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Authors: Jaden Skye

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BOOK: Death by Temptation
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“Who
knows?” Bea’s voice became strident as she turned to Alice. “Kara works at that
crazy place, doesn’t she? Could be somebody there has a vendetta.”

“It’s
not a crazy place, it’s a worthy job,” replied Alice icily.

“I
didn’t say it wasn’t.” Bea scowled. “But it’s not exactly the kind of place a
girl like Kara belongs in. She wasn’t abused and she never will be. I don’t
know what her fascination with this kind of work is. I never understood it. I
even said that to Rowley.”

“Calm
down, Bea,” Pete interjected, but his wife just tossed him away.

Rowley
put his head in his hands then. “Bea’s right,” he started moaning. “I told Kara
that myself. I said get another job, get the hell out of that shelter.”

“Let’s
not jump to conclusions,” Cindy interjected. “There’s no evidence yet that
anyone has a vendetta against Kara.”

“I’ll
tell you who would know more about this!” Bea suddenly got excited. “Kara’s
best friend, Alfred, is devastated and has come down to the island to help
out.”

“Where
did you hear that?” Alice was surprised.

“My
sister called from the States and told me,” said Bea.

“Everyone
in the family knows Kara’s best friend?” Cindy was interested.

“Yes,
of course, especially after the spectacle he made of himself at the wedding,”
Bea flared up. “He insisted on dancing with Kara almost half the night.
Everyone thought he was one-upping Rowley.”

“Ridiculous,”
Alice bristled. “Kara and Alfred have been friends since grade school, he’s
practically a brother. He wanted to dance and celebrate with Kara for all he
was worth.”

“It
was excessive, Alice, face it,” Bea insisted.

“Back
off, Bea,” Pete tried again. “Young people dance, they celebrate.”

“Right.
There was nothing excessive about it,” Alice rebutted.

“Well,
nobody agrees with you about that,” said Bea. “In fact, I even heard some
people say they didn’t know why Rowley lets Kara and Alfred stay such close
friends.”

All
eyes turned to Rowley then who seemed lost in his own thoughts, not paying
attention to any of it.

“Rowley,
what do you think of Alfred?” Alice interrupted his reveries.

“He’s
fine, he’s fine,” Rowley murmured. “He and Kara have been friends since they
were kids. He’s not exactly my cup of tea, but I’m happy for her that they’re
close.”

“You’re
happy?” Bea turned to her son with a chilling tone.

“Of
course I’m happy,” Rowley mumbled softly. “Why shouldn’t I be happy? Whatever
makes Kara happy makes me happy too.”

CHAPTER 7

 

When Cindy got back to her hotel room, it was empty.
Mattheus was obviously still with Rod. Cindy decided to put in a call to
Mattheus and see how it was going and when he’d be back.

“I’m staying where I am and having dinner with Rod
tonight,” Mattheus replied.

“Okay, fine,” said Cindy, slightly surprised.
Usually she and Mattheus met to go over the day and plan out the next steps at
dinner.

“Rod really needs me now, Cindy,” said Mattheus.
“You can imagine how upset he is.”

“Yes, of course I can,” said Cindy. It was right for
Mattheus to stay beside an old friend who was going through something as awful
as this.

“Did it go well with Alice?” Mattheus asked.

“It was all right,” said Cindy. “I found out that
Kara worked at a shelter for abused women. Naturally, there’s a concern about
that. They’re wondering if it’s connected with her going missing.”

“Rod mentioned that to me,” Mattheus responded. “In
my opinion that’s far-fetched.”

“I also met Rowley’s parents,” Cindy continued, “and
learned that a close friend of Kara’s, Alfred, came down to the island to
help.”

“Good,” said Mattheus, “that’s important
information. Contact him right away. See if you can have dinner with him
tonight. We’ve got to make use of every moment.”

It was a good idea, made perfect sense.

“I want to spend as much time with Rod as is
needed,” Mattheus went on. “He’s my friend, he’s broken, he needs me.”

“Of course,” said Cindy. “I’ll see you later, when
you return.”

 

*

 

Cindy immediately got Alfred’s phone number from Bea
and then quickly put in a call to him.

 “This is Cindy Blaine, from CM Investigations,” she
said the minute he picked up.

“Who gave you my number?” asked Alfred, nervously.

“Rowley’s mom,” said Cindy.

“How can I help?” Alfred continued, sounding even
more jittery than before.

“I’d love to meet with you and talk,” said Cindy.
“My partner and I are working on the case and we need all the information we
can get.”

“Sure thing,” Alfred answered quickly. “That’s why I
came down. I’m here to bring Kara home safely. I’ll do whatever I can.”

Cindy felt the deep concern in his tone and liked
him immediately. “You’re a good friend,” she murmured.

