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The city seemed to be on the brink of some very weird things as of late. There were a lot of calls about noise disturbances, fights breaking out between normally peaceful people and all around a higher crime rate than normal. Graydon was beyond confused by it all as he looked at all of the reports scattered across his desk, countless files on more crimes than he even wanted to think about right now. Opening on of the files he began to read something about what seemed to be a hate crime against one of the newer species in town, the Celestials. But before he could finish reading his superior came up to him with yet another file, a very thin one. “We just had a call in about a home robbery, I know it isn’t the usual sort of case you handle but we’re spread a bit thin recently. Here’s the address and the home owner is waiting at the residence to her interviewed. We’ve already sent a crime scene tech to the scene not long ago. So get moving and I expect a full report when you get back. They’re a very prominent family in the city so make sure to do everything you can to get this done and wrapped up as soon as possible.” Which was code for that fact that the rest of the cases he had to handle weren’t as important.
“I’ll head over right now.” Graydon said as he grabbed the file from his desk and pulled his suit jacket on and made sure his side arm and badge were both prominent on his belt, his badge easy to see since it was just barely offset from the front. Grabbing the keys or his personal vehicle he left the precinct and headed towards the river bank where most of the houses cost more than he could make working as a Detective. His place was small in comparison with what he could afford but he didn’t see a point in flaunting wealth that didn’t matter.
Pulling up to the house there was yellow police tape and a perimeter already in place, the staff of the house all outside as Gray got out of his car and ducked under the tape not needing to show his badge which was already half on display. “The home owner is in the living room already.” He told as he passed and couldn’t help but nod. The crime scene techs were already dusting for prints and shoe impressions. After talking to the first officers on the scene and then the home owner he went back outside where the rest of the staff was. He had been told that recently they had employed a new interior designer and it seemed a bit fishy that something of great value would go missing shortly after.
Looking at his notes and having been pointed to the designer by the home owner he walked over to the sun kissed beauty with dark hair. Her name was apparently Alexandra Stromberg but the home owners didn’t think she was involved, she had been a great help in their words but he had to question everyone. “Miss Stromberg, my name is Detective Lee and as I’m sure you know the family you’ve been working for were robbed. Currently we have no suspects but we’ve questioning those employed by them. When you left the other day did you see anything strange? Or have you overheard any arguments between your employer and anyone else in recent days? Someone they may have fired or had a disagreement with?” He asked as he turned the page of his small note book with pen in hand ready to write.
It was anything Lexi hated most in the world, it was to be given credit for something she hadn't done. That sort of a thing might have sounded like a blessing in most spheres but for a con artist, it definitely was the worst sort of insult. Especially when the theft done had been infuriatingly sloppy.
Who left weapon scrapes on the safe or smudges on the wall where that priceless artwork had been? A stupid novice was what Alexa surmised and to be compared to such an inconsequential person put her in a really bad mood.
Her lips further thinned as she stood in the Zonderkop living room. She should have declined the assignment just for their strange last name but they had that famous artwork she had been eyeing on and to find out that it was gone did not help matters at all.
'It is just a matter of security dear. Of course, we would never suspect you. You have been such a darling' Marleen spoke, her hands fluttering widely as she looked at Alexander. Jackass Man, as she had begun calling Marleen's husband simply cleared his throat and looked away. Lexi was in no doubt as to who had asked the detective to question her. Jackass had been hitting on her since she had taken the assignment and she had simply ignored him initially, used to dealing with those sorts back home in Sweden. However, her temper had swirled when he had attempted to touch her inappropriately and she had broken his arm. If nothing else, seeing him in that cast had made her day and simultaneously made her wish she had done greater damage.
She had moved to stand near the window when the detective they were meeting arrived. She took a customary first impression and made a note to hack for more information on him later. As Marleen pointed her out to him and left them alone, she came forth, her mask of concerned innocence firmly in place. After all, this wasn't the first law officer she had dealt with and knew it wouldn't be her last.
"I don't know what you mean by strange detective. As an interior designer, I do see my fair share of strange things. You'll have to go into more specifics." Lexi began politely "Poor Mauleen is pretty distraught so I am glad someone is here to get to the bottom of this" especially since she too wanted to know which dumbass had done such a lousy con job. "But if I were you, I'd start with the husband. He can be rather....handsy. That cast on his hand...I was responsible for it. He tried to touch me inappropriately so I returned the favour" She shrugged her shoulder and figured it was better to give him some truths to gain his trust. She didn't know what tale that Jackass would spin and she'd rather not be forced to flee the country just yet.
