Authors: Susan M. Boyer
Tags: #Cozy Mystery, #mystery books, #female detective, #detective novels, #murder mysteries, #murder mystery books, #english mysteries, #murder mystery series, #women sleuths, #private investigator series, #british cozy mysteries
Nate was staring at the screen when I rushed into the room.
“What’d I miss?” I asked.
He held a finger to his lips, then unplugged his headphones so the sound played over the laptop speaker.
Aunt Dean was speaking. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
I hurried over to watch the feed.
Seth sprawled on the sofa where I’d sat moments before. “I didn’t want to upset you.” His tone with her was solicitous. His expression one of genuine concern.
“Seth, we can’t keep things from one another. Promise me you won’t ever do that again.”
“I promise, Aunt Dean.”
“Are you certain you removed all traces of this unpleasant incident?”
“Yes ma’am. I swapped out the rug for the new one you had me order for the Rutledge room—it looked the same to me. I ordered another one just like it already.”
“What did you do with the soiled rug?”
“I put it in a dumpster in North Charleston. Someone’s probably already swiped it out of there, taken it home, and put some bleach on it. That or it’s in the landfill.”
“And you give me your word you didn’t harm Thurston?”
“Yes ma’am. Had no call whatsoever. Hel—heck, I liked Thurston. I’da voted for ’im.”
“Why on earth did you leave him in such a public place—make such a spectacle? I’ve always admired your discretion in such matters.”
“I figured if he disappeared, him being a politician and all, folks would be digging up his past like it was money in the backyard, trying to figure out what happened to him. Now they have a murder to solve. The focus will be on who wanted him dead right now. Who he’s piss—made mad lately.”
“I hope you’re right, but I suspect his background will be explored exhaustively regardless. Have you any idea what he would’ve been doing here?”
“No ma’am. That right there is a mystery to me.”
“I can’t imagine, either. Nor how he got in, for that matter. He hasn’t had a key in years. Not since he married Julia.”
Seth changed position on the sofa. He studied the ceiling, shook his head.
Miss Dean didn’t take her eyes off of him. “Who all was here Monday night?”
“Aside from the girls, just you and me. And Raylan. He dropped by to see me.”
“I wasn’t aware the two of you socialized.”
Seth shrugged. “We don’t much.”
Miss Dean looked at her watch. “I’m very tired. I’m going upstairs now. This entire affair has me quite rattled.”
“Aunt Dean, you don’t need to worry. I took care of things.”
She leaned forward, eased to the edge of the chair.
He jumped up, held out a hand to help her.
“Thank you, dahlin’. You get your snack now. I know you didn’t care much for your dinner.”
“Girl food,” he snorted.
“I’ll see you tomorrow. Good night.” She offered him her cheek.
He obliged, leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.
“Good night, Aunt Dean.”
She patted his shoulder. “You’re a good boy. Thank you for lookin’ after me.”
“You know I’ll always take care of you.”
“I know you will.”
Nate let out a long whistle.
“My thoughts exactly,” I said. “Now what did I miss?”
“Just her explaining to him how Olivia had forgotten her purse on the foyer table and had come back for it. He heard her talking to you. She didn’t tell him anything about you period. And she didn’t mention Olivia saw the body in the parlor last night. She told him she’d heard noises, and was concerned when Thurston’s body turned up close by. Made it sound like a fishing expedition. He told her the truth right off—about him moving the body anyway. There could be quite a lot he didn’t tell her. There’s plenty she didn’t tell him, in spite of her insistence that they tell each other everything.”
“Interesting. So Seth has no idea Olivia was even there.”
“If he saw her, he didn’t mention it.”
Our eyes were still glued to the screen. Seth made himself a sandwich.
“I’m starved,” I said. “We need to order a pizza or something.”
“Already taken care of. I ordered sandwiches from Bull Street Market over on King. They should be here momentarily.”
“Oh, thank heavens.”
Miss Dean passed by the foyer camera and started up the stairs. The young ladies were in their rooms.
I glanced back to the kitchen feed. “He sure doesn’t look worried, does he?”
“Not in the least.”
“I’ve got to tell Sonny about that rug. There’s a chance it’s still wherever Seth dumped it.”
“How are you going to do that without spilling everything?”
