Connor met Shel Petry, his assistant, Henrietta Carter and the leading man and woman, the ever popular power couple, Joshua Cohen and Amanda Pennant.
They arrived with an entourage of photographers and bodyguards. Fortunately, the condo catered to high profile clients and the riffraff were soon sorted out and disposed of. However, that still meant two photographers and the assistants for Cohen and Pennant. In other words, way more people than Connor felt up to dealing with.
Determined to make a good impression, he led the group through the condo to the beach outside. The beach front was beautiful. The waves crashed nicely against the shore, the sand was white and clean looking, the expanse of beach wider than some. Once Petry saw it, he realized that Kent had the right idea. They were busily discussing the action of the scene, experimenting with angles and taking all kinds of publicity photos when Connor grabbed at his chest, gasping. They vaguely registered a cracking sound as he fell.
He stumbled into Petry and Carter, knocking Josh Cohen aside as he fell. Henrietta took one look at the crimson stain spreading over his pristine white chest and let out a piercing scream. A second cracking sound and the sand at Joshua's feet exploded.
Chaos ensued. Everyone on the beach ran in a different direction. Shel Petry had enough wherewithal to call the police. Henrietta Carter pressed her scarf against Connor's wound. The leading man, Cohen, added his shirt, holding the exit wound on Connor's back.
Amanda Pennant screamed hysterically until she realized no one was paying any attention to her, so she fainted. It might have played better if she hadn't rearranged her legs so they weren't sprawled open after she fell.
Beach Patrol arrived, followed by the ambulance. Two paramedics ran across the sand and did whatever they could to stabilize Connor for transport. They carried him to the ambulance and took him to the hospital, a semi-hysterical Henrietta with him. She refused to leave his side.
An EMT administered smelling salts to Amanda. The police arrived a few minutes later and started rounding up witnesses, but it was an impossible task. The beach was full of vacationers and residents, many of whom didn't wish to get involved. The only ones they got a clear, coherent statement from were a couple from Sweden who were standing nearby hoping to get an autograph from the actors.
Detective Vanessa Weinstein came on the scene ten minutes after the shooting. Aggressive and competitive, she was an up and comer. She knew how to play the game and used her femininity to her advantage. Dressed in a black power suit and a very white shirt, she stood out clearly on the beach. Somehow, in some mysterious way that Walter Scott couldn't explain, the woman didn't sweat. Her black hair was sleek, unmoving in the wind off the ocean. Her skin was perfectly dry, not even a bead of perspiration on her full lips.
"The rest of Daytona's in hell in this late season heat wave and you stand there looking like the Sugar Plum Fairy," Scott complained, wiping his face with a handkerchief.
"Don't drip in my crime scene," she said in a bored tone. "What's going on upstairs?"
"Got two perps, one actual shooter, one decoy. Second guy left his weapon. Your guy left a shell casing. Looks like both had the same kind of gun. No serial numbers on mine."
"Why would they make it easy? You didn't find my gun, huh?"
"Nope. But the shell's a 5.56mm, so we're figuring they both had identical weapons. MSSR."
She nodded, taking a sip of hot coffee from an insulated mug. Scott slurped water from a rapidly warming bottle and wiped his brow on his fist.
"Jeez, can we at least get outta the sun? I'm gonna fry."
"You should try getting a tan, Walt."
"I'm Scottish and Scandinavian, Ness, I don't tan. You could put me out here all day, I'd burn red as a beet."
"They're purple." She moved into the shade of a cabana bar where they'd set up their command center.
"You don't look like you'd burn. Got that brown hair and eyes."
"Dad's a redheaded Highlander, I got his complexion. Tell me something I need to know, Ness."
"We've got a bullet."
"Buried in the sand. I heard."
"And the victim wasn't supposed to be here."
"His brother was the one with the appointment, not him. Ever heard of Kent Griswald?"
"Who hasn't? Man's either a genius or Satan himself—take your pick."
"The vic is his younger brother, Connor. He took the meeting for Kent—who had something else to do."
"You're thinking his brother set him up?"
"Wouldn't be the first time. Younger brother, hungry for power, steps on the wrong toes?"
Scott nodded, thinking. The bartender handed him a glass of ice for his water. Scott thanked him with a silent nod.
"Doesn't feel right," he said.
Vanessa Weinstein shrugged. "Working theory."
"Meaning you do like and it's what you're going after. Bad way to work, Ness."
"You aren't the only one who can be right about something, Walter." She turned from him, heading out to the beach.
Walter Scott caught her hand. Tugging on her, he brought her back. "Look, you're a hell of a cop, Nessa. All I'm saying is don't limit your options. I've seen you do this. You get so focused on one thing, you miss details. This is a big deal, Nessa. Careers are made or broken over cases like this."
She got very quiet, moving closer. "This could buck me to Sergeant."
"Or bury you. I know you want to advance. Hey, I'd love a promotion. But take it slow, look at details. Don't miss something that's right in front of you because it doesn't fit your puzzle."
© 2016 Dellani Oakes