memories of midnight-Page 29

Catherine learned about the arrest of Constantin Demiris for the murder of his wife from the headlines. It came as a complete shock. When she got to the office, there was a pall over everything.

"Did you hear the news?" Evelyn moaned. "What are we going to do?"

"We're going to carry on exactly as he would want us to. I'm sure there's been a big mistake. I'm going to try to telephone him."

But Constantin Demiris was unreachable.

Constantin Demiris was the most important prisoner that the Central Prison of Athens had ever held. The prosecutor had issued orders that Demiris be given no special treatment. Demiris had demanded a number of things: access to telephones, telex machines, and a courier service. His requests were denied.

Demiris spent most of his waking hours, and much of his dreaming ones, trying to figure out who had murdered Melina.

In the beginning, Demiris had assumed that a burglar had been surprised by Melina while ransacking the beach house and had killed her. But the moment the police had confronted him with the evidence against him, Demiris had realized that he was being framed. The question was, by whom? The logical person was Spyros Lambrou, but the weakness of that theory was that Lambrou loved his sister more than anyone in the world. He never would have harmed her.

Demiris's suspicions had then turned to the gang that Tony Rizzoli had been involved with. Perhaps they had learned what he had done to Rizzoli and this was their way of getting revenge. Constantin Demiris had dismissed that idea out of hand. If the Mafia had wanted revenge, they would simply have put out a contract on him.

And so, sitting alone in his cell, Demiris had gone round and round, trying to solve the puzzle of what had happened. In the end, when he had exhausted all the possibilities, there was only one possible conclusion left: Melina had committed suicide. She had killed herself and framed him for her death. Demiris thought of what he had done to Noelle Page and Larry Douglas, and the bitter irony was that he was now in exactly the same position in which they had been. He was going to be tried for a murder he had not committed.

The jailor was at the cell door. "Your lawyer is here to see you."

Demiris rose and followed the jailor to a small conference room. The lawyer was waiting for him. The man's name was Vassiliki. He was in his fifties, with bushy gray hair and the profile of a movie star. He had the reputation of being a first-rate criminal attorney. Was that going to be good enough?

The jailor said, "You have fifteen minutes." He left the two of them alone.

"Well," Demiris demanded. "When are you getting me out of here? What am I paying you for?"

"Mr. Demiris, I'm afraid it's not that simple. The chief prosecutor refuses..."

"The chief prosecutor is a fool. They can't keep me in this place. What about bail? I'll put up any amount they ask."

Vassiliki licked his lips nervously. "Bail has been denied. I've gone over the evidence that the police have against you, Mr. Demiris. It's - it's pretty damaging."

"Damaging or not - I didn't kill Melina. I'm innocent!"

The attorney swallowed. "Yes, of course, of course. Do you - er - have any idea who might have killed your wife?"

"No one. My wife committed suicide."

The attorney stared at him. "Excuse me, Mr. Demiris, but I don't think that's going to make a very good defense. You're going to have to think of something better than that."

And, with a sinking heart, Demiris knew he was right. There was not a jury in the world that would believe his story.

Early the following morning, the attorney visited Demiris again.

"I'm afraid I have some rather bad news."

Demiris almost laughed aloud. He was sitting in prison facing a sentence of death, and this fool was telling him that he had bad news. What could be worse than the situation he was in?

"Yes?"

"It's about your brother-in-law."

"Spyros? What about him?"

"I have information that he's gone to the police and told them that a woman named Catherine Douglas is still alive. I'm not really familiar with the trial of Noelle Page and Larry Douglas, but..."

Constantin Demiris was no longer listening. In all the pressure of what was happening to him, he had completely forgotten about Catherine. If they found her, and she talked, they could implicate him in the deaths of Noelle and Larry. He had already sent someone to London to take care of her, but now it had suddenly become urgent.

He leaned forward and clutched the attorney's arm. "I want you to send a message to London immediately."

He read the message twice and felt the beginnings of a sexual stirring that always happened to him before he took care of a contract. It was like playing God. He decided who lived and who died. He was awed by the power he had. But there was a problem. If he had to do this immediately, there would be no time to work out his other plan. He would have to improvise something. Make it look like an accident. Tonight.