Dex shivered, wiping the tears from her face. “Get me out of here, Claire,” she whispered. “I feel like I’ll never be happy again.”

“It’s too early for alcohol,” said Claire as she pulled Dex out of the tower, “so we’ll settle for a cup of coffee.” She turned to Laura. “Can you manage a cup of coffee?”

“No,” said Laura. “Tiffany’s done with breakfast, and the next time I talk to her, I’m firing her. She did this!”

Taking a deep breath, Dex said, “If you know who did it, why do you keep asking me? I’ve told you, there isn’t a ‘ghost’ here. There’s just sadness. So much sadness, and fear.” She shook herself like a dog.

“Let’s go,” she said turning to Claire. “We can get coffee on the way home.” Dex started down the hall, her rubber soled shoes silent on the marble tiles.

“What the hell, Laura,” asked Claire, “you’re not capable of making that poor girl a cup of coffee? Or tea? She’s spent hours researching that artist and your family, both of which you could have done yourself.” She saw that Dex was standing in front of the door to the drawing room, clenching her fists at her side. Claire ran down the hall to her friend.

“What’s wrong, Dex?” she asked, turning her head to look into the room, awash with morning light. She saw what Dex was seeing, the back of Mark’s head as he kissed Samantha, her sweater almost at her waist, her hands in his hair. Sam raised her head, and smiled at Dex.

“Mark?” asked Dex. “I thought you were heading to Pottstown this morning.” At his name, he raised his head, looked directly into the eyes of the portrait, and turned to Dex. He looked at her with no recognition at first, then shoved Sam away.

Dex walked slowly to the front door, and turned to Claire. “I think I finally understand the sadness in this house,” she said, looking at the black and white marble floor. “It’s all lust and betrayal.” She opened the door, and left the house, standing beside Claire’s car.


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