The vanity was the only thing not touched. The rest of the room was drenched. Drenched in either blood or water, Westly noticed. The window on the right of the room was left open. The shutters clanged against each other as the curtains, soaked from the rain, kept the window from completely closing. The chair sitting at the base of the window was also wet. The moisture seeped from the cushions down into the wood, creating an unpleasant odor. The carpet was also wet, as was the walls, the door, even the armoire. The vanity though was dry. Westly wasn’t sure if this was because it was positioned on the left side of the room right before the bathroom. Or just that it was far from the window. “Irrelevant most likely,” he thought, however it did perplex him. Collecting his bearings, he approached the most soaked part of the entire room. The bed which was dripping to the floor with blood.
It was a large bed. Red oak stretching out and encompassing the room, each leg looking like a tree trunk breaking through the floor and reaching to the ceiling. The canopy was also red, but a lighter red than the base, with big black hooks drilled into each corner. The veil, a burned pink, was torn into many pieces. Each piece made their way onto either the bed or the carpet. The sheets were off white, almost cream in color. But in most places the sheets’ color was replaced by a dark red. This made them blend into the base, making it hard to see where the wood ended, and the fabric began. The pillows were large, scattered all around. There was one at the foot, three at the head, with two making their way to the floor. Each pillow bore its own marks of blood and rain. Westly carefully avoided the pillow to lean over the bed to see her, the woman laying in the center of the bed.
She was young. Westly guessed no more than twenty-one years old. Her hair was blonde, almost white. She had it curled, but Westly guessed that was not natural. Each curl dipped from gold blonde to white blonde with every curve. Her skin was chapped but smooth. Her left cheek was especially chapped from the unguarded cold. She was dressed in a white gown. The bust was slim and floral, belling down her legs. The bell was fanned out over the sides of the bed. Westly looked at the bend in the fabric. The fanning of the bell part of the gown was definitely intentional. Her arms were outspread and raised above her head. Creating an almost perfect mirror to the lower gown. Westly could not guess where the majority of the blood originated. He guessed either her feet or her face. Like the vanity, Westly felt it didn’t matter. He would have to find more important evidence. Such as why her feet, ears, eyes, nose, tongue and fingers were all severed off.
Westly guessed she was likely very beautiful before this. Young, blonde, and in love. He ignored the horror and continued to investigate. The bed had not been damaged. No cuts or broken beams. The only place that the blood could be found was the bed and the carpet beneath it. He turned and looked at the window.
“Burglary?” He thought. “Unlikely.”
Her emerald broach was still around her neck, seemingly untouched, save for a few layers of blood. Westly moved to the foot of the bed to get a better look at her feet, or a lack thereof. The cut looked clean, the blade went straight up and down with ease. Westly reached into his coat and retrieved a pointer. He lifted the left leg, the under part of the gown was not damaged. He used the pointer to lift the top of the gown. The under skirt had been sliced.
“What the hell are you doing here!”
The assault broke Westly’s concentration. The voice was familiar and regrettable. He turned around and there he was. His brown hair matted down from the snow. It looked like he hadn’t shaved in a few days. The beard was patchy and silver. It looked full but not intentional. His boots were still wet. Westly couldn’t figure if he walked or drove to the hotel. He wanted to say something, but all the words were lost in the throat.
“Straight Razor! I asked you a question!” he snapped again. Westly rolled his eyes realizing that he had to face him.
“REI was hired by Mr. Brookstone, if that bothers you Robert, I would talk to him.”
Robert threw his hands up. “Of course. Straight Razor, I told the mayor that any cases REI gets contracted in Vail, you were not be a part of!”
Westly brushed him off and walked toward the bathroom. Robert cut him off before he could make it.
“Pack your shit and clear out before I arrest you!” Westly reached for phone.
“I am under contract Robert.”
Westly began clicking on the screen. Robert clenched Westly’s wrist. Before Westly could react, Robert spun him into the vanity. The whole vanity shook. Makeup and brushes fell the floor. Westly’s knees buckled under him. His cheek pressed into the open container of foundation. The cold steel clenched around his wrist.
