Ivy was on a tight schedule. Ginny only agreed to cover for her until just before supper. After that, Ivy would have to answer to her father. She looked up at Flynn as they walked through town, noting the nervous look on his face. She had explained what they needed to do a hundred times, but he was still unsure. They knew about Samantha. Chester was still a mystery to them.

"Relax," she said. "We'll just be in and out. I promise."

"Ivy, I understand what you're trying to do, but this is a seedy pub," he said. "It's not safe."

"Don't worry, I'll protect you," she assured him.

"No, that's not what I-"

"There! Come on, before it gets too crowded!"

She grabbed Flynn's hand and pushed through the crowds to get to the pub. A few people gave her some concerned looks, wondering why a girl of her obvious status was going into such a rough pub. Flynn stayed close to her and put a hand on her shoulder as if reminding her not to rush this. He was right. Ivy straightened out her clothes and stood tall as she approached the bar. The bartender gave her a funny look.

"Can I help you?" he grunted. "You lose your parents or something?"

"I'm here on official business," she told him. "I'll take whiskey, on the rocks."

She heard Flynn sigh deeply.

"On the rocks, huh?" the bartender chuckled.

"How about we just ask our question and leave?" Flynn suggested quietly.

"A detective can get more information if she establishes a friendly relationship with the subject," she whispered back.

"And a detective's partner has to make sure the detective stays on the right track through the entire investigation," he reminded her. "That's what I'm doing."

"You're right," she grinned. "You're picking this up really nicely."

"Just doing my job, Madame Detective," he said.

She turned back to the bartender, who was annoyed now.

"We're here about Chester Mansfield," she told him.

"I already told the authorities everything I know," he said. "Just read the papers."

Ivy started to notice some drunks paying them attention now, some leering at her. She shifted uncomfortably and Flynn moved to block her from their view, but she wasn't about to walk away until she had what she wanted.

"Please," she insisted. "I must ask you to repeat yourself again. I need to know more about him."

"Kid, you're holding up business."

Ivy huffed, reaching into her purse and slamming a small stack of bills on the counter.

"The second victim was a friend," she snapped. "I need to know why it's happening."

The tender eyed the bills, then hesitantly took them.

"Chester was a regular," he said. "He's practically been living here the last two years, since his wife gave him the boot. Real charming guy. Doesn't have a lot of cash in his pocket, but he was popular man. He could make a friend anywhere, anytime. Everyone loved him. The night he was killed, he had the entire pub up in song and dance. He was pulling people up out of their seat. Guess someone here was looking for a quiet night and decided it would be quieter if he was out of the picture."

Ivy thought for a moment, then gave him a nod.

"Thank you," she said. "Have a nice evening."

She and Flynn took their leave from the pub, making sure not to cause any more trouble on the way out. As they emerged back into the safe part of town, she turned to him again.

"What do you make of it, partner?" she asked.

"Sounds like he was obnoxious," he shrugged. "And the note, 'don't look'... Maybe he was looking at him the wrong way?"

"His wife kicked him out," she said. "Maybe he was looking at women in an inappropriate way."

"Anything sound similar to Samantha?" he asked.

"Honestly, she was a very soft spoken girl," she said. "She wasn't popular. In fact, no one knew her. She didn't have many friends at all."

"Not here, she didn't."


"You said she just moved here," he said. "Do you know what she was like where she was from?"

Ivy thought for a moment, then lit up with a grin.

"I think we have our next point of interest. I'm sure it'll be the talk of the town. We just need to listen to all that dumb gossip. And- oh no."

"What?" Flynn frowned.

"I need to get home," she said quickly. "It's getting late, and I- I gotta go."

"Can I walk you home?" he asked as she quickened her pace.

"No, it's better if you don't," she said as she walked. "I mean, not that I don't want you to. I just- if Daddy sees I've been out without supervision, he'll be mad. And I don't want him to associate you with that."

"Okay, well... do you want to see each other again? Wednesday, perhaps?"

"Yes- wait, no!" she sighed. "I have to go to this dumb wedding."

"Oh, I-"

"It's alright, I'll just send another note your way when I can get away again."



"Okay... bye..."

She felt guilty running away from him like that, but she was sure he understood. Luckily, she was able to make it home and crawl through the window in the nick of time. Ginny was already there, ready to help her change and fix herself to look like she had been home all day.

By the time Wednesday rolled around, Ivy was neck deep in the brochures from the pageant and festival. Each girl had a small description of her interests and personality, but Samantha's portion was painfully bare. Ginny walked into Ivy's room, already fully ready in her bridesmaids gown and her hair piled high on her head. She looked at Ivy in exasperation.]

"We're leaving in half an hour!" she said. "You're still in your nightgown!"

"Oh, I forgot," Ivy sighed. "Do I have to go? I don't know the bride that well, and no one is going to notice me. Let alone talk to me."

Ginny gave her a small smile.

"Ivy, that's no way to think of yourself."

"Why not?" she mumbled. "It's the truth. They only care if you're pretty."

"You are pretty."

Ginny paused a moment, looking at Ivy's clothes then back at her.

"How about we start adjusting your wardrobe a little bit?" she suggested. "We can start finding you some more womanly clothes and leave aside the frills and ribbons. You can borrow one of my gowns tonight."

"Daddy will think that's too grown for me," Ivy said.

"He sees you as his little girl," Ginny said. "I'll help him see that you're all grown up. Tonight you can wear your hair up, rather than down with a ribbon. What do you think?"

Ivy paused, thinking for a moment.

"Will you help me?" she finally asked quietly.

"Oh, little sister. You leave it all up to me."