A millionaire murder-suspect. A headstrong lawyer. A murder that took place a few days ago. Another murder that took place years ago. How are all of these connected?
Adeline McGuire walked into the prison where Levi Adams, the CEO of Levi Holdings was held. She was tired after the date, last night, but she knew work means work. Clutching her iPad, she faced her brand new client sitting casually, without a glimmer of fear in the dimly lit room.
Levi Adams, 29, was arrested for the murder of his secretary, Luna Wright, on the 26th of August. He was a shrewd, intelligent and crafty businessman who single handedly built his multi million empire. But his womanizer reputation and extravagant lifestyle often caught him broiling in scandalous tabloids. Given his power and money, he hired the best criminal lawyer in the country, Adeline – a successful young lawyer and her team for his defence.
Luna Wright was found dead in an alley behind Park Avenue. She left work at her regular time at around 6pm but she never reached home. Her husband, Edward, spent four hours looking for her and then finally filed a missing report. A search began, and within a couple of hours, her dead body was found. The body was in bad shape. Her eyes were gouged out, had a deep slit on her neck and clothes were torn. Her bag and its contents were strewn on the ground which signalled she wasn’t robbed. There was a ring lying next to her body, which belonged to Levi Adams. Post mortem reports concluded that she had died because of the slit on her throat and she had struggled with the accused, which explained the fresh scars on her body.
“Good morning, Mr Adams.” Adeline greeted, with a professional and friendly tone to her voice. Levi stood up to acknowledge her, staring into her brown eyes.
“Morning, Ms McGuire.” He waited for her to sit and then pulled his chair and plopped on it.
“Let’s get down to business. Mr Levi can you please describe 26th August to me? Where were you and what did you do that day? Everything, right from the morning. Even the ignorant bits of information. But before that, I want you to know that the case builds around what you reveal to me, so, I’d really appreciate it if you only speak the truth.” She said, without breaking eye contact. He boldly held her gaze.
“Well, nothing unusual. I woke up, had breakfast prepared by the chef, dressed and went to work. My chauffeur dropped me at work, and Luna wasn’t there. She was a very efficient secretary and had been working for me for the past 3 years. On the 25th, she was an hour late after lunch break for which I reprimanded her because it caused me to miss an important meeting and lose a million dollar deal. Word spread in the office about it because I usually never scold her. But it wasn’t a bloody fight. It was just a boss reprimanding his employee. I drove back home and the next thing I know I was cuffed and put here in this rat hole.” Anger laced his deep voice.
“Luna’s acquaintances say she and her husband had trouble in their marriage. Were you aware of it?”
“No.” He replied, blandly.
‘That’s a lie and he wasn’t afraid of lying’, she thought.
“Mr Adams, I appreciate honesty and truth.” She mentioned, raising an eyebrow.
“There might have been times when I and Luna indulged in sexual activities.” His hands were fidgety but not once did he lose eye contact.
“Might?” She prodded.
“Were. There were times.” He emphasized. She wasn’t surprised that this happened, because he was pleasant to the eyes and loaded. Good looks and Capital. That’s a deadly combination.
“Okay. Were you in a relationship with her?”
“No, she would sometimes come to me, talk to me about the marital abuse and then we would end up having sex. That’s about it. Just casual sex.”
“Have you met her husband, Edward?”
“Yes, once or twice. Official work. That’s it.” She lifted an eyebrow. The lie detector in her head lit up.
Levi didn’t flinch but lifted his eyes to look at her and realised she knew he was lying.
“I have met him more than twice. He hates me, alright? He got to know about our affair. He isn’t a good man, that’s why he couldn’t keep his woman. He abused her.”
“Do you think he might have framed you?” She asked him. He suddenly became alert, as if a bulb just enlightened in his head.
“I don’t know, maybe. Now that you have mentioned it, it sounds very believable.”
“Edward has a lot of complaints against him. Marital abuse, petty theft, income tax fraud, nothing which has gone to the court though. Through this case, he can make a lot of money off you. That is a plus point for us. But there is a report Mr Adams, stating that the police have recovered your ring at the crime scene.”
“It’s framed.” He shot without a thought, staring at the floor.
“It’s your ring, Mr Adams. That’s solid evidence for the prosecution. We can’t refute it saying it’s framed.” She shrugged.
A knock on the door signalled the end of the meeting.
“Ms McGuire, I really hope you can get me out.” He looked at her with pleading eyes. He wasn’t familiar asking for help.
She placed her hand over his and said, “I’ll try my best. You should try and get some rest. I’ll see you in the morning. ” She really hoped she could get him out.
