The key to success

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  No Houses
The chance on a peaceful Christmas is ruined when Kingsley’s team gets a call that the dead body of an important CEO has been found. The whole team is a bit distracted by Christmas being just around the corner, which doesn’t make Kingsley too happy. On top of that, commissioner Johnson is telling them that the case is very delicate. But what happens when some romance starts blooming up?

Submitted: January 26, 2017

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Submitted: January 26, 2017

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The key to success

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

“Can you hand me that bauble?”

Christine was standing on a ladder. She and Ashley had decided they wanted a big Christmas tree. Ashley handed her a shiny, silver bauble, which she hung up on one of the branches. Then Kingsley and Williams walked in.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Kingsley asked.

“It’s almost Christmas, and what’s more symbolic than a huge tree?” Ashley asked with a smile, and she repositioned her Christmas hat.

“Oh, I absolutely love it.” Williams said. He grabbed a Christmas hat off of the table and put it on.

“And since Christine got the tree covered, I’ll be hosting the party.”

“What party?” Kingsley asked.

“Well, it’s actually more of a get-together than a party, but you know what I mean.”

“Did you forget you still have work to do?”

“We got here early, finished that file and got decorating.”
 Ash, did you call the caterer yet, about that menu change?”

“I’ll do it in a minute.”

Then the phone rang. Kingsley answered it.

“Well, just let me know when and where, and I’ll be there.”

“Awesome. I’ll let you know asap.”

“When you’re done chatting down there, would you mind giving me a hand here? These streamers aren’t going to hang themselves, you know.”

Ashley and Williams both grabbed a chair to help put up the streamers.

“Yeah, we’ll be right there.” Kingsley said, and he hung up. “If the three of you have the time, we have a murder to solve.”

Williams got down from the chair.

“What happened?”

“Ah, finally found the time? Come on, I’ll explain it in the car.”

Kingsley and Williams left.

“Wait, what happened?” Christine asked.

“A murder.”

“Shouldn’t we have gone with them?”

“Well, they didn’t ask, or give us an address, so I guess not.”

 

Kingsley and Williams arrived at the beach. Even though it was cold, Williams took off his coat and threw it over his shoulder, holding it with one finger. This place brought up some childhood memories. If he closed his eyes, he could see his kite and hear the seagulls flying around. They walked up to Warren.

“Ah, Kingsley. Where did you leave the other half?”

“Apparently decorating a tree and hanging streamers is more important than solving a murder these days.”

“Well, keeping the spirit is important.”

“Just tell us what you know already?”

“I don’t have much to tell you. The only thing is that he’s been dead for at least 24 hours.”

“No exact time yet?”

“No, I’ll have to cut him open for that.”

“What about the cause of death?”

“I don’t see any external injuries so far, but I need to examine him properly.”

“Is it just me, or does he seem familiar?” Williams asked.

“That’s not just you. His name’s Phil White.”

“As in CEO of White Constructions?”

“That’s what the business card we found in his wallet says.”

“Oh great. Now Johnson won’t shut up about how delicate this case is.” Kingsley said.

“Hey, does Summers already know the time for that party?”

“Ugh.”

Kingsley walked away.

“Did I say something wrong?”

“No, don’t worry about it. Anyway, she told me she’d let everyone know asap, so…”

“Ah, okay. I’ll just wait for that then.”

Williams nodded, and he walked away.

 

“Yes, yes, I know it’s on a short notice, but I need you to change the menu…No, not the entire menu, just one thing… Yes, the sushi needs to be changed to stuffed turkey… Well, just make some more then… You don’t want to? Fine by me, then I’ll just find a different caterer… That’s what I thought… Yes, thank you.”

Ashley hung up.

“What was that all about?” Williams asked. He and Kingsley had just walked into the office.

“I was on the phone with him for half an hour or something just to get him to change the sushi to stuffed turkey.”

“I figured something like that.”

“I also have some good news though. Apparently one of my old friends works at Studio Hall, and she told me we can use one of the rooms on Christmas Eve.”

“Awesome.”

“If we’re only going to talk about partying, we might as well go back to college. Right now, we’re solving a murder.”

“Who’s murdered?”

“Let’s just say Mr. White won’t build any more houses.”

“As in Phil White?”

“One and the same, and since Warren doesn’t even have a cause of death yet, we need to keep ourselves busy in the meantime. Suggestions?”

“Perhaps me and Ashley can check out White Constructions. Maybe his business isn’t as clean as everyone thinks it is.”

“Yeah, that’s an idea. In the meantime, we’ll go search his house, see if we can find anything there.”

 

Ashley and Christine arrived at White Constructions, where the receptionist told them to go to the top floor, and talk to a certain Mr. Duprez, Phil White’s right-hand man. When they reached the top floor, Duprez was already waiting for them.

“Welcome ladies. Why don’t you follow me to my office, we can talk there.” He said with a true salesman smile. On the way to White Constructions, Christine and Ashley made a plan. Christine would question him, and Ashley would closely observe his movements. Duprez was quite tall, had half-long black hair, and he was wearing a grey suit with a hideous yellow and purple tie. They walked into the office. It wasn’t very big, and it was pretty empty. It had a desk with two chairs in front of it, a small lounge-like area, a bookshelf in it and a rug on the floor. Duprez sat down in his chair. Ashley and Christine took place in the chairs in front of the desk.

“What can I do for you?”

“I assume you know what happened to your boss.”

“It was on the news just now, actually.”

“I must say, Mr. Duprez, you don’t seem very shocked.”

“Believe me, I was when I heard the news, but work keeps coming.”

“Is the company doing well?”

“It’s doing great. We just got a deal in Argentina.”

“So there aren’t any financial issues?”

“No, none at all.”

“How would you describe Mr. White?”

“Smart, kind, a good CEO.”

“Did you see him often?”

“Every day, pretty much. We worked together a lot.”

“I actually meant in your private time.”

“Oh, right. Yeah, that happened. We were pretty close friends."

“Was he married?”

“He was actually getting divorced. They were in the middle of the procedure.”

“Did you notice anything that was out of the ordinary the past few days?”

“No. He was feeling a bit down, but that’s pretty normal, given the circumstances.”

“Okay, that will be all for now. But be sure to keep available for questioning in the next few days.”

“Sure, no problem.”

 

Kingsley and Williams were searching the house. After fifteen minutes of searching, they still hadn’t found anything.

“For someone who’s so well-known, he sure had a boring life.” Kingsley said.

They walked into the study, which was the last room they had to check. The study had a lot of wooden furniture in it, which gave it a rustic feel. They searched the room.

“Oh man.” Williams said.

“What?”

“This painting.”

“What about it? Other than it’s ugliness.”

“Ugly? That’s a real Picasso.”

“Congrats. But can you take your interest in art when we’re not working? Thank you.”

Williams checked the bookshelf next to the window.

“Why is the window open?” He asked.

“I didn’t even realize. It looks like it’s closed from here.”

