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Authors: Alene Anderson

Seams of Destruction

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Table of Contents

SEAMS OF DESTRUCTION

Koehler Brothers

ALENE ANDERSON

SOUL MATE PUBLISHING

New York

SEAMS OF DESTRUCTION

Copyright©2015

ALENE ANDERSON

Cover Design by Leah Kaye Suttle

This book is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher.  The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.  Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Published in the United States of America by

Soul Mate Publishing

P.O. Box 24

Macedon, New York, 14502

ISBN: 978-1-61935-
897-3

www.SoulMatePublishing.com

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

To my granddaughter,

Jenessa Maynes,

who traveled to

Italy with me.

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge Debby Gilbert as the best editor an author could have and for her willingness to take a chance on me. She’s always available for answering questions and giving help and she even makes editing a pleasure. I have learned so much from her. 

Chapter 1

Jade McDermott pulled into the parking lot of the warehouse of Sorrento House of Fashion, which stood in the middle of the garment district in Los Angeles. She noticed a lone car sitting underneath one of the lights illuminating the parking lot and frowned.

Why would Reannan Scott, the Production Manager, be there this late?

It was almost midnight, but the building was brightly lit.
The lights suddenly went out and the windows became dark panes of glass with spots of light reflected on them. Reannan must be leaving, she thought. She waited, but no one came out.

Getting out of her car, she walked to the double metal door and punched in the security code, allowing her to open one of the heavy metal doors that gave her access to the warehouse.

Darkness lay thick and black over the inside of the building and she breathed in the smell of new fabric, mixed with the odor of cardboard boxes, packing tape, and some other strange smell that she couldn’t identify.

As she made her way to the breaker box to throw the switch that would illuminate the large warehouse with its shipping tables and stacks of cardboard boxes, she stumbled over something. She lost her balance and felt herself falling. Reaching out her hands for purchase they found only air and she went down, her knees taking the brunt of her fall on the hard cement floor.

She cried out in pain. It took a few moments to catch her breath. She put the palms of her hands flat on the floor to push herself into an upright position and her fingers came into contact with something wet and sticky.

What on earth?

The employees had been told many times not to bring food or drink into the warehouse around the dresses, which were being prepared for shipping to various retailers.

Before she could get up, she heard a squeaking noise nearby, as though someone was pushing one of the bulky canvas carts used for moving fabric from the shelves to the doors where they were loaded into a truck to be delivered to one of the contract sewing shops that made the dresses.

“Who’s there?” she called out.

There was no answer, just the sound of the wheels on the cement and a sudden thud as the cart hit one of the metal doors. She heard the door open and close with a bang.

She managed to push herself to her feet and carefully took a few experimental steps, trying to avoid whatever had been spilled on the floor. She reached the breaker box, flipped up the large metal lever, and bright lights lit every corner of the huge space.

Hurrying to the double metal doors, she shoved the canvas cart out of the way, opened one of the doors and looked out. No one was in sight. She saw a pair of red taillights turning right out of the parking lot. In a moment, Reannan’s BMW had disappeared.

Turning to see what had caused her to trip, she covered her mouth to hold back the scream of horror rising in her throat.

Reannan lay face down in a pool of blood.

Jordan stared in shock, unable to move. When rational thought returned, she made her way over to the still body, knelt beside her, and gently touched the woman’s back.

“Reannan,” she said.

There was no response and she carefully took the manager’s shoulder and turned her over. She gasped as she saw the wide, staring eyes and the deep incision across the front of the woman’s neck. A box cutter covered with blood lay nearby. She stared at it, her mind a complete blank.

A phone sat on a nearby table. She stood and dialed 911 and sobbed almost incoherently as she told the operator she needed an ambulance.

The voice on the other end of the line asked her the reason and when Jordan described the scene in front of her, the woman told her to stay connected until the policemen, who would be dispatched immediately, reached the warehouse. Gripping the receiver tightly, Jordan listened to the soothing voice of the operator.

In the distance she heard the sound of a siren, which became louder as it approached the warehouse. Soon there was a loud pounding on the metal doors and she notified the 911 operator of the arrival of the police and hung up the phone. As she walked to the entryway, she looked down at her hands. They were covered with blood, as were the pant legs of her slacks.

