I noticed him looking past me now at the entrance to the bar, frowning, as if suddenly putting his cop eyes to use.
"What?" I said, swiveling my head around.
"Nothing," he said. "Just thought I saw someone I know."
"Friend or foe?" I said.
"Little bit of both," he said, then dismissed the subject with a wave of his hand. "But then my vision isn't what it used to be."
"Like hell it's not," I said.
And we drank. I was so happy to be at this table, in this room, with him. I wasn't all that keen on the male species these days. But Phil Randall was a notable exception. As was Spike.
It was as if my father were reading my mind.
"How's Richie?" he said.
Richie Burke. Ex-husband.
"We had dinner the other night," I said. "He wants to start dating again."
"Good!" my father said.
"I told him no."
"Why would you do something as shortsighted as that?"
"Because I don't want for us to get back together," I said. "At least not in that way. And it's time for me to meet somebody new."
"Well," he said, "a father can hope."
"Despite half a lifetime trying to put his father in jail," I said.
Desmond Burke. It was silly to think of him as being the head of the Irish Mob in Boston. At this point in time, he was the Irish Mob in Boston.
"Don't take this the wrong way," Phil Randall said, "but you aren't getting any younger."
"I'm sorry," I said. "Is there a right way for a girl to take that?"
I rose out of my chair just enough and leaned across the table to kiss him on top of his head. Yup, I thought. Definitely bay rum.
"I just think you need a man in your life," he said.
"Okay," I said, "that's it, you're under arrest, in the name of modern women everywhere."
He laughed. I laughed. As always, he made me feel that everything was going to be all right, whatever happened to be going on in my life.
"I just remembered," he said, "you told me you had something you wanted to tell me about a new client."
"As a matter of fact, I do," I said. "A new old one. Like the hotel."
"And who might that be?"
"Melanie Joan Hall," I said.
"I think she prefers best-selling, world-famous author," I said.
"Isn't she the one who nearly got my baby girl killed that time?"
"One and the same."
"So what's the good news?" my father said.
Before we left the bar I tried to correct the record with my father about what had actually transpired when I had first been hired by Melanie Joan Hall.
She was being stalked by an especially creepy ex-husband with even creepier sexual tastes. But Richie and I had teamed up to finally take him down, and an equally dangerous friend along with him, when they tried to drug and assault me, not knowing I had shown up having taken an antidote.
"Good times," Phil Randall said drily.