“Dead?” Alberta gasped as her knees threatened to buckle beneath her. Mike grabbed her arm and pulled her against him to steady her.
Lexis dead? Her mind struggled to comprehend what the inspector had just said. Was it possible Mike had somehow hurt him, resulting in an accidental death? “He’s dead?” Mike’s shock was obvious as he stared at the two men before him.
“What happened to him?” Mike asked. “We were hoping you could tell us that. I’m afraid you will have to return to Calista with us, Mr. Nasir,” Inspector Abel said. “We have a lot of questions for you concerning the murder of Lexis.”
“Murder?” Mike’s body stiffened. “Murder?” Alberta gasped again and leaned weakly against her husband, positively stunned by the news.
“Lexis was murdered in cold blood in his guest house. A maid found him early this morning in his bedroom,” Abel explained.
“How … what killed him?” It was obvious Mike was as stunned by the news as Alberta. “He was hit in the back of the head by some instrument with a tremendous amount of force. He died instantly,” Abel explained as he pulled a set of handcuffs from his pocket.
“Wait!” Alberta said, feeling as if the whole world had gone crazy. “It’s impossible. Mike didn’t murder Lexis … he couldn’t have.” Alberta stepped forward in an effort to make the two officials understand. “I know Mike, and he is not a murderer,” she said fervently.
“Besides, he was with me all night.” “You’ll have a chance to explain your alibi or whatever when we return to Aristo. At the moment we have eyewitnesses of you threatening to kill Lexis. More than a dozen
people in the restaurant heard you threaten him.”
Mike nodded. “That’s true. I did threaten him, but I didn’t murder him.”
Inspector Abel smiled thinly. “We can’t just take your word for that. In any case, the threats at the restaurant are only one incident pointing to your explosive temper that has been brought to our attention.
Mr. Nasir. We will continue our interrogation in Calista.” “Father! Do something,” Alberta cried and for the first time in her life her father seemed utterly helpless. She left Mike’s side, ran to her father and sank down at his knees. “I beg of you, Father. Please don’t let them take him. He did nothing. He’s innocent!”
“Alberta, I cannot stop an official investigation, especially an investigation into the murder of King George’s nephew,” he said.
Who could have killed Lexis? The man was slimy enough, there must be a hundred people who would have loved to see him dead.
But, more important, how in the hell was Mike going to prove himself innocent?
As Inspector Abel grabbed his hands to lead him from the grand chamber, Mike was grateful to see Franca leave her seat and hurry to Alberta’s side. They had walked only a couple of steps when Mike thought of something.
He stopped in his tracks. “When did this happen? Has a medical examiner determined the time of Lexis’s death?” Mike looked from Inspector Abel to Inspector Abraham. The two men exchanged glances once again, then Abel shrugged. “The medical examiner
has determined the time of death to be between the hours of ten p.m. and two a.m.”
“Then it’s impossible to tie me to the murder,” Mike replied, relief coursing through him. “Not only because I’m innocent, but also because Alberta and I were on the plane to return here to Aristo before ten last night.” “That’s right,” Alberta exclaimed. “He couldn’t have murdered Lexis and been on the plane at the same time.”
“We got in here just after midnight,” Mike continued. “You can check the flight records, talk to the pilot. Better yet, talk to the driver of the car who took us to the airport in Calista. It was one of your own palace cars that took us to the airport.”
Once again the two inspectors exchanged glances with one another. “Is there a telephone we could use?” Inspector Abel asked. “I’ll show you where you can make your calls in private,” Franca replied and led the two men out of the office.
There followed an uncomfortable silence as Mike, Alberta and King Kamal awaited the return of the Calista officials. At that moment Franca returned with the two investigators. “It would seem that your alibi for the time of the murder stands up,” Abraham said.
Relief flooded through Mike. “I told you he didn’t have anything to do with it,” Alberta said. “Now, I demand that you take those handcuffs off him.” Abraham gave a curt bow, then walked behind Mike to unfasten the handcuffs, “We apologize for any inconvenience we have caused you, but it’s our job to check out all
“He had a woman friend,” Alberta said suddenly. “Lexis was with her last night in the restaurant. You might want to ask her some questions.”
“Do you know who she is? What her name is?” Abel asked.
Alberta shook her head with obvious disappointment. “No. I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
“Can you tell us what she looked like?” Alberta frowned thoughtfully. “I only saw her from the back … she had shoulder-length blond hair and she was tall, and slender. That’s all I can tell you. I think they were
lovers,” she said “We’ll check it out. And now, we must return immediately to Calista,” Abel said.
The two men bowed to the King, then left the room.
“Father—” Alberta began. King Enoch raised a hand. “Nothing has changed, Alberta. My banishment of Mike still stands.” Alberta looked up at Mike, then drew a deep breath. “Father, you don’t know the whole truth and now it’s time the whole truth is told.”
“Alberta,” Mike protested.
Watch out for the final chapter