I'm writing a novel in 30 days. This is a continuation of the story, in terms of words from Day One; start with that.
This post contains the ending of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter two.
Remember, this is a Draft 0, unedited, simply putting the words out there.
Grammarly is still screaming at me, but I'll edit later.
Tom nodded to Ash, who released Simon's arm. "Alright." Tom said, "Let's go."
Simon opened the top drawer on the desk and reached deep into the back of the drawer. Ash stepped back and place her hand inside her jacket, resting her hand Glock 19 holstered under her arm. Tom stepped forward and cocking his head to the side, trying to see what Simon was doing.
Simon pulled his hand from the drawer and turned, raising his palm. "It's alright, calm down." He said.
In his hand, he held a small black walnut box; he opened it to reveal a green velvet bed with a gold key in the center. He placed it on the desk in front of Tom and pushed it forward.
Tom looked at Simon, "What is this?" he asked.
"The key to my studio." He said, "It's where I was when I heard the chainsaw."
Tom took the key from the box and handed it to Ash. "Your studio? Isn't this your.." Tom started but was cut off by Simon.
"No." He said, "This is my office; my studio is on the other side of the building, attached to my home. This is where I do my... public work." Motioning to the large office around him. "But I spend most of my time, my valuable time, in my studio.
Ash raised an eyebrow, but Tom just nodded. "Alright." He said, "Lead the way."
Simon led the detectives through his two-story high-rise apartment through what looked like servant's quarters.
"Do you have anyone else living here?" Tom asked. Looking at the less-than-glamorous spaces.
"No, just me." Simon started, "These used to be for the servants, but I don't have use for help anymore. I like to be on my own anyways."
"This is a pretty unique apartment for, even for Seattle." Tom looked at Ash as if hoping for confirmation. She just looked at him and shook her head. She knew he was curious about her own apartment.
"Well, it's been in my family for a long time," Simon said as he continued leading them down the hall. They passed by an elevator and to a stairway. "We started with just one apartment, but as our neighbors moved, we bought theirs and expanded." He finished with a gesture toward a dead-end hall with a small plaque on the wall reading "Patience," an ornamental light bathing it in a soft glow.
"We kept these rooms for servants and guests and completely remodeled the other floor. I'm still waiting for the lady next door to move on so I can complete this floor, but she's stubborn."
Simon walked up the stairs. The stair curved and immediately became ornamental, transitioning between two worlds. They emerged at the top of the stairs into a large room. The ceiling was high, and the walls were lined with paintings. Placed every four feet or so were full-sized statues of creatures.
Tom looked around the room, his eyes drawn to the statues. At one end was a grand entranceway, like the main home entrance. At the other was a large plate window overlooking the water. Several hallways broke off from either side of the room.
"This way," Simon beckoned toward the room's far end. They turn at the plate window and down a long hallway with art lining the wall. The night glow of the city skyline was a display of its own out the glass-lined hallway.
Simon led them down the narrow hall and stopped in front of a nondescript closet door.
"The key, please, Detective Ash," Simon said, not realizing he'd been given Ash's first name.
Ash held out the key, "It's Detective Hawke; Ash is my first name." She handed the key to Simon, who just smiled and took the key.
"Now, I'm going to have to trust you; I know this." Simon began, "I don't have any other choice. But, after you see what's on the other side of this door if it proves that I wasn't down in that alleyway, will you be able to omit this from your report and keep it secret?"
Tom looked at Ash, who shrugged. "I don't see why not." Tom said, "If it's legitimate and doesn't weigh in the case, then we can just say that you showed us around your home."
Simon smiled and inserted the key into the lock. He turned it, and a small keypad clicked open. Simon tapped his pin, and the door opened. Simon motioned for them to go in first. Ash led the way with Tom close behind her.
"This is my studio," Simon said as he entered the room and turned on the lights. "I do all of my work in here."
The room was filled with papers, hand drawings of romantic scenes from the Victorian era, and books lined the walls. Tom began reading the titles and blushed.
