Rosie stole things from her employers, just as I surmised. Usually silver or jewelry, but once in a while, she’d have a sheaf of papers and wouldn’t tell Derek what they were. When I open my mouth to interrupt, Derek hurries on over my questions. The last time he saw her, he tried to find out obliquely if she was still stealing things. She just laughed at him and said that was penny-ante compared to what she had going on now. When Derek asked what she meant, she explained her newest venture to him. Venture. He makes it sound like she was an entrepreneur or a small-business owner, not the blackmailer she really was. She regaled him with stories of her clientele without revealing their identities. She said one had killed her husband; one had embezzled some money; one didn’t have the credentials she said she did; one was running an apartment scam. Things like that.
I couldn’t believe he hadn’t gone to the police, and I tell him so in no uncertain terms. I mean, we’re talking about blackmail. Derek doesn’t see it that way. In his eyes, all her clients deserved it because they are all liars and cheats and thieves, not to mention a killer. I look at him in disgust. This is the same man who works with juvenile delinquents, trying to rehab them. Does his attitude mean that he thinks they deserve whatever happens to them? I don’t ask because he’s still talking. He says the fact that Rosie’s clients live in Marin is a blackmailable offense. By now, he’s slurring his words which means I should get as much information out of him as quickly as possible and save my indignation for later. Besides, I’m hoping at some point he’ll realize if he had stopped her from continuing her ‘venture’, she’d still be alive.
“What else?” I massage my forehead, feeling the stirrings of a headache.
“Um, well,” Derek stalls again, refusing to meet my eyes. Suddenly, I get it and heave a big sigh.
“Derek, I don’t care if you slept with her,” I say earnestly, though Greta might care. A lot. “As long as it has nothing to do with her death.”
“No! It’s just, um, well, we had both drank a bit, and um, I invited her back to my place, just to reminisce some more. One thing led to another.” I look at him in exasperation. That is the lamest excuse in my book. One thing doesn’t lead to another, not without help. I don’t debate his statement, however, as it isn’t the point.
“So, when exactly did this happen?”
“The day before she was killed,” Derek says glumly. “I can’t believe she’s dead! We spent all afternoon in my bed talking and having sex. She told me one of her clients would be upping her payment. She was in such a good mood. When she left, she told me she’d call me after the deal went through. To celebrate. I waited all the next night for that call.” A call that never came. I have a ton of questions, most of them irrelevant to the case. I also remember the day in question at work—Derek had called in sick after taking off to see the counselor at the other agency.
“Has the police talked to you yet?”