“What?” I speak in a stentorian tone while standing up. I immediately start walking out of the room but pause at the doorway on remembering that Liana and Fajah are still here. I throw my gaze at them to find them staring at us in confusion. “Uhm...Ryou, they are here for the monthly report and the bonus, can you deal with that first?” I turn to Ryou and point over my shoulder, at them, with my thumb.
“Leave them on the table. I will check those later. And you can receive your bonus after I receive confirmation from the administrative department, it will take one week like always.” He says hurriedly before walking off the room after motioning to follow him. I turn back to Liana and Fajah, and ignore their dumbfounded and continue speaking, “I am sorry, I have to go. Can we talk later?”
“...Ah, sure.” Liana answers while still trying to understand what is going on.
“Thanks. I will see you later then and close the door when you go out.” I wave at them and turn around to follow after Ryou. Knowing that he would be back in his room, I directly make my way to his room and push open the door without knocking.
“Who was it? Who did the fingerprint match with?” I ask while coming to stop beside him as he searches through the piles of files on employees working at Safan’s mansion. After searching for a minute, he pulls out a yellow transparent file and flips it open.
“Luella, that’s her name. Her fingerprints matched with the one on the book and she is part of the cleaning staff. According to data, she looks after rooms on the west side which included the living room in which Safan died.”
“Now that it is confirmed that Luella was involved." I pinch my chin with my thumb and index finger, "But...let’s imagine Luella is the one who killed Safan then how is this company involved in all this? Because the report of finding arsenic in the food is true and two people did die after eating their food. Then did Safan die because of an accident or he was murdered and Luella found him by accident but didn’t inform anyone?”
Nothing can be said, for now, there can be multiple possible scenarios. The only thing that we can be sure of is that Luella did enter the room after Safan died but I can’t make the connection how she is related to everything.
If she really murdered him then why did she do it? They didn’t even know each other. What could be the motive? Money? I don’t think so. What could it be?
“She started working on 6 January this year and she resided with Kiara. She is an orphan and she moved out and started working as soon as she turned 18. There is nothing on her relative section other than the name of the orphanage.” Ryou pushes up his reading glasses and turns to the next page. He reads her file for five more minutes before putting it down with a shake of the head, “It will be hard to dig information about her, I suspect most of them are fake...And I just remembered Kaira did say that Luella went out on the day Safan died for around half an hour and it was around the time Safan died.”
"But if she did go there, what did she do? And for 30 minutes?" I think for some time but give up soon. All these questions could only be answered by Luella so there is no point in mulling over it, “Forget it, should we contact the orphanage and inquire about her? At least the orphanage should be true, right? It would be too much if that is fake as well.”
“No, that’s not fake. We can begin from there and see where it leads us.” He pushes the folder towards me before leaning against the desk with a thoughtful look.
“And about the arsenic found in that company's food? What was that company's name? I can't remember, anyway it would be best to find more about that as well...Actually let me investigate them, you can take Luella’s investigation. You are busy with work in the palace so...”
“Go ahead, I will take Luella’s case. Call me if you need help.”
The sun glares down at us despite being inside the car while the leaves shimmer under the hot breeze. I shift on my seat in the back seat so the rays could not fall on my face. After lying there for a few minutes which felt like an hour, I reach in my bag to only remember I forgot my water bottle. I rub my face to stop the urge to curse out loud. It is my own mistake after all that I forget to bring the bottle in hurry.
“Elodie, is the ac on or not?”
“It is on and on full.” Then why am I feeling like I am being fried in a pan?
Slowly, I turn my gaze away from Elodie who is driving the car towards Liana. How can she be immune to heat waves that are basically radiating from the car roof? Even Elodie is sweating but there is not a single drop of sweat on her face. Liana is busy happily humming a tune in the passenger seat while enjoying the view. Am I being too sensitive or what?
Once we reach our destination, as soon as I am out of the car, I squint my eyes and place my hands above my eyes. The rays are too strong. I shouldn’t have agreed to come. Wouldn’t it be better to stay at home and sleep all day? But soon I let out a sigh on remembering how Finlay and Ryou forced me to go since I basically sleep all day on my holidays. It is basically because of them that I had to accompany Liana and Elodie to the shop.
It’s a relief that I chose to wear a loose-fitting sundress. I close the door behind me and step on the pavement as my heels click against the road. I keep quiet all-time as Liana and Elodie busy themselves with shopping. I am here to accompany them nothing else, I have brought a new dress a few weeks ago and I am not planning to buy anything for a month.
“Nadya, Nadya, here.” I look down at the dresses Liana has put in my hand. I blink, why is she giving me these?
“Uh, I am not planning to buy anything.”
“You don’t need to buy, I just want to see how you look in all these. Can you try on all the dresses for me?... Please, please just once.” I give Liana a helpless glance. I really don’t want to try so many dresses. “Only for today, I will not ask you to do this again .”
“Only for today, okay?”
She makes an okay gesture with her hand and pushes me towards the trial rooms. I glance behind once before opening the door of the trial room. After changing into, a black sheath dress, I straighten myself while looking in the mirror and open the door.
“So...how do I look?”
