"What are you doing here?" I demanded.
"Well, it's nice to see you, too, sweetheart," she said. She smiled, stood up and kissed me on the cheek. "What's the matter? Aren't you happy to see me?"
"Uh...well...let's just say that my life has certainly become interesting since the last time I saw you."
"Do tell," she said, sitting back down on the bed and lighting a cigarette.
"My roommate doesn't want anyone smoking in the room," I protested.
"He's not here, is he? In fact, he left you a note to let you know that he's gone home for the holidays. It's right there on your desk." She pointed at the piece of looseleaf paper with Eddie's unmistakable scrawl on it. I read it over as I was taking off my coat.
"Guess you're right," I said, and joined her in a cigarette. "I'm sorry we don't have any coffee to offer you."
"That's all right. So, what's been going on since I've been gone?"
"Well, I was cornered a couple of weeks ago and shown a picture of you with blonde hair and blue eyes, and asked if I knew where you were."
"Bunch of Mafia types. I was just at the police station all afternoon, identifying two of the guys. I also spent some time with a couple of FBI agents, who showed me the same picture that the Mafia types showed me and asked about you."
She took a deep drag off of her cigarette and blew the smoke out through her nose. "OK. What else is going on?"
"We had a big outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease at the store, and since then my hours have been cut."
"Why'd they cut your hours?" She sounded indignant.
"I don't know. You'd think they'd need all of the help they could get at this time of the year, and yet, the boss just doesn't want me around."
"That's probably it. He rides you pretty hard, I remember that much." She tipped her head and smiled. "How're things going with Kate?"
"Well, I've had one or two really nasty encounters with her father, she's been in a cast most of the time we've been going out...wait a second, don't change the subject here."
Her face fell. "I'm not changing the subject, Tony. I promise you that. I'm trying to find out how Kate is doing, and how you're doing. If you don't want to talk about it, I understand, but at least understand this much: I feel responsible for all of what's happened."
"Well, you should." I was really angry. "I've got people trying to kill me, people following me all over the place, the cops are keeping an eye on me, the FBI thinks I'm involved, they say you're into all kinds of bad stuff, and all I did was have a couple of dates with you. Now, I want to know why all of this shit is happening, because the people trying to run me over hasn't stopped, it damn near got my sister and her girlfriend killed, and I'm worried about my mother and my brother."
"Wait a sec, honey, what's this about your sister?"
"Someone tried to kill us on the Kennedy when she was taking me home from the hospital."
"Oh, shit. Now that is serious." She lit another cigarette.
"What are you talking about? ALL of it's serious, Rosalie!"
"I know," she said, running her hand down my face. "Oh, Tony, I never wanted you to get involved in any of this. I didn't even want to get involved in it myself. Let me ask you something." She reached into her purse and pulled out an envelope, and pulled a small picture out of the envelope. "Is this the picture the police, FBI, and the 'Mafia guys' showed you?"
It was an exact copy of the picture I had seen. "Yes, that's it. That's you."
"No, it isn't. I promise you, Tony, it's not me."
"I can't. Not yet. But I will."
"I'm going to find her, and turn her in."
"How are you going to do that?"
"The same way the police and FBI do. And, I have a few tricks of my own."
"You're better off not knowing."
"All right, then tell me who this woman is, if you're not her."
"She's a classmate of mine from college."
"You told me you didn't go to college."
"I didn't graduate from college. I didn't go where my parents wanted me to go. I'm still trying to finish. I didn't lie to you about that, Tony. I promise you, that's true. You can check that against the records at DePaul if you don't believe me. Everything I've told you about me is true."
"And I'm supposed to believe you," I said.
"I can only hope that you would. I understand if you don't."
"What's her name?"
"Amanda Kelley. She uses my name sometimes. Sometimes she goes by Rose Jacobs. She looks enough like me, except for the blonde hair and blue eyes, that she could pass for me. Some brown hair dye, a pair of brown contact lenses, she could pass for me. And sometimes she does. She did back in college, once, when I was scared to death to take an exam. She went in and aced it for me. Not long after that, I left school for the first time."
"Did you get caught and have to leave?"
"No," she laughed. "I just decided that if it took that kind of thing to get me through school, then it wasn't worth it. Amanda stayed in touch with me for a while, talked about how she had gone on to get her bachelor's in biochemistry, and how she was going to study in Europe and get her master's there. She's a very smart woman."
"And attractive," I added.
She smiled and smacked my knee. "What if Kate heard you say that?"
"She'd probably agree. Kate's like that. She's real confident. I've never met anyone like her."
"Then it's good that the two of you are an item."
"I'm certainly happy that way. So, what about this Amanda?"
"She's very intelligent, but not particularly--how can I put it?" She sat and thought for a minute. "Let's put it this way. Amanda doesn't really use her head all the time. If it wasn't on paper that she was smart, no one would know. That's what's going on here. She's in over her head, and she's running around, telling everyone that she's me, trying to get away from everyone. And I've got to put a stop to it, before she causes me any more trouble and she gets people killed. People like yourself, who I happen to like quite a bit." She took my hand and squeezed it. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you, too," I said. "Of course, considering everything that's been going on, I don't know whether to kiss you or punch you in the mouth."
"I understand." She looked at her watch and said, "I've got to get out of here. Not a word to anyone, especially not the FBI or the police. They probably told you to call them, right?"
"Well, don't." She stood up and kissed me on the cheek, put her coat on, and hugged me. "Oh, Tony, I'm so sorry for what's happened."
"Well, then, make it stop," I said.
"I will. I promise." She kissed me again, then left with a wave.
I waved back, and waited until I heard the door to the suite close before I sat down.
I thought long and hard about whether or not to call Detective Johnson. I didn't want to betray Rosalie, but I also didn't want to run the risk of him finding out that she had been there and I hadn't told him. Finally, after about an hour, I called him.
"So, she made contact with you?" he said.
"Yes, Detective, she was in my room when I got back here after you dropped me off and I had dinner."
"What did she tell you?"
"She told me that the woman in the picture wasn't her. And, you know, I don't think it was. Rosalie has brown hair and brown eyes, the woman in the picture had..."
"Blonde hair and blue eyes. Yes, Tony, I know. There are things such as hair dye and contact lenses."
"I don't think she was wearing contact lenses."
"How would you know?"
"I didn't see them on her."
"That doesn't mean anything, Tony. So, what did she tell you about this Amanda Kelley?"
"She said that she was really intelligent, but not real bright, and that sometimes she would assume Rosalie's identity. Said she had a degree in biochemistry, but didn't have a clue as to what she might be up to."
"Hm. OK. Is there anything else she might have said that might be of interest?"
"She said that she was looking for this Amanda Kelley as well, and that she had ways of finding her other than the way that the police and the FBI did."
"Well, if she's a friend of this Amanda Kelley, she probably would. Accepting for a moment the premise that Amanda and Rosalie are two different people."
"She also told me that sometimes Amanda Kelley goes by the name of Rose Jacobs."
"Rose Jacobs, Rosalie Jakubauskas. Yes, I can see that." He was quiet for a minute. "OK, anything else? Anything at all?"
I thought really hard. "No, I'm sorry."
"Any idea who else might have seen her?"
"Well, she would have had to come in through the front door. Maybe the person who checks IDs saw her."
"Any idea who was on when she would have come through?"
"No, I'm sorry."
"That's all right. It's easy enough to find out. OK, Tony, you've given us a lot to work with here. Thanks." He hung up the phone.
I put the phone on the cradle and thought about what I had done. Rosalie would probably never speak to me again. On the other hand, that might not be such a bad thing.