Friday, March 25, 2011

Death on the Aisle {Chapter Thirteen}

Chapter Thirteen

            “What do you mean you need to seal off the boat?”  I tried not to let my voice sound as hysterical as I felt. "Because you think the chef was murdered?"
            Detective Reese took my arm and pulled me away from the crowds that had gathered in the parking lot. “Keep your voice down. I don’t want people to panic and start rumors.”
            I tried to stay outraged but he was holding me so that I was nearly pressed against him. “If you shut down my wedding, I’ll be the one panicking.” I held up a hand and started ticking off fingers trying hard not to focus on how good he smelled. “Not to mention the bride, her stepmother, Richard. . . .”
            “Be reasonable, Annabelle,” Reese said. “If this is a murder, we can’t let you have a wedding on top of the crime scene.”
            “The wedding is still a few days away,” I said, wiggling out of his grasp. “Can’t you get all the evidence you need before then?”
            Reese shifted from one leg to the other. “Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean the boat is safe. If it was an accident, there could be faulty wiring and you don’t want that during a wedding.”
            I crossed my arms over my chest. “But you don’t believe it was an accident, do you?”
            Reese looked uncomfortable. “No, I don’t.”
            “So bad wiring is out.”
            “That still leaves you with a killer on the loose,” Reese said. “And no idea of motive.”
            “Throw me something I haven’t dealt with before,” I sighed.
            Reese saw that I was serious and laughed. “Are all wedding planners like you?”
            “Definitely not,” Richard said, joining the conversation.  “She’s one in a million.” From his tone, I couldn’t tell whether I’d just been complimented or insulted. But that was usually the way with Richard.
            “What do I have to do so you won’t seal off the boat?” I begged Reese.
            He considered me for a moment. “Can you convince the family to pay for private security?”
            I glanced at Richard and he nodded. “I’m sure they’d pay for anything that would keep the wedding plans moving ahead.”
            Reese pulled out his cell phone. “I’m going to call the best security company I know, all former law enforcement guys, and have them put a 24-hour surveillance crew onboard. That way we can make sure that nothing else happens and that our officers can process the evidence.”
            I breathed a sigh of relief. “That sounds fair.”
            Reese dialed with his thumb and then narrowed his gaze at Richard and me. “They’re going to be reporting straight to me, so both of you had better behave.”
            Richard put a hand on his chest. “I resent the implication that I would do anything but help law enforcement to the best of my ability.”
            “Seriously?” I whispered to Richard as Reese turned away and talked into his phone.
            “Too much?” Richard asked.
            “Well, considering you’ve operated your business against police orders before and tried to get Leatrice falsely arrested on more than one occasion it may be a touch insincere.”
            Richard tapped his chin. “You make some good points.”
            Leatrice walked up with Brody in tow as Reese put his cell phone back in his jeans pocket and turned back to us. He jumped a bit when he saw Leatrice standing there but a tiny old lady with jet-black hair and a full-on sailor suit could do that to anyone.
            “We’re all set with the security,” Reese said. “They’ll be here in an hour or so.”
            “Security?” Brody asked. “What’s going on?”
            “There’s been a murder, dear, remember?” Leatrice said in a stage whisper and patted his arm. She leaned over to me. “He’s very distraught.”
            Reese looked like he was making an effort not to laugh. “In order to move forward with the wedding plans, we need to put some security on the boat.”
            “Like armed guards?” Brody asked.
            “More like retired cops,” Reese explained. “Just to keep an eye on things and make sure there aren’t any more accidents what with all the wedding preparations going on.”
            “I suppose that’s necessary?” Brody rubbed his forehead. “My stepsister is already pretty upset.”
            Reese shrugged. “It’s necessary if she still wants to get married on the boat. Otherwise, we can remove everyone from onboard, seal off the boat and lock it down entirely.”
            Brody’s eyes widened. “My mother would flip out.” He looked at Richard and me. “And that’s something you don’t want to be near.”
            “So as long as we have the security team, we can go ahead with the wedding as planned?” Richard asked.
            “Once the forensics team is done.”
            “Forensics?” Brody looked at the boat. “This is out of control.”
            I’d seen a lot of wedding craziness, but I had to agree with him. This wedding was not going as planned.