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PART SIXTY-THREE

“And that,” Suzann declared as she returned to her seat in the booth, Moscow Mule in hand, “is one of the nicest things about growing old. Seeing former students transformed into fine young men and women. I remember Adam and his brother from Lake Myrtle. Those two were a handful!”

Stacie smiled. “Is that where you worked before coming to Interlachen?”

“Indeed. I moved back to the States and started working for Pasco County. I left Lake Myrtle when Interlachen opened. August two-thousand-ten. Over twenty years since I’ve been in Florida.”

“Moved back?” Stacie asked. “You came and left?”

“Yes. I pined for home. And then when I was home I pined for America! What’s that about the grass always being greener?”

“Home was Jamaica?” Karla asked.

“Until I was eighteen! Then New York City, back to Kingston and then Florida. I became a citizen right after Nine Eleven. Very emotional.”

“You have just the one daughter?” Karla asked.

“Pardon? Oh, no. Two daughters and a son. Roxanne, Eugene, and Photina. Plus, my grandbabies; Lise and Marguerite. Eugene and Photina are here in the States.”

“Do they live close by?” Stacie asked.

“No. Eugene is in New York. He’s a part-time actor and a full-time waiter, and Photina goes to school up in Tallahassee.

“You should see Rachel, Adam’s little girl! What a darling! She’ll turn two on nine eleven! Luckily, she looks more like her mother,” Karla said with a mischievous wink. “Gorgeous young woman with a beautiful name. Gabrielle, which she pronounces with a trace of a Central-American accent. Oh, it’s so good to see former students doing well!

“So? What did I miss while I was off in reminiscence land? What are we doing for you, Karla? We’re calling the police?”

Stacie and Karla looked at one another. “I don’t know. I’m scared,” Karla confided, voice quivering but panic free. “He’s a killer. Plain and simple and I know he’s hunting me, that’s why I keep plucking Skylar up and running. I’m sure what he wants to do to me, but I don’t know what he’ll do to Skylar.”

“He’s just one man. The police can help. And! Adam works with my old friend Manny! He’s the ex-cop I was telling you about. If we can’t go to the police can we at least consult with someone who knows what he’s talking about?”

“Can we trust him?” Karla asked, eyes squinted to a quarter-inch slit.

“We can!” Suzann declared. “Plus,” she said conspiratorially, “I have the goods on Mr. Taisto so he doesn’t dare betray us,” she added with an alcohol fueled wink.