Lex walked into Geni’s house and called out, “Hello, anyone home?”
“In here,” She said from the back office.
The walls of the hallway were filled with many family and school photos. Lex smiled at a family picture taken at a picnic the summer before Todd passed. He’d barely started to show signs of being sick and Geni insisted on getting a last family outing in before he started chemo. It was the last time Lex remembered seeing Geni and the kids happy--really happy.
Lex entered the office and stopped, “What happened in here?”
“I emptied out one of the cinnamon oil bottles,” she gestured to a bottle on the desk, “and I found something under the label. Now I’m trying to remove the label without losing whatever is under it.”
“And how’s it going?”
Geni groaned, “Well, it’s not as easy as I’d hoped it’d be. We live in good old America where industrial strength glue is used to keep these labels on. It’s been a process, and I’ve spent most of the day working on one label, but I’ve almost got this one--ha look at that!” She held up the intact label from the bottle, “I’m amazing.”
“So what’s on it?” Lex said.
Geni turned it over, “It’s the number 4.”
She handed the label over to Lex, and sure enough in the center label was the number 4.
“What do you think it means?”
“Don’t know,” Geni shrugged, “Let me get the labels off the other bottles and see if it will make sense.”
“Alright. I need to meet Shanna and get over to Mrs. Waltmans sister’s house.”
“So the oil from the back door didn’t match any of the ones from New Haven Salon’s patrons?”
“No. The oil on the back door is a vibrant orange while the oils from the patrons were all a rusty brown color. Which means I get to spend more time with dear Shanna Burton.”
Geni chuckled, “You always have the fun assignments.”
“Oh please,” Lex rolled her eyes, “You’ll let me know if you find anything on the other labels?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she waved Lex out the door.
The drive to the Tessa Williams residence was uneventful, and Lex enjoyed the quiet before she had to meet Shanna Burton. A nice, bubbly woman, but not exactly Lex’s cup of tea. It was possible to be too bubbly, and Shanna Burton fit that bill to perfection. Shanna’s pink convertible was parked in front of the house when Lex pulled up.
“Deep breath Lex,” she whispered to herself and climbed from the car.
“Lex!” Shanna sang out, “How are you darlin’? I’m thrilled you asked me to help you. This is so exciting to be on a case! Again, you were vague on the phone, so what can I help you with?”
Lex gave a slight smile, “This is the home of Ella Waltman’s sister who uses Sea Buckthorn Oil and I need your help to know if the oil she uses is the same one as the sample I gave to you to check earlier.”
“Did you bring the sample with you?”
“Of course,” Lex pulled a small vial of the sample from her from her bag and handed it to Shanna.
“Yes, I think I’ll be able to determine if the oils are the same.” She opened her purse and pulled out a 2 oz green and white bottle--it looked like a large glue stick--she then took the lid off and rubbed the top of the glue stick onto her wrist. Once she’d applied the glue stick, she put a drop of the sample oil onto the spot and rubbed it into her skin.
“Why are you putting glue onto your skin?”
Shanna laughed, “It’s not glue. It’s a carrier oil and this is a carrier stick. I found this amazing company, MyBase, that makes base products for essential oil like deodorant, body wash, and carrier oil. You can add your own essential oil to any of these products and make the deodorant or body wash your own scent. It’s fantastic!”
“I know I’m going to regret this, but what is a carrier stick and why did you rub it on your wrist?”
“Have you ever used essential oils?” she continued when Lex shook her head, “Well, if you apply an oil directly to your skin it can roll off or, if it stays on your skin, then not all the oil will remain because it flitters off into the air you might say, and you lose a lot of the benefits of the oil. Most carrier oils are liquid but MyBase has created a solid carrier oil from all natural ingredients, and I don’t need to tell you how much better that is, all I have to do is rub the carrier stick along the skin I want to apply the oil, and then when I put the oil on top of the carrier oil it remains where I placed it. And I keep 70% more of the essential oil with more of the benefit. Brilliant!”
Does she ever take a breath? Lex stared wide eyed as Shanna’s voice finally stopped.
“Well, thanks Shanna. Are you ready to check on the oil?”
“Lead on Lex.”
The door was opened by a middle aged woman who looked a lot like Mrs. Waltman.
“Tessa Williams?” Lex said.
“Yes. May I help you?”
Lex smiled, “I hope so. My name is Lex Stevens and this is Shanna Burton, may we come in?”
Her house was nice and orderly. She lead them into a living room where the three women sat around a glass coffee table.
Lex asked, “Mrs. Williams, do you own Sea Buckthorn Oil?”
“Please answer the question.”
“Yes I do own some. Why do you need to know this?”
Shanna answered, “May I take a look at it? I’m a bit of an essential oil nerd and I’ve taken an interest in Sea Buckthorn Oil.”
Mrs. Williams stood so Lex followed suit, “Oh, I was just going to get the oil for you.”
“We’ll come with you,” she smiled.
They were lead to a large bathroom off the master bedroom where Mrs. Williams took the oil from a drawer in the vanity.
Shanna took the bottle, sniffed the oil and placed a drop on her fingertips and rolled the oil around, and then said, “Mrs. Williams, do you have some cotton balls I could use?”
She nodded and pulled out a bag of cotton balls from under the sink.
Lex handed Shanna and sample vial and Shanna put a drop of the sample on one cotton ball and a drop of the oil from Mrs. Williams bottle on another. Both drops were a vibrant orange.
Shanna looked at Lex and said, “They match.”
“What does that mean?” Mrs. Williams asked while wringing her hands together.
“Not all Sea Buckthorn Oil is the same Mrs. Williams,” Shanna said, “depending on where the fruit is grown and who processes it into an oil, can cause the oil to be different colors. Based on the color, I’m guessing you get your oil from the Himalayan Mountains and I know of only one company who harvests their own sea buckthorn fields in those mountains. And their oil comes out as a vibrant orange, like yours.”
Lex said, “You returned to Essential for Life after the police processed the scene didn’t you Mrs. Williams?”
“You let yourself in through the back door leaving some of the oil from your hands behind. Maybe you should have invested in a carrier stick, I hear they’re all the rage amongst the essential oil crowd.”
Mrs. Williams broke out, “Yes, I went in after the police left, but I didn’t break into the store before then. Why would I? I use essential oils, but I don’t need to steal to get them.”
“See, that’s the odd thing about this break in, nothing was actually taken. So this brings me to my next question: What did you go into the store for?”
The color left her cheeks, “I think I want my lawyer now.”
“You can call him at the station.”
Written by Linsey Ernst