I took a long drink from the frosty glass. “Ted Maxell,” I continued. “Did he have a girlfriend?”
Angel's expression quickly registered dismay. “I would not know that Senora. How would I know such a thing?”
“Do you know anyone who would know?”
She eyed me warily, then turned her head away. But I saw her lips purse before she turned. She disapproved of my asking—my prying, more accurately. She would know darn well who knew such things because she was one of them. They were the people in positions such as hers, people who worked for other people—like the house maid at Pamela Fontaine’s, and whomever worked or had worked for the Maxells. The housekeepers, gardeners, and other helpers in the wine community came almost entirely from Angel’s Latino community. And like all of us, they talked. They observed the goings-on of their employers. They raised their eyebrows at the goings-on of their employers. And they gossiped and swapped information. Of course they did. It could help them do their jobs better; it could amuse them. Such things are universal.
“I only ask because if he did, it may be a motive for someone to want him dead—such as a pissed-off husband,” I added, in an attempt to soften my request. “Axel is still on the hook for Ted’s murder, even if he’s out on bail. The authorities know he didn’t kill his sister, but they still believe they have strong evidence linking him to the death of his father.”
“Many people dislike Mr. Maxell. I do not know.”
“Well, think about it,” I said, not wishing to upset her further. “You may know someone who knows someone. Obviously you’re in a better position to hear local gossip than I am.”
“Perhaps, Senora,” she said. “I will ask.”
She removed her apron and hung it in the pantry, gathered her handbag and sweater, and with a forced smile and a wave she exited through the sliding door and onto the spotless deck.
I turned my chair toward the alcove desk and checked the day’s messages.