I lay in a deck chair, lazing away the day in the afternoon sun, enjoying the warmth on my skin, a glass of Moscato on a nearby table, relaxing on the Saving Grace, my renovated houseboat. I sighed in contentment, as the wind skipped over me. I’d boated over to Haven Marina from my private island earlier in the day to pick up supplies.
I hated shopping so I called the market, talked with Serena Boothby, gave her my grocery list to deliver later in the afternoon. I told her not to hurry, just sometime before nightfall so I could get back to my island before it was too dark.
Just as I reached for my glass of wine, a shadow passed over me, disturbing the pleasant afternoon. “Get out of my sun, whoever you are,” I ordered.
When they didn’t move, I cracked one eye, ready to give them a tongue lashing but held back just in case it was Jack Mackey, my sometime lover.
It was a longtime friend, Nikki Righetti, who I hadn’t seen or heard from in a while, even though she lived in Rockford. She looked like something the cat dragged in and decided it didn’t want. Even in the light of day, she had an unhealthy pallor to her features. I hadn’t ever seen her looking so ragged and unkempt.
She pulled up a deck chair flush with the end of mine. She drew in a deep breath, pointed to the wine bottle on the table. “I could really use a glass of that, if you don’t mind.”
I dragged the cooler from beneath my chair, retrieved another glass from inside and poured a generous amount for my friend. She drank down the wine in one gulp and handed the empty glass back to me.
“I guess you did need that,” I told her, adding more wine to the glass.
She shook her head. “It’s just a bad time for me.”
“Tell me about it. Help me to understand.”
She swirled the wine in her glass, staring down into its depths. “I’m not sure I understand it myself. I loaned out several thousand dollars to this guy, which didn’t belong to me. In essence, I stole it.”
“And I suppose this guy disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again.”
She emptied her glass then glanced up at me with a miserable look. “Yes. I tried to find him. I need to before it’s discovered what I’ve done.”