Flynn was in the middle of lunch when Penny came flying through the front door, banging it against the frame and brandishing a piece of paper at him.

“Your girlfriend has apparently decided that I’m some kind of gopher,” she said, by way of greeting. Flynn had just taken a bite of a sandwich and stared at her like an idiot with his mouth full.

“She gave me this note to give to you,” Penny went on, placing the paper she’d been waving around on the table in front of him. “She said it was a matter of life and death.”

Flynn swallowed and picked up the note. “She’s not my girlfriend,” he said. Penny snorted.

“Right, and the sky is purple and Harvey isn’t always late even though he literally makes and repairs clocks for a living.”

Flynn sighed. “There isn’t anything romantic between us, for the hundredth time.”

“There will be if you don’t tread carefully,” Penny told him, resting a hand on her hip. “I can see what’s happening here and you can’t deny it forever.”

“Did Ivy say anything else about why she needed me to have this note?” Flynn asked, not so subtly changing the subject.

“No. She just accosted me in the shop, scared me half to death. She shoved this note at me and said it was very important that I get it to you.”

Flynn glanced at the clock. It was already a quarter past three. He ate the rest of his sandwich in four large bites and thanked Penny through a mouth full of ham and cheese.

“I’ve got to go,” he said. He turned toward the workshop where Harvey tinkered with his clocks and watches. “Harvey! I’m going out, I’ll be back in a while.”

“Thank you for the riveting update,” Harvey called back. “I shall pine for you while you’re away.”

Flynn rolled his eyes and headed out the door, Penny still giving him a warning look, one eyebrow raised impossibly high.

“It’ll be fine,” Flynn said. “Ivy is too preoccupied with other things right now to worry about liking me.”

He left her looking unconvinced and walked to the treehouse that doubled as Ivy’s “office.” She was already there and came bustling out before he could even knock on the door.

“You’re late,” she said, ushering him inside.

“It’s only ten to four,” Flynn protested. “What’s the big emergency?”

“One of the girls that I met at the pageant has been murdered. She never came back from her date and I saw in the paper today that they found her body. She was stabbed, and there was a message written in blood, just like the man without eyes.”

“What was the message this time?”

“Rare beauty.”

Flynn frowned. “The victims are completely different, and he didn’t take her eyes. What can the motive possibly be?”

“The man at the pub was named Chester Mansfeld, I remember that from the paper. The girl was Samantha Tovert. I met her at the pageant, like I said. Her family had just moved here. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to kill her. She was a sweet girl and she didn’t even know anyone here.”

“Well you said she was murdered after the pageant. Someone would’ve bought a date with her, so maybe that person either knows something, or else they’re the killer-“

“She was meeting someone!” Ivy exclaimed suddenly, startling Flynn and knocking some old papers off of the small desk when she waved her arms. “I had completely forgotten because I was so flustered with the auction and the juggling and…everything.” She cleared her throat awkwardly. “But before the pageant, when we were in the big tent, Samantha told me that she was going to sneak away and miss the auction because she’d gotten a note from a ‘secret admirer’ and she was going to meet him.”

“Did she tell you anything about him?”

“All she said was that he was very shy, and she didn’t want to tell anyone who he was just yet. She was supposed to meet up with me after the pageant and she was going to tell me how it went, but we got back so late and then Ginny started hounding me about being late. I assumed Samantha must have just gone home because she was tired of waiting.” Iv’y brow furrowed with worry. “I can’t believe I forgot.”

“It’s not your fault,” Flynn said gently. “But Ivy, think of it. This is a lead. The police may not even know about this secret admirer, and they were either the last person to see Samantha alive, or they killed her. This is huge.”

Ivy gripped the fabric of her skirts in her hands, looking somewhere between nervous and exhilarated. “A lead,” she repeated slowly. “We have a lead.”

“Though I can’t imagine what the killer’s end game is, murdering a bar fly and a young debutante. But he clearly puts thought into the murders, with the staging and the messages.”

“We need to find out more about Samantha. She might have a sibling or there could be a staff member in the home that knows something.And we need to find out just who Chester Mansfield was too. Maybe there’s a connection between them that we don’t see yet.”

She pulled two newspapers out of her purse; the articles about the two murders. She pushed other papers and books out of the way and laid the newspapers out, studying them intently before squaring her shoulders.

“We have to find the connection,” she said firmly. “We have to find out who killed her.”

"Lead the way, Detective Ivy."