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Authors: Sheryl J. Anderson

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BOOK: Killer Heels
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“I know this is very difficult, Ms. Forrester, but I need you to tell me everything you can about what happened here tonight.” He flipped open his notebook with a flick of his wrist. I think he learned that from
Law and Order
, not the academy. “Did you know the victim?”

That’s when the bobblehead problem started. I nodded and I felt like I kept nodding for about ten minutes. Officer Jankowski watched me with a very patient smile, then gently asked, “What’s his name?”

“Oh, right. Teddy Reynolds. Our advertising director. That’s his office right behind him.”

“Is he married?”

I bobbled again until I came up with Helen’s name. The minute I pictured Helen, the reality of what had happened knocked the wind out of me. Up until then, I’d been able to look at Teddy’s body like The Publisher’s new sculpture—some incredibly ugly piece of art that had somehow found its way into our offices. It wasn’t real. It couldn’t be real. But it was. And someone was going to have to tell Helen, and she was going to have to tell her parents and Teddy’s parents and all their friends. I made another delicate sound of concern. Cassady and Officer Hendryx came rushing over and Officer Jankowski grabbed my hand. His hand was warmer than I’d expected and felt really good. “Are you going to be sick? It’s okay, it happens all the time.”

I knew I wasn’t going to be sick, but I did think about fainting for a couple of seconds. Then somehow, without even deciding to, I opted for crying. Pretty gently, all things considered. Usually, I go for the heaving sobs and my face gets all blotchy and it’s not a pretty sight. This time, the tears started rolling down my face and I couldn’t do anything about it. Maybe that was shock, too. Cassady snagged the box of Kleenex off Gretchen Plotnick’s desk and eased it into my lap. Well, at least my crying had grace.

There was noise behind us and Officer Hendryx excused himself to go meet the other police personnel who were arriving. They turned on every light they could find, which made it even harder to avoid looking at Teddy and all the blood. Officer Jankowski explained that the new people were going to secure the crime scene, start gathering forensic evidence, all that CSI stuff. I just wanted them to cover up Teddy. I had this wild thought that he was getting cold, even though Teddy was one of those guys who could sweat in a snowstorm.

The new arrivals, all in NYPD windbreakers, started setting up equipment. It seemed very routine to them and I found that incredibly sad. There was a woman with a camera and a couple of guys with what looked like great big toolboxes. They unloaded evidence bags and tweezers and brushes and I started to be fascinated; then they pulled on rubber gloves. There was something about the sound of the gloves snapping closed against their wrists that made me consider fainting again. I wasn’t fascinated anymore. I did my best to focus on Officer Jankowski’s questions and keep the bobblehead at bay. But then he asked me, “Can you think of anyone who would want to hurt Mr. Reynolds?”

I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but Teddy had plenty of enemies. Not murder-level enemies, but it did give me pause to think of the number of people I knew he’d pissed off. There were bound to be more. I work at home a lot, so I don’t see all the drama that goes down in a day at
Zeitgeist
. But these were all business enemies, unhappy advertisers or agencies or layout people.

“Nothing worth killing over,” I told him.

“You’d be surprised,” Officer Jankowski replied. “Murder’s rarely a rational act.”

I bobbled again, considering that, and Officer Hendryx came back to tap Officer Jankowski on the shoulder. “They’re here.”

“Excuse me, ma’am.” Officer Jankowski gave me a polite smile and stood up to follow Officer Hendryx. Cassady, leaning against the desk behind me, moaned.

“What?” I asked her, trying not to watch the technicians examining Teddy.

“Definitely not your night. You just got ma’am-ed.”

“I’m sure he learned it at the academy. Or on TV.”

“He learned it from his mother. He’s a baby, Molly, showing respect to his elders.”

“Don’t start trying to make me feel old because your little boy in blue wasn’t handing over his phone number.”

Cassady waggled a business card in front of me. I caught a glimpse of the NYPD seal. “Would that be his office phone or his cell phone that he wasn’t handing over?”

“But did you get a home phone?”

“I appreciate a man who likes to go slow.”

“Only once you get him home.”

Cassady was about to say something devastating in return, but something across the room caught her eye. I turned to look, too. The man who had just entered was middle-aged, tall and powerful, African-American, somewhere between imposing and intimidating. I glanced over at Cassady in surprise. He wasn’t really her type: She’s currently in a young-and-malleable phase.