A laptop sat on a small wooden desk; a comfortable chair sat next to it. It was clear that this was where Simon spent most of his time.
Tom looked around the room, taking it all in. He noticed a large portrait of a woman on one wall. She was sitting in front of a fireplace with a cup of tea. She had dark hair and piercing blue eyes. Her gown was revealing, and a man stood next to her.
"That's my wife, Emily," Simon said, following Tom's gaze to the portrait. "She died five years ago."
"I'm sorry for your loss," Tom said, not knowing what else to say.
"Thank you." Simon said, "She was the love of my life."
"You write romance novels?" Ash asked. Looking at the volumes lining the walls.
"Yes," Simon looked at the books lining the walls. My wife and I started years ago when we were still in college."
"This is my private studio." Simon said as he closed the door behind them, "No one but my wife and I have ever been in here."
Tom looked around the room, taking it all in. Ash just stood there, her mouth slightly agape. This was not what she had expected to find after walking through this maze of a house.
"I know it's a lot to take in." Simon said, "But I hope you can see now that I couldn't have been down that alleyway. I was here, working on my latest novel." He motioned to the computer and folded his hands in a pensive gesture.
Tom looked around the room one last time and then nodded.
"I'm not understanding..." Tom began, looking around the room for something. He abruptly switched to shaking his head. "Why is this a secret? You're an author."
Simon sighed and ran his hand over his face. "My public persona is a well-crafted science fiction writer." He said. "This means that I'm a romance author."
"And?" Ash blurted out.
Simon looked at them, his eyes widening. "Do you have any idea what this would do to my career? I'm a respected science fiction author! Everyone thinks I make all my money from those books! But do you see any movie rights? He asked, his voice rising.
"How am I supposed to support this apartment, this lifestyle, with a few measly science fiction novels to my name?" He folded his arms and looked at the books around him.
"Romance is where the money's at," he said. "But with my wife gone, how am I supposed to explain that I'm the one writing these?"
"Ok," Ash stopped Simon. "The world doesn't care." She walked to the window and looked down. "So, you were here when you heard the noise stop?"
Simon walked to stand next to her. "Yes, I was just finishing up a chapter." He said. "The noise was going on for hours; I had to close this window because it was so loud. But I still heard it going through the closed window."
"I heard the noise stop and thought I heard a scream, so I stood up and looked down," Simon said.
"What else did you see? Tom asked.
"Nothing for a few minutes," Simon said, leaning closer to the window. He could still see the van, the tiny people walking around it, and the lights from the police cars still bathing the buildings in alternating red and blue light.
"But, the door opened, which was odd because the back was still open." Simon continued. "I saw a figure dressed in a flannel jacket, and maybe jeans slide; no, it was more like he slipped out of the far side of the van. I saw a red streak on the seat and the door and immediately thought to call you guys.
"Can we take a look at your computer?" Ash asked.
Simon's eyes widened. "I don't think that's necessary." He said.
"I only want to see the file you were working on when this happened," Ash said.
"Oh, the timestamp of the saved file!" Simon smiled and rushed to the computer, opening the lid and tapping a few keys. He turned the laptop and pointed to a file titled 'TBD Victoria's Dream'.
Ash looked up at Simon, and he just stood there smiling and pointing at the screen.
Next to the file, under 'Date Modified,' was today's date and the time of the murder.
"I think we can omit this room from the report." Tom said, "But we'll need you to amend your statement."
"Thank you." Simon said, "I would appreciate that."
Ash gave Tom a questioning glance and said, "But you may want to tidy this place up in case someone else wants to see where you saw the van."
Simon nodded and winked at both of them. "I see; well, yes. I was considering moving my studio anyways, perhaps a better view." He said.
Simon led the two detectives down the long glass-walled hall to the entryway and stopped at the large front door. "If there's anything I can do for either of you, don't hesitate." He said to them and opened the door wide.
"Just stay in town and be available until we clear this whole thing up, ok?" Tom said.
