This post picks up about 800 words into chapter 2 and finishes chapter 2.
Remember, this is a Draft 0, unedited, simply writing as quickly as the story comes to me and making myself accountable by putting the words here.
After showing their badges to the front desk, they rode the elevator to the penthouse suite of the tower. The doors opened to a grand apartment entryway with marble floors and high ceilings. It was a relatively short hallway with a single door, dark wood, intricately carved, with gold elements. A red and gold leaf work was inlaid into the floor, and tall marble statues stood sentry on each wall.
Before Tom could ring the bell, the door opened, and a short older woman with dark hair pulled back in a tight bun stood there. "May I help you?" she asked in a thick accent.
Tom showed his badge, "We're here to speak with Richard and Rosalind Thaliard."
The woman looked at them without speaking for a few seconds and said, "come with me."
The woman led them through another hall, the sound of a party echoing through the halls. The apartment echoed the entry hall in design, with added oil paintings and dim lighting accenting the walls and ceiling throughout.
They arrived in a small den; dark wooden shelves made up two of the walls and were lined with leatherbound books. Large and small volumes spanning a wide range of topics, ranging from old-style encyclopedias to law journals. Ash made out a few well-known fiction titles but couldn't make out an ordering scheme.
A fireplace was built into the north wall with two oversized leather loveseats, separated by a narrow table with glass coasters, that sat opposite each other.
Ash could make out a small camera in the far corner directed at the door and wrote a small note in her leather notebook.
They waited for a few minutes before Rosalind entered the room. Ash immediately recognized her from the business world; she was hard to forget with her striking features and perfectly coiffed hair.
Rosalind sat in one of the chairs and motioned for them to do the same. "What can I help you with?" she asked, looking at Tom.
Tom looked at Ash, who nodded and began, "Will your husband be joining us?" Tom asked.
"He's giving a toast and will join us in a moment," Rosalind replied. "But I can answer any questions you have. Please, sit. I don't like you hovering."
Ash and Tom sat down and leaned forward.
"Would you like anything to drink, while we're talking? We have pretty much everything tonight with this wedding party happening." Rosalind offered.
"Thank you, and water would be nice," Tom said
"And for you..." Rosalind said, meeting Ash's eyes. Ash recognized her from a photo in the proposal materials when she was selling her business, but years had passed, and Rosalind didn't recognize Ash.
"Water's fine for me also, thank you," Ash said
Tom leaned forward, "We're investigating a homicide that occurred just a few hours ago. A man named Daniel Moody was found dead in an alley. He was..."
Rosalind gasped and put her hand to her chest. "Oh, no! Not Danny..."
Ash watched Rosalind's face as Tom continued, "We believe he was sculpting ice figures for your party tonight?."
"He was," Rosalind said after composing herself. "We asked him not to park in the alley, but we didn't think it was that unsafe."
A tall man with dark hair flecked with gray entered the room. He wore a tailored suit and held a pipe in one hand.
Tom and Ash rose from their seats, "Sit, sit. I'm sorry I delayed you. We've got a lot of people having a good time; it's our youngest daughter's wedding this weekend! Our last one is flying the nest." Richard Thaliard said with a smile. "And about time!" He finished with a laugh.
Tom showed his badge as he sat back down and said, "I'm Detective Allen, and this is my partner Detective Hawke."
Richard Thaliard turned to Ash when he heard the name; he looked at her and said, "a detective now?" He asked, then continued, not waiting for an answer, "I guess that makes some sense, from search and rescue technology to serve and protect." Richard looked at her, his smile remaining frozen on his face, his eyes piercing hers.
"I'm reinventing myself; if my past has taught me anything, it's that some people need protecting," Ash said, meeting his icy gaze with her own.
Tom looked at Ash, realizing he'd missed something big from her comment earlier. He jumped in and said, "I was just telling your wife that we are investigating a homicide that occurred in the alley a few hours ago."
Rosalind broke in and said, "It's Danny; he was found dead in his truck."
Tom looked at Rosalind and smiled, "Yes."
"That's terrible!" Richard exclaimed. "I liked Danny; he was a good man. His art was exceptional."
"We understand that you had hired him to do some work for your party tonight?" Tom continued.
"Yes, we did," Richard said.
"He was carving several figures, mythic creatures, and an angel." Rosalind explained, "I didn't think it would be all that dangerous... just cold."
"He was supposed to deliver six figures, but we've been waiting for the last one for over an hour," Richard interjected.
"He doesn't like to be rushed, but we were getting a bit concerned; it was the centerpiece, and the party was about to transition to that viewing," Rosalind said.