“That’s putting it mildly,” said Alfred. “I’ve known
Kara my entire life long. We grew up together. I know all of her secrets.”

“She’s like a sister,” Cindy corrected herself.

“Even closer than that,” Alfred insisted.

Cindy wasn’t exactly sure what he was telling her.
“What’s closer than a sister?” she asked.

“I don’t know how to put it,” Alfred mumbled, “but
there’s no way I’m not finding Kara and bringing her home.”

Rather than waiting for dinner, Cindy and Alfred
decided to meet in an hour. Alfred wanted to go into town with her, walk
through the markets and talk.

“While we’re walking we can keep our eyes open for
Kara,” he suggested. “It’s better to be where there are lots of people around.”

Cindy smiled. It sounded as though Alfred was a
home-grown detective, had all kinds of fantasies about how Kara might turn up.

“Is that okay with you?” Alfred continued.

“It’s fine,” said Cindy, wanting him to feel as
comfortable as possible. “See you soon.”

 

*

 

Cindy took a cab to the Castries to meet Alfred in
front of an open market named Cosa Nana. He said he’d be standing in front
wearing khakis and a hand-dyed T-shirt. Cindy would recognize him immediately
if she looked for someone with tousled sandy hair and amazing green eyes.

The moment she stepped out of the cab, Cindy saw a
young man who looked exactly as Alfred described. She went right over to him.

 “Alfred?” Cindy asked.

“Cindy Blaine?” His eyes lit up. As he’d said,
Alfred had amazingly green eyes; they were translucent and startling.

“I really appreciate your time,” said Cindy.

“That’s silly,” he answered right away. “My time is
totally devoted to finding Kara. Take all of it you want.”

“Thank you,” said Cindy.

“Like it here?” Alfred motioned to the bustling
streets with one colorful, duty-free shop after another. “Think it’s a good
place to start?”

“To start what?” asked Cindy. “Looking for Kara?”

“Nah, I’ve already started that,” said Alfred.

“I like it here,” Cindy went on then. “Let’s walk a
little, I want to talk.”

“They’ve put up her posters in some of the shops
here,” Alfred mentioned as they started walking along.

Cindy felt exceptionally at ease with Alfred, as if
they were old friends. As they walked his eyes kept flitting in and out of the
shop’s doorways, as if hoping to spot Kara milling among the crowds.

“Did Kara ever do something like this before?” Cindy
started as they walked.

“Like what?” Alfred was jarred.

“Like running away?” Cindy continued.

At that Alfred slowed down, digging his foot into
the ground. “Of course not,” he answered in a throaty tone. “Kara wasn’t the
kind to hide from trouble. That’s what I loved about her my whole life long.”

Cindy suddenly wondered about Alfred’s life. Did he
live near Kara? Was he obsessed with her? Did he ever have a girlfriend of his
own?

“You lived near Kara your whole life long?” Cindy
asked then.

“That’s right, since we were kids,” he said. “I saw
her grow up, met all her boyfriends, was there when she graduated from college
with honors.” Alfred almost sounded like a proud father.

“And what about you, Alfred? What do you do?” Cindy
asked lightly.

“I’m a graphic designer,” Alfred replied. “I design
graphic horror novels .”

“That’s very impressive,” said Cindy.

“Thanks,” he replied. “Kara loves my work, too. She
always encourages me.”

“Were you ever boyfriend and girlfriend?” Cindy
couldn’t help but ask. “She had to get the question out there and see what
happened.”

“No, we never were,” said Alfred. “We didn’t need to
be. We were more than that. “

“More?” asked Cindy. “What’s more?”

“Boyfriends and girlfriends come and go, but really
good friends are there for a lifetime. Kara and I talked about it lots of
times.”

Cindy was fascinated by him and his relationship
with Kara. “You’re fortunate that Rowley feels okay about your friendship,”
Cindy couldn’t help but comment.

“Of course he feels okay, why shouldn’t he?” Alfred
was offended. “It was never romantic between Kara and me, ever.”

“Still, some men could have trouble with their wives
being so close to another man,” said Cindy.

“Sure, some guys could,” Alfred conceded, “but Kara
would never have gotten involved with someone like that. I’ll tell you one
thing right now. She would never, ever, ever let anyone get between her and
me.”

Cindy swallowed hard. Alfred’s feelings for Kara
were extremely intense. “And how do you feel about Rowley?” she went on.

“He’s okay.” Alfred turned and looked at Cindy with
a rumpled grin. “Rowley makes Kara happy, so I have to like him.”

“But do you like him, really?” asked Cindy.

“Rowley’s not someone I’d choose myself,” Alfred
continued. “Did you look at his Facebook page?”

