A Murder To Forget
Second book in Holly Devine, Assistant PI series.
Excerpt from A Murder To Forget
“Hi, it’s Holly Devine. I’m from the Capelleti Detective Agency.”
It was a few seconds before the buzzer rang.
Holly opened the door and stepped into a small entry. There was no elevator. She tramped up the well-worn stairs. On the second floor, she checked the numbers on the doors and started down the hall.
A door to her right opened.
“Yes?” A woman in her early thirties stood there.
She was taller than Holly, maybe five feet six and heavier. Her brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She wore no makeup or jewelry.
“Can I help you?” Her icy blue eyes stared at Holly.
“Holly Devine, from the Capelleti Detective Agency. Mr. Capelleti asked me to look into your report that your sister is missing.”
“You don’t look like a detective.”
“I’m a newer member of the team. These cases are my specialty.” Holly crossed her fingers behind her back.
“I see. Do you have identification?”
“Oh, sure,” Holly opened her purse, fumbled through her wallet and eventually found an old photo ID card. She’d rummaged through some old boxes in the attic and found it. Mickey said he should have her replacement identification ready by the weekend.
“Here you go.”
The woman accepted it and stared at it and then at Holly. She handed the card back.
“Thank you. Please come in. I’m Millie Gudron. I was afraid Victor might have sent you to try and keep me quiet.”
The woman stepped to one side. Holly edged past her into the living room. The furnishings were simple and older; an overstuffed beige corduroy couch and matching chair, a rocker, a wood and glass coffee table and a corner shelf.
“Please, have a seat. Thank you for coming. I didn’t know what else to do. I’m afraid that something has happened to my sister.”
Holly sat in the handcrafted rocking chair the sister indicated.
“Victor? Why would he want to keep you quiet?”
“Because I’m sure he’s done something to my sister and he doesn’t want anybody to check on her.”
Holly perched on the edge of the chair to prevent herself from rocking. “I see. Maybe you can tell me what makes you think your sister is missing.”
“I haven’t heard from her in over a week. Can I get you a cup of tea?”
“That would be lovely.” Holly dug out her notepad and pencil.
“Is chamomile all right?”
“That sounds perfect. A week isn’t long. She might be busy and forgot to call.”
“I know it doesn’t sound like it’s a long time, but my sister and I are very close. When our parents died, I looked after Mitzi. I’m five years older. We talk every day or every other day at the latest. Even if she’s away somewhere, she always calls me.”
Millie returned with a small tray and placed it on the coffee table. She poured Holly a cup and passed it over carefully. “Help yourself to the cream and sugar.”
“No, I’m good.”
“Would you like lemon? I think I have some.”
“No, clear is fine. Thank you.” Holly took a sip and burned the tip of her tongue. She put the cup down.
“When I talked to her last week, she told me Victor was angry. She said she was frightened. She didn’t know what he might do to her. She planned to tell me why when she saw me because Victor often listened in on her phone calls.
“When I didn’t hear from her for two days, I called and talked to Victor, her wonderful husband. He was abrupt and told me Mitzi had gone and hung up on me. I was frustrated. I went out to see him. He was furious that I’d come and wouldn’t let me in the house. When I pressured him, he said she’d run off with the
golf pro and good riddance to both of them.”
“I see.” Holly scribbled furiously.
“I know she didn’t run off with the golf pro. She would have told me if that was her plan, or dropped by here before they left town. She’d never even told me she was interested in the golf pro. I know Victor is a liar. He’s done something to my sister. I know he has. I don’t know what, but I have to find out, whatever it is. Can you help me?” Millie asked.
“Look, I didn’t know you or your sister, but are you sure there’s no way she would have run off with a man without telling you? It might have been a spur of the moment thing and once they’re settled in Mexico, or wherever, she’ll call and let you know where she is.”
“No, she’d never do that. I know Mitzi.”
“I’ll talk to the golf pro and see what he says.”
