Chapter One

The Box

I WAS IN DEEP SHIT. The other two times that I had been in police custody, both for drunk driving, were ridiculously trivial compared to this. This was serious. This was murder.

I looked at my watch. I had been in the box—a term I learned from detective shows—for exactly five hours and twenty-three minutes and had been alone for more than an hour before the door slammed open and Detective Dickhead, also known as Portland Police Detective Mike Goodwin, entered the room, pulled out a chair, and sat down.

 

He had shown up at my apartment earlier that night looking fairly sexy in a tall, blond, quirky sort of way. I had been intrigued, almost attracted, by his tailored suit, fitted shirt, and silk tie—things I didn’t normally associate with Maine detectives. His attractiveness, however, had diminished in proportion with his smug suspicion, and once he took me down to the station, his appeal evaporated, revealing a totally aggravating asshole. Unfortunately, he was the aggravating asshole who had my fate in his hands.

I wrapped my arms around my waist and bent down in a feeble attempt to assuage the dread flooding the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t escape my fate. I was obviously, unjustly doomed.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Lucy Hayes, or Lucy May, depending on who you’re talking to. About six months ago, I got out of rehab and, with two sober roommates, moved to Portland, Maine, was kidnapped twice, and eventually helped solved a murder. During that time I also acquired a hunky Aussie boyfriend with a rambunctious standard poodle, and an AA sponsor whose spirit guides liked to issue enigmatic warnings involving various mammals.

Currently, my Aussie boyfriend’s wife has been murdered, I am the prime suspect, and truth be known, if I weren’t so scared, I’d be flattered, or at least a bit more impressed with my importance to the case.

“So,” Detective Goodwin started, “again, I just want to get this straight. You have never been to Marie, or Claire, as you know her, Rollins’s apartment, correct?

“Correct,” I answered for the umpteenth time.

“And you agree that this earring is one that you designed?”

I nodded.

He fingered the laminated moon and crazy eight ball earring through the plastic evidence bag. “It’s actually kind of cool. I like this image of the moon.” He flipped the bag over. “Does all of your jewelry have this same sort of message?”

He was referring to the quote that was on the flipside of the earring. All of my pieces were unique, mini collages with various messages on the back. The earring in question was a personal favorite I had designed for myself, and the message asked the crazy eight ball a question. “Do full moons make people crazy?” with the subsequent answer, “It is decidedly so.”

The night before last, there was a full moon, and I remember being irritated by its incandescence, which stubbornly refused to be muted by my thin paper shades. I had pulled off the top sheet from my bed and draped it over the windows. Though the sheet muted the effect, the irritating light still seeped into the room. I had eventually tied a bandana around my eyes, finally falling into a restless sleep. It also happened to be the night that Claire was murdered.

“I kinda like it,” he said with a casual shrug. “Unique. Definitely your style.” He set the earring down on the table and pushed it toward me. “So I gotta ask, do full moons make you crazy? Because I happened to notice that there was one the other night.”

“What would you know about my style?” I asked grumpily, ignoring his question.

“Oh, I don’t know. You’re creative and have a substance abuse problem, though I admit the two often go hand in hand.”

I silently seethed before responding. “Yup, but I’m in recovery. Sober now for almost six months.”

He looked at me with an unreadable expression. “Exactly.”

I remained silent, and he finally continued. “So you’re not denying that this is your earring.”

“I had no idea it was missing, and I certainly don’t know how—”

Goodwin held up his hand as the door opened, and an older, frumpy detective entered the room. “Hey, Mike, mind if I sit in?”

I breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of a familiar, and hopefully sympathetic face. “Thank God! Where have you been? They think I killed Claire! Can you please tell them…him specifically”—I nodded at Goodwin—“that I didn’t do it.”

State Police Detective Phillip Reilly and I were acquainted from his last case, where my roommate’s father and sister’s ex-fiancé had tried to kill me because I discovered that they had killed her. Long story. During that case I was more victim than suspect and wasn’t enjoying the current reversal in roles.

“Now, Lucy,” Detective Reilly soothed, “just calm down. I’m sure we can all figure this out.” He nodded at Detective Dickhead. “Right, Mike?”

Goodwin leaned back in his chair with an infuriating smirk. He ran his fingers through his hair, leaving what might have been a boyishly endearing cowlick in other circumstances.

“Sure, Phil,” he agreed. “Whatever you say. Let her talk.”

Reilly turned to me, adopting his familiar fatherly attitude. “All right, Lucy, let’s start at the beginning.”

I sighed, having already gone over events with Detective Cowlick multiple times. “Starting when?”

“At the beginning.” Reilly settled himself in a chair across from me. “When did you first meet Claire?”

Beau pirouetted in front of Gary and me and asked, “So?”

He was wearing gold, heavy cotton drawstring pants, a red, long-sleeved silk shirt topped with a fringed and beaded suede vest. A headband carefully encircled his bleached curls, and a feather boa was around his neck.

 

“So, since Gabriel was going as a pilgrim, I thought I should represent the Indians. I didn’t have time to make a headband with a feather, so I had to settle for a boa instead. You still get the idea, though, right?”

 

He lifted up a foot and pointed it our way. “Do you like my moccasins? I found them at Renys for eight dollars!”

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