Throughout the following week, Simon logged almost eight hours a day staring at his computer screen. He did take time to work on another case during some of those hours, but as soon as he got a chance, he want right back to the evidence and clues about Peter Crandell.
His assistant, Tony, assumed that they were focusing on two other suspects who had also been brought in for questioning and had no one to corroborate their alibis. But this morning Tony had noticed that Simon was making notes on some information about Deanna.
“Hey, what’s the deal?’ He stood looking over Simon’s shoulder at the information on the screen. “I thought we took her out of the possibilities over a week ago?”
Simon Shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just a dog with a bone that I don’t quite want to let go of yet. Never hurts to cover all the bases even when we think we’ve got the case solved, and right now it’s still far from solved.”
“Right, but I thought we agreed that the guy who got cut out of the partnership with Crandell was our leading suspect.”
Simon sighed, stretched his arms over his head and swiveled his seat around to face Tony. “Yeah, he is our number one man right now. I don’t know ….” He paused and glanced back at the site he had up on his screen. “I guess I just can’t seem to get an ‘all clear’ on this.”
“But didn’t you say you had gone out to dinner with Deanna Forbes?”
“Yes, I did that. And I enjoyed myself. But I’ve been having some issues with the fact that I’m dating a woman who, a couple weeks ago, was a suspect in a murder case.” He got up and picked up his coffee cup from the desk. “Either I’m a little crazy, or I haven’t had enough caffeine the past couple of days. I’ll fix that part right now,” he added as he headed for the coffee maker.
“Well, time will tell, I guess,” Tony said, following him to get a cup of coffee as well. “but my money’s on the ex-partner.”
Simon glanced at Tony, but didn’t actually make eye contact. “I hope you’re right,” he said.
“I think I am. And you have to admit that money is a powerful motive. You know yourself that it’s behind a large portion of the crimes we solve.”
Simon nodded. “But the other large portion of those crimes are committed as a result of emotional pressure – anger, jealously, the need to get revenge for some personal wrong.”
Simon had walked over to a window on the far side of the office and stood looking out. Tony moved to perch on the corner of a desk close by. His interest was thoroughly peaked now. He’d known Simon for years, and he knew the attitude – the look he wore – when something in his gut told him there was more to the story than met the eye. “So you have reason to believe that Deanna Forbes was suffering from some kind of deep emotional turmoil concerning Crandell – jealousy maybe? Another woman?”
Simon shook his head. He didn’t turn around and look at Tony because he realized his partner was beginning to take him seriously, and, at this point, Simon didn’t want Tony to return to being suspicious of Deanna. Heaven knew – Simon didn’t want to be suspicious of her himself. He was unusually attracted to her already, and when he attended the watercolor exhibit at her art center later this week, he’d be spending the whole evening with her. So he decided he needed to throw Tony off the scent a little more. He turned and looked at him.
“No, I don’t think Deanna Forbes was jealous. Remember, Peter Crandell was about twenty years older than her, and believe me, she didn’t need to chase after a man twenty years her senior. Deanna Forbes can have just about any man she wants.”
“Whoa there, buddy. Does that include you?”
Simon shrugged. Then he grinned. “She’s been making some inroads that very few other women have managed.”
Tony chuckled and rose from the edge of the desk. “So all this extra investigating is more because you’re nervous about becoming vulnerable to the lady, is that it?”
Simon went back to his own desk and sat down. “I guess that has a lot to do with it,” he said, and was spared the need to continue because Tony’s cell phone rang then, and he answered it.
Both detectives passed the next two days collecting more evidence against Howard Blake, Crandell’s one-time partner in an art and craft import business. Crandell and Blake had gone their separate ways, but no one knew the exact terms of their division. Blake had been heard to say that Crandell had cheated him out of a fair price for his half of the business, and that he intended to get even. No alibi for the time of Crandell’s death made Blake an even stronger suspect, and with evidence of his purchase of a gun in the past year – a gun that matched the caliber of the bullet found in Peter Crandell’s heart – he looked like a killer for sure.
Simon breathed a huge sigh – relief that was almost tangible – and picked up the bill. He nodded. “Yeah, I’d say it’s time to go pick up Mr. Blake.”
When Simon put the cuffs on Blake and read him his rights, Blake looked him right in the eye. “Detective Stone, I know things look bad for me. But you’ve gotta believe me! I didn’t kill Peter! Yes, I was angry, and, yes, I made threats. What man wouldn’t when he’d been cheated by someone who was supposed to be his friend?”
At those words, Simon’s stomach clinched. He’d heard those same words before – and by someone who had thought – at least at one time – that they fit Peter Crandell. He was hearing them a second time – again being used to describe Peter Crandell. Was the man actually guilty of such treachery – and against two different friends – at two different stages of his life? And if he were, was that treachery enough to push either friend into committing murder?
Simon pulled his thoughts back to his job and began ushering Blake out to the waiting police car. “You’ll have your day in court, Mr. Blake,” he said to the prisoner. “Be sure you give your attorney all the facts and all the information he’ll need to plead your case effectively.”
“Don’t worry, Detective. I’ll do that. And I’ll let him know a few other things I know that just might help you sharp detectives find out who the real killer is. There’s another party that had a real motive for murder, and when you finally get all the facts about her, you’ll be singin’ a different tune about me.”
Simon looked at him sharply, and Blake looked right back. His eyes told Simon that he had information Simon would rather not have come to light. Abruptly, Simon turned Blake over to Tony and got behind the steering wheel of the car. His own thoughts were swirling, but he refused to speculate or imagine beyond what the facts told him.
He was worked up and over-stressed. That was all. He never liked arresting anyone because he thought they were a cold-blooded killer. Even after all these years, it still upset him. And it was bad enough feeling this way about a stranger like Blake. He couldn’t afford to start imagining what he’d feel like if he had to do the same thing to a woman he really cared about.
(Part 5 coming Thursday)