Bobby sought to distract me from my pointed questions with his. "So, Lynn, what was your mom's full name?"
I rolled my eyes and said, "Maria Ellen McKay."
"I thought her name was Mimi," Gary commented.
"That was her nick name." I said softly. I sipped more of my coffee and noticed that the men weren't exactly gulping down theirs. I got up from the table restless and went to the counter and pulled the cookie jar over to the center of the table. Grabbing some small plates from the nearby cupboard I pulled open the top of the jar and took out a large chocolate chip cookie and placed it on my plate. They stared at me confused so I casually picked up the chocolate chip cookie I had baked a day ago or so and began to eat it. Nibbling on the cookie in my hand for some reason made the men relax as they joined me in having something to eat. Once they started in on the cookies I put mine on the plate nearly untouched. I really had no taste for anything but needed to find out what they knew before the whole town did.
"What was her maiden name?" Bobby asked.
Gary replied for me, "She was Mimi Scott." Hmmm, I guess he knew my mom a bit more than I had known. No surprise when I thought about her running around the countryside driving fast. She probably had been on first name basis with all the cops ever since she was a teenager.
Bobby didn't say anything but looked somewhere between Gary and me as he asked his next questions, "Age? Date of Birth?"
"Bob, put that away for now. I will fill in that later." Gary sounded very weary as he looked at me.
"I knew your mom back in high school, Lynn. We hadn't talked much lately but she was a good woman." He was sincere then added, "I don't know if it was self inflicted or if some crazy came in and did it, yet. But I will find out." He shook his head slowly and added, "I am sorry but now I need some questions answered."
I looked at him and saw how my mom could have flirted with him in high school. He was still a good looking guy and even in his grief I could tell he meant it he would go to the effort of trying to figure out what happened. I nodded and began answering all his questions.
Time disappeared deeper into the night as Gary asked his questions and I heard some more people arrive to remove my mom's body from the living room. While safe in the kitchen I didn't get up and answer the door or offer any sort of help but just sat at the table and gave as much information as I could to the men. The fire truck left and it dawned on me that I never did actually say anything more to the guys after I had let them inside the house. The speed in which they were able to make my mom's corpse gone and out of my life was nearly disquieting. I had to recount for Gary and Bobby what we had done since we were at the funeral and last seen at the graveside. I had to give my favorite nightgown to them to inspect for some reason not discussed with me. Gary mildly chastised me for changing and cleaning up but said he understood. They also bagged the wash cloth and towels I used. What disconcerted me the most was when Bobby bagged up all the knives in the kitchen. It was then it dawned on me that there had been no sharp objects found near my mom. So either Gary thought I had cleaned up after finding her or that I had possibly killed her. The coffee and little bit of cookie tossed around in my stomach. I was a bit queasy with that idea floating in my head and quite obviously theirs.
I began to grow even quieter as I processed that little fact. Gary asked if there was somewhere I could stay the rest of the night while they looked around the house. I hadn't even thought about not staying. It was my home and it wasn't like there were tons of relatives waiting to take me in and make sure everything was okay. Cinda and Margie arrived answering at least that question in my mind.
Cinda, as usual, entered talking, "Lynn, I was so worried. I swear I just saw Caleb driving and TommyJ in the emergency fire truck. Your mom okay, isn't she?"
I guess I should have not been surprised Cinda knew everyone in town by sight. Margie must have kept some things from Cinda as she said, "Honey, hush now. Lynn's been through a lot already." Her eyes met mine and were filled with unshed tears. She knew my mom was dead. She brushed past Bobby and Gary and wrapped her soft arms around me. Her touch reminded me that I no longer had a mom. I shuddered and bit back my tears. There was no way I was going to cry in front of Bobby much less Cinda. Cradling my head to her stomach she whispered, "It's okay. You can stay the night with us while Gary figures this mess out."
Gary and Bobby creaked out of their chairs and went into the living room. Apparently there were quite a few more people in the house than I had realized while firmly ensconced in the kitchen answering their never ending questions. Since they had removed my mom I sort have figured that the living room was now empty. But then it made some sense that other people would have to look around and investigate. Still it made me feel odd since mom and I rarely entertained. Add in I don't think there had been more than a half dozen people in our house at the same time for as long back as I could remember.
Cinda was soon sent off to fetch some of my things from my bathroom and different rooms on the other side of the living room while Margie sat in the seat Bobby had recently vacated. Cinda had been over enough to know where I kept my clothes and various toiletries. Margie told Cinda to keep her mouth shut and just go get my things when she started to object. I gave Margie a weak smile of thanks for distracting her daughter from me.
"Don't worry about a thing, Lynn. This will all work out okay. We will just take you back to my place for a few days. You can sleep on the pull out couch. Okay?" She radiated calmness and kindness. I was comforted by the offer but knew I wasn't going to be doing much sleeping.
"Thank you, Margie, I do appreciate it." I was still stunned by the turn of events this week had taken. My mom didn't deserve to be slaughtered in her own home. I knew I hadn't killed her so the only other option out there was someone murdered her. Thinking carefully I didn't recall seeing a trail much less dribbles of blood from the kitchen to the living room so it wasn't like she slashed her arms open, cleaned up after herself and then nicely went back and curled in the corner of the living room to die. This whole thing was a nightmare. I stood up and went back into the kitchen and picked up the address book from the junk drawer to bring with me. Carefully I set it in front of me as I sat back down at the table. I didn't have many family members alive but there would be some calls I needed to make. The complexity of everything threatened to overwhelm me. Margie got up and started washing up automatically the cups and plates left by the men and me. I sat like a lump and let her do it since I didn't think I could handle doing anything as normal as cleaning dishes.
