“So you see,” said Linda, “it doesn’t make sense. What was in the safe deposit box?” She sat back against the couch. “Why did he go there?” She looked at both Peter and Holly expectantly. The two sat across from her and had been listening to her explanation for the past ten minutes.
Peter shrugged. “We honestly don’t know.”
Everyone glanced over at Clint who was leaning against the wall but now suddenly looked self-conscious as if the noise had bene involuntary.
“Sorry,” he said.
“What is it?” asked Peter.
“Nothing. It’s just the landlord had mentioned that Lionel came back here that night but only stayed for a few minutes. And now we know he went to the bank. So it makes sense. He came back for the safe deposit key which is why I couldn’t find it for Linda.”
“But the police didn’t find it on him,” said Linda. “They gave me back his possessions and the key wasn’t with them.”
“That does open up some questions.” Clint took a seat. “I have to admit, you two are almost starting to convince me.”
“Ms. Atwood,” said Holly, speaking at last, “you knew Lionel better than any of us. What do you think is likely?”
Linda shook her head. “I hadn’t been married to him for nearly five years.”
“But when you were married to him, could he have…” Holly hesitated, remembering how well the question of blackmail had been received at their last meeting. But Linda finished the sentence for her.
“Could he have blackmailed someone? That’s what you wanted to know when you showed up in Arizona.”
“That’s just one idea,” said Peter. “We know he argued with someone about money, we know he approached Holly in an unusual way. And we know he visited his safe deposit box on the night he died and we don’t know what he did with the contents. There are probably lots of explanations. If we could dismiss some of them, we’ll be closer to the truth.”
“Perhaps,” said Holly, running her hand across her hair, “you could tell us what you expected to find in the deposit box?”
Linda dropped her gaze to her hands and absently ran a thumb over her left ring finger as if she had an old habit that had still not completely died out of playing with her wedding ring. “I wasn’t sure,” she admitted. “Lionel never told me what was inside. He opened it when we were still married but towards the end. We were arguing all the time. I think I asked him what it was for once but we just started yelling and one argument led to another and he never did tell me. He didn’t put my name on the box or give me a key until after the divorce. Our daughter was in the hospital. There’d been a problem with money and I’d called him up in a panic. He flew out immediately and got it all sorted out and then gave me the key. He said that if anything ever happened and I needed money that it would help. I admit…” She glanced up at the three of them uncertainly. “I thought there would be money inside. Probably a lot of it.”
“Why?” asked Clint. “Why did you think Lionel had a lot?”
“I don’t know.” She looked away.
“You can trust us,” said Holly. “Whatever it is. We just want…the truth.”
Linda looked back at her. “I suppose you do. Look all I know is near the end of our marriage he suddenly had a lot of money. He bought expensive things and took us out to expensive places. He thought that would magically fix everything but it didn’t. I wanted to know where he got it from and he wouldn’t tell me, then the arguments would all start over again. When two people are that unhappy, anything will lead you back to retread the same tried old fights. I assumed wherever however he got it, there was something wrong with it though. When he gave me the safe deposit key I assumed some of the money was in there. In fact it was because I thought I knew he still had some of that money that I was so angry that he wasn’t paying the child support. But I went to the box and it was empty, so now I really don’t know what could have been in it.”
“It could have been money,” pointed out Clint. “He decided to pay you the support. He went to get the money, got mugged on the way home and they took it. It actually makes perfect sense.”
“But why wasn’t the key on him then?” asked Peter.
“I don’t know. They’re small keys. Maybe it fell out of his pocket when he got mugged. It could have gotten kicked, fallen in a crack, there are a million ways it could have been lost.”
“Then what did he argue about with Malcolm Grant?” asked Holly.
“Who knows? What don’t you ask Grant? You want an explanation for his death and there is a very logical one. You don’t need an answer to how he spent every second of his final days in order to accept that explanation.”
“But what about this apartment?” said Linda.
Clint turned to her. “So you agree with them? You really think Lionel was- what? Killed?”
“I only know that this apartment doesn’t look like Lionel.”
“Why would somebody break-in and clean? Not exactly how criminals generally behave. Maybe he got a girlfriend? Maybe he decided to clean randomly? I don’t know. But I do know that the three of you are borrowing trouble.”
“But it’s important,” argued Holly.
“I for one, would like to be able to tell my children, why their father died,” said Linda.
Clint raised both hands in defeat. “I can’t argue with that one. But what if it was just a mugging?”
“Then there should be simple explanations for everything,” said Peter. “Including the meeting with Grant.”
“And how do you propose finding out this information? Ask Grant?”
“Let’s hold off on that just in case it wasn’t a mugging.”
“What about his email?” asked Linda. The other three looked at her. “His laptop is in the bedroom. There could be information on there.”
“I’ll go get it,” said Holly. She went, grabbed it off the desk and hurried back to the living room. She opened the lid and powered it up. “No go. It’s password protected.”
“Oh,” said Linda, coming over to stand behind her. “Try JENHen92. He always used to use that.”
“I’m in,” announced Holly. “Now I’ll just open the email-…the inbox is empty.”
Clint and Peter also came to look over her shoulder.
“Here,” said Clint, reaching over for the mouse pad. “Let me take a look at that.” He picked up the laptop and flicked through several folders. “It’s all empty. There’s nothing under documents or pictures…there’s no programs installed other than what the computer would have come with…”
“Maybe he didn’t use the computer that much?” suggested Peter.
“He’s a photographer. He used his computer. No. This hard drive has been reformatted. Someone purposefully whipped everything he kept on here.”
AN: CHRISTMAS BREAK TIME! Sorry, I’m very excited. I love Christmas! Also I love writing but I’m certainly looking forward to a two week break! Between my freelance work and Holly(Woods) I get a lot of writing done, and I’m looking forward to not having to look at Microsoft Word again until 2015!
Anyways, Holly(Woods) is officially on vacation until January 6th 2015! I was hoping to go off on break slightly further in the story, so we’d have gotten to a few answers as to the whole Lionel thing, but it just didn’t work out that way. Oh well! Thank you so much everyone for reading (and commenting) and I hope you will return on the 6th! Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!