Had Sam found the man who had murdered his wife? Could he handle that?
Three years had gone by and the crime had remained unsolved. How would dredging up all that old stuff affect him? How would it affect Kaila? Even though she was only five years old, he had to consider what seeing pictures of her mother splashed across the TV screen would do to her and especially the traumatic effects of finding out that her mother had been murdered.
He stirred the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee with Sam’s sterling silver engraved letter opener and thought about his daughter.
For Halloween she had wanted to dress up as a ballerina. His mother had recommended one of Peoria’s best downtown children’s boutiques and said that she’d happily take Kaila the next morning.
Sensing that this might be just the opportunity he needed to sound out Kaila about the possibility of moving to a new place, he quickly decided he’d take her himself.
His mother had expressed some surprise and reluctance at his acceptance of the task. However, he had assured her that he was well capable of finding a ballerina costume for a little girl. Sitting here in the quiet, he laughed out loud at his own naiveté.
Immediately, upon stepping through the front doors of La Petit Monchu, he knew he’d made a mistake. This was no place for a man – let alone a big six feet four Black man. This was a mