Both Cecilia and Kramer watched as the detective pointed out what he described.
“Coroner puts time of death between eleven and midnight last night. As you saw, there was a scuffle in the hallway, which led into here. Perhaps Granger was attempting to escape his attacker. There doesn’t appear to be any weapons in the room or elsewhere in the house for him to defend himself with though. The desk phone was in place and we’ve already checked that no phone calls were made during that time, so no help was on the way. We still don’t know what he was intending by coming in here. He was trapping himself.”
He then turned and indicated the doorway and the stain of the floor.
“Granger was just a few feet inside when he was struck on the back of the head by a blunt object. We believe it was a brass sculpture we found near the body. The lab boys have it now and we’re testing it for prints. Though it is likely a burglary gone wrong, and Granger surprised the thief, there are also indications that this may have been a crime of passion.”
“Crime of passion?” Kramer asked.
“Yes. Grabbing something close at hand could have been the thief’s attempt to take out who had discovered him. But Granger’s head was pretty much smashed in, multiple times. Caving his skull into his brain.”
“Oh, God,” Cecilia turned away into the hallway, feeling sick, and leaned against a cupboard, full of Waterford Crystal. What am I doing here, she thought as she saw her reflection in the glass.
“You know,” Lambert was now talking to the lawyer, giving Cecilia a moment to recover from what she had seen and forget what her mind had imagined, “for a guy whose worth billions, the security here is rather lax. Though nothing appears to have been stolen, this room alone could mount up a pretty penny for any burglar. Yet there is no alarm system and he never has a security guard at the gatehouse.”
“From what I know of Mr. Granger, he didn’t feel the extra security was necessary,” Kramer cautiously suggested.
“You said the guy was eccentric, but in this city security is a necessity.”
Cecilia felt somewhat better and joined them once more, while trying to avoid looking at the bloody stain something else caught her eye in the study.
A massive painting hung high above the fireplace mantle. It was a portrait of who she surmised to be Granger himself. There was something odd about the image; the man looked ancient and childlike, with a large muscular frame. His hair was white, and wrinkles of age cut across his face, and yet there was also a youthful excitement in those eyes and mischievousness in the smile that was barely there. It did make Cecilia think of her father, just enough of a family resemblance. Maybe that was just wishful thinking on her part; it had been ten years since she had last looked upon her father’s face.
The oddness of the painting only continued. Granger was seated in the same red leather wing back chair that sat behind the desk in this very room, but Cecilia noticed a hand on his left shoulder. A woman’s youthful and slender hand attached to an arm that vanished into the darkness behind the chair. In a near black, dark red background, she could just make out a silhouette of a figure, yet there was no definition. If it weren’t for the hand, the figure would never have been noticed. Had this mystery woman been painted over?
Cecilia’s eyes were drawn down from the hand through the painting to the mantel where several photos and other knickknacks sat. She’d have to get closer to be certain; but one of those photos was of a small boy. Could that be my father? At the other side of the mantel was an ornately carved glass case and inside hung on a chain was a golden pocket watch. The sun light from the window sparkled off the gold creating an almost magical glow.
Cecilia felt drawn into the room, but the thought of the blood on the floor and what had happened there broke the dream like feeling. Turning away she faced detective Lambert once more, she blushed as she realized he had been watching her the entire time.
“Sounds like you’re pretty confident this was a breaking and entering case that went wrong,” Cecilia said as she recovered. “Yet you still consider me as a suspect. Your prime suspect even.”
“There were no signs of a break in. Someone may have surprised him when he got home last night. We’re following up on all potential leads, and the inheritance still keeps you at the top right now.”
“Well, not to do your job, Detective, but do I really look like I’m strong enough to smash someone’s head in?”
She stepped back to let him have a look at her frame, and found that she liked him looking. The pants and blouse she had thrown on this morning for work didn’t fit very well, but she hoped it hid the extra pounds she felt had gathered around her hips. She suddenly stopped, and realized how weird it was to think about her weight and clothes when she was the suspect of a murder.
“In the heat of passion,” he responded after giving her the once over, and maybe the twice and third over, “anyone is capable of the most violent acts.”
Cecilia watched him looking and tried not to judge what he was thinking.
“And a ‘crime of passion’ is quite often the act of a woman,” she stated.
“Not every time, but it is frequently the case,” Lambert replied.
“Let me see if I’ve got this straight,” she began, pushing aside her own feeling, and looked for clues in his response. “You think Mr. Granger, my apparent grandfather, had already made contact with me. And that a young woman desperate for cash would be quite thrilled to discover she could inherit all this.” She waved her arms about to indicate the opulence of the mansion. “All her troubles, bills, loans, and lousy job would be behind her. The only thing that stood in her way was old man Granger himself.”
Lambert seemed quite amused and wasn’t going to stop her little performance.
“So this desperate girl travels all the way out here, maybe to ask ‘Daddy Warbucks’ for a loan, but when he tells her ‘no’ she grabs whatever is convenient and starts taking the inheritance out of his skull. How am I doing?”
“Ah… you just summed up the case against you. I think your lawyer here would suggest you not say anything more.”
Cecilia looked from the detective to Kramer who was standing off to the side watching the entire show. He nodded in agreement.
“Thank you,” she smiled at Lambert, “I’m a writer. Sold a detective story last month. I see myself more as a fantasy writer, but I grew up reading mysteries so wanted to give it a try. Didn’t think it was great, to my amazement they bought it so I’m not complaining. As to your case, I’m not all that concerned; I never met or knew who Granger was. If I’m not wrong, you’re already looking elsewhere. Otherwise we would be having this discussion in an interrogation room at the police station and the trip out here wouldn’t have been necessary. I suppose you were gauging my reaction to being here.”
“I wouldn’t act so cocky around the next homicide detective you come in contact with.”
“I’m hoping you’re the only homicide detective I come in contact with.”
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/v5f7v2