Authors: Cindy Bell
“I'm not sure. I think the caterer messed something up, because she was pretty upset with Lucy,” she caught herself as she said her words. “Don't tell anyone I said that, okay?” her eyes were wide with fear.
“It's okay,” Bekki assured her, though she knew that it might not be. “Just tell me anything you remember about their argument.”
“Oh I couldn't hear what they were saying,” the woman shook her head firmly. “When Mrs. Windward is angry I try to go anywhere else in the house.”
“Is that why you weren't in the living room with Mrs. Windward and the girls?” Bekki asked her gently.
“Yes, I try not to let her see me, if she's angry, she'll find something to yell about,” the maid admitted.
“Did you notice Mrs. Windward leaving the living room at any point?” she asked. “Why were you so sure that you only had so long to place the flowers? Why were you in such a hurry?”
“Are you sure you're not a police officer?” the woman asked suspiciously. Bekki recalled Detective Williams' strong warning. “I'm sure,” she nodded with a sigh.
“Well, I hadn't really thought about it before, but yes I heard footsteps in the hallway, so I thought someone was coming. So that was why I hurried. But then, no one came,” she added with a shrug. “I just forgot about it.”
“Thanks for your help,” Bekki said and jotted down her phone number on a slip of paper she fished out from her purse. “If you think of anything else, just call me, okay?” she asked.
“Sure,” the maid nodded and tucked the number into her pocket. She was looking at Bekki strangely. “Is something wrong?” Bekki asked when she noticed the look.
“It's just, I've seen Sammy in town, she doesn't seem like someone who would do such a horrible thing,” the woman explained.
“She isn't,” Bekki said firmly. Then she headed back to the front door, carrying the makeup case. There was a walkway that wrapped around the side of the mansion just outside the front door. When Bekki stepped outside she noticed Morris speaking heatedly to Annabelle.
“I can't believe all of this. Now
my birthday party is ruined because you people simply can't do your job,” she shouted so loud that Morris' face was flushed with embarrassment.
“Ma'am, there's a process,” he attempted to explain.
“And why does that process have to involve canceling my plans?” Annabelle demanded with her hands perched on her tiny hips. “I mean really, she's dead, there's no bringing her back. That's not my fault. It's not my fault that some hairdresser went nutso either, maybe she inhaled too much hair dye, whatever!” she stomped her foot, which was encased in an exquisite, expensive shoe, against the ground. “It's my birthday, and I shouldn't have to deal with this!”
Morris sighed and wiped his hands across his cheeks before he spoke again. “
We can’t have your guests contaminating evidence,” he warned her. “There are still too many questions to be answered.”
“What questions?” Annabelle demanded. “The woman was caught strangling the poor girl, what is there to question about that?”
Bekki felt sick to her stomach as she walked around the corner of the house. If Annabelle kept proclaiming Sammy's guilt it was going to be even harder to prove otherwise. Bekki had hoped that Annabelle might be a bit of an ally since Sammy had once been her babysitter. But apparently anything that interfered with her birthday celebrations was a problem.
When Bekki reached the small garden beneath the window of the dressing room, she noticed something in the soil
behind some bushes. When she looked closer, she could see that it was a shoeprint in the damp dirt. It looked much too large to belong to a woman, but that was not always easy to judge. As she leaned in closer to take a picture of the shoeprint, she realized that whoever was standing there, probably Phillip, was trying to hide. He would have been standing in the mud behind some bushes, which would make it almost impossible for people to see him from the front of the house and difficult for them to see him from the back, too. Whoever he was talking to must have been someone he didn't want anyone to see.
As she glanced up she caught sight of some boat shoes on the back deck. Since Phillip was the only man in the house she assume
d they belonged to him. She snatched up one of the shoes and carried it back to the shoeprint. Very carefully she laid it beside the shoeprint in the mud. It was the same length. Then she turned the shoe over and studied the tread on the bottom of it. The tread seemed to match the indentations left in the soil by the shoeprint. She snapped a photograph of the bottom of the shoe also. Then she heard voices.
