The living room of Heron House was noticeably warmer than the night air outside. There was no fire in the fireplace, but apparently the house had some sort of central heating. It was never this warm in the middle of the night where we lived.
I made a mental note to consider buying us a small space heater, if the inn’s wiring could support it.
Despite the warm air in Heron House, however, most of the residents looked cold. Elsa had on jeans and a sweatshirt, but the rest were apparently wearing whatever they had been sleeping in — T-shirts and sweatpants, plus bathrobes and sweaters and slippers — and they were all huddled into armchairs and sofas.
The day before, when it had been just Manfred who was dead, they had been able to tell themselves that he wasn’t really a friend, that the murderer might have been a stranger, that the location of the body could have been a coincidence, and so on. There were various walls they could put up between the murder and themselves.
But that was no longer possible. The victim tonight had been their housemate, and their friend (well, maybe), and the body had been found on the deck of their house, not on the public beach below.
Someone had apparently made coffee while they were waiting for us to arrive, and most of the women had mugs. Elsa had a soda, the bottle tucked between the arm of her wheelchair and her thigh. Nobody offered us anything.
The one woman I hadn’t met before had a mug next to her, full of coffee, but she was drinking a beer. She was wearing a pair of boxer shorts with big red polka dots and a T-shirt of the style sometimes called a “wife beater.” She did not appear to be cold. This was presumably Kim, who had reportedly been on the mainland with a lover the night before.
There was no place to sit in the living room, so I brought two chairs from the dining room for Rhonda and my employer. The deputy indicated that she was fine with standing, as was I.
If nothing else, I thought that standing up might make it easier for me to stay awake.