“....there is nothing in the footage? When will the forensic report come out?”
The voice reaches my ear when I start coming aware of my surrounding in my half-sleeping and half-awake state. Why is he talking in the room? I let out a small whine and pull the cover over my head. I release a sigh of comfort when the sound of footsteps gets further away but soon it stops before going back to its original place.
“Yeah....yeah, I know.....they will announce it in 4 days. The media will find out soon so will try to hide it as long as possible...I already know it will be in news by tomorrow even though they are trying to hide it.”
By the time I hear the sound of curtains being drawn, I realize I am fully awake. I lay there for a few seconds while trying to find my lost sleep. “When are you coming back?... Okay, I will send the driver....No.” I pull down the cover and look at Ryou’s back while still lying down. I let out a yawn and stretch my hands before pulling myself up and leaning against the headboard. He looks away from the window and pauses when our eyes meet.
He turns back to the window. “...I am busy. I will call you later.” I glance at the neatly folded blanket on the sofa before looking back at him, who has also turned to observe me. Before he could say anything, I start speaking, “You woke me. Don’t talk near me when I am sleeping...And thanks for letting me sleep here but still don’t talk near me when I am asleep. I am just telling you.”
There is silence for a few seconds.
“Was that your girlfriend?” I ask while pointing at the phone with my chin. He looks at the phone in his hand before putting it on the desk. “Of course not. I don’t have a girlfriend. I never had a girlfriend.”
I can even hear him saying ‘why would I let you sleep in my room if I had a girlfriend’ without him actually opening his mouth. His expression says it all. “Then a crush?”
“Why are we talking about my crush all of a sudden?” I don’t say anything and wait for his answer, I know he will answer. I just know from his tone and just like I expected, he glances at my expecting face before opening his mouth, “I am not sure if it can be considered a crush but there was one. That’s all I am going to say...Then are you going talk about what happened yesterday or not?”
“...No” I get down from the bed and start setting the cover and he walks out of the room after a minute to do who knows what.
After the usual routine, I notice something strange as soon as I step into the university. Why do I feel like everyone keeps glancing at me? I look back at the group of students who are still openly pointing at me. I try to look straight and avoid all the stares as much as possible but it is almost impossible to do so when everyone is doing the same. I do have an idea why this might be happening.
“Liana, is it just me or everyone is staring at me? Is it because of what happened yesterday?”
She looks at me shocked, “How did you know? Did someone tell you?”
How could I not know when it is obvious? “I guessed?”
“Why did he come to call you? I only heard from other students and many were asking about you from me. Was it something serious?”
“I can’t say. You will know soon, that’s all I can say for now.” If what I heard this morning from Ryou was right. They will announce it in a few days as far as I know. “When will your exam start? It is 10:30 already.” I quickly divert her attention.
“It will start at 11:30. I still have 30 minutes. Are you going to the library? If you are going then I am coming with you.”
I throw my bag on the sofa and fall on the bed before closing my eyes. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to change my clothes. Should I just go to sleep like this? After staring at the ceiling, I sit up with some difficulty. Nah, I will wash up and quickly go to sleep. I wasn’t able to get enough sleep last night.
As I get up to walk into the washroom, my sight falls on the blue folder on the study table. What is this? Why is this here? Did I even have a blue folder? Or did I put it there myself and forgot it? My memory is bad but I don’t think it is that bad. I grab the folder and flip open it but stop at the second page.
Oh, its Safan’s post mortem report. Ryou must have left it on my table. Did he want me to have a look? I casually flip through the pages before stopping at the cause of death. I can't understand all these complicated words, I will just take a look at the cause and time of death. Arsenic poisoning. He was poisoned? He died at 10:45 but exactly when he was poisoned? I start reading every work carefully and it is then I spot the sentence.
A day ago? He was poisoned a day before he died? And there were previous traces of arsenic poisoning? Someone has been poisoning him for a while but no one noticed? Just how? I close the file and let it fall on the table. I rub my forehead and walk back to the washroom to freshen up.
As soon as I step out of the washroom, the notification from the phone draws my attention. I reach for my phone and swipe the lock screen.
Ryouhei: Meet me at the below address in an hour.
I stare at the address puzzlingly. How could I know this address when I came to this place recently? Does he want me to ask Finlay to take me? Before I could type the question, another message popped up.
Don’t bring anyone. It is related to the case.
Wow, he knew exactly what I was thinking. Is that good at reading me? It looks like I have to be careful around him now. After putting the phone aside, I change into wide jeans and a white shirt with a black blazer over it with my shoes. Since I can’t ask Finlay to help me find the address, I have no choice but to hail a taxi and find the way myself. I am sure GPS would help me get nearby but I have a feeling that is not the exact location so I might have to walk some more.
But why didn’t Ryou come back if he wanted to come with him? Or is he busy with something that he can’t come to pick me up? I wonder what did he find? And like I expected, I have to for 15 minutes before I reached the exact location after getting out of the taxi. I slow down my steps when I notice a large amount of crowd around the building I should enter.
