Perched on the edge of a standard-issue waiting room chair, Kelly clenched the strap of her purse between her fingers, crossed her legs, and jiggled her foot. She didn’t want to be here. The whole law enforcement aura brought back all the trauma of her father’s death. But calling in the new information wouldn’t have the same impact. She wanted the police to know she took this seriously --- and that she intended to make sure they did too. The door to the inner offices opened, and a mid-thirtyish dark-haired man in beige slacks, a sport coat with a subtle herringbone pattern, and a white shirt stepped through.
“Yes.” She rose, crossed the room, and took the hand he extended. At five-seven, she considered herself on the tall side. But she had to look up several inches to meet the man’s intense cobalt eyes --- their hue an exact match for his tie. She felt like she was drowning in blue.
“Detective Cole Taylor. Please come in.” He ushered her through the door. “First room on your right.”
Kelly eased past him, focusing on the neutral beige carpet. Better.
He followed her in silence. At the door he’d indicated, she took a quick inventory of the conference room. A large table surrounded by comfortable chairs took up most of the floor space. She claimed the nearest seat.
The detective closed the door and sat at a right angle to her.
“I understand you have some new evidence to present regarding the death of your father.”
“Yes.” She fiddled with the catch on her purse. “I’d rather give it to Detective Carlson, since he handled the case, but I didn’t want to wait two weeks.”
“I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.” The man opened his notebook and picked up his pen. “I’m not familiar with the particulars of the case, but why don’t you tell me what you have and we’ll go from there?”
His tone was polite, his words professional. But there was a touch of reserve in his manner. As if he didn’t appreciate her questioning the conclusions of his fellow detective. Or maybe he had a lot on his plate and didn’t like wasting his time with evidence he assumed would be inconsequential to a thoroughly investigated closed case.
Her fingers tightened on her purse, and she lifted her chin.
“Before I show you what I have, you need to know I’ve never believed my father committed suicide.”
He studied her. “My supervisor mentioned that.”
“You also need to know I’m not going to give up. Suicide went against everything my dad believed. Somebody killed him.”
The words left a bitter taste on her tongue, and pressure suddenly built in her throat. Dismayed by her lack of control, she dipped her head and fumbled with the clasp on her purse.
“Would you mind . . . could I have some water?”
“Sure. I’ll be back in a minute.”
The detective scooted his chair back and stood. A moment later, he disappeared from her peripheral vision. She heard the door shut behind her.
Kelly groped through her purse for a tissue. Blew her nose. Dabbed at her eyes. Until the past five months, she’d never been a crier. Now, tears welled up whenever she thought about the aching void her father’s death had left in her life.
But tears weren’t going to help her convince the police the note she’d received was anything more than an odd twist of fate. She needed to be strong, assertive, and in control if she wanted them to take her seriously instead of treating her like an emotional grieving daughter who was grasping at straws.
With one more swipe at her cheeks, Kelly tucked the tissue back in her purse. Sat up straighter. Said a silent prayer for strength.
And prepared to do battle.