“Excuse me, but you will need to lower your voice,” Detective Williams' crisp and clear voice carried from the driveway. Bekki's eyes widened. She knew she would be in serious trouble if she was caught around the side of the house. She had no excuse for being there. Feeling a little panicked, Bekki hurried across the back porch hoping that the sliding glass door beside the pool would be unlocked. Carefully she tested it. Luckily it was open, and she was able to
step inside. Carrying the makeup case she hurried down the hallway back towards the front door. She opened it just as Detective Williams was turning the knob.
“What do you mean you let her inside?” she was barking at Morris.
“Oh just for this,” Bekki explained as she held up the makeup case. She held it high enough to attempt to shield herself from Detective Williams' furious glare.
“Get out of here,” Detective Williams' snapped at her. “Morris, let's go, let's get this cleared out,” she announced.
“Cleared out?” Bekki asked as she moved past her to exit the house. “What do you mean?”
“We're closing down the crime scene,” Detective Williams explained in a clipped tone. “We have all the evidence we need.”
Bekki opened her mouth to tell her about the shoeprint, but to do so, would be to admit that she had been snooping around. She was fairly certain that Detective Williams was itching for the chance to put her in handcuffs.
“You know that Sammy didn't do this,” Bekki challenged the detective, her eyes shining with fury.
“I don't know that, Bekki,” Detective Williams said sternly. “All I do know is what the evidence tells me, and so far, we have the right person in jail. You might be able to con Nick and Morris, but I am not them. You are interfering with a police investigation. This is your last warning, Bekki,” she frowned.
“Yes Ma'am,” Bekki replied, though her words were dripping with hatred. As she climbed into her car and drove away she felt a deep sense of foreboding. If Trevor couldn't do anything to help
, then Sammy might not have a chance of getting out of jail.
n the way back to the salon Bekki passed by the shop that the caterer ran. She and Sammy both knew him from high school. She decided it couldn't hurt to stop in and ask him a few questions about Lucy. When she opened the door to the shop, the owner rushed forward. Stewart Martin was one of the shortest men she had ever met, but he had always been kind and creative. She braced herself as she didn't know what he believed about the murder.
“Bekki, is Sammy okay?” he asked in a rush. “Is she going to be released soon?”
Bekki sighed with relief that he hadn't been convinced of Sammy's guilt.
“It's not looking great,” Bekki admitted as she frowned. “I'm sorry about your employee Lucy. Were you close?”
“Thank you, but no,” Stewart shook his head. “She had just started working for us, actually.” He pointed to her photo on the wall which had photos of all his staff members and their positions. Bekki noticed how young she looked with her soft brown curls and light green eyes. “She seemed like a bright, young woman, but she didn't have a particular talent for cooking,” Stewart explained.
Hmm,” Bekki nodded slightly. “Do you know her family or friends?”
“No,” he shook his head. “I've been making calls all day, trying to find someone to contact on her behalf, but it seems like she has no family.”
“Poor girl,” Bekki offered in a troubled tone. It was hard to believe that she could be killed and have no one to claim her body or grieve her loss. Then she recalled what the maid had said about Mrs. Windward.
“Stewart, did Lucy ever say anything about having a problem with the Windwards?” she asked curiously.
“No,” he paused a moment and then frowned. “Well, she did call me to let me know she had a bit of a run in with Mrs. Windward. She said they were arguing, and that she might call for another assistant to come over. I told her not to let the snobby queen get the best of her, and just get through it,” he shook his head slightly, a flicker of guilt crossing his features. “I guess I should have just told her to leave. Maybe if I had, she would still be alive.”
“It's not your fault
, Stewart,” Bekki said sternly. “How could you possibly know that anything like this would happen?”
“Never in my wildest dreams,”
Stewart admitted. “It just seems so pointless, a young life wasted.”
