Shades of Murder (The Mac Faraday Mysteries) (18 page)

“Rachel met Scott Hathaway ten years ago when she interviewed Neal on her show
Good Morning, Pittsburgh.
She was the host of the morning show with WPXI-TV for three years until she got married. Now she’s a rich man’s wife and very active in the party scene.”

“Where was she at the time of the murder?” Joshua asked.

“The murder happened Monday morning between twelve and one. All of our suspects claim to have been in bed asleep. Scott was in Europe. Rachel was sleeping alone. The Kaplans were up here at the Inn. They only alibi each other.”

Joshua asked, “The assistant?”

“Guest room at the estate,” Bogie said.

“Someone’s lying,” Mac said. “Someone wasn’t asleep. Someone was awake and committing murder.”

Abruptly, Rachel slammed her hand down on the table. After bursting into tears, she ran from the restaurant.

Cameron grinned across the table at Archie. “There comes a time in every cold case where loyalties shift. That’s when the truth comes out. Now might be a time for that to happen.” She picked up her handbag. “Do you feel like powdering your nose?”

“As a matter of fact, I do.” Archie picked up her purse. “Excuse us, gentlemen.”

“Bastard!”

Archie and Cameron had to stand back to let a group of women rush out to escape the wrath of Rachel Hathaway, who was acting out her fury by hurling the fresh flowers and vase, towels, and anything else that she could get her hands to throw across the room.

Calling out for security, the wash room attendant ran across the lobby, while Cameron went in. When she saw the extent of Rachel’s fury, Archie took cover behind the detective.

Her hands on her hips, Cameron watched Rachel while she screamed, jumped up and down, and kicked and punched at everything in sight. The detective’s expression was that of a mother watching her spoiled child throwing a tantrum.

Rachel was in the midst of yanking every warm folded-up towel off the table when the restroom door opened a crack. “Do you need help in there?”

Cameron called back over her shoulder. “We’ve got it covered. Thank you.”

The door shut again.

“Feeling better?” Cameron asked in a calm tone when Rachel stopped to catch her breath.

“No!” She let out a wrenching sob and looked in the mirror. Displeased with what she saw, she rinsed her face and reached for a towel only to find them scattered on the floor. “Where’s a towel? Why don’t they have any stinking towels in here?”

With a calm demeanor, Cameron retrieved a towel from the floor and handed it to her. “How’s this tantrum working for you?”

“He totally dumped me,” she sobbed. “He like totally dumped me. Me! Me! Doesn’t he know who I am? Nobody’s ever dumped me before. Who is he to dump me? Can’t he see how hot I am? Look at me!”

After agreeing that she was a catch for any man, Cameron said, “Maybe if you weren’t cheating on your husband, you wouldn’t be getting dumped. Did you ever think about that?”

Rachel turned to her. Her face screwed up with disgust.

“Don’t you like, promise to stop dating, like when you get married?” Cameron asked with a mocking edge to her tone. “Otherwise, it’s like, not really marriage, but heavy dating with fringe benefits.”

“Who are you anyway?” she demanded to know.

Archie stepped around to Rachel’s other side. “She’s with me.”

“Oh.” Realizing she didn’t know Archie, Rachel asked, “Who are you?”

“I’m Mac Faraday’s friend.” Archie offered her hand for her to shake. When Rachel refused to extend her hand to accept the offer, she withdrew it. “Archie Monday. And this is Cameron Gates, a homicide detective. She’s investigating Ilysa Ramsay’s murder.”

Rachel whirled around to Cameron. “Oh, really?”

“Time has a way of bringing past events into focus,” Cameron said. “Maybe you can remember something about that night that you missed before.”

“Do you mean like Susan Dulin?” Rachel’s eyes were blazing.

“What about Susan Dulin?” Archie asked.

“Her and Peyton Kaplan. They’ve been off and on more than a light switch. When Ilysa was killed, they were on. The night she was killed, I saw Susan running down the path to the lake.”

