As this week’s Crime Cafe guest blogger, it’s my pleasure to have mystery author Daniella Bernett here. Her latest novel FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE has just come out, and if it’s anything like her previous one DEADLY LEGACY, it’s sure to be a corker! 🙂
This week’s guest post will give you an idea of what I speak. It’s an excerpt from the new novel, to whet your literary appetite.
If you’d like to enter the drawing for a free copy of FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, just email Daniella at DMBernett[at]yahoo[dot]com with “Book Giveaway” in the subject line.
The giveaway runs through Oct. 18, 2017, and is limited to U.S. residents only.
Now, without further ado, here’s the excerpt of the story!
“Longdon, Miss Kirby,” Burnell called as he and Finch approached the trio. “We’d like to have a few words with you.”
Nigel didn’t miss the exchange of glances between Emmeline and Gregory. “Superintendent Burnell, what’s all this about?”
“Respectfully, Mr. Sanborn, this is none of your concern.”
Nigel smiled pleasantly. “As Miss Kirby is now an employee of Sanborn Enterprises and I’m the company’s corporate counsel, I have every right to inquire what this is about.”
Burnell sighed. “Mr. Sanborn, there’s no need to go all official. In light of the new situation, we would like to clarify some discrepancies regarding Miss Kirby’s and Longdon’s statements.”
“I see,” Nigel replied noncommittally without looking at either Emmeline or Gregory. “What new situation would that be?”
“Oh, Nigel, hadn’t you heard?” Emmeline said. “Sir Frederick Cabot is dead.”
“What?” Nigel’s gaze flickered from Emmeline to Superintendent Burnell and Sergeant Finch. “When did this happen?”
Burnell glanced over his shoulder and lowered his voice. “Miss Kirby, we’d appreciate your discretion in the matter. We are trying to keep the news quiet for as long as possible.”
A flush rose upon Emmeline’s cheeks. “Of course. You have my word that I won’t report anything until you’ve made a statement. However, may I ask, was Sir Frederick murdered as well?”
“We are not at liberty to say at the present time.”
“Oh, come on, Oliver,” Gregory chimed in, flashing a grin at Burnell. “You’re among friends. If you can’t tell us, who can you tell?”
The superintendent’s icy blue stare was full of venom. “I’d watch my step if I were you, Longdon. You have a lot of explaining to do about the night Lady Cabot was murdered.”
“And why is that?” Gregory asked.
“Because,” Burnell said through clenched teeth, “we’ve come across a piece of evidence that makes it clear that you have no alibi for that night.” He concluded this pronouncement with a pointed look at Emmeline.
The color drained from Emmeline’s cheeks. She tried to say something, but the words simply would not come out. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Evidence? That’s ridiculous, Superintendent Burnell. What evidence could you have? I already told you that Gregory was with me that night. All night,” she insisted.
Burnell turned to Emmeline and his face softened. But his tone was stern. “I know what you told me, Miss Kirby, but I’m afraid you lied to me.”
She blushed and lowered her gaze. She truly felt remorseful at having deceived him, but she had no other choice at the time. She couldn’t allow him to find out that Gregory had followed Veronica Cabot that night. And returned alone.
“Now, if the two of you would be so kind as to come with us.”
“I will be joining you for this interview,” Nigel said.
“Mr. Sanborn,” Burnell retorted irritably, “I assure you that Sanborn Enterprises has nothing to worry about. We do not intend to charge Miss Kirby with perjury or perverting the course of justice. Longdon is our primary concern.”
“Then, I’m still coming.”
“For Heaven’s sake, why?” Burnell protested.
Without flinching, Nigel replied, “Because Mr. Longdon is my client as well.”
“What? Since when?”
“Since five minutes ago.”
Burnell and Finch exchanged an annoyed look.
“So shall we proceed with these questions that you have? I take it that you are not going to conduct this interview in the middle of the lobby.”
Burnell pursed his lips and shrugged. “Very well, Mr. Sanborn. Have it your way. The hotel has put the private conference room at our disposal. If you would all follow us.”
“Of course, Superintendent Burnell,” Nigel said. “Anything to help the police in this matter.”
“Hmph,” Burnell grunted.
Nigel, Emmeline and Gregory silently followed a few paces behind the two detectives. Nigel’s gaze met Gregory’s over Emmeline’s head. Gregory’s cinnamon eyes narrowed slightly and he gave an imperceptible shake of his head. Otherwise, his features were arranged in a neutral expression.
Emmeline lightly touched Nigel’s arm. He looked down at her and she mouthed, “Thank you.”
