Authors: Morgana Best
My mouth fell open when I turned around. “Camino, what are you doing here?” I asked her. “I was worried that you’d leave Barbara alone in your house. She
a murder suspect, you know! I was trying to give you that hint this morning when I brought her to your house.”
“Well why didn’t you say so, dear?” Camino said.
I rolled my eyes. “Camino, please tell me that Barbara isn’t alone in your house right now.”
“No, she isn’t,” Camino said. “I had something urgent to tell you both, so I told Barbara I’d take her out for coffee. I’ve left her at that little coffee shop just down the road. You know, the one with the cranky waitresses.”
“What is this important thing you have to tell us?” Thyme asked her.
Camino looked around and then stuck her head back into the showroom, presumably to make sure no one was there. “Well,” she said in a conspiratorial tone, “Barbara told me something extremely interesting.”
“What was it?” Thyme asked.
“She said that she had been here in town the day that Sue was killed.” Camino’s expression was one of extreme self-satisfaction.
“You’re kidding,” I said. “That’s major!”
“It sure is!” Thyme said.
“And what’s more, she didn’t mean to tell me. I’m sure of it,” Camino added. “We were talking and she just happened to mention it.” Camino sneezed loudly and then hesitated.
“Bless you,” I said. “Do go on.”
“It was all over Sue’s bracelet. Do you remember the bracelet Sue was wearing the night we were playing Clue?”
Thyme and I both nodded.
“I just happened to mention to Barbara that she wouldn’t have been expecting to get the bracelet back in this sad way, and that Sue had very much liked the bracelet. Barbara let slip that she’d been driving through town, and as she’d already missed Sue’s birthday, she had briefly dropped in at her house and given it to her.”
I frowned. “Did Barbara say why she happened to be in Bayberry Creek that day?”
Camino nodded so hard that I thought she might give herself whiplash. “Yes. Barbara said that she always flies between Brisbane and Sydney, but she’d had a severe middle ear infection, so felt that flying was out of the question this time. That’s why she decided to drive, and Bayberry Creek wasn’t really out of her way at all.”
“Do the police know?” Thyme asked her.
“I have no idea,” Camino said with a shrug, “but I can’t exactly go and tell them since Barbara’s staying with me. Can one of you tell them?”
“Sure, “I said. “You go back to Barbara, Camino, and keep a close eye on her. Don’t take any chances. Barbara has just gone to the top of my suspects list.”
“Mine too,” Thyme said grimly.
As soon as Camino was out the door, I turned to Thyme. “What do you make of that?”
“I don’t like the sound of it at all. My mother always said there are really no coincidences, and it seems strange to me that Barbara just happened to pass through town on the very day that Sue was poisoned.” She looked over my shoulder and said, “Customer! I’ll go and call the cops about what Camino said,” and sped to the kitchen.
I looked past her to see Kayleen. It was all I could do not to groan aloud. She waltzed over to the counter. “I’ll have half a dozen of the double chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes,” she said, “for my man.”
“Which man is that?” I said snarkily.
Kayleen stuck her tongue out at me. “You’re just jealous. You don’t even have one man, let alone two.”
I shrugged. “You can’t argue with logic,” I said, as I boxed up the cupcakes.
Kayleen appeared to be on the edge of saying something rude, but she was forestalled by Simone’s appearance. She at once switched personalities. “Hello, Simone,” she said in a sugar-sweet tone. “I haven’t forgotten my appointment.”
“That was yesterday,” Simone said.
I could tell that Simone was annoyed, but that fact appeared to be lost on Kayleen. “I thought it was tomorrow,” Kayleen said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
“No, it was yesterday,” Simone said again. “I texted you the night before to remind you.”
Kayleen giggled. For once she was at a loss for words. She recovered herself after a moment. “Can I book in for tomorrow?”
Simone shook her head. “No, sorry, Kayleen,” she said. “I’m fully booked tomorrow.”
“Well, when can I book?” Kayleen said with a pout. “I really need some Botox. I know you ladies can’t tell by looking at me, but I really am starting to get some wrinkles in my face.”
It was all I could do to hold my tongue. I would have loved to point out that her face looked as if a heavy train had driven back and forth across it.
“I really do need Botox!” Kayleen repeated insistently.
“You’re preaching to the choir,” I said with a snicker. “You’ll get no argument from me.”
Simone crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t carry my appointment book with me, Kayleen,” she said through gritted teeth. “That’s five no-show appointments in a row. That causes me to lose income.”
“Well, I’ll just get my Botox elsewhere!” Kayleen went to the door in a huff. Before she left the store, she pointed at me, her eyes narrowed.
