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Take Your Chances

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Peter stared at the defendant in the dock. She was beautiful, and sad, and he knew she hadn't done it.

"She did," said Parker. "Believe me, it was my case. She murdered her lover."

"No," said Peter. "She is like Theodora of Byzantine - regal, courageous, and you can't believe half the things that are written about her."

"Well, not in the press," said Parker. "But I stand behind the police report, down to the letter."

"Do you?" Peter gave Parker a penetrating stare. "Do you really believe that her disembodied head roams the palace at night?"

"Is that a rumor about Harriet Vane or about Theodora?" asked Parker. "Because there's nothing like that in the report."

Peter waved it away. "I'm going to get her out of this," he said. "See if I don't."

---

Peter didn't. He tried very hard, very very hard, but all of the clues seemed to point in the same direction - Harriet Vane. The jury in the retrial agreed. Harriet Vane had done the murder. But she hadn't done it. She couldn't have.

"I'm glad you believe in me," said Harriet, when Peter visited her for the last time. "But I wish you were having better success. The execution's tomorrow."

"Please don't remind me." Peter had his head in his hands, fingers rubbing at his forehead. "Still, I suppose something will turn up at the last minute. It usually does."

"Pardon me if I don't want to find out." Harriet reached out to pull one of Peter's hands away, and he looked at her with his uncovered eye. She was smiling. His skin tingled where she touched it.

"What do you suggest?" asked Peter.

"Can you get hold of some explosives?" asked Harriet.

---

Peter blew the north wing of the prison. Then, when all the guards ran to contain the prisoners there, Harriet used the lockpicks Peter gave her and calmly walked out of the south entrance. Peter picked her up in his car, and they were off.

"We won't be safe in Europe," said Peter. "Charles knows my friends and my escape routes. Making friends with a policeman is very convenient for solving crimes, but I don't advise it if you plan to go on the run. I've obtained a plane, though, and I think I can fly us to South America. I'm game to try, anyway. We might only make it as far as the American South, but that's close enough. Bunter's at the airstrip now."

Harriet simply smiled. Peter blithered on for a little longer, darting glances from the road to her face, until he couldn't bear it any longer.

"Harriet, I do have to ask. Did you kill Boyes?"

Harriet nodded. "Oh, yes. He was making a fool out of me."

Peter frowned, and Harriet laid her hand on his shoulder. "Is that a problem?" she asked.

"Do you plan to make a habit out of murdering your lovers?" asked Peter.

"Do you plan to treat me like a fool?" asked Harriet.

Peter's skin felt like it was on fire under Harriet's hand. He grinned, and pushed the accelerator down until it met the floor.

Harriet's laughter nearly drowned out the jangling of the police bells behind them.