The cold December wind made the curtains go crazy, even though the window was barely even open. One of the curtains hit the Picasso painting on the wall, which made it nearly fall off.

“Wait a second.”

Williams took off the painting, revealing a vault behind it.

“Pete, check it out.”

Kingsley walked over to him.

“Was that here before?”

“Yes and no. This painting was hiding it.”

“Interesting. Looks like he was hiding something after all.”

 

Ashley and Christine walked out of the building.

“Did you notice he got nervous when you asked him about the finances?”

“Only a blind person could miss that. Did you notice anything else?”

“Only his awful smelling aftershave. Nearly made me throw up.”

“I can’t believe people can get close to him.”

“I think it’s strange.”

“Oh well.”

“No, that’s not what I meant.”

“In that case, explain it to me please, because I don’t know what you’re referring to.”

“He said they were close friends, and yet there wasn’t a single picture of them together in his office.”

“That is strange. But let’s not jump into any conclusions before we know the cause of death.”

 

Kingsley and Williams were on their way to the police station.

“What do you think White’s hiding in that vault?” Williams asked.

“I have no idea. And we’ll never know unless we find the key.”

“Do you think the murderer has it?”

“I doubt it, actually. If the murderer had the key, and they knew where the vault was, why was it locked?”

“Hm, good point.”

“The problem is, we have no idea how he died.”

Then Kingsley’s phone rang.

“Yes Warren?... Okay, we’re on our way… Yeah, see you.”

Kingsley hung up.

“Warren found something.”

“Okay, let’s change the route then.”

Williams turned around, and they went over to the hospital, where they arrived fifteen minutes later. They walked into Warren’s office.

“And, Warren?” Kingsley asked.

“The least you can say is that it was quite hard to determine the cause of death. No physical injuries, shot wounds…”

“Did you figure it out or not?”
“Yes, I found traces of glutamyl carboxylase in his blood.”

“Gluta- what now?”

“Blood thinners. As you probably know, vitamin K makes your blood clot. If you don’t have enough of it, a small cut would make you bleed to death. Now, glutamyl carboxylase…”

“Warren, please. We don’t have all day.”

“In fact, this guy just bled out on the inside.”

“Do you know how long he’s been dead?”

“Well, the seawater made most of the evidence disappear, but I’d say about 24 hours or so.”

“And how exactly did he take those gluta- thingies?”

“It used to be in rat poison, but when the news got out that it could be dangerous, it became illegal.”

“Is it easy to get?”

“Well, you can’t find it in pharmacies or supermarkets anymore, but I bet you could still get it on the internet.”

“And how long does it take for that stuff to kill you?”

“About two to three days.”

“Alright, thanks Warren.”

Kingsley and Williams left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

“Okay, let’s go over everything we know so far.” Kingsley said.

“White’s right-hand man, Chase Duprez, got really nervous when I asked him about the finances.”

“Plus, he claims they’re really close friends, but there wasn’t a single picture of them together.”

“The problem is, anyone who’s been near him the past four days could be the killer. Andrews and Summers, I want his entire agenda of the past four days. From the moment he got up to the moment he went to bed. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“And what are we doing to do?” Williams asked.

“We are going to tell his ex-wife, and see what we can get from that.”

Kingsley grabbed White’s laptop, which they took from his house as evidence, and walked over to Ashley.

“Summers, do me a favor and take this to the CCU. Maybe they can figure something out.”

“The CCU?”

“The Computer Crime Unit.”

“Yeah, I know what the CCU is, but why would you take it there?”

“Because this laptop is locked with a password.”

“That’s going to take too long. Let me see that.”

Kingsley handed over the laptop. Ashley put it on her desk and turned it on.

“This shouldn’t take too long, give me a minute or two.”

Ashley grabbed a cable from her drawer, and connected the laptop to the computer on her desk. She started typing at full speed, while everyone just stared at the computer. After a minute, she disconnected the cable.

“There, I’m in.”

“Can you get into his e-mail?”

“Shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Ash, you don’t think he’d be stupid enough to use the same password for his e-mail, do you?”

“No, but he is stupid enough to leave his e-mail and password in a document on his desktop.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Not one bit, it’s right here.”

Ashley opened the file. Not only did it contain his e-mail and password, but also a bunch of other usernames along with all of his passwords.

“He’s either really organized, or the stupidest person ever.”

“I’m going to go with the second one.” Williams said.

“I don’t know. It seems too easy.” Kingsley said.

“What do you mean?”

“Every detail of all his accounts are right there in full view for us to find. It’s suspicious to say the least.”

“It is odd.” Ashley said.

“You know what, we’ll figure that out later. You two figure out his agenda, and we’ll go see what his ex-wife has to say.”

“Okay chief.”

Ashley and Christine started typing, and Kingsley and Williams left.

 

Williams parked the car on the long driveway, and he and Kingsley got out. They walked over to the door, and rang the doorbell. It made a fancy sound. About half a minute layer, the door opened. The woman in the doorway was quite small, had half-long blonde hair which was tied back with a lot of bobby pins, and she was wearing a robe.

“Melissa White?”

“Yes.”

“Chief inspector Kingsley and inspector Williams. Can we ask you a few questions?”

“Sure, come in.”

She stepped out of the way, and Kingsley and Williams walked into the corridor, which was about 20 feet long. The corridor led to a pretty big but cozy living room. Kingsley and Williams sat down on a brown couch, made of leather. Mrs. White walked into the kitchen, and returned a minute later with a tray, which had a coffee pot, three cups and a holder for milk and sugar on it. She filled the cups with coffee.

“If you want milk or sugar, just take it.”

Williams poured some milk in his cup and he put a sugar cube in Kingsley’s.

“What can I do for you, gentlemen?”

“Well, I’m afraid we have some bad news. This morning, we found your husband.” Kingsley said.

“Ex-husband, inspector. And I heard from Chase that he’s gone missing yesterday, so how is it bad news?”

“Because we found him dead.”

It was quiet for a moment. They both saw a sense of shock in her eyes. In contrast to Kingsley, Williams thought it was fake, so he got into his ‘observation mode’, as Kingsley liked to call it.

“How did it happen?”

“We can’t give you any details yet, since we’re still investigating. But if he’s been missing, why didn’t you report it?”

“In case you didn’t know, we’re getting divorced. Even though the procedure isn’t complete yet, we weren’t living together anymore.”

“So you don’t know what he’s been up to?”

“No, and to be honest, I don’t really care either.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. White…”

“Please, call me Melissa.”

“Well, Melissa, I have to ask, where were you four days ago?”

“In the morning and afternoon, I was shopping with a friend, and in the evening we went out for dinner.”

“And does this friend have a name?”

“Claire. Claire McCallister.”

“Earlier you mentioned someone named Chase. Does he have a last name too?”

“Yes. Chase Duprez. We… have a history together.”

“Duprez as in your ex-husband’s right-hand man?”

“One and the same.”

“Is he the reason you and your husband were getting divorced?”

