• Shereen Vedam

Storytelling Time: Death Shifts Gears - Chapter 2, Part II

Excerpt from:

Death Shifts Gears


Genre: Urban Fantasy Mystery

(c) Shereen Vedam

Chapter 2, Part II


“Abbie’s also the initial witness,” Talin put in, proving he’d been following this conversation as closely as everyone else. “She found the body.”

“Abbie’s also the initial witness,” Talin put in, proving he’d been following this conversation as closely as everyone else. “She found the body.”

“We were following a yellow Supra. It was speeding.” It felt good to recite mundane events.

Judith began typing. “You didn’t call the police then?”

“Bran recognized the vehicle as belonging to Yousef.”

“Full name, please,” Judith said, without glancing up, fingers pausing.

She was aware of Yousef’s last name. They’d worked the case together when he’d been a suspect. The eerie silence reminded her that everyone still listened. Ah. This is for show. “Yousef Kanaan.”

“Was he the driver?”

“No.”

“Who was the driver?”

“I don’t know,” Abbie said. Was an omission the same as a lie? Probably.

“What happened next?”

“We thought that if it was Bran’s boss driving the Supra, he might be in trouble and need help. And that’s why he was speeding. So, we followed. When the car sped out of sight, we headed to Yousef’s home to see if he might have gone there. The vehicle had been headed in that direction before we lost sight of it.”

“You found the Supra at Mr. Kanaan’s home?” she asked, her fingers flying over the keyboard.

“Yes, but when we arrived, the car was empty.”

“Then what happened?”

“Bran knocked on the front door,” Talin said. At Judith’s raised eyebrow, he added, “I heard Callum mention that when he took the phone from me to speak to Bran.”

“Yes,” Abbie said. “No one answered his knocks. I decided to check on the back garden, in case Yousef went inside through there.”

“And that’s where you found the body?”

“Yes,” Abbie said.


With everything about the Supra’s suspicious behavior left out, the event sounded so normal.


“Is that all?”

“Yes.”

Judith hit the print key. “I’ll be right back.”

She headed over to the copier positioned across the room and the conversational hum rose as interest in Abbie’s testimony appeared to die.

Judith returned and handed her a pen and the statement.

Talin rolled his chair closer and whispered, “What really happened?”

“The car’s a supe,” Abbie replied softly as she scanned the sheet. Remarkably, she spotted not one typo. If she’d typed as fast as Judith had, it would have been a sheet of gibberish. Was that due to extraordinary typing skills or a cool spell? Either qualified as magic in Abbie’s mind. “A spirit or creature is inhabiting that vehicle, but I couldn’t see it.”

“Not a spirit,” Robert said, materializing between her and Talin.

Talin jumped back with a grunt and his partner looked over, frowning, not having perceived Robert’s sudden presence.

“Hiccup,” Talin said and hiccupped.

His partner returned his attention to his paperwork.

“Whatever it was,” Abbie whispered, “it was controlling the vehicle and led us to Layla’s body.”

Judith sat down abruptly in her chair. “Our next case then?” she asked, sounding excited though her face was perfectly blank.

“Not sure yet.” Abbie glanced over at Callum’s office. He was on the phone while standing and gazing out the window. Robert vanished from beside them and appeared in Callum’s office, elegantly flicking his coattails back before sitting on the desk, head tilted as he listened in on the phone conversation.

“We’ll hold an SB meeting tonight to discuss the car situation,” Abbie said.

“Brilliant.” Talin sounded pleased. “It’s been deadly dull since our last case ended. Not even a peep from your Grimm podcast followers. Nothing credible anyway. Not sure they trust you yet to open up about any supe problems.”

The main door to the room opened and Ducky entered, aiming his steps straight toward them. When he spotted Abbie, he smirked and said, “In trouble again, Abbie?”

She turned to face him. “I came to give a statement.”

“What about?” he asked.

“You’d know if you’d been here today,” Talin said.

Ducky turned a shade darker.