"Why don't you sit down detective and I'll tell you what I know. I hope it would be helpful. This whole thing has been terrible for all of us- what if one of us had been there? This robbery would have easily turned to murder" Shaking her head, Alexandra sank into one of their expensive couches "Would you like something to drink? Eat? I for one could go for a hot chocolate right now. The cook Mrs Parson is fantastic. I wonder how you do this though. I admire the law force but it must be such a bleak profession"
Hers was a perfectly practised persona of open friendliness and not a crack emerged in her armor. For the Strombergs to have ruled the crime scene, they had be experts in body language, twisting it to suit their needs and Lexi had no fear of the detective. But as she studied his attractive face she could't help thinking that it was a shame he was her enemy. He would have been fun to flirt with otherwise
Through talking with the Zonderkop couple it seemed like the wife was far more interested in finding out the truth of what happened and genuinely concerned, where as the husband seemed detached from the entire situation. That was until he had no problem pointing out the woman they wanted him to talk to, where as the wife seemed to think it was merely a precaution and gushed about how lovely it was had to have Alexandra working for them and how lucky they were. As they had talked it was clear that the husband didn’t share that sentiment and Graydon had the feeling there was a lot more too it than what met the eye. Though it was clear the husband didn’t have much to say and would prefer for the questioning to be over, which meant that Graydon would definitely be coming back to him later. For now he did need to get a feel for the scene and those of the house.
As he approached Alexandra she seemed almost relieved to see him and concern was evident in her features. Jumping right into the questions it was clear she wasn’t the sort which needed a false sense of ease to be placed around her to talk. Which was usually a good indication that someone was telling the truth since she was trying to assist as much as possible as he listened to what she was saying, nodding as she spoke of her employer being distraught. “Strange as in different or unusually cars, people you haven’t seen before or arguments between your employers and others.” He said trying to clarify what he meant since strange for Evermore could mean a lot of things after all. Though she did to a point throw suspicion on herself as she explained exactly why the husband was wearing a cast. “Do you think that his wife might know about that? If she intends to go for a divorce it might be easy to have someone seal what she wants than fight for it in a court room.” Though he didn’t necessarily think that was the case he still needed to ask.
As she offered him a place to sit he began to disagree but she was already moving to the couch and truthfully he should allow her to sit down and try to relax and clear her mind. “It could have, they seemed to be a bit sloppy so honestly if someone had walked in on them they likely would have dropped the painting and ran but it’s hard to say one way or the other. It is a really good thing that no one was home.” The owns of the house said they had been at a charity event in the city and that would be easy enough to check out. Sitting down next to Alexandra he flipped the page of his note pad before jotting down a few more quick notes. “I appreciate the offer but it’s not seen as very professional to accept food or drink at a crime scene.” Even if coffee would be nice at the moment, “It’s not always bleak, I tend to think of my job as solving mysteries, though some of them are a bit darker than others.”
Shifting on the couch to look at her since body language tended to say more than words he continued his questioning, “This is just customer and necessary to ask everyone who works here but where were you around the time of the burglary?” It was clear that he wasn’t trying to accuse her of anything, it was just something he was required to ask.
If her inventory of his character was correct, he would be difficult to fool than most detectives she had encountered. Which did not bode well of her at all. She swore silently at the sloppy thief again for putting her in such a position and strove to maintain a concerned, worried facade. Something had to be done to deflect attention from herself and her work. Though she had an air-tight control on her secret identity as a con artist, the man in front of her seemed like someone who could get to the bottom of things if he wanted.
Which was utterly dangerous.
And very interesting.
Alexandra did not often meet people she felt intimidated by. In her line of work, she hardly gave a passing glance at the law enforcement force, having neither the respect nor the patience to deal with them. But being confronted with his stoic, no-nonsense manner intrigued her more than she personally liked.
"Well then, in that case I do know of some things. Don't know if that will help though" she began in reponse to his query "the Zonderkops have seperate bedroom and if my deduction is right they both have no love for each other- never had. Which to me seems so strange. Why marry someone you cannot stand?" Her dark eyes looked into his for a moment, her persona as an innocent woman in place "I mean imagine having to sleep with a man like that husband of hers- not that you'd want to imagine such a thing, but still...their whole relationship feels so strange. Apart from that the security guard and the housekeeper have a thing going. I caught them making out." With a casual shrug, she moved to get up just asked he asked her about her alibi " I am a bit exhausted. Been working for hours. Let me get myself a cup and come back and we can continue. Wait here please"
Bloody Hell! Walking to the kitchen, her mind raced and she swore harshly. She had been on a con mission the exact time- a successful con mission with a client who would have now been back and discovered the missing cash and valuables. She had worked for them, four months prior and knew there'd be no connection with her, but still, it never bore well to have a detective on her heels. She'd have to go with the most common answer-being at home.