After a moment, Miss Dean appeared in her room. She closed the door behind her and leaned against it for a moment. Then she moved over to the sitting area and set her purse on the chaise. She rummaged through it and came out with a notebook of some sort. She moved her purse to the floor and stretched out on the chaise. Then she reached for the cordless phone on the table beside her. She consulted the phonebook, then punched a number into the phone.
Nate switched the audio feed to the wiretap.
After three rings, a man answered. “Hello, Miss Dean. How are you this evening?”
“I’m well, John. I hope you are.”
“I am, thank you. What can I do for you?”
“Do you recall the matter we discussed on Monday? The one I mentioned to two of our friends as well?”
“Yes. I’m terribly sorry we haven’t had time to see to it yet. I promise we’ll take care of it tomorrow.”
“Oh, that would be a weight off of me. Thank you, John. I know I can depend on you to look after me.”
“Yes, you most assuredly can. Do promise you’ll let me know if there’s anything you need. Call me anytime, for any reason.”
“I will, thank you.”
“And I do hope to meet with Olivia soon. It’s important we all get to know her—important she understand she can depend on us as well.”
“I will speak to her straightaway. It may be after the holidays, will that suit?”
“Certainly. Just let us know.”
“I will. Good night, John. And Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas to you.”
She ended the call.
“Which one of these men is John?” I asked.
There was a knock on the door.
“Food,” said Nate. “It’s paid for, and the delivery guy has been tipped.”
I opened the door only as far as I had to and exchanged my thanks for the bag of food. I opened the bag, unwrapped a sandwich, and grabbed two Cheerwines from the cooler. By the time I got back to the screen, Miss Dean was back on the phone. I handed Nate half a turkey sandwich.
“Thanks,” he said.
On the screen, we could see Miss Dean with the phone to her ear. It was ringing. From the kitchen, Seth walked through the keeping room, then out the back door.
A woman answered the phone. “Hello?” Her voice had the thick sound of someone who had been crying.
“Julia, dahlin’, it’s Aunt Dean. I’m so sorry to hear about Thurston. I wanted to see how you were gettin’ on. Is there anything I can do?”
“Oh, Aunt Dean,” Julia said. “I just can’t believe it. My heart’s broken. If it weren’t for the boys, I’d probably fall completely to pieces.”
“I can imagine how difficult this must be. The two of you have always been so very close. Made for each other. I’ve always said it.”
“Who on earth would do such a thing—to Thurston, of all people?”
“It must’ve been some gang initiation ritual, is all I can think of. You hear about that sort of thing more and more often it seems. This stunt they pulled with poor Thurston smacks of random violence, I’d say.”
“Perhaps you’re right. Thurston never had a single enemy. Everyone who knew him loved him.”
“Well, of course they did. I loved him very much. Have you made plans for the service, dear?”
“No, I have to do that tomorrow. Aunt Dean, I just don’t know if I can do this.”
“Nonsense. You’re very strong—always have been. And your boys need you. You can be strong for them, can’t you?”
“Yes.” It was a whisper.
“Of course you can. And please do let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
“You know I’ll always be here for you, Julia.”
“I know—thank you, Aunt Dean.”
“Get some rest now, dear.” She ended the call.
“Is it just me?” I asked. “Or is Miss Dean awfully friendly with the widow Middleton?”
“They are neighbors. Folks in Charleston are friendly as a rule.”
I felt my face squinch and forced myself to smooth the lines. “I think there was something more there.”
“Could be, I guess.” He sounded skeptical.
“And there was something in Mrs. Middleton’s voice that rang a bit off.”
“What do you mean?”
I winced, shook my head. “Something wasn’t right about that conversation.”
For a long time Miss Dean sat there while we munched on turkey sandwiches and waited to see if she had more business to tend to. Eventually, she put the phone back in its cradle, maneuvered herself to a standing position, and went into the bathroom.
Nate tapped a few buttons and closed the video on her room. “She’s getting ready for bed most likely. If we hear anything we think we need to see, we can turn it back on.”
“Agreed.” I fetched another sandwich and divided it, giving Nate half. “As soon as I finish eating, I’m going to go through Miss Dean’s ledger pages. I think I remember seeing a Middleton in there the first couple years. It must’ve been Thurston. That’s the only reason he’d have had a key before he married Julia.”