“Not yet,” said Cindy, startled to realize that she
hadn’t yet done it.

“No big deal,” Alfred went on casually, “but when
you look at his page you’ll see that it’s full of pictures of all kinds of
women, with messages from them, too. The women like this guy and everyone knows
it. It’s his reputation. But still, Kara doesn’t mind at all.”

“How could she not mind it?” asked Cindy as they got
to the end of the block and stopped in front of an outdoor café.

“Want to get some coffee?” asked Alfred before they
turned the corner.

“Definitely,” said Cindy, more tired and thirsty
than she realized.

 

*

 

The café was open and inviting and it was wonderful
to sit down. Cindy ordered a latte and Alfred had the same. It was good that
the two of them felt so comfortable with each other, thought Cindy. Alfred was
obviously a treasure trove of information about Kara’s life.

Cindy decided to pick up right where they’d left
off. “Why didn’t Kara mind that Rowley was a ladies’ man?” she asked as they
waited for their coffee.

“Why should she?” Alfred was surprised. “Kara knew
that Rowley was totally, madly in love with her. He’d do anything for her. It
made her confident.”

The coffees came and Cindy took a long, slow drink
of hers. It was warm, spicy, and delicious.

 “Was Kara right to have that kind of confidence in
Rowley?” Cindy asked as she put the glass back down on the table.

 Alfred left his coffee untouched. “I always thought
so,” he said, “but how can you be sure? And besides, it’s never so good for a
woman to think a guy is totally, completely in love with her, either. It makes
him putty in her hands.”

“Was Rowley putty in Kara’s hands?” Cindy shot back,
intrigued.

“Yeah, of course he was,” said Alfred. “And how
could she really respect a guy like that? It had to backfire sooner or later, I
always thought.”

“Did you tell that to Kara?” Cindy was fascinated.

“Yeah, sure I told her,” said Alfred, “but she only
laughed. She said it wouldn’t backfire, that she liked it. She was glad Rowley
never made her feel worried or jealous.”

“Some women prefer that kind of man,” said Cindy.

Alfred looked at Cindy out of the corner of his eye.
“Some women, but not most,” he answered slyly. “Most women get bored with a guy
like that.”    

Cindy decided to go to the heart of the matter.
“What happened to Kara?” She asked the question swiftly and pointedly, letting
it land like a small shaft of lightning.

“I believe Kara was taken, kidnapped.” Alfred ‘s
voice got shaky.

That startled Cindy. “Kidnapped? Why? By whom?”

“It’s complicated,” Alfred mumbled.

“Right now the police believe it was an accident,”
said Cindy. “They think Kara went swimming and got caught in a tide.”

“That didn’t happen.” Alfred was definite.

“How can you be so sure?” asked Cindy, alerted.

“This is off the record, okay?” said Alfred.

The hairs rose on Cindy’s arms. “Of course,” she
said.

“I got an email from Kara,” Alfred continued. “She
sent it after they say she disappeared. So she didn’t drown, she sent me the
email!”

Cindy gasped. “Why is this off the record? It’s
incredibly important! Did you show the email to the police?”

“I don’t trust the police,” Alfred whispered. “The
police could be in on the kidnapping for all we know.”

“Why would they?” Cindy’s voice rose.

“There are all kinds of possibilities,” said Alfred,
looking slightly unhinged.

Cindy suddenly wondered if Alfred were paranoid and
dreaming this up, or if he really knew something.

“Let’s start with the email,” Cindy continued
slowly. “Why do you say she wrote it after they say she disappeared?”

“Because of the time on it,” Alfred replied.

“That could just be the time you received it,” said
Cindy.

“No,” he insisted, “it was the time it was sent.”

Cindy’s mouth grew dry. She was very grateful that
Albert didn’t suspect her along with the police, that he was talking to her.

 “Thank you so much for sharing this with me,
Alfred,” she said, wanting to make sure he knew how much she appreciated his
trust.

“I like you,” said Alfred, tapping his hands on the
table.

“I like you, too,” Cindy replied.

“I don’t want to give anything to the police
prematurely,” Alfred continued. “I want to see what they do on their own, let
them flush the truth out.”

“They’re searching for Kara night and day,”
whispered Cindy.

“And for all we know they’re the ones who stashed
her away!” Alfred wouldn’t let that idea go.

“Why would they do that? Why, Alfred?” asked Cindy.

“I’m looking into it,” he answered slowly. “Don’t
worry, pretty soon, I’ll find out.”

“What did Kara write in the email?” Cindy asked
then, flustered, wondering if Kara mentioned that the police were after her.

“Kara just said she was thinking of me, and that I
never should forget her,” Alfred replied, his lower lip curling downwards as
though he were about to cry.

BOOK: Death by Temptation
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