“Look, Phil was a huge drama queen in that matter. I have one affair, and he makes a huge deal out of it, while he’s had loads of affairs.”

“Any idea with who?”

“Take the second last page of the local newspaper. I think he’s had all of them.”

“Hm. One more thing. Would you say your husband, or ex-husband, was organized?”

“Phil organized? Good one. That’s like a builder trying to do a pirouette.”

“Alright, that will do for now.”

Kingsley and Williams left the house, got in the car and went back to the station.

 

Kingsley and Williams walked into the office.

“She’s lying, I can feel it.”

“I have to agree with you there.”

“What’s the matter?” Ashley asked.

“Summers, where were you four days ago?”

“Oh… Uhm…”

“See that? Mrs. White didn’t even have to think about it. She already had her alibi prepared. You would only have to do that if you’re hiding something.”

“Who’s her alibi?”

“A certain Claire McCallister. But I think she’ll just confirm the alibi.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

“Anyway, did you find out what he’s been doing the past four days?”

“Nothing interesting, that’s for sure. He’s had one business dinner after another.”

“Is that it?”

“Pretty much.”

“Pretty much or yes?”

“He’s also had an interview with CNN about his new project in Argentina, but that was nothing special.”

“Did you talk to the reporter?”

“No, we looked at the recording. It was on the internet.”

“And our computer master Ashley analyzed the sound, but that wasn’t anything special either.”

“Okay, so far we have two suspects.”

Kingsley walked over to the whiteboard and started writing.

“Suspect number one…”

“Chase Duprez. He’s hiding something, possibly related to the company’s finances, but he’s kind of lacking a motive.”

“On the contrary, Andrews. He had an affair with Melissa White, who is suspect number two.”

“That gives both of them the same motive, don’t you think?”

“That’s true. We don’t actually know a lot about our victim, do we?”

“We know he’s a rich CEO…”

“Who isn’t very smart.” Ashley added with a smile.

“And we know he was getting divorced.”

“Yeah, but aside from that… nothing.”

“Why didn’t Duprez say anything about that affair?” Ashley asked.

“We’ll go ask him. In the meantime, I want you two to figure out whether he’s married with a contract, and if so, where does the money go in case of a divorce?”

“On it, chief.”

Kingsley and Williams left.

 

Kingsley and Williams walked into the huge building, and they walked over to the reception.

“Good afternoon, miss. We’re here to see Mr. Duprez.” Kingsley said.

“Just a moment, please.”

The blonde receptionist grabbed the phone and held one of the keys for a few seconds.

“It seems like we have so much information, and yet…”

“We’re nowhere. It’s been crossing my mind too.”

“Who’s here to see him?”

“Chief inspector Kingsley and inspector Williams.”

The receptionist continued. Normally, she would have asked if they had an appointment, but her shift would be over in half an hour, so trouble was the last thing she wanted.

“If we keep running around like this, we should probably recap.”

“Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?”

“I’m thinking L’Estaminet.”

“That’s what I thought.”

While it sounded pretty fancy, L’Estaminet was just a local café. If Kingsley wanted to recap, it usually took place there.

“Mr. Duprez has some time for you now. He’s on the top floor, second door to your right.”

“Alright, thank you.”

They took the elevator all the way to the top floor. When they got there, they walked into Mr. Duprez’s office.

“Gentlemen, I must say I’m quite surprised to see you. I thought I answered all of your questions.”

“There are a few things that need to be cleared up. For example, why did you hide your affair with Mrs. White?”

“I wasn’t hiding anything.”

“My co-worker told me you didn’t say a word about it.”

“That’s because she’s never asked.”

“Still, I’m sure you had the chance.”

“I just thought it was irrelevant.”

“And your financial issues, did you also think those were irrelevant?”

“There are no financial issues. If you check the results from last year, you’ll see we’re still making profit.”

“Right, right.”

“Just out of curiosity, where did your co-worker get the idea that there were any financial issues?”

“She said you got a little nervous when she started about the finances.”

“Then she must’ve understood wrong.”

“Well, if that’s the case, we won’t take more of your time than needed.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if you’ve nothing to do with this, like you’re telling us, then questioning you won’t be needed.”

Kingsley and Williams got up.

“Unless there’s something else you want to tell us.”

“I can’t think of anything.”

“And don’t worry, we’ll get to the truth eventually.”

And with that, Kingsley and Williams left.

 

 

 

3

 

 

Ashley and Christine were chatting a little bit.

“I didn’t know you were that good with computers.”

“Well, computers always had my interest, and I had computer science in school.”

“Did they seriously teach you how to hack computers? That must’ve been one awesome school.”

“No, of course they didn’t. I just kind of… taught myself.”

“It’s still pretty impressive.”

“I thought if I can’t get this job, I can always join the CCU.”

“I’m glad you got this job.”

“Me too.”

Then Johnson walked into the office.

“Good afternoon. Where are Kingsley and Williams?”

“They went over to White Constructions.”

“What on earth are they doing there?”

“There were some inconsistencies, so they went there to clear them up.”

“Right. Send Kingsley to my office when he gets here, will you?”

“Sure.”

Johnson walked away. Then Ashley’s phone rang.

“Hello?... Oh, hey Lisa, what’s up?... You’re kidding?... Of course I’m free on new year’s eve. Where else would I be?... If I was busy that night, I’d cancel everything… Of course I would, you silly goose… Can you not call me that?... Yeah, I know, I asked for it… Yeah… Tomorrow?... Yeah, that should be fine… Okay, see you tomorrow… Bye.”

Ashley hung up.

“Who were you talking to?”

“My sister. She wants to go dress shopping tomorrow.”

“Does she need your advice on a prom dress or something?”

“No, Lisa’s older than me, and I’m the one who needs a dress.”

“How come?”

“She’s getting married on new year’s eve.”

“And you postponed dress shopping until tomorrow? You should’ve done that months ago.”

“Well, we’re both very busy, so it’s hard to find a day we both have time.”

“What does she do for a living?”

“She’s a doctor.”

“A doctor and a cop? Great family?”

“Was that sarcasm?”

“No, I was actually being serious.”

Then Kingsley and Williams walked in.

“Ah, Chief. What did Duprez have to say?”

“Hah, he said you must’ve misunderstood him.”

“And the affair?”

“He thought it seemed irrelevant.”

“Or did he?”

“Anyway, what did you find?”

“Mrs. White’s motive gets stronger by the minute. Her husband took his precautions, and they got married with a contract. If it ever got to a divorce, she’d have nothing left.”

“So he wouldn’t only get his own money, but also her money?”

“What money? She’s broke.”

“And if he dies?”
“She gets everything. Unless she’s somehow involved in his death, of course.”

“Her motive gets both stronger and weaker by the minute. On one hand, if she kills him, she gets all of his money.”

“And on the other hand, she gets nothing when she kills him.”

“It seems like the more information we get, the further we go back.”

“Well, we also checked her alibi, just to be sure. They indeed went into town and grabbed dinner afterwards.”

“What a surprise.”

