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leaving a trail of hot sauce polka dots on the floor. Fortunately, Marc and Damien were there, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Damien dart forward, cleaning rag in hand. "You and Valerie Conover. You were fighting. I don't mean to pry, but—"
       Like he was sloughing off my comments, Brad twitched his shoulders. "I don't know anyone named Valerie Conover, and even if I did, I sure wouldn't be fighting with her in public. You've got me mixed up with someone else."
       I remembered that out on the street, the man I'd seen with Valerie had been carrying a paper shopping bag with a bouquet of spring flowers poking out of the top of it. I looked from the bag in Brad's hands—the one with the bouquet of spring flowers poking out of the top of it—up to his eyes. They gleamed, and hey, he didn't have to say a word. His look challenged me to press my point.
       I knew I could, and believe me, I wanted to. I may not always admit to being a detective, but after everything that had happened to me since the first time I stepped inside a cooking class, I had finally come to grips with the fact that I have a healthy what's-really-going-on-here streak in me. I was pretty sure the Valerie/Brad smack down had something to do with WOW and that lost job at the Labor Department, but ask anyone, and they'll say I'm the type who likes all my i's dotted and my t's crossed. It's just one of the reasons I got that raise at the bank that day, not to mention why I'm the perfect business manager for Bellywasher's. As always, I was itching to find out the truth.
       Then again, I'm also the type who likes to keep her job.
       I reminded myself that whatever the argument was about, it wasn't worth alienating a paying student. Brad was not a man who would keep his comments to himself if anyone ever asked what he thought of our little establishment, its cooking school, or its employees.
       "You're right. Of course!" I made sure I smiled in an embarrassed sort of way. That wasn't hard, considering that (detective or not) I wasn't comfortable poking my nose in other people's business. I wasn't happy about lying, either, but if I'd learned nothing else in the course of two murder investigations, it was the value of a well-placed fib. "Now that I think about it, that guy didn't have a shopping bag. And he was wearing a raincoat. You've got a leather jacket on. Boy, isn't it funny how when you see someone out of context, even someone you think you know, you can get the details all mixed up."
       Brad's smile was icy. "Told you it was someone else. Someone who looks like me. Whoever he is, I hope he taught that Valerie Conover a thing or two. Any woman who would follow a man, then confront him in public, is obviously a vindictive bitch."
       I had not been indoctrinated by the sisters of WOW, so I wasn't sure how I was going to respond to this. It was a good thing Kegan walked by. Bless him, he'd been helping me get everything set up, and he was just headed over to his station. Along with Jorge, he'd be working on the ice cream sundaes, and he had a basket of peaches in his hand.
       "Speaking of people who look like people . . ." Brad put a hand on Kegan's arm to buttonhole him. "Couldn't help myself. Kept thinking about you all week. There's something really familiar about you, and I can't put my finger on it. Have we met before?"
       Kegan ran his tongue over his lips. "I don't think so."
       "You sure?" Brad stepped back and pointed a finger at the faded tomato on Kegan's T-shirt. "That's what did it. Don't Panic, Eat Organic. When you said that goofy thing last week, that's when I knew I must have met you before. That sounds so familiar."
       The tips of Kegan's ears looked as if they were on fire. He swallowed hard. "It's not a goofy saying," he said, and because he knew Brad would dispute this and possibly cause a scene, he added quickly, "And you could have heard it anywhere. I didn't think of it. I'm not

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