It was late by the time I got home. Pete, my boss, was naturally shocked when I told him over the phone what had happened. He refused to accept my protests that I was ok and told me to take the next day off.
“Nat. Stay home. No arguments.”
“You’ve had a huge a shock, Nat. It might not have hit yet, but it will once your brain has had a chance to process everything. Take as long as you need to let yourself recover.”
“I’m all ri…”
“Don’t make me revoke your swipe pass access!”
I sighed, “All right, Pete. I’ll stay home tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel after that.”
“Good. I’ll check on you tomorrow and see how you’re going.”
“Thanks, Pete. Night.” We both hung up.
I unlocked the door to my apartment and walked inside.
Dave had obviously been pacing the room awaiting my return, and when he saw me, he embraced me a fierce hug.
“God, are you all right, Nat?” He kissed me and held me tightly.
“I’m ok, babe, just a little shaken.” I hugged him back, snuggling in close.
“I can imagine,” he said, kissing the top of my head. “So what happened, why were you at the site anyway?”
I told him what had happened with my purse, then my conversation with Detective Mark Symonds.
“Don’t know him,” Dave said. “Must be a new guy.”
Dave has been a detective at Metro Precinct some years earlier before leaving the force and setting up his own private investigative agency.
“He’s a little bit older than us, might have transferred from another precinct. He seems good,” I replied.
“I hope so,” Dave said. “Elliott’s wife deserves to know what happened to him. Given the
“Mark thought it might be to do with Samuel Olsen.”
“Samuel Olsen?” Dave asked, surprised. “When I was on the force, we checked him out a few times but never found anything. It’s possible, I guess, but more likely mob related.” He smiled. “And when did it become first name basis with Detective Symonds?”
I punched his arm and poked my tongue out at him. “I’m just a sucker for men in law enforcement.”
“Ha. Ex-law enforcement too, I hope.” He held me close again. “You need to sit this one out, Nat. That fortune cookie thing could have gone south fast.”
It was my turn to be surprised. “Why do think that I would try to get involved with it? It’s a police matter.”
“I know you, Nat. I can hear the gears grinding in your brain. Trust me, it’s going to be the mob, Elliot pissed off one person too many.”
“All right. But I’m still not convinced of that. It just doesn’t explain why he was in the basement of Olsen’s building. I think there’s more to it.”
Dave started to say something else, but I cut him off. “I know, I know. I’ll be good,” I said.
“That’s not a promise.”
“What’s for dinner?” I said, smiling cheekily.
“Ha. You don’t fool me, Natalie Shaw!”
“What?!” I replied innocently.
Dave held me tightly. “Just be careful, ok? I don’t want anything to happen to you.” He kissed me hard.
I will,” I said and kissed him again, this time with more intent.
“I thought you were hungry,” he smiled.
“I had a late lunch.”
“What about my dinner?” We kissed yet again.
“If you’d rather eat…”
“Come to think of it, I’m not that hungry…”
I awoke the next morning at the usual time. It took me a moment to remember that I wasn’t going to work that day.
Sleep hadn’t come easy. The events of the day and the image of the man lying in a pool of his own blood replayed in my mind for hours. It was the first time I had ever seen a body. I’d be happy for it to be the last as well. I was surprised at myself for how well I coped at the time, but Pete, my boss, was right. It took a while for the reality of what I’d seen to sink in.
Dave still lay beside me, snoring softly. I wasn’t getting back to sleep again, so I slid out of the bed quietly as to not wake him and padded into the kitchen. I filled the percolator with water and fresh coffee. The kitchen soon smelled delightful.
While I waited for my coffee to brew, I took my laptop out of my bag, sat on the couch and idly checked my emails. My brain refused to switch off entirely from work, and I didn’t want any nasty surprises when I did go back into the office again.
There was an email from Geoff Anderson, one of the partners of the firm, announcing that the Olsen site was closed for the morning while the police conducted their investigation at the murder scene. Samuel Olsen was going to be furious with the delay.
The coffee was ready, so I went back into the kitchen. As I took my coffee mug off the shelf, two arms wrapped around me and there was a scratchy kiss on my cheek.
“Mmm, coffee!” Dave said. “Smells good. That aroma would have woken the dead.”
I grabbed his mug from the shelf as well. “The dead don’t snore,” I replied as I turned and kissed him.
“Ha,” he smiled. “I’m starving. How about some bacon and eggs?”
“Good idea. You make the coffee while I cook breakfast.” I handed him the mugs.
“You sure?” he asked. “I can cook if you like.”
“I prefer my bacon crispy and my eggs soft, not the other way around.”
“Ooh, harsh. But probably a fair cop.” He busied himself with making the coffee as I took out the frypan, eggs, and bacon.
“How are you feeling this morning?” he asked, putting the mugs onto the dining table.
“I’m ok, tired mostly,” I replied. “Geoff said that they’ve closed the site down this morning while the police investigate.”
“Olsen won’t like that one bit.”
“No. I pity the poor police officer on the other end of his wrath.”
“Then it makes no sense for Olsen to be involved in Elliot’s death. The last thing that he will want is delays on construction of his mall. Must be costing a bomb.”
“I saw what you did there,” I smiled as I dished the steaming bacon and eggs onto our plates. “I know you want me to let it go, but I keep coming back to why Elliot’s body was in the building. There HAS to be a reason.”
“Not necessarily,” Dave said. “The mob aren’t renowned for being particularly considerate with where they dispose of bodies of people who piss them off. There really may be no connection beyond convenience.”
“I guess so,” I replied. “I hadn’t really thought of that.”
“Not really your field of expertise,” he said as he ate his breakfast. “I don’t know how to design a building so it doesn’t fall down. You do.”
“True,” I smiled.
“Speaking of which, what did you find with that water seeping thing yesterday?”
“I’d forgotten all about it with everything that had happened.” I took a sip of my coffee. “It doesn’t appear to be surface water seeping down that far. It LOOKS like underground water, but I just can’t see how. It’s bedrock all around the site.”
“You’ll figure it out, lovely. You always do.” Dave checked his phone. “And I really need to get going.” He stood up and kissed me on the top of my head. “I have to go see Elliot’s wife. No doubt the police have told her what happened to him by now.”
“The poor woman. This is what she was praying to not have happened but knew that it was the most likely outcome.” I picked up the empty plates and carried them to the kitchen. “She knows you did everything you could to find him. You know that too.”
“I know. I still feel I’ve let her down, though.”
“You said yourself that he was good at not getting found when he didn’t want to be.”
“Someone did, apparently,” he said as he headed towards the bathroom. “I need a shower and to get ready.”
A few moments later, I heard the shower running. I sighed. Dave was holding himself at least partially to blame for Elliot Walthers’ death. He wasn’t being fair to himself, but it was his willingness to take responsibility that made him the man he was.
As I picked up the empty plates and washed them, I thought over our conversation. I couldn’t disagree with his logic that the likelihood of the mob having killed Walthers, and even that dumping the body in the basement was the most likely explanation.
And yet, I couldn’t shake this feeling there was more to it, something about Samuel Olsen. Someone had gone to some effort to break into the site just to dump a body in the basement. There were plenty of alleys that would have done for that.
The wound in the back indicated that Walthers never saw the blow that killed him, which made it feel like a crime of opportunity rather than an execution. I sighed. I was an architect, not a detective. I really had no idea how to interpret what I saw.
Dave came out of the bathroom and picked up his keys and wallet. “Ok, lovely, I need to head out.” He gave me a quick kiss. “You take it easy, okay? No trying to work or solve murders.”
“Ha! No promises!”
He smiled and headed out the front door.