“He means toes,” Kane said, shrugging. “He heard the word on ‘The Simpsons’ and I told him it meant toes.”
“Yes, you darling child,” Samantha said. “I’ll wash your toes too and further, if you get dirty, I’ll trade all your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bandages for boring grown-up ones. How’s that for punishment?”
Giggling, the boys ran into the garden.
Kane’s mouth was hanging open as he looked at Samantha as she cleaned up the breakfast dishes.
Turning to him, her face stern and judgmental, she said, “You really shouldn’t let them eat cookies for breakfast, and diet cola is all chemicals. And their hygiene leaves a great deal to be desired.”
Picking up his paper, Kane put it back in front of his face. “You can’t have them, Sam. They’re mine. Get Mike to make you some of your own.”
Samantha didn’t answer him. When she went to the kitchen, she was blushing, for the thought that Kane, who she knew was a widower, might possibly leave the boys with her until he found a mother for them had indeed been uppermost in her mind.
“You want to tell me about you and Nelson?”
“Nelson?” Samantha asked vaguely, for her mind was on the twins, the dear boys Kane had taken away immediately after breakfast. It was almost as though he were afraid that if he left the boys with her any longer, she might succeed in taking them away from him.
“The guy in the bar. You remember him? You met him when you paraded yourself before half of New York while wearing practically nothing.”
Samantha laughed. “Ah, yes that Nelson. Mike, do you think I have the qualifications to be one of those five-hundred-dollar-a-night call girls?”
Mike grunted in answer. “Are you planning to tell me what Nelson wrote on that piece of paper he gave you or not? Of course, I could be like you and snoop through all your possessions to find it, but I have more ethics than that.”
As she picked up his dirty lunch plate, she kissed the tip of his nose. “Couldn’t find it, could you?”
For a moment, Mike looked away, not meeting her eyes, then he left the table to follow her into the kitchen. “Samantha,” he said, “what are you up to?”
“The paper had a name on it, Walden, and a telephone number.”
As he watched her load dishes into the washer, he realized that she was avoiding his eyes. Putting his hands on her shoulders, he turned her to face him. “And what have you done about this name and number?”
“I called the number and it seems that Mr. Walden is an attorney and I have an appointment to see him today at three.”
“Were you planning to go alone? Maybe you were planning to tell me that you wanted to do a little shopping, then sneak away to the appointment?”
“Mike, it’s not as though I was planning to secretly meet somebody like Doc by myself. This man is an attorney, and he’s young, at least he’s younger than most of the people who know anything about Maxie are, so he couldn’t have been too involved with what happened in 1928. Mr. Walden is only fifty-five.”
“And how do you know that?”
“I, well, asked his secretary. I told her I thought he was a man I’d met at a singles’ bar and described him as about twenty-six, blond, and tall. She informed me that Mr. Walden was fifty-five years old, married with four grown children, and five feet six and had gray hair and a potbelly. If he’s that young, what can he know about my grandmother? Do you think he handled some legal work for her or do you think he does actually know something?”
“I guess there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there? Get dressed and we’ll go see him.”
“Mike, you don’t have to go. I can meet him, then come back here and tell you what he had to say.”
It half enraged Mike and half pleased him that she was trying to protect him, for he knew that’s exactly what she was trying to do. He’d made it clear that he wanted her to stop sticking her nose into the mystery of what happened to cause Maxie to leave her family. Now she was continuing to search but was trying to keep her searching from him.
He kissed her softly. “Do you realize that it’s after two o’clock now? If you plan to get into one of those suits of yours and spray your hair with that epoxy stuff and paint your face and—” Samantha was already running toward the bathroom.
At three-fifteen, Samantha and Mike were ushered into Mr. Walden’s office by his thin, pinched-looked secretary. Through a process that Samantha found infuriating (Mike had sent Samantha off to the restroom while he sat on the desk of a very pretty receptionist, looked at her through lowered lashes, and asked her questions about Mr. Walden) they had found out that Walden was a criminal defense attorney; he took on the cases of the most reprehensible men and kept them out of jail. The receptionist had shuddered prettily as she described some of the underworld characters who sometimes came into the office. She said that Mr. Walden didn’t seem to mind the fact that his brilliant defenses kept the most awful people on the street.
“Underworld connections,” Mike said. “No wonder Nelson knows him. What’s wrong with you?”
Samantha was walking beside him so stiffly that her legs hardly bent. “Absolutely nothing is wrong with me. Why should anything be wrong with me? Just because you were looking down that woman’s blouse is no reason for anything to be wrong with me.”
Smiling, Mike took her arm and wouldn’t let her move away. “She had a nice pair of—”