VIII. Epilogue

"I still can't believe David did that," Claire said while spreading out the first bunch of photos on what she still thought of as George's table.

"David can't, either," Nate replied ruefully. "He's down in the basement again after spending the entire night cleaning up once they had left. Wouldn't let me and Rico do a thing."

He was feeding Maya; when he saw her swallow spoon after spoon, he was startled to realize her mouth moved exactly like Lisa's had done when tasting something. The automatic swell of guilt the thought produced felt numb, instead of the aching cancer it used to be. Or perhaps it was just too early in the morning.

"Speaking of Rico," he continued after having taken a look at Claire's photos, "I don't think you should use that one."

He pointed at a picture that showed Rico with the blonde who had sung Candle in the Wind, and not even the original version, either.

"I'm sure he was just shoved by someone behind him, but that one makes it look like he's grabbing her tits. He's in deep shit with Vanessa as it is. He doesn't need that. And I don't need him telling me about it."

"Men. You're all the same," Claire said, but she tore up the photograph in question.

"Some wake," she said. "The funeral was almost an anticlimax, wasn't it? I mean, they just listened to Father Gerado do his thing, and nobody even flung himself on the coffin. I thought that puffy guy with the fake eye would after the way he acted at the wake, but no, he was holding hands with Celeste instead. Hey, do you think she has a trademark on her likeness or something? Because I can't afford that."

Nate shook his head, and Claire took a picture that showed Lorne the piano player and held it at a distance, trying out various angles.

"Well, Rico was right about half of them coming in D& D outfits," Nate said, and looked at one of the few photos that showed the now buried girl instead. Then, rather too late to be of any use, it hit him.

"Wait," he said. "I think I've seen her before. In some bikini commercial or something. She must have been an actress. I guess some of the truly weird ones were her fan club."

"No," Claire said absent-mindedly, chewing on her lower lip while still regarding Lorne's image. Maybe she should have focused more on the eyes, but they just looked so fake. "No, I think they were all her friends."

Given that some burials organized by Fisher & Diaz never had any other attendees than himself, David or Rico, Nate thought one could have worse epitaphs.

"Good for her," he said. "Still, I hope that was it, and we won't see them again. We've got enough craziness of our…"

The bell rang, and Claire gave him a mischievous grin.

"You jinxed it," she said, and he grimaced at her while leaving the kitchen in order to go to the front door. As it turned out, the kid standing on their porch did not belong to the Chase funeral party. In fact, Nate was reasonably sure he had never seen the boy in his life. At first Nate thought he was a teenager, but when the guy started to talk, he revised his age estimation. More like eighteen or nineteen.

"I'm looking for an internship for the summer," the boy said, holding up a newspaper. Nate had almost forgotten that they still had an ad running in the hope of finding a replacement for Arthur.

"And your name is…?" he asked.

"Connor," the boy said and smiled at him. "Connor Riley."