In the morning, we observed something I'd never seen before (because I had never been at the bridge at that early an hour). We saw all the trucks coming over the bridge with various kinds of produce for U-town's meals. And there was a crowd of people with various kinds of carts waiting on our side of the huge piling that blocked the bridge. It was very interesting to watch the very efficient way it was all done. This was obviously a daily occurrence, with a practiced amount of arguing, haggling, sampling, and swearing.
It ended up that we had to walk halfway up the bridge to get to the car when it arrived, since it couldn't get any closer because of all the trucks.
I didn't ask Ron if she wanted a goodbye hug (she would have refused, especially with so many people around). I just hugged her, and she hugged me back, secure in the knowledge that any objective observer would have been sure that this had been my idea, not hers.
My employer poked me in the ribs, and by reflex I reached for my lighter. When I turned, though, she didn't have a cigarette in her hand (we were in one of the smoking cars, of course).
She smiled. "I'm just being nosy. What were you thinking about?"
If she had asked the question differently, I would have teased her that she was the detective and she should be able to tell me, but instead I held out my arm and she leaned against me, resting her head on my shoulder. She took her glasses off and put them into her jacket pocket.
"Two different things," I said. "I'm thinking about Ron, for one."
"You're a dutiful dad. What were you thinking?"
"I'm just wondering how we can let her know how serious we are about her. And not just by telling her, which she won't believe, but by what we do."
She put her arm around me and squeezed. "Does she still worry that we'll back out, do you think?"
I nodded. "Yes. She tries to hide it, but I can tell."
"What's the other thing?"
"I'm thinking about Claudia and Erika. I wonder how they're getting along with Claudia's parents. I don't know about Claudia, but I can't imagine it's what Erika wants. She seemed very happy where they were."
As I said, we had met Claudia and Erika when one of Claudia's lodgers had died by violence in her bedroom. He had been her lover before that, but that relationship was over, so there were a few mysteries. My employer solved them, which resulted in Claudia's newer relationship ending. Not too long after that, Claudia and Erika had left U-town, and she had leased her house to her remaining lodger, Jason Garland.
I remembered Claudia, Erika, and Jason describing the events around the death to us in the living room. Erika had seen Claudia's reluctance to return to the bedroom, and she had offered to take us up and show us the scene of the crime.
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