Harry sipped his hot chocolate thoughtfully. “Lucky you were on the ground floor.” He hoped everyone on the other two floors had got out safely too.
“I grabbed my backpack while I was putting on my shoes,” she said. “I always keep it near the door with my laptop and purse.” She pulled the afghan tighter and sighed. “I’ll probably have to start from scratch and buy everything new again.”
“At least you have a good reason to shop,” he said.
She looked at him and then burst out laughing. “Oh, Harry, only you could make me laugh at a time like this. The thing is, I don’t like shopping and only go when I absolutely have to. And I hate shopping for furniture.”
“When… and IF… you need to shop for furniture, Bruce and I will come along to bring it home for you in the truck. How about we leave it at that for now and get some rest?”
She nodded. “That sounds wonderful.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Bertie got up the next morning with dark circles under her eyes. “I feel like a zombie,” she said.
Harry placed a mug of coffee in front of her as she sat down at the table. “There’s toast and a cheese omelette in the oven when you’re ready.”
“I’m not sure I can eat anything.” She looked up at him. “I feel wiped out. Have you heard anything this morning?”
“Did you have insurance on the contents of your apartment?”
She nodded. “That bad?”
“It didn’t burn completely to the ground but it will have to be demolished. Right now they think it might have been a lightning strike.”
“Did everyone… was anyone hurt?”
” Several were treated for smoke inhalation. An older lady slipped on the wet floor as she was leaving the building and fractured her ankle.”
“Thank God! It could have been much worse.” She sipped her coffee.
Harry nodded. “So what’s your next move? You know you can stay here as long as you need to.”
“I know that and I’m grateful.” She smiled at him. “But I have to deal with it. So I’m going shopping for the most immediate needs this morning. Then I’ll look for someplace to live.”
“If you need anything I’ll be in the office.” He paused at the door. “First I’ll go over to the fire site and see what’s happening.”
She nodded. “I’ll see you later.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Later that morning, Harry was checking out news and pictures of the fire on the Internet when Boris Bergman came in.
“I think something happened at the funeral parlour last night but… there’s no sign of a break-in and nothing was touched inside. I don’t think it’s a police matter but…”
“Nothing would surprise me after last night’s weather. Tell me what happened.”
Boris nodded. “I have a small shed behind the house where I do my woodworking projects. My wife calls it a hobby-shed. Anyway, just after two this morning a lightning bolt struck one of the back corners so I called the fire department. They were just leaving when the call came in about the apartment building. The rain was really coming down and I got to wondering about the Funeral Home, Crocker’s… I work there part time, mostly when there’s a body in residence.”
“Is there a body there now?”