“I’ve known Dino a long time, Mr. Stewart. He has driven some tough business deals in his time, but he’s always been honest. You can’t say that about a lot of men as rich as he is. He’s invested well, and followed principles others fault him for. In other words, he has true ethics, which can’t be said for many business people.”
“Have you looked into the cast and the other business owners along the strand? Real estate agencies, developers? Surely, someone more likely will present themselves.” Deacon drove his point home. He never would suspect Dino of such atrocities and couldn’t fathom anyone else doing so.
Reyes rose suddenly, ending the conversation. “Thank you, both. Ms. McDermitt and I have to be going now. We appreciate your time, and we’ll be in touch if we need to speak with you again.”
“Is that a polite way of telling us not to leave town?” Kacy was angry with Reyes for his innuendos concerning Dino.
“No, Mrs. Du Champs, it’s a polite way of telling you that we will contact you later.”
The two police officers walked silently out to their car and drove away. Deacon watched them from the doorway, then shut the door and walked into the living room. Kacy picked up one of his cigarettes and lit it, inhaling deeply.
“I didn’t know you smoked.”
“I don’t, but I used to. I’m so aggravated right now, I could throw things! How dare they even suspect Dino of such underhandedness! It makes me furious!” She coughed slightly and took another puff.
“Kacy, they have to work from the obvious to the less obvious. They will determine that Dino isn’t responsible, don’t worry. I wish we could get to the bottom of it, though. I’d hate to have his reputation dragged through the mud.”
“Dino is such a kind person, how could anyone think such a thing?”
“Those closest to him know it’s not possible, but society talks, my love and we both know it. Gossip is not reserved to the poor.”
“Bloody, awful, no good, rotten…!”
“People judge others by their own actions. If they would lie, cheat and steal for a buck, they expect others to go to the same lengths. We know Dino isn’t like that, but lots of people will think he is.”
“I know. I have to get out of the house and do something. I’ll go mad if I don’t!” She started pacing around the living room, the cigarette burning, forgotten in her hand.
“Want to go to the beach, or maybe go to a museum in Daytona?”
“No, I need activity.” She saw the dreamy expression in his eyes. “Other than that,” she giggled. “That only occupies us so long, and then I start thinking again. I was hoping we could go paint that bloody horrible office of mine. There’s plenty of light with all those windows. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Are you sure you want to do that? It’ll be pretty lonely and spooky there.”
“We’ll both be there, how spooky can it be with the two of us? I have a portable iPod deck with batteries, we can set that up and have a paint party. I can’t stand that color scheme another minute! I already bought the paint.” Her grin was a challenge to him.
“All right, let me change into my grungy clothing and we’ll go over. I could use something to do too. If there is enough paint, we’ll hit my office too.”
“Way ahead of you. I bought enough for both.”
They changed into their grubbiest clothing, complete with bandannas over their hair, and headed to the theater. The power company trucks were there with their heavy equipment, putting in the new pole. Deacon wondered if they could possibly finish before it got dark. He had brought a large flashlight and a Coleman lantern he’d found in Dino’s hurricane supplies, in case they needed the light later.
Kacy went into her office chattering happily and Deacon made sure the door was locked behind them. Just to satisfy his own obsessive tendencies, he went through the theater. Common sense compelled him to check every window and door he passed, explore every closet and storage cupboard until he was satisfied they were alone. He even went so far as to double check the little windows in the restrooms to be sure they were locked.
He admitted to himself that although he had been quiet, if someone had been in hiding, it would have been easy to avoid him, following him and hiding where he had already looked. He wasn’t compulsive enough to go back and recheck things in a different order, but he would be cautious.
Kacy was busily mixing the sealant for their first coat. She had bought rollers, pans, brushes and the neat little tools for around windows and cutting corners.
“You buy out the entire paint store?”
“Almost. I got some pretty stencils and such to do in here. You’ll think it fussy, but I also got a nice wall paper trim for either the top of the room or the mid-line. If we want to be really fancy, we can paint that old wood at the bottom a different shade, but I don’t think you care that much.”
“No, ma’am, I sure don’t. I could use this office, and not blink an eye.”
“You would not! These colors are horribly distracting. The last lighting designer must have been color blind.”
She applied the base coat with enthusiasm, quickly and expertly. Deacon was impressed at her speed and skill.
“Don’t just stand there gaping, do the tops of the windows and start on the corners, I can’t reach. Tall people are God’s ladders, you know.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes