Chapter 2

I pulled into the garage and turned off the car, hesitating as I opened the door. It was after nine o’clock and I knew Anabelle would be pissed. The guilt of being with another woman was starting to surface. My wife was pregnant with our first child, and I was out having an affair. I felt like a heel. I wondered if I should leave and get her something, but I quickly decided against it, realizing it would make me appear guilty. I was not going to let her know about Emma unless I absolutely had to. It would be the ammunition she needed to get her hands on my inheritance if she ever decided to file for a divorce. I had practiced my story the entire way home. I drove around after the concert and stopped at a bar in a suburban neighborhood and drank too much so stayed at the first motel I saw.

I steadied my nerves and walked into the house. It was dark. It looked as if she had not gotten up yet, or if she had, she was not home now. Though, if she were gone, she must have left with someone, or taken a taxi, since her car was still in the garage.

I walked around the house to see if she was in one of the downstairs rooms. The search was fruitless. As I climbed the stairs, something seemed wrong, though I could not put my finger on it. I opened the door to our bedroom. The bed was made and my shirts were still sitting on it. She had apparently not slept in our bed last night. When I turned around, I noticed the bathroom door was ajar.

“Ana?”

My call was met with silence. I opened the door slowly and took a step in, only to step on something sharp. I looked down and saw that the floor was covered in broken glass. I looked to my right. The countertop normally held a variety of beauty products and perfumes, but it was now empty. The mirror was also broken. There was a single shard still clinging onto the frame. It reflected something from the tub.

I took another step towards the mirror to try to discern what I was seeing. I was afraid to turn around. I took a deep breath and turned to see a full bathtub with blonde hair floating to the top. The water was covering her swollen belly, and her face was completely submerged. I rushed over to the tub and grabbed her by an arm that was sticking out. It was still warm. I quickly pulled her from the tub and checked for a pulse. When I couldn’t find one I collapsed to the floor and started sobbing, wondering what she had done to herself. I was not sure what to do. I felt my stomach lurch.

After I finished emptying my stomach, I rushed back into our bedroom and grabbed the phone to dial the police. I managed to tell the operator I found my wife submerged in our tub. She asked me if I had checked for a pulse. I told the dispatcher her arm was warm, but I could not find one.   She instructed me to start CPR immediately, that she was dispatching an ambulance and police, and to keep the line open. The dispatcher tried to keep talking to me by giving me directions, but the only thing I could focus on was trying to save Ana. The first responders just could not get there fast enough.

A paramedic finally appeared and took over. After I was ushered out of the room, I collapsed on the side of the bed, stunned. I could not believe what had happened. I just kept thinking that if I would have just gone home I could have stopped this from happening. With the door open, I could see the EMT in the reflection of the shower door. I was frozen in place and could not tear my eyes from the sight. It was the most horrific scene I had ever witnessed. The image of her floating hair was permanently burnt into my mind.

I was pulled from the nightmare world by a hand on my arm. I looked over at the paramedic as they rushed a stretcher past me and down the stairs. “Mr. Stone?” I looked at him in a daze. “We found a slight pulse, but it will take a miracle for her to survive.” I felt a hot stream of liquid pour down my face. “If we act fast, we might be able to save the baby.” He turned and rushed down the stairs after the stretcher.

I walked downstairs in a state of shock. When I reached the bottom stairs my knees gave out on me. An officer grabbed my arm and helped me to the couch. The rest was a blur. Shortly after my collapse, a paramedic was taking my blood pressure and checking my vitals. She told me to stay put and that an officer would be with me shortly.

A man in a brown suit jacket approached me. “Mr. Stone?” I looked up at him. Though his face looked vaguely familiar, I could not place it. “I’m Detective Dimitriou. We met several years ago, after your parents’ accident.” I nodded in recognition. “I need to know what happened here today.” I gave him a confused look. Was he accusing me of doing that to her? “Start with telling me the events of your day up to when you called us, starting when you got up.” I stared blankly at him. “The quicker we can get this statement the sooner you can get to the hospital to see your wife.”

My eyes jerked to awareness. I was praying she would pull through.

I thought for a moment about how much information I should disclose, then decided to leave Emma out of it. “I just got home at nine. I came in through the garage. The house was dark, which was unusual. She is normally up by seven. I thought perhaps she left with someone this morning, since her car was in the garage.” He nodded. “I decided to go upstairs and change clothes, since I had them on since yesterday. I walked up the stairs to our room and found the bed made with my dress shirts still on the foot of the bed. I had placed them there yesterday before I left. At that point, I started worrying. Then I noticed the glow from the bathroom. I called to her, but no one answered. As I opened the door I took one step in and stepped on glass, cutting myself. I looked for the source of it.” I felt the tears flowing down my face. “I saw the mess, the broken mirror, and then I noticed a reflection on the remaining shard in the frame. I walked closer to the mirror, once I realized what I was seeing I turned around and saw her.” I blinked my eyes and saw that image again. I placed my elbows on my knees and held my head, sobbing out, “It was the most horrible sight.”

“Mr. Stone, when was the last time you saw her?”