Talin rolled back to his desk. He wasn’t a big fan of Ducky. Then again, few people were. She couldn’t remember clearly what she’d liked about him when they were in the sixth form together. She vaguely recalled that he had a good sense of humor and they used to joke about the idiocy of people who believed in ghosts and witches. How much she’d changed since then. Had he changed, too?

“You should ask him where he was this morning,” Abbie whispered to Judith.

The constable stood and held out her hand. “If you remember anything else, please let us know, Miss Grimshaw.”

Abbie obligingly stood, too, shook her hand, and then reached for her shoulder purse.

Judith asked her partner, “Where have you been?”

“On police business, what else? I’ll tell you about it after she’s out of earshot.” He tilted his head toward Abbie. “Don’t want every Tom, Dick, or Harriett knowing our business.”

“That’d be my cue to leave,” Abbie said, eager to depart.

“Don’t forget to speak to DCI Radford first,” Judith prodded her.

“What does she have to talk to him about?” Ducky asked.

“I don’t pry into his personal business,” Judith replied and took the form Abbie had signed, tucked it into a folder, and dropped it over the neat pile on her desk.

Abbie knocked on Callum’s door. At his, “Come in,” she entered and shut the door behind her.

He waved her to a chair and held up his phone to indicate he was still talking before he turned back toward the window. “Yes, she’s here now. I’ll get back to you on what I discover.” He disconnected and returned to his chair.

Robert hopped off the desk and strolled over to the window ledge, where he leaned back to observe them. He looked concerned and said silently in her mind, “Quiz him about whom he chatted to.”

“Find out what about me?” Abbie asked. “Were you speaking to someone I know?”

Callum gazed at her in silence a moment. Finally, he said, “That was Councilman Beckwith. Newly elected and keen to make his mark in local politics.”

“What does he have to do with me? We’ve never met.”

“Election happened this spring before you arrived back in Chipstead. We can talk about him later. How are the kids?”

“Adjusting to me being their main caretaker,” she said with honesty.

He nodded as if to say, enough said. “They love you.”

“They barely know me.”

“You’re easy to love,” he said, with a crooked smile.

His answer left her touched and tongue-tied. Her pen-ring on her left hand was not so restrained. It sparked and rose to form a silver heart before settling down to look as if it were no more than an elaborate silver knuckle ring. Luckily, her hands had been clasped over her knees, beneath the desktop, so Callum wouldn’t have seen that magical feat. She clenched her fingers and silently ordered the ring to behave.

“Was there something you wanted to ask me?” she said, glancing up.

He nodded. “I want you to stay out of this case. I know you’re drawn to odd puzzles. This is one you should ignore.”

“Why?” she asked, her stomach knotting in concern at the stark warning. Bran had asked her to look out for Yousef and Yousef’s sister had been killed. Staying out of this case might prove difficult.

“Other than it involves a murder and might be dangerous for a civilian to be poking her nose in?” Callum asked. “If you need a stronger reason, until the family court reviews are over, it would be better if they hear of nothing untoward to hold against you.”

He was worried about her losing the kids. That made her worried about it, too. She leaned forward, now truly anxious. “Have you heard something I should be aware of?”

“Nothing specific,” he said, settling back in his chair. “Beckwith, the councilman I was speaking to, has been making noise about you gaining custody of your kids. He’s a Brexiter, believes we have too many immigrants who steal our jobs and use up our resources. He wants to know why you were given custody when you and the children are unrelated. Believes they should have been sent to India along with their uncle when he was extradited.”

“That’s not what you believe,” Abbie said, certain of that at least. Callum wouldn’t have helped her if he’d had that same narrow mindset.

“No, but he has power and is keen to use it. You need to be careful. We mustn’t give him any reason to cause trouble.”

She warmed at his use of “we,” as if this was their problem, not hers alone.

“As for this murder case,” Callum continued, “put it out of your mind. Allow me to ensure that whoever killed Layla Kanaan faces justice.”

 

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