I come to a stop. Am I at the right place? Why is there such a large crowd around the entrance? Did I get the address, right? I take out my phone and look at the address once again. No, I am at the right place. But looking at the situation, it is almost impossible to get in. The entrance is crowded with reporters and masses. It looks like some are protesting. Why did even Ryou call me here?
After some hesitation, I swipe through the call list and click on Ryou’s number. The phone rings thrice before it is cut off. I lower my hand and look at the phone blankly. Is he busy again? Now.....what to do? Should I wait for some time before going back?
“Did you just get here?”
I turn around on hearing the voice I have been waiting to hear. As soon as I turn around, scan his face which is covered by a black mask and a black cap. “Are you covering yourself because of the reporters?” The question slips my tongue before I could even think.
“No, I always come out like this. I don’t want to see myself on the front page of the newspaper every time I step in the public. I know I am eye-catching.” I really want to ask how can he be so arrogant? But it’s also a fact I can’t deny so I keep my mouth shut. “Why did you call me?”
“Did you read the report I left on your desk?”
“The arsenic he digested the day before he died came from this seafood company.” He points at the building which is currently hoarded by the reporters, “He liked eating seafood and he was a VIP. Kang and the investigation team are inside. In last week, two more people died after eating seafood from the same company. That’s why they are protesting.”
“Oh.” I thought it was because news about Safan was leaked out.
“Charges were pressed and now the company is being temporarily closed.”
“Then...Safan’s death was an accident?” I ask with some uncertainty.
“I think so. The investigation team is taking care of it and the mystery of where the poison came from is solved so the case is closed and there is nothing for us to do. I just came because Kang called me and I thought you would like to know.” He thought right, I did want to see what will happen in the case but the turn of events is not what I expected.
“Do you want to go in and take a look or go back?”
“We should go back since there is nothing for us to do anyway.” There is no point in staying here now and...there is something that is bugging me that I want to check. “Actually, I don’t want to go back, I want to go to Safan’s house. There is something I want to check.”
RYOUHEI DE VAL FRANSICH’S POV
I wait on the side as Nadya rings the bell. The door is opened two minutes later and the head butler automatically lets us in once he looks my way. He gives me a bow and I walk past him with a nod. Nadya glances at the head butler’s action with some bewilderment, still not used to the greeting.
“Madam is in the bedroom. I will call her, please wait in the hall.” Once he leaves, I start walking towards the living room. But I stop when I don’t hear another set of footsteps. I look back to find Nadya still at her original place. She looks at me hesitantly and points at the direction head butler went to, “Shouldn’t we wait here? He asked us to wait in the living room.”
I raise my eyebrows and give her a small smile before turning around and continuing on my way. Not even a minute later, I hear another set of footsteps following me. I try to keep my face neutral and slow down my pace for her to catch up.
Pushing open the door, I duck under the no-entry tape and look around the crime scene. Except for the body which is marked by white, everything is at its original place. “We are here. What do you want to do?” I turn around to face Nadya.
Why did she bring us here? Is it related to what happened that day and what she is not telling me? I try to judge her expression but her face is expressionless, not giving anything away.
“You have the photos from the crime scene in your phone, right? Can you show it to me? I want to check something.” She asks without looking away from the white line on the floor.
As I am taking out my phone, the door is suddenly opened and we both look at it at the same time. “Your Grace.” Safan’s wife bows as soon as she opens the door before straightening up and looking at Nadya, “I heard you were here. Do you need anything from me?”
“No, we just wanted to take a look at the crime scene, don’t mind us. We will leave soon.” I dismiss her and focus back on finding the photos from the crime scene. “Sorry to disturb you, we are just taking a look. I hope we are not disturbing you, we will leave if you-”
“No, no. It’s alright. I don’t mind. I will leave you two alone, you can call me you need anything. Ada has already informed me that Your Grace and her duo will take part in the investigation. I will leave then.” There is a soft thud followed by footsteps fading away.
“Here, these are the photos.” She takes the phone from my outstretched hand and starts swiping through all the photos. I put my hands in the pocket and wait for her to finish. At some point, her hand stops and double taps the screen. She looks at the screen for a while before looking up at something with a jerk. I follow her gaze to find her looking at the lamp and table beside the armchair.
What is she looking at?
I turn back and watch her as she looks between the table and phone, back and forth a few times. Not even a second later a smirk forms on the corner of her lips before she turns her gaze back to me. “Ryou, did Safan use reading glasses?”
“Yeah, he did. How did you know?” I don’t think I have told her about his glasses.
“Look at this photo.” She passes the phone back to me, “The lamp light is on and Safan’s reading glasses are on the table.” I zoom at the table and on the lamp. The reading glasses in on the corner of the table with a turned-over glass that still had some water after being spilled on the floor. “Yeah, what is wrong with it?” There is nothing wrong with such a scene since he was reading before he died and the head butler saw him as well.
She walks towards the armchair and looks down at the outline of the body on the floor. “When his body was found, the lamp was on and the reading glasses were on the table. What does this mean?”
“He was reading before he died. That has already been confirmed.”
“Yes, he was reading,” She glances at me before walking around the armchair and draping her arm on the seat and half-leaning on it. “But...what was he reading when there was nothing on the crime scene?”