“Yesterday, early evening, before my piano show downtown.”

“You mentioned you just got home?” I nodded. “Why didn’t you return last night? Was that something planned?”

“No.” I paused, knowing the next statement was going to cast suspicion on me. “We had an argument and I stayed away to let things cool down.”

He nodded. “Thanks for your statement Mr. Stone.” He closed his notebook. “I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen now.” I looked at him. “It’s not a shock to you that we are going to be investigating your wife’s attack.”

“Attack?” My heart was racing and my posture was erect. Surely I had misheard him. “You mean she didn’t do this to herself?”

He was studying my every move. “Based on the preliminary investigation, it appears there may have been someone in the house with her.” He narrowed his eyes at me. “Right now, we are applying for a search warrant to search the house for fingerprints, or anything that could shed light on whom she might have let in. Do you know anyone who might have wanted to hurt your wife? Did she have any enemies?”

I shook my head. “I can’t think of any reason someone would want to hurt Anabelle. She did a lot of work for local charities, and most people adored her.” Even in my grief, I noticed myself thinking the only reason they adored her was because they did not know her as I did.

“Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Stone. We will be here for several hours and we need you to stay out of the crime scene area. I need you to stay in this part of the house until we get the search warrant. A representative will need to be present, so unless someone else arrives, you will have to remain here. If you can find someone who would be able to answer all of our questions you are free to go to the hospital, but we would prefer you to remain here.”   He stood up and walked away. My first thought was he was a callous ass. The only thing I wanted to do was rush out the door and get to the hospital.

I got up from the couch and walked to the garage to call David. I needed to notify people what happened.

“Good morning, Malcolm. How are you?” I did not answer. “Malcolm? Are you there?”

“Yeah. I’m here.” My voice cracked and sounded old even to my own ears.

“Is everything okay?”

I sighed. “No, nothing is okay. Anabelle…” I could not finish.

“What about Anabelle?”

I wiped more tears from my eyes. “She’s… gone.”

I could hear the confusion in his voice. “Gone where?”

“She’s gone, gone… they think someone came into the house this morning and…they don’t expect her to survive the day.”

“Holy hell! I will be there in just a minute. Does her family know yet?”

“No. I don’t know what to tell them. I am heading to the hospital as soon as the police release me from the scene.”

“Alright. I will have Olivia go over there and talk to them. Don’t leave. I’ll be right there.” He hung up.

While I was waiting on David to arrive, Detective Dimitriou served a search warrant. He escorted me around the house to search for anything out of place, before they began their search. I was not quite sure why they felt the need for a warrant. So far, I had given them my full cooperation. I told them to search anywhere in the house and to take whatever they deemed significant. As we walked through the house, he asked several questions, but the only thing I noticed missing was Ana’s wedding band. He called the hospital and verified it was not on her.

We returned to the kitchen at the same moment David arrived with our family attorney Harold Steinbeck in tow. The detective requested we remain in the kitchen while they searched the house.

David immediately embraced me in a hug. “Why aren’t you at the hospital?”

I felt the tears welling up behind my eyes. “The officers haven’t released me from the scene. I can’t leave. It’s killing me not knowing what is going on.”

He rubbed his eyebrows. This was the first time I had ever seen my brother at a loss for words or action. “What happened?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know. I just got home.” He crossed his arms over his chest as he narrowed his eyes at me. “She was submerged in the tub in the master bath. I thought originally thought she had attempted to kill herself, but the detective believes there was someone else here. Based on something they have uncovered, but he didn’t share the specifics with me. Her wedding band is also missing, but I don’t know if that’s related or if she had misplaced it or put it somewhere different.”

David started to speak, but a uniformed officer entered the kitchen. “Mr. Stone?” We both looked at him. “Could you please open the safe in your study?”

Harold looked over the search warrant while I gave the officer a puzzled look. “Why?”

“We need to make sure there isn’t any evidence or documentation that could shed some light on your wife’s attack.”

For the first time of the day, I felt a bit argumentative. “The only thing in there is financial records and stock certificates. I am the only one with the combination to that safe and I wasn’t home last night, so no one was in there.” It was not that I did not want to help; I just did not want any one in my money. I had thousands of dollars in bearer bonds and cash in the safe.

I looked over at Harold, who was scrutinizing the warrant. He nodded as a motion for me to open the safe. “I’ll be with you in just a second. Don’t answer any questions; I need to make a quick phone call.” He walked away as he started dialing his phone.

I was starting to get more and more frustrated. Anabelle was at the hospital, and I just wanted to be there, but instead I was at home having my belongings rifled through.

I led the officer back to my study, taking my time to open the safe, hoping Harold would arrive soon. I opened the safe and took a step back. “Thank you, Mr. Stone. You can return back to the kitchen.”

I leaned against my desk. “I would prefer to remain here. There are some sensitive documents and a substantial amount of cash stored inside.”

The officer spoke into his radio. After a short delay Detective Dimitriou appeared. “Is there a problem, Mr. Stone?”

“No problem at all.” I turned to face him without letting the safe out of my sight. “I just want to be present when you look through the safe to which I am the only one who has access.”

