“How’s it going in here?”
Geni snapped, “Now you return. When Detective Newman said I could have access to the inventory list and cross check it with what’s left in the store, I didn’t think it’d be this tedious and boring.” She stood and stretched, “Or that I would be left to go through it all on my own. My back is killing me.”
Lex patted her on the top of her head, “Someone sounds hangry?”
“Knock it off Lex,” She said as she shoved Lex’s arm away.
“Don’t be mean to the bearer of a Double Bacon Cheese Burger,” Lex held up the fast food bag in front of Geni’s face.
Lex laughed, “Be sure to chew the burger Geni.”
“No one can understand you Gen.”
Lex crouched down and looked at the piles Geni had made with the bottles. There were two piles, but the piles didn’t seem to make sense. Each group had whole bottles, partly broken bottles, and the bottle labels with pieces of bottle still attached. She picked up a label from one pile and a label from another.
“Do you see it?” Geni said.
“Nice to have you back.”
“Ha ha. But do you see it? This pile has Essential For Life’s label that matches all the other labels in the store and on their website. But these labels don’t match. I mean, they are similar enough that you wouldn’t be able to tell at first or even second glance, but here, look,” Geni picked up the magnifying glass next to her and handed it to Lex.
“You’re right. Both labels are similar, but the fonts are different, the store logo doesn’t match, and is essential spelled wrong?”
“I triple checked that, but yeah, it is spelled wrong.”
Lex handed the magnifying glass back, “Good eye Geni. What do you think it means?”
She shrugged, “I’m not sure yet, but all the wrong labels are on cinnamon oil bottles.”
“Cinnamon. What’s special about cinnamon?”
“My kids love it in French toast batter. I’ve never used it as an oil before.”
“The label says it decreases inflammation, fights viruses, and stimulates the immune system. Those are just a few of the benefits listed.”
“Good to know that my French toast is helping my kids while it tastes amazing. Speaking of oils, what did you find out about the substance on the back door?”
“I have a meeting with an essential oil expert at 1:30.”
“That’s what she calls herself.”
It had been quite a morning after Mr. Waltman left with Detective Newman. Geni had acquired the inventory list and Lex had left to get the oil tested. She knew that trace would take a few days to even get time to run a test on the substance so she set out to find someone who might know enough about oils who could do a preliminary identity of it. An internet search brought up a woman claiming to be an expert in essential oils and when Lex asked around everyone pointed her to the same woman, Shanna Burton. Lex called Shanna and was able to set up a meeting at her home. She didn’t like to meet at strangers homes, but the woman wasn’t willing to meet anywhere else and Lex needed answers.
“There aren’t many with wrong labels.”
“No. I’ve gone through most of the oil bottles and so far I’ve only found about a dozen incorrect ones. I’m not even sure if they mean anything, but I thought I’d check before I rode them off as unimportant.” She glanced at her watch, “It’s almost one, you should probably be leaving soon. Who do you have a meeting with?”
“No way. Of the east side Burtons?”
“Are there any other Burtons in this town?”
“And you get to go inside the house? You better describe everything to me when you get back Lex!”
She laughed, “Will do. I’ll catch up with you later Geni.”
The Burtons were the founders of New Haven City, which really didn’t mean much to folks outside of New Haven City, but inside, they were legends. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a reference to the Burton founders. Whether it was a street sign, store name, or graffiti everyone in New Haven had the constant reminder that the city they lived in was all do to with the magnanimous Burton family.
Lex pull to the curb in front of the largest home in the city. Shanna Burton had owned the hair salon on main street before she met and married Michael Burton, the oldest son and heir to the Burton inheritance. Was it a love match? Lex had no idea and she didn’t care enough about the Burton’s to find out. If Shanna Burton could help her find out what this oil was, then Lex didn’t care if the woman married for love or money.
The door was opened by an austere older gentleman, “May I help you?”
“Yes, I’m Lex Stevens and I have an appointment with Shanna Burton.”
He widened the door and let her in, “Wait here miss.”
She was left in a wide entry way that was open from the front door to the back of the house where Lex could see it formed a T as the entry hall met a smaller hallway along the back windows. A large staircase was a few yards from the entrance and many wooden doors lined both walls that lead to the back hallway. The place was beautiful, but Lex felt it was a bit over the top for her tastes.
“Follow me Miss Stevens.”
The butler led her through one of the many doors and into a lavish study. Behind a large oak desk sat a stunning platinum blonde woman in her early forties. As soon as the door closed, the woman leapt from her chair and rushed toward Lex with her hands outstretched, “You must be Lex Stevens. We spoke on the phone earlier today. I’m Shanna Burton.” She took Lex’s hand in both of hers and pumped it madly up and down.
“Uh, yeah I’m Lex Stevens.” She tried to pull her hand away but couldn’t get it free, “Could I please have my hand back Mrs. Burton?”
She was released when Shanna waved her words away with both hands, “My name is Shanna. Mrs. Burton sounds so old. Have a seat.” Shanna sat on the couch and patted the cushion beside her, “You were a bit cryptic on the phone sweetie, so why don’t you tell me what you need?”
If being called Mrs. Burton made Shanna feel old, then being called sweetie made Lex feel like a child. Lex did not like feeling like a child. She took the seat across from Shanna and gave her a smile though she knew it didn’t reach her eyes.
“I was informed that you are an expert in essential oils and--”
“Yes I am. I’ve been in the essential oil scene for about 17 years. I got started when I moved to New Haven and I saw a need for a more natural way to heal the body than to use man made drugs that had “unforeseen side effects”. What does that even mean? Unforeseen side effects. Anyway, I haven’t meet an oil I don’t already know about yet.” She smiled broadly. “Listen to me ramble on. I’m sorry sweetie. Go on.”
Lex took a deep breath, “As I was saying, I was told you were an expert in oils and I have an oil that I need identified quickly. Any test I run will take more time than I have available right now. So could you look at it for me?”
“I’d love too!”
Lex did not want to hand the sample over to this overly friendly person, but sometimes sacrifices had to be done to get answers. Luckily she’d transferred a little bit of the oil to a smaller vial and didn’t bring the entire bottle she had. Begrudgingly she handed over the vial of the oil she took from the back door. Shanna tilted the vial and looked at the oil inside the glass then she opened the lid and sniffed it. Lex was disappointed when her reaction wasn’t like Genis. Shanna only moved the vial away from her nose when the scent reached it. She tilted the bottle and poured a small drop onto her finger and rolled it around then sniffed it again.
“I know exactly what this is--I’ve even used it myself in my vanity days.” She handed the closed vial back to Lex, “It’s Sea Buckthorn Oil. It’s amazing for aging, wrinkled, or damaged skin. Not many people will use it because of the smell, but it works miracles.”
“Sea Buckthorn Oil. Do you think it could be used in a salon?”
“Yes, but again the smell wouldn’t make it a popular request.”
“That just means our suspect pool is getting smaller.”
Written by Linsay Ernst