Sweeney almost laughed. Whered she get this brazen act? Whizzing in like that with her petite figure wrapped up tightly in her new khaki, double-breasted overcoat, she stood every inch the hard-boiled Raymond Chandler female. Somehow, in the context of the rest of the evenings surreal events, Sweeney wasnt surprised in the least.
Rose took up the fiddle case in one hand, her husbands arm in the other. With the smile still dimpling her cheeks, she steered Sweeney through the open door. The two marched out of the bar and disappeared into the gray night.
Without a word Rose walked them briskly to the corner, where her sedan was illegally parked in the bus zone. She fished for her keys in the deep pocket of the overcoat, opened the door and tossed Sweeneys fiddle case onto the back seat. She turned her large gray-flecked brown eyes up into his face.
"So. If youd told me it was going to be so exciting around here, I would have come along tonight after all. You think I enjoy reading subliterate drivel six hours at a stretch when I could be out witnessing murder and mayhem with the boys?" She gave her head a calculatedly carefree toss.
Her brown eyes held her husbands light blue ones for a long moment, sensing his hesitancy. Neither of them seemed to know just how to proceed.
"Um, do you want to know what happened?" Sweeney asked tentatively.
Rose opened her mouth but nothing came out. Shed only rehearsed her opening line. She bit her lip. Why hadnt she scripted it out farther? Well, as long as he didnt call her Rosie...
"Rosie," Sweeney began.
She burst into tears.
"Rosie, honey, are you all right?" he asked softly, caressing her hair and holding her close as she heaved great sobs into his shoulder.
She stopped suddenly and sniffed. Then she exploded.
"Am I all right? Oh, you oaf, Ive been worried sick about you. I worked till one and turned on the news and heard about the murder and put two and two together... They mentioned the bar and... well, they didnt give any real facts, just those sensationalist crappy headlines... So I roused Vinnie and he told me about the fight and you hadnt come home... and I didnt know what to think, so I came down to find you."
"Are you through?"
"For now." She pushed her hair out of her face.
"Why, if I didnt know you better, Id say you were really and truly worried about me!"
"Nonsense. What would give you an idea like that?" Tears still glistened on her cheeks as she made a concerted effort to put on a carefree, saucy expression.
"Mostly your shoes." He pointed at her feet. There she stood in the fog: a film-noir fashion-plate from head to ankles. But she had run out to the rescue of her darling boy wearing nothing on her feet but a pair of fuzzy brown koala-bear slippers.
She moved around to the drivers side and hopped into the car. He climbed stiffly in the opposite side. No sooner had he hit the seat than she slid across from behind the steering wheel and grabbed him, landing a hot and lingering kiss on his surprised lips. Allowing himself to relax, he let her arms pull him tightly to her as she moved one hand to gently stroke the back of his neck and drift up to tangle in his tousled...
"Ouch!" he cried. Rose reached up uncertainly and examined his scalp. "I hit my head."
"My poor, dear Niall," she said and sat up again, looking him quickly up and down. She turned the key in the ignition. The motor coughed and wheezed to life.
"Now," she continued evenly as they pulled away from the curb. "Tell me all about it. From the beginning."