Cinda came back with a strange look on her face. She had my overnight bag packed and was looking at me with her huge mismatched puppy dog eyes. She set the bag on the floor in front of me and I slowly put the address book on top. I glanced up and noticed that her green eye glowed more than usual which I found mildly weird.
"I am sorry, Lynn, about your mom." Cinda's voice quivered with unshed tears.
Margie snapped, "I told you that you weren't allowed to stop and talk with anyone!" Margie never snapped at Cinda so I was stunned.
"Momma, I didn't stop at all. This lady followed me. I didn't even know her!" Cinda was way upset since she called Margie 'momma' which I hadn't heard out of her in a good ten or fifteen years. I was amazed that Cinda didn't know someone. A gleam came to Margie's eye as she asked, "What did this lady look like? And what did you tell her?"
A brisk step from the hallway and in walked a tall, lean, dark haired lady in charcoal colored business suit saying, "She looked like me. And all she told me was that Lynn answered the phone and had her call in the report about her mom being injured."
Margie blushed in embarrassment at being caught openly gossiping with her daughter. I knew where Cinda got her fact finding traits and wasn't shocked by that but rather amazed Margie could still blush given all she had heard over the years. The lady who had followed Cinda was finely featured with a strong jaw line accentuated by the bob haircut she sported. She brushed back a stray lock with a slender hand behind her ear and had a bemused look upon her face. It was like we all were somehow humorous to her and she was that much smarter than we would ever be. She immediately set my teeth on edge.
"Pardon my manners, I am Margie Carmichael. This is my daughter, Cinda, whom it seems you have already met." A bit of a bite to her introduction but that was understandable, Margie didn't much care for strangers she knew nothing about ahead of time. She extended her hand to the lady and winced slightly at some power play the two women had with their civil handshake greeting. I stayed seated and waited for the well dressed lady to give her name. We didn't see many women in suits around town much less in our homes. Most people wore dresses or skirts and sweaters. Instead of making her look like a man she wore the outfit well and was more than a bit intimidating. The next words out of her mouth clarified that impression.
"I am Special Agent Erika Thomason." She spoke in strong tones and reached into her jacket pocket removing a thin black leather wallet. She quickly flipped open it showing us something that looked like credentials. Margie leaned towards her to take get a better look at the ID but the agent had already closed it and put it back in her pocket. Before we could comment on the action an equally well dressed man appeared in the doorway behind her saying, "Erika, I will take it over from here."
Cinda giggled nervously while looking at the man behind them. I glanced at the man. He was not too tall, had light brown hair and very dark eyes. Immediately I thought that he looked like another insomniac with his deeply ringed eyes. The blue black shadows underneath his eyes stood out more as his skin was winter white already. Usually we didn't get that pale around here until the middle of February. He paced into the room and Erika stepped smartly aside leaving room for his presence. There was no other way to put it. That man had a serious demeanor and commanded instant notice. Even in my semi-stunned state I could feel this man's charisma.
"Hello, you are who?" Cinda was very flirtatious. I found that strange given she usually sniped at men from behind their backs. Usually to me at that, I sat back just a bit and watched the byplay.
The man smiled. His teeth were white and very nicely shaped. I found myself staring at them and shook my head to clear the strange thoughts running through my sleep addled mind. He met my eyes and nodded slightly, "You would be Gwendolyn?"
Wow, he got my real name. He must have spoken to Bobby and seen the notes he had been taking about me. His voice was firm and very calming. I shuddered briefly and Cinda chimed up with, "She's Lynn. I am Cinda. This is my mom, Margie."
Margie was simpering by her daughter's side. The other lady in the room, Erika, was glaring at them like they had grown spare heads. He caught her eye and stared at her until she adopted a less agitated and angry demeanor. I found that odd given he was not doing anything to make the Carmichaels act so foolish. They were just responding to his newness. I don't recall hearing from Cinda about any new government types moving into town and that would have been something discussed. So I figured if he stayed around town for more than a day Margie would discover some flaw that made him less than ideal. She was nearly as brutal as her daughter in her remarks. Mostly she kept them to herself but Cinda had no such sort of restraint. Pretty much ever stray thought that flew into Cinda's head went out her mouth in no more than a heartbeat.
I had no compulsion to fawn over him but I certainly was curious about these two. They did not fit the small town life and from both Cinda and her mom's reaction they definitely were not from around here. If Margie knew about either of them she hadn't told Cinda yet and from her attitude I didn't think she had met either before. The lady didn't even merit a comment in either of the Carmichael's world. She was the type that would never drop into the local beauty shop but rather go into the 'real' city and be 'styled.' I figured Special Agent Erika's ID meant they were both from Washington D.C. more than likely or Chicago. But looking at how sharply dressed they were I would place money on the East Coast rather than the Midwest. The man stood regarding me for some reason with a puzzled look on his face and it slowly dawned on me that he was probably curious if I had killed my mom like the police had been. He shook his head slightly and said, "I am sorry for your loss, Gwendolyn. My name is Harry Adkison."