hundred and fifty thousand dollars, Admiral.”
    Revelation of the actual amount cast a hush over the room. Sherman’s eyebrows went up, but then he said, “I’d trade it back for Elizabeth.”
    Good answer, Karen thought. And yet, despite his quick reply’, even Sherman appeared to be surprised by the sum of a quarter of a million dollars. “I knew nothing about this,” he said. “I wonder-“
    “Yes, sir?” Mcnair had his notebook open and pen poised.
    “Detective, Elizabeth Walsh and I had an intimate personal relationship for a little under three years. That relationship ended on my initiative-when it became evident to Me! that she wanted to get married.” He stared down at the table for a moment. “For reasons I won’t go into, I was not prepared to remarry, so I began to put the brakes on.
    I’d been married before. It turned out badly. I had told her from the start that I did not want to remarry-ever. Elizabeth iswas, I guess is the appropriate word now-a lovely woman.
    She would have made a very fine wife for someone.” He paused again for a moment, his lips pressed together, while he looked down at the table.
    Then he continued.
    “We parted amicably, and we even saw each other socially from time to time. I think both of us kind of hated just to let go. I was about to speculate that maybe she’d had this policy from her previous marriage, then changed the beneficiary while we still had prospects, and simply forgot to do something about it. I don’t know. I can’t offer any other explanation.”
    “Yes, sir,” Mcnair said. “To your knowledge, was she seeing anyone else after the two of you broke up?”
    “Not to my knowledge, but then, I wouldn’t necessarily know. I didn’t ask. Besides, I’d just been promoted, and the pace of my work here has increased considerably.”
    “And when did you last see Ms. Walsh, sir?”
    “About three weeks ago. We went to a benefit dinner for the Wolftrap Farms concert center. But other than that, I don’t know anything about her current social life. Mrs. Klein would probably know more about that.”
    “And your own personal and social life, sir?”
    “I took my Opnav division in the middle of the budgeting cycle. I don’t have a personal social life at the moment.”
    Karen saw a wry took pass over Admiral Carpenter’s face at this answer.
    Mcnair studied his notebook, as if searching for more questions.
    Carpenter finally spoke. “Detective, have we covered the ground here?”
    Mcnair nodded. “Yes, sir, Admiral, I think we have.
    Again, I appreciate your cooperation, Admiral Carpenter, Admiral Sherman. If -we have anything else, we’ll be in touch. But right now, I think I’ve got what I need.”
    “Well, then, everyone,” Carpenter said, standing up. “We’re adjourned.
    Lieutenant Benning will escort you back to the South Parking entrance.
    Admiral Sherman, I appreciate your assistance this morning.”
    Everyone stood. Karen did not know whether she and von Rensel should leave or not, but Carpenter gave them a sign indicating they should stay. Sherman remained standing by the conference table as Carpenter walked over to his desk.
    “Sounds to me like that’s all back in its box,” Carpenter said.
    “Commander Lawrence, any observations?”
    Karen consulted her own notebook for a moment, aware that Sherman was looking at her. “Nothing of significance, Admiral,” she said finally.
    “Except that I’m not convinced that they’re finished with this.”
    Carpenter paused in the act of slipping his jacket over the back of his chair. “You think it’s not over, Karen?”
    “Her death is ambiguous, Admiral,” she said. “On the other hand, if they had some clear evidence of a homicide, we wouldn’t have been meeting here in this office.”
    Carpenter nodded thoughtfully, then glanced over at von Rensel.
    “Comments?, he said. But vbo his head. Carpenter turned back to Sherman’you okay with this?” he asked. “What do they call

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