Driving back home, she was trying to put all the facts in order. Joining the bits of information in her mind. The case was getting a little close to home, though.
She was always told she was too fragile to be a lawyer. But since her sister was found dead in her backyard, when she was just 12, she knew she had to become a servant of the law. The police closed the case saying it was suicide, but she knew very well it wasn’t the case, it was clearly a murder. Her family approached many lawyers and they all refused for no reason. She was aware that the justice system was flawed and decided to become a lawyer to bring a ray of justice into the system.
The next morning, mid conversation, she showed the pictures of the ring to Levi.
“That’s not my ring.” He exclaimed, jumping up on his feet.
“What?” Adeline regretted not having coffee that morning because she wasn’t hearing the right things.
“I mean it is mine technically, but I had given it to Luna a couple of days back. She needed money urgently and that’s all I had on me at that time. It’ll be on the camera in my office; you have to trust me.” His voice cracked at the last sentence.
On verifying the security cameras, she realized he was speaking the truth. This will definitely get the heat off him, but the real killer was still free and that thought sent a chill down her spine.
Finally the court hearing arrived, Adeline fought with words and Levi was granted temporary bail.
As they stepped out of the court, Levi insisted on walking her to the parking lot.
“Thank you, Ms McGuire. I don’t think I can thank you enough.” Levi said with utmost gratitude. His deep blue eyes turned glassy.
“I am glad I could be of help.”
He promised to keep in touch for the rest of the case proceedings. Bidding adieu, he turned to leave.
“Last thing, the police had seized your confidential income tax files, your bank statements, your journal, etc. I have to give them a read, and provide a report, by tonight. You will receive them tomorrow, at your office.” She spoke up.
The pleasant smile slipped off his face and he walked away without uttering a word.
‘That was odd,’ she thought.
In the evening, as Adeline settled to read the documents and prepare the report, she received a message from Levi.
‘Come immediately to my place, please’
He sounded desperate. What must have possibly happened? She rushed out the door in seconds.
As she reached Levi’s house, his main door was slightly open, but she rang the bell and waited. No response. She pushed the door open, but he wasn’t there. She called out his name. No response.
She walked cautiously around the house, searching. She found a note near the door of a room, presumably a bedroom. Slowly she opened it and read. The ground beneath her feet slipped away.
“My dear Adeline, I have always loved your innocence. From the time you were 11, your innocence always enticed me. Yes dear, I have known you for so long. You might have not noticed me back when I was a poor twelve year old boy with scrawny knees, but I have loved you since then. I always watched you going to school, running along the woods with your sister, when you smiled at the boy who sold candy, when you snuck out of home to kiss him under the banyan tree, when you bathed in that tiny bathroom. I watched you all the time, love. The world might not call this love, but I believe I loved you. When your sister got to know I was watching you, she threatened to go tell your mother about me. That’s why I knew I had to get her out of the way. So, I killed her. I strangled her with my skipping rope because she kept telling me that I was obsessing over you and had to stop. I know you were hurt when she died, I watched you cry from the bushes but I only did it because of my love towards you. I hope you understand.
You grew to be a wonderful successful person, so did I. Along the way, my love never diminished. That day when I saw you with that guy on a date, my anger grew. I wanted to kill him. I pulled my knife out, ready to slice his head off, but Luna saw me. That bitch saw me aiming at him, and confronted me. So I had to get her out of the way, too. She would report me to the cops but I couldn’t let her come between you and me. So, I killed her.
I know you’re wondering about the ring. It was true I gave the ring to Luna. But I had given it to her, to get it polished. She returned it to me a couple of hours later at a cafe. That night when she struggled to free, the ring had slipped off my finger.
Now, you might be wondering why I’m divulging all this to you. Why am I telling you my darkest secrets?
You have my journal, sweetie. Being the lonely man that I am, I pour out my heart to my journal. Sooner or later, my antics were bound to come out.
Nevertheless, sweetheart, I love you. You were the only one on my mind. I didn’t want anyone to hinder my love towards you. Everything I did was for you, alone.
I killed your sister, for you.
I killed Luna, for you.
Only for you, baby.”
The world spun around her. Her breathing became harsh and darkness began to blind her. She began shaking, sweat beads formed rapidly on her face and she felt the bile rise up in the back of her throat.
She didn’t know if she wanted to face him or not. She contemplated for a few minutes, and then with quivering hands, she pushed the bedroom door open.
There he was.
Levi hung on the fan, his tongue hanging out of his mouth, eyes wide open, staring straight at her.