Marissa was sitting in a chair near a crackling fire. She had a brandy snifter in her right hand. A tray with a bottle of brandy and more glasses was nearby.
She stood as we entered, “Any news?” Before we could answer, she stretched her right hand to my left cheek. “You're hurt.”
“Just boys being boys,” I replied. “Nothing to worry about.”
“Did that happen because of me? Were you hurt for me?”
“It was a minor misunderstanding. It's resolved now.” I wished I believed that.
Marissa didn't look as if she believed it, but she also realized that I wasn't going to tell her what happened. “I don't feel good talking in this house. Could we go outside?”
Harry said, “Yes, but you can trust―”
Marissa was gone before he finished, rushing out in the direction of the front door, and, I guessed, the front closet. A few seconds later she came back, shrugging into her winter coat and leading us out through a glass door. The night had grown very cold, but the snow had stopped. Across Long Island Sound, lights sparkled on the north shore of the island.
“What's happened? Are the police closing in on me?”
Harry said, “Not yet.”
“The police are still canvassing the guests at the Philharmonic benefit,” I said. “Sooner or later, they'll find someone who will say they saw you with McGill.”
“Then what happens?”
“NYPD will do everything it can to find you. Fortunately, you're safe here,” I glanced at Harry, who gave me the most minuscule of nods. “They can't find you here. But the police will be building a case against you at the same time as they're looking for you. Unless we find the real killer, you'll be in hiding for the rest of your life. But we're not going to let that happen.”
Marissa's eyes were watery with tears. Couldn't say I blamed her―a guy she hardly knew claimed he was going to save her. Not the stuff of reassurance.
“I didn't kill him,” she murmured, wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand. “I didn't . . . oh my God, I don't know . . . what if I did kill him?”
“You didn't. I'm going to find out who did and serve them up on a silver platter to the NYPD.”
Harry's eyebrows rose at my confident reassurances to her. I have to admit I was overdoing it, but the last thing this woman needed was an honest assessment of her chances. A realistic situation report would have gone more like this: Well, maybe you killed him, maybe you didn't. The police will find you eventually. Either you'll go to jail, or Harry will hide you forever. Whatever happens, you will kiss your old life goodbye. Under the circumstances, my approach, confident baloney that it might be, was much better.
“I'm trapped,” Marissa said. “There's no way out, is there?”
“There is. We'll find it.”
“Are you really as confident as you sound? Or is that for my benefit?
Harry put a hand on her shoulder. “Have faith. You'll be all right.”
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