“About what time?” Cameron glanced over at Archie to see that she was equally doubtful.

“It was one o’clock,” Rachel said. “I’m positive, because the grandfather clock was striking one when I came downstairs to go get a drink.”

“And you saw Susan outside the house on the grounds?” Archie asked. “At one o’clock in the morning?”

Rachel insisted, “If you don’t believe me, ask Greta.”

“Greta,” Cameron asked. “Who’s Greta?”

“The Hathaway housekeeper,” Archie reminded her.

“Oh, Lurch!”

“Who’s Lurch?” Rachel asked.

“Never mind,” the detective said. “Tell us about Susan.”

“When I was in the study and I saw Susan leave, I didn’t want her to see me watching her. So I turned off the light,” Rachel said. “That was when Greta came in through the patio door. I thought she was a burglar and she saw me and we both screamed at each other.”

Cameron asked, “What was Greta doing outside?”

“She was out skinny dipping in the lake,” Rachel said. “She does that late at night when no one is around.”

Archie cleared her throat before telling the detective, “A lot of folks here on the lake do that.”

“Do what?”

“Go skinny dipping in the middle of the night,” Archie said. “I do it myself. It’s quiet and invigorating. It’s almost like meditating.”

“Yeah,” Cameron said without humor before turning back to Rachel. “What did you and the naked housekeeper talk about after screaming at each other?”

“Nothing. We had a good laugh about scaring each other. I got my drink, and I went back to bed.”

“Did you tell the police about any of this?” Cameron asked her in a harsh tone.

Rachel gazed at her. “You mean I’m supposed to tell them about getting a glass of water? They asked me if I saw anything. All I saw was Susan sneaking off to meet Peyton like she does all the time.”

“Was she heading in the direction of where Ilysa Ramsay was killed,” Cameron asked, “and around the same time as the murder?”

“Oh.” Rachel’s mouth formed an “O”.

While Cameron turned away in disbelief about the witness’s lack of intelligence, Archie stepped in. “Could she have been sneaking out of the studio after killing Ilysa?”

Rachel still stared at her with wide eyes. “Maybe.”

“Were the lights in the studio on or off?” Archie asked her.

“On.” Rachel nodded her head. “Yes, they were definitely on because when the lights to the studio are on, the outside lights are on, too. I wouldn’t have been able to see her if they’d been off.”

“Can you think of any reason that Susan would have to hurt Ilsya Ramsay?”

“You mean other than to get her hooks into Neal?” Rachel asked. “Nah! She’s totally into Peyton.”

“Where did she meet Peyton?”

“Along the lake,” Rachel said. “At the park. They hook up in the back of his SUV.”

“How do you know that?” Archie asked. “Did you see them?”

“No, it’s where he’d meet me—when he and Susan were off.” Rachel held up her cell phone. “Until now—they’re on again, as he just texted me.”

Cameron cocked her head at her. “Let me understand this. When Susan and Peyton Kaplan are off, you and he are on. Then when he wants Susan, he dumps you—”

“Which he just texted me!” she yelled.

Archie asked, “And the night Ilysa was killed, Susan and Peyton were on and having sex in the back of his car down by the lake?”

“Until he dumped her,” Rachel said. “She told me about it that morning before Ilysa’s body was found. She’d been pressuring him to leave Nancy, but he told her that he could never do that. He was comfortable with the lifestyle that her and her family’s money provided for him. Even if he did love Susan, he could never leave his wife.”

In spite of her best effort to be sympathetic, a giggle floated to the surface when Archie asked, “Are you telling us that Peyton flat out told Susan that he was dumping her because she didn’t have enough money to support him in the lifestyle to which he was accustomed?”

“What did she do when he said that?” Cameron asked.

Rachel giggled. “According to what she told me, she gave him a good swift kick in the family jewels, jumped out of the car, and came back up to the house.” She asked the detective, “If I shoot him there, do you think a jury would convict me?”

Cameron asked, “Why would you have an affair with a man like that?”