“It is pointless,” Bekki agreed. “But the very least we can do is make sure that we find out exactly what happened.”
“Sure,” Stewart nodded with a faint smile, “if there's anything I can do to help, just let me know.”
“I will,” Bekki assured him, “a
nd as soon as I know something, I'll contact you.”
After her visit with the caterer what she wanted to do was head straight for the jail to check in with Sammy, but she needed some time to clear her head first. The safest place she could think of to be was her house. When she reached it, she ho
ped that Trevor would be there. It was a strange feeling hoping to see a man she still harbored a good amount of animosity towards.
She settled down at
the kitchen table and began trying to piece together what she had learned during her visit at the Windward mansion. Bekki studied the picture of the shoeprint. She knew that the police had overlooked it. She knew that by not reporting it to the police she was probably impeding the investigation. If it were Nick she was dealing with there would not be an issue, she would show him the evidence. But it was Detective Williams. The very same Detective Williams who had promised to arrest her if she interfered with the investigation. Bekki didn't want to share the photograph of the shoeprint with her, but maybe it would be enough evidence for Sammy to be released. With a sigh she began typing out a text on her phone, explaining that she had noticed this shoeprint and that Detective Williams might want to look into it. Then she sent the text with the picture attached. She braced herself for her door to be pounded down by the police. Instead her phone began to ring. It was Detective Williams' phone number.
"Hello?" Bekki said hesitantly into the phone.
"Did I not make myself clear?" Detective Williams barked into the phone. "I told you do not go near the mansion, do not get involved in this at all, and now look what you've done."
"What do you mean?" Bekki asked, her anger bubbling up within her. "I found a clue that your officers missed, and I shared the information with you."
"Because you sent this to me, instead of alerting the officer at the scene, I have no way of proving that you didn't make the shoeprint yourself to throw the suspicion off your friend," Detective Williams snapped at her over the phone. "You're not a police officer. If you were you would have known better than to take a picture of the shoeprint instead of alerting the officer on the scene so that the area could be sealed off and the forensics team could investigate it before the scene was contaminated. Now it is contaminated, now I can only assume that you are falsifying evidence out of desperation to protect your friend."
Bekki slumped down on her couch and placed her forehead against her palm as she listened to Detective Williams continue to rant in her ear. She couldn't even defend herself, as Detective Williams had a point. Ho
w could she prove that the shoeprint was real, since she hadn't told Morris about it when she first found it? The suspicion would clearly be cast on her because she obviously wanted to clear her friend's name.
ll right, all right," Bekki said quietly into the phone. "I understand."
, you don't understand," Detective Williams hissed. "I have no interest in making googly eyes with you Bekki, so if you step into my investigation one more time, you will be held for obstruction of justice, and Nick will not be able to do a thing about it, do you understand that?"
"Yes," Bekki said through gritted teeth. She didn't like to be treated so disdainfully, but again she couldn't disagree with Detective W
illiams, since not reporting the shoeprint in the first place had been a mistake. Sammy was still going to be faced with the possibility of spending the night in jail. Bekki knew it had to be a horrible feeling for her. As she hung up the phone call with the detective, she heard a sharp knock on the door. Hoping it might be Nick she jumped up and opened the door. Instead it was Trevor, his full lips curved into the most playful of smiles.
Happy to see me?" he asked in that arrogant way that only Trevor possessed.
"I'm not happy about any of this," Bekki replied with a shudder. All of her emotions were stirred up by Detective Williams' phone call, and now seeing Trevor again was difficult to process. But she was relieved he was there, considering
that everything she had done so far to help Sammy had ended up making things worse.
"Hey," Trevor said when he saw the terror in her eyes. "Relax, it's going to be fine," he assured her. "Let's get you out of this house," he suggested. "We'll grab a late lunch and you can tell me what you know about the case before I go over to see Sammy, okay?"