Simone raised her eyebrows at me, and I shrugged. Yet something in the back of my mind was nagging at me. Botox—where had I heard that recently?
“Would you like some cupcakes, Simone?”
“I just came to give you the contact details of a wedding planner in Tamworth,” she said. “I mentioned you to her and she said that she’d actually been thinking about doing cupcakes at weddings. She said to give her a call and set up a meeting.”
“Thanks so much, Simone,” I gushed. “That’s very good of you.”
“You’re most welcome.” She made to leave, but before she had even gone two paces, I spoke again.
“Simone, you do Botox?”
“Yes,” she said. She looked surprised, but then again she always looked surprised, given that she had shaved off her eyebrows and penciled them in half way to her hairline. “But you don’t need Botox! You’re too young. I do have clients your age, but I always try to talk them out of it. On the other hand, you could do with a boob job. I can give you a reference to a good plastic surgeon.”
I was offended. What was wrong with my boobs? Sure, they weren’t that big, but I thought they were fine. I tried to bring my attention back to the subject at hand. “Someone mentioned Botox to me the other day, and I can’t for the life of me remember who it was,” I said.
“Please refer them to me when you remember who it was,” Simone said.
“I sure will.”
“Thanks, Amelia. Wasn’t it horrible what happened to poor Sue Beckett?” she said. “That poor woman came to me to get her regular Botox treatment the day that she died. She seemed so full of life then, and not sick at all. It just goes to show, doesn’t it?”
I was perplexed. “It just goes to show what?” I asked her.
Simone’s eyes grew wide. “It just goes to show that you never know when you’ll drop dead,” she said dramatically. Her eyebrows went even higher.
“Oh, yes,” I said slowly. Simone left the shop after her cheerful pronouncement, and then it hit me. I remembered where the recent talk about Botox had been. Ruprecht had mentioned that botulism was one of the poisons that took a few hours to work. Yet surely if Simone had given Sue an overdose of Botox and killed her, why would she tell me that Sue had gone to her that day? And could cosmetic Botox even kill someone? I needed to find out. I needed to know whether to add Simone to my suspect list.
I went into the back room. “Hey, Amelia, could you please do the cream cheese frosting on those raspberry peach blossom cupcakes?” Thyme said as soon as she saw me.
“I’ll get right on it,” I said. “What did the cops say?”
Thyme slapped herself on her forehead. “Oh, I completely forgot. I’ll call them now.”
“Well, there’s something else you can tell them,” I said. “Simone, the beauty therapist, was just in, and she told me that Sue was her client. She gave her Botox the day that she died.”
Thyme’s mouth fell open. “You’re kidding!”
“You’d better tell the cops that as well,” I said. “I mean, they could already know, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Anyway, can cosmetic Botox kill someone?”
“We’ll have to find out,” Thyme said, “but I’ll call the cops right now and tell them both of those things.”
“If I see Jamie Oliver one more time, I’ll scream!” I said to the house. “I almost prefer Mixed Martial Arts.” I jumped up to turn off the TV, but as soon as I did, it came right back on, and even louder this time.
I shook my finger at the house. “Please stop!” I said. “I’m trying to find out if Botox can kill someone, cosmetic Botox that is, and you’re not helping.”
As if by way of reply, the volume increased. I groaned and put my head in my hands. I crossed to the cedar chiffonier and opened the top drawer, from which I pulled out the set of earbuds that had come with my iPhone—and what a welcome sight they were. I sat back down, earplugs firmly in place, and recommenced my search.
It took me ages to wade through all the information. There were many forums, with people on one side angrily saying that Botox is perfectly harmless, while others alleged that they had suffered terrible side effects. But as far as I could tell, only one person had died from an injection of cosmetic botulinum. That meant death by accidental Botox injection was unlikely, so if Sue had been killed by Botox, it would have had to be deliberate.
I then searched to see if anyone had been murdered by Botox. I groaned. I only turned up a reference to an episode of
. I vaguely remembered seeing a movie ages ago where the victim had been killed by wound botulism, but I couldn’t even remember the name of the movie. I simply remembered that the murderer had applied the botulism toxin to rose thorns, knowing that the victim-to-be was a keen gardener. Trying to remember was driving me nuts. I wanted to call Alder and ask him if he knew anything about it, but I knew the real reason I wanted to call him, and it had nothing to do with botulism.