“Do you have something to hide?”

“No, I just have a lot of sensitive and financial documents in that safe, and I want to make sure that all of them are returned when you are done searching.”

“Mr. Stone, I can assure you nothing will go missing from your safe unless, of course, it happens to be deemed as evidence. So if you don’t mind…?” He motioned for me to leave.

I saw a shadow, taking my eyes off the officers long enough to see who had come up behind me. Harold stood in the doorway. “Officers, my client has the right to supervise the search, but not interfere.” The officers stared at him, and then back at me. I saw the detective visibly sigh when he saw Harold Steinbeck standing in the doorway. “The information contained inside that safe is of financial value and has insider information in reference to the Stone family business.” They were giving him blank stares. “This safe is biometric, and only my client had access to it. Not his wife.”

Detective Dimitriou was boiling with anger. His neck and cheeks were starting to turn red. “How can you be so certain Mrs. Stone didn’t have access to the contents?”

I walked to the safe door and pointed to the scanner. “This safe has a combination and biometric lock. If you check the computer logs, you will see it is only set to my fingerprint. You will also see that until I was asked to open this safe, it has not been opened for three weeks.”

He nodded in understanding. The anger seemed to have boiled off, or at least it was no longer directed at me.

“Um… lieutenant?” He looked over at the officer searching the contents. “Sir, there’s over half a million dollars’ worth of bearer bonds in here.”

The detective rushed over to where the officer stood holding the bonds. He looked back at me with a stern look on his face. “Mr. Stone, do you care to explain these?” I started to answer when he interrupted. “I can hardly think of a legitimate reason to hold onto these. It appears as if you might be into something illegal.” He stared at me, expecting an explanation.

Harold cut in. “My client does not need to explain his finances, and will not do so unless you charge him with a crime accordingly. It is not illegal to possess bearer bonds. And if you are satisfied there is nothing of evidentiary value in that safe, we would request you return the contents and allow Mr. Stone to reseal it.”

The detective nodded in disappointment, but released me from the scene since my lawyer was present. I sealed the safe and logged into my computer, printing off the log of the safe access along with the user setup showing that I was indeed the only one that could enter it. A pain tore through me thinking of all the arguments that occurred over that safe. Ana used to have equal access to the old one, but after I noticed a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of bearer bonds missing from it, I decided to seal it off.

Harold and I walked back to the kitchen to David. David tapped his fingers to his teeth. I could tell he was calculating the inconsistencies of my actions and stories over the past few months in his head. He spoke in a hushed voice. “Malcolm you’re wearing the same clothes I saw you in last night and you said you’d just gotten home. Where have you been?”

I thought fast. I did not want either of them to know I had been with another woman. I did not want anyone to know. I realized the precarious situation I was in, but if anyone learned of my indiscretion, coupled with the abuse Ana had put me through, I could become the prime suspect, if I was not already. “Ana and I had an argument last night before the show and I stayed out.”

David narrowed his eyes at me. “Is that why Anabelle wasn’t there last night?” I nodded. “Why did you lie to us?”

“I didn’t want you to worry.” Not that it did any good.

Harold was listening in. “Malcolm, did you tell the officers this same thing?” I nodded. “Do you have any witnesses to vouch for that?”

“I honestly don’t know. That hotel seemed like one that did not ask many questions. They never asked for id and I paid in cash.”

“Why did you stay someplace like that? You know you could have stayed on the estate!”

“Well, I drove around and ended up in some neighborhood bar. I drank too much and stayed at the first place I saw.”

“Why didn’t you call a cab?” David stepped in front of me to block any exit route I might have had.

An officer interrupted our hushed conversation. “Mr. Stone?” I turned to see him holding another piece of paper. “I have a warrant to collect any potential evidence from your hands and your clothing. Would you please accompany me so we supervise you while you change your clothing?”

Harold interrupted as he took the paper out of his hands. “Malcolm, you do not have to submit to this.”

I narrowed my eyes at him and cocked my head slightly. “Harold, I want to do as much as I can to help them find who did this.”

He turned back to the officer. “You can collect evidence from his hands and his clothing, but you warrant says nothing about the supervision of his changing. You can accompany my client to get a change of clothing and verify there is no other clothing in the location he chooses to change, but you are not supervising the act.”

The officer took scrapings from under my fingernails, a DNA swab, and fingerprints. He claimed it was for exclusionary purposes, but I have having a hard time believing him. He accompanied me to my bedroom where I grabbed a pair of blue jeans, sweater, and undergarments. I walked to the half bath in the upstairs hall let the officer investigate the room. As I was changing, I was thankful Harold was there to intervene and save my dignity. I handed the officer my clothing and he released me from the scene.

I returned to the kitchen and started to put my coat on, as David stepped back in front of me. “You were getting ready to explain what the hell is going one with your behavior.”

I shook my head. “No, I wasn’t. David, we can continue this conversation at a later date.   I need to get to the hospital and check on Anabelle and the baby.” He reluctantly stepped aside.

 

Continue reading Chapter 3

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