He gave her a reassuring smile and patted her small hand. “Don’t worry,” he whispered. “Everything will be all right.”
Emmeline cast a sidelong glance from under lashes at Gregory. “I hope so.”
That was all that they had time for. They had arrived at the conference room, where Burnell was standing in the doorway waving his hand at them impatiently. “All right. Let’s get a move on.”
Finch was already settled at the table with his notebook open. Burnell closed the door as they took seats opposite Finch. Emmeline sat in the middle, flanked by Nigel on her left and Gregory on her right. Her hands were folded on the table to prevent them from trembling. Gregory reached over and put one of his hands protectively over hers. Without looking at him, she slipped them from his grasp and into her lap. This was not lost on Finch, who looked from one to the other.
“Now then, Longdon,” Burnell said as he came round the table and wearily lowered himself into the chair across from Gregory. “We know that you were not with Miss Kirby the night Lady Cabot was killed. So where were you?”
Gregory smiled and didn’t answer at first. He leaned back in his chair and crossed one leg over the other. “You know it’s not very nice to contradict a lady. How do you know that I wasn’t with Emmy?”
Burnell smiled, but his eyes were hard as steel. “Show him, Finch.”
The sergeant produced the note they had found in Sir Frederick’s room and slowly pushed it across to Gregory, who glanced at it with a bemused grin. “Oliver, I must say that I’m extremely disappointed.” He clucked his tongue at the superintendent. “This is not worthy of you.”
“Let me see that,” Nigel said.
Gregory casually slid it over to him without taking his eyes off Burnell.
Emmeline craned her neck to see the note over Nigel’s shoulder. “I’m afraid my client is right, Superintendent. Anyone with access to a computer or a typewriter could have written this. Clearly, it was the real killer’s intention to divert suspicion from himself by incriminating Mr. Longdon.” Nigel pushed the note back to Finch, unconcerned.
“Nevertheless, the fact is that Longdon does not have an alibi and he has failed to explain how he got that bruise on his temple.” Although Burnell was speaking to Nigel, he fixed his blue gaze on Emmeline.
Unconsciously, she fingered the gold bracelet Gregory had given her. A tense, uncomfortable silence closed in around them, intimidating with its stealthy approach.
At last, Gregory cleared his throat. “I didn’t kill Ronnie,” he said quietly. “I’ll tell you everything that happened that night as long as Emmy leaves this room now. She has nothing to do with any of this. We all know she was simply trying to protect me. But really, darling,” he turned to her, “it’s not necessary.” He lifted her hand to his lips and grazed her knuckles with a kiss. He looked back at Burnell. “Don’t prolong this, Oliver. It’s me you want, not her.”
Burnell stroked his beard thoughtfully and then jerked his head toward the door. “Go on, Miss Kirby. Longdon’s right.”
“Thanks, Oliver,” Gregory mumbled.
“That’s Superintendent Burnell to you for the millionth time.”
Emmeline snatched her hand away and glared at Gregory. “I see. All boys together, is it? You can bloody well think again. I’m staying whether you like it or not.” She tapped a finger impatiently on the table. “I’m fed up with being kept in the dark. I’m not some mindless female who needs to be coddled and sheltered. Whatever you have to say, you can say it front of me.”
She thrust her chin in the air, daring any of them to contradict her. The only one not stunned by this outburst was Nigel, whose lips convulsed into a smile.
Burnell shrugged. “You heard the lady, Longdon. Start talking.”
Emmeline crossed her arms over her chest. Her back was ramrod straight, the expression on her face was intractable.
Gregory sighed. “All right. As you’ve already surmised, I went to meet Ronnie that night. However, she was the one who arranged the meeting not me. I did not write that note and I didn’t murder her.”
“That remains to be seen, Longdon. On several occasions you were overheard threatening Lady Cabot. Why did you go to meet her that night?” the superintendent pressed, stone-faced.
Gregory hesitated. His snaked over to Nigel, who nodded. “Because she threatened to destroy Emmeline’s career, if I didn’t kill her husband.”
Daniella Bernett is a member of the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Journalism from St. John’s University. Daniella is the author of the Emmeline Kirby-Gregory Longdon mystery series, which features a journalist and a jewel thief. Lead Me Into Danger and Deadly Legacy are the first two novels. From Beyond The Grave, Book 3, was released on September 23. She also is the author of two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections. In her professional life, she is the research manager for a nationally prominent engineering, architectural and construction management firm. Daniella is currently working on Emmeline and Gregory’s next adventure. Visit www.daniellabernett.com or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008802318282 or on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/40690254-daniella-bernett.