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Unformatted text preview: center. "Nice place," he said, then caught a delicious aroma floating in from the kitchen. He had skipped lunch, thanks to Patrick. "Are you hungry?" she asked. "Starving." "I'm cooking a little something." "Wonderful." The authentic hardwood floors creaked a little as he followed her to the dining room. On the table was a cardboard box, and beside it were papers neatly arranged. She had been working. She paused by the table and said, "This is the Aricia file." "Prepared by whom?" "Patrick, of course." "Where has it been for the past four years?" "In storage. In Mobile." Her answers were short, and each gave rise to a dozen quick questions Sandy would have loved to throw at her. "We'll get to it later," she said, and dismissed it with a casual wave. In the kitchen, there was a whole roasted chicken on the cutting board by the sink. A pan of brown rice mixed with vegetables was steaming on the stove. "It's pretty basic," she said. "I find it hard to cook in someone else's kitchen." "Looks delicious. Whose kitchen is this?" "It's just a rental. I have it for the month." She sliced the chicken and directed Sandy to pour the wine, a fine pinot noir from California. They sat at a small table in the breakfast nook, with a splendid view of the water and the remains of the sunset. "Cheers," she said, raising her glass. "To Patrick," Sandy said. "Yes, to Patrick." She made no effort to address her food. Sandy stuffed a large slice of chicken breast into his mouth. "How is he?" He chewed rapidly so he wouldn't disgust this delightful young woman with a mouthful of food. A sip of wine. Napkin to the lips. "Patrick's okay. The burns are healing nicely. A plastic surgeon examined him yesterday, and said that no grafts will be necessary. The scars will be with him for a few years, but they will eventually fade. The nurses br...
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