A Lime To Kill: A Key West Culinary Cozy - Book 1 (5 page)

BOOK: A Lime To Kill: A Key West Culinary Cozy - Book 1
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Chapter 9

 

“What’s happening?”
Marilyn asked faintly, turning to Detective Cortland.

 

“Whatever it
is, doesn’t bode well for your daughter,” the detective said sympathetically.
“I can’t give you legal advice, but if it was my kid, I’d be looking for a darn
good lawyer.”

 

“You don’t
think Tiara had anything to do with this, do you?”

 

Cortland
shifted his weight and looked over to where McNabe stood, in the doorway of the
shop, then back at Marilyn, “My gut tells me no, but I’m not privy to all of
the evidence that the Miami guys have collected, so it’s a tough call. It
certainly appears that McNabe thinks it’s a good possibility though.”

 

Marilyn’s
heart sank. How could her daughter be implicated in a murder? Obviously, Tiara
hadn’t murdered anyone, but she’d also never bothered to tell Marilyn about
Samuel Freed, or the bar fight and subsequent arrest. She’d never confided in
her mother about  the position in California…it seemed that her daughter was
turning into someone she didn’t really know.

 

“I need to go
to the station,” Marilyn said suddenly feeling scared and overwhelmed.

 

“Let me drive
you,” Cortland offered kindly.

 

“No, I need—”

 

Seeing that
the mother in front of him was clearly frantic and verging on hysterical, the
detective interrupted, “You can’t help your daughter if you’re in the hospital.
Let me drive you.”

 

As much as she
hated giving up even that much control, Marilyn knew he was right, and nodded,
letting herself be led to his car. She was incredibly thankful when she saw
that his unit was unmarked, so at least she wouldn’t feel like a criminal. She
took several deep breaths, trying desperately to calm down. She wouldn’t be a
help to Tiara or anyone if she couldn’t get rid of the horrible feeling
creeping up her spine, threatening to overwhelm her completely. She kept quiet,
her thoughts whirling miserably, for most of the ride to the police station,
but eventually couldn’t contain her curiosity.

 

“Who was the
woman in the shop? The one who went to the bathroom? Have they found her?”
Marilyn asked Bernard Cortland, as if he was no longer an adversary, but an
ally.

 

“I’m not able
to discuss those kinds of details about the case with you,” he said, opening
the car door for her when they pulled up to the station. She stood waiting for
an answer, and the detective sighed, knowing she’d badger him for quite some
time before giving up. “I believe she’s down at the station as well.”

 

“Thanks,” she
said to Cortland as he closed the car door. “I don’t like that man, McNabe,”
Marilyn said, pursing her lips. She looked over at the detective for a
reaction, and thought that she may have seen him smile just a tiny bit, saying
nothing.

 

Panic set in
when they entered the station and Marilyn strode right past the reception area
looking for Tiara. The young woman was nowhere to be seen in the busy room
filled with desks and officers. She noticed a closed door with the shades drawn
and walked over, rapping loudly on it. When her knock wasn’t answered
immediately, she rapped again, more loudly this time. The door opened and she
saw two uniformed officers and a woman she’d never seen before, seated at a
table.

 

“She’s not
here,” Cortland’s hand was suddenly on her elbow, directing her hastily away
from the interrogation room. The detective gave a thumbs up to the uniformed
officers and they closed the door.

 

“Where is
she?” Marilyn demanded.

 

“On her way
home, apparently they just finished with her.”

 

Marilyn
battled an overwhelming urge to sit on the floor in the middle of all the desks
and cry. She needed to see her daughter. She needed this to go away. She needed
more oxygen. Bernard continued to guide her by the elbow. “Why don’t you call
her?” He suggested, leading her into his office to buy some time, hoping she’d
calm down.

 

Marilyn pulled
out her phone and hit her daughter’s speed dial number. The call immediately
went to voicemail, Tiara’s sweet voice came on and Marilyn imagined how
uncomplicated life must have been when she’d made that message. She hung up
without leaving a message, knowing that Tiara would see it and call her back.