“Sex,” Rachel gushed. “Peyton Kaplan is
unbelievable
in bed.”

Chapter Ten

“One o’clock is around the time of the murder,” Bogie said between bites of his steak when Mac reported what Archie and Cameron had uncovered from Rachel in the ladies restroom. “That works for me. It’s closer than we’ve ever been before.”

Mac said, “She could have been leaving the studio after killing Ilysa, before going off to meet Peyton Kaplan.”

“If she’s having an affair with him,” David said, “the two of them could have been working together as Ilysa’s accomplices in stealing those codes.”

“If that’s the case,” Mac asked, “why kill Ilysa, steal the painting, and not go through with the sale?”

Joshua said, “Change of heart about betraying their country. That could be her motive. To stop the sale.”

Across the restaurant, they saw Susan Dulin excuse herself from the table and leave. Now Neal and Scott Hathaway were left alone to finish coffee with Nancy Kaplan and George Scales.

“I’m torn,” Mac said. “I want to question George Scales about his Jaguar leaving the scene of your murder.” He pointed to Joshua. “But, I also want to ask Susan Dulin about her trip across the estate at the time of the murder.”

David stood up. “I’ll follow Susan while you introduce your lawyer friend to Neal Hathaway’s lawyer.”

Bogie objected. “You’re leaving me here alone.”

“You’re a big boy, Bogie. Finish your steak and relax.” Mac led Joshua across the dining room.

Neal Hathaway looked up with a wide smile when he saw Mac approach. “I was wondering when you’d come over to say hello.” He jumped to his feet and went over to clasp his hand.

After Mac introduced Joshua as a friend visiting from out of town, Neal Hathaway went around the table to introduce his son and guests.

After a few pleasantries, Mac asked George Scales, “Did you manage to take care of that matter that Mr. Hathaway told me about today?”

“What matter?” The lawyer’s face grew pale.

Joshua told him, “Someone was trying to extort money from Mr. Hathaway, and you were tasked, as his lawyer, to take care of the matter. What we want to know is, did you take care of the matter, and how?”

Neal asked Mac, “What is this about? Who did you say your friend was?”

“Joshua Thornton is a prosecutor from the Pittsburgh area,” Mac replied. “This afternoon, he and an investigator discovered the murder of a detective in your airplane hangar.”

Joshua kept his eyes on George Scales. “On our way into the airport, we were almost run over by a black Jaguar with personalized tags that read SCALES.”

Nancy clasped George’s hand. “Don’t say anything.”

“I didn’t kill her,” George insisted. “Yes, I found her body; but she was already dead, and I got out of there.”

Joshua asked, “What were you doing there? Don’t tell us you were coming in from a flight, because no personnel were on the scene. No flights for Hathaway Industries—arriving or departing—were booked today.”

Rachel, Archie, and Cameron came into the restaurant.

The men’s voices rose while the conversation escalated.

“I was there to pay her off.” The lawyer mopped his forehead with his napkin. “I had a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in cash in a briefcase to give her to keep her mouth shut.”

Neal threw his napkin onto the table. “Why were you paying her off? We did nothing wrong. I want to know who killed Ilysa and why. By taking care of it, I meant for you to get the authorities in to nail her butt to the wall for this!”

George Scales’s face was paler than it had been before. “I thought that if I paid her something that she would go away quietly, and we wouldn’t have any hassle.”

“I’m a big boy,” Neal said. “I expected there to be a hassle in trying to find out who killed my wife. If that’s what it takes, then hassle away.” He slammed his fist onto the table. “Is that why it’s been eight years and the police are no closer to finding out who killed my wife? Because you’ve been paying people off to go away and not bother me? Well, guess what? I’m bothered!”

Scott was on his feet. “Dad, I think it’s time to go home.”

Neal Hathaway pointed across the table in his lawyer’s direction. “You’re fired! Do you hear me, Scales? Whoever killed Ilysa is walking around free, because you paid everyone off to
not bother me!”

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