“Mrs. Combs,” Oscar, my driver said, jarring me from a comfortable sleep, my head nestled in Cherry’s lap. “We’ve arrived.”
“Just lemme get five more minutes, Oscar,” I mumbled, curling into a tighter ball and trying to fall back into the dreamless sleep I had entered.
I had just readjusted myself a third time and felt myself drifting back to sleep when a banging on my window scared the daylights out of me. I sat up and found the male detective from yesterday trying to peer at me through my tinted window. I craned my neck up as Cherry rolled the window down until it stopped at my eyes.
“Don’t tell me you’re here to tell me that somebody else has died because, to be quite honest, I haven’t gotten enough room in my broken heart to deal.”
The detective shook his head, suppressing an eye roll. He said patiently, “Mrs. Combs, my name is Leon Daniels and this is my partner, Kendra Ross. We are truly sorry for your loss but we’re going to have to ask you to come with us downtown to answer some questions.”
“Questions about what?” When he didn’t answer I grew irate, rolling my neck and poking his nose with my finger. “First, you people come into my home and shatter it telling me that my husband is dead, then I discover he’s possibly got some hoe on the low, he leaves me out of his will, and now you mean to tell me that I’m about to be questioned concerning his murder? Slather me on a bagel and call me butter. Can my life not get any worse?”
Daniels’ mouth flapped open and shut before he settled for, “Mrs. Combs, if you want we can question you upstairs instead.”
“How about you get to prosecuting my sister instead? She was sleeping with Raheem; she was with him the night he was killed. Hell, he died in her bed. What more do you need from me?”
Daniels’ partner, Ross, appeared out of thin air, her pretty almond shaped face screwed up in frustration as she slammed her hand on the side of the car. “Get out the car or I’m going to pull you out through the window by that cheap cat on your head you call a weave.”
“You could try, but you might rip that cheap rag you call a suit jacket,” I replied, abruptly opening my car door and stepping out completely unbothered, Cherry right behind me offering Resting Bitch Face the entire time. Cherry passed me my iPhone, which I placed into my Givenchy clutch and slammed the door shut. “Now let’s get this over with.”
“Zora, I have some stuff to handle so I’ll swing by later,” Cherry said, shooting the detectives a scathing look. “Call me if you need anything.”
The ride upstairs was awkward enough, with Ross on one side of me practically hissing from being shaded over her polyester ensemble while Daniels hummed the elevator music playing. When we finally got off I raced to my apartment, in need of some chamomile tea to calm me down. Jeanette was in the middle of vacuuming when we entered, her rotund behind shaking to the Beyoncé song she had blasting through her headphones. With a tap from me she was off to grab refreshments for everyone. I made my way to my bedroom where I changed into a slip and one of my favorite sheer robes lines with feathers. When I returned Daniels and Ross were watching me, their poker faces intact.
“I’m here, I’m sitting, and I’m ready to talk,” I said, peering at the pair over my glass.
Ross pulled out a notepad and said, “Mrs. Combs, where were you on the night of your husband’s murder?”
“In my bed sleep. Where you found me that morning. You can check surveillance footage. I never left the house on the night of my husband’s death.” I paused thoughtfully. “If you’re asking me this then I’m assuming that you think my sister is innocent. Where’s the evidence for that?”
Ross shot me a look of loathing before she said evenly, “You mentioned that your husband left you nothing in his will, correct?”
“Yup,” I said, popping my ‘p,’ “you heard correctly. After all we had been through he ain’t leave me with shit.”
“Except for a sizeable life insurance policy in your name,” Daniels said, pulling a piece of paper out of his suit jacket and tossing it on the coffee table. “Ten million dollars to be exact.”
I shrugged nonchalantly, hoping they couldn’t hear the pounding of my heart against my ribcage. “I know what you’re thinking and Raheem knew about the policy. He encouraged me to have money set aside in the event that something happened to him.”
“We don’t dispute that,” Ross replied. “But did he know that a month before his death the policy increased by five million dollars?”