 

“Was that her?
Was the woman in that room the woman who was in my shop when Fergus died?”
Marilyn asked the detective. He nodded, almost imperceptibly, staring hard at
her.

 

“I’ll be right
back,” she jumping up and heading for the interrogation room. The woman had
just left and was now nearly to the exit door. Marilyn waited until the woman
was no longer accompanied by police officers, then walked casually out of the
building behind her.

 

The mystery
woman had short frizzy blonde hair, and looked younger then Marilyn but her
clothing was frumpy and made her seem older. 

 

“Excuse me,”
Marilyn called out, trying to keep her voice from trembling. She smiled when
the fair-haired woman turned around. Close-up, her face seemed even younger -
late thirties at most.

 

The woman gave
Marilyn a wary look, which was completely understandable, under the
circumstances.

 

“I’m sorry to
bother you, I’m Marilyn Hayes, I own SubLime Sweets…the shop you went into
yesterday…My daughter was the tall thin blonde girl, Tiara.”

 

“Okay,” the
blonde continued to look at her suspiciously.

 

“I’m sorry, I
just wanted to say thank you. Tiara said you really jumped into action calling
for help so quickly…” Marilyn fudged around the truth a bit. “If circumstances
had been different you may have saved Fergus’ life.”

 

“I’m Tammy Barker,”
She held out a doughy hand. “I wish I could have been more help but…it’s so
sad, I thought he had a heart attack or something, he just sort of slowly fell
to the ground.”

 

“So sad,”
Marilyn agreed, shaking her head to mirror Tammy’s body language. “Isn’t it
terrible? He was a friend of mine, a really nice guy. Fergus came into the shop
at least twice a week.” She studied the younger woman’s face for a reaction of
any kind.

 

Tammy lightly
placed a sympathetic hand on Marilyn’s forearm. Her face seemed so genuine…

 

“I’m so sorry
you had to go through this on your vacation,” Marilyn added, trying again.

 

“I can’t
complain, I’m still alive,” She crossed her arms and shuddered as though a
shiver had run down her spine.

 

“When you
walked into the shop, do you remember what you saw?” Marilyn asked, trying to
sound merely curious.

 

“Oh, yes, I
remember very well. I walked in and …your daughter?” she questioned,
remembering. Marilyn smiled and nodded. “She was in the front of the shop with
a guy, handsome, maybe early thirties.”

 


Drew
”,
Marilyn thought, trying not to grimace.

 

“…I talked to
an older woman who had to ask your daughter if I could use the restroom so I
can only assume she’s new.”

 


Good deduction
,”
Marilyn thought, nodding her encouragement.

 

“The girl…your
daughter, told me to be careful because there were two men doing work and there
might be tools on the floor, I remember because I didn’t see any tools on the
floor,” Tammy cocked her head to the side as though she found that odd.

 

“What were the
men doing?” Marilyn prompted.

 

“Well I only
saw one, a very large man.”

 

“You told the
police this?”

 

“Of course,”
the woman looked offended. “I have nothing to hide.”

 

“Good, good…”
Marilyn tried to look supportive and understanding, wondering where Joe had
been when Tammy was walking to the bathroom. “And then…?” she led, wanting the
woman to continue.

 

“Then I went
to the bathroom…” Tammy said matter-of-factly.

 

“And… after
that?”

 

“I came out, I
don’t know if I saw the other repair man or not, because I wasn’t really
looking…I got halfway to the front when I saw the man…the one who…” she shifted
uncomfortably, not wanting to finish her sentence.

 

“Fergus…”
Marilyn naturally inserted his name then kicked herself for interrupting, but
Tammy resumed speaking as if on cue.

 

“He was, well
he must have been walking away…out of the store, because he was turning
around…that’s when I saw his face, it was so…his eyes were big, and he was
changing color. I think he grabbed the edge of a table then sort of slid to the
sidewalk. I stayed until the ambulance came.”