“True. And that gives him a solid reason for being in that house. He’s getting ready to run for office. To quote our buddy, Seth, the media and the opposition will be digging up his past like it’s money in the backyard. Thurston had to know that. If he knew about that ledger, or even suspected such a thing existed, he very likely went looking for it.”
“And if the desk is normally in the front parlor, but was moved to make room for the Christmas tree, then it makes sense that’s where he’d look first.” I chewed for a few moments. “So we have answers to the two biggest questions we started out with. There was a body in the house. It was Thurston.
, we know he must have been the intended victim, and we most likely know why he was there. And Olivia isn’t crazy.”
“I wouldn’t carry our budding narrative of the crime quite that far.”
I punched him in the arm.
“Hey, look at this.” He pointed to the feed for the keeping room. Heather, the blonde, stepped out the door to the pool deck and closed it carefully behind her. “What is she up to?”
“She’s sneaking out. I’m going to follow her, see where she goes,” I said.
“Keep your earwig in. Hand me your iPad so I can follow you on GPS. Times like this, we need more screens.”
I passed him the tablet, kissed him, and was out the door.
I waited in the shadows behind the gate at the bed and breakfast. Moments later, I caught movement to the left of Miss Dean’s garage. My eyes adjusted to the darkness. A low brick wall ran along the side yard between 12 Church Street and its nearest neighbor to the north. Heather scrambled over it and jogged to the end of the neighboring driveway. “Got her,” I said. She’d circled behind the garage.
I waited a few beats, then opened the gate and followed her, staying on the left side of the street. When she turned left on Atlantic, I hung back, peeking around the corner. She turned right on Meeting. I jogged to catch up with her. There would be more traffic on Meeting. I would be less conspicuous.
I unzipped a compartment in the side of my tote and pulled out a burner phone. I’d taken to keeping a fresh one on me for emergencies. I dialed Sonny.
“Ravenel.” He answered on the first ring. An edge in his voice testified to his stress level.
“I have an anonymous tip for the detectives working the Thurston Middleton case.”
“Dammit to hell, Liz. Why have you been avoiding me? Why are you calling me from a burner? Why were you asking me about missing persons and what Middleton was wearing? Fill me in.”
“There’s an expensive rug in a dumpster somewhere in North Charleston. It has Thurston Middleton’s blood on it. Someone should find it before the dumpsters are emptied.” I ended the call before he could excoriate me. He didn’t know it, but I’d just given him a lead on evidence he almost certainly never would’ve found otherwise. He’d thank me later. That’s what I was telling myself, anyway.
Through my earwig, Nate said, “Of course I could only hear your end of the conversation, but I’m guessing he’s not happy.”
“That would be an understatement,” I said.
Heather made a left on Broad, then a right on King. We passed Berlins, then Bull Street Market. She was on the phone. I could hear her talking, but couldn’t make out what she was saying. I swapped my earwig to my left ear, then reached into my tote, pulled out an amplifier, and slipped it into my right ear.
“I’ve just been so busy with school…Yes, classes are out now…I’ll see you soon…Love you, too, Mamma.”
To Nate I said, “Seems like she just wanted some fresh air and to talk to her mamma. I wouldn’t call mine from the bawdy house, either. I’m going to follow her a little further just to be sure.”
Heather picked up her pace. We crossed Queen Street, and foot traffic picked up. The farther up King we traveled, the thicker the stream of people. Even on a chilly, damp, December night, King Street was busy. Though it seemed later, it was only a little after eight.
I stepped off the sidewalk and went around a palm tree to avoid colliding with an oncoming couple. After we crossed Market, it got harder to keep Heather in sight. Taxis and limos dropped parties off for dinner. Groups of people congregated on the sidewalk. At Wentworth, I crossed the street and moved in closer behind her. She turned left on Vanderhorst. Oh, thank heaven. “She’s going into Kudu. I’m heading inside.”
I inhaled deeply the rich, warm aroma of coffee. Kudu was quiet that evening. Not surprising—the College of Charleston students had gone home for Christmas. It was getting on towards closing time. Heather ordered a latte, waited at the counter while it was prepared, then headed for the nook in the back left corner. I followed suit.
