Home > To Die For (Blair Mallory #1)(7)

To Die For (Blair Mallory #1)(7)
Author: Linda Howard

Officer Vyskosigh started in that direction, but one of the other men said, "Wait. I want to check that entrance."

So off he went, and Vyskosigh remained where he was. The other newcomer sat down beside me. I didn't like his shoes. I had a good view of them, since I was still bent over. They were black wingtips, the shoe equivalent of a polyester housedress. I'm sure there are really good quality black wingtips out there, but the style is awful. I don't know why men like them. Anyway, this guy's wingtips were wet, with water actually beaded on them. The hems of his pants legs were damp, too.

"I'm Detective Forester," he began.

Cautiously I raised my head a little, and held out my right hand. "I'm Blair Mallory." I almost said, Pleased to meet you, which of course I wasn't, at least not under these circumstances.

Like Officer Barstow, he took my hand and gave it one brief shake. I might not have liked his shoes, but he had a nice handshake, neither too tight nor too limp. You can tell a lot about a man by the way he shakes hands. "Ma'am, can you tell me what went on here tonight?"

He had manners, too. I eased into an upright position. The red-stained plastic gloves were nowhere in sight, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I launched into a replay of what I'd told Officers Barstow and Spangler; the other man returned with a bottle of sweet tea and even twisted the cap off for me before handing it over. I interrupted myself long enough to say thank you and take a long swallow of the cold tea, then resumed the tale.

When I was finished, Detective Forester introduced the other man-Detective MacInnes-and we did the social thing again. Detective MacInnes pulled one of the visitors' chairs around so that he was sitting at an angle to me. He was a tad older than Detective Forester, a little heavier, with graying hair and a heavy beard shadow. But though he looked chunky, I got the impression he was solid rather than soft.

"When you unlocked the back door and stepped out, why didn't the person you saw with Ms. Goodwin see you?" he asked.

"I turned off the hall light when I opened the door."

"How can you see what you're doing, if you turn off the light?"

"It's kind of a simultaneous thing," I said. "I guess sometimes the light is still on for a split second when I open the door, and sometimes it isn't. Tonight, I locked the dead bolt after my last employee left, because I stayed late and I don't want just anyone walking in. So, my keys are in my right hand, and I used my left to unlock the dead bolt and open the door while I'm turning out the lights with the edge of my hand." I made a downward motion with my right hand, showing him how I did it. You have something in your hands, that's how you do it. Everyone does it that way. If you have hands, that is, and most people do, right? Some people don't, and I guess they use whatever they can, but I obviously had hands-Never mind. It's that mental dance thing again. I took a deep breath and brought my mind back to order. "It depends on the exact timing, but the odds are that half the time there aren't any lights on when I open the door. Want me to show you?"

"Maybe later," Detective MacInnes said. "What happened after you opened the door?"

"I stepped out, locked the door, and turned around. That's when I saw the Mustang."

"You didn't see it before?"

"No. My car is right in front of the door, plus when I step out, I'm already turning back to lock it."

He asked question after question, nitpicking details, and I answered patiently. I told him how I'd hit the ground when I heard the shot, and showed him the dirt stains on my clothes. That was also when I noticed that I'd skinned the palm of my left hand. I wish someone would explain to me how something I hadn't even noticed before began stinging like hell the moment I did notice it. I frowned at my palm, and picked at the loosened skin. "I need to wash my hands," I said, interrupting the endless questions.

Both detectives looked at me with cop eyes. "Not yet," MacInnes finally said. "I'd like to get this interview finished."

Okay, fine. I understood. Nicole was dead, we'd had an altercation earlier in the day, and I was the only one there. They had to cover all bases, and on the face of things I was first base, so they were covering me.

I suddenly thought of my cell phone. "Oh, I meant to tell you; I was in the middle of dialing nine-one-one when I heard the shot and hit the dirt, and I dropped my cell phone. I felt around but couldn't find it. Could you have someone check around my car? It has to be there."

MacInnes nodded to Vyskosigh, and the officer took himself off, flashlight in hand. He returned just a few moments later with my cell phone, which he gave to Detective MacInnes. "It was lying facedown under the car," he said.

The detective looked at the little screen on the phone. When you start to make a call, the screen lights up, but it doesn't stay lit; after thirty seconds or so-and I'm guessing, because, while I might time the arrival of cops, I haven't yet timed the light on my cell phone-the screen goes dark, but if you've actually pressed any numbers, they stay on the screen. Sitting in my well-lit reception area, the numbers would be visible even without the backlighting.

I was tired, I was shaken up, and I was sick at the thought of Nicole being shot basically right in front of me. I wanted them to hurry up and get past first base-me-and move on so I could go somewhere private and cry. So I said, "I know I'm the only one here and all you have is my word that things happened the way I said, but isn't there something you can do to speed this up? A lie detector test, maybe?" That wasn't the best idea I've ever had, because I felt as if my heart were trying to run the Kentucky Derby, which is bound to screw up a polygraph. I tried to think of something else to distract the detectives, in case they decided that, yeah, a polygraph administered on the spot might be just the ticket. I don't know if they do things like that, but I didn't want to take the chance. Besides, I've watched cop shows on television, and I know they have ways of proving if someone has fired a gun. "Or how about one of those thingie tests?"

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