“Hey,” I said, as she elegantly followed me into Mr. Karkroffs little study. “So, Marina Rusav, how do you know the Karkroff family?”
“Well, I don’t really. But since Caroline found me in the police-station and asked me here, I’ve got to know some of the other guests.”
“Do you think any of them are capable of…murder?”
“Oh!” Marina cried, and her eyes began to brim with tears.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to bring up the issue again- well, I do, because it’s a murder inquiry- but this is why I’m here. Your brother was brutally murdered and it could have been someone in that room who caused his death. Do you think any of them could be responsible?”
She quietly sobbed, not caring that I was there, and still could not speak. And there she sat for a minute, shaking her blond locks back and forth.
“No, I don’t think so. None of those people out there that I have met whilst being here seem…capable of murder.”
I leant forward, watching her golden-brown eyes as they glistened with pearly tears.
“Are you sure?”
“I…don’t know. I’ve only just met these people.”
“Agnetha! I don’t know. You said yourself that it could be anyone who was the one to hurt my brother. It may not have even been anyone from that room!”
She had voiced the one thought that I had been trying to push away all the time.
“Who then?” I softly asked, shaking my head. “Did your brother have any enemies?”
“No.” Marina mimicked my action. She was a very expressive woman. “I was close to him, and, as far as I know, he did not make a row with anyone. He knew Nicky, even though, when you ask her, she will deny it. It is true that they were not on the nicest of terms, but I don’t think that the woman would be capable… Though you said anyone could be…” She sighed. “Everyone has secrets in the crystals of their eyes.”
“And do you?”
“Don’t be like that. I’m no murderer.”
Another awkward silence crackled between us.
“What did Petre think of your relationship with your English chauffeur and manager, Quentin? It didn't seem a very balanced relationship. And what did Quentin think of your direct flight toLondon? He didn’t seem very happy when I saw him.”
Marinawhipped her head up, furious.
“Are you saying that just if my brother disliked a romance of mine, I would swipe him down? I loved him more than Quentin, more than any partner of mine. All my Russian family are precious to my heart!”
“So, you’re saying that you’re good friends with everyone? Can those in the other room confirm that?”
“I- well, not good friends, but I try and get along with who I can. Why won’t you believe what I have to say here?”
We sat staring at each other for what felt like millennia, even though it was only seconds. Her fury burnt through; I could almost feel the heat of it on my clothes. The singer’s eyes bore into mine deep regret at asking such ruthless questions. She made me feel as though I was the one in the wrong, the unkind one…
“And where were you on Wednesday, early morning?” Still, I had no choice but to press on with the questions.
Marina shook her head, a confused expression crossing her face.
“I…don’t know. I guess I was in bed… No, wait, I must have been on the way to the UK on Wednesday…or maybe I had already arrived. I-I’m sorry, I can’t pinpoint where I was…time seems to slip by nowadays.”
“That’s okay, Marina, take your time. How about if you had someone who could tell you?”
“I suppose my pilot might be able to, but he’s gone back to America. I gave him the time off whilst I…recuperate at home here.”
“Where is your home, Marina, where are you staying now?”
“I have a house in Novosibirsk, and the home of my father and my childhood is in Perm, but, at the moment, seeing as Maripose, through Carrie, invited me to stay for the investigation, I have one of the guest bedrooms situated on the first floor. The bedrooms of the Karkroffs, and their children, are on the floor above that.”
“Yes, I noticed it was a lovely large house.”
“Oh, it’s brilliant,” beamed Marina, albeit with tears in her eyes. “Carrie can be so comforting, since my world…has…”
I began to fear that she would return to tears again.
“You don’t need to say any more.” I put my hand upon hers, feeling as she relaxed.
She sighed mournfully, and I sighed too. We both reeked of frustration. In fact, I was getting pretty tired with this whole ‘interview’ process. This wasn’t the way Agnetha King went about the mysteries she had been set by life.