“I understand what you’re saying. I know I sound a little over protective. Some people considered our dependence on each other abnormal. I know Victor hated it. It’s just we were all we had, for so long. When our parents died, we sort of looked after each other, even though I was older. Mitzi brightened up my life. We never go more than a day or two without keeping in touch. It’s who we are.” Millie shrugged.
“Her husband says she’s run off with the golf pro and isn’t too worried. Did he sound angry or upset?”
“Victor? No. Victor would never sound upset. I think he was angry because I phoned to check on Mitzi. He was mad at me, but basically Victor is cold and calculating. He married Mitzi because she is gorgeous. She won the Miss Miami Orange contest. She’s talented, too. He wanted her for an adornment when he entertained. Other than that he didn’t have much use for her. For that matter, I don’t think he has much use for any woman. He didn’t love her.”
“Did Mitzi love him?”
“I think she did when she first met him. He showered her with gifts and expensive trips. She was young and easily impressed. He turned her head. It didn’t last long.”
“I see. Why didn’t she leave him?”
“He would have killed her. She was his property.” Millie replied.
“But even if he didn’t love her, if someone’s run off with his property, wouldn’t he be upset?”
Millie sighed. “No. He’d be furious; the same as if you walked into your home and found a thief had violated it. He’d kill them both if it happened. Then find another ornament to decorate his arm.”
“So, you think he’s killed your sister?” Holly asked.
“Yes. I’m afraid that’s what he’s done. There’s no other reason she wouldn’t have called me. And it wouldn’t be because she ran off with someone. There has to be another reason.”
“Oh God, you didn’t say anything about a murder.” A shiver twisted snake-like down Holly’s spine. “If you think she’s been killed, you should talk to the police. They’re the ones who should look into this,
not a private investigator.”
“I talked to the police. They’re not interested. She hasn’t been missing that long and Victor says she’s run off with the golf pro.”
“But did you tell them what you suspected?”
“Yes, and they laughed. Victor Santiago has money and power and is an important man. I’m nobody. The police say it’s a domestic issue. Even when husbands say they plan to kill their wives, they usually don’t. They did talk to Victor. He was very convincing about her disappearance.”
“So you want me to find out if Victor murdered your sister.”
“Yes. A part of me hopes that she has run off with the golf pro, or that Victor has locked her in her room, to teach her a lesson, but I’m sure he’s killed her. I have to know the truth.” Tears spilled over and trickled down Millie’s cheek. She swiped at them with the back of her hand.
“I’m sorry. I’m probably being a nuisance, but honestly, I don’t know what else to do.”
“Don’t be sorry. You’re doing the right thing. Do you have a picture of Mitzi?”
“Of course, I’ll get it for you.” Millie swiped at her eyes and left the room.
“Do you know any of her friends?”
“She didn’t have any. Victor made sure of that. He kept her isolated from friends and family. She went to the country club to play golf and she went shopping. That’s about it. And she had a chauffeur for those activities. There were a couple of girls at the country club that she played golf with. I’ll write their names down for you.” Millie came back into the room and handed a photograph to Holly.
Holly looked at the photo of a young woman, maybe in her late twenties, with long blonde hair and soulful blue eyes. “She is beautiful.”
“Yes. That’s what got her into this mess. She was young and naïve. Victor overwhelmed her with his money. She expected to live the life of Cinderella. It turned out to be more like Rapunzel, but Rapunzel escaped. I don’t think Mitzi did.”
Holly dropped the photo into her purse. “I’ll do what I can. I don’t have a lot to go on.”
“I understand. Anything you can find out, anything at all, I’ll appreciate it. The fact you listened to me and will try to find her makes me feel a little better. I don’t know what I’ll do without her, but I don’t think I can live if I don’t know where she is or what happened to her.” Millie dabbed at the corner of her eye.
“It will probably be a couple of days before I get back to you.”
“If you think of anything else, or your sister calls, you can get a message to me through the office. You have the number?”
“Yes, but she won’t call.” Millie said. A tear caught in her throat. “She can’t.”
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