After She's Gone (West Coast 3) - Page 27

“I’ll have another. Of these.” Holly hoisted her glass and when the waitress cast another glance at Cassie, she shook her head. After she moved to the next table, Holly turned to Cassie and said, “I just don’t get why anyone would voluntarily check themselves into a nuthouse.”

“Pressure. Stress.”

“Because of the Allie thing, yeah, okay . . .” Holly nodded, her head wobbling a bit. “Whoa . . . maybe I’d better slow down.” She let her drink go untouched as she leaned back in the booth. “So what do you think happened to her?”

Cassie slowly shook her head and stared at the copper cup. “Don’t know. It’s upsetting, to say the least.” She thought about her mother’s grief, her fears, and once again, felt as if she were the worst daughter on earth for not communicating more with Jenna. She grew silent and Holly was quick to fill the ensuing lapse in the conversation.

“I wasn’t that close to Allie, but if you ask me, she was a head case . . . oh, sorry, that’s probably a sensitive subject.”

“I’m okay.”

“Good. Good. But it was the whole man thing with Allie, y’know? From one to the other. I mean, I’m not one to judge, hell, who wouldn’t want to hop in a few of the beds she warmed, you know what I mean? This isn’t a judgment call—God knows I’m no saint—but it wasn’t just casual sex with her, was it?”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t mean to get too personal, but didn’t she go after some of your boyfriends, even your husband?” Holly held up her hands, palms outward, stopping any answer Cassie would make. “Sorry . . . sorry . . . I should leave Trent out of it. But Brandon McNary? She swore she was over him, right? I mean, I heard it over and over again, and they barely spoke on the set of Dead Heat.”

“They’d broken up just before it started shooting.”

“I know, but I got this feeling, call it a vibe or female intuition or whatever, that she was still in love with him.”

“McNary? Nah . . .” Cassie was skeptical, but she recalled the pictures of Allie and Brandon in Allie’s bedroom.

The waitress deposited the new drink and Holly actually smacked her lips. “She still had a thing for him,” she insisted.

Cassie shrugged and nursed her Moscow Mule as customers continued to drift into the bar. The decibel level had risen to the point that Holly was nearly shouting in order for Cassie to hear her. After Holly downed her last drink, they paid their tab, splitting the lopsided bill, and the minute they stepped away from their table, two couples who had been eyeing it descended. Each claimed ownership rights, and a squabbling match ensued.

Outside, the sun was dipping into the Pacific, the sky striped in vibrant hues of orange and pink. A cool breeze blew inland and rustled the fronds of the tall palms guarding the entrance to the hotel, and Cassie was reminded why she loved this part of California as she watched Rollerbladers, dog walkers, and runners vying with pedestrians on the long stretch of sidewalk raised above the beach.

“You ever talk to anyone from the movie?” Holly asked.

“I’ve been kind of out of it.”

They were walking along the sidewalk toward the parking space that Cassie had claimed.

“Yeah, but not totally, right?”

Cassie wasn’t sure where this was going, but admitted, “Recently I spoke to Lucinda Rinaldi. I visited her in a rehab facility.”

“She gonna be okay?”

“I don’t know. She was still struggling to walk, so it’s going to be a while.”

“I bet she’ll sue.”

“Maybe. It was sure as hell traumatic.”

“For everyone,” Holly said. “God, I still have nightmares. I can’t imagine what she’s going through.” She rubbed her arms as if experiencing a sudden chill.

As they rounded a corner Cassie added, “I saw Brandon McNary, too, well, actually I ran into him at Allie’s apartment building in Portland. Turns out he lives across the hall. Or he did while they were filming.”

“Wow, he still has the place?” Holly fumbled inside her bag and found her phone, quickly scanned her texts again, then pulled out a pair of oversize sunglasses.

“I guess.”

“Convenient.” She slid the shades onto her nose. “You haven’t talked to Arnette? The man thinks he’s God, y’know. Got one nomination from the Academy and suddenly, his head swells up and he’s like above everyone else.”

Cassie shook her head. “Not since right after the shooting on the set.”

Tags: Lisa Jackson West Coast Mystery
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