The Inspector had done his own interviews as well; I guessed that the guests were getting pretty tired of it all too.
“This is frustratingly boring!” I finally cried, jumping up. “I’m going to ask the Inspector a few things.”
“Surely you don’t think he’s a suspect?” replied Marina.
“Nope, I just have to get a couple of things sorted.”
At the door, I turned. Marina was still frozen in her chair.
“Feel free to go back to the other room. In fact, can you tell the others to sit tight, whilst I do some exterior investigating?”
“I can if you would like me to…” replied Marina hesitantly, but still she came with me, and we parted at the lounge-room door.
Carrie was also waiting at the door, her eyes hovering over Nicky, as though she expected the lady to be next. Looking around for the Inspector (Carrie was, helpfully, blocking the doorway), my gaze went away from Caroline, and she noticed the swish of dark blonde that was my hair. She jumped, startled that I was already that close to her.
“Come on,” I said, as I tried to push past her. Finally I did, but my eyes were still on her as I marched into the lounge.
Carrie ran to keep up with my large strides.
“What happened to the interviews?”
“I’m tired of the typical. Where’s your inspector?”
Carrie stopped in her tracks, a metre behind me.
“He’s not my inspector.” Her hard voice then softened. “Misha is in over there with your suspects.”
“They’re not my suspects,” I said, before biting back my tongue. “Sorry.”
Slowly, we walked together to Inspector Simnova, in the midst of a heavy, political conversation with Vladimere. I blocked my mind from hearing the chatter; politics was something that I would never let myself become involved in, especially if it meant putting the freedom of another country aside.
"Inspector!" I cried, greeting him as though he was a great friend.
"Miss King?" he said, suspicion creeping through his usual thick voice.
“May I see the body?” Suddenly, I had become all too nervous.
The Inspector rolled his eyes, as though he had expected me to ask no less.
“Let a girl see a top secret corpse? Definitely not! I’m sorry, Miss King, but you must let the police do their part of the investigation, and for you to stay away from places where you do not belong. I’m sure you were brought here in good faith, but you’re still just the public.”
I heard Caroline behind me, sighing.
“Misha, please be kind. Agnetha isn’t going to cause trouble, we promise that.”
I nodded, remembering the previous policeman who had underestimated me. I had showed him up by solving his case before he had had a look-in. Now here was another who, although alright in terms of being an enemy inspector, wanted to overrule all my decisions on a case I had been invited to solve.
“Can I at least hear what the official autopsy was?” I cried out, rather anguished.
Inspector Simnova sighed loudly, as though he was tired of all my queries.
“The victim was taken by surprise, no signs of a struggle, probably due to the fact he was distracted by the scream of the missing girl; he would have turned and, in one swipe, the murderer would have been able to plunge the knife deep in Mr. Rusav’s upper back. One direct hit to puncture the left lung, catching the heart. It was a very able shot; no man would have survived the internal, and external, bleeding.”
“Okay,” I nodded as politely as I could. “Thank you for telling me that.”
The Inspector grunted and turned away. I was about to do the same, when a thought hit me. Something that he’d probably not refuse…
"Sir..." I put on a slight babyish voice, hoping that he would get the point that I wasn't willing to sway.
"Miss King?" he said again, turning with annoyance in his eyes this time.
“If you won’t let me see the body, can I at least see the scene of the crime, the murder-site, or whatever else you call the place of death?” I tried not to bat my eyes childishly, as I would have done when trying to smuggle presents out of my father.
“Very well,” he replied, “if it’ll stop you from asking again, you may accompany me. I was about to head off with a second forensic team myself.”
“Thank you!” I grinned.
As Inspector Simnova left the room through the ‘magic’ tapestry, I felt Carrie’s hand on my shoulder, resisting my movement.
“Why do you want to go there?” she asked her face a picture of disgust.
My response was short, and instantaneous, but I’d have hated it to be called sweet.
"I'd like to see where he was murdered."