“Yup,” I lied easily. “Raheem was going through a turf war with some street niggas and he knew it was only a matter of time that they tried to come for him.”
I could tell by the tight line Daniels’ mouth formed that he thought I was full of shit. Ross wrote down my comments with a smirk, shaking her head with every word. With a sigh, I decided to come clean with the detectives.
“That and I’m pregnant,” I finished lamely. “With the business Raheem was in, I knew he could die at any moment, but having a baby made that seem far more real. So I upped the policy once I found out I was pregnant, because the last thing I need is to bring a baby back to the hood where he’s made more enemies than I can count.”
“Raheem had enemies?” Daniels said casually. “Like who?”
“Fat Marco over on Stuyvesant, his boy, Lex, Donovan who runs the bodega on Dekalb and Marcus Garvey. The list goes on and on. Raheem has always been ambitious and some of them old heads who been slinging since they were ten could never understand why he was given territory at twenty. Maybe if they had more than a fifth grade reading level someone would trust them with more than a corner.”
I poured myself a glass of juice and guzzled half of the glass, wondering what to say next. I wasn’t sure what game they were playing but I had to hold my cards close to my chest because they were obviously up to something. If Tasha was being charged with Raheem’s murder, why were they over here asking me about my personal business?
“Why are you here asking me about my personal business when last I checked, Tasha is guilty?” I crossed my arms and waited for a reply.
Ross tapped her pencil impatiently, her lips forming a thin line. “We got back the ballistics report on your husband and turns out that the person who killed him was taller than your sister. There was also no sign of gunshot residue on her hands or arms.”
“How much taller are we talking?” I asked, picking up a finger sandwich and popping it into my mouth.
“Roughly, about six, six-foot-one.”
“So we’re talking a guy,” I said, feeling the tension in my stomach ease. It started to feel like a witch-hunt and the last thing I wanted was to find myself tied at the stake. “A guy of average height.”
“Or a really tall woman,” Ross finished. She nudged her head at my Louboutin Daffodil pumps. “That’s a pretty high heel, Mrs. Combs. Six inches, right?”
“Maybe,” I said with an overtone of hostility.
“And when we saw you on the morning of your husband’s death you were barefoot and about —”
“Roughly five-foot-four,” Daniels finished, rubbing his beard. “Five-foot-five at the most. And paired with high heels—”
“The exact height of our killer,” Ross finished triumphantly.
I sunk into my chair and let out a hearty chuckle. “Cute, real cute. So you came here to my house to accuse me of killing my husband, the man that I vowed to spend the rest of my life with, for some money? Like Raheem wasn’t making plenty when he was alive? Come up with a better motive than that because right now you got me looking like some stereotypical Lifetime Movie Network hoe.”
“Infidelity,” Ross said easily. “You found out that your husband and sister were sleeping together so you killed him and set her up to look like the murderer. It kills two birds with one stone and they both suffer for betraying you. It was a betrayal, right, Mrs. Combs?”
“Raheem had hoes, that’s no secret to me. Did I know one was my sister? No. But it doesn’t matter to me either way because at the end of the day I’m the one with the ring, not none of these broke bitches. So when you come up with a better motive please stop by and let me know, this time with an appointment.”
The detectives stood, Ross shaking her head in amusement when I didn’t see shit funny. Daniels was halfway to the door yet she hung back. She stared down at me with unmasked hate, a hate that I couldn’t understand. It was almost like she knew me.
“I know you from somewhere?” I asked, taking a sip of juice and tilting my head to the side.
Ross let out a knowing laugh before exiting, shaking her head the entire way. The door closed with a slam and I was left to speculate if Raheem had possibly been fucking cops. I got up, figuring it was Ross forgetting to add on some slick shit to her dramatic ass exit. Instead I got the shock of my life.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
Tasha craned her neck to the side before rolling up the sleeve to the cheap trench coat she wore. “To beat your ass, bitch.”
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