But then I looked back at the policemen again and saw the second guy and realized why Cassady’s antennae were up. He couldn’t have looked better if he were backlit and walking in slow motion. It was a chain-store suit and his shoes were a couple of years old, but he was breathtaking. Square jaw, tousled hair that got that way honestly and not because of seventy-five bucks worth of product, and amazing blue eyes. The little clarity I’d been able to summon threatened to evaporate, but I took a deep breath. Cassady also gave me a firm jab in the ribs, which is always good for focus. “Dibs.”

“This is a murder scene, not a nightclub.”

“The story will delight my grandchildren.” Cassady flashed me a quick smile, then quickly turned back to watch the two new arrivals come across the room to us. Officers Jankowski and Hendryx were obviously filling them in on the situation and their attention was focused on poor Teddy. In fact, the older man peeled off to go look at Teddy and the young hunk came straight to us. How nice.

“Ms. Forrester, Ms. Lynch, I’m Detective Edwards, Homicide.” Cassady and I stuck our hands out like two debutantes in a receiving line. Detective Edwards missed half a beat, which increased his desirability quotient considerably. He then shook my hand first, which got him even more points. Cassady sniffed loud enough for me to hear.

“My partner, Detective Lipscomb, and I will be handling this case. The officers tell us you two found the body.” He looked us both over carefully, but in a forensic, not a foreplay, sense. He stopped when he got to our feet. More precisely, to my feet. “You came into the office barefoot?”

“No, but I stepped in the blood and they asked me to leave my shoes there.” I tried to sound businesslike, but the almost-shrill thing was happening again. I could’ve sworn I’d be better than this in a traumatic situation.

Detective Edwards glanced at the officers for affirmation, then over at Teddy. “I know you’ve already been interviewed, but we’d like to talk to you after we look around. You don’t mind waiting, do you?”

Cassady sat, pulling me back down into my chair while she was at it. “Not at all, Detective. Anything we can do to help.”

Detective Edwards looked us over again, a little less forensically this time, and went over to his partner and Teddy. Officers Jankowski and Hendryx trailed along behind.

“Have you ever been at a murder scene before?” I asked Cassady. We’ve known each other since freshman year of college, but we didn’t get to be best friends until we both came to the city after graduation, so I don’t know everything about her. Besides, she’s a girl who knows how to keep her secrets.

“No. They don’t come up very often in my kind of law.” Cassady isn’t a criminal lawyer, though I’ve always thought she’d be great at it. Besides the fact that she looks awesome in those Ally McBeal suits. Instead, she’s counsel for the Coalition for Creative Expression and Enterprise, also known as C
2
E
2
. They’re this wonderful, funky public-interest group that’s into all sorts of issues where creative expression and business crash into each other—stuff like Internet privacy and intellectual copyrights. They try to get the two sides to work together to find mutually beneficial solutions, but sometimes Cassady has to take people to court to get their attention. “Why?” she asked suspiciously.

“Because I would think you’d find it fascinating.”

“I do.”

“No, you’re bored.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because you have one cop’s phone number in your pocket and you’re already salivating on another one.”

“You’re projecting. You’re a little more emotionally involved here than I am, but that’s a function of circumstance and nothing I need to be punished for.” All of which I would have taken more to heart if she’d said any of it looking at me, instead of staring at Detective Edwards the whole time.

But I had to admit—to myself, not to her—that I was having a harder time with this than she was. I realized that it was mainly because I knew Teddy and she didn’t, but there was a little professional angst going on, too. As wholly inappropriate as it might have been, part of my brain was whining because I was in the middle of what could have been a great story if I were working for the
New York Times
and not
Zeitgeist
. Not that I don’t love my job at the magazine, but it’s not exactly where I intended to wind up.

See, I’m a news junkie. Blame my parents. My father couldn’t eat dinner without Walter Cronkite intoning in the background because it was every American’s responsibility to stay informed. My mother put my playpen in front of the Watergate hearings because she thought it would be stimulating for me. I guess it was, but I also get this really weird, tingly feeling whenever I see a man with big, bushy eyebrows. I haven’t brought that up in therapy. Yet.

Anyway, you can see why I thought the whole news gig would be pretty cool. But I realized it wasn’t all style, it was substance, too. So I did the well-rounded liberal arts deal, then marched out into the world of journalism to seek my slot. I was going to offer insightful commentary on the events that shape our world, enlighten the populace, and make the world a better place. And I sort of do. But not as much as I’d like to.

