I was looking for any detectable signs of grief but was momentarily distracted when she crossed her legs and let one of her feet slide out of its slipper. She balanced it on her toe, while gently swinging her leg back and forth. To say that it was enticingly sexy would have been an understatement.
I watched, almost completely mesmerized by the fluidity of her movements until, once again I snapped back into reality. She was a potential suspect, not the object of my fantasies.
I had heard of women like her. Women who could paralyze you with one look and have your complete submission before you even knew there was a battle for your soul. As I studied her face, I wondered “is she really that beautiful or does she just act like she’s that beautiful?”
Unprompted, she began to talk. “You know, detective Hooker. I’m sure like everyone, you probably question my motives for marrying a man so much older than I. These ‘May-December’ unions are almost never accepted and seem to invite hostile accusations. Wouldn’t you agree?”
I hesitantly said “yes, I agree but I also understand why people who are close to these older gentleman, especially their children would be skeptical.”
She said “I guess you want to hear me say that I loved my husband and that I would have never wanted anything to happen to him.”
“Did you love your husband?” I asked.
She stood up and slowly walked over to the window. As she looked out over the expansive manicured grounds, in a soft monotone she said “detective Hooker, love isn’t a tangible thing. There are different degrees. There are different planes on which it resides. It can be passionate. Obligatory. Casual. It can be used as a weapon. It can be used as a bargaining chip. It can be comfortable. It can be intense or it can be apathetic.” She turned and said “it can be any or all of those things. It can also be platonic.”
“Is that your way of telling me that your marriage to Mr. Stark was platonic?” I asked.
She sat back down and said “unless that is of particular pertinence to your investigation, I am not going to answer that question.”
She had already told me that they slept in separate bedrooms and although forty years her junior, Mr. Stark could have most likely with or without the help of some little blue pills, been functional. If their union was platonic, there was a reason.
“Would you say your marriage was a happy one?” I asked.
Without missing a beat, she said “is your marriage a happy one? I mean, I assume you’re a family man.”
When I told her that I wasn’t married, it was like handing her a loaded weapon. With an almost subtle hostility, she began firing.
“Why is that?” she asked. “Are you married to your job? Have you never found the right one or have you just never found who you consider to be your equal? Are you a snob? Are you a psychopath?” Then she leaned forward and said “or is it all of those things?”
I smugly asked “is that supposed to rattle me?”
“Did it?” she asked. “No,” I said.
With a smile, she said “good, because I was just gauging the temperature.”
I said “okay, now getting back to you. Was your marriage a happy one?”
With an almost playful look in her eyes, she said “detective Hooker. Happiness is a state of mind, don’t you think?”
She was a smooth operator and an expert at deflection. She was using my own questions to manipulate me but deflection often reveals more than an answer.
One thing was clear. Mrs. Emberlyn Stark had a secret.
To be continued______________