“It’s possible,” Gamache admitted. “But unlikely. They’d have to have his codes and look exactly like him. Security and Customs agents look closely at passport photos now.”
“But it’s still a possibility?” Clara asked.
“Remote. We have agents looking into it,” Beauvoir admitted. “We’re going on the most likely scenario that it was actually Peter.”
“But how likely is it that Peter left Venice for Dumfries?” asked Myrna.
“I agree,” conceded Gamache. “It’s odd. Unless Peter had a particular interest in Scotland.”
“Not that he ever mentioned,” said Clara. “Though he does like Scotch.”
Myrna smiled. “Maybe it’s that simple. Paris for great wine, Florence for Campari, and Venice for…”
She paused, stumped.
“The Bellini,” said Reine-Marie. “We had one in Harry’s Bar, where it was invented. Remember, Armand?”
“We sat at the bar at quaiside watching the vaporetti go by,” he said. “It was named after the color of a robe in a Bellini painting. Pink.”
“Pink?” Jean-Guy mouthed to Gamache.
“Are you suggesting Peter’s drinking his way across Europe?” asked Clara. “The Ruth Zardo Grand Tour.”
“Don’t look at me,” said Gamache. “It’s not my theory.”
“Then what is your theory?” Clara asked.
His smile faded, and he took a deep breath. “I don’t have one. It’s too early. But I do know one thing, Clara. As strange as all this seems, there’s a reason Peter went to these places. We just have to work it out.”
Clara leaned forward again, staring at the dot on the map. “Is he still there?”
Beauvoir shook his head. “He went to Toronto—”
“He’s in Toronto?” Clara interrupted. “Why didn’t you tell me this to begin with?” But on seeing their expressions, she stopped. “What is it?”
“He didn’t stay there,” said Gamache. “Peter flew from Toronto to Quebec City in April.”
“Even better,” said Clara. “He’s on his way home.”
“Quebec City,” Gamache repeated. “Not Montréal. If he was coming back here he’d have gone to Montréal, non?”
Clara glared, hating him for a moment. For not allowing her her delusions, even briefly.
“Maybe he just wanted to see Quebec City,” she said. “Maybe he wanted to paint it, while he waited.” Her words, rapid-fire and insistent, faltered. “While he waited,” she repeated, “to come home.”
But he hadn’t.
“He took three thousand dollars out of his bank account,” Jean-Guy said, forging ahead. Then he stopped and looked at Gamache.
“That’s the last we found of him,” said Armand. “That was April.”
Clara grew very still. Myrna put her large hand over Clara’s, and it felt icy.
“He might still be there,” said Clara.
“Oui,” said Gamache. “Absolutely.”
“Where was he staying?”
“We don’t know. But it’s early days yet. You’re right, he might still be in Quebec City, or he might have taken that money and gone elsewhere. Isabelle Lacoste is using the resources of the Sûreté to find him. Jean-Guy is looking. I’m looking. But it might take time.”
Reine-Marie threw a log into the fire, sending embers and sparks up the chimney. Then she went into the kitchen.
They could smell salmon, and a slight scent of tarragon and lemon.
Clara stood. “I’m going to Quebec City.”
“And do what?” Myrna also got up. “I know you want to do something, but that won’t help.”
“How do you know?” asked Clara.
Gamache rose. “There is something you could do. I’m not sure anything’ll come of it but it might help.”
“What?” asked Clara.
“Peter has family in Toronto—”
“His older brother Thomas,” said Clara. “And his sister Marianna.”
“I was going to call them tomorrow and ask if Peter was in touch, maybe stayed with one of them.”
“You want me to call?”
He hesitated. “I was actually thinking you might go there.”
“Why?” asked Myrna. “Can’t she just call? You were going to.”
“True, but face-to-face is always better. And even better if you know the people.” Gamache looked at Clara. “I think you’ll know if they’re lying to you.”