“What the hell!” rang out. The voice was another one that Westly recognized. The voice was a woman’s.
“Get off him!” she yelled again. Robert brushed her off.
“Miss, stay over there, or I will arrest you too.”
Westly lifted his head. “Holly, go find Mr. Brookstone.”
Robert shoved his head back into the foundation. Holly darted out of the room. Robert pulled Westly to his feet.
“I warned you not come back!”
Westly attempted to rub the foundation out from his eye. Holly quickly returned, an older gentleman following behind her. He was tall but hunched. His collar was tight, the flabs in his neck cut into the edges hiding the black bow tie under his chin.
“What is going on!” he snapped. Robert attempted to push past him.
“Sir, this man has been banned from the city of Vail, pending corruption investigation.”
The man held his hand up. “Officer, I spoke with the governor this morning. Mr. Gibbons was cleared.”
Robert shook his head. “Unless I hear-”.
“My granddaughter is lying on that bed massacred! You will let him go or I will sue the Sheriff’s department!”
Robert growled and removed the cuffs. He pulled his phone out.
“You have two minutes, when I come back, I am arresting him, and I am arresting all of you for obstruction!”
Robert stormed out of the room. Holly walks over to Westly.
“What is his problem?”
Westly sighed. “That is Deputy Robert Estevez, he and I have a complicated history.”
“That is vindictive, what did you do to him?”
“Tell me about it,” Westly responded.
“Wes,” Brookstone called out. “I will make sure you won’t be arrested.” Brookstone pulled his phone out and left. Westly walked over to the bed.
“Let’s get back to work. What is the family saying?”
Holly pulled out a small notebook. “Her brother said he didn’t see her since last night.” “Her sister said she talked to her this morning but only from the hotel phone.” “Her mother is currently not ready to talk.”
Westly looked back. “She give a reason?”
“Grief?!” Holly said icily.
Westly pointed to her legs. “See how the blade cuts down and straight through. I think she was on her stomach when it happened.”
“So, the killer rolled her over?” Holly inquired.
Westly shook his head. He pointed the front of the gown. “Her gown is spotless save for the areas where the blood drained, I can’t find a point of entry.”
Westly moved again to the head of the bed. He leaned into her face. The grotesque sight made it difficult to see any specific cuts or slices. All the blood traveled from the points where the body parts were removed. Westly inhaled. The smell of water damaged cushions and decaying flesh filled his nose, but so did the faint smell of lavender. He leaned in again smelled her neck. “She was wearing lavender perfume.”
He darted over to her vanity. He was angry Robert had disturbed it. He scoured over the items on the top. The clump of foundation covered everything. Lipstick, compact, several brushes and three bottles of perfume. The first bottle was rose jasmine perfume, the second was a simple peach perfume. Westly looked on the floor. More brushes, tweezers, and nail polish. Westly stood back up.
“She doesn’t have lavender perfume.”
Holly made her way to the bathroom, Westly followed close behind. The bathroom was large. The left corner had a sleek glass walk in shower. Opal colored stones covered the walls while white marble covered the floor. Two shower heads on each side of the shower, each chrome plated. The right corner was a large hot tub bathtub. The siding like the siding of the shower was opal, while the tub its self was a glossy black. White and opal towels littered the bathroom floor. The towel cabinet door was open, revealing only handful of towels remaining inside. The sink was black, like the tub and the counter mimic the rest with the lovely opal coloring. The sink stood out more than the rest of the room for one clear detail. There was a ring in the center of the basin.
Holly reached into her pocket and snapped on a glove and picked up the ring. It had silver and gold woven band with a halo cut diamond positioned at the apex of the two weaves. Westly nodded.
“That makes sense, her killer is not a thief.” “How do you know that she didn’t leave this here?” Holly asked.
Westly moved past her and opened the first drawer on the left. The drawer was empty save for two boxes. One box was long and purple. The material looked like fiberglass or metal. The other box was white and small, almost a perfect square. Westly opened the small white box. It was empty, the white fabric had a clear indentation. Westly took the ring from Holly and placed it in the box. It was a perfect match.
