George held open the door for Lilah as soon as they made it Prevalli’s Restaurant. Lilah walked in first and then stepped to the side to let George walk in front of her. She figured now would be a good time to let him handle all the talking.
“Hello, how are you?” the hostess greeted them right away.
“I’m doing well, how are you?” George replied with a polite smile.
“Great,” she said a little too enthusiastically in Lilah’s opinion. She picked up two menus and looked back up at George. “Table for two? Would you like a booth?”
“No, thank you. We’re not here to eat.” George declined. “Is your manager around?”
The hostess paused for a moment before she finally nodded her head. Her voice shaking she said, “Oh, sure. Let me… Just let me go get him.”
“Please don’t worry,” George squinted at her name tag, “Maria. We’re only here to ask some follow up questions about Jayden Bell.”
Maria let out a small sigh of relief. “Oh, right… Sure, I’ll page him right away.”
“Thank you,” George dipped his head in thanks and then stepped back to give him some space. Lilah followed closely behind.
“So,” she whispered to him, “What exactly is your plan?”
“I want to know what he thinks about Jayden’s death. I want to know whether or not he believes Steven is the killer.” George said simply.
Lilah shook her head. “Why do we care about what he thinks, though? Anyone who would be involved with this case, the money going missing as well as the murder, would be Jayden herself, Steven, and the bank.”
“Lilah, did you ever have a job before you came to me?” George asked.
“I worked at the bookstore part time at my college. Does that count?” she replied.
George nodded. “Now, tell me, did you ever talk behind another employee’s back when they weren’t on duty? Or did you talk about your boss to your co-workers? Maybe you complained about a couple of customers?”
“Of course,” Lilah shrugged. “Doesn’t everyone?”
“And through that gossip, you get close to your co-workers, right? You get to know each other a little better, especially about what’s going on in your life.”
Lilah groaned. “Can you just tell me straight up what you’re trying to say instead of going around the bush?”
“It’s beating around the bush,”
“Anyway,” George cleared his throat, “If something stressful is going on in your personal, most people go to work and talk about it. Their co-workers don’t know anything about them outside of work. They’re not friends or relatives with the people you know outside of work. Before I became a police officer I used to talk about the happenings in my family all the time; the good and the bad. Then when I became an officer, I only talked about other things. Everyone knew Barney and my other siblings because we’re all in the same field. I can’t gossip about them at work because it would get back to them. Do you see what I’m trying to say?”
Lilah nodded with a bored sigh. “Yes. It was very long-winded, but yes. I get it. So you think Jayden’s co-workers might know more of what happened because she might have talked about it at work?”
“Exactly,” George nodded.
“Well, that’s stupid.”
George raised an eyebrow looking down at her. “Now what?”
“If Jayden was stealing money from her own bank account, from her own husband, why would she boast about it at work?” Lilah asked.
George chuckled. “Because she didn’t think she would ever get caught… Also, she didn’t think she’d get killed for it. You have to always be careful who you say things to, Lilah. Remember that.”
“You’re being cryptic again…” Lilah said through gritted teeth.
George ignored her and smiled at someone else. Lilah turned her head to see a tall man in a fancy suit walking towards them. His shoulders were so broad she thought they were going to rip right through his suit jacket.
“I’m Noah Lang, the manager here. How can I help you?” the man said as he approached. He stuck out his hand towards George and he shook it.
“George Florence, private investigator.” He said and then pointed to Lilah. “This is my assistant, Lilah Williams.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Noah smiled at Lilah as he shook her hand. She smiled politely back, but Noah had turned his attention back to George before she could say anything to him.
“Private investigator, huh?” he said stroking his chin. “Is everything okay?”
“We just came here to ask a few questions pertaining to Jayden Bell’s death. Is it okay if we speak in a more private place?” George asked.
“Of course,” Noah agreed willingly.
He led them down through the entire restaurant. Lilah was impressed at how crowded it was, even though it was only lunchtime. The lights were dim, the tables and chairs were in great shape, and even the carpet underneath her feet was fancy. It looked so plush she had to do everything in her power to not bend down to stroke it with her hands. Or, better yet, take off her shoes and pretend she was at the beach.
