By the time I reach home, it is already 8:30. I drop my bag on the sofa and walk into the kitchen barefooted. It is only a few days ago that I realized that Ryou and Finlay have picked up my habit even though I told them to not mind.
“.......care of things here.” Ryou completes as soon as I enter the kitchen. Ryou is sitting by the island, watching Finlay, who is taking out the plates from the cabinet, and their backs are turned to me so they must be not aware of my presence.
“Salvia is there to take care of them, they won’t need me. And my parents are well aware that I chose to follow you so going back will not make them angrier.” What are they talking about? And who is Salvia? I think I have heard this name from Finlay’s mouth before but I can’t remember what he was talking about then.
“You are only going for a few days or maybe a few weeks at most. Why are you worrying so much? I can handle things here and if I can’t do that, I will call some staff from the palace. How do you think I lived before you came? Wasn’t I alone then? And even if you leave this time, I will be not alone, there is Nadya.” Is Finlay going somewhere?
“You haven’t met your parents for two years, you should go and meet them. Just take a paid vacation. I don’t want you to regret not spending time with your parents when you had time. I want you to go and Nadya as well, am I right, Nadya?”
I flinch while standing at the entrance. Since when was he aware of me standing here? I hope he doesn’t think I was eavesdropping, I only heard the last part and too by accident. But how did he notice? With my footsteps? Finlay also turns around and looks at me confounded. “Nadya, when did you get here?”
“Just now. I don’t know exactly what you are talking about but I think you should go.” I step inside and move to take a seat beside Ryou while trying to avoid looking at him. “By the way where are you going and when?” Only when I take a seat did I notice Ryou has been drinking black tea all this time.
“I shouldn’t go, there needs to be someone to take care of both of you.”
“That is not an option. You need to go. If you don’t go then I would have no choice but to remove you from your post. I am sure you don’t want that.” Well....that was a harsh way to dismiss someone. He could have asked him differently. I know he is just trying to care for Finlay but... Seeing the look I am giving him, he raises his eyebrows. I shake my head and quickly change the topic.
“He is going to meet his parents? Why is he going? Did something happen to them?” I am perfectly fine if he wants to take a vacation to spend some time with his parents. But the way they were talking and the tone of their voice was too serious. It does not look like a vacation. It looks like Ryou is pushing him to go back. “His father is ill so he will be going back to his town for a week or two.” Says Ryou,
“Really? How is his condition? I hope it’s not too serious.”
“It is not serious and my sister, Salvia is there, she keeps me updated.”
“But...I still think you should go and pay a visit, though it’s not my place to interfere it’s my personal view. I would have not left my parents alone if something happens to them. You should go meet them once even if they are fine already.”
“See?” Ryou points towards me.
“Okay, I will go but if any of you have any problem you can call me immediately. Ryouhei has booked a flight ticket for tomorrow, evening flight.” As Finlay goes back to making dinner. I turn to Ryou, “When did you start living alone?”
“When I was 13.”
“And you both live together since then?”
Finlay answers my next question, “Yes, we first met when he was 8 years old and at that time I was 14 years old. My father worked as a staff in the palace so my father often brought me to the palace, where I met him for the first time.” So he is 6 years older than Ryou. Then he should be 26 years old as Ryou will be 21 this year.
“By the age of 18, I start working as a cook while side by side completing my course and by then we were already friends so I was appointed as Ryouhei’s personal butler and cook a few months later. So when he decided to move out from the palace, I decided to follow him 6 months after.”
“How did you get this house? Aren’t these houses given only to Extanders? You became Extander when you were 16 so where did you live before then?”
“At one of my family’s bungalows. And after I became an Extander we shifted to this house and later I bought it as well.”
“Wait, this house is under your name? We can buy these houses?” I thought this house was under the EXH department. I have been calling this house ‘our house’ or ‘my’ because I was under the impression that it has been given to both of us.
“I don’t know about others but I brought it and they allowed me.”
After dinner, I meet up with Ryou to tell him about all the information I found out today. “Did you manage to dig information from the orphanage?” I cross my legs and lean back on the chair at the study table with arms crossed.
“Not much. She was not closed without anyone and she left as soon as she turned 18. But the social worker said that she was in contact with someone before she turned 18 and he was the one who offered a job to her. They used to talk on the phone once a month.” Ryou says while leaning against the wall opposite me.
“Did she start working at Safan’s mansion as soon as she left the orphanage?”
“Yes, according to what the social worker said. And what did you find on your end?”
I uncross my legs and swirl in the chair, “Then we need to get this man. He might be related to everything. Beacause I think this poison, company, and Luella are related. Did you know the first case that was filed against the company was on Jan 6, on the same date when Luella started working? Isn’t that suspicious?”
“It could be a coincidence, we can never know.”