Elodie looks up and down and Liana immediately turns her eye towards my waist, “Nadya, you have a slim hourglass figure, why don’t you wear more fitting clothes? It would be more fitting for your figure.”
“Nah, I prefer comfortable clothes over tight-fitting clothes. It is just not my type. But I will wear them when I get into the mood, maybe for parties or some occasion. I will see. Have you both decided what you want to buy? I haven’t seen you trying anything. Why am I the one trying dresses when it should both of you?” I feel my waist and keep talking while looking at them.
We all turn towards the source of the voice which came behind me. I look at the tall girl with brown hair who is nearing us. I don’t know her but just from her matching features with Elodie, I can guess who she is. Since she is too young to be her mother, it should be her elder sister. I have heard once about her. Elodie doesn’t talk about her family much so I don’t know anything else.
I look at Elodie to find her fighting hard to keep displeasure off her face. “What are you doing here?” Elodie asks in an annoyed tone.
“I have to attend a wedding so I wanted to buy a dress.” Her sister completely ignores her obvious show of annoyance and continues, “What about you? Are these your friends? I didn’t know you had friends... I am sorry I didn’t mean in that way.”
“I don’t care. Keep doing your shopping and let me shop in peace as well. Bye.” She turns away from her sister, ignoring that she is standing right beside her. When she doesn't say anything for a minute, her sister looks over at Liana and me, “Hello, I am Elodie’s elder sister, Jeanne. Nice to meet both of you and sorry for disturbing you, continue your shopping, girls. I will be leaving.”
Liana and I say hello as Jeanne looks back at Elodie once again before walking away. Luckily, the rest of the shopping time passed without any event. We part our ways at the entrance, Elodie and Liana, and go back home while I hail a taxi to visit the family from the first case which was filed against the company. Talking with them might help me gain insight more into the poisoning case.
The first case was filed after a man in his 30s died of arsenic poisoning and now only his brother and his wife are left behind since his mother passed away two months ago. I exit the lift and look around for apartment no. 48. The guard said it is on the 5th floor. It should be around this side, right?
I spot the apartment in the corner of the hallway and press the intercom. Soon a woman with black hair opens the door, she looks at me with a question, “Do you need anything?”
“I am from EXH, recently there was a case with arsenic poisoning and we are seeking old cases related to this to make a report. I wanted to ask about Berat. I have studied his case and wanted to cover it, can we talk about this in more detail. You are his family, right?”
“No, I am not interested. I don’t know him. Go away.” She answers in an uninterested tone and moves to shut the door on my face. I quickly grab and handle and blurt out, “I will pay you.”
She stops midway and instead pushes open the door. She offers me an astute smile which I return with my fake smile, “Please come in.” I observe her clothes from head to toe before putting my foot inside her apartment. “May I ask how are you related to Berat?”
“I am his sister-in-law. My husband is out of the station for a business meeting so I will answer all your questions. Come in, come in, do you want something? Tea, coffee, cold drink, anything?”
“I will have tea, thank you,” I say while entering the main hall. I stop and look around the room. Despite how small the apartment is, everything looks expensive and new. I make sure to stop my gaze at every piece of furniture while casually gazing around the room.
“I like your apartment. How much did you get the furniture at? I am also looking to buy furniture for my new apartment. If you could recommend me a shop, it would be of great help.” I say while shooting her a smile and sitting on the couch.
“I can tell you, though I don’t think you can afford them, they are expensive despite what might think from looking at this apartment, my husband earns a lot.”
“Oh.” I thank her when she places the tea in front of me on the coffee table and takes a seat opposite me. “Can you tell me how Berat died, from the start?”
“It was an unfortunate event, that day my husband and I stayed at home and Berat went out with his friends. He had to attend a party at his friend’s house. I don’t know what happened there, he stayed for two nights. The next day, we, me and my husband went to his friend’s house as soon as we got a call that he died in his sleep.”
“Do you remember anything else other than that?” I ask after taking a sip of the tea.
“Not much, we especially asked to do his post-morteme because everything was out of nowhere. How could he have died so suddenly? After getting the post-moterm report we filed a case in January this year but we couldn’t win the case.”
I scriblle her statement in my notebook and look up, “That would be enough. Thank you. Just wait a minute...I will give you the payment.” I reach for my slingback purse and take out just enough cash after counting with hands inside the bag. It should be enough, right?
I take in her facial expression as she takes, no, snatches the money from my hand. She counts the money and puts in her pocket with a huge satisfied smile, “You can contact me if you need to ask anything else, okay? Just visit me anytime.”
“I will if I need to ask anything else.” I end with a smile, “And tea is very good, it is branded? The flavors are strong.”
“Yes, I spent so much money on them.”
My smile widens on seeing her proud expression. After finishing half a cup, I thank her once again and turn to leave but as soon as I reach the door, I stop on remembering something. I turn back around, “Excuse me, on which date did you file the case?”
“6 January, why?”
My smiling lips twitch, “Nothing, I wanted to include this in my report as well. And oh, we will meet very soon again. I hope that day comes sooner. I would love to see your expression that day.”
"Wait a minute, what is your name?"
"You will know by the time we will meet next time." I give her a last smile and exit the apartment before closing the door behind me.
I let my smile fall off and walk away with a glance at the door of apartment no. 48.