Gavin and Katrina took their turn in the waiting room before Katrina was finally given a gown and a cubicle. Gavin assured her he would wait while the doctors checked her out; giving her his promise not to leave her alone at the hospital.
He settled back into the uncomfortable orange plastic chair, his eyes on the double sliding doors. Presently, a pair of men entered. Their suits and their manner caught Gavin’s eye, and he stood. The men went directly to the nurse’s station, the older one taking something from his back pocket to show to her. The younger man stood slightly to one side, glancing over the people in the waiting room. Gavin walked toward them, arriving in time to hear his name spoken.
“No, we don’t have a Mr. Browning here, Detective,” the nurse said as she watched him put away his wallet.
“I’m Gavin Browning,” Gavin said, stepping up.
The man turned toward him, offering his hand. “I’m Lt. Carew; this is my partner, Detective Beals.”
Gavin shook hands with both men, then asked the nurse if there was a quiet place in the hospital where they could talk in relative privacy. She glanced at the large wall clock, then directed them to the main lobby, which had been closed half an hour now and should be virtually deserted until morning.
The three men followed her directions and were soon settled in the more comfortable couches of the large, dimly-lit room.
“Chief Harrison at the zoo has already told us what happened there, including everything you told him at the time,” Lt. Carew said. “I’d like to hear what else you have to add, as you were particular to mention you wanted to speak to us before we interview the victim.”
Gavin nodded, fishing out his wallet and passing them some identification. Detective Beals noted the information in a notebook as Gavin began speaking.
“I’m a lawyer from Rehoboth, Massachusetts. I deal mostly in contracts and wills. I am here in connection with a murder investigation. One of my clients, Andrew Charleston Beardsley, was murdered about three weeks ago. His nephews, Jason and Charleston, are the prime suspects, although there isn’t currently any concrete evidence that ties them to the murder.
“Do we need to ship Ms. McSwayne back east then?” Detective Beals asked.
“No,” Gavin said, “Ms. McSwayne isn’t wanted for anything, not even questioning.”
“What’s her connection to all this, then?” Lt. Carew wanted to know.
Gavin continued. “She is, or at least was at one time, married to Charleston, and I have questions for her relating to some of the provisions of the will, which I am not at liberty to discuss at this time.
“The two incidents at the zoo today lead me to believe Charleston, or Jason, or the both of them, have followed me to Spencer. I’ve no proof, but I feel strongly they’re behind the attacks.”
Detective Beals cleared his throat and looked up from the notepad he’d been furiously scribbling on. “Do the gentlemen in question have a motive to attack Ms. McSwayne?”
Gavin nodded, his brow furrowed. “They do have a motive…a strong one, but I can’t discuss it.” He paused, thinking hard for a long moment. “I believe I can say, without violating client privilege, that their motive has to do with some of the provisions of the will. They…may feel their lives would be considerably…easier with Ms. McSwayne…out of their way.
“They both have long and varied histories of trouble with the law and have been known in the past to be violent. That much, at least, is verifiable.”
Lt. Carew spoke, handing Gavin the ID Detective Beals had passed to him. “What you’ve told us does put a more urgent cast on the incidents at the zoo. How familiar are you with the world of criminal justice?”
Gavin chuckled. “Not very, although I’m well read in fictional criminal justice.”
Detective Beals snorted.
Lt. Carew nodded. “To be blunt, we don’t have much to proceed with. Chief Harrison will try to find something tomorrow at the zoo, but he can’t do much more tonight. He’ll let us know what he finds. We now have both the slugs and casings—and no gun to match them to. We’ve a pair of possible suspects, who may have a motive, although we have to take that on faith. We have no evidence the suspects are even within a thousand miles of Spencer. We can keep an eye out for your brothers and file an official report, but beyond that, there’s not much we can do. We don’t even have enough to put a watch on her house, I’m afraid.”
Gavin nodded. “I suspected as much, but I did want to make sure you understood the situation. Ms. McSwayne, as you’ll see when you meet her, is a timid soul. She hasn’t known me long, only a day or two, most of which hasn’t been enjoyable for her…some of the questions I had to ask made her relive some very unpleasant memories.
“I feel the best thing she could do is to lie low for a few days, so I can have a chance to try and ferret out our lovely duo, Jason and Charleston. I…have the financial latitude, from Andrew’s estate, to put her up in a motel and hire a bodyguard—“
“A bodyguard?” Detective Beals echoed. “You really think she’s in that much danger?”
“I believe her life is at stake,” Gavin stated gravely. “I’m willing to spare the State of Colorado considerable expense by setting her up in a private ‘safe house’ at a motel. I’ll keep the pair of you informed of my investigation and on her well-being. What I need to ask is if you could, without perjuring yourself, leave her with the impression that this is an official police safe house, and that she has no choice about cooperating in the matter.”
Detective Beals shook his head. “I can’t believe you’re even asking us that question.”
Lt. Carew smiled slightly at his partner. “I can believe he asked it. I even have to admit it’s not the strangest thing I’ve had a lawyer ask me to do, though it comes close.”
He turned to Gavin. “Mr. Browning, you tell a very entertaining tale. You can be certain I’ll follow up and check your credentials, and the truth of the verifiable statements you’ve made.
“I won’t, however, make you any promises to lead the young lady astray until after I’ve talked to her. I want you out of the room while we talk, so she’s not feeling any undue stress.”
Gavin bit his inner cheek at the request he be absent from the room, but nodded his agreement and the three men returned to the emergency room area.