Simon nodded and closed the door behind them.
The detectives walked to the elevators in silence, and Tom pressed the silver 'Down' button.
The doors opened, and the detectives walked in. Tom looked at Ash and said, "I like a good romance novel."
--End of Chapter 1--
Tom and Ash walked across the garage and toward the sculptor's van.
"How can we just leave those details out?" Ash asked.
"We don't," Tom stopped and face Ash. "We put it all in the report, his statement, the office, the alley view. The novels aren't relevant."
"Besides, you gave him a hint to tidy it up." Tom continued. "He'll move his novels and anything else that would be considered embarrassing."
Ash nodded. "Ok, makes sense."
"We're investigating homicides, not secret profiles of the rich and famous." Tom finished.
Tom and Ash walked the rest of the way to the van. "Alai, the crime scene tech is upfront, go talk to him and find out what he's learned," Tom said to Ash.
Ash nodded and walked to the front of the van while Tom went to the back. Ash put on a pair of gloves as she saw a younger man leaning into the van's passenger side.
"Hey Alai," pronouncing it like All-eye. "What've you got." Ash was trying to sound cool and like this wasn't her first murder scene.
Alai didn't move from the cab and said, "It's pronounced 'All-ee' like trolley but with no 'tr'" He looked back at Ash, who was taken aback.
"Oh, sorry." Ash felt embarrassed. "What've you got?" she asked again.
Alai turned and leaned against the van, "Not a lot. We've got some blood, picked up on the suspect's clothes, and smeared on the seat and the door. I'm gathering everything I can here, and we'll look back at the lab."
Ash nodded, "What about the victim?" she asked.
Alai shook his head, "I haven't been able to get a good look at him yet. The ME is with him now."
Just then, Tom poked his head out from the back of the van. "Hey Ash, come take a look at this."
Ash excused herself from Alai and walked to the back of the van. She saw Tom standing next to Christina. She was currently bent over the body of a man lying on his side on a gurney.
"What is it?" Ash asked.
Tom turned and looked at Ash, "Well, Christina found a partial shoe print on the counter just below the small window. It's small."
"That's right," Christina said as she stood up. "It's a size ten women's shoe. Possibly men's but unlikely given the design. I'll do some comparisons back at the lab."
Ash and Tom looked at each other and then back at Christina. "That's not helpful," Ash said.
Christina started to speak, but Tom interjected. "Combine that information with the window, and what can you come up with?" Tom said
Ash's eyes widened, "The size and build - likely a woman." She paused "Or a man." She looked disappointed again.
Christina sighed. "It's something."
Tom nodded, "It's something." He looked at Ash. "We have a partial shoe print and a general size and build - man or woman."
Christina interjected, "Likely woman."
Tom's phone buzzed, and he answered it. Ash looked at Christina and then into the back of the van. The alleyway was wet with the melting ice, but the blood was mostly gone.
"Our victim was here for a party," Tom said. "He had a contract with..." Tom looked at the message he just received. "With Richard and Rosalind Thaliard."
Ash knew the name; they were investors with one of the groups that wanted to buy her old business, but she didn't know much about them.
"What kind of party?"
Tom shrugged, "No idea. But the contract was for multiple ice displays. Come on; they live in this tower." Tom pointed to a nearby building.
Ash and Tom walked towards the building while Christina returned to packing her equipment. Ash's mind was racing with possible scenarios. That name brought memories of a time she worked hard to put behind her.
"What are the odds...?" Ash said to herself.
"Huh?" Tom questioned.
Ash looked at him and realized she had spoken that out loud. "Oh, nothing. I know these guys from a previous life. I'd rather forget it."
"Do you live in this tower also?" Tom asked.
"No, not this one." Ash started but then changed her mind. "They tried to invest in a company I used to run. It didn't go well for them... or me."
"You going to be ok in there?" Tom asked
"Yeah, I'll be fine." Ash responded, "they probably don't even remember me."