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datatime: 2022-09-25 16:00:20 Author:MSdemdfx

For the third time he was struck by the man's Southern accent-just one more coincidence.

She shook her head, smiling a little, and took Ted's hand. If he had been looking for a message, this one was much too clear to miss.

'Can I do anything for you, Amy?'

'Is there anything else?' Mort asked Evans.

'Even the wine,' he said to Evans. 'Even that.'

Evans gave him an odd look that Mort couldn't interpret, then nodded. 'The wine room itself didn't burn, because you had very little fuel oil in the cellar tank and there was no explosion. But it got very hot inside, and most of the bottles burst. The few that didn't ... Well, I don't know much about wine, but I doubt if it would be good to drink. Perhaps I'm wrong.'

Evans gave him an odd look that Mort couldn't interpret, then nodded. 'The wine room itself didn't burn, because you had very little fuel oil in the cellar tank and there was no explosion. But it got very hot inside, and most of the bottles burst. The few that didn't ... Well, I don't know much about wine, but I doubt if it would be good to drink. Perhaps I'm wrong.'

Evans offered her his handkerchief. She shook her head and bent over the fist with Mort again.

'Is there anything else?' Mort asked Evans.

She shook her head, smiling a little, and took Ted's hand. If he had been looking for a message, this one was much too clear to miss.

He arrived at the house around four-thirty and parked the Buick in its accustomed place around the side of the house. Eric Clapton was throttled in the middle of a full-tilt-boogie guitar solo when Mort shut off the motor, and quiet crashed down like a load of stones encased in foam rubber. There wasn't a single boat on the lake, not a single bug in the grass.

Ten minutes later it was finished. They signed on the correct lines and Strick witnessed their signatures. Ted Milner showed up only instants later, as if he had been watching the whole thing on some private viewscreen.

He half-expected Amy to ask him to change his mind, but she didn't. 'Drive safe,' she said, and planted a chaste kiss on the corner of his mouth. 'Thanks for coming, and for being so ... so reasonable about everything.'

He half-expected Amy to ask him to change his mind, but she didn't. 'Drive safe,' she said, and planted a chaste kiss on the corner of his mouth. 'Thanks for coming, and for being so ... so reasonable about everything.'

He half-expected Amy to ask him to change his mind, but she didn't. 'Drive safe,' she said, and planted a chaste kiss on the corner of his mouth. 'Thanks for coming, and for being so ... so reasonable about everything.'

Ten minutes later it was finished. They signed on the correct lines and Strick witnessed their signatures. Ted Milner showed up only instants later, as if he had been watching the whole thing on some private viewscreen.

'Is there anything else?' Mort asked Evans.

'Not now. There may be. Is your number down in Tashmore unlisted, Mr Rainey?'

'I will.' He rose, hand outstretched. 'This is always a nasty business. I'm sorry you two had to go through it.'

'I want to get back. Do some work and see if I can't forget all this for awhile.' And he felt as if maybe he really could write. That was not surprising. In tough times-up until the divorce, anyway, which seemed to be an exception to the general rule-he had always found it easy to write. Necessary, even. It was good to have those make-believe worlds to fall back on when the real one had hurt you.

'You're not,' Amy said. A single tear rolled down her cheek and she wiped it absently away.

'I want to get back. Do some work and see if I can't forget all this for awhile.' And he felt as if maybe he really could write. That was not surprising. In tough times-up until the divorce, anyway, which seemed to be an exception to the general rule-he had always found it easy to write. Necessary, even. It was good to have those make-believe worlds to fall back on when the real one had hurt you.

'You're not,' Amy said. A single tear rolled down her cheek and she wiped it absently away.

'I want to get back. Do some work and see if I can't forget all this for awhile.' And he felt as if maybe he really could write. That was not surprising. In tough times-up until the divorce, anyway, which seemed to be an exception to the general rule-he had always found it easy to write. Necessary, even. It was good to have those make-believe worlds to fall back on when the real one had hurt you.

'Can't think of anything,' he said, opening the Buick's door and fishing the car keys out of his pocket. 'Where do you come from originally, Ted? You or Amy must have told me sometime, but I'll be damned if I can remember. Was it Mississippi?'

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