“But wait, there’s more. Claire McCallister said that between 6 and 8 that evening, Mrs. White went out to take a walk.”

“For what reason?”

“Apparently she wanted to get everything straight about the divorce.”

“That gives her motive and opportunity. The problem is, Duprez also has motive and opportunity.”

“Oh, chief, I just remembered. The commissioner wants you to come to his office.”

“Of course he does. He can stick those talks where I think he can stick them. The public relations of the station are his problem, not mine.”

Kingsley sat down at his desk.

“Chief, would you mind if I take the day off tomorrow?” Ashley asked.

“What for?”

“I need to go dress shopping with my sister.”

“Dress shopping? Couldn’t you have picked a different day for that?”

“Well, we both have jobs that aren’t exactly 9 to 5, so it’s hard to find a day where we both have time.”

“Fine, you can go dress shopping tomorrow.”

“Thanks.”

Kingsley checked his watch.

“Perhaps we should call it a day. We’ll figure out what do tomorrow.”

“Okay.”

Ashley and Christine left.

“What do you say? L’Estaminet?”

“Sure. Jeff’s out of town, so then I don’t have to be alone.”

They grabbed their coats and left.

 

The next morning, Christine was at the office, reading the newspaper. Then Kingsley and Williams walked in.

“Good morning, chief.”

“No, it isn’t.”

Kingsley hung his coat on the hook and sat down. Williams signaled that it was nothing to worry about.

“Where’s Summers?”

“She has a day off, remember?”

“Oh, right. Dress shopping.”

“Exactly.”

“Why did she have to go shopping on a Wednesday?”

“It’s for her sister’s wedding, and they’re both very busy, so…”

“Right, right.”

Kingsley let out a sigh.

“Why can’t you find something you’re looking for?”

“Because you’re looking in the wrong direction?” Williams suggested.

“Or because you don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s the problem here, we don’t know what we’re looking for.”

“We’re looking for a murderer?” Christine said.

“Yeah, but we can’t find them. And so, the case is stuck. And it will be until someone makes a mistake.”

“And what are we going to do in the meantime?”

“Hm. Do we know Duprez’s alibi?”

“Yeah, Ashley and I checked it. He was at a reception with Phil White.”

“What time did that reception start and end?”

Christine grabbed her notebook.

“He and White arrived there together at 9. He said White left around midnight or so, and he stayed there until 2 am. We’ve already been there, his alibi checks out.”

“Did he say what they’ve been doing?”

“According to Duprez, White’s been flirting around with the barista, and he’s been sucking up for new projects.”

“Hm.”

“What are you thinking?” Williams asked.

“Do we know who White had those business dinners with?”

“Just with a few other companies. Already checked, nothing special.”

 

Ashley and Lisa arrived at the dress store.

“Ash, look at this dress.”

“Yeah, it’s great.”

“Alright, what’s the matter?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re obviously distracted. What’s going on?”

“I’m sorry. The case is just in my head.”

“Or is someone else in your head?”

“Lisa, you’re starting to sound like mom.”

“Why don’t you bring Max to the wedding?”

“You mean Max Warren?”

“Who else would I mean?”

“Why would I bring him?”

“Well, I don’t know if it’s two-sided, but he certainly has a thing for you.”

“Yeah, right.”

“I’m serious. He talks about you a lot, you know.”

“He does?”

“Yeah, it’s almost annoying.”

“Oh my God, this dress looks amazing.”

“Don’t you dare change the subject, squirt.”

“Please don’t call me squirt.”

“Whatever. I heard from Max that you’re hosting a Christmas party.”

“Yeah, everyone’s invited.”

“Even Kingsley?”

“How do you know him?”

“Oh please, don’t tell me you don’t know he’s got quite the reputation.”

“I guess that’s true. And yes, he’s invited.”

“I also see him regularly, when he and Williams walk into Max’s office.”

“Ah. Anyway, do you think this dress works with your color scheme?”

Ashley grabbed a short, light blue dress with a few white roses at the bottom off the rack.

“Go try it on, it looks fab.”

Ashley went into the fitting room, and she came out a few minutes later. She struck a pose.

“Okay, you’re wearing that dress to the wedding. Although it does look a little big for you.”

“I think I know why.”

Ashley turned around and got her hair out of the way.

“Can you zip me up?”

“Right, might be smart.”

Lisa closed the zipper on Ashley’s back.

“You are looking fab.”

“I know.”

They both burst into laughter.

“I’m going to change back. See you in a few.”

“Alright.”

Ashley changed back into her normal clothes, and they paid for the dress.

“So, what should we do now?”

“Why don’t you get us some food, while I buy your gift.”

“Okay. I will see y0u back here then?”

“Yeah.”

Ashley waited until Lisa was in the restaurant, before she walked into the jeweler. Everything inside was sparkling. Ashley looked around, almost knocking over a mannequin with a bunch of jewelry hanging on it, which caused a few employees to look at her before continuing with what they were doing. Ashley walked over to a glass case filled with necklaces. She looked over them, until she spotted a gorgeous silver necklace with a diamond heart hanging on it. She carefully took it out of the glass case and paid for it. On her request, the employee packed it and put it in a small bag. Ashley walked over to the fountain, where she was meeting Lisa.

“Finally, what took you so long?”

“Picking out the right gift.”

“You d0 realize that everything would be fine, right?”

“Of course, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give you a crappy gift.”

“Here, I got you some nuggets.”

“Delish!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

“Wait a second.”

Christine walked over to the whiteboard.

“What is it?” Kingsley asked.

“I just realized something. So from 12 to 3, White had a business lunch, and then he had that reception thing starting at 9.”

“And in between?”

“Nothing. So I’m guessing he was at home.”

“Yeah, that’s really interesting and all, but that doesn’t change anything.”

“Chief, think about it. Between let’s say 4 and 9, White was presumably at home. Between 6 and 8, Mrs. White has no alibi.”

“Which means she could’ve gone to his house, or she invited him over, put some rat poison in his meal, and then it was a waiting game.”

“Exactly.”

“Good find, Andrews. Come on, Nick.”

“Where are we going?”

“Pay a visit to Hannah, and then turn a mansion upside-down.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to tail Duprez. And call Johnson to arrange night shifts for the other officers.”

“Alright.”

Then Johnson walked in.

“Oh, speak of the devil…”

“Kingsley, I thought I asked you to come to my office.”

“We were busy.”

“Right, I just want you to know…”

“That this is a very delicate case and you don’t want us to talk to the press too much. Got it.”

Kingsley and Williams left before Johnson could say another word.

“Commissioner, the chief asked me to tell you that the other officers are needed for night shifts. We’re tailing Duprez.”

“Right. I thought I asked you and Summers to send Kingsley to my office.”

“We did, but he decided not to.”

Christine left.

 

Ashley and Lisa were walking in the park.

“I’m glad I took the day off.”

“Me too, squirt. We hardly see each other anymore.”

“How long are you going to keep calling me squirt?”