“You’re the advice columnist?” The detectives had returned from their inspection of Teddy and were questioning Cassady and me. Detective Lipscomb said it in a completely non-judgmental way, but it still stung a little. Especially since I was sitting next to my drop-dead gorgeous public-interest lawyer best friend. Put me in bunny slippers and a quilted bathrobe: I’m the advice columnist. It’s not a field that the Pulitzer Committee is paying a whole lot of attention to. This year. But I don’t plan to be doing this until I drop in my tracks, God bless the dear departed Ann Landers. I’m barely over thirty (no need for specific numbers) and I’m always looking for the opportunity that’s going to take me closer to real news.

And this is actually a sweet setup: I do a lot of my work at home, so I get paid to sit in my pajamas and tell people how they’re screwing up their lives and what I would do were I in their situation, which I am so eternally glad I am not. I enjoy it most of the time, though some of the letters make me fear for the future of the human race. I mean, my God. Write to me about delicate shadings of ethics and etiquette, but think for yourself occasionally! How can you focus long enough to type
Dear Molly, I’ve been sleeping with my brother-in-law for the last six months and the sex is great, but I’m starting to feel guilty
and still feel the need to ask,
Should I come clean with my sister?
Like any reasonably intelligent, self-respecting woman who survived high school doesn’t know that given a choice between keeping a secret and sharing the truth, you lock up that diary and throw away the key.

“Oh, man,” Officer Hendryx blurted. “I shoulda known. Molly Forrester. ‘You Can Tell Me.’” He grinned at me the way I thought guys only grinned at professional athletes.

Cassady arched an eyebrow at him. “You read Molly’s column?”

“Not really,” Officer Hendryx confessed. “My girlfriend basically reads it to me. It’s her favorite part of the magazine, and she’s always saying, ‘Ohmigod, Davey, you gotta listen to this!’ She’s gonna be so amazed I met you.”

“We’re all very happy for you, Officer,” Detective Edwards said, just firmly enough for Officer Hendryx to straighten up and shut up. Detective Edwards swung those very impressive blue eyes back over to me. “And why are you and your lawyer here after hours, Ms. Forrester?”

“She’s not my lawyer. She’s a lawyer, but not my lawyer.”

“She’s also in the room,” Cassady pointed out. “We’re friends. We were having drinks and Molly said there was a hideous piece of art here in the office that I had to see.”

“Is it still here?” Detective Edwards looked around.

“Ohmigod, you don’t think Teddy interrupted some sort of art theft?” It came out before I’d really thought it through and they all looked at me in varying degrees of surprise.

Detective Lipscomb tried to sound patient, but he made sure the effort showed. “We have to consider all the possibilities at this stage.”

“Not that one. Teddy wasn’t exactly the heroic type. If someone came in to steal the monstrosity, I bet Teddy would’ve held the door open for them. Not that Teddy would have been in on it or anything …” Maybe if I kept talking long enough, my brain would catch up with my mouth. But right now, my mouth had quite a good lead. Maybe it was time to go back to bobbling.

The detectives exchanged a look, then Detective Edwards put his hand on my arm. I’m sure it was meant to calm me, but it didn’t. “Can you show me this piece of art?” I nodded and started to walk past Teddy and all his new companions, then stopped, very conscious of my bare feet. I looked down and so did Detective Edwards. He nodded sympathetically. “I’m sorry about the shoes, but we’re going to have to keep them for a while.”

“Not like the blood’s going to come out of them,” Cassady muttered behind us. I looked around, surprised that she was following us. “The statue’s the whole reason I’m here,” she explained. “I’m damn well gonna see it, if it’s not gone.”

It wasn’t. It was still squatting on its pedestal outside The Publisher’s office. It was called
Muse 47
. According to The Publisher, the artist said it was the embodiment of the urge to create. To me, it looked like a disfigured gnome straining to pass a kidney stone. Detective Edwards looked at it for a few minutes, taking in the statue itself, then examined The Publisher’s reception area, even checking the carpet for footprints and other trace evidence. The carpet and furnishings in this part of the office are just as bland as the ones in our part of the office, but you can tell they cost more. The chrome shines more brightly or something. Detective Edwards didn’t seem particularly impressed by any of it. I stood as quietly as possible, watching his every move. Cassady frowned at the sculpture. “Modern art’s such a joke.”

BOOK: Killer Heels
9.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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