Chapter 5: A Tangled Web
“How would I find out about these auctions,” Officer Palin asked again.
“I wouldn’t know, I’m not a big enough fish to ever get invited. Why don’t you ask Carter?”
“How would Liam’s husband know?”
The smug expression swam back onto Nathaniel’s face. He looked challengingly at Palin and folded both across his chest.
“Did you even question Carter? You didn’t did you? Isn’t it standard practice to look at the victim’s significant other first? If anyone has plenty of motives to kill Liam it’s his husband!”
“The man just found out his husband was brutally murdered in their home. He’s in shock…” Palin began.
“Bullshit! The two of them were about to get divorced, when Nathaniel was murdered. Convenient timing wouldn’t you say? If you had bothered to ask that man a few basic questions, then you would know that he is an attorney who represents people involved in international shipping and trade. Didn’t you just say that you don’t believe in coincidences? And what about that maid of his?”
“Surely you’re not implying that she had something to do with Nathaniel’s death.”
“All I’m saying is that a month or so ago, her son visited and the next thing I knew, Nathaniel had called the cops on him. He said something about a missing valuable artifact. I happen to know for a fact that her son is some sort of devil worshipper. Maybe she told him about Nathaniel getting his hands on a grimoire and he decided to take it by force, when Liam wouldn’t give it to him. The boy doesn’t work, so there’s no way he could have bought it.”
“Thanks, I’ll look into it. Now, back to this black market auction house.”
“Are we back to that? I already told you, I don’t have any direct knowledge,” protested Nathaniel.
“Then how did you find out about them?”
“When you travel in certain circles, you hear things.”
“What exactly have you heard about these people,” persisted Palin.
“Not much, somebody said they operate out of a warehouse down by the riverfront.”
“There are a lot of warehouses down by the riverfront. You’ll have to be more specific than that.”
“Are you expecting me to have an address? I keep telling you, I don’t have any direct knowledge of these things. Word around town is there was a fire or some sort of explosion in the warehouse and three people lost their lives. If and when you find the place, please don’t tell them that I told you anything about it.”
“You just said you’ve never had any involvement with these people. They don’t even know you.”
“It doesn’t matter. When you show up asking questions, they’re going to want to know who told you about them and then they’ll come after me. Why do you think only a select inner circle of people even know about them? It’s how they manage to fly under the radar. The more I think about it, I’m realizing that I shouldn’t have told you anything. It will only a matter of time before they come for me!”
Palin looked up from his notepad with a disbelieving smirk on his face that dropped off, at the sight of growing panic in Nathaniel’s eyes. That man really believed what he was saying. Were these people actually that secretive and thoroughly ruthless? A self-important man like Nathaniel would convince himself that people would seek him out for the things he said. So, Palin had to take what the man said with a grain of salt. He had certainly never heard of this group. Nathaniel suddenly scooted to the edge of his seat, his fingertips gripping the steel mesh of the cage separating them.
“I…I’m going to go away for a little bit, for my own safety.”
“Aren’t you being a little dramatic? Look, I won’t tell these people that you gave me any information about them okay? So you can relax, there’s no need to go into hiding,” said Palin placatingly.
“I don’t trust it. You might have a leak in your department. Everybody over there will have access to your report.”
“If you’re going somewhere, then I need to know where you’ll be. I’ll probably have follow up questions.”
“What? Oh come on! I don’t know anything else! Ok fine, my next door neighbor Judith Feinstein will be able to tell you where I am. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a signal on my cell phone where I’m going.”
“How far away are you planning to go? Make sure you don’t leave the state.”
Nathaniel nodded resignedly and Palin let him out of the car. It was late and Carter Stansfield had already been traumatized enough by the violent murder of his partner. Palin decided to allow him, his hysterical housekeeper and his uneasy neighbors to be have time alone with their families. There would be time enough for questions in the morning. He would return to his office and do a little fact checking.