“Tell me about your mother.”
Detective Ballard gave me a studiously bland look. “I’m aware. Do you think this is funny?”
I pretended to consider. “Funny—no. Ironic? Yes.”
“Do you care to explain yourself?”
“Because I get to plan her funeral.” I already was. It would have to be the tackiest, white-trashiest, low-rent trailer park sort of affair for kicking off the dearly departed. I’d definitely serve beer. Oh, and champagne. With Funions and pork rinds and pigs in blankets and deep-fried Twinkies. And confetti. Maybe fireworks. Or pumpkin chunkin’. I could go with a viewing and dress her in Daisy Duke shorts and a tube top. Add some blue eye shadow and crimson lipstick for that extra-special touch.
Regret slid through me. No. She’d need to be cremated. I needed her cremated, just to be sure she couldn’t come back as a zombie or vampire. Maybe I’d be allowed to light the match on the fire.
“Miss Wyatt?” The detective said, tapping my knee and interrupting my happy daydream.
I focused on her. She could have used some under-eye concealer. Maybe a little lipstick. And some rouge. The woman looked like death. “What?”
“I asked how you would categorize your relationship with your mother?”
“She pretty much hated everything about me, and I tried my damnedest to earn her malice.”
Her brows rose at my candor. “So you didn’t get along with her?”
Was she deaf or just stupid? “Didn’t I just say that?”
The detective needed her ass kicked. “Yes.”
“. . . relationship contentious . . .” she muttered as she wrote in her notebook.
Such a mild word. Like my mother hadn’t been the wicked witch of the west. Like she hadn’t spent every minute of every day criticizing and castigating me and moaning over my flaws and failures, which were all I was to her. I don’t even know why she’d had me. Or kept me.
“Did she have any other family? Do you have siblings?”
“Don’t know and no.” Because if there was one thing that was true about my mother, it is that she kept her life a secret from me.
“What about friends? Or enemies? Anyone you can think of who might want to hurt her?”
“Grab a phonebook and start with the A’s,” I suggested.
The detective looked up from beneath her brows. “Your cooperation could go a long way in solving your mother’s murder. Don’t you want to find her killer?” Her tone implied heavily that I might just be the killer. Not that I could blame her. I was a perfect suspect. Luckily I had a perfect alibi.
“If the killer walked in right now, I’d probably offer to suck his dick,” I said. “That’s how much better my life will be without my mother.”
Which was pathetic. And also a challenge the universe had no intention of losing. Not only could my life get much worse, it Murphy’s Law said it probably would.
“Where were you yesterday?”
“I already told you. Twice.”
“I’d like to hear it again.”
“Yeah? I’d like a mansion in Monaco and naked hot-tub time with Ryan Reynolds, but neither of those are going to happen either.”
Detective Ballard visibly gritted her teeth then changed tack. “Was your mother seeing anyone romantically?”
“Check her nightstand. Bet she’s got a rainbow of vibrators in there.”
The detective’s mouth dropped open then snapped shut. “I’d think that you’d be a little bit serious about finding your mother’s murderer.”
“What you think isn’t my problem, is it?”
“It is if I arrest you for obstructing a murder investigation.”
I stood up. “And we’re done.”
The detective stood up, tapping her pen against her notebook. “Sit down. I still have questions for you, Miss Wyatt.”
I cocked an eyebrow at her in disbelief. She did not know when she’d lost. Up to me to teach her, then. “Here’s the answer to all of your idiot questions. Ready? Going to write it down in your little book so you don’t forget? Here we go, then. Fuck. Off. There. You now have all the answers you’re going to get from me. Now get out.”
“Can you tell me who the beneficiaries of her will are?”
The detective was tenacious. I had to give her that. I glared, flipped her off, then spun around and walked into the back room, slamming the door behind me.
I leaned against the door and took a deep breath, my heart pounding. My mother was dead. It was my own personal miracle. I was shaking. I held up my hand to watch it tremble and laughed quietly at myself. God, how long had I been hoping and praying for karma to come and dump my mother in its cosmic woodchipper?
Leaving the door, I wound through the maze of antiques, expensive knickknacks, unusual finds, and everything else I’d packed in the back warehouse of my store until I made it to my office. A Louis XV desk and chair in honey-colored birds-eye maple sat in the middle, surrounded by crowded shelves of my favorite finds. I’m an estate broker, selling people’s things when they downsize or die. I’ve found some amazing and strange things over the years and keep them in my eclectic collection.
I grabbed the phone and punched in a number.
“Lorraine? Get over here. Now. Bring champagne. Mother is dead.” I depressed the talk button to cut off questions and made two more calls to Jennifer and Stacey, repeating myself both times.