Robin repeated his question. “Do you have any idea who might have done it, Mr. Cummings? Are there any suspects you want us to investigate more specifically?”
Cummings, seated on the plump couch, did not answer straight away. He remained slumped, his back hunched, his eyes focused on his fingertips as if they could write his problems out of existence. Maybe if he stayed still enough, the world would just vaporize and he would no longer have to confront the grief that seemed determined to stay unchanged no matter how much time passed.
During the short silence, Robin concluded that Cummings was not a man well acquainted with negative emotions. Sadness on him seemed uncharacteristic, ill-suited to his jovial face.
“Cummings…? You listening?” he asked, softly now. Expressions of empathy could get people to open up, he had observed.
“She’s dead,” Cummings whispered now, his voice distant. As if he wasn’t here, but still trapped in whatever world was still holding him hostage, even now. “We’d been fighting… going back and forth because we didn’t want to trouble the kids. The night before… before it happened, I said to her, ‘Amanda, I know I’ve been busy but I’ll take some time out… for you…for the kids.’ She hated me being negligent with them, but I couldn’t help it. The business… it required my attention. We were fighting for our survival, and we’d been living in debt, though she didn’t know that yet. Didn’t want her worrying about yet another thing, especially since… since the baby…”
He stopped. His voice had become filled with sentimentality and possibly remorse. Often people resorted to self-blame to help them cope with grief. Robin could not help but feel a sense of detached affiliation with the man.
“That’s not everything, though.” Cummings spoke again. His eyes were hard now, the quiver in his voice gone. A cynical smile tugged at his lips. “I think it has to do with The Tempest.”
Cummings snickered, a sadistic sense of amusement seeming to reverberate through the silent room. Robin was well acquainted with the topic Cummings had brought up. He had been reading all about it in the newspaper when Cummings had arrived at his door, a tall, hefty man with confusion plastered all over his face.
Now he seemed slightly more assured but still perplexed.
“I see.” Robin did not know what else to say. The headline flashed in his head.
“The Tempest Marks Another Girl as His
A woman was found dead on Ballout Road. The printed note accompanying the body described her death as a consequence of adultery, but the forensic report suggests otherwise. Evidence suggests rape…”
A heavy silence descended on the room, the two men’s minds racing with unspoken questions and obvious answers.
Whoever had done it, it was neither an act of revenge nor an accident. It had been planned; there had been a motive behind the violence disrupting the peaceful town of Stellium. Sweet Sofia Cummings had just been another victim of the ferocious, unmerciful wave crashing over them all: The Tempest.
Robin stared at the newspaper lying in front of him.
Name: known as The Tempest
Nine so far. Excluding the most recent, the one that had led Cummings to Robin, a private detective. He certainly wasn’t going to trust the investigation of his wife’s murder to the incompetent police, who had been seeking the culprit for months and hadn’t managed to find out anything.