“Probably for the rest of your life.”

“Let me put it this way. Why are you calling me squirt?”

“How do you not remember?”

“Don’t remember what?”

“The summer you were in third grade?”

“Oh my God, that’s why you’re going to call me squirt for the rest of my life?”

“Yep.”

“You’re unbelievable.”

“I know.”

Then Ashley’s phone rang.

“One second.”

She answered it.

“Yeah, Christine?... That’s great… Oh, really?... Do you really need me for that?... No, no, I get it… I’m at the park… Yeah, see you soon… Yeah, bye.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I’m really sorry, Lisa. They need me.”

“I thought you took the day off.”

“I did, but apparently it’s really important.”

“Do you need a ride to the station?”

“No, Christine is picking me up here. But thanks anyway.”

“No problem. It just sucks.”

“I know. But we’ll still get to see each other with Christmas and on new year’s eve.”

“True.”

“I’m really happy for you. Logan’s a lucky guy.”

“Thanks, Ashley.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Then Christine walked over to them.

“Hey. Sorry to ruin your day off.”

“It’s okay. This is my sister Lisa.”

“Nice to meet you, I’m Christine.”

They shook hands.

“Want us to drive you home?”

“Actually, can you drive me to the mall instead? My car’s over there.”

“Of course.”

They got in the car, and drove. The ride was quiet. Very quiet. Eventually they arrived at the mall.

“Thanks for the ride.”

Lisa got out.

“So what did you need me for?”

“The chief wants us to tail Duprez.”

“And why?”

“We found something that possibly incriminates Mrs. White.”

“Wait, if you found something on Mrs. White, why are we supposed to tail Duprez?”

“Honestly, I have no idea.”

 

Kingsley and Williams were in Hannah’s office, waiting for her to arrive. Mia, her secretary, told them she had a meeting, which was running long. After a few minutes of waiting, Hannah walked in. She sat down and put her bag on the floor next to her chair.

“Sorry I’m late. Chris had a lot he wanted to discuss.”

“Chris Anderson?”
“Yes.”

“Why would you want to be around him?”

“What is it with you and just judging people?”

“I’m not judging him, I have an opinion about him.”

“Have you ever talked to the guy?”

“Is that necessary?”

“Is this really necessary?” Williams interrupted.

They stopped arguing.

“Right. You needed a search warrant?”

“Yes. For Melissa White’s mansion.”

“Based on what evidence?”

“She had both motive and opportunity.”

“And her alibi?”

“She spent the day with her friend, but that same friend says Mrs. White was gone for two hours.”

“And what about Duprez?”

“His alibi is that his car was on the parking lot of the company until he went to pick up White for the reception.”

“And he couldn’t have walked to White’s house?”

“It’s possible, but very unlikely, don’t you think?”

“The company is on the opposite side of town.”

“And there are no other suspects? Nobody else within the company?”

“No. Apparently White was a great boss. Nobody had a conflict with him.”

“Okay, you got your warrant.”

Hannah looked between the many papers on her desk. When she found a warrant, she wrote down the address and put down her signature at the bottom.

“Here you go. And if I were you, I’d screen the company. Maybe there’s something you missed.”

“We’ll do that afterwards.”

“What are Andrews and Summers doing?”

“They’re tailing Duprez. Perhaps we can conclude something from that.”

“Good thinking.”

Kingsley and Williams got up.

“I’ll see you tonight.”

“I’ll try to be on time.”

Hannah nodded, and Kingsley and Williams left.

 

Ashley and Christine were in the car. They were parked outside White Constructions.

“Ash, what time does that party start?”

“Around 8 o’clock. Should be good, right?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“Oh, that reminds me. I should let everyone know.”

“If you want guests at the party, that might be a good idea.”

Ashley grabbed her phone and started typing.

“Oh, there he comes.”

Ashley looked up, and grabbed the camera that was on the dashboard. Duprez shook hands with someone, looked around, and gave the man a brown envelope.

“What’s in there?”

“I think it’s money for something.”

“The question is, what is the money for?”

Duprez got into his car and drove away.

“Quickly, follow him.”

Christine started driving.

 

Kingsley and Williams arrived at Mrs. White’s mansion, accompanied by a few officers and the forensic team. They rang the doorbell.

“Melissa White, we have a warrant to search your house.”

Kingsley handed her the warrant and he, Williams, the officers and the forensic team walked inside. They started searching the place.

“Chief inspector, I demand an explanation.”

“Is it true that between 6 and 8 five days ago, you went out to take a walk?”

“Who says I did?”

“Does that matter?”

“Yes, I went out to take a walk on the beach. I wanted to clear my head. Why?”

“Your alibi is missing two hours. You forgot to mention that.”

“So?”

“So? In those two hours, you had plenty of time to go to your husband’s house, put rat poison in his meal and return to the restaurant.”

“This is ridiculous.”

Then one of the officers walked into the room.

“Chief, we found this in the garage.”

He was holding a pack of rat poison.

“Good job, Wren. Melissa White, you’re under arrest for murder.”

“I have no idea how that got there.”

“Come on.”

 

Ashley and Christine were driving after Duprez. Ashley was holding the camera and her phone next to each other.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to figure out who that other guy is.”

“Good luck with that.”

“Got it. Hm, that’s odd.”

“What’s odd?”

“It says it’s Callan Hughes.”

“The financial director?”

“One and the same.”

“Should we go question him?”

“Right now?”

“Why not?”

“What about the whole tailing Duprez thing?”

“We’ve been following him around for nearly three hours now and we still don’t have anything.”

“I suppose that’s true. I’ll call the chief and let him know.”

Ashley dialed Kingsley’s number.

“Hey chief, Ashley here. Listen, tailing Duprez isn’t getting us anywhere, but we did find something else… Right, Duprez gave Callan Hughes a brown envelope… No idea, but we think it’s money… Yes, the financial director… You know what I mean… Okay, will do.”

“What did he say?”

“He told us to go question Hughes about that envelope.”

“So we’re done tailing Duprez?”

“I guess so.”

“Good, because I was getting sick of it.”

Ashley reached into her bag and pulled out White’s laptop.

“What are you up to?”
“I’m going to see if I can get into his files.”

“Smart. But what makes you think this is a good time for it?”

“You’re driving and we’re not tailing anyone, so I don’t have to pay attention to the road.”

“I guess you have a point.”

Ashley clicked on a couple of folders.

“Gah.”

“What’s the matter?”

“The files are corrupted.”

“Can’t you fix it?”

“Not without a proper workspace and a ton of coffee.”

“What about his email? I’m sure there’s some free WiFi around here somewhere.”

“I got my hotspot.”

Ashley pulled a small black machine out of her bag.

“So can you also get on secured WiFi with that thing?”

“Christine, I am the WiFi.”

Ashley logged into White’s email and checked his inbox.

“Alright, let’s see… Business dinner, business dinner, reception, business lunch…”

“Anything interesting in there?”

