We opened a bottle of white zinfandel and positioned ourselves around the computer monitor. We looked at every Google hit for “gourmet cupcake” and “cupcake shop.” Ginger could see my vision.

            “You really think this would work in Kodiak?” she asked. “I mean, how many cupcakes do you need to sell a day? Do we have enough people to support this niche business?”

            I presented her with a copy of my business plan. We discussed her concern, the break even point, as well as all other aspect of the business. She had some good suggestions in terms of the logo, décor, and even catchy names for product. I knew her creative side would draw her into supporting the business.

            “How many people will it take to do this?” she asked in a tone that had me thinking she wanted to be a hands-on partner.

            “It could be done with one but I believe two would be more fun.”

            “Count me in then. I will help you get it started and that way you won’t have to pay anyone. If it is successful and can support hiring someone, then I will be a silent partner as long as you need.” Either Ginger recognized a promising idea when she saw one, or she was in a generous spirit tonight. Either way, the business was on its way.

            I showed the timeline to Ginger and we both focused on step number one – find a store location.  We tried looking through the real estate listings online but came up with nothing. We agreed that tomorrow we would begin the search in earnest.

            After Ginger left I took the ratties for a late-night walk. The sunny Alaska nights are perfect for walking. From my perch on the hillside I could still see the blue and red flash of a lone police vehicle at the boat dock. My curiosity was peaked by the grizzly discovery of human remains. I wondered how long it would be before we learned the identity of the victim.  As I neared my house I saw a vehicle pull into my driveway. It was a Kodiak Police car which made me wonder “what now?”

            Kelvin Bishop stepped out of the car. “Brinkley, can I talk to you?”

            “Sure. How about some tea?”

            “Sounds good” he said as waited by the door while I unleashed and settled the terriers.

            While I was boiling water and plating cookies, Kelvin looked around at the room dividers I used as bookshelves. They were perfect for display and storage of both books and artifacts because they are a series of cubes and not long shelves.

            ‘You have quite the collection of Native dolls and baskets” he said as he examined my favorite piece made by an Inupiat woman, Ruth, in Kotzebue.

            “Thanks, I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to travel around the state so I have a variety of styles and makers. I never set out to have a collection, but when I meet the women that make them I just can’t resist.”

            I set the tray on the coffee table and perched myself on the edge of the sofa as I poured from the pottery pot into matching mugs. I was seated on the opposite end of the sofa from Kelvin and turned to sit sideway so that I was facing him. I suspected this visit was related to Libby, he was the lead investigator on the case, and I didn’t want to miss a word.

            “Brinkley, can you tell me again about all your encounters and conversations with John Sinclair?” he asked.

            My mind said, “good grief, again” but my mouth said “of course.” I went over everything, again, and I added my own editorial opinion of Libby’s husband.

            “Thank you for being so cooperative. I’m going to tell you something that you need to keep close.”

            “OK” I said in anticipation of sad news based on his tone.

            “It appears that the remains found today are Libby’s. There is testing going on right now to confirm that suspicion but it’s looking pretty good that we have found Libby.”

            “Oh my God” is all I could think to say.

            “Brinkley, assuming that it is Libby, we have a murder on our hands. The remains had been, ah dismembered, so she was dead before her body was put in the water.” It was obvious to me that the words were difficult even for an experienced officer.

            I sat my mug of fragrant cinnamon tea on the table to accentuate my disgust and to avert my eyes. I did not want to let Kelvin know that I already knew this information courtesy of Herbie Carmichael. “What kind of monster would do this? It’s bad enough to kill someone but to chop them up?”

            “Actually, that is why I am here. Someone has come forward stating they saw someone take out the Irish Princess on the night that Libby disappeared. Apparently, he had been living on an adjacent boat and was awakened by the start of the engine. He thought it was strange for the boat to leave the dock at 1am without the crew having prepared it for an opener. A few hours later he was up early in anticipation for his crew and the impending opener, when he saw the Princess back in the slip and a strange man go ashore. Since the boats were docked next to each other for months, he knew the entire crew of the Princess and this guy wasn’t one of them. He didn’t have a chance to mention the odd occurrence to anyone before he left to go fishing. His boat returned yesterday and, when he heard the news of human remains found, he thought he should come forward. His description fits John Sinclair to a tee.

            I shuttered at the news although I wasn’t sure if it was due to the excitement of nailing John Sinclair or because I was right. “Does the owner know who took his boat out?”

            “No. He’s in Costa Rica and the rest of the crew is on break as well. He says there are a lot of keys out there – crew members, past crew members, mechanics, etc.”

            “Mechanics?”

            “Yes, Brinkley, it turns out that John was doing some under the table work without his employer’s knowledge. John Sinclair was given keys to the Irish Princess about a month ago when he did some work for the owner.”

            “Wow. Isn’t that like a smoking gun?”

            “Not yet. We need to search the boat. The owner has given us permission but since he is out of town we are going to go ahead and get a search warrant so that we don’t loose any evidence as inadmissible in court.”

            “Hum, sounds smart but doesn’t that give John, I mean the guilty party, to go back and clean things up?”

            “Yes, it would, except we have a car stationed at the boat ramp. The warrant should be ready first thing in the morning. I don’t believe that anyone will have a chance to get back on the boat to remove evidence.”

            “Wow. What a break in the case.” I said before stifling a yawn.

            “I should let you get some sleep” Kelvin said. “You aren’t planning on leaving town any time soon are you?”

            I agreed to remain in Kodiak, although nothing could have drug me away in the midst of all this excitement, and Kelvin left feeling like he was about to make an important arrest.

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