I stood up and stretched, and pulled out my earbuds. I felt at a loose end, and I was somewhat irritated. I got out a piece of paper and wrote ‘Suspects’ at the top. Under ‘Suspects’ I wrote: Madison, Bob, Barbara, Simone. Madison had a motive because Sue was having an affair with her husband, Bob. And Bob possibly had a motive, because he was having an affair with Sue. And then there was Barbara. She was to inherit all of Sue’s fortune. I have no idea if Simone had a motive for murder, but she certainly had a suitable murder weapon. Was there anyone else? The police also suspected Camino.
Perhaps there was another heir apart from Barbara. We would not know until the reading of the will. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at that reading. Maybe there was a way we could hide a bug in the room and hear what was said.
At any rate, Thyme seemed quite certain that her hoodoo working would be effective. She kept going on and on about placing the eggs in Sue’s hands at the funeral. We had found out that, after the police released her body, Sue would be cremated. Thyme said that this would mean that the murderer would be revealed sooner, because this spell went into action when the eggs were destroyed. I wish I shared her confidence.
I heard my phone, but I couldn’t remember where I had put it. I looked around the living room, but there was no sign of it. Just as I walked into the hallway, it stopped. I sighed and turned to walk back to the living room, but I had only taken one step when the phone rang again. This time, I realized the sound was coming from my bedroom. A portent of doom hit me as soon as I saw the name. I slid my finger across the screen. “Ruprecht, what’s happened?”
“It’s Camino,” he said. “She’s been arrested.”
“What?” I screeched. “You’re kidding.”
“I wish I were.”
“How could they arrest Camino?” I said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Well, there’s something you don’t know, Amelia,” Ruprecht said. “The police found a syringe of botulinum in Camino’s house.”
“Botulinum?” I echoed. “But I’ve just been researching botulism.” My head was spinning. “What do you mean; they found a syringe of botulism in Camino’s house?”
“Obviously it was planted there,” Ruprecht said. “That means the murderer has had access to Camino’s house.”
“Barbara!” I exclaimed. “Barbara is staying with Camino! Barbara inherits everything from Sue. Is Camino still down at the police station?”
“No,” Ruprecht said.
I let out a long sigh. “That’s a relief.”
“No, Amelia,” Ruprecht said. “I regret to say that she’s in the watch house.”
“The watch house? What’s that?” I asked him. I’d never heard of a watch house. It made me think of
. Oh, I think that was called the watchtower. It any rate it was my favorite television series when I was a child. My mind tends to wander when I’m stressed.
“The watch house is where they keep prisoners between the time they arrest them and the time the prisoner appears before a magistrate for the bail hearing,” Ruprecht explained.
“Does that mean Camino will be in jail overnight?” I asked, horrified.
“Yes, but it would’ve been worse if it had been Friday night. Then she would have had to stay in the watch house until Monday morning.”
“I don’t really understand how this all works.”
It was Ruprecht’s turn to sigh. “Camino has been arrested and charged with homicide. There will be a hearing tomorrow morning to see whether she’ll get bail,” Ruprecht said.
“Does anyone charged with homicide ever get out on bail?”
There was a pause, and I imagined that Ruprecht was nodding. “I spoke with Camino’s lawyer just before I called you,” he finally said, “and he told me that the fairly new bail laws in New South Wales make it more likely. Camino doesn’t have a criminal record; she is not a flight risk, and he said that the police don’t really have a motive. And as you pointed out, Sue’s sister, Barbara, who will inherit, was staying with Camino at the time and could easily have planted the syringe. He will argue that point in court tomorrow. He thinks there’s a good chance Camino will be released on bail. He was surprised she was charged in the first place.”
I could barely bring myself to say the words. “But what if she isn’t granted bail? How long would she have to stay in jail, or the watch house, or whatever, until her trial?”
“It could be as long as two years,” Ruprecht said, “but we won’t let that happen. We will do everything in our power to have Camino released, and we will find the murderer by any means possible.”
I bit my lip. I still couldn’t believe that Camino had been arrested. What possible motive could she have? She didn’t stand to inherit anything, as far as I knew. Now that was a thought. “Ruprecht, it just occurred to me that perhaps Camino does inherit something in Sue’s will. That would give her a motive, as far as the police are concerned.”
“Yes, that thought had occurred to me, too,” he said. “I asked the lawyer. He said it’s highly unlikely that that the lawyer would divulge that information to the police. The will is going to be read after the funeral.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “I thought you were speaking to Camino’s lawyer. Does she have two lawyers?”
“I meant Sue’s lawyer, not Camino’s. At any rate, I secured a top criminal lawyer for Camino.”
“Oh, silly me,” I said. “Yes, of course. I’m just in such a state of panic about Camino.”
“You and me both,” Ruprecht said.