“Here we go. Dear Mr. White, we are sorry to inform you that our plans for the expansion of the…”

“Ash, I don’t need to hear the whole email.”

“The project’s been cancelled.”

“The one they had in Argentina?”

“Yeah.”

“Does it say why?”

Ashley kept on reading.

“Oh, this is interesting. I’m calling the chief.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

Williams was in the interrogation room. Then Kingsley walked in, and he sat down.

“Well, I must say, Mr. Duprez, what my co-worker just told me is quite interesting. The company’s bankrupt.”

“Why do you think we needed that deal?”

“I can see that, but unfortunately for you, they cancelled it. And more importantly, you tried to sue them.”

“They violated the contract.”

“That might be the case, but it’s just another one of those details that you forgot to mention.”

“I also forgot to mention what I had for breakfast this morning. Is it important?”

“The question is, if you’re bankrupt, how come the records say otherwise?”

“If I tell you everything, will you leave me alone?”

“I want every single detail.”

“Look, it’s been pretty rough the past few years. Phil made a couple of bad investments, and we’ve been losing money ever since. So Phil asked Callan to… improve the situation.”

“Improve the situation?”

“He changed the numbers, so we didn’t go bankrupt.”

“But the company in Argentina saw through your lie?”

“Apparently they did.”

“Interesting.”

Kingsley and Williams left the interrogation room, and walked into the office.

“And?” Christine asked.

“He said White told Hughes to ‘improve the situation’. What about you?”

“He told us about that. But aside from that, nothing new.”

“Summers, what are you doing?”

“Trying to decode these stupid files.”

“How is it coming along?” Christine asked, and she walked over to her.

“These files are encrypted in a very advanced way. Decoding them is not going to be easy, not to mention the time it’s going to take.”

“Let’s leave that for tomorrow. See you.”

Kingsley left.

“I’ll work on it a little bit at home.”

“Don’t stay out too late. You’ve got a party to host tomorrow night.” Williams said laughing.

“I didn’t forget.”

“It starts at 8, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, see you tomorrow.”

“See you.”

“Come on, Ash. Let’s go.”

“Yeah, I’m coming.”

Ashley put the laptop in her bag and went home.

 

The next morning, Ashley arrived at the station in a hurry. She was late.

“Ah, good to see you’re still coming.” Kingsley said when she walked into the office.

“Sorry, I overslept.”

“More like underslept. The bags under your eyes are huge.” Christine said.

“I fell asleep on the couch, trying to decode this thing.”

“What time?”

“I don’t know, I think it was 5 o’clock or something.”

“You pulled an all-nighter the night before your party?”

“Pretty much.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Sleep can come later. I did find something though.”

Ashley started up the laptop.

“Did you finish decoding it?”

“I’m not anywhere near finished. It took me all night just to decode one file.”

“Is there anything interesting in that file?” Kingsley asked.

“Guess we’ll find out as soon as this thing is working.”

“You mean you haven’t checked the file yet?”

“Chief, I fell asleep okay? Let me just grab some coffee in the meantime.”

“Yesterday it started up quicker.” Christine said while Ashley was grabbing some coffee.

“Probably because the file was encrypted. It was highly advanced, so the computer probably thought the file no longer existed.”

“And that means in human language?” Kingsley asked confused.

“Basically, the more you put on a computer, the more energy it needs. The computer realized that the file in question does exist, so it just uses some more energy.”

Then the computer screen turned bright blue.

“No no no. God damn it.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Apparently the file I decoded had a virus in it, or it was a virus, so now the computer crashed.”

“And you can’t recover it?”

“No time for that. Let the CCU figure it out. I’m done.”

“Right. Come on, Nick. We’ll go make some nerds happy.”

Kingsley and Williams left.

“I still can’t believe you pulled an all-nighter.”

“Sometimes you just have to do something like that.”

“You’re either going to need at least six hours of sleep or a ton of concealer.”

“Probably the second one. I agreed to meet with Aria at 4, and I still have to work.”
“Aria? Who’s Aria?”

“My friend who works at Studio Hall.”

“Right.”

“Wait, what are we supposed to do now?”

“I have no idea.”

“Okay, so we know White Constructions is technically bankrupt."

“Yeah, and that the company in Argentina somehow found out about it.”

“Well, if we couldn’t find it by screening it, then there’s only one possibility.”

“Someone must’ve leaked it.”

“The question is, who?”

“There’s only one person who had access to that data.”

“Hughes. I’ll let the chief know.”

Ashley grabbed the phone.

“Chief, Christine and I found the possible murderer of Phil White… Callan Hughes, we think he may have leaked the real finances… Okay, bye.”

“And?”

“They’re going to bring him in here.”

“And what do we do in the meantime?”

“I guess we’ll just have to wait.”

Then an old woman walked into the office.

“Excuse me.”

“Yes? What can we do for you?”

“I’m Mr. White’s housekeeper. And this morning, I found this key.”

“And?”

“I could be wrong, but I think this is the vault key. I thought you might be able to use it.”

“Oh. Thank you madam.”

“No problem, miss. Have a nice day.”

The old woman walked away.

“Come on, let’s go open that vault.”

 

A little while later, Kingsley and Williams walked into the office.

“Where’s Hughes?” Christine asked.

“I have no idea.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, he’s disappeared.”

“Say what now?”

“Nobody knows where he went.”

“Want me to spread out an APB?”

“Yeah.”

“Anyway, what are you two doing?”

“White’s maid came here to deliver the vault key. Check this out.”

Ashley handed Kingsley the papers.

“Well, we could certainly arrest Hughes with this evidence. If we knew where to find him.”

“What now?”

“I suggest we all go home, seeing as there’s nothing we can do right now.”

“What about Mrs. White? The rat poison?”

“Her story may be ridiculous, but I actually believe her.”

“Well, I’ll take it. I could use some sleep before the party.”

“The APB is out. I’m going to the mall and get something Christmassy.”

“See you tonight.”

 

At 4 o’clock, Ashley arrived at Studio Hall, where a tall woman with long black hair was waiting for her.

“Ash, finally. I haven’t seen you in ages, girl.”

“I know. We should totally hang out sometime.”

“Anyway, the caterer is already setting up. Want to get started on decorating.”

“Yes. Lead the way.”

They went inside, and they walked into one of the rooms. A few guys in fancy suits were putting up all kinds of food on the tables against the wall, and the barista started mixing a couple of drinks.

“Holy crap, this place is huge.”

“It’s one of the biggest. You’re welcome.”

“Thanks.”

“Okay, the delivery guy already delivered the decorations.”

“Let’s do this.”

They both went to the back and started carrying boxes filled with all kinds of decorations.

“So, where do you want to start?”

“Let’s just start with the first box and work from there.”

Aria nodded, and the girls started decorating. After about three hours, they were finished. Then Christine walked in.

“Oh damn, look at this place. You guys outdid yourselves.”

“Thank you. Christine, meet my friend Aria.”

“Hi.”

“Hey.”

“Christine, I love your dress.”

“Thanks. Where’s yours?”

