Read Wicked Ways: Death at the DuMond (A Cozy Witch Mystery Book 1) Online

Authors: Ava Collins

Tags: #Thriller, #Romance, #Cozy, #Witch, #Mystery, #Paranormal

Wicked Ways: Death at the DuMond (A Cozy Witch Mystery Book 1) (3 page)

BOOK: Wicked Ways: Death at the DuMond (A Cozy Witch Mystery Book 1)
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“Reasons for what?”

The elevator bell rang, and the doors opened. Again, Jake didn’t say anything.

“Well, I’ll see you around,” I said.

Jake looked down at me and smiled as I stepped into the elevator.

In the apartment, Mom was furiously typing away at her novel. The incessant clatter of the keyboard filled the air. I set the hors d’oeuvres down beside her. 

“You need to eat,” I said.

“Thank you,” she said, her eyes glued to the screen.

Newport eyed the hors d’oeuvres and didn’t waste any time making an attempt to steal one away.

“How was the party?” Mom asked. “Anything interesting happen?”

“Mrs. Abbott baked cupcakes for Mrs. DuMond.”

The clacking of the keyboard stopped. Mom looked up at me for the first time.

“Really?”

“I know. Bizarre, huh?”

“I wonder what she’s up to,” Mom said.

The clacking of the keyboard started again. Mom’s face was buried in the screen. Newport stole another hors d’oeuvre.

I sat on the couch and watched TV for a bit with Newport. I know it’s so lame, but I was thinking of getting ready for bed. It was just about 10pm when I remembered about my assignment. “Oh, poop,” I said.

“Language,” Mom said, chastising me.

“Mom, I’m 19. I can say poop. I can say worse things if I want to.”

“Yes, you can. But not in my house.” She smiled and kept typing.

I had an essay due for my Forensic Science 203 class:
Trace Evidence and Microscopic Analysis
. I had to write an overview of the various techniques for the examination of physical evidence. I had completely forgotten about it.

 I left the apartment to go down to the parking garage in the basement. My forensic science book was in my car. Or so I hoped. On my way down, I saw Mr. Bancroft strolling through the hallway.

“So?” I asked, inquiring as to his eavesdropping during the holiday party.

“I was thinking about having a bit of fun. Making the lights flicker in Miss Alexander’s apartment,” Mr. Bancroft said. “Though I’m a little afraid of what she might be doing in there, and with whom.”

“No, I mean, what happened with Isabella?”

“Apparently, Mrs. DuMond fired her,” he said. “She’s got a month to either get out, or start paying rent.”

“Why did she get fired?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “It seems she had quite a favorable arrangement with Mr. DuMond. Perhaps, too favorable.”

“Mom thinks they were having an affair,” I said.

“She was getting free rent and a salary that is almost double the going rate.”

“Mr. DuMond was always a generous man,” I said.

“I rather think Mrs. DuMond shares your mother’s suspicions.”

“Jake sure ran to her defense,” I said. “You don’t think there is anything going on between them, do you?”

“Why? Are you jealous?”

“Why would I be jealous?” I said, blushing. 

Bancroft shrugged, knowingly.

“He’s mildly attractive. But totally not my type,” I said.

Bancroft raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Well, this is where the story gets interesting,” Mr. Bancroft said. He paused a moment, trying to draw out my anticipation.

My eyes widened. “Well, go on.”

The elevator bell rang. The doors slid open, and Otto Von Hirsch stepped out. He looked at me a bit perplexed. I was standing in the hall for no apparent reason. 

“You left too soon. You missed all of the excitement,” Otto said. His coat was draped over his arm. His face was a little flush, and he seemed a tad out of breath.

“Looks like we’ll have to finish this conversation later,” Mr. Bancroft said. He had a devious glint in his eye, knowing that I’d be tormented until he had given me all the gossip. Bancroft drifted away, passing through the wall, presumably to haunt Zoe Alexander.

“What excitement?” I asked.

