The next morning Lex and Geni met Detective Newman at New Haven Salon, the least attended salon in the city. Shanna had given Lex the idea to check on this salon since it was the only one that allowed their patrons to bring their own essential oil, a few salons used essential oils after Shanna Burton moved to town and made them popular. Since Shanna identified the oil on the back door as Sea Buckthorn Oil and said it wasn’t commonly used, Lex figured someone could apply the oil two ways--in the comfort of their own home or at a salon by a professional. She figured checking salons would be easier than going door to door and checking each person’s personal stash of essential oils.
They’d been waiting for the Detective in the parking lot of New Haven Salon for quite a while and Lex was getting tired of sitting around.
“I don’t think he’s coming.”
“Yes he is. Just be patient.” Geni answered without even looking up from her book.
“What are you reading?”
Geni smiled, “I’m researching the oils I found in the shop. Did you know that cinnamon oil can alleviate sore muscles and joints? While peppermint can improve your mental focus.”
“Really? Does it say anything about Sea Buckthorn Oil?”
“I haven’t found anything on it yet, but if I do I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks Gen. Are the kids excited for Halloween?”
The book shut with a snap, “You have no idea! Between all the princess and ninja costumes at the store Jocelyn and Trevor are driving me crazy--they won’t pick one. But I did find Brandy the cutest ladybug costume. You’ll love it Lex.”
She smiled, “Brandy will be the cutest ladybug ever. Would you like me to take Trevor out costume shopping this evening? I know all the best ninja costumes.”
“Please! That will give me time to help Jocey with her book report.”
“Ladies,” Detective Newman said as he walked up to them from his car, “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. The misses wasn’t feeling well this morning so I dropped the kids off at school.”
Geni was instantly concerned, “I’m sorry to hear that. Is she alright? Can I bring your family over dinner tonight?”
He smiled at her, “Thanks Geni, but we’ll be fine. Margo just has a cold and despite popular belief, I can cook. Are we ready to go in?”
“You better let us know if we can do anything John,” Lex said as they walked inside.
He chuckled, “I will.”
“Thank you Jenna.”
Lex froze at the sound of the woman's voice, “What is she doing here?”
“Who?” Geni asked.
“Shanna Burton.” Lex nodded toward the tall blond woman standing at the front counter.
“Oh, your new best friend.”
Lex glared at Geni, “Don’t--”
She was interrupted by a loud screech from Shanna, “Lex!”
“No,” Lex whimpered right before she was engulfed in a bear hug.
“Lex it’s wonderful to see you again,” Shanna pushed to her an arms length away, “I knew you would come here. Isn’t it great how alike our minds are?”
Not at all.
Lex forced a smile, “Mrs. Burton, it’s nice to see you again.”
“It’s Shanna. And you two are?” Lex was grateful to be released and have Shanna’s attention focused on Geni and the Detective.
“I’m Detective Newman ma’am and this is Geni Thompson. Lex and Geni are private investigators who helped out the force a few years ago and they were kind enough to help us again.”
“I think you mean we were private investigators.” Geni held out her hand, “It’s nice to meet you Shanna.”
“Why did you stop? I think being an investigator would be a marvelous adventure.”
“Family matters,” Lex said, “What brings you here Shanna?” She asked to get Shanna’s questions away from the past--for Geni’s sake and her own. Lex had managed not to think about Danny for months, but being back on a case kept bringing up reminders of him that she didn’t want.
Shanna smiled broadly at all of them, “After I spoke with Lex yesterday, regarding the Buckthorn Sea Oil, I kept thinking about what she said, about how it could be used in a salon, and I knew that this was the only salon that would allow you to bring your own oil. I mean, why would a salon offer Buckthorn Sea Oil when the smell isn’t the most pleasant, but someone could bring it themselves to have it applied.”
“It’s amazing how alike you and Lex think,” Geni grinned at Lex who rolled her eyes.
Detective Newman said, “Let’s see which patrons bring Buckthorn Sea Oil.”
“Oh, I already have that list.” Shanna said.
“How did you get it Mrs. Burton,” Newman asked.
“I own this salon Detective.”
Geni said, “I thought Pam Hunter owned the salon.”
“No, she manages it but I own it. Here’s the list.”
Newman took the list and silently read it then said, “There’s only three patrons who bring the oil. Nancie Garcia, Nichelle Carter, and Marie Swenson.”
Lex jerked her head toward him, “Nichelle Carter?”
“Yes, but I’m sure she has nothing to do with the break in--she works at the police station Lex,” He answered.
Shannan nodded, “She is the sweetest young woman. I love it when she comes into the salon and brings her beautiful little girl.”
“She has a child,” Lex whispered.
“Oh yes she does,” Shanna gushed, “Pretty as a picture if you ask me. Speaking of pictures, I think there’s one here at the salon. We take pictures of our most dedicated clients and hang them on the Honor Wall. Ah yes, here it is.”
She pointed to a picture among hundred of pictures on the wall behind the counter. Lex recognized Nichelle right away. There was no way she’d ever forget Nichelle Carter, not for as long as she lived. The curly haired toddler in her arms had similarities to her mom, but Lex could tell from a glance that the little girl was going to grow up looking more like her dad. She had his dark curly hair, chocolate eyes, and crooked grin that Lex wished she could forget. Lex gazed at the photo for hours it seemed and then her gaze caught onto a figure in the background.
“Shanna, what day was this photo taken?” she asked.
“The date is always written on the back.” She took the photo down and turned it over, “Tuesday morning. Why?”
Lex handed the photo to Detective Newman, “Do you recognize anyone else in this photo?”
The Detective grimaced, “I think we need to speak to Mason Waltman again.”
Written by Linsay Ernst