#18 – In The Woods

August 23rd, 2011


  • Oswald Glendale is immediately entranced by Sarah Price when first he sees her.
  • Oswald concocts a story that he’s a fashion interviewer in order to earn Sarah’s trust.
  • Sarah Price passes while drinking champagne after her interview with Oswald Glendale.
  • Duncan Marshall is under investigation for a double-murder that took place in California weeks before.

Her head hurt.  Like, really hurt.  She rubbed her forehead as the throb felt as though it might push its way through her forehead.  “Ow,” she said aloud.  As she moved, the rustle of the bedsheets alerted her to the fact that she wasn’t in her own bed; her sheets didn’t rustle.

She pushed herself up and looked around.  The walls and floors were clad in wood, there were trees beyond the windows and there was a decided lack of any noises coming from beyond the house.  She frowned slightly and looked from side to side without moving her head.  “How did I get here?” She mused.

Her legs slid around and she stepped out of the bed.  The bare floor was cool on her feet.  Slippers in her size were placed conveniently near the bed.  She took a step and the floorboard creaked slightly under her weight.  The sound, slight though it was, made her head throb again; she winced.

There was a sort of spiral staircase at the far end of the room.  Sound – soft, gentle music – was coming up from below.  She drew toward it and as she approached the top of the stairs she halted and took a step back.

Oswald Glendale made the last few paces up the stairs, regarding her directly.  “Sarah,” he said, smiling while carrying a covered tray, “you must be starving.”

She smiled in spite of herself; she was confused and at the same time flattered by the treatment.  “I am,” she said immediately.  His smile broadened further and he nodded.  Gently he ushered her back to bed and placed the tray in front of her.

“Eat,” he said, pulling the cover back from the tray to reveal her very favourite breakfast in all its glory.  “A beautiful breakfast for a beautiful woman.”  He said as he traced his finger across her cheek.

She looked up at him and smiled, “it smells wonderful,” she said as she picked up the fork.  The ache in her head was starting to subside and her thoughts were starting to clear.  The food tasted as good as it looked and, after a few bites she placed the fork on alongside the plate and looked at Oswald.  He was regarding her intently.

“I’m confused,” she said, beginning in the middle of the thought.  “How did we get here?”

“Here?” He said as if it were stranger that she should ask.  “We drove.”

She frowned slightly.  “But…  okay,” she said, “where is here.”

Oswald smiled, “we’re just outside of town in a little cabin in the wood.  It’s beautiful.  When you’re finished we can talk a walk along the lake, the view is breathtaking.”

“That sounds lovely,” she said, “so, we came here together?”

He laughed earnestly, “of course we came here together,” he moved from the chair on which he was sitting to the bed and leaned into her.  He kissed her on the mouth; she kissed back.  He drew back from the kiss and winked at her, “okay, you finish up here and then get dressed.  We’ll go for a walk and then you can see just how gorgeous it is up here.”

He got up from the bed and disappeared down the stairs, she could hear the creaking of the board as he went.

She shook her head slightly as if trying to shake loose a thought or a memory that would fill in the blanks of what she was doing there and why – and how.  She smiled when she thought of Oswald and she certainly appreciated the way that he was treating her.  But she was still mightily confused about the circumstances.

She decided to push those thoughts out of her head and instead enjoy the time with Oswald.  He certainly was charming and kind.  As she changed from her sleeping clothes into the clothes that she would spend the day in she rubbed a spot on her hip that tingled slightly.  She glanced at it and noted a small red dot; she rubbed it again and it stung.

She shrugged and turned back to getting dressed.

“Gee, Oswald is a thoughtful man,” she said to the empty room, “he brought along the loveliest clothes for me to wear.”

Cassandra Marshall watched her husband closely.

He had been acting strangely over the past week and she had begun to fear that he was having an affair.  It wouldn’t have been the first time, and she was certain there were more times even than she was aware.  But he insisted that those days were behind him, that he was fully committed to her and their future – whatever it might hold.

She had believed him when he’d told her that he had changed.

But now she sat in her living room with the chief of police, Anita Breza and a detective who she’d never met.

Anita Breza’s name burned on her tongue.  She knew that her husband had had an affair with the woman; it was the first affair that he had admitted to her.  Their tryst had been over for months, but still she couldn’t stand the fact that the woman was now seated on her couch.

“There are a few things I just don’t understand,” Cassandra said after the round-robin conversation had concluded.

Duncan, who was standing in front of the fireplace, made like he was going to speak, but detective Burgess spoke first, “what don’t you understand, Ms. Marshall?”  He asked; she bristled at the “Ms.”.  He had been quite cordial from the moment that he arrived in her home, with Anita Breza and the police chief, to speak with Duncan.  But she was quite finished with being called Ms. Marshall.

She leaned forward in the overstuffed chair and raise a single finger, “for one thing…  why did she,” she jerked her thumb at Anita, “come all this way?”

“I was worried for Du…  for your husband,” Anita said.  While she spoke Cassandra watched her eyes flit to Duncan twice.

Duncan spoke, “there’s nothing to worry about…”

Kevin Burgess chuckled, “Oh, Mr. Marshall, come on.”  He set his drink down on the table and stood, pulling a pad from inside his suit jacket.  “You have no alibi for the time of the murders, you have a history with…” he caught Cassandra’s eye and she looked away immediately.  “Ms. Breza, that, shall we say, gives you a motive.”

Cassandra watched Duncan glance back and forth between herself and Anita Breza before he spoke, “I love my wife, detective.  I always have.”

