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The standoff could have gone on for a while, but then the door opened, causing both of us to jump, and Pete hurried out.
"Marshall," he said, coming over to us, "did you–"
"We heard what sounded like a gunshot. From inside. We were–"
"We need your help. I need your help, and really I need Jan's help." He turned to Ron and held out his hand. "I'm Pete," he said, "and I know you're Ron, Marshall's daughter. I'm pleased to meet you."
"Pleased to meet you, too," she said, looking at him with some surprise.
"Ron, I need a big favor. I have a mystery, and I desperately need your mother's help to solve it. I'm wondering if you can go get her for me? And meanwhile I'll explain some of it to your father. I hate to impose..."
She grinned. "Sure thing," she said. She ran into the street, flagged down a passing runner, terrorized the poor lad into giving up his bicycle, and pedaled off.
Pete gave me a wry look. I didn't bother to ask how he had known who Ron was. It often seemed that Pete knew pretty much everything that went on in U-town.
I hadn't seen him since the school mystery, and during that case, even though someone had tried to kill him, he had been pretty calm throughout. But he was rattled right now. He took off his glasses and wiped his face with a bandanna that seemed far from clean, and then he shook his head. "We do need Jan's help, but I'll confess that the main reason I sent Ron away was so she wouldn't get killed. Ron, I mean."
"Why?" I asked. "What's going on in there? And I appreciate that, by the way."
He shook his head. "I can't take the time to explain it. Do you want to come in with me, or wait out here?"
Glad that Ron wasn't there any longer, I said, "If you need to go back in, I guess I will, too."