A Jump To Conclusions No. 20

The desk sergeant gave me the file and the interview room number, and mentioned that Heath had been moved to a waiting room. I stopped there on my way and took a quick look in through the window in the door. Heath paced impatiently in front of the sofa, and his solicitor spoke at a handset comm. I frowned. If Heath or the solicitor had a working relationship with any of the local tribunes, keeping Heath detained could quickly become uncomfortable for Amber’s superiors, and soon after for Amber herself.

I moved on before they noticed me, and by some measure of good fortune I found my way to the interview room. This one was used for cooperative persons of interest, and I found it almost cozy. A coffee table stood between pairs of leather-upholstered chairs, and the cityscape hanging from the wall gave the room an airier feel than most windowless rooms seventy floors above the ground.

A young woman sat in one of the chairs facing the door. She was, in a word, stunning; shapely from tip of toe to top of head, pale-skinned and finely-featured, with wispy blonde hair that would have gently wafted around her head on the slightest breath of air if it hadn’t been gathered in an understated bun. I confess I was so distracted that I didn’t notice just how nervous she was, drumming her fingers on the arm of her chair and fixing me with a deer-in-the-headlights stare. I glanced down at the file to remind myself of her name: Minerve Caswell. Attempting to salvage some of my professional detachment, I took the chair across from hers and put on a calm, inviting face. “Miss Caswell, yes?” At her nod, I smiled. “I’m Dr. Hill, consultant with the Investigative Arm.” That was a calculated introduction; the idea of a police consultant was likely a novelty to Caswell, and I hoped it would suggest that I meant special treatment rather than the more truthful thought that all of the inspectors were busy. “Inspector-Lieutenant Brighton asked me to speak to you. You say you have information regarding the Abbot McKenzie case?”

“Yes,” she said. Her eyes darted to the door and then to the painting, and although she looked as though she had plenty more to say, she said none of it.

Before the silence could become oppressive, I said, “Were you acquainted with either Mc. McKenzie or Dalton Heath?”

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