Bekki nodded and grabbed her purse. "I'll drive," she said quickly. They drove towards the small cafe in the center of town. When they parked at the cafe Bekki pulled out her phone. She felt Trevor's watchful eyes on her as she dialed Nick's number again, and again, got his voicemail. After they were settled at a table, Trevor breathed a heavy sigh and settled his gaze on hers.
“Now, tell me what's going on with the case,” he instructed her. Then he reached out and lightly touched the back of her hand. Bekki stared at his fingertips on her skin. She lifted her eyes slowly to his as she felt a flood of fury rush through her, a reminder of just how hurt she was when she
had discovered that he had been cheating on her for quite some time. She drew her hand away and cleared her throat.
“Sammy was working a party at the Windward mansion. The Windwards are extremely wealthy. She had to come back to the salon for the mascara that she had forgotten and when she returned she found
a caterer’s assistant, Lucy, just barely eighteen, strangled by the cord of Sammy’s hair dryer.”
Trevor grunted quietly as he rubbed his hand along his chin. He was silent for a moment as he considered the case.
“Are there any connections between Sammy and Lucy?” he asked curiously.
“No, she's new to town. I spoke with the caterer earlier this afternoon, and he said that he had just hired Lucy. But Lucy had an argument with Katherine Windward earlier in the day,” Bekki pointed out with a frown.
“So, why isn't Katherine a suspect?” Trevor asked and sat back in his chair as their drinks were delivered to the table. Bekki could feel the prying eyes of the town gossips on her as she spoke in a hushed voice to Trevor.
“Because she has an alibi. She and the girls were in the living room, watching some reality show while they waited for Sammy to return,” she sighed and pursed her lips. “The problem is
that as there's only a small window of time when the crime could have been committed, there can't be too many suspects.”
“Just enough time for Sammy to get back and commit the crime,” Trevor surmised and took a sip of his drink. His gaze kept seeking her
s. It was leaving Bekki feeling a little unnerved. To distract him she pulled out her cell phone and showed him the picture of the shoeprint.
“I found this shoe
print in a small garden outside the window of the dressing room. It matches one of Phillip Windward's shoes,” she explained with a scowl. “But Detective Williams, who is in charge of the case, says I contaminated the evidence and she can't use it now.”
“Well,” Trevor chuckled slightly. “You did,” he reached out to take the phone from her hand, and his fingertips caressed her skin, the warmth of his touch lingering as he sought her eyes once more. Bekki's eyes widened slightly at the affectionate caress.
“I didn't mean to,” Bekki said quickly. “I just was trying to figure out who actually killed Lucy, so that I could get Sammy out of jail.”
, you can leave that to me now,” Trevor reassured her and gave her hand a slight squeeze. “I think that we'll be able to clear this up and get her out tonight.”
“Really?” Bekki said with relief.
“Sure, as long as she hasn't said anything to incriminate herself,” Trevor added, his touch still lingering on her hand.
Bekki drew her hand back again and frowned. Sammy was not known for keeping quiet. She had probably been talking non-stop since she had been arrested. But if she wasn't guilty, which Bekki knew she wasn't, what could she say to incriminate herself?
As their food was delivered Trevor reluctantly slid his hand down off the table. Bekki was too distracted to notice, that he had a growing desperation in his eyes. As he studied the wave of her rich black hair, the pout of her full curved lips, and the warmth of her blue eyes, he knew that he had made a huge mistake by letting her go in the first place.
“I can't eat,” Bekki said as she pushed her plate away.
“Now, I know you're upset,” Trevor chided, his eyes shimmering. Bekki had one of the best appetites of any woman he had ever known. She was not a salad and water kind of gal. She liked her meals to have lots of meat and wasn't shy about the fry factor either. But she refused to go anywhere near the food on her plate.
“I'll eat this fast,” he
said glancing at his watch. “Then we'll head right over to the jail and get this all straightened out, okay?”
Bekki nodded, but her stomach churned. She could only hope that it would be that simple.