Richard looked from his wife to Tom and said, "It was supposed to punctuate my toast. I was toasting to my daughter; I was going to say 'My angel Harmony' and then she would be standing next to a statue of an angel in her beautiful blue ball gown."
"What did you say instead?" Ash asked.
"I...I ad-libbed something. My daughter wasn't ready and must still be in her room. we sent Frederick too..." He stopped and looked at his wife. His face betrayed a look of worry for the slightest moment, but Tom and Ash caught it.
"Did you send Frederick? Or did I" Richard tried to recover.
Rosalind's face remained a picture of sadness, and said, "I did." She looked at Tom and finished, "poor Danny, he was such a good friend of the family. This wasn't the first time he'd provided sculptures for our party."
Rosalind looked like she was going to cry, and Ash felt bad for her. It seemed like Daniel's death had hit her harder than Ash had expected.
"We first met Danny when he carved a replica of our wedding cake out of ice. It was our 20th anniversary...years ago." Richard said, handing a tissue to his wife.
"Anyway, I'm sure you have other questions, but if you'll excuse my wife," He turned to his wife and said, "you should go check on her this is her party, and one of us has to be there."
Rosalind stood to leave the room, but Tom said, "Thank you for your time, Mrs. Thaliard. I'd also like to ask Harmony a few questions if you don't mind."
Rosalind turned back and asked, "How is that necessary? She was friends with Danny."
Tom nodded and explained, "I understand; that's why I need to ask her some questions. She may know details about him that neither of you does." He looked at them both as they looked at him with furrowed brows. He finished, "which could lead us to other possible lines of inquiry."
Tom was good; Ash looked on and nodded, hoping they would buy it.
"I don't want to upset her," Rosalind said.
Tom nodded and said, "I understand; I'll be as brief as possible."
"Very well," Richard said. He turned to his wife and said, "She'll be alright. We'll keep this short."
Rosalind nodded, and they left the room. Richard waited until she was gone and then turned back to Tom and Ash. His eyes narrowed as he looked at them and said, "This is her wedding party; she's getting married in two days. I would appreciate it if you finished this and let us return to the party."
Tom looked at Ash again, and she took over. "We've got a few questions for you, Mr. Thaliard." Richard looked at Ash and pursed his lips. "Can you talk more about your family's relationship with Daniel? You mentioned Harmony, and he were friends?"
Richard nodded, "Yes, he came to us on her recommendation. He was a young art student at college with her. He was a few years older than her, and I wouldn't categorize their relationship as friends, really."
"How would you categorize it?" Ash asked.
Richard sat back in his chair and explained, "Harmony is... difficult. She's always been a bit of a handful, and she's always had trouble making friends. Danny was friendly but seemed to want to keep his distance. I think he was trying to be professional."
"What do you mean by a handful?" Ash asked.
Richard looked at him and then down at his hands. He sighed and said, "She's our youngest. She's always had everything and never wanted anything. That can become tedious after a while."
Tom nodded and waited for him to continue.
"Anyway, Danny was trying to be friendly without getting too close. I think he could tell she was... difficult." Richard finished.
Ash nodded, "I see. And who's Frederick?"
Richard nodded again, "Yes, Frederick is our butler. He's been with us for years and is very good at his job. He manages this entire household with the help of Nancy."
"Did you ask him to keep an eye on Danny?" Ash asked.
Richard looked surprised, then shook his head, "No, I didn't. I didn't see the need. At the time, he was just a college kid. But he got big for his specialty."
Ash looked at Tom from the corner of her eye and asked another question. "Do you know if Daniel had anyone in his life that would want to hurt him?"
Richard shook his head, "No, he was well-liked. All our friends booked his work."
Ash nodded and asked, "What about business? Did you ever do any business deals with him?"
Richard looked at her and paused, considering his words carefully. "Nothing like your experience, but he was a professional. Our business was his ice sculptures only."
"His business must have been doing well," Ash asked, "His equipment... van, tools. They were all new."
Richard looked at her and grinned, "Daniel was smart; he invested nearly all his income. That left him with very little cash, but you could say his business wasn't very 'liquid." He emphasized the last word and laughed at his own joke.
Ash smiled and made a note in her book to follow up on Daniel's investments.
"He must have sold some stock and upgraded his equipment; it was about time." Richard continued, "His old truck was small, and his tools weren't producing the precision he used to."
At that moment, Rosalind ushered in Harmony and said, "I'm sorry to keep you waiting. Do you need anything else from me? Someone in our family should be at our party."
