Annalisse walked over to the officer while he bagged and sealed the card.
“This message could just be a prank,” he said.
“I’m no detective, but Ismail lives means something to someone. Do you know what information Agent Norcross wants?”
“You have a translation?” Mooney removed a notepad from his breast pocket. “I wouldn’t worry, Ms. Drury. Harry was a very simple man and had few close friends. That brother-in-law of his could barely string three comprehensible words together. We’ll talk to him again when he’s sober.”
“It’s unusual to find him snockered this early, but he’s alcoholic and won’t admit it.”
Norcross joined them, with Alec and Generosa in tow.
Generosa offered, “The guest book showed one-hundred-eighty-three guests at my party. Any one of them could’ve left the card.”
“Was anything inside the case missing?” Norcross asked. “Or anywhere else?”
Annalisse replied, “Chase cleared all of the jewelry displays after the party. Isn’t that right, Gen?”
Generosa nodded slowly at Annalisse. “I don’t leave jewelry displayed at night. It’s always locked in my safe.”
“And you know Chase Miller?” The agent addressed Annalisse. Her honeyed twang seemed out of place, but she had the practiced intimidating look down perfectly.
“Yes. I’ve explained the relationship. You spoke with him about Sam that day, too, remember?”
“Of course. Yes.” Norcross scratched something in her notebook and turned to Generosa. “How about the security system? Any issues when you opened this morning?”
“Colum, you followed us out last night when we closed. Chase set the alarm—come to think of it, the security panel didn’t beep today like it normally does when we unlock. I thought it was odd.” Generosa pointed at the alarm panel.
Mooney walked beneath one of the matte black motion detectors near the door. “These units should show an active red light. This one doesn’t.”
“I’ll check the one upstairs.” Alec moved to the bottom of the steps. “Dark here, too.”
“Mama Mia. My system’s off. For how long? I’m sure it was working last night.”
“Detective, let’s bring in a tech team. No one touches anything.” Norcross took the mystery card from Mooney, studied it front and back, then stashed it in her jacket. “Damn Mafia.”
“Good lord! Here in my shop? I don’t deal with garbage business types.” Generosa’s shoulders sagged. “I can’t tell Pearce. He’ll be worried sick.”
Alec moved close to Annalisse; she felt his warmth on her skin.
“How do you know we had a break-in, Agent Norcross? Couldn’t someone have stayed behind after Mom’s party and fooled around with the alarm as a joke? It was nuts around here.”
“The security company should’ve notified the station of a breach. A joke, no. He, or she, may have tried to destroy the security video and found a way to circumvent the alarm and detectors. Gen, we’ll need the names from the catering company and all guests who signed in. Including those invited who may not have attended,” Mooney said.
“None of this makes any sense. Nothing’s been stolen. All for a silly note? Colum, really.”
“That’s it, then. Mom, the gallery closes.”
“But, son, that’s foolish. It’s an insignificant scribble.”
“We won’t open again until every inch of this gallery’s been scoured,” Alec said. “We had a death here and with all that Annalisse told us—”
Both Mooney and Norcross alerted.
“About the loss of her friend. That’s all I meant.” He chewed the corner of his lip.
“I’d post a security guard, too. Your card is more than scribbles, Miss Generosa, if I may call you by your first name. We believe Carradine’s death was no accident and the card you found—let’s just say, fits a certain profile we’ve been monitoring. I spoke out of turn earlier, about the Mafia. I’m sorry.” Norcross looked at her watch. “We’ll take the card down to forensics.”
“Gen, my partner knows a reliable man. Ex-military. He moonlights as security when he isn’t working as a private dick,” Mooney added.
“I still can’t believe Harry had any enemies. That poor, poor man.” Generosa swiped an eye.
The detective handed her a tissue from inside his jacket.
Alec took Annalisse aside while Generosa and the officers wandered to the middle of the foyer. “Are you all right?”
“I will be.” She gripped the seam on her jeans to hide the shakes. “There’s lots Norcross is keeping to herself. She’s uncovered more about Sam. How can we be sure other people weren’t exposed to the same poison as Harry?”
“We can’t be.”
“Shouldn’t Gen notify her guests?”
“Of their possible poison exposure?” He dimpled one cheek. “Let’s wait and see what develops before we open a legal nightmare. Harry could’ve been poisoned before he got here.”
“True. Blabbing to the world without knowing the facts wouldn’t be smart.” She glanced at her watch and gasped. “Crap. Chase is going to send out the military. It’s nearly nine. Here comes Gen.”
To be concluded with part three on Lone Star Book Blog Tours 3/9/18 blog stop!