Sadie opened the door of Starlight Mansion, wary confusion filling
her blue eyes as she surveyed the man on the step. He was, she supposed,
in his mid to late twenties, with sandy blond hair and friendly blue eyes.
He was smiling, and yet she still felt a sense of unease, a feeling which
grew when he produced a badge from his jacket, explaining who he was.
"Can I come in?" He continued.
Sadie hesitated, then sighed.
"I don't suppose I have a choice." She said softly.
"It would make life easier for us both." Alex agreed levelly, stepping
into the house and letting his companion shut the door. "You've not turned
up for interview either time you've been summoned. We kind of wondered
why that was."
Sadie blushed a deep red.
"I...don't like police." She faltered. "I...I guess the idea scared
"Mm, well, if you prefer, we can have a little chat here in your
own home and get it over with, all right?" Alex told her amiably. Sadie
sighed, then nodded, leading the way into the lounge.
"I...I guess so."
"Are we alone?"
"No...Hollie's here, only she's sleeping."
"I beg your pardon?" Alex looked nonplussed. "Hollie?"
"Topaz's daughter. I'm babysitting." Sadie explained.
"Yes, but I've the radio thing on, I can hear if she cries." Sadie
responded. "I...can I get you a drink?"
"No, thank you." Alex eyed her keenly. She was definitely on edge,
he decided, and yet he could not place exactly why that should be. Nothing
in the girl's manner in the few minutes since she had opened the door had
suggested to his experienced eye that she was the kind of girl with the nerves
or temperament to cause a fire such as the one at Misfit Music.
"Perhaps she's just wary of police, like she said." He decided, as
he took a seat, watching her do the same, and setting his cassette recorder
down on the coffee table, announcing the necessary details. "Some people
"Miss Monahue, how long have you worked at Misfit Music?"
"Almost a year." Sadie twisted her hands together. "I...came to the
states before Hollie was born."
"Can you tell me why you came here?"
"Is it relevant?" Sadie looked startled, and there was something
defensive in her blue eyes. She fumbled with her cigarettes, lighting
one with a shaking hand. A sign of a nervous temperament, Alex noted.
He offered her a smile, wanting to put her at ease. Much as he knew he
had a job to do, he began to hope that this girl wasn't in any way involved
in the crime. Then he got a hold of himself. Objectivity was part of his
job too. He couldn't afford to let that go, however attractive he found
an interviewee. Somehow her nerves had aroused his protective instinct,
and he had to force his attention back to the matter at hand.
"Maybe." He responded now, all the more intrigued by her reactions.
"Can you tell me your reasons?"
"I was friends with Topaz and I knew the other girls - I came to
spend time with them." Sadie said slowly. "It snowballed, I wound up
coming out here permanently and then joined the band when Topaz left to
have Hollie. My...my paperwork is up to date, you know."
"I know. I've seen it." Alex assured her. "We have all of Misfit
Music's surviving written records in our care at present while we investigate."
"Oh." Sadie seemed surprised by this, but fell silent, inhaling nervily
on her cigarette and absently tapping ash into the tray on the table.
"On the day of the fire, did anything unusual happen?"
"Unusual?" Sadie seemed to be thinking this over. "I...I don't remember.
It all seemed to be like normal. I mean, we'd all been delayed somewhat
because of the sabotages...did someone tell you about that?"
"Yes." Alex nodded his head. "We've reason to believe that they were
a decoy...and that there were two people involved. The style of sabotage
in your studio was far less professional than the clever demolition of
the automatic fire warning system or the sprinkler's initiation system.
Those went undetected till the fire, which is why anything you noticed,
however small, we need to know."
"Someone planned it? It wasn't an accident?" Sadie asked, and Alex
saw a glint of hope in her eyes, quickly quelled by embarrassment as
she realised how inappropriate her expression was.
"Yes, it was definitely pre-planned." Alex agreed. "Why?"
"I...was worried." Sadie admitted falteringly. "I..." She trailed
off, but Alex was perceptive enough to read her fear.
"You thought you'd set the fire by accident with one of those things,
didn't you?" He asked her gently. Sadie nodded.
"The others told me it couldn't have been, but I was so afraid, especially
with Jetta so ill." She confessed. "It was stupid...I shouldn't even
have been smoking in there. I'm just relieved that it couldn't have been
that to blame."
"You can put your mind at rest on that account. This was no accident."
Alex told her. "Was that why you didn't come speak to us?"
"Kinda." Sadie admitted slowly. "I...wasn't sure." Alex grinned,
inwardly relieved that her nerves amounted to nothing more than misplaced
"Well, you can be, now." He responded. "Tell me, what do you think
of Ms Gabor and Ms Pelligrini? Are they good employers?"
"I owe them both everything." Sadie murmured. "I can't believe someone
would do this. Misfit Music and Jewel - it's all been such a wonderful,
wonderful dream for me."
"So you can't think of anyone who'd want to hurt them? No rivalries,
"Well, there's always the usual business rivalry, with Rebel Records
and Starlight Music." Sadie remembered. "But no, to be honest...I...I
can't think why this happened at all." She frowned. "Do you know anything
about Jetta? How she is?"
"Too ill for us to get near, I'm afraid, Miss." Alex told her gently.
