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"And if that's true, you don't believe me, do you?"

"Listen to me, darling. You tell me to my face that you walk on burning coals, I'm going to believe you. I'm just saying that for Dominic, the Dominic I knew, it might have been a little out of character if he didn't even try."

She took a long beat and waited. "Did Mickey know that Dominic too?"

"Mickey? I don't know where Mickey-"

She shook her head in impatience. "Come on, Jim. What I'm asking is if Mickey is a.s.suming that I slept with Dominic too? The way everybody else is?"

"Well, first, not everybody else is."

"That's not an answer!" Her voice taking on a panicky tone. "Did you tell him that you thought I probably was?"

"Easy, hon, easy. Mickey and I never talked about it. Not at all. I had my business with Dominic and Mickey has his life. He never asked about my opinion on any of this we're talking about, and I wouldn't have told him anything because I didn't know anything. Now I do, but only because you've told me. And it's still none of my business. Or his."

"No. I think it is his."

"How's that?"

"It's just that Mickey's investigating who killed Dominic. And I already told him what I told you, that Dominic and I were close but not that close, and if he thought that wasn't true, then not only would I be a liar, but I'd have a motive, you see?"

Parr reached over and patted her on the hand. "You're overthinking this, darling. Mick's not that complicated. You want an old man's opinion, I'd say that he's thinking about you and him, not about you and Dominic. And I couldn't exactly say I'd blame him."

She all but blushed. "You're sweet, Jim. That's a sweet thing to say."

"I'm a sweet old fart all right. But the point is Mick's on your side. We all are."

She let out a deep sigh. "I can't tell you what a relief that is, Jim. Especially after what Ellen . . . what she did in there. I can't have Mickey thinking I did this too. I didn't. I really didn't. You'll tell him that, won't you? And he's got to believe me and you, too, then, right? To stand between me and the police. You see that, don't you?"

" 'Course I do, darling. Even a blind man could see it."

"Well, all right then." Taking another breath, she picked up Parr's hand and kissed it. "Now let's get you home," she said.

She pulled out into the traffic lane, got up a couple of blocks to California Street, and hung a left, heading west.

"You know, if you don't mind," Parr said after a moment, "it's out of the way, but maybe you could drop me out at Sutter."

"What for?"

"I thought I'd talk to some people, see who's hanging around, who knows what."

"Mickey said he was going to be out there talking to Al Carter."

Parr scratched at his cheek. "That's Mickey and Al, and Al's back there at the memorial. So I don't think I'll be in anybody's way, not for a little while, at least."

"So what are you looking for?"

"I don't know exactly, except I'll know

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