The Best of Sisters in Crime

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Authors: Marilyn Wallace
Tags: detective, Women Sleuths, Mystery, Women Authors, Anthology
mousse to kiwi tart.”
    I laughed. Who
didn’t know the type? “Say, listen, Danny,” I said. “Did you know Laurie’s been
in the hospital?”
    “Yeah. Marina,
my wife, went to see Stephanie—tried to get her to go out and get some air
while she took care of the baby, but Stephanie wouldn’t budge.”
    “I hear you drew
up Gary’s and Stephanie’s wills.”
    “Yeah. God, I
never thought—poor little Laurie. They asked Gary’s sister to be her
guardian—he hated his brother and Stephanie was an only child.”
    “Guess what?
Gary made another will just before he died, naming the brother as Laurie’s
guardian.”
    “I don’t believe
it.”
    “Believe it. I’ll
send you a copy.”
    “There’s going
to be a hell of a court fight.”
    I wasn’t so sure
about that. The court, of course, wouldn’t be bound by either parent’s
nomination. Since Stephanie’s will nominated Jeri as guardian, she and Michael
might choose to fight it out, but given Michael’s apparent hesitation to take
Laurie, I wasn’t sure there’d be any argument at all.
    “Danny,” I said,
“you were seeing a lot of him, right?”
    “Yeah. We played
racquetball.”
    “Was he dealing
coke? Or something else?”
    “Gary? No way.
You can’t be a dealer and be as broke as he was.”
    The phone rang
almost the minute I hung up. Rob had finished a round of calls to what he
called “his law-enforcement sources.” He’d learned that Gary’s brakes hadn’t
been tampered with, handily blowing my murder theory.
    Or seemingly
blowing it. Something was still very wrong, and I wasn’t giving up till I knew
what the powder was. Mom asked me to dinner, but I headed back to the city— Rob
had said he could get someone to run an analysis that night.
    It was raining
again by the time I’d dropped the stuff off, refused Rob’s dinner invitation
(that was two) and gone home to solitude and split pea soup that I make up in
advance and keep in the freezer for nights like this. It was the second night
after Gary’s death; the first night I’d needed to reassure myself I was still
alive. Now I needed to mourn. I didn’t plan anything fancy like sackcloth and
ashes, just a quiet night home with a book, free to let my mind wander and my
eyes fill up from time to time.
    But first I had
a message from Michael Wilder. He wanted to talk. He felt awful calling me like
this, but there was no one in his family he felt he could talk to. Couldn’t we
meet for coffee or something?
    Sure we could—at
my house. Not even for Gary’s brother was I going out in the rain again.
    After the soup I
showered and changed into jeans. Michael arrived in wool slacks and a sport
coat—not even in repose, apparently, did he drop the stuffy act. Maybe life
with Laurie would loosen him up. I asked if he’d thought any more about being
her guardian.
    It flustered
him. “Not really,” he said, and didn’t meet my eyes.
    “I found out the
original wills named Jeri as guardian. If Stephanie didn’t make a last-minute
one, too, hers will still be in effect. Meaning Jeri could fight you if you
decide you want Laurie.”
    “I can’t even
imagine being a father,” he said. “But Gary must have had a good reason—” he
broke off. “Poor little kid. A week ago everyone thought she was the one who was going to die.”
    “What’s wrong
with her—besides diarrhea?” I realized I hadn’t had the nerve to ask either of
the grandmothers because I knew exactly what would happen—I’d get details that
would give me symptoms, and two
hours later, maybe three or four, I’d be backing toward the door, nodding, with
a glazed look on my face, watching matriarchal jaws continue to work.
    But Michael only
grimaced. “That’s all I know about— just life-threatening diarrhea.”
    “Life-threatening?”’
    “Without an IV,
a dehydrated baby can die in fifteen minutes. Just ask my mother.” He shrugged.
“Anyway, the doctors talked about electrolyte abnormalities,

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