If only these walls could talk...the world would know just how hard it is, to tell the truth in a story in which everyone's a liar." ~ Gregg Olsen
Jack paused and took his hand off the doorknob. "One more time: what are you going to do when we get in there?"
"I'm going to sit there quietly and just observe."
"No funny business?"
"Aye aye, Cap'in, absolutely no funny business on my watch. All forms of tomfoolery, poppycock, flap-doodle, and shenanigans will be left at the threshold. I'll be as silent as a nun."
And I'll dance the tango, too.
V.C. skirted around the stern man who was trying to freeze her with his gaze. Knocking off the icicles, she got her first face to face glance of Silvia Praxton as the door swung open. The widow was sitting on a sunken couch, arms crossed, curling into herself. Her blonde hair was a curtain across her sullen face.
Broken. Scared. Alone.
Willing to talk?
"Hello, Ms. Praxton, how are you doing?" Jack started off the pleasantries and gestured to the solitary table in the room. "Why don't we take a seat?"
"Did you find him? Did you find the person trying to kill me?!"
Jack ignored her question, one hand behind V.C.'s chair. "Ms. Praxton. This is Dr. Coldwater. She is going to be sitting in during this. . . talk. I have a feeling that you weren't completely honest with me the last time we spoke."
"I-I don't know what you mean."
"We found a draft of divorce papers in your husband's office. He was planning on filing for divorce at the end of the month."
"What?" The shock on Silvia's face looked genuine, but not genuine enough to fool V.C. She had spent years observing people's mannerisms and vocal patterns. She knew a bold face lie when she heard one. And apparently so did Jack because he pressed on.
"You signed a prenup with your husband four years ago. If he divorced you, you should be left with nothing. And then suddenly, he ends up dead- leaving you with everything. So I'll ask you again, what aren't you telling us?"
When people say absolutely nothing, they're absolutely lying.
Staring down Jack proved too much for the woman because her blue eyes rapidly welled with tears. Wet trails seeped down her face in rivulets and a false eyelash hung precariously off on eyelid, crumbled from constant rubbing.
Alright. Cool it with the tears, lady. No one's buying it.
Before Jack could get in another word edgewise, V.C. jumped right in.
Maybe he forgot what he told me.
"Ms. Praxton, Hello. Hi." Silvia's earring, partially hidden behind champagne strands caught her attention. The strange hue reminded her of something familiar so she wracked her mind for an answer.
"I love your earrings. Very unusual What are they made of..." She leaned forward to get a better look. "Rhodium?"
Ms. Praxton wrinkled her brow as much as she could, which wasn't that much considering the amount of Botox she had had. "Erm. . . I don't know. . . they were a wedding gift. . ."
Huh. Still wearing jewelry from her late husband. I thought she would have thrown everything out before she got hubby number four.
"Silvia, can I call you Silvia? I get it- you're just minding your own business and BAM, out of nowhere," V.C. reached over the table to pat the woman on the shoulder. "someone tries to kill you. Trust me, I've been there. It's a day ruiner."
At that point, V.C. guessed she had shocked the poor Commander with her nonchalant approach because he reached a hand over to place on her leg.
Not in a romantic, 'I love you, let's get frisky' sort of way, but in an 'if you keep this up, there's a 76% chance I'm going to rip this leg off you' way. It was adorable.
V.C. didn't falter but swept Jack's tenacious grip off her thigh and continued to prob the weeping widow.
"But here's the thing, the same guy who popped your husband is after you. So any info you tell us is gonna save you in the end."
Silvia glanced down at the table, shrugging one shoulder halfheartedly, and scratched her nose. But despite her shuffling, she remained annoyingly silent. V.C. could hear Jack grinding his teeth next to her. She wasn't sure if it was because of her antics or the woman's persistent refusal to talk.
He better have a good dental plan because if he keeps that up, he's gonna break a molar. Again.
V.C. leaned back and observed the woman. She was twitching and shuffling in her seat. Eye darting everywhere. Fingers rose to tug at the necklace around her neck. V.C. cocked her head to get a better look at the jewelry but it was quickly covered with layers of cloth.
The way she's acting. . . it could be nerves. After all, she is being interrogated. But then again, no one acts this suspicious when they're innocent. . .
Jack gave his incisors a break before he actually broke any. "Fine, we'll circle back to that. What do you know about the cases Mateo was working on before he died?"
At the change of subject, the sobbing river slowed down into a trickling stream. Her chin had stopped quivering but her bottom lip still pouted.
"I don't. He never talked to me about work. That was off the table. He always got angry at me when I mentioned he was working later and later. Some nights he never came home. If anything was ruining our marriage, it was him."
As she went further and further into her monologue, Silvia's voice rose octave by octave. Her anger was palatable across the table. By the end of her outburst, she had risen from her seat and was bracing her elbows on the table. The widow pushed her seat and started towards the couch where she dissolved into tears.
If she cries anymore, we're gonna be flooded. No one gets that upset from a simple question unless --
Jack sucked in a breath and pushed back his chair. He motioned for V.C. to leave with a toss of his head. Outside, he softly talked to the officer guarding the door, leaving V.C. standing in the threshold.
She looked back, catching one last glimpse of the woman.
Now's my one chance--
The widow turned from the window.
V.C. cocked her head to the side, eyeing the woman like a hawk.
"The affair. I know."
Blanching white, Silvia grabbed her collar with a clenched fist, opening her mouth to speak.
But before she could, the door banged shut.
YOU ARE READING
Eridanus Flooding (WATTY 2018 WINNER)Mystery / Thriller
Commander Jack Rhodes is a retired Navy Seal. Well. Retired isn't what he would call it. More like fired. Yes. Fired would be the correct choice of word. No one retires at the age of 32. When a mission went wrong, leaving Jack as the only survivor...