To Complicate Things
Josh and his partner Vince sat on the couch in the living room of Stella James’s sister, Brandy Everly. Her husband, and Stella’s brother-in-law, Lance sat in a chair opposite them. Mrs. Everly was in the other room, finishing up a phone call.
The search of Starla James’s luxurious apartment quickly revealed that it wasn’t the site of her death, but also revealed little in the way of clues as to who the culprit might be. Everything was neat, tidy, orderly, and there was no sign of any of the men that Starla James might be connected with, either currently or in the past. The most Josh and Vince were able to recover was the name of the victim’s next of kin.
The Everly’s living room was done up tastefully enough in dark wood and white, which let Josh know that this couple didn’t have any children or pets. The white couch he and Vince sat on was spotless. Lance Everly sat nervously on the edge of his chair, waiting for his wife so the couple could receive the bad news that Josh and Vince had brought them. Not that they knew at the moment they’d be receiving bad news, but what good news do two plain clothes detectives ever bring? Mr. Everly was a thin man, young with an older cast, like he worked too hard for too little. Josh watched him fidget as he waited, his hands unable to remain still, the only attempt at small talk to fill the time unsuccessful. Josh wanted to keep this serious and direct.
“I’m sorry about that,” Mrs. Everly said as she entered the room. “I’m trying to organize a girls’ night out for next weekend and you would not believe how involved it is.”
She smiled at the two detectives as she perched herself on the arm of her husband’s chair, putting an arm around his anxious shoulders. Brandy Everly didn’t quite have the exotic, sexy beauty that her sister had, but she wasn’t unattractive. Instead of black hair, hers was red, and kept about shoulder length in an easy, flattering style. She was thinner, less-curvy than her sister, and whatever bosom she might have had was discreetly concealed beneath a modest dark purple blouse that matched her light purple capris.
“Now, what’s this all about?” Mrs. Everly asked.
Josh felt Vince shift beside him. This was a tough part of the job, informing someone that their loved one had died and not in a natural manner. The reactions to such news varied from person to person and there was no clear predictor of what to expect.
“Mrs. Everly, I’m sorry to inform you that your sister was found deceased early this afternoon,” Josh said.
He waited while the words found their meaning for the couple. Mr. Everly looked up at his wife, reaching back to grasp her hand that rested on his shoulder. Mrs. Everly stared at the two detectives for a moment, her face somewhat neutral, as though the full weight of her sister’s death hadn’t quite hit yet.
“What happened?” she asked softly.
“Your sister was found hanging from a tree at End Of,” Josh said.
“She killed herself?” Mrs. Everly asked.
“Right now we can’t say,” Josh said, watching as Mr. Everly squeezed his wife’s hand hard. Lu called it a homicide, but Josh wanted to be careful with that information for now. It hadn’t been confirmed. “We have to wait for the autopsy results before a cause of death can be conclusively stated. But as an unattended, suspicious death, we have to investigate it. Are you up for answering a few questions?”
Mrs. Everly nodded.
“Do you know of any reason why your sister might have wanted to take her own life?” Josh asked.
Mr. Everly looked down at the white-carpeted floor, considering. Mrs. Everly sighed and looked at Josh.
“Maybe she was finally tired of being a whore.”