Geni and Detective Wolfe had dropped her car off at the police station and carpooled over to Shanna Burton’s house. It was torture. What do you say to someone you’ve hated for two years?
Her fingers drummed against the window as the awkward silence lengthened till she couldn’t handle it anymore and said, “I thought you transferred departments?”
“I did,” he said, “but it was taking more time away from my daughter than I wanted. So when Newman asked if I’d like to transfer back, I said yes.”
Ah, yes, his daughter. Geni knew it wasn’t the child's fault for what happened between Lex and Danny, but she couldn’t help the burst of anger at the mention of the girl. What was wrong with her? What happened hadn’t even been done to her, not directly anyway. She’d been there in the aftermath with Lex as she sobbed till her cries turned to hiccups and then to an exhaustion so strong that she couldn’t move from her bed for two days. Catching your fiance in bed with another woman the night before your wedding would do that to anyone.
Danny had denied it. Called Lex a liar. He told Todd that Lex was the one who’d cheated, but blamed Danny because she didn’t want anyone to know the truth.
Danny’s lie almost broke Geni and Todd’s marriage. Todd couldn’t believe Danny, his best friend, would do anything to hurt Lex, and all Geni wanted to do was hunt Danny down and gut him. Geni and Todd had fought many nights about it until Danny confirmed that what Lex said happened, actually happened. Todd was devastated. His cancer returned worse than before and that time he couldn’t fight it. If Danny hadn’t cheated on Lex, breaking her heart and breaking Todd’s trust in him, Todd would still be alive today. Irrational as it was, Geni blamed Danny for Todd’s death.
She shifted in the seat. Bringing up the pain of the past, even just in her mind, would not help her find Luke Hansen.
The car slowed to a stop at the curb in front of the Burton residence, a large mansion surrounded by old trees.
Geni asked, “Do you have the sample?”
He patted his shirt pocket, “Right here.”
At the door she caught his arm before he could knock, “You need to prepare yourself, Detective, Shanna Burton is like a whirlwind.”
He smiled, “She can’t be that bad,” and rapped on the solid oak door.
The door was partly opened and Geni saw Shanna peep around the frame.
Shanna Burton flung open her front door and pulled Geni into a huge bear hug.
“It’s good to see you again, Shanna,” Geni returned the hug.
Lex didn’t like Shanna, but Geni found her to be a delight--mostly she liked how much Shanna pushed Lex out of her comfort zone.
Shanna pulled away and seemed to noticed Detective Wolfe for the first time, “Aren’t you such a handsome young man.” Before he could react, Shanna had pulled him into the same bear hug as she’d done with Geni. “Oh, come in, come in. Such a cute couple,” she said as she ushered them into the foyer.
“We are not a couple,” Geni snapped.
Danny said, “I’m Detective Danny Wolfe, ma’am, and I’m wondering if I can ask you a couple of questions.”
They followed her into a sitting room where Geni made sure to sit by Shanna and as far from Detective Wolf as politely possible.
“I’m sorry, honey, I made a wrong assumption,” Shanna patted Geni’s knee and turned to Wolfe, “Would you two like something to drink or eat?”
Geni’s stomach reacted loudly to Shanna’s words. It wasn’t until Shanna brought up food that Geni remembered she hadn’t eaten since lunch time. She hadn’t touched the pizza Lex brought over that evening for the kids.
“I’m sorry,” she said, embarrassed, and pressed her hand against her stomach.
“Don’t worry about it, dear,” Shanna pushed a small black button on the side of the coffee table and the sitting room door opened to admit the butler. He came in so quickly that Geni got the impression he’d been standing outside the door just waiting to be summoned.
“Harrison, please bring us some sandwiches and drinks.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He bent at the waist and left the room.
Shanna said to Wolfe, “Now, what do you need, sweetie?”
His eyebrows raised at the endearment and he shot Geni a look full of laughter, then turned back to Shanna and said, “We found a substance at the scene of the current case we are working on, and Geni believes you can help us identify it.”
She laughed. “I do know a lot about odd substances, but I don’t know everything. I’ll do my best, dear.”
He handed her a small bottle with a sample of the odorless, cream-like substance they’d found on the bike. Shanna opened the bottle, took a sniff and looked questioningly at the bottle when there was no scent. She took a small portion between two fingers and rubbed the cream around.
“Hmmmm,” she mumbled.
Geni said, “Do you know what it is?”
“Maybe.” Shanna leapt from the settee and rushed from the room just as the butler returned with a tray of sandwiches and drinks. He set the tray on the coffee table and left the room as quietly as he’d entered.
Detective Wolfe came to his feet and stared at the empty doorway like a deer in the headlights. “What just happened?”
Geni shrugged. His guess was as good as hers. Obviously Shanna had come to some conclusion regarding the cream and rushed from the room after gaining this revelation. It wasn’t long after Shanna left the room that she returned carrying a bottle with her.
“Oh, please, sit, eat up.” Shanna waved them back into their seats.
Geni didn’t need to be told twice--she was starving.
“I may be able to help you, Detective--you will need to get this tested of course--but I think the substance you found is this,” Shanna said as she set a 2 ounce round blue bottle on the table next to the food tray.
Wolfe picked up the bottle and read the label out loud, “MyBase Probiotic Deodorant Base.” He opened it and looked at Shanna, “A creamy deodorant?”
Shanna chuckled, “It’s a base deodorant. You put about 3-4 drops of any essential oil you want into the cream and then take a small amount and rub it under your arms. The cream is made with probiotics that guard against body odor and keeps you smelling fantastic all day long. Without an essential oil added to it, it will remain odorless and it’s great for sensitive skin. I use it all the time. Seriously, it’s the best deodorant ever!”
“I’m sure it is.” Wolfe touched the cream of the deodorant and compared it to the substance found on the bicycle. He handed both bottles to Geni saying, “It could be a match, Gen.”
She copied his movements with both creams and nodded, “You’ll want to get it to trace, but you’re right, it could be a match. Shanna, why would someone rub this all over a bicycle?”
“They wouldn’t. I guess if they didn’t know what it was and thought it was a hand cream it could get onto a bike, but anyone who knows it’s a deodorant won’t do that--they’d get the carrier stick to use as a hand and face cream. The carrier stick is also an amazing product. I love MyBase Products!”
Wolfe asked, “Do you know of anyone else who might have this deodorant?”
Shanna twirled a strand of hair around a finger, “Hmmmm. Well, I had a couple of friends ask me to order them a bottle to try it, but I can’t see them committing a crime.”
“Would you mind giving me their names, Mrs. Burton?”
“They are my friends, Detective, and I’m positive neither of them would do anything wrong.”
“Shanna,” Geni laid her hand on Shanna’s knee, “We aren’t accusing your friends of anything, we are just trying to find any lead on the whereabouts of a missing 10-year-old boy.”
“A child is missing? Who?”
Geni looked at Wolfe for direction, and he said to Shanna, “Luke Hansen went missing a few hours ago.”
“Oh, my goodness,” Shanna covered her mouth with her hand.
“Mrs. Burton, are you alright?”
“Shanna?” Geni said.
“She asked me for a bottle a week ago. She said store bought deodorant was irritating her skin and she knew I used natural products, but shipping would take a few days and I had an unused bottle in my cabinet so I gave it to her.” Shanna covered her face with her hands.
“Who asked you for a bottle, Shanna?”
“Tracy. Tracy Hansen,” Shanna looked up, “Luke’s aunt.”
Written by Linsay Ernst