I ambled towards the back, blowing on my mocha latte and scanning the room with my peripheral vision. Heather was at a table near the back wall. Was she waiting for someone? I needed to talk to the residents of Miss Dean’s establishment. We were in a public place. What the hell? I slipped the amplifier out of my ear and dropped it into my tote. Then I put on my sunniest smile and slid into a chair across from Heather.
For a moment, she stared at me, like maybe I was some poor soul who wasn’t quite right.
“Hey, I’m Liz Talbot. Please forgive the intrusion. I know it’s an appalling breach of manners, but I have a time-sensitive matter I need to discuss with you.” Heather’s blue-green eyes were huge, guarded. “You must be Heather.” I extended my hand.
She followed suit. She couldn’t help herself, I’m sure. Southern women are steeped in manners from birth.
I said, “I need to ask you some questions. And I promise to keep everything you say confidential. Well, unless you’ve committed a crime, or are planning one.”
“I’m a private investigator.” I pulled out a business card and laid it in front of her. “I think we have some common interests. I’d like to help you if I can.”
She looked at my card, then at me.
“Exactly what common interests are you referring to?”
“I’m afraid that’s confidential,” I said. “But here’s what I know. You currently live in—let’s call it a boardinghouse, shall we?—over on Church Street. Several other young women live there, and y’all have gentlemen callers from some of Charleston’s oldest families. How am I doing so far?”
“How is this any of your concern?” Her tone wasn’t rude. But she was spunky, not easily intimidated.
“I’m glad you asked that,” I said. “It turns out, there’s some unsavory business going on in that house. I don’t want to get into details, but I have reason to believe that one or more of you ladies may be in danger.”
Heather inhaled sharply.
I continued, “My goal is to be a quiet catalyst for change by first encouraging all of y’all guests to check out, then persuading Miss Dean to relocate to a nice retirement home. I’d prefer to do this without causing anyone undue embarrassment.” I was ad-libbing, trying to get her to talk to me. But as soon as those words were out of my mouth, an idea popped into my head.
Then Colleen joined us. She occupied a chair at the next table, but sat on the back, defying gravity because she could. “Why didn’t you get one of those pastries in the case up front?”
I tuned her out.
I continued, “The less you know about my case, the better off you’ll be. I need you to trust me on that. But to keep you safe, we need to be working towards the same goal.”
Colleen said, “That’s a stretch.”
I thought hard at her.
Ultimately, my client wants the place closed and sold. You said yourself that would be the best way to protect Robert and Olivia.
“Assuming we can keep Olivia out of jail,” Colleen said.
Heather said, “Let me get this straight. You, who I don’t know from Adam’s house cat, want me to move out of my home just because you say someone there may be in danger?”
Are you getting anything from her
? I thought hard at Colleen. She could reliably read my mind. Sometimes she could read other folks as well, but her ability depended on several factors. Some folks were easier to read than others. Sometimes it depended on whether or not what the person was thinking was relevant to her mission. Often it seemed to me the phase of the moon was a factor.
Let me focus a little harder…no…sorry. Wait
She thinks Henry’s parents sent you.
Henry. Her ‘beau’s’ first name must be Henry. Heather looked at me expectantly. I gave my head a little shake, tried to get Colleen out of it. “I know this sounds crazy. But I truly think you’re in danger.”
“And I think you’re nuttier than Granny’s fruitcake.”
I put my hand on her arm. “Please. I promise I’m trying to help you. Talk to me for just a minute. Why would someone as smart as you live with Miss Dean?” According to her portfolio, she was a grad student in environmental studies.
“Excuse me?” She pulled her chin back. Her expression said,
Lady, you’ve got a lot of nerve
. “You don’t know anything about me.”
Damnation. The filter on my mouth fell off. Wedding brain. “I mean, if you tell me a little about what living there is like, perhaps you can convince me there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Why exactly would I care what the hell you think?”
“Because I know the woman who owns half that house very well—Olivia. She’s a dear friend of mine. And she’s worried.”
“You know Olivia?” Heather said. “I just spent the day drinking champagne with her. She didn’t look the slightest bit worried to me.”
“She wanted to spend time with y’all, to see if everything is okay.”
Heather sat back down, took a sip of her latte. “Prove to me you know Olivia Pearson.”