"It's so sad." She said softly. "Jetta's helped me so much, really.
I mean, she understands that it's not easy to uproot and make a career in
a strange land...even more when you come from a family with not much money
to spare. It all seems so unfair."
"Ms Pelligrini is English too, I believe." Alex observed. Sadie nodded
"Yes, she is."
"Miss Monahue, is there anything else that occurs to you about that
day? Anything at all?"
"I...I really can't..." Sadie paused, shaking her head. "I'm sorry.
I wish I could. At the time of the fire we were out the back playing with
Hollie and trying to get her sleepy...we didn't see anything till the alarms
went off and people started pouring out."
"I see." Alex frowned. "Well, thank you, anyway."
He fumbled in his pocket for a card, handing it to her. "If you remember
anything else, will you call me?"
"Please, Miss Monahue. Justice is at stake here, you know, for your
friend's mother as much as anything."
"I know." Sadie nodded. "And I will, so long as..." She faltered, blushing.
"So long as what?" Alex looked curious.
"So long as I can talk to you." Sadie looked embarassed. Alex was touched.
"Just me? May I ask why?"
"I...I don't feel comfortable around law enforcement. Where I grew
up, we...had some bad ones, didn't...didn't make us trust in them very
easy. But...you...you've been kind to me, and you haven't gotten cross
about me not turning up to answer questions. I think I could talk to you
and not worry, if I did remember anything."
"Well, all right, it's a deal." Alex grinned. "Just call up or come
to the office and ask for Agent Bray, all right?"
"All right." Sadie nodded, taking the card. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Alex winked. "Thank you for your help! I'll
see myself out."
Sadie watched him go, a bemused expression on her face.
"I've never trusted a cop in my life." She murmured to herself. "So
what's this about?"
"We're gonna be here all day."
Sylva sent a hopeless look at the large pile of documents that listed
the name of every Montgomery born in the city, sinking down into a chair
and half-heartedly beginning to sift through them. "Trust them to have a
computer bug today! We'll be looking for this thing forever!"
"Well, then we will look forever." Zoe said, her tone full of determination.
"I need to know, Syl."
"I can understand that." Topaz observed from behind her share of paperwork.
"I mean, I know my Dad's name, and that's all, really, but I know who
he was and who I am as a result...it does make a difference."
"Thank you, Topaz." Zoe sent the singer a grateful look. "At least
someone doesn't think I'm potty."
"I don't think you're potty either." Sylva protested. "I just think
we chose a lousy day for it. Who'd have thought there'd be so many people
with the name Montgomery born in this district?"
"Guess it's a common name, huh?" Zoe looked rueful. "Oh well. It could
be worse. Come on. Sooner we set to it, sooner we'll find what I'm after...at
least, I hope so."
"Well, any joy?"
Raymond glanced up from his computer screen, sending his partner a quizzical
look. "What did the chick have to say about it? Why'd she say she'd been
"She was afraid that the fire could've been started inadvertantly by
one of her cigarettes." Alan dropped down into a chair, putting his cassette
recorder on the desk. "It's all on there, anyhow. The whole deal."
"Let me guess, she knows nothing about it."
"That's what she said." Alex nodded. "Says she was outside with the
others, which fits their stories too."
"Mm, well you might want to go and get an alibi for the night of the
sabotage, just to be sure." Raymond said darkly.
"I beg your pardon?" Alex stared.
"Well, tell me your opinion. Did she sound truthful to you?"
"Yes." Alex admitted. "I mean, she was nervous, but yes, I believed
what she told me. She seemed pretty honest."
"Well, perhaps you should think again." Raymond grimaced. "I've been
in contact with Scotland Yard, as you told me. They did some digging and
faxed me this." He produced a ream of printout paper, handing it across the
desk. "Our Sadie has a record, Alex. Hardly surprising she was nervous!"
"A record? I don't..." Alex trailed off, skimming over the sheet in
disbelief. "Theft, possession...dammit, are you sure this is the same girl?"
"Sadie Monahue. Same date of birth, place of birth, and..." Raymond
pushed another sheet across the desk. "Same photo likeness as the one clipped
in the Misfit Music file." He sneered. "What's the matter? We all make mistakes
about people's characters sometimes, you know."
Then he caught the look in Alex's eye, and snorted.
"Oh God, don't tell me you fell for her!"
"I did my job." Alex replied simply, his gaze still firmly on the printout.
Raymond rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, well make sure you keep it that way." He instructed. "Forensics
lifted a half print off some of that sabotaged wiring that screwed up the
sprinkler system. I've asked Scotland Yard for the Monahue girl's prints.
No harm in checking things out, after all."
"Alex." Raymond fixed his companion with a searching look. "Get a grip.
This girl is probably a hardened criminal - she's certainly a convicted
felon with a pattern of reoffending. However much you were taken with her
pretty smile or nice eyes, you have to face facts. This isn't a one off
mistake, it's a pattern...you can't deny the evidence when it's right in
front of you."
"I don't know." Alex admitted. "It doesn't seem like the same girl."
"Well, that's the deal, buddy." Raymond told him unsympathetically.
"So get her out of your head. It's the best lead we got yet, and it's our
job to pursue it to the bitter end!"