She had never been in this restaurant before. Mostly because it was a little too fancy for her taste and it was also really expensive. Still, as they walked by the kitchen, Lilah got a whiff of a steak and her mouth began to water.
“Here we are. This is my office. Please feel free to make yourself at home.” Noah opened the door and allowed George and Lilah to enter first.
Lilah followed George in and the two of them took a seat on the other side of Noah’s desk.
“So,” Noah began as he sat down, “If you don’t mind my asking, why is there a private investigator involved with this case? The police had already come to question me about Jayden’s death and I’ve heard that they already caught the killer.”
“Well, that’s why we’re here. Steven Bell, the suspect and Jayden’s husband, hired us to help him out.” George stated.
Lilah cautiously turned her head to look at George. She didn’t want to be too obvious that she had no idea what he was talking about. As far as she knew, Steven never hired them.
Then again, this must have been one of those “rules” George was talking about earlier that they were allowed to break.
Noah snorted as he leaned back in his chair and made himself more comfortable. “Well, good luck to you on that one. I’m pretty sure that’s a loss cause.”
“What makes you say that?” George asked.
Lilah turned her attention to Noah surprised. She took out her notebook from her bag and clicked open her pen ready to jot down anything and everything this man said.
Noah shrugged his shoulders. “Jayden was going to divorce Steven and he wasn’t happy about it. I’m pretty sure he killed her because if he couldn’t have her, no one could. It’s happened before.”
Lilah wrote the word “divorce” in capital letters. Divorce had never come up in the case before. Whether Barney knew about it or not, Lilah wasn’t sure.
“Was Jayden afraid of him? Is that why she talked about her divorce?” George asked.
Noah glanced up at the ceiling thinking of an answer. “I wouldn’t say she was afraid of him. She seemed more annoyed with him than anything else.”
“Why did she want to divorce him?”
“She…” Noah sighed. “Well, I don’t know if I should be saying anything at all.”
“Please. Every piece of information helps.” Lilah said.
Noah groaned. “Jayden was cheating on Steven with someone else. She was feeling guilty about it and wanted to divorce him.”
“Do you know the man who she was having an affair with?” George asked.
Noah shrugged. “She never mentioned his name.”
“Excuse me,” Maria knocked on the door and poked her head in. “I’m really sorry to interrupt, but we have some unsatisfied customers. They’re not very happy and demand to speak with you.”
“I’m coming,” Noah stood up from his chair and buttoned his jacket. He rolled his eyes at George. “Time to go put a smile… Please excuse me, I’ll be right back.”
“Of course, take your time.” George replied.
Noah left the office and Maria smiled apologetically to them. “I tried to hold them off, I knew he was busy talking to the police. I’m sorry.”
“He’s at work right now. We understand.” George said giving her a reassuming smile.
Maria nodded and ducked out of the office closing the door behind her.
Lilah jumped out of her seat and walked around to the other side of the desk.
“What are you doing?” George demanded.
“You can’t snoop!”
“Well, it’s not snooping… It’s peeking.”
Lilah groaned. “While Noah was explaining something to you, I noticed this slip of paper here.” She pointed to a small notepad on the side of his desk.
“Don’t touch that,” George warned.
“I’m not,” Lilah said sternly. “But there’s a number on it.” She started copying the number down in her own notebook.
“What kind of number?” George craned his neck to see.
Lilah ran around the other side of the desk and sat back down in her seat closing her notebook. She stuffed it back inside her bag and whispered, “A bank account number.”
As if on cue, Noah opened the door to his office. “I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Someone’s steak was a little dry and they have to involve me instead of just sending it back to the cook. You know, we put steak sauce on the table for a reason. No cook is perfect and neither are the cows.”
At the same time, George and Lilah stood from their chairs.
“Some people are just rude, what can you do?” Lilah chuckled.
“Well, thank you for chatting with us, Noah. If we have any follow up questions, we’ll be sure to get in touch.” George extended his hand for a goodbye shake.
Noah took it and looked at George suspiciously. “Oh? That’s it?”
“Okay, well… have a nice rest of your day.”
George returned the gesture and, after letting Lilah walk in front of him, the two exited the restaurant.