Linda led them into a small office and they each took seats.
“Now,” said Linda, “tell me. What is this about?”
Holly exchanged a quick glance with Peter and dived in. “It’s about your ex-husband, Lionel?”
“Lionel?” Linda looked surprised. “You didn’t know him did you?”
Now was the time to tread the fine line between truth and an out and out lie. “I met him shortly before he died.”
Linda frowned. “You weren’t dating were you?”
“No, definitely not,” said Holly hastily.
“Thank goodness.” Linda breathed a sigh of relief. “That would have been the last thing I needed. Not that I’d put it past Lionel but sorting through his affairs is hard enough without a twenty year old girlfriend to deal with. No offense.”
“Lionel dated a lot?”
“I have no idea what he did after I left. We didn’t part on very good terms and I’m afraid it never got much better. He flew down to visit the children sometimes but usually we tried to stay out of each other’s hair. Not,” she added, “that I wasn’t sad when I heard he died. You make a life with someone, build a family; you can’t go through that without some emotion can you?”
“No,” said Peter, “you can’t.”
“And the fact that it was heart failure caused by a mugging. It’s a horrible way to die. He must have been terrified. But I still don’t quite understand-”
“Why we’re here?”
“Yes. You said you’d met him?” she asked, looking at Holly.
“I did. He wanted my help putting him in touch with someone. Someone who I know he argued with the night he died.”
There was a long silence, Linda glancing from one to the other of them. “What are you trying to say?”
“We’re just looking for some explanations.”
“Explanations for what? Do you think…do you think there was something wrong in his death? Something more wrong then just a mugging gone wrong?” asked Linda.
“I don’t know,” said Holly, “but I think if there was it should be discovered. Don’t you?”
Linda looked doubtful, maybe she shouldn’t be pushed but Holly could sense she was losing her.
“Did Lionel have any money problems?”
“We talked to Clint Morgan. We know that Lionel was behind on child support payments.”
“I really don’t see what that-”
“There’s a possibility,” Holly hurried on, “that money was part of the reason for whatever happened to Lionel. Which is why we need to know if he ever seemed to have too much money? Enough that it made you ask questions about it, maybe questions he couldn’t answer.”
It was there, if only for a split second, but it was still there. Linda’s expression was startled but Holly could see the recognition on it. Something she’d said had struck a chord. Whatever that chord was however, Linda shut it down and shook her head.
“Are you trying to imply that Lionel was involved in something illegal?”
“Or he knew someone else that was.”
“My husband was not a blackmailer if that’s what you’re trying to say. I loved him. I was married to him for eight years. We tore each other apart by the end of it but that doesn’t change the feelings that were there. I don’t know why you’re here or what you’re after, but I have to ask you to please leave.”
Reluctantly, Holly stood. “I’m sorry if we upset you.” She hesitated a fraction of a second hoping Linda would relent, but the woman simply sat there, her arms crossed, glaring at her.
Holly and Peter left the office and walked outside to their car. They were both silent until they were inside it, when Holly leaned wearily against the steering wheel.
“I messed up didn’t I?” she asked. “I should have built up to it more. I should have told her less.”
“You did as good as anyone could,” said Peter. “She just didn’t want to hear it.”
“I thought for one second there-”
“I saw it too. When you asked about the money. She remembered something.”
“Why didn’t she tell us then?”
“Respect for his memory? Denial? Or possibly she was involved herself. They were married. If he regularly blackmailed people she could have known about it.”
Holly smiled ruefully. “I thought when she turned out to be your number one fan we might have gotten lucky.”
Peter laughed. “So did I.”
“I guess this whole trip was a waste though. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I think we’re onto something. And Linda’s reaction, no matter how short it was, makes me a whole lot more curious now about Lionel and what she didn’t want to tell us.”