Burgess flipped pages in his note pad, “oh, did you love her on July 14th?”

Duncan took a step toward Burgess, “you son of a…”

“Gentlemen, please,” Chief Godspeed, who had been relatively quite until this point, stood and stepped in between the pair.  “Mr. Burgess, you said there was a purpose to bringing us all together?  Perhaps you could get to it?”

“Absolutely, chief,” Burgess said and turned toward Duncan Marshall.  “Mr. Marshall, I spoke to the Los Angeles County District Attorney this afternoon and he issued this.”  He said, holding up a piece of paper.

“What’s that?”  Cassandra asked.

“It’s a warrant for your husband’s arrest.”  Burgess replied, “on charges of first degree murder.”  She paused and turned briefly toward Anita Breza, “you’re under arrest too, Madam, for aiding and abetting.”  He handed the warrants to the chief, “Mr. Godspeed, I’m sure that you will see that the pair are detained and prepared to be transferred to California?”

Cassandra watched disbelief as Chief Godspeed nodded and gestured toward Duncan, “I trust we can do this without the handcuffs?”  He walked toward Duncan, “Mr. Marshall, you have the right to remain silent…”

“Stunning,” Oswald Glendale said as she descended the stairs.

She smiled broadly, “why thank you, Sir.”  She did a little turn as she stepped off the stairs and onto the hard wood floor.

The cabin consisted of one large wide open room that served as kitchen, living room and dining room; there were two closed doors that lead to other rooms, one was tucked into a corner which she presumed was a bathroom.  Oswald had been perched on a stool, but he stood as she entered the room.  At first she had expected that he was going to do something, but then she realized that he was just being gentlemanly and it made her giggle.

“What is so amusing?” Oswald said with a disarming mock seriousness, having realized that she was clearly giggling at him.

She waved her hand, “nothing,” she said, “it’s just that you stood when I came down the stairs.”

He extended his hand to her, and she took it, “of course I did,” he stated, “that is what one does when a lady enters the room.”  He took her hand and pulled her slightly into a spin and then dipped her down and followed it with a kiss.

She was feeling giddy and a little excited at the treatment she was receiving from the man.  “Oswald,” she said as he returned her to an upright position, “why did you bring me here?”  She asked.

“Because,” he said, making a sweeping gesture toward the large bank of windows across the front of the cabin, “beauty deserves beauty.”

She could feel the heat come into her cheeks as she blushed, “that’s sweet.”  She said, then added, “but I really should be at work today.  They are going to notice me gone.”  She glanced behind her, “where is my phone?”

Oswald pulled her in close to himself and kissed her again, “Sarah,” he said softly.  “You deserve to relax and enjoy your life,” he paused, “and let me show you what there is to enjoy.”

“But, my father is counting on me…”

Oswald tightened his grip around her waist, and her eyes snapped back to his, “you are far too beautiful to work yourself ragged for your father’s glory,” he said.  “Come, now let’s go for our walk and leave Price and its stress behind…  if only for the day.”

She opened her mouth to speak but he placed his finger on her lips.  “Enjoy yourself,” he said, then replaced his finger with his lips.

She kissed him back in earnest.  It felt good, if a little strange.  This – whatever it was – had all happened very fast and she was fairly certain that she was missing more than a few parts of the puzzle, but, for Sarah Price, that was not an entirely unusual feeling.

So she decided to do as Oswald instructed.  After all, he was just so darned dashing.

Emerald Heights Police DepartmentOnly two hours ago Cassandra Marshall felt her world had been quite normal; at least by Emerald Heights standards.  Yes, there was the matter of her husband’s infidelity, and the matter of her infertility, but on the grand scheme of things those two concerns seemed quite reasonable.

As she stood in the booking area of the Emerald Heights Police Department, watching her husband and his former mistress being processed, printed and photographed for the double murder of the woman’s husband and his receptionist she realized that the facade of her quite normal life had been shattered.  Had she been deluding herself all these months about the faithfulness of her husband?  Had she been living with a murderer for nearly a month?

She couldn’t fathom the notions as they raced through her head.

Chief of Police, John Godspeed, stood at her side, “Cassandra,” he said, dropping his usual formality in a manner that pulled her away from her thoughts. “Are you ready for what happens next?”

“I don’t know,” she said honestly, “this is all happening very fast.”

He turned to face her fully, taking her elbow and pulling her slightly away from detective Burgess, who was watching the prisoner processing with a militant scrutiny.  “You had no idea any of this was going on?”

Cassandra shook her head, “what?  The murders?”  Godspeed nodded.  She continued, “not at all.  I have been busy planning for the Waterford wedding, and there’s the annual back to school bash coming up at the end of the summer, and then the Jordan’s Hallowe’en event…” she paused and touched her forehead, “I’m sorry, I’m rambling.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Godspeed said immediately.  “Duncan never mentioned that his business associate in California was murdered at the same time he was in the city?”

The succinctness of the chief’s comment struck her like a blow, “no…  no,” she repeated.  “Do you suppose…” her voice trailed off.

Godspeed shook his head, “no, I don’t.”  He looked her directly in the eye, “and neither do you.”  She watched him glance at Duncan and then back at her, “he is going to need your support if he’s going to beat this thing.”  Godspeed’s glance switched to Anita Breza for a brief moment, but Cassandra noticed it, “what about her?  Did you know about them?”

Cassandra nodded slowly, “he told me about them months ago.  Months ago; when he told me it was over.”  She looked down at her feet and then back up at the chief, “July 14th was not months ago.”

The chief shook his head, “no, it wasn’t.”

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