Loving Memories – Excerpt

"How did you… Where did the letter come from?" Steve asked.

Jenny had expected the question, so it was easy to answer. "The detective dealing with the case—Detective Inspector Reid—gave it to me. It's only a copy. The original was kept as evidence. They found it in her bra. She'd written it and then hid it. She'd obviously had time… They hadn't damaged her, I mean… Her body was unmarked except for the bullet wound, so they hadn't done anything." She stopped, swallowed the bile that rose in her throat, then gave herself a moment of composure, feeling him drag her into a hard embrace. "Initially they thought the letter might contain a clue to who her attacker was, but they quickly decided it didn't."

Steve grunted. She felt his nod and pushed out of his arms.

"I could…I could use another drink," she said.

He moved away, reached for his own glass, and gulped the rest of the amber liquid down. Then he poured them both another generous amount. "You better sit down."

Jenny nodded and followed his instructions. Once cushioned on the chair, she sucked in a deep breath. "I need to tell you how this happened. You need to decide if you want me to hang around and help solve this problem."

He gazed deeply into her eyes, as if examining whatever thought processes she had. "I don't think…"

"Steve, something in her background caused this to happen. I need to find out, and so do you. Inspector Reid indicated he thought it was no more than bad timing. But Cara was always careful. I explained that to him. She wouldn't stay in a dive, but that's where they found her. Why? Why was she there? Who was she meeting? Because it wasn't me. I didn't even know she was heading to Melbourne. None of this makes sense."

He handed her the glass and she drank deeply, the fire a little more muted than last time. He sloshed some more in her glass, and she glanced at him with question. But she was sure that tonight she'd need every bit of oblivion this drink could give her.

"Jenny, if this was more than a case of wrong place, wrong time, or wrong person—"

She opened her mouth, but he raised a hand, cutting off her words.

"If there is more to this and she was targeted for some specific reason—and I honestly don't know if that's the case—then this is not something you want to be involved in. Hell, I'm not sure I should even be involved." He shook his head. "An investigation like this takes knowing people and a clear mind. Something I don't have at the moment." He sighed heavily. "I can ask questions, and like you, I need to know the truth, but Lola needs to be protected."

She slumped back in the chair, her mind whirling madly as she scrubbed her hand across her face. She came here simply to deliver Cara to her lover, but the more he questioned the circumstances, the more she felt driven to find out exactly what caused Cara's death.

"Tell me how you met her," Jenny said.

He jerked, her request obviously a surprise. "Why?"

Jenny's stomach turned cartwheels, and for a moment, the cloying thickness of grief and depression swirled. Not tonight, she promised herself, and closed her eyes, fighting off the sensation as best she could. She needed to know more.