Getting two cups of coffee and a plate of cookies, her mind made up with her reply, she approached him. Her eyes flickered towards his phone on the table for a brief moment before an idea came to her mind. "I got you coffee and cookies here. Professionalism aside, you should have some. I won't tell anyone" she charmingly smiled as she came around to where he was sitting. "As for your question, I was just at home being my boring self with a book. My neighbour Mrs Matthews can confirm that if you wish" Mrs Matthews was awfully forgetful and it would be very easy for Lexi to plant the story in her head. Leaning down, she was about to place the coffee on the table when she tripped- pretended to- and dripped the liquid half on his legs and half on the floor, falling halfway across him.
"Oh no! I am so very sorry Mr Lee. This is awful! For a designer, I am so clumsy. Let me get you a towel. Maybe you should go and clean up. Oh this is horrible!" A string of apologies erupted from her lips as she looked at him with a remorseful gaze as she tried to pick up the broken pieces. Though internally she was a bit gleeful. Hopefully, he'd go to the bathroom and she'd get to look into his phone. Knowledge was power and any information about him would make her armour even stronger.
Anytime anyone was overly helpful he always assumed that there was a reason for it. Though the reasoning for Alexandra seemed to be fact that the husband of the couple she worked for was a piece of shit individual. It was something that unfortunately happened and he had gotten some strange vibes from the man since he didn’t really want to talk or be very helpful, other than throwing their home designer under the bus. It was an interesting situation to say the least and there was clearly more to all of this that he realized but he was willing to put in the time and the effort to figure this mystery out.
It felt like Alexandra was a part of this and he didn’t know why he couldn’t shake that thought, he didn’t believe that she was the person he was looking for in correlation with the poorly done job but she seemed to be a piece of the puzzle. She had no issue talking to him which was good since no one else seemed to know much so far. Knowledge was power and in a case, the more you knew, the more you understood and that made it easier to figure out motive and who might be involved.
As she spoke of knowing something his brow rose since he was curious to say the least, “At this point I’ll take any info that I can get since even something small can be relevant.” He said while listening to what she had to say. “Sometimes loves fades and the person you married isn’t the person you thought they were.” He was sure his former wife could attest to that one but he was pretty sure she had passed on many years ago. “Some times people grow apart instead of together.” He wasn’t necessarily trying to defense either in the couple, it was just something he understood well, especially when two people wanted different things but he continued to listen and jot down little notes. Though the security guard and the house keeper having a relationship did account for why he hadn’t made his rounds and gave the poor excuse of being in the bathroom. “Of course.” He said as she excused herself which wasn’t customary for an interviewer but it wasn’t like she could go very many places since the house was on lock down.
Tapping the end of the pen against the small note pad he thought on what she had told him so far as he took a moment to observer those around him. “She’s a sly one, I could be hesitant to believe everything she tells you.” His gaze once more moved to the husband who had moved closer to them which was agitating to say the least.
“I appreciate your input but Sir this is meant to an unbiased interview and I need you to wait in another room.” This seemed to infuriate the man as his face turned red and he began muttering under his breath about his tax money paying for Graydon’s wages and the Niveis just rolled his eyes since he really didn’t need that money at all. It was a stupid thing to say to a Detective and only got him put farther up on the list of suspects since he was pushing so hard for someone else to take the fall.
It wasn’t long after the man had left that Alexandra reappeared with two cups of coffee despite his prior words. It was a sweet sentiment to be honest since most just wanted a Detective gone as fast as possible, not sticking around for coffee and cookies. He did work long hours after all and the coffee would be a nice pick me up. “Thanks” He said as he reached towards the cup she was placing down while giving her alibi, “What book where you…” His question was cut off as the hot coffee hit his leg and the very expensive floors. His skin automatically began to decrease in temperature to make up for the sudden heat which had taken over.
“It’s fine, mistakes happen.” He said as he slowly stood up acting as if the temperature of the coffee had bothered him since it was always good to pretend like he was a normal human even though he had the feeling she wasn’t. “Bathroom?” He asked before she gave him directions and he nodded he head while tucking his note pad away. Gray knew his phone was on the table, this wasn’t his first day on the job but he left it there as he went to find the bathroom. What interested him was the measure of a person and what they might do when no one was in the room. Finding the bathroom was easy and he used his Niveis abilities to pull the water from the coffee from his pants and dropped it into the sink. Brushing off the leg of his pants he wasn’t too concerned about a stain before leaving the bathroom and returning to the room he had been interviewing Alexandra in.