A day later, after spending a night in jail, Jordan sat in the interrogation room at the Los Angeles Police Department. Giovanni Sorrento had been called in for an interview. He stared across the table at the two policeman who sat on either side of the distraught girl. His face was haggard and drawn as though he had not slept much the previous night.

“Jade could not have done thees,” he said in a heavily accented voice, using the name he had given
her
when she came to work for Sorrento’s House of Fashion. It had been because of her striking green eyes. She had been called Jade for so many years, she even thought of herself by that name.

“We beg to differ with you,” one policeman said. “She was covered with blood. There was blood on the breaker box and on the door. In addition, when we arrived, the body was still warm and she was the only one there.”

“We’ve spoken to some of the other employees and from what they are telling us, she certainly has motive,” his partner chimed in.

“What ees motive?”

“She was overheard having an altercation with the victim, accusing her of sleeping with her fiancé.”

“Pure – how you say – circumstances?” Giovanni asked.

“Circumstantial.”

“Yes, that ees the word. Circumstantial.”

“Unfortunately, we have to go by the evidence.”

“Ees impossible,” Giovanni repeated.

“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to book her.”

“I call my attorney.”

“We’ll wait.”

Jade had set quietly during the exchange between the policemen and Giovanni.

What a nightmare!

Here she was sitting in an interrogation room of the Los Angeles Police Department being accused of murder by two policeman. It must be some kind of bad dream from which she would soon awake. When she did, she would find herself in her bed in her apartment, the morning sunlight shining through the window. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Was it only last Sunday her fiancé, David Whitney, had called from Denver to say he had business in Los Angeles and they would have an entire week together? As might be expected, it was going to be one of her busiest weeks, getting ready for the fashion show in Milan, Italy.

The arrival of Ken Stephenson, Giovanni’s attorney, brought her back to the present. He asked to speak to Sorrento and Jade in private and the two policemen stepped out of the room.

“I didn’t kill her. I swear I didn’t.” Jade turned to the attorney in response to his question. “I know there was someone else there in the building when I came in, but they managed to leave under the cover of darkness. When I arrived, Reannan’s car was in the parking lot. Whoever killed her must have driven away in it.”

“Let me tell you what’s going to happen,” Stephenson said, ignoring Jade’s explanation. “Since you haven’t been booked, the Chief is going allow you to go home. Sorrento tells me you are to leave in a few days for a fashion show in Milan. Chief Castillo is assigning one of his men to accompany you to Milan. It may take some fancy footwork, but I have a certain amount of influence with the LA Chief of police and since Sorrento is paying expenses, there should be no problem. In addition . . .” He paused and looked from Giovanni and back to Jade. “He happens to be my brother-in-law.”

Sorrento smiled and raised his eyebrows, nodding.

“Let’s get this over and done with,” the attorney said. “Then you’ll be free to catch your flight to Italy.”

“What’s up?” Mitch Koehler asked as he walked into the police chief’s office.

“Got an assignment for you,” Grant Castillo said. “A little different from what I usually give you. No drug busts or chasing down murderers.”

Mitch dropped down into a chair opposite the chief’s desk, a look of interest in his steel-grey eyes.

“There has been a murder at Sorrento’s House of Fashion, out in the garment district. The murder suspect is a model. She hasn’t been booked because we believe we may have other suspects and we need more physical evidence. The Production Manager of Sorrento’s who was the victim, had her throat slit with a box cutter. We are sending it to the lab to ascertain if there are fingerprints on it which might identify the killer. The model who found the body is scheduled to leave for Milan, Italy, in a few days to participate in a fashion show. Your assignment is to make sure nothing happens to her. That will require you staying with her here in LA and then accompanying her to Milan.”

“When do I start?”

“Immediately. You’ll take her to her apartment where you’ll stay until you leave for Italy. Stick with her every minute. Don’t let her out of your sight. She has a passport, so she could be a flight risk.”

“That
is
different. Can’t you get someone else to do it? You know how I feel about women.”

“That’s exactly why I picked you.”

