Authors: RITA HERRON
Tags: #ROMANCE - - SUSPENSE
As Dixon came into the viewing room, Laney yawned. She covered
her mouth with her hand, even though there was no one in the room with her. Then
she winced and patted the bandage with her fingertips again.
“She’s had a long night,” Dixon commented.
“She’s not the only one,” Ethan said, suppressing a yawn of his
own. “Where’d you run off to?”
“I ran down to the lab to see what the crime scene techs found
outside the penthouse service door and on the stairs.”
“What’d they find?”
Dixon pulled out a notepad. “Black scuff marks, probably made
by leather-or synthetic-soled shoes. Not rubber. A few fibers of black fleece,
like from a sweatshirt or hoodie. That’s about it. No indication of how long
they might have been there.”
“They dusted the service door’s handle and the railing at the
top of the fire stairs, but didn’t get anything except some smudges that
probably came from the shooter’s gloves. There was gunshot residue in the
“That’s something, I guess.”
Dixon shrugged. “They’re not finished with the penthouse suite
or Laney Montgomery’s room yet, but there’s nothing conclusive.”
Ethan turned to look at him. “Anything on the gun or
He nodded. “The gun is untraceable—big surprise. The bullets
were fired from the gun that was found at the scene. The partial print on the
gun barrel hasn’t been through the system yet.”
“What did you think about Whitley and Stamps?”
“I think they’re telling the truth, at least about where they
were last night,” Dixon said.
“You know, Stamps is kind of pitiful, isn’t he? I mean his
wife’s dead, and they never had any children. Apparently he’s got no one except
Dixon nodded. “It’s hard not to believe him, isn’t it? Home by
himself. Can’t say whether his housekeeper can vouch for him because she went to
bed early with a headache.”
“Yeah,” Ethan agreed. “That was either a sad but honest
accounting of his lonely evening at home or a truly clever way to avoid having
to depend on someone lying for him. The housekeeper went to bed early, therefore
she can’t say if he was there or not.”
“I think I do believe him. He seems as though the kidnapping
and his trial have taken all the starch out of him.”
“And I guess Whitley’s alibi is solid,” Ethan said wryly, his
eyes on Laney as she uncrossed her legs, recrossed them and pulled her raincoat
more tightly around her.
“I don’t like him a bit—and that goes double for his
“Pretty slick, aren’t they?” Ethan sighed. “But unless Whitley
got his attorney to come over here and pop Sills, I’m not sure how he could be
involved. At least we know he was where he says he was.”
“I wouldn’t believe Whitley if he told me his name was
Whitley,” Dixon said. “But no matter what I think, those alibis are good. Still,
that doesn’t mean one or both of them couldn’t have hired someone.”
“Stamps doesn’t have any money—or at least none we know about.
And like I said, I can’t see Whitley.” He thought about something. “Who went
through their financial records during the kidnapping case?”
“No idea, but I’m going to check,” Dixon said. “Seems like I
heard that Whitley had a couple of big deposits and payouts that matched the
time frame of the kidnapping. That’s when Whitley tried to implicate Sills, but
the forensic accountants couldn’t find any proof of where the money came
“The amounts matched exactly the amount of money that Bentley
Woods deposited in Chicago. With all Whitley’s whining about Sills, I’ll bet the
senator’s records were subpoenaed, too,” Dixon responded. “No sense reinventing
the wheel, if they’re already there in the case file.”
“Good point. You want to check on that?” Ethan asked.
“Yep. And you’re going to tackle Elaine Montgomery,” Dixon
said, not a question.
Ethan nodded toward the glass. “I’m going to find out what
she’s holding back.”
“Holding back?” Dixon asked him. “What do you think she’s
holding back on?”
“I don’t know, but I can see it in her eyes. She’s hiding
“You can see it in her eyes,” Dixon said, his voice sounding
choked, as if he were trying to suppress a laugh. “Those big blue ones?”
“Bite me,” Ethan muttered.
“Come on Delancey. You’ve seen her for what, maybe ten minutes
total, and now you can read her mind?” He paused before continuing. “Or maybe
it’s not her mind you’re interested in. Last night you were all about her
“Don’t be crass. She’s our only witness
she’s a victim. Look at her.” Ethan gestured toward the glass as
Laney wet her lips, then clamped a hand tightly over her mouth as if she were
holding back tears or a scream as she stared into space. “There’s something on
her mind and it’s not just the murder of her boss.”
“She looks nervous, but lots of people are terrified of being
questioned by the police.”
“Nope. She’s hiding something,” Ethan muttered, his gaze still
on her. After a moment, he said to Dixon, “So what are you up to now?”
“You don’t want to double-team her like we did Whitley and
Stamps?” Dixon pressed.
“No,” Ethan said with exaggerated patience. “I think I can
handle her alone.”
“Okay, if you’re sure. One thing I’m going to do is check with
the CSI folks about what they’ve pulled from the hotel room. I’m afraid we’re
not going to have much, if all the guy did was sneak in, pop the senator, try to
take her out, then hightail it out of there. We’ll probably be lucky to get
anything other than what was found on the fire stairs. Then I’ll get started on
pulling the Chalmet kidnapping file and see what they got on Sills.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to you later then.”
“Watch yourself in there,” Dixon said as he left.
Ethan stepped out of the viewing room and into the interview
Laney Montgomery looked up from inspecting her fingernails.
“You know, I was printed when I started work for Senator Sills,” she said,
holding up her hands, palms out. “I tried to tell them but nobody would listen
Ethan sat down without speaking.
“In case you’re not familiar with state government policy,” she
went on, “employees of any public official are required to be fingerprinted. My
prints are on file, here and with the FBI.”
Ethan picked up one of the folders he’d brought into the room
with him and paged through it. “According to the information I have, you’re not
a government employee. You’re an independent contractor working directly for
“I still had to declare my allegiance to the United States and
to Louisiana and be fingerprinted and photographed before I could go to work for
him. About thirty seconds of listening to me could have saved the police
department about a pint of ink,” she finished drily.
Ethan looked back at the page in front of him, waiting to see
what she would say next.
She glanced around the room, then looked at the mirror. “Is
everyone else staying in there to watch?” she asked, nodding toward the
“In there?” Ethan asked.
The look she sent him was equal parts disgust and irritation. A
“you don’t think I’m that dumb, do you?” expression. “The room behind the
“Nobody’s in there now,” he said as he sat down in a wooden
straight-backed chair and tipped it backward onto two legs. He watched her.
She sat silent for a few moments, casting about for something
to settle her gaze on, then she looked directly at him. “What?” she said.
He raised his eyebrows.
“Stop trying to make me say something by being silent.”
He lowered the front legs of the chair to the floor. He liked
that she wasn’t easily rattled. But he wasn’t fooled by her outburst. She’d
turned a favorite tactic of his back onto him. Break a silence with a
noncommittal comment or an attack on the other person. But he knew how to play
this game. “Okay. I’ll stop being quiet. Is there something you want to tell
Her gaze stayed on his face and her mouth turned up slightly.
“No. Is there something you want to tell me?”
Copyright © 2013 by Rickey R. Mallory
COLD CASE AT CAMDEN CROSSING
Copyright © 2013 by Rita B. Herron
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