“What’s wrong with this?”

“Uhm, hello?”

“I’m just kidding. It’s out in the back. I’m just going to get changed. Be right back.”

“Okay.”

Ashley left the room.

“So you two are old friends, right?”

“Yeah, we’ve known each other since elementary school.”

“Sounds great.”

“Yep.”

They were both quiet. Neither of them had something to say. Then Ashley walked back into the room.

“Awkward silence, much.”

“Ashley, red totally goes with your skin tone.”

“Thanks, I’ve actually never worn this one before.”

“Is it new?”

“No, I’ve had this lying around for about three years now. I’m actually quite surprised it still fits.”

 

About an hour later, people started to arrive, and soon the party was in full swing. Some people were chatting at the bar, some people were stuffing themselves with the food, and some people were dancing. Then Max walked up to Ashley.

“Hey, this party is great.”

“Thanks. It sure took some work.”

“Well, it paid off. Want to dance?”

“Sure, why not.”

They went over to the dance floor.

“This music is awesome.”

“Aria arranged the DJ. He is indeed pretty awesome.”
They danced for a little while. At some point, someone tapped Ashley’s shoulder and then pointed up.

“What-?”

“Looks like someone wanted a mistletoe for decoration.”

“Well, this just got a whole lot more awkward.”

“Rules are rules. But if you’re feeling uncomfortable with it, we don’t have to…”

“No, it’s okay. Rules are rules, after all.”

They kissed. In the corner of her eye, Ashley saw Aria snooping on them.

“Not bad, Summers.”

“Not too bad yourself, Warren. Just wait here for one second.”

Ashley walked over to Aria, who quickly looked away.

“Really? A mistletoe? You are so dead.”

“Come on, he’s cute. And you certainly looked like you were enjoying yourself.”

Ashley was quiet.

“You like him, don’t you?”

“Where did you get that idea?”

“I saw the way you looked at him. So you’re welcome.”

Aria walked away without saying another word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

Two days later, Ashley arrived at the office.

“Hey guys, how was your Christmas?”

“Same old, same old.” Christine said.

“My Christmas was wonderful. Jeff made us some great dinner.”

“What about you, Ashley? Anything special? Or should I say, anyone special?”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

Before Christine could say what she meant, Kingsley walked into the office.

“Alright, now that Christmas break is over, let’s get back to work.”

“That APB didn’t get us anything for now.”

Then the phone rang. Christine answered it.

“I’ll be happy when we can just close this case.”

Christine hung up.

“Well, don’t count on that. They found Hughes. Dead.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope. Suicide, but apparently Warren has his doubts about it.”

“Well, let’s get this over with.”

They all grabbed their coats and left.

 

A little while later, they arrived. One of the officers led them to the room where Hughes’s corpse was on the bed with a bullet hole through the side of his head.

“Summers.”

“Warren.”

It was quiet.

“And, Warren? Got anything?” Kingsley asked to break the silence.
“Right. The cause of death is pretty clear. A bullet to the head.”

“Suicide?”

“Possibly. But I actually doubt it.”

“How come?”

“We found this gun in his hand, but the gauge seems smaller than the wound.”

“Is there a note or anything around here?”

“Yeah, it’s on the desk over there. Thought I’d leave it for you.”

Kingsley grabbed the note.

I couldn’t live with the guilt anymore. I killed Phil White.

“Short note.” Williams said.

“Barely readable, too. This handwriting is even worse than mine.”

“Could it be his handwriting?”

“I don’t know, Nick. But whoever wrote this seemed to be in a hurry.”

“I don’t see why he would be in a hurry.”

“Me and Ashley can check the handwriting. See if it matches his own.” Christine said.

“That’s a good idea. We’ll wrap it up around here.”

“Okay.”

Ashley and Christine left.

“Warren, what was that all about?” Kingsley asked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Whatever. Just send me that report when you’re done.”

“Will do.”

 

Ashley and Christine were on their way to White Constructions.

“What’s going on between you and Warren?”

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean is that awkward moment just now.”

“Why was it awkward.”

“You were like a freaking statue in there. You barely said anything.”

“So? Why would I talk if I had nothing to say?”

“That would’ve made things a lot less awkward.”

“Whatever you say.”

“Ashley, I’m serious. What happened at that party?”

“Nothing.”

“Are you 100% sure of that?”

“Yeah, totally.”

“Alright, if you say so.”

“You don’t believe me, do you?”

“Not one bit. But what happened was either super awkward, or really embarrassing, so I’ll leave it.”

They arrived at White Constructions.

“I hope they’ll let us search his office.” Ashley said.

“Why wouldn’t they?”

“We don’t have a search warrant.”

“Meh, whatever.”

Ashley wanted to walk over to the receptionist, but Christine stopped her.
“Shouldn’t we ask reception?”

“What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

“Going full badass mode now, are we?”

They walked over to the elevator and went up to the seventh floor, which was the floor right below the top floor. They walked into Hughes’s office, which was a huge mess.

“Seems like someone got here before we did.”

“Let’s just search the place. It can’t become a bigger mess than this, surely?”

“You’re right about that one.”

They started searching the office. Ashley found a notebook in his desk. She started flipping through it.

“What did you find?”

“A black notebook. This should help is check the handwriting.”

Then Ashley’s phone rang.

“Hello?... Oh, hey Warren… Sure, how about tonight at 8 or so?... Alright, see you there… Bye.”

“What did Warren have to say?”

“He asked if I wanted to get some dinner with him.”

“And you said yes?”

“I don’t see why I’d say no.”

“Right. You do you.”

“Whatever. Did you find anything interesting.”

“No. Whoever got here first must’ve taken it. Anything interesting in that notebook?”

“Maybe. The real finances are in here, along with a few of Hughes’s notes.”

“What does it say?”

“Apparently Hughes believed the money just went missing.”

“What do you mean, it went missing?”

“Says so right here. ‘Mysterious money shortage. Discuss with Phil.’”

“Interesting.”

“Okay, so… Hughes finds out about the money shortage, discusses it with White, who admits his embezzlement and then asks Hughes to improve the situation.”

“After a while, Hughes’s conscience starts to take the best of him, he tells White he doesn’t want to do it anymore. White threatens to fire him…”

“And we know the rest.”

“All we need to do now is figure out who killed Hughes.”

“Hopefully that’ll be a little bit easier.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll still have time to go on your date tonight.” Christine said laughing, and she walked out of the office.

“It’s not a date.”

 

Ashley and Christine walked into the office.

“And? Found anything?” Kingsley asked.

“We found his notebook, so I’m going to run that handwriting through a special program and then compare it to the handwriting on the note.”

“Alright.”

Ashley started up the computer, and started typing in a couple of codes.

“We also found the real finances, and we think that’s the missing motive.” Christine said.

“Sounds interesting. Convince me.”

“We think White’s been embezzling money from the company.”

“Hughes found out about it, confronts White with it, who then threatens to fire him. Hughes gets angry, and we know the rest.”

