4 years ago...
“Do you know what it’s like to see someone you know murdered?”
Murder. Not manslaughter, not self-defense.
I felt sick to my stomach, wanting to wretch but fighting the urge as I saw the lifeless, glassed eyes of the bitch I’d always hated looking up at me. I had hated her, her family, and what they had done to the person I held dearest.
So, when I looked at the photos, at the blood pooling on the wooden floor of her country home, her dyed and styled hair stained with the deep, rich color, and her bitchy scowl now placated on her cold, dead face, I wanted to feel a sense of satisfaction. I wanted to say I was surprised I didn’t do it sooner.
But I couldn’t.
All I could do was fight the need to sneer in disgust. I couldn’t even lift my eyes from the photographs scattered across the metal table, highlighted so well under the intense bleaching light.
“I know what it’s like,” the detective said from her corner of the room. I wish I could remember what the office looked like. But I couldn’t. She was just a dark blur, hovering in the corner of the room, watching my every move, waiting for me to slip up. “I saw my mother murdered. It’s what inspired me to become a cop. To seek justice against those who hurt others. Is that not why you became a lawyer, Anna? To fight for justice.”
I shook my head, wanting to reach for the plastic cup of water on the table but knowing not to. My paper mouth remained a hidden fact to the detective as her eyes glanced toward my hands that rested comfortably on my thighs, fingers splayed, palms flat. The cotton of my pencil skirt absorbed the sweat of my palms, hiding the nervous gesture.
I heard her footsteps click across the room, then saw her long fingers pushing a specific photograph toward me.
“Do you know how much force it takes to push a knife through the sternum of a fully grown woman?” She paused, waiting for my response.
I leaned back in my stool, dragging my eyes up from the photograph, trying to ignore the slither of silver mixed in the blood and pale skin of the woman in the photo as I looked up at the detective’s face. I stared straight through it as I raised an eyebrow at her, processed her words at last, and said, “Surely impossible for a small woman.”
“It would be. If it weren’t for an adrenalin rush.” The detective gasped, concealing her surprise at the fact the M.E. no doubt told her. “That plus the added weight as the attacker…”—she slowed on the word, probably glaring at me—“as they fell on top of each other. Mrs. Rothwell’s screams would have hurt her ears, being so loud, as she died an incredibly slow, painful death when the knife pushed through the bone inch by inch until the sternum shattered and it went straight through her heart and out of the rib bone.” A long, pregnant pause thickened in the air as I swallowed the bile in my stomach, a cold chill sending goose bumps up my arms and legs. “That’s how they did it. How they murdered her. Am I right?”
I shoved up out of my chair, the metal screeching back, while the detective took a quick step back, body flaring with fight when I slammed my hands on the table, covering the photos and fighting the need to flinch. My muscles burned from tearing through the tautness they’d been wound into, but I ignored them as I looked the faceless detective in the eye and said, “I don’t appreciate slander, Detective. I know what accusations you are throwing at me, and I’ve had my fill. So, since you don’t have any more questions for me,”—I glared at her, challenging her to argue with me, but she didn’t—“I’m going home.”
With that, I snatched my handbag, swung it over my shoulder while fighting not to look back at the photos on the table, turned, and walked toward the door.
“Anna.” The detective stopped me. I was tempted to snap at her for using my first name but didn’t as she gave me her cool stare. “We will find the murderer.”
“Do your job right, Detective,” I said, swinging open the door of the interrogation room. “And you will.”
With that, I turned and walked out into the hallway that was once simply business for me, but now was too cold, too daunting as I quickly raced my way back up the steps, through the entrance, and out onto London’s streets, leaving Scotland Yard behind me for the last time. I knew very well that no matter how well the detective did her job, the murderer would never be found.
Because I would never let them.