"Thank you, Mrs. Thaliard, nothing more for you. Enjoy your party." Tom answered.
Harmony sat next to her father, and he grasped her around her shoulder. "Are you alright?" he asked.
Harmony had been crying but wasn't wearing a gown as the Thaliards led them to believe. She wore a pair of jeans and a silk blouse. As if Richard was reading their minds, he asked Harmony if she had changed out of her clothes.
"Yes, I just couldn't come to the party when I heard about Danny." She said.
"You must have been close," Tom asked, softening his voice.
Harmony just nodded.
Ash looked at Harmony and saw fear in her eyes, not sadness. The jeans looked well-worn, and the blouse had moisture gathering under the arms. She wore no makeup, and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail.
Ash asked her next question with as much kindness as she could muster, "When was the last time you saw Danny?"
Harmony looked at Ash directly, the same piercing gaze as her father, and sniffed, "Yesterday."
"You didn't see him deliver any of the sculptures tonight?" Ash asked.
"No, I was getting ready for my big appearance later tonight." Harmony leaned on the words 'big appearance.'
"Did he say anything to you?" Ash prompted.
Harmony looked at her father, then back to Ash, and shook her head, "No, nothing out of the ordinary."
"What did you two talk about?" Ash asked.
Harmony shrugged, "Just stuff. He was working on a new design and was excited about it. He was going to show it to me later."
Richard spoke then, "He was working on a new design for our party. I think he wanted to surprise everyone."
"Did he tell you what it was?" Ash asked.
Harmony looked at her father again, and he shook his head, "No, he wanted it to be a surprise."
Harmony looked back at Ash and said nothing.
Ash looked at tom and said, "That's all the questions I have for now." She looked at Tom, her eyes leading him to pick up the questioning.
"We'd like to follow up on some other avenues of our investigation, and we'll have more questions for you later," Tom said as he stood.
Ash stood and placed her notebook back in her jacket pocket. The group moved out from the couches and towards the door.
"Are you excited about your wedding in a few days?" She asked abruptly.
Harmony looked surprised and shook her head in the negative but said, "Yes, it's going to be a great party." She immediately stopped shaking her head, and Ash continued.
"Where are you doing it?" She asked.
"At our lodge, on Orcas Island, it's beautiful." Her father broke into the conversation and started ushering them out the door.
Ash turned and blocked the door, facing the two. Richard's hand was gripping Harmony's elbow.
"Oh," Ash started, raising her finger in the air, "one more question, just curious. Were you at the party much tonight, Harmony?"
Harmony froze, unable to see her father's face, but Ash and Tom noticed Richard's grip on her elbow tighten. "I was early on, but I went up to change."
"Into your beautiful ball gown?" Ash asked, "For your father's toast?"
"Yeah, I needed to hurry; it's not a simple dress..." Harmony started.
"Oh, I loved my gowns and the parties years ago..." Ash said, looking up into the air and then settling back on Harmony's eyes. "What one were you going to wear tonight?" She finished.
"The silver..." Harmony said at the same time her dad said, "The blue one."
They looked at each other, and Harmony said again, "The Silvery blue one." Her eyes were wide and frozen on Ash's.
"Oh, I would love to see it." She said, "Perhaps next time."
"Yes, maybe another time." Richard started pushing Harmony towards the door, "now, we must be getting back to the party; Nancy will show you out."
Ash moved to the side and let the pair exit the study, Harmony's eyes breaking from Ash's only after she left the room.
Tom walked passed Ash and gave her a disapproving look. They exited the study, and Nancy was waiting for them.
"Nancy, we're done here; please see these folks out," Richard said, Harmony already walking away from the group.
"This way," Nancy said, stepping to the side and motioning for the pair to follow.
Tom stood in silence as they waited for the elevator door to close,
"You've got a lot to fill me in on," he said, his voice low and angry.
"I know," Ash replied, "I'll explain everything in the car." She held up her hand, signaling for him to stop talking.
Tom saw she was staring at the oak door and saw a small camera positioned above the frame.
Tom nodded, and they quietly rode to the elevator to the lobby. The door opened, and the man at the desk was gone. A woman stood next to the door and ushered them out. They made their way to the garage and looked out to the alley.
The van was gone, leaving only a stream of water leading to the street. The police were gone, and the barricades were removed. They were alone at the garage entrance.
"Where are you parked?" Tom asked.
"I walked," Ash said.
"Of course you did," Tom said, frustration in his tone.
"My car's over here. Let's go." Tom said, leading Ash to his car.
They both got in, and Tom drove out of the garage to the alley and turned onto the busy night street.