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Startled, Alicia jerked her hands away from the wheel and her head toward Juhle, who wore a practiced professional expression and held his badge open next to the window.

After a brief moment of what he took to be confusion, she moved one hand over to the door and the window came down.

"Yes?"

"Ms. Thorpe. Inspector Juhle, you may remember. I wonder if we could ask you just a few more questions?"

She dropped her head before lifting it back up again. Then she dredged half a smile from somewhere, said, "Sure," grabbed her purse, rolled up the window, and pushed open the door.

By this time, Russo had joined Juhle, and now the three of them marched across the lawn and down the side path that led to the entrance to her room in the back. The wind wasn't as strong as it had been downtown, although the mist and drizzle out here had intensified into true rain, falling straight down on them.

It didn't make any of them walk any more quickly.

When they got inside with the door closed behind them, Alicia hit the lights and adjusted the thermostat, then turned. "I'm just going to throw on a pullover, if that's okay." She crossed the room and took down a bright green knitted sweater that was hanging from a peg on the opposite wall, and brought it over her head. Coming back to them, she got to the table and pulled out one of its chairs, indicating that they do the same.

They all sat.

"I'm supposed to be at work in about an hour and a half. Should I call them and tell them I'll be late?"

Juhle and Russo exchanged a glance, and Russo said, "I don't think we'll be that long, but if we get close, you'll have that opportunity. Okay?"

"Fine." She looked from one inspector to the other. "So." She drew a breath. "What can I do for you?"

"Well," Juhle began, "as I said, we've got a few more questions for you."

"About Mr. Como?"

Russo had gone solemn, and she nodded. "Him and a few other things, yes."

"Am I some kind of a suspect?" Alicia asked.

Juhle answered. "We haven't identified any true suspects yet, Ms. Thorpe. We're trying to fill in gaps in our understanding at this time. And hope you might be able to help us."

"So I'm not under arrest?"

"You are absolutely not under arrest," Juhle said. "You don't have to talk to us at all and can terminate this interview at any time."

"So I don't need to call a lawyer?"

Russo forced a conspiratorial smile. "If you want to call a lawyer, Alicia, that is your right," she said. "We could wait here for him or her to show up, or make another appointment later. But we are hoping to keep making progress on this case and thought you would want to help us keep it moving along to catch Mr. Como's killer."

"It shouldn't take us more than a half hour," Juhle added. "Maybe less."

"Okay," Alicia said. "In that case . . ."

"Great. Thank you." Juhle took out his pocket tape recorder and placed it on the table between them. "We'll just be taping what we

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