Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Thirty-nine:

Sue Mackenzie (Early morning of September 11, 1994)

It had been the second time in a row I’d beat my alarm clock to the punch. I could hardly sleep at all, knowing Jake was with that unpleasant girl for most of the night. Thankfully, I heard him walk through the door just before I clocked out. Even if, by chance, Adeline wasn’t the killer, there was still something very off about her; I could feel it.

“You’re up early,” Jeff commented, walking out of our bathroom with nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. He dripped water all over the carpet.

“So are you,” I replied, stretching out each and every one of my limbs.

“I got called into the office late early this morning,” he explained, laying his clothes out on the bed. “My new client apparently has some striking new evidence he think will help win his case. He said it was urgent I speak with him, in person, right away.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, flashing him an apologetic smile. I genuinely felt bad for the poor bastard. That new client of his has really done a number on him this past week. “So what is his case exactly?”

“One of his employees is suing him for an unsafe work environment. Honestly, between you and I, it’s not looking up for him either,” Jeff responded, jumping into his slacks.

“You always did like representing the assholes,” I muttered as I helped him with the cufflinks on his pure white dress shirt.

“It’s not that I like representing assholes, Dear. They just happen to be the only ones who can afford me. Truly, it’s the system’s fault, not mine,” he finished tucking in his shirt, then headed back into the closet for his blazer. “Plus, guess which asshole I’m representing this time.”

“Who?”

“Ivan Russo.”

“You’re kidding?” I stopped helping him for a brief moment, then resumed tying his navy blue tie.

“I wish I was. Speaking of which, did you find anything in that diary worth knowing yet?”

I looked back at my nightstand where the leatherbound book had still been sitting on top of it since last night. “Just how Joey was the sweetest, most careful man she’d ever known, only further proving my point. He’s not the killer, Jeff.”

Jeff sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. I presumed that meant he finally wanted to hear me out. “Alright then, for the sake of argument, he’s not. Who is then?”

“Well, it seems to me her and Ivan didn’t exactly have the healthiest relationship,” I told him, grabbing the journal and taking a seat next to him. “She even wrote that in the first couple of years they were married, their arguments would get pretty violent.”

“Are you saying he abused her?”

I nodded.

“Wow,” he uttered, placing his hand over his mouth. I’m sure that wasn’t what he wanted to hear about the man he’ll be representing in court in just a few days.

“According to the papers, though, he had an air-tight alibi. Plus, he didn’t even know the other victims, so it couldn’t have been him.”

“Who’s your next suspect then?” Jeff started putting on his shoes.

Here was my chance, once again, to finally share what’s been rambling inside my head for these past couple of days. Yet, I still hesitated. “You’re gonna think it’s far-fetched,” I warned him.

“Try me.”

I took a deep breath, in and out. “With everything I’ve read and heard around town, my best guess would be Adeline.”

“Adeline?” Jeff stopped what he was doing, immediately. “The girl our son just went out with? That Adeline?”

“Now you see why I had to disapprove,” I joked, attempting to make light of that whole situation.

“Sue, are you actually trying to tell me that a teenage girl single handedly killed all of those women and their children. And if so, why? What would even be her motive?”

“Well, according to this, both Amy and Joe had quite a thing for each other,” I began. “In fact, they happened to share a steamy kiss the night after his wife died. Maybe Adeline thought Amy was in the running to become her new step-mom. Maybe she thought they all were at some point. Therefore, she had to kill them, so that she would continue to be the only girl in his life. It’s the perfect crime, if you sit and think about it. Like you said, she’s a teenage girl; no one would ever suspect her.”

Jeff scratched his head. I don’t think I had him all the way convinced yet. “Alright, I guess that explains the moms, but why the daughters? Why’d they have to die?”

I shook my head. “That’s the part I still seem to be getting stuck on.”

Jeff rested his hand upon my kneecap and gingerly kissed my cheek. “I have to get to work, but maybe you should talk to Sheriff Romano about this. He was the acting officer on the case, right? Maybe he can offer you some clarity. And if not him, I’m sure that Thompson chick would love to speak to you.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” I said to him as he got up, off the bed. We exchanged “goodbyes” and “I love yous” and before I knew it, he was gone, out the door. Opening the diary, I was able to resume reading.

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