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The Woods, Page 13

Harlan Coben

Chapter 14

  After Flair Hickory finished with Chamique, I met with Loren Muse in my office. "Wow," Loren said. "That sucked. " "Get on that name thing," I said. "What name thing?" "Find out if anyone called Broodway 'Jim' or "Ј" as Chamique insists, he went by James. " Muse frowned. "What?" "You think that's going to help?" "It can't hurt. " "You still believe her?" "Come on, Muse. This is a smoke screen. " "It's a good one. " "Your friend Cingle learn anything?" "Not yet. "

  The judge called the court day over, thank God. Flair had handed me my head. I know that it is supposed to be about justice and that its not a competition or anything like that, but let's get real.

  Cal and Jim were back and stronger than ever. My cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID. I didn't recognize the number. I put the phone to my ear and said, "Hello?" "It is Raya. " Raya Singh. The comely Indian waitress. I felt my throat go dry. "How are you?"

  Fine. "Did you think of something?" Muse looked at me. I tried to look at her as if to say, this is private.

  For an investigator, Muse could be slow on the pickup. Or maybe that was intentional. "I probably should have said something earlier," Raya Singh said. I waited.

  "But you showing up like that. It surprised me. I'm still not sure what the right thing to do is. " "Ms. Singh?" "Please call me Raya. " "Raya," I said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. " "It was why I asked why you were really there. Do you remember?" "Yes. "

  "Do you know why I asked that - about what you really wanted?" I thought about it and went with honest: "Because of the unprofessional way I was ogling you?" "No," she said. "Okay, I'm game. Why did you ask? And come to think of it, why did you ask if I killed him?" Muse arched an eyebrow. I didn't much care. Raya Singh didn't reply. "Miss Singh?" Then: "Raya?"

  "Because," she said, "he mentioned your name. "

  I thought that maybe I'd heard wrong, so I asked something stupid. "Who mentioned my name?" Her voice had a hint of impatience. "Who are we talking about?" "Manolo Santiago mentioned my name?" "Yes, of course. " "And you didn't think you should tell me this before?" "I didn't know if I could trust you. " "And what changed your mind?" "I looked you up on the Internet. You really are the county prosecutor. "

  "What did Santiago say about me?"

  "He said you lied about something. "

  "About what?"

  "I don't know. "

  I pushed ahead. "Who did he say it to?"

  "A man. I don't know his name. He also had clippings about you in his apartment. " "His apartment? I thought you said you didn't know where he lived. "

  "That's when I didn't trust you. "

  "And you do now?"

  She did not reply to that one directly. "Pick me up at the restaurant in one hour," Raya Singh said, "and I'll show you where Manolo lived. "