“No, it’s not. I did a background check on Berat’s family. And do you know what I found?”
“Berat’s brother was a gambling addict and he used to spend all his money on gambling. But when I went to his house, every piece of furniture was brand new and expensive, it looked like they remodeled their apartment not long ago, anyway, how did a gambling addict have enough money to afford branded clothes, tea, and furniture?”
“Did you try to inquire about it?”
“Of course I did, I asked his friends about this and paid them to keep their mouth shut as well. And they told me he suddenly got rich in January but he never told them how he got all that money. There is a high chance he was involved in his brother’s death. There are criminal records against him as well. And after more probing around I found that all the people who were poisoned had someone from their family had money problems or were in debt. Don’t you think that is too much of a coincidence? ”
“So, we can successfully conclude that all the incidents are related. Maybe the sole purpose of all these cases was to target Safan. The previous traces of poison were to kill him slowly but for some reason, they had to speed up the process and kill him as soon as possible. And at last, Luella went there to finish the work.”
“Hmm. Is there something important in the living room? She must have gone there to get that. Why don’t you ask his wife? He was an important person, he must have secrets.” After some brooding over, Ryou decided to call Safan’s wife. Once he is done exchanging pleasantries, he puts the phone on speaker.
“Mrs. Mian, try to recall if there was something important in the living room? Did Mr. Safan ever talk about putting something important in the living room?”
“No, no, there was nothing like that.”
“Mrs. Mian are you sure? This is very important, please try to think of any indication or anything that made you believe there was something in the living room.”
“No...wait, he once talked about a Pendrive he kept there but nothing more than that. I never asked and he never talked about it. He said that no one should get that. Was it important? But I don’t know where it is.”
I snap my fingers. So that was what she was conniving for. I mouth at Ryou ‘tomorrow’ and point at both of us.
Getting the hint, he tells her, “We will be coming to your mansion tomorrow and then we can talk. And yes, that Pendrive might be important, please don’t tell anyone else about it. We will tell you the details later.”
Once Ryou hangs up the phone, I start speaking, “That what might be after but we still don’t know if it is still there, what if she has already taken it? She went to the living room on the day Safan died.”
“There is a high possibility but since Luella is still working in the mansion, she might have not gotten it. There is a 50-50 chance.” Ryou shrugs and puts his phone on the bedside table. “Shouldn’t you go back now? You still have to get up early for your training.”
Yes, how could he forget about the training? He will never let me off, will he?
The next day, after coming back from the university, I meet up with Ryou who also came back from the palace and we make our way to Safan’s mansion. Mrs. Mian is waiting for us at the entrance when we reach the mansion. She greets us before taking all of us inside the mansion and ushering us to the living room.
“I really don’t know where it is, but you can look around if you want, and take it with you if you find it please, I don’t want any more headaches.” After taking permission, we start searching around the living room. While Ryou is searching the bookshelves, I try opening the drawers of the desk. But unfortunately, nothing came out of that.
As I am opening the last drawer, Mrs. Mian exclaims in surprise. I stop midway and turn to look at her.
“Why is this drawer open? It is always locked. Safan kept the key of this drawer with himself and never left it open. All-important files are in it.”
Ryou stops searching and we exchange a glance.
I quicken my pace to rampage through the files while Ryou questions Mrs. Mian about the keys. “Then you have the key now?”
“...No, I never saw them after Safan died. I only remembered when she opened the drawer.”
“So, you don’t have the key. When was the last time you saw the key?”
“Before I went for the business trip, I saw Safan open the drawer with the key once. After I came back...I have no idea what happened with it. Safan used to key himself whether he is staying in the house or going inside and sometimes he would leave it in his car.”
“I have to check his car, can you pass the keys?” Ryou asks by the time I have cleared all the files from the drawer. I put my hand inside and try to check every corner inside but only to end up finding nothing. I put back the files at their place and stand up before dusting my hands.
Five minutes later, I find myself standing against the wall, in the gap between the desk and the wall. Who would have thought there would a locker behind the desk?
No wonder the space in the desk looked odd. The locker had been drilled inside the desk on the backside and I only found it after I dragged the table away from the wall.
But the problem is, what is the password?
As Ryou and Ms. Mian come back, I show them the locker and step out of the gap so Ryou can take my place. The locker only contains the number keypad so the password should be numerical. “Mrs. Mian,” I call her out, “do you know the password or do you have an idea what could it be?”
“I don’t know the password but I can guess if you want. I think 7121988.”
Ryou types what she says and shakes his head. “It’s incorrect.”
“Then....188975. It was his Id number.” Ryou tries again but the result is the same. “565972" After trying two more times, Mrs. Mian gives us the last possible password, “18042000”
There is a beep after beep as Ryou types the password and the next second, the sound of unlocking of the locker echoes in the room. “It opened.”