When Nathan entered the living room, it was to find Emma packaging a few parcels she’d obviously missed earlier. “What’s this? I thought you were finished.”
“I was- the family presents. I always find a few items that I give out to those without.”
“And do you have someone in mind?”
“Actually, I do. I was hoping to visit Sylvia Westwood’s family. Since this must be a difficult time of year for them, I bought some decorations they could share as a family, a giant snowman that lights from inside so he’s bright and cheerful, but not overdone and I’ve included an extension cord in case it’s needed.”
“That’s a thoughtful gift, Emma. I’m sure it will touch their hearts.” As it did his. Such a gracious thought.
“I was hoping we could drop by sometime mid-morning. I phoned and they were agreeable, so…”
“Sounds perfect to me.”
Breakfast was later than usual so by the time they were finished, showered and dressed, it was indeed mid-morning, due to a little in shower delight.
When they arrived in Nathan’s Porsche, he parked discreetly, a half block from their home. Alighting from the car, they noted well-manicured lawns, homes festively decked with thoughtful and elegant lighting.
Emma’s knock was almost immediately answered by a lovely woman stamped with sadness around her eyes and in her smile, but welcoming as well. “Hi, your Emma Banks?” she asked quietly but firmly.
“Yes, I am, and this is Nathan, a very close friend of mine.” She shook their hands before inviting them inside.
“Please, come sit by the fire. There’s nothing more special any time of the day I find.”
“Your home is lovely Mrs. Westwood. Thank you for agreeing to see us. I know that this must be painful for you still, I can’t imagine it being otherwise, ever.”
“There are days, Sylvia’s loss is raw and as fresh in my mind as the day the officer’s arrived to tell us about it. Others, I manage better.”
“Some new information has come to light, and I’m delving into incidents surrounding what happened to your daughter. I know you spoke with the police then, and must have done considerable reflecting since. I was wondering if anything new had come to mind, and if you would consider going over incidents, happenings around that time.”
“I’m not sure I get what your after.”
“Did you notice any changes in your daughter’s behaviour within a few days of her death? Did she seem edgy, concerned, or nervous at all? Were there any indications she was anxious about going to work, or any changes in behaviour that surprised you?”
“I have to give that some thought. It’s not something I considered at the time, the shock was so overwhelming, the loss, the hole in our family, I just . . .” She grabbed a tissue and delicately wiped at her nose. Composure gained, she continued, “You know it’s true, I didn’t remember it until now, but she was just a little edgy. When she put her coat on to leave, she’d give a great big sigh as if in preparation for something. I remember now, thinking she must be nervous about her upcoming exams. ” Smiling she added, “She was such a stickler for perfection. Even the meals she prepared prior to exams, had to be just so, presentation, cooking, aroma. At the time we were delighted to participate. In hindsight, she was different. Whenever she caught me looking, just looking at her, perhaps she saw the question I was about to ask, she’d smile brightly, hug me and hurry off. But it’s true, there was something…”
“So she never expressed verbally any concerns she might have.”
“No, no she didn’t it was in her manner, it was so peripheral, I barely noticed.” Her laughter held a bitter edge to it, “I should have taken more notice.”
“Mrs. Westwood, hindsight is often clearer than the reality. We have little else to focus on.”Reaching out she took Mrs. Westwood’s hand in hers and held on. “Your daughter was a delightful, brave, determined young woman. She loved you and if she had concerns she no doubt wanted to spare you any worry. ”
“Thank you for that.” Mrs. Westwood acknowledged Emma’s words with a smile tinged with regret.
“You say you’re looking into my daughter’s death. Why is that?”
“Someone has come forward with new information. I’m attempting to verify the facts as imparted.”
“How does that change anything?” Mrs. Westwood asked confused.
“Well, from what I’ve learned, your daughter wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time. I, we,” she looked over at Nathan, “believe she witnessed an event she wasn’t supposed to and she was killed as a consequence.”
“You are telling me, my girl was murdered?” Mrs. Westwood was very agitated.
“The witness described events surrounding her death that have led to another death. The reporter that covered what happened, did some digging, and within a month he was involved in a hit and run accident and perished.”
“My god, are you talking cover-up?”
“I’m afraid I am. As yet, we don’t know what your daughter witnessed, but it was something major. I intend to find out what that was.”
“I don’t know what to say, how to respond. First I’m horrified at the thought she was murdered, we always suspected it was a failed robbery, but more than that, there have been other deaths? How many?”
“At this point, I’m not sure. The Detectives that worked Sylvia’s case believe it to be true even though we can’t corroborate this as yet.”
“Emma herself was attacked and pushed down a flight of stairs when she started investigating. Therefore we believe there are some high ranking individuals involved and we intend solving this case.” Nathan’s eyes glowed with anger and determination.
“If there’s a possibility of harm to you or anyone else, please stop! Sylvia has passed, nothing will bring her back and I for one don’t wish any harm to anyone else.” Her hand went to her throat and her fingers fidgeted.
“Mrs. Westwood, I’m in no danger, I have Nathan to protect me. Your daughter wasn’t as lucky, but she deserves justice, as do you, as does Mr. Marks.”
“If you proceed with this, will you keep me informed?”
“Most certainly, Mrs. Westwood. If you think of anything else that relates, please give me a call.” Emma handed her contact information across.
“Mrs. Wesetwood, take my card, you call me if you have any difficulties due to our visit.” At her startled look Nathan added, “Since we’ve begun investigating, there has been a renewed interest in the case. Some involved though in a minor capacity through friendship even, have been threatened. If anyone suddenly shows up, your family is followed, anything, please contact me immediately, I’ll take care of it.”
“You’ve given me a great deal to think about. I’ll have to go over all you’ve said with my husband. First to find out if he recalls anything unusual and second to watch lest he’s noticed anything unusual. Believe me, I will contact you immediately. Of that, you can be sure.”
As they walked back to the car Nathan commented, “So, it would seem that Sylvia Westwood had for a time at least reason for concern prior to her death. Since her mother only mentioned a couple of occasions when she noted a change, I imagine it was only a couple of days prior. Whether she got curious and started delving into something, or it was happenstance and she literally fell into an incident remains to be seen.”
oooh sitting on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait for this mystery to unfold.