“Why would she toss the ring in the sink if she knew the case was right here?” Westly said.
Holly nodded. “How did you know it was there?”
“Her perfume was spritzed on the left side of her neck, it only made sense she was left handed and would put her valuables on the left.”
Westly put the ring box back in the drawer and pulled out the long purple box. The seal was broken but the box felt decently heavy. Westly lifted the lid to reveal a bottle of lavender perfume.
“Here we go.” He said with the faint sound of hope in his voice. He went to unscrew the lid, he stopped right before turning it. “This hasn’t been opened.”
He handed the bottle to Holly. She looked it up and down. “The Mermaid Collection, must be nice to have such wealthy friends.”
Westly opened the lower cabinets and continued looking. “What do you mean by that?” he said, sounding half interested.
“Still in the box, unopened bottle, looks like a wedding gift.”
Westly looked up at her. “Huh, A wedding gift she received but didn’t open and yet died smelling of it.”
He ran his hands through his black hair. “I doubt her family could tell what type of perfume she was wearing last night.”
Holly looked around the room. “Perhaps she threw the old bottle out?” Westly shook his head.
“Housekeeping isn’t due for another hour and I already looked in each trash can.” Westly pulled himself up and walked in the bedroom. Robert was waiting for him. Westly rolled his eyes
. “I was…over the top. I am sorry.” Robert said.
Westly sighed, “The governor tell you to say that?”
“Don’t push it!” Robert snapped at him.
Westly ignored him and walked over to the armoire. He opened the door and began looking through the clutter. Robert followed him.
“Let me extend an olive branch, Straight Razor.”
Westly slammed the armoire shut. “You want to extend an olive branch! Try Westly!”
Robert smiled. “There is that temper.”
Holly stood in front of them. “Officer Estevez, we are trying to find a bottle of lavender perfume. We could really benefit from your help.”
A look of confusion flashed in front of Robert’s face. “Lavender perfume? How did you come to that conclusion?” he asked.
“I smelled her.” Westly said annoyed.
Robert laughed. “Really?”
Westly pointed to the body. “Smell her and prove me wrong.”
Roberts face turned white.
“She is wearing lavender perfume but the only bottle of lavender perfume in the room is unopened.” Westly said begrudgingly.
Westly turned back to the armoire. The usual, bras, cocktail dresses, sweaters, skirts, dress pants, and scarves. The armoire was the same red oak that the bed was. Westly had hoped that there were shelves of some sort. The only place that could be considered a shelf was a small step at the bottom of the armoire for shoes. Westly pushed back all of the hanging clothes and took a closer look at the step. He grabbed it by the corners and pulled. It was in vain. The corner was bolted to the frame. His gaze traveled to the shoes. There were close to fifty pairs of shoes. Westly wondered why someone would pack so many shoes to a hotel. He stood up.
“No luck?” Holly asked.
Westly shook his head. He looked back at Robert who had made his way back over to the bed, contemplating smelling her. Westly concealed a laugh under his breath. Looking back at her he noticed her legs. He turned back to the armoire. He dropped to his knees and began throwing her shoes onto the floor. Robert and Holly stared at him with perplexity.
“What the hell are you doing?” Holly asked.
Westly threw the last pair on the floor. “Her bridal shoes are missing.” He blurted.
Robert shrugged. “They are likely with her feet.”
Westly stood up. “If she was killed in the bed, she wouldn’t be wearing shoes. Her feet were severed off her while she laid on her stomach, she is wearing a perfume that she doesn’t have, and her shoes are missing.”
Westly walked over to the window. He grabbed the soaked curtain and looked down. Scuff marks traveled the wood all the way down to the ground. Westly looked out over the mountain side, small bits of snow and fog filled were scattered around the mountain. Westly turned back to Holly and Robert.
“She left her room last night after the reception, likely to meet someone.” “I believe she was killed on the mountain.”