you were and wanted to date you very badly. He was talked out of it by his managers, who thought you were too young. He spoke of dreaming about you and speculated about what you would be like to kiss. He sounded very much in love with you too, for a while. Then he met my mother and things changed. I guess if things had worked out differently, you would have been my mother. I would have liked that, now that I know you."

Carol didnt know what to say. She was stunned to hear her dream confirmed by the son of her former love. After a moment of awkward silence, she said, "I would have been honored to have been your mother. You are a fine young man with a lot of talent. Your father is proud of you, I know he is. He told me so in his last dream to me."

Antonio gave her a knowing look. Carol bent down and placed the rose on the top of the gravestone. "Adios, Alejandro, be at rest now, angel."

Antonio gave Carol a long hug and the two of them parted in silence.