"Good theory. So you guys didn't have other family?"
"One aunt in Texas. An uncle in Florida. Neither interested."
"So how'd you and your sister stay connected?" Mickey asked.
"Alicia, mostly, not giving up. We both bounced around a lot. Foster homes, you know? You too?"
Mickey shook his head. "We didn't have that. My grandfather-the one who drove for Como-showed up and took us in. Saved us, no doubt. Maybe himself in the bargain."
"Well, Alicia and me, we got split up and farmed out to different families. I got into some bad behavior mixed with drugs and wound up at the youth work farm till I was seventeen. Alicia, she moved in with three or four different families, but she had some issues of her own-guys, mostly-and none of the family units took. But somehow she kept up on me, where I was, and finally talked me into the Sunset Youth Project."
Mickey nodded. "One of Como's charities."
"Right. Actually, the main one. So, anyway, between that place and Alicia keeping me honest, I eventually straightened out, got back into school, and then even college. A miracle, really."
"But now you say your sister needs a private eye around Dominic's death?"
Thorpe nodded. "She volunteered out at Sunset and got pretty close to him in the last few months. The cops came by and talked to her yesterday. She got the impression that she was some kind of a suspect."
Mickey sat with that for a moment. At last, he picked up his coffee and sipped at it. "How close was pretty close?"
"I don't know, not for sure."
"But what would you guess?"
Thorpe made a face, then shrugged. "I'd say it wouldn't be impossible that they were having an affair, though Alicia's always said she'd never go out again with a married guy."
"I told you, guys were always her problem. She's kind of pretty, and then of course having her father kill himself, she's got a few issues of abandonment and self-esteem. Wants to prove she's attractive to men. You'd think after the first fifty, the issue would kind of go away. But in Dominic's case, I didn't ask, and she didn't say. She did tell me, though, that she didn't kill him."
He nodded. "Directly. I wanted to know what we were dealing with."
"And you believe her?"
"Absolutely. She wouldn't ever lie to me. I'm sure of that."
"Plus, you should see her. When it finally came out he was actually dead and not just missing, after you found him in the lagoon . . . I mean, she's been crying full-time ever since."
Even with his limited experience of criminal matters, Mickey had learned that crying wasn't a guarantee of innocence or of much else. Wyatt Hunt had told him that most people who kill someone close to them spend at least some time afterward crying about it for one reason or another-genuine remorse for what they'd done, or self-pity for the predicament in which t
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