 

“I arrived
right as the ambulance was taking him away,” Marilyn nodded. “I don’t remember
seeing you before…Do you remember seeing me” Marilyn tried to run through the
images in her memory.

 

“Maybe, we may
have just missed each other in the commotion, I suppose,” Tammy shrugged.

 

“Do you mind
my asking where you’re staying?”

 

“The Inn at
Key West, but I’m leaving Tuesday to go home.”

 

Marilyn
thought that the woman’s accent was a dead giveaway, but wanted to find out for
sure. “Where’s home?” she asked casually, trying to make it sound like she was
just having a friendly conversation.

 

“Texas…Houston.”

 

“That’s nice,”
she nodded. “Well, safe travels!” Marilyn said goodbye and watched Tammy leave
in a small rental car, wondering why she would have lied about staying until
the ambulance came. What purpose could that possibly have served?

 

Chapter 10

 

Before heading
home, Marilyn pulled out her cell phone. Tiara hadn’t called her back yet, but
an idea occurred to her and she found another number on speed dial.

 

“Joe?”

 

“Yeah,” the
voice on the end of the phone answered gruffly.

 

“It’s
Marilyn…Marilyn Hayes from SubLime Sweets.”

 

“Hey, Ms.
Hayes, has there been any break in the thing with Fergus yet?” the young man’s
tone changed perceptibly when he found out that Marilyn wasn’t a cop or a
reporter.

 

“Not yet, but
I’m sure there will be soon,” she lied smoothly, having no earthly idea.

 

Marilyn
listened to the silence on the other end.

 

“Joe?”

 

“Yeah, I’m
still here.”

 

“Can you tell
me what you remember from yesterday? Every detail, no matter how small…” she
pleaded.

 

“I don’t
remember much, just that guy falling over and everyone sort of panicking,” the
young man admitted, apologetically.

 

“So you’d
never seen or met Fergus Downey before?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“So what
happened when you and your dad walked into the shop that day?”

 

“Tiara was talking
to a guy and a new lady was behind the counter when we walked back to look at
the ovens.”

 

“Then?” She
prodded the taciturn young man, feeling as though she were pulling teeth.

 

“We could tell
what the problem was almost right away. We opened the one of the ovens up, and
it was an easy fix. That sometimes happens with older ones, you know? Then we
checked a couple of other things just to be sure. We heard a woman scream
something—blonde short hair, old…”

 

To Joe’s young
twenty-something mind Tammy obviously appeared old to him…maybe it was just her
lack of style that aged her.

 

“…and then
someone yelled about calling nine-one-one and… then an ambulance came.”

 

“Did you call
the ambulance?”

 

“No, someone
else did.”

 

“You saw
someone else calling?” Marilyn asked.

 

There was a
pause, “No, I didn’t see them but…I don’t know how I knew. Maybe I heard them
or something…”

 


So the
young guy who is perpetually on his cell phone doesn’t use his phone to call
for help
?” Marilyn thought, kicking herself for being so judgmental. “And
you don’t know Fergus?”

 

“Nope.”

 

Marilyn nodded
to herself. “Is your father there?”

 

“I can have
him call you back,” Joe answered vaguely.

 

“If he’s busy
I can wait,” she persisted, determined.

 

“No, he’s not
here, he ran out for a part before our next call.”

 

She scrunched
her brow in frustration. “Ok, then yes, have him call me as soon as he gets
home, ok?”

 

Something
seemed a little off…Joe seemed like the most natural candidate to call 911, the
young man always had his nose glued to his phone. But, maybe he just assumed
that someone else was doing it. If he didn’t see the call placed, then it had
to be Susan, Tiara, or Drew who called, and Marilyn would swear that Tiara
wouldn’t have left that out of the story. It had already been established that
Drew had stayed beside Fergus the entire time, so Susan must have called 911.

 

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