CALVIN Viakosen wasn’t at all pleased that he’d had to interrupt his current investigation and literally drop everything as the Commissioner had ordered so he can go play sleuth to a woman who’d probably mislaid her ring and wanted someone peeping through a binoculars in search of it.
A ring for heaven’s sake! He muttered a curse and scowled. There was a serial armed robbery gang at large, an aggrieved neighbourhood on the department’s neck and yet he was expected to abandon all that and go look for a damn ring just because it was said to be a prized family heirloom.
He cursed again, a little more explicitly this time. One thing he considered the bane of his seven year career as a Police officer was having this feeling like the Police were in the pockets of the wealthy and powerful. It was having the feeling that the high and mighty still called the shots in a country where the law and justice system wasn’t as free and independent as it was professed to be.
It was exactly why his parents, particularly his father, had objected to his getting into the Force after his graduation from the University. But of course he’d been an idealist and had believed that well educated and principled officers could make a difference. Well, he still believed that despite the fact that the years have taught him that things weren’t always black and white and that right and wrong weren’t so easily defined.
He still had his principles and he still handled every case with as much professionalism and propriety as he can. But he wasn’t the idealist he’d been when he’d first signed up. No, he was more of a realist now. And reality wasn’t usually the coloured world people want it to be… and it wasn’t black and white either.
It was a whole lot of blues and greys and no-coloured spaces. Which was exactly why he was right now honking at the gates of the Parkview Estate instead of at his desk reading through reports and trying to unmask a menacing gang.
He flashed his id and at a nod and salute, he drove through the gate, taking the first turn on the left as he’d been instructed. He studied house numbers, trafficating as he glided down the street, when he saw the brass-plated 50, he cut off the road and honked twice at the off-white painted steel gate.
It took only about a minute before the gate started sliding open. Again he flashed the id and added a little explanation before he got the usual salute and was allowed to drive into the extraordinarily large courtyard.
Another security personnel directed him to the parking shed where he parked his car, reverse-style, beside a silver metallic Lexus GS450h. He got down and stared at the row of the five tushiest cars he ever saw and felt sorry for his tokunbo 2010 Honda Accord. Sighing, he turned to smile at the man in black and navy blue uniform watching him with probing eyes.
“Afternoon, I am Detective Viakosen, here to see Dr. Mrs. Yinka Edwin-Maurice.” Calvin didn’t bother to flash his id this time. The verbal introduction should suffice.
And it did as the middle-aged man gave a quick nod. “You are expected, sir.” He responded in a clear, controlled voice. “This way please.”
Calvin followed him towards the limestone wall-cladded duplex. The man pressed the doorbell and then giving him another quick nod, turned and left him there, no doubt to be attended to by another house staff.
It took barely a moment and the huge oak door was pulled open. Calvin smiled at the lady in sky blue and white cotton skirt suit he supposed was a staff uniform. “I am Detective Viakosen, here to see Dr. Mrs Edwin-Maurice.” He introduced again.
“Good afternoon, sir.” The lady greeted politely. “Please come in.”
He followed her down the foyer into a living room that looked like the size of his entire three-bedroom apartment. Opulence seemed to be the only word that can rightly define the spacious room. Another would be elegance, he thought taking in the sheer luxurious furnishing.
There were three people in the room but he focused his attention on the lady in what he was sure was a designer sea green suit. There was no doubt in his mind that he was staring at Yinka Edwin-Maurice, President and CEO of Alpine Petroleum, millionaire and proprietor of several landed properties all over the country.
She was impeccably dressed and looked every inch the Mistress of the manor. She had a fair skin that may have started out naturally but had definitely had help with its present creamy flawlessness. She was not particularly a raving beauty but she had a face and posture that made you take notice of her.
“Excuse me, Madam, the Police officer is here.” The lady who’d led him in said with a curtsy and without waiting for a response, turned and walked towards an open alcove.
“At last you are here, Inspector.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice rested regal eyes on him.
She hadn’t stood up but the man and woman with her in the room had done so. Calvin dipped his head in a gesture of respect. “Good afternoon, ma’ am.” He greeted with a deferential smile. “And it is actually Deputy Superintendent, ma’am. But Detective would do. Detective Calvin Viakosen at your service, ma’am.” He gave another dip.
Yinka Edwin-Maurice inclined her head regally. “Very well, Detective Viakosen. This is my son, Engineer Temitope Edwin-Maurice and his fiancée, Miss Anna Makinde.”
“Afternoon, sir, ma’am.” Calvin turned to smile at the two who were still standing.
The fiancée was a very pretty woman. Calvin deduced her to be in her mid forties even though she didn’t particularly look it. She was wearing a light orange cotton dress that stopped just below her knees. She smiled back at him. “You are welcome, Detective Viakosen.” Her voice was soft and tranquil.
“A pleasure to meet you, Detective.” Temitope Edwin-Maurice extended a hand. Calvin took it with another dip of the head. “Please have a seat.” Temitope gestured courteously and then took his fiancée’s hand as they both resumed their seats.
Calvin smiled his thanks before choosing to slide into the Victorian styled armchair beside Yinka Edwin-Maurice. He faced her and waited patiently.
She did not waste time. “I’m not sure if the Commissioner briefed you,” she looked inquiringly at him, “but this is a case of a missing ring which must be found as soon as possible.”
The faint cynicism in his voice was apparently not lost on her because she arched a brow as she stared straight at him. “A pearl ring, Detective Viakosen. One that is worth five hundred thousand dollars ring at the very least. The picture please, Anna.” She spoke to her future daughter-in-law.
It was sounded like an imperious command and Anna got up quickly to obey it, reaching for a closed file on the centre table and passing it to her.