I pulled out my iPhone and scrolled through photographs until I came to one of us shopping for bridesmaid’s dresses. There was a shot of me with Olivia in her dress. I showed it to Heather. “I’m getting married Saturday. Olivia is in the wedding.”
She scrutinized the photo. “All right. What do you want to know?”
“How did you first come to live there?”
“My boyfriend, Henry, set it up. I was sharing a condo with two other grad students—shared a room with one of them. No privacy. Henry wanted a place where we could be alone.”
“And you can’t be alone together at his place?” I asked.
“It’s complicated. His parents are proud of their family name. They want Henry to marry someone from the upper crust, if you know what I mean. I grew up in a trailer park on a red dirt road in Georgia. I’m not what they have in mind. His family is very close. They’re always dropping by his condo.”
I waited for her to continue.
“Henry loves me. No man has ever spoiled me like this. He just needs time to win his family over.”
“Do you love him?”
She set down her cup and stared at the surface of her coffee. “Maybe. I don’t know. I’m not sure I know what love feels like. I’ve dated men I thought I was in love with at the time. Every one of them was using me in one way or another.”
“And Henry isn’t?”
She shook her head firmly. “No. If anything, sometimes I worry—” She looked away, sipped her latte.
Had she been about to say she worried she was using Henry?
I spread my hands. “What’s the attraction of living at the…boardinghouse? Didn’t you just have to sneak out to have a cup of coffee?”
“Yeah, okay. Aunt Dean has some crazy rules. I’ll give you that much. She wouldn’t like me being out. Henry’s coming over tonight. Aunt Dean would say I should be making myself pretty for him. I’d get a lecture on keeping my man happy if she knew I was here.”
“What other rules does she have?”
Heather gave me a facial shrug. “There’s a weird vibe. Like Aunt Dean send us all to our rooms if she’s having company. And that Seth…he’s always sneaking around, spying on everyone. He gives me the creeps to tell you the truth.
“But then again, Aunt Dean’s is perfect in a lot of ways…It’s a gorgeous home, South of Broad. It’s romantic. The other girls are all really nice. I don’t have to have a roommate, but I’m not alone, either. I have a large room with a private bath. On good days, Aunt Dean is like a housemother. And she has people to cook and clean, which is a godsend with my schedule.”
“How long have you lived there?” I asked.
“And the other girls?” I asked. “I heard one of them hasn’t been there long.”
“Lori,” said Heather. “She moved in during September.”
“Is there a lot of turnover?” I asked.
“Dana, Amber, and I have lived there for years. Lori is new, but her boyfriend, or whatever, has that room on reserve. It was empty for a while before Lori moved in, but someone else lived there a while back. Mr. Russell is a long-term client.
“Wendi’s been there about a year, maybe eighteen months. The room she’s in, the Gibbes room, used to be Aunt Dean’s sister’s room.”
I asked, “Have you met any of the other men?”
“Not really. I’ve passed a few of them coming and going. Most of them are older than Henry. I know the family names, but not the men. Occasionally Aunt Dean throws a party. Everyone comes, but no one interacts with the other couples. It sounds odd, I know, but I guess I’m used to it.”
“Have the other girls mentioned their ‘boyfriends’’ first names,” I asked.
“Dana’s boyfriend’s name is James.” Heather blushed. “The rest of them, I don’t know. We’re encouraged to be discreet. Dana talks about her business more than most. They’re…into some rough stuff. She has a bedroom her boyfriend never goes into. They have a playroom over the garage.” She avoided my gaze.
Huger. Two rooms.
“Boy howdy,” said Colleen.
“Heather,” I said, “do you know the names of any of the household help?”
“No. That’s one of Aunt Dean’s rules. We aren’t allowed to talk to them at all. Ever. A cleaning crew comes in once a day at nine. They’re thorough, but in and out pretty quick, and they never open closets or drawers. There’s food in the kitchen for breakfast and lunch. A cook delivers dinner and Seth puts it on the table.”
“Have you ever heard anyone mention the name Thurston Middleton?” I asked.
Heather stilled. “I don’t think so.”
Colleen said, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
“Are you certain,” I asked. “This is important.”