“Exactly.”

“Well done, girls.”
“Chief, someone else wrote that note.” Ashley said.

“There we have it. Hughes was murdered.”

“But by who?”

“We’ll find out soon enough.”

“What do you mean.”

Before Kingsley could answer, the phone rang.

“Kingsley… Ah, Warren… Okay, we’ll be right there.”

“What did he find?” Williams asked.

“We’ve got even more proof that it wasn’t suicide.”

Kingsley and Williams left.

 

Kingsley and Williams walked into Warren’s office.

“Ah, gentlemen. Look what I found. And even more interesting, what I didn’t find. There are no traces of gunpowder on his hands.”

“So he’s definitely been murdered?”

“Yes, but there’s more. Take a look at the screen here. This is a test we’ve done at the lab. On the way from the gun to the target, the bullet expands. And the greater the distance, the bigger the expansion. The size of the wound allowed me to conclude that the distance between the gun and his head was 28 to 32 inches long.”

“And?”

“His arm’s not that long.”

“Hm. Thanks Warren.”

Kingsley and Williams walked into the office.
“And what proof did Warren find?”

“We have to look for someone with traces of gunpowder on their hands.”

“To be honest, I think it was Duprez.” Ashley said.

“With what motive?”

“I don’t know. But I think it has something to do with the embezzlement.”

“That’s possible. I’ll send a patrol to pick him up. Summers, call Warren and tell him to come here with his equipment.”

“Will do, chief.”

They both started calling.

“Nick, do you want some coffee?”

“Sure, I could use some.”

Christine turned on the coffee machine.

“The patrol will be here with Duprez as fast as they can.”

“And Warren will be here shortly.”

“This case really sucks.”

“Luckily it’s almost over.”

“That’s probably the best thing I heard you say today.” Christine said laughing. Ashley laughed, and she threw a paper ball at her. They both burst into laughter. Then Max walked into the office, holding a suitcase.

“Hello everyone. Where’s the suspect?”

“Not here yet. I think he’ll be here soon.”

“Okay, I’ll just get set up next door.”

“I’ll help.”

Ashley followed Max to the interrogation room.

“Is it just me, or are they acting very… odd?” Kingsley asked.

“That’s not just you. They are being weird.”

A little while later, Duprez arrived.

“Mr. Duprez. Glad you came.”

“I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. And I thought you would leave me alone now.”

“That was a different case, not this one.”

Kingsley guided him to the interrogation room, where Max and Ashley were waiting.

“Alright, let’s get started. Summers, you can leave now.”

“I’m happy to stay here if you’ve got something else to do.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’ll handle it.”

“Okay, if you say so.”

Kingsley left the interrogation room, and Max checked Duprez’s hands for traces of gunpowder. When he was finished, he put the special cushion onto a scanner, which was connected to a laptop. After a minute or two, the results popped up on the screen. Max sent it to the printer. After that, Ashley helped him pack his stuff into the suitcase. They walked into the office. Kingsley was holding the results.

“Nice job, Warren.”

“Thank you.”

Kingsley and Williams walked into the interrogation room.

“I’ll see you tonight.”

“Bye.”
Max left the office.

 

“Well, Mr. Duprez, it took us quite some time, but we’ve finally cracked the case.”

“If you did, then why am I here?”

“Nice try. We know that Hughes killed White, but why did you kill Hughes.”

“Gentlemen, that sounds great and all, but how are you going to prove that I killed him?”

“Our medical examiner just checked your hands for traces of gunpowder. And guess what, they were there. So you better come up with a good explanation.”

Duprez looked at his feet for a moment. Then he looked back up.

“He killed my best friend. I had to avenge him.”

“So you decided to kill him?”

“He was also making the company go bankrupt.”

“By leaking the financial issues?”

“Phil needed the money for his divorce and to pay some of his old debts, but he was going to pay it all back.”

“Right. And you didn’t trust us to arrest the guy for murder?”

“I didn’t think he was a suspect to you. You were only interrogating me and Melissa, so I thought, if you won’t punish him for what he’s done, then I will.”

“That’s pretty clear.”

Kingsley and Williams left the interrogation room.

“Where’s Summers?” Kingsley asked.

“She had to pick up her dress at the dry cleaners.”

“Ah.”

“So what was his motive?”

“He felt like he had to avenge his friend.”

“That’s a motive we don’t hear very often.”

“Yeah, it certainly isn’t.”

“I’m just glad the case is finally solved.” Williams said.

That evening, Ashley arrived at the restaurant, where Max was already waiting for her. A waiter served their drinks.

“I hope you like champagne.”

“As long as it’s not too much. I still have to drive.”

“Don’t worry, me too.”

“Are you sure we shouldn’t split the bill? This place it quite expensive."

“It’s okay, I got it. So, I heard you guys solved the case.”

“You have no idea how good that feels.”

“Glad I could help.”

“There might be something else you can help me with.”

“Sure, what do you need?”

“Well, my sister’s wedding is in five days, and she wants me to bring a date, so…”

“Sure, I’ll be your date.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, Lisa’s a great co-worker, so anything to make her happy.”

“Careful there, she’s getting married.”

“I know. I’ve also got my eyes set on someone else.”

“Is that right?”

“Yeah.”

“Anyone I know?”

“I think you know her quite well, actually.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

The next morning, Ashley and Christine walked into the office.

“Good morning, chief.” Christine said.

“Hello.”
Kingsley and Williams were each holding a stack of paper, which they were reading.

“What are you guys working on?”

“White’s maid found the company money. And a complete list of when he got it and where it went.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Not in the slightest. Here, March 26th 2015, 500 dollars received. Spent on March 27th 2015 on dinner with Chase and Callan.”

“I thought the case was closed.” Ashley said.

“Oh, it is. It doesn’t really change anything, it’s just something that everyone will forget about when it goes into the file.”

“Good. That case has already been enough of a pain.”

“You’re more than right about that one.”

“So how did she find it?”

“Funny story, actually. She wanted to grab some books from the bookshelf, but when she grabbed one, everything just fell out.”

“It’s a pretty smart hiding spot, I guess.”

“Then Johnson walked in.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to congratulate you. This case was very tough, but you solved it.”

“Not thanks to you.”

“Being funny, Kingsley?”

“Not at all.”

“But, Kingsley, please don’t step on that many toes next time.”

“I can’t promise anything, you know me.”

 

A few days later, Ashley and Max arrived at the church.

“Shall we sit there?”

“You can go sit there.”

“Don’t you want to sit together?”

“I have to stand over there, remember?”

“Oh right, I totally forgot.”

“Sure you did. You just want me to sit next to you.”

“I won’t deny that, but you got to do what you got to do.”

“And right now, I have to stand up there.”

“Two lovely sisters in the spotlight. Not a bad view.”

“One of them is still getting married.”

“I know. I’ll just stay within the family. Would probably be easier with telling everyone, too.”

“Right, telling people.”

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Fleur Petersen. All rights reserved.

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