“Isabella returned and started screaming at Mrs. DuMond. I thought she was going to punch her. Elliott had to restrain her,” Otto said. “She was almost too much for him.” Otto chuckled. Then he leaned in and whispered, “Between you and me, I was hoping Isabella would take a swing at her.”

“What’s happening now?”

“By that time, Zoe was falling down drunk. Charlotte and I had to help her up to her apartment. Don’t worry, everything settled down. I don’t think there’s anyone left in the lobby,” Otto said. “I left my coat in all the excitement.”

Otto sighed and looked at his watch. “Well, it’s past my bedtime. If you’ll excuse me,” he said, strolling away toward his apartment.

“Good night,” I said.

I looked at my watch. It was 10:32pm. Then I strolled to the elevator and hit the call button. Part of the charm of this old building is that the elevator is painfully slow. So slow that I decided to take the stairs. Of course, by the time I had gotten to the stairwell at the end of the hall, I heard the elevator bell ring. The doors opened, and I heard someone step out, but I couldn’t see who it was. 

I decided to go ahead and take the stairs for two reasons. One, I’d never make it back to the elevator before the doors closed. It always goes back down to the basement on its own. I would have had to wait another five minutes for it to come back up. Two, I needed the exercise after all of Mrs. Abbott’s cupcakes—no matter how fat free she says they are. 

I spiraled my way down the staircase to the basement and pushed through the door into the parking area. I was halfway to my car when I saw a woman’s shoe sticking out from behind an SUV.

Mrs. DuMond's shoe.

CHAPTER 4

MRS. DUMOND'S BODY was sprawled on the concrete, face down in a pool of blood. It looked like she had been hit in the back of the head with something. Blunt force trauma.

This was the first time that I had seen a real live dead body. Looking at pictures in college forensics textbooks isn’t quite the same. I’ve never been squeamish at the sight of blood, but I felt queasy at first. That unsettled, sickly feeling you get when something terrible has happened. Mixed with the dread of what the future holds. I felt like this was just the beginning of worrisome times.

A few bloodstained footprints were leading off toward the elevator. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. After reporting the murder, I snapped a few pictures of the crime scene with my cell phone. I took several shots of the body from different angles and close-ups of the footprints. I was mindful not to step in any blood, or otherwise contaminate the crime scene. The footprints looked like they belonged to work boots. I followed them toward the elevator. But they faded quickly after a few steps. 

While I was doing this, it dawned on me that the killer might still be in the parking garage. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and a chill ran down my spine. I glanced around the lot and didn’t see or hear anything.

When I looked back to the footprints, I heard a sound from the far corner of the parking garage. My eyes snapped to the noise. I could have sworn I saw a shadow move across the far wall. I froze. My heartbeat skyrocketed.

“Is anybody there?” I asked, as if a killer would actually respond. I felt instantly stupid, like one of those girls in a horror movie.  

The air was still. Nothing but rows of cars and concrete support pillars. I couldn’t help but feel like someone was hiding behind one of those pillars. I took a deep breath and stepped toward the direction of the sound. I crept forward, my head on a swivel, scanning all around me. I angled around a pillar. I just knew someone was hiding behind it—but no one was there. I sighed with relief, spun around, and walked back to the crime scene.

I figured the first thing I needed to do was secure the area. It wouldn’t be a good thing if someone accidentally walked through a puddle of blood. Stepped on a footprint. Or otherwise contaminated the evidence. 

It took almost a half hour for the police to arrive. I guess they figured there was no rush, since Mrs. DuMond was already dead. A detective arrived along with two uniformed officers and a pair of EMTs.

The detective was a gruff sort of man, wearing a sport jacket and a badge on his belt. Late 40s, balding, weathered looking. Round face, puffy eyes. Looked like he’d been on the job for a long time and was tired of it. 

“You the one that called this in?” he said, strolling up to the scene.

“Yes, sir,” I said.

The two uniformed officers began securing the area and taping off the scene.

“Detective Gibbs. Homicide,” he said, pulling his coat back to reveal the gold shield. “What’s your name?”

“Hannah Hazel,” I said.

