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Hunt shrugged. "Hard to say." He gave them both a pretty much word-by-word account of everyone's reactions to Neshek's murder-Turner, Hess, Carter, Jaime and Lola Sanchez, it didn't take long-and then took a deep breath and came out with what he'd been avoiding. "But aside from them, there actually have been a few new developments."

"Which you're not going to like too much," Tamara added.


Hunt filled him in on the latest news about Alicia, and Mickey brought up the same objections that Tamara had earlier.

"Well, I know how both of you feel," Hunt replied. "But I'd have to say at this point that Devin and Sarah consider her the prime suspect. And you both ought to know that. We'd be smart to think of her the same way. At least until we get something that positively clears her." Hunt's eyes went from Mickey around to his sister. "You think we can do that?"

"We can try," Tamara said at last, folding under the pressure of Hunt's gaze.

Hunt turned back around and leaned in toward the bed. "How 'bout you, Mick? Mick?"

But Mickey's eyes were closed, his breathing regular. For all the world as though the pain drugs had kicked in again and he had faded off to sleep.

At a few minutes after six, Tamara said good- bye to Hunt, got out of the car he'd driven her home in, opened her building's front door, checked her mail-mostly throwaway stuff except for the PG & E bill and the latest Gourmet-and climbed the stairs up to her apartment. Letting herself in with her key, she sang out a greeting, but not too loud, as her grandfather was known to take the occasional nap. "Hey, Jim. I'm home."

When he didn't respond, she walked over a few steps. His bedroom door was ajar. She pushed it open enough to see inside. His bed was still made and he wasn't in it. Well, he was probably hanging out with his friends, she thought. Usually he made it a point to get home by dinnertime, which tended to be around seven. She didn't give his absence a lot of thought.

She dropped the mail onto its spot at the top of the living room bookshelf, then turned and hung up her coat in the closet by the front door. On her way into the kitchen to check the refrigerator for something to drink, she pa.s.sed the phone, saw the number "1" flas.h.i.+ng, and pushed the b.u.t.ton for playback.

"Hi. This is Alicia Thorpe and I'm trying to get ahold of Mickey. Mickey, your cell phone's not picking up. I think it must be not turned on or something, so I'm trying the other number you gave me. Could you give me a call as soon as you get this? Or Jim or Tamara, maybe you could get in touch with him and have him call me. I really need to see Mickey as soon as I can. The police came by again today and . . . well, I can tell Mickey all this when he calls." She left her number and continued. "I should be able to answer all day. I called in sick at work, so really, anytime. But sooner would be better. Thanks. Talk to you soon, I hope."

Tamara, her face

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