Colleen looked down the room toward the casket. "I thought they did a really good job with her hair, and that dress was her favorite, so I'm sure she would have wanted to be buried in it."
She and Spencer had just gone through the line to view Adele's body and to greet her parents. They were now standing at the other end of the room, collecting their thoughts.
He said, "This is the third time I've spoken briefly with Adele's parents since her death. Each time, I almost feel compelled to apologize for their daughter being killed."
"No. I know it's not my fault. I didn't choose her to die. I didn't kill her. Myles Baxter did that. I understand that. Still, when you get finished shaking the barrel, if it were not for me, their daughter would be alive and well today."
Squeezing his hand, Colleen looked into his eyes. "Look, Adele and I were friends. I am totally satisfied in my mind that if she could speak right now, she would tell you to just remember her, and let the rest of it go. After the two of you drifted apart, and she got involved with Patrik, we talked, and she told me that she felt that I was what you needed. Adele said she truly cared about you, and wanted you to be happy. I believe with all my heart that she would say exactly that today - 'Be happy'."
Spencer nodded and gave Colleen a small unconvincing smile, then gave her a hug. "Thanks."
They walked into another room where the coffee pots and vending machines were located. After filling a couple of Styrofoam cups with hot coffee, they found some chairs in the corner and sat down. They had been talking for a few minutes about the funeral arrangements for tomorrow, when Trisha Conrad walked over.
"Excuse me. Chief Blackfeather, you may not remember me. My name is Trisha Conrad."
"Sure," he replied. "The author. I'm glad you could come."
She turned to Colleen. "I'm sorry my dear, but I'm terrible with names. Didn't I meet you in the restaurant once? I believe you were sitting with the chief then too."
"Yes, I believe so. Don't feel badly. I struggle with names myself. Mine is Colleen Danby."
"Well, I talked to some folks outside, and they told me that you were both quite close to miss Johnson. I just wanted to extend my sympathies to you both. You know, I only met her one time. We were both in line at the ice cream shop. We shared a table and talked a bit, as we finished our ice cream cones. She had a really nice personality. It just seems like such a shame." Offering her hand, she said, "Anyway, I just wanted to come tonight and pay my respects. Goodnight to you both."
She had no sooner walked away, when Chappy walked up.
After exchanging the usual awkward small talk that goes on in funeral homes, he asked, "Did I hear right? The funeral is going to be at eight o'clock in the morning?"
Colleen said, "That's true. They had to wait until tomorrow for the funeral to give time for an uncle that lives in Nova Scotia to get here. Apparently, he has to leave again tomorrow afternoon for some reason or another."
Pointing at Colleen's coffee cup, he asked. "Is that stuff any good?"
She laughed. "It's hot."
"Well, that's close enough I suppose,"answered Chappy. "I'm going to get a cup. Be right back."
When he returned, he said, "Spencer, I stopped by the station after you left. Nancy told me the story about this Myles Baxter, and she gave me a picture. Just wanted you to know that I'll be keeping my eyes peeled."
"Thanks Chappy, but if you do spot him, call me. No offense intended my friend, but you are not twenty five anymore. This guy is one bad son of a bitch. He will kill without giving it a second thought."
Chappy grinned and said. "No problem. If I was twenty five again, I'd probably take a run at him, but I know my limitations now. On the other hand, I still have a license to carry, and if he comes after me, my trigger pulls real easy, no matter whether the finger is young or old."
"Yeah, I know," said Spencer. "Still, this guy has a long list of bodies to his credit, not to mention all the ones we will never know about. Be careful. I've told my officers the same thing."
"If you don't have enough 'be carefulls'," Colleen said to Chappy, "I can lend you a few. He gives me at least two an hour."
Chappy reached over and kissed her on the cheek. "As well he should my dear. As well he should. If I were him, I'd lock you up in one of his jail cells until this is over."
"Oh lord... Don't give him any ideas!"
After finishing their coffee, the three of them returned to the main lobby where they found Nancy and Jenny McGrath talking. Jenny thanked Spencer for everything he had done to catch Howard Bailey, and for stopping Betty before things got worse. "Betty didn't know how many people knew about it yet, and she was embarrassed to come out in public right now, so Carol volunteered to stay with her. From what Nancy tells me, a few hours with Carol may prove to be a good thing for Betty."
"Yeah." Nancy spoke up. "We've run into some groups of young girls when we are eating out, or listening to a band somewhere, and she communicates really well with them. She doesn't pull any punches, but she communicates respect at the same time."
"Spencer, look over there," whispered Colleen as she discretely pointed her finger. Against the south wall, almost hidden from view by the mayor and his wife, was Patrik. "I've been watching him for a minute, and the poor guy looks almost miserable. I'm sure he feels out of place, and probably feeling a bit guilty."
He agreed, and spoke up. "Come on folks. Let's go make somebody feel a little better on this sad occasion. I think Adele would have wanted us to." They all walked over, and Spencer offered his hand and said, "Patrik, I'm glad you could make it. I know Adele would have wanted you to be here. Thanks for coming." One after another, they all thanked him for coming, and offered words of encouragement.
Colleen noticed that Patrick's eyes kept drifting toward the end of the room where her casket was located. "Have you been up there to see her yet Patrick?," she asked.
He shook his head side to side. "I don't know what to say to her parents."
She stepped over to him and took him by the arm. "None of us know what to say. Just say something from the heart. Come on, I'll go with you."
He had a difficult time at the casket, but Colleen talked him thru it. When he met Adele's parents, he struggled to say anything, but they welcomed him, and soon they were all talking freely. When they returned to the group, Patrik smiled. "They asked me to come to their house after the funeral tomorrow. Do you think I should?"
"If you want to, you should," answered Colleen, and her statement was quickly backed up by comments from everyone in the group.
When they parked Spencer's pickup near the cabin, he told her to get her pistol out of her purse, and locked the truck doors after he stepped out. Then, with his pistol held alongside his leg, he opened the cabin door, and quickly slipped inside. After a bit, he slipped on the lights. When that produced no sound or movement, he went from room to room, checking closets, and windows. Finally satisfied that the cabin was still secure, he signaled for Colleen to come inside and kept his eyes peeled until she passed by him and stepped inside.
As he pulled the tabs on a couple of cold cans of Coors, he said, "That was a pretty sweet thing you did for Patrick tonight," he said.
"Haven't you noticed?", she said, as she reached for one of the cans. "I'm a pretty sweet girl."
"Yes you are," he said, as he took her into his arms.