“Any relation to the deceased?”

“No, sir.”

Gibbs jotted notes down in a small pad. “You touch anything?”

“Oh, no. I know better than to do that,” I said. “I’m majoring in criminology.”

Gibbs looked at me, thoroughly unimpressed.

“Looks like she took a blow to the head. Blunt force trauma. There are footprints leading off toward the elevator over there,” I said. My finger curled out in their direction. “And she still has that massive diamond ring on her finger, so this clearly wasn’t a robbery gone bad.”

“Why don’t you let me do the investigating?” Gibbs said.

“Oh, of course,” I said. “I just want to help.” I smiled.

“Who is she?”

“That’s Mrs. DuMond. She owns the building,” I said.

“She have any next of kin?”

“Her step son, Elliot DuMond.”

“Don’t go anywhere,” Gibbs said. “I’ve got more questions for you.” Gibbs strolled over to the other officers and conferred with them. I could still smell his musky cologne lingering in the air after he walked away.

 “I’m surprised it took this long,” Mr. Bancroft said.

His voice startled me, and I gasped. Detective Gibbs and the officers glanced at me, then went back about their business.

“I told you to stop sneaking up on me,” I whispered.

“My dear, you know I can’t resist a cheap scare,” said Bancroft.

“Do you know who did this?” I asked.

“I’m not psychic, sweetheart,” Bancroft said.

We watched the officers buzz about. There was nothing for the EMTs to do, so they left. Soon, a crime scene photographer and a blood spatter technician showed up. Gibbs and the other officers processed the scene and collected all the evidence. 

Afterword, Gibbs asked me more questions. I told him about the holiday party and what I had been doing up until the point I had discovered the body. He jotted everything down in his pad.

“Well, it appears that we have an apparent homicide. The victim has a wound to the back of her head that is consistent with the blow from a solid object,” Gibbs said.

“Right. Blunt force trauma to the head,” I said.

Gibbs scowled at me. “Do you know of anyone that would have reason to kill Mrs. DuMond?”

“I can think of quite a few,” Bancroft muttered. He strolled in for a closer look at the body.

“Mrs. DuMond wasn’t particularly admired. But I can’t imagine any of the residents would kill her,” I said.

“So, you think it’s one of the residents?” Gibbs asked.

“I just said, I didn’t think any of the residents would go to the extreme length of killing her.”

“Most people are killed by someone they know,” Gibbs said. “My officers are securing the building. I’m going to need to interview everyone.”

“That would be proper procedure,” I said.

Gibbs’s eyes narrowed at me. I figured I should stop telling him how to run his crime scene.

“When did you first discover the body?” Gibbs asked.

“Whenever I called 911. Probably 10:40pm, give or take. There should be a log of that.”

“Did you see anyone down here at that time?”

“No,” I said.

“Let me see the bottom of your shoes,” Gibbs said.

“Really? You think I did this?”

“Shoes, kid,” he commanded. 

I flipped up the bottom of my sneakers. Gibbs eyed the pattern. He looked slightly disappointed that they didn’t match the blood stained prints. 

“Happy?” I asked.

Gibbs arched an eyebrow at me.

“I’d have to be pretty stupid to kill someone and walk through the blood. Then call the cops and not change shoes,” I said.

“Too bad being a smart-ass isn’t against the law,” Gibbs said. His patience with me was running thin. 

“Detective Gibbs,” one of the officers called out. “I think we found something.

“What is it?” Gibbs asked.

The officer was wearing latex rubber gloves. Dangling between his thumb and index finger was a large silver crescent wrench. Just like the one I had handed to Jake earlier in the evening. The head of the tool was stained with dried blood. 

My stomach turned in knots. Was that Jake’s crescent wrench? Were my fingerprints on that wrench?

CHAPTER 5

I FELT MY knees go weak. My first instinct was to run. My heart was racing, and I was starting to sweat. I took a few deep breaths and tried to calm myself down. 

BOOK: Wicked Ways: Death at the DuMond (A Cozy Witch Mystery Book 1)
5.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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