The Deadly Dressmaker

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Chapter Twelve

There was something about the Ravenshade case that bothered Pepper that she couldn’t put her finger on until just now. The princess had been murdered by an enchanted golden spindle. Everyone assumed the spindle belonged to the Dark Fairy but everyone also knew that Fae couldn’t touch metal much less enchant it without coming to harm. Yet when she was arrested there was no mention of Ravenshade having any injuries. Pepper had to get a look at that spindle but it was locked up at the Constabulary. The assistant decided there was a way she could be more useful to her new employer though she needed to take care not to get caught.

Pepper sauntered through the doors of the station where Peter Piper, her father’s corpulent desk sergeant was engrossed in paperwork. She perched on the edge of the desk and leaned toward him, allowing her skirt to rise just above the knee.

“Oh Peter, is there any other man who works as hard as you do?” She sighed.

Peter did a double-take, his eyes bulging as they traveled up his crush’s form before lingering again on her exposed knee.

“P-Pepper, you shouldn’t be out so late. It isn’t safe.”

“I was just on my way home from work and thought to say hello to Papa.”

“Oh, well the Detective Chief Inspector is in conference with the Mayor at the moment, talking security for Prince Logan’s arrival.”

“Oh.” Pepper bit her lip. “I don’t suppose you can keep me company in his office while I wait?”

Peter glanced at Pepper’s lips before licking his own. “I’d love to Pepper but I’m on duty here.”

“Papa’s working you pretty hard, isn’t he?”

Peter nodded. “He is, but he says I’m on track to a promotion so I don’t mind.”

“Oh Peter, that’s wonderful!” Pepper clapped. “I hope to get a promotion myself someday.”

“The Inspector said you’re working for the Fairy Godmother now. How’s that going?”

Her father was talking about her at work? Pepper was surprised.

“It’s just riveting! The Fairy Godmother is so captivated by the Ravenshade case.”

Peter shook his head. “I still can’t believe she took that case. Everyone knows the Dark Fairy is going to die as soon as Prince Logan arrives from Silvermire. She can’t get away with killing the princess.”

“And with a spindle! Ravenshade said that was how the princess would die and she did.”

“Well, if you can call it a spindle…”

Pepper blinked. “What?”

Peter looked around to make sure they were still alone before leaning forward.

“See, it looks like a spindle but it’s not like any spindle I’ve ever seen.”

Pepper giggled. “But how many spindles have you seen, Peter? They’ve been banished from the kingdom for the last 16 years and a big, strong man like yourself would have no cause to use one.”

“My grandmother still used hers at night with the curtains drawn so she wouldn’t be caught.” Peter blushed. “This spindle is strange, it’s made from neither metal nor wood! I mean, it looks like it’s gold but then it doesn’t. It looks almost- well, almost like it was weaved itself.”

“Peter, that isn’t possible. It’s the spindle that does the weaving, it can’t be weaved itself.”

“I know it doesn’t sound right but-”

“Can I see it?”

Peter started. “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think your father would approve.”

“He wouldn’t have to know if we were quick about it.” Pepper leaned in closer, the way Tracker had done, and purred, “And I promise not to touch anything you don’t want me to touch.”

Peter flushed and visibly shivered. Then swallowed before gesturing for her to come back with him. As they hurried toward the evidence room in the back of the station, Pepper pushed aside her shame at using Peter like this and was thankful Romulus would never know what she’d just done. Never mind how her mother would beat her black and blue if she saw how brazen she was being. It was all for the good of the case, she told herself.

Inside were rows and rows of items both usual and unusual. Encased in glass on an island in the center of the room glowed a rose gold spindle.

“Oooh,” Pepper gasped as they approached, “it’s so beautiful!”

She knew better than to try to touch the item and contaminate the evidence with her fingerprints so she peered as closely as she could despite the light. It was as Peter said, the object was in the shape of a spindle but looked to be weaved from golden fibers that were soaked in blood so that it looked rose gold in color. The thought made Pepper’s stomach turn over and she shivered.

“I don’t understand. How could something woven be sharp enough to kill someone?” Pepper asked.

“See how the weave is so tight and stiff? I heard a detective say it made the fibers strong enough to pierce the skin and yet soft enough to absorb the victim’s blood, perhaps after the enchantment wore off.”

“Unless the blood was to appease the spell, as evidence to the caster that the deed was done. It seems like something a Dark Fairy would do.”

“That’s the really strange bit. The magical signature is foreign, unknown to the Forensic Wizard.”

“You mean it doesn’t belong to Ravenshade?” Pepper frowned.

“Nicodemus doesn’t think so. He’s seen her work before and this isn’t it. The Inspector’s started opening other avenues in the investigation.”

“So Papa doesn’t believe Ravenshade is the killer.”

“That is not your concern, daughter!”

Pepper and Peter spun around to find Chief Inspector Duncan Shroudcliffe glowering at them from the doorway.

“Papa, you’re back. How was the meeting?”

“That is also none of your concern. What I would like to know is why Sargent Piper abandoned his post to place my daughter in danger!”

Peter seemed to shrink beneath the Inspector’s gaze but Pepper persisted. “Surely Papa with the enchantment lifted the spindle has completed its task. And if not, I am no princess.”

“There are times when it seems you are not even a lady.”

Pepper chuckled. “Of course I’m not, Papa. We aren’t gentry.”

Shroudcliffe clamped his eyes shut and squeezed the bridge of his nose between his fingers.

“Sergeant, please escort my daughter home. I will deal with you later.”

“Yes sir!” Peter snapped to attention before taking Pepper’s hand and pulling her out of the room.

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