This was the moment.
Alexandra had enough training to detect the slightest sound and while her ears were on the lookout for his return, she swiftly used her napkin to pick up his phone and dial a number- an unlisted number that couldn't be traced back to her but could be easy for her to use to hack into the device later. All she needed was his number and now she had it. Quickly deleting the history of that call, she carefully placed it back on the counter just as it had been and took a seat. She had been on enough con missions to know how dangerous it was to have a fingerprint on anything and since then always had this soft napkin to blot out any evidence.
No sooner had she rested her head on the couch than that awful Zonderkop came into the room- his face red hot with anger. "I knew it was you b*tch. I knew you stole. I'll throw you in prison" Lexi rolled her eyes at his pronouncement. Afterall, from his perspective, she was a woman and hence thought to be weak. Little did he know how easily she could take him down on the combat. She had decided to ignore his words and go back to waiting for the detective but Zonderkop simply couldn't take the hint to shut up.
"You know" she snapped interrupting another string of swear words thrown in her direction, "I think it would easier to land you in prison for harassment than me for robbery. Don't think I have forgotten what happened to Maria or why she left so suddenly." Maria had been the substitute cook for a while and the jerk had taken every opportunity to harass her. Lexi had found him trying to forcefully kiss the poor girl and had broken his nose. Since then, he had aimed all his anger in her direction. Sure, she was a con artist and was often thought to have no morals or righteous principles but even she understood boundaries and drew the line at certain crime.
Lost in contemplation, she almost missed when Zonderkop launched himself at her in rage and twisted around to get out of his way in the last moment. He grabbed her arm and she kicked him hard on the groin while launching her elbow in the direction of his nose- the same nose she had broken once. He went down like a pack of cards and crashed against the table upturning all the contents, including the detective's phone on the floor. As he howled and swore at her, Alexa suppressed a grim amusement at his theatrics.
Apparently, in all the commotion, she had failed to notice the detective Lee's presence and now slowly turned towards him, not knowing how much he saw. This con had been a mess from the start and had dragged her in the radar of a very intelligent man. That would definitely teach her to choose her missions more carefully in the future. "Not a pretty picture.." she began with a casual shrug "And I can explain but do make it quick. I confess I am rather sick of this place and the people and would like to go home soon"
Returning to the room it was an interesting scene and he was more than aware of the fact that he had specifically told Mr. Zonderkop to leave the room. At the moment he was definitely considering arresting the man for impeding an investigation but he wanted to see how this would play out and if the man might say anything that might implicate him. Granted the sheer way he was speaking to Alexandra was grating on his nerves and very close to sending him to a level of pissed off no one wanted. His arms were crossed over his broad chest in the doorway just observing for the moment. When the man began to be profane Graydon’s arms tightened across his chest ready to step in but it seem that Lexi had it well under control.
Listening to way Lexi easily spoke and laid down multiple facts was intense and he had the feeling she was used to being under minded and talked down to which was why she was so fierce and likely defensive. Though listening to her speak did give him someone else to ask about, since if Maria had been so upset over the altercation that she quit, she might know more than anyone realized or even be involved. So that was a new suspect which was actually good news in way but it also spoke volumes to the man’s character which was a shitty one to be sure.
A low sound of anger left him as everything happened so fast at the moron launched himself a Lexi apparently not considering the fact that she had broken his arm and could likely easily take him down. Which was exactly what happened as she so easily took him down as words of law suits left his lips once more along with prison time. A heavy sigh left his lips and he shook his head knowing even if he arrested the man that given his money and pull in the city he would be out before the end of the day with a slap on the wrist and Graydon would be suspended. However that didn’t mean he couldn’t make a few threats even if he couldn’t follow through with them.
“Not the best of living painting at the moment but it’s far from your fault in his instance. Mr. Zonderkop, I suggest you see one of the EMTs. Consider this a verbal restraining order because if I catch you in the same room with Alexandra Stromberg one more time I will arrest you and there is nothing that your friends in high places can do about it.” His words were stern and cold lacking any sort of emotion before he looked over at Alexandra. “I would appreciate you coming down to the station when you have a moment, because if you don’t or try to leave the city I will have to arrest you. I expect to see you within the next 48 hours but for now go home, relax and get away from this guy.”