I said, “Who are you, Raven No-name? Who threw you off that cruise ship, and why?”
She started to protest, but I went on, “I was watching through binoculars when it happened.”
“Did you get a good look at them?”
“I could give a description: one was heavy and muscular, the other was skinny and short. But I couldn’t pick them out of a police line-up. They were too far away. Who were they?”
She shook her head and said, “I don’t know. I never saw either one of them before.” I thought she was telling the truth.
“Why did they do it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay, what other weird things are going on in your life?”
“I don’t know, it’s just . . . My father is Daniel Cabral. He’s a state senator in California. He has someone on his staff that I thought might be dishonest. Daddy wouldn’t believe me, so I hired a private detective to check her out. But he didn’t find anything wrong.”
“You think he might had stirred this up?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t know. He was – kind of slimy. Most P.I.s are, I guess.”
“Careful. I used to be one.”
“Sort of. I worked for a P.I. in San Francisco while I was in college. It was a part time thing. What else could account for what happened to you?”
“You aren’t an escaping Mafioso bride? Or the daughter of a drug kingpin? You didn’t find a secret treasure map in an old trunk in the attic?”
She laughed for the first time. She had a face made for laughter.
“You’ll have to decide for yourself what I am. Everyone I know thinks I’m something different.” She folded her legs under her and the baggy jeans tried to conform to her curves, but there wasn’t enough of her to fill them. They remained shapeless, but I remembered those tan and lovely legs and I was having a little difficulty concentrating. “Daddy thinks I’m flighty and my sister thinks I exploit people.”
“What do you think?”
“I think I’m a pretty nice person,” she said, but she made it a challenge. Believe it or not. She was an odd one.
I said, “I believe you,” and refilled our coffee mugs.
The little cabin was cozy with the fire and the oil lamps reflecting off varnished wood. Raven was braced into a corner against the motion of the ship. The baggy jeans had drawn tight across the top of her thighs in this new position and her brown toes gripped at the side of a locker like blunt little fingers holding her in place. She worked a brush through the tangle of her heavy, black hair, wincing prettily when the brush stuck in rat’s nests.
I was having a little trouble breathing.
She stopped her brushing and said, “I think you are a pretty nice person, too. Thank you for treating me decently. Especially,” she grinned, “considering how I was dressed when you found me.”
“Tell me what happened, and what led up to it.”
“The big guy was named James Davis. Or so he said.”
“Jim Davis draws Garfield the Cat.”
“I know. Probably an alias, but not as obvious as John Smith. He approached me in Bermuda the last night I was there. Used a pick-up line, made small talk in a bar, that sort of thing. I wasn’t interested so I turned him off, but I had a hard time getting loose from him. He said he had a car rented for one more day and wanted to give me a tour of the island. First I said no, then I made excuses, and finally I had to make a scene to get away from him.”
“Crazy jealousy? The revenge of a jilted lover?”
She shook her head. “It wasn’t like that. He was insistent, but the whole thing didn’t last ten minutes and I gave him no encouragement. Unless he was completely psychotic, it couldn’t be a motive for what he did. And it wouldn’t explain the second man.”
“Go on.” more tomorrow