“Well, I mean, of course. Everyone knows the name. Thurston Middleton. His family has lived in Charleston for generations, I hear. He’s involved with several local charities—an advocate for the homeless, environmental issues. He and his wife host a Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen. His wife—Julia is her name, I think—and her pugs are all over the media. She’s an animal rights activist. They’re public figures—even the dogs. ”
I recalled seeing photos of the socialite and her two pugs in an online magazine article while researching Thurston Middleton. “Can you recall his name coming up with any of the other women who live in that house?”
She had a shell-shocked expression. “Never.”
Colleen said, “She’s getting ready to bolt.”
I moved to safer ground. “Where do the girls who live there park their cars?”
This topic didn’t calm her. She spoke faster.
“Everyone has monthly parking in a lot or garage downtown—different places. Aunt Dean isn’t involved with that at all.” She stood. “I have to go. Henry will be at the house to see me soon.”
“You have my number,” I said. “Call me if anything develops, or if you think of anything I should know about the house and the folks who live there. I need a way to get in touch with you in case of an emergency.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Olivia can reach me through Aunt Dean.” Heather walked away fast.
I finished my mocha, then walked outside.
Colleen followed me out to the street.
To Nate I said, “On my way back. Did you listen?” The conversation would’ve transmitted though the wire I still wore underneath my clothing.
“No. Too much going on back here. I can only listen to one thing at a time.”
“I’ll let you focus on what you’re doing. See you soon.”
I pressed the button on my earwig twice to temporarily disconnect communications with Nate. Then I popped in both my earbuds—the ones that came with my iPhone. The long strings hanging from my ears convinced random strangers I wasn’t talking to myself. I made the right off Vanderhorst and was back on King Street.
“Have you learned anything?” I asked Colleen.
“You mean aside from Heather knows more than she’s telling about Thurston Middleton?”
“I spent some time in the brothel today.”
“Your mamma would be so proud.”
Colleen laughed her signature bray-snort laugh. Then she sobered. “There are lingering spirits in that house.”
“Really? From what era?” Colleen had run across a debutante from the 1860s in another recent case.
“This one. They haven’t been dead that long. One of them, her name is Roxanne Trexler. She lived in the Rutledge room for five years.”
“What else did she tell you?”
“William Rutledge killed her by accident. They were cutting up. She fell and hit her head on the corner of a heavy table.”
“You’re not serious.”
“Yes, I am. If he’d hurt her on purpose she would tell me. She’d have no reason not to—she’d want justice. Except…”
“When Seth found out, he killed William Rutledge, and not by accident.”
“Well, I guess that could be in his future. That’s not for me to say.”
“Hell’s bells, Colleen. Try to stay on topic. I’m trying to get our friend who’s still alive out of this mess and it just keeps getting messier. And I’m getting married in four days. And it’s Christmas.”
My phone rang. Sonny. Shit. Shit.
. I sent him to voicemail. I did not want to talk to him just yet. Not on my phone, anyway.
“Does Roxanne know where the bodies are buried?”
“Seth dropped William Rutledge off in a dumpster in North Charleston.”
I remembered that case, from a year or so back. A homeless person had found the body. It was quite the scandal. “Seems to be a recurring theme with him. What about Roxanne?”
“Seth was in love with her—for years. He couldn’t bear to let her go.”
“I don’t like where this is headed.”
“She’s buried behind the house—near the guesthouse. Seth put in a new flowerbed and there’s a little bench. He likes to sit out there.”
“Sweet reason. We’ve got to talk to Olivia. If she’d signed that house over to Seth years ago, she’d be in the clear. But it’s too late now. All of this will come out too fast, and there’s no way to keep her out of it.”
“There are far worse things than scandal,” said Colleen. “Olivia will survive this, and then no one will have anything to hold over her. She and Robert will be fine. If we do this right.”
“I have a plan.”
“I picked up on that,” she said.
“I figured, when you showed up. What do you think? Can you scare the girls into moving out real quick? Before anyone has a chance to hurt one of them to keep them quiet?”
“I can. Roxanne will help. And I bet the three men buried under the pool will, too.”
. What happened to them?”
“They became problems. Seth handled them.”
“Does Miss Dean know?”
“I have no idea. I can read her mind, but she thinks mostly on how much she misses her sister. She worries about what will become of her family home once she’s gone. Will Olivia sell it? And she worries about Olivia and Raylan. Seth, too. She cares deeply for all of them. Family is very important to her. ”