He moves down the steps and out the door without looking back. He doesn’t see her, but senses she still stands and watches him while he feels a mocking smile, until the closing door swallows the image.

It takes longer than the few minutes he’d hoped. The beach yields nothing, and so he drives to Citarella’s. It’s not under the table he sat at and he goes inside and asks a cashier. She directs him to the manager who’s on the phone. It’s maddening. There’s nearly five-hundred dollars in the wallet, but he can’t rush it.

“Yes we found the wallet,” the manager says without hesitation after the briefest of inquiries.

As his Lexus enters his own street, a car he doesn’t recognize turns at the far corner. Another few weeks till summer and this street will be full of cars. His watch shows almost forty minutes have passed since he left. Dammit. What if Sara had called while he was out? He parks and leaves the car door open as he jogs up the front steps.

The door opens about three-quarters of the way and then stops. Something blocks further effort. Something heavy but there’s still enough room for him to easily enter.

She lays there without moving. Her eyes closed. He calls to her, but his voice is no more than an echo. At first he thinks she’s playing some game with him, some final attempt at seduction, a stupid, vain idea, he later realizes, yet she looks so serene, lying there, composed in sensuality with one long leg stretched against a stair riser, as if she had been placed there by an artist, a bowl of fruit in a still life.

But then he sees blood seeping from the back of her head. He calls to her again without response. Then he shouts, as if a higher octave would make a difference. He draws a breath to