Mitch raised his eyebrows in a questioning look.

“Anyone else would be bowled over by her looks and probably fall in love with her. Then it’s hard telling what might happen.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“No, she’s a very sweet girl. Not my idea of a murderer at all. Not even my idea of a model, except for her looks.”

“When do I meet her?” Mitch sighed in resignation.

“She’s here now,” Castillo said. “But before I have her sent in, I want to give you the flight information and some instructions. I had to make special arrangements with Sorrento’s for a ticket since they will be paying all your expenses. Also, I needed to have you assigned to the seat next to Jade.”

“Jade?”

“The model you’ll be accompanying to Milan.” 

The Chief reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a sheet of paper and handed it to Mitch.

“Of course, you’ll be taking your gun and your handcuffs.”

“Handcuffs?”

The Chief nodded.

“I’m assuming they’re for the model. Do I put her in handcuffs when we leave here today or before boarding the plane to Milan, or both?”

“No, but anytime you are out of her sight for
any reason
, you will handcuff her. Even in her apartment and the hotel. Remember, she could be a flight risk. She is our most likely suspect and I don’t want to lose her. Any questions?”

“No, I get the picture.”

“If anything comes up you’re not sure how to handle, give me a call.” The Chief reached over to press the button on his intercom. “Send her in.”

A few moments later, the door opened and one of the most beautiful women Mitch had ever seen entered the room accompanied by an older man. She had long brown hair, streaked with golden highlights. Her emerald-green eyes were her most striking feature, but now they were dulled by pain. She was tall and slim. Almost six feet. She held her head high and walked with a flowing grace.

Both Mitch and the Chief stood and Castillo made the introductions.

“Miss McDermott, this is Mitch Koehler. Mitch, Jordan McDermott or as she is known in the fashion world, Jade. Her attorney, Ken Stephenson.”

In acknowledgement of the introduction, Jade looked up at Mitch, a dazed expression on her face. Dark circles smudged the delicate skin under her eyes and her cheeks had a sunken quality. She swayed slightly as though she was going to fall, and Mitch had an impulse to put a hand on her arm to steady her. Instead, he nodded at the model and turned to shake Ken’s outstretched hand. The Chief motioned everyone to be seated.

“Jade, this is the way it’s going to play out,” the Chief said, addressing the model. “Koehler will take you home today and he will be staying with you. You will give him your passport. I’ve given him the schedule for your flight to Milan. On the day of your flight, he will drive you to the airport and will fly with you to Italy. He will stick with you every minute. You won’t be allowed out of his sight except for bathroom breaks. Is that understood?”

She nodded, but only one part of the instructions appeared to register. “Why must I give him my passport?”

“We consider you a flight risk,” the Chief said bluntly.

“But I didn’t kill her,” Jade protested.

“So you said,” the Chief said, turning to Mitch. “Now, if there are no more questions, you’re free to go. Ken, before you leave, I’d like a few words with you.”

Mitch stood and looked down at Jade. “Miss McDermott, my car’s in the parking garage, if you’ll follow me.”

“Please call me Jade,” she said in a soft, husky voice, but made no attempt to rise.

He held out a hand to her and she stared at it for a moment as though she didn’t know what it was for. Ignoring it, she finally stood and followed him from the room. 

As they left the Chief’s office, Jade walked beside the tall detective. At five feet, ten inches, she had been taller than most men she came into contact with. But Mitch was at least half a foot taller than she was.

Knowing he was going to be her companion on the trip to Milan made her somehow feel safer, even though the reason for his going was because they considered her a suspect in the murder of Sorrento’s production manager.

She knew they hadn’t believed her when she told the police someone else had been in the warehouse when she had arrived that night to pick up the dresses she would be taking to Milan. She knew she wasn’t dreaming it. Someone
had
been in the warehouse and that someone had driven Reannan’s BMW out of the parking lot.

As they waited at the elevator, neither one of them spoke. When the door opened, Mitch motioned her inside, stepping in after her. He pushed the button that would take them to the parking garage. When they reached his car, he opened the door and she moved past him to sit down in the passenger seat.

BOOK: Seams of Destruction
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