She in turn passed it to Calvin who was struggling not to drool at the outrageous amount she’d called. He took the white sleek office file and opened it. There was a picture of a white woman whom he suspected would be Yinka Edwin-Maurice’s mother-in-law. There were tales that Lanre Edwin-Maurice, her late father-in-law had been married to a white woman. A mixed parentage that was evident in Temitope Edwin-Maurice in spite of both his parents being black.
If he was trying not to drool before Calvin couldn’t help it now as his mouth dropped open. The ring on the lady’s finger was not just huge but it was also glittering and impressively gorgeous. “Wow!” He blurted out unable to help himself.
“It is not just an ordinary pearl ring, Detective.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice said. “It is set on eighteen carat white gold band, designed with three point five carat diamonds and superbly finished with that natural black pearl you see at the top.”
Calvin made an inaudible sound and slipped up another picture. It was one of Yinka Edwin-Maurice herself in an exquisite wedding gown and wearing the ring. “Ah, I can see why finding this ring is imperative, ma’am.” He managed to murmur.
“It is, Detective and not just because of the price value.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice nodded. “It is most importantly because of its sentimental worth to the Edwin-Maurice family. My late father-in-law, Temitope’s grandfather, bought it for his wife during a visit to her hometown of Caracas.” She explained when he raised his eyes to her. “She was a lover of pearls and he wanted to give her something worthy and priceless for their tenth anniversary. She loved it and treasured it. When I was getting married to her son forty-eight years ago, she gave it to me and requested that we use it as my wedding band and that it should thereafter be passed down to every wife of the first son of the Edwin-Maurice clan from then on.” She paused briefly, then continued. “I brought it out yesterday to present to my son and Anna. They are getting married in five weeks.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Calvin said unnecessarily. The news of the impending marriage has been everywhere—on gossip blogs, top magazines and national tabloids.
“I had retrieved it from its place in the safe…”
“It is kept in a safe?” Calvin asked.
“It is not something for everyday wear, Detective.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice retorted. “Though I wedded with it, it was returned to the family safe after the ceremony and a less expensive and conspicuous ring was presented to me by my late husband.”
Calvin nodded. “And this safe is… in the house here?”
“It is in the study.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice inclined her head. “Which was where I showed the ring to them and where I left it when I got a call moments later. Unfortunately, I only quickly slipped it into my desk drawer and not back into the safe. Which of course made it easy for the thief to get it.”
Calvin frowned at the certainty of her tone. “You seem to have a suspicion who the thief might be, ma’am? Are you suspecting any of your household staff?”
“Absolutely not!” She made a sound as if the idea was laughable. “Many of the staff have been with us for years, even decades. Nothing like this has ever happened, absolutely no report of theft ever.” She firmed her lips. “And there is absolutely no sign of break in so I know it was an inside job.” She made a slight movement with her shoulders. “I am not sure exactly if this is a theft or just mischief, but I do believe that Cate is responsible.”
“Catherine, my daughter.” Anna explained, joining the conversation for the first time. “She lives here with us. But she can’t be responsible for this… for the missing ring.” She turned to face her future mother-in-law. “I don’t know where the ring is… maybe we should do another thorough check around the house. But I don’t think Cate took the ring. She couldn’t have.”
She looked distressed but that didn’t seem to deter Yinka Edwin-Maurice. “Only four of us were in the study when I brought out that ring and only three of you saw me put it into the drawer.” She flicked a hand. “I am not saying she stole it. But you and I know that your daughter doesn’t want this marriage to happen. She hates my son.”
“Hate? Hardly.” Anna rose to her feet, obviously too distressed to remain seated. “Cate and Temi do not get along very well…”
“Not get along?” Her future mother-in-law cut in. “That is an understatement of the year, Anna. Cate doesn’t like Temitope or the fact that you are marrying him.”
“She’s just having difficulty accepting the new situation, mother.” Anna defended. “But whatever the case, that doesn’t mean she took the ring. Why would she do that for heaven’s sake?”
Calvin listened to the verbal sparring without interruption. He’d learnt that listening was one of the best ways to get information when trying to solve a case.
“For many reasons apart from the obvious one of childishly wanting to stop your wedding.” Yinka Edwin-Maurice had turned to face him. “Cate has been financially distressed for the last couple of months…”
“That doesn’t mean she took the ring.” Anna interrupted hastily.
Something Calvin was sure she didn’t do always if at all because Yinka Edwin-Maurice arched her brows in an imperial manner to show surprise at being defied. But before she could respond, her son spoke up.
“You can’t just accuse Cate of something as serious as theft without any tangible proof, mother.” Though he tried to sound firm, there was a diffidence in his tone that showed he wasn’t much of a confrontational person. “It is not just right, mother to toss out accusations because of mere suspicions.”
It was obvious that Yinka Edwin-Maurice wasn’t only not used to having her opinions challenged, she didn’t like it too. Her lips were compressed and there was a flare of irritation in her eyes as she turned to Calvin.
“This is not just a mere accusation, Detective, I feel certain of my claim.” There was a low protesting sigh from Anna, but it was ignored. “The pearl ring went missing right after I’d presented it to them all and Cate is the only person who is perverse enough to be responsible for it.”
“And what is Cate perverse enough to do this time?”
Calvin jerked around at the sound of the cool, haughty voice. Standing at just the entrance of the alcove was a jeans and tank top clad young woman eyeing them all a trifle snobbishly.
**UPDATES – TUESDAYS and SATURDAYS**
@ Exceptionalstar, the best of luck as you focus on your PGD. Study hard o, lol… and may God crown your efforts with great success.