Novel 3: Act II, Chapter 3, Scene 3

TOC page here.

Mustapha drops a fatigued Diana off at her car after a long and fruitless night of investigating Bill Knight’s murder:

She surprised herself by actually going home, changing, looking up a yoga class and going. The new teacher had to be younger than Grace. “You have good form, but you’re tense,” said the woman, whose real name was surely not January. “Maybe you should step out side the box mentally. Shake things up, do something different.”

“If you only knew.” Thinking this witty only underscored to Diana how tired she was. The ride home was a blur; at one point, she was staring at her phone, trying to decide whether to listen to any of the three messages Andrew had left, when the driver behind her laid on the horn because the light had been green for at least half a second. She needed a shower, and something to eat, but of course there was nothing at all in the house. She heard herself whimper. It was only just after noon. She made coffee, then waited for it to cool while she uploaded Mario’s photo into an image search site, then posted it on a few cop boards.

She was just about to take the first sip when she heard her phone ring. Her gorge rose as she thought about the media getting hold of Mario.

But it was just Andrew. She went to put the phone down, but out of fatigue and reflex answered the call instead. “Oh, you’re actually alive,” she heard him say.

“Only technically. Why do you keep calling me?” She couldn’t resist adding, “Aren’t you somebody else’s problem, now?”

“Not yet. I wanted to invite you to the wedding. You should meet her, soon. She’s a hell of a girl.”

“I’m sure she’s a lovely woman. I would like nothing better than to meet her. I need to go to bed now. Wait: I have a question for you. Are any of your fancy One Percent friends on the board of the development association for the part of Peachtree where the homeless shelter is?”

“Um… yes. Tommy Clyburne. What do you need to know?”

“I’m not even sure.”

Remember, in the final draft the victim will be someone other than Mario. But right on the heels of detail about Diana’s working relationship with Mustapha, we get to see her relationship with Andrew, who can still boss her around after 25 years divorced. Note all the detail here: he’s going to keep calling until she answers or responds, he has some kind of vague concern for her but it’s still mostly about him, he calls women “girls”, but she knows how to work him by making him feel confident and connected. And all in about 140 words.

For the record, in all half a million words I’ve written about these two detectives, there’s never been a hint of sexual tension. He’s 20 years older, comfortably settled in late middle age with an empty nest; she’s too picky and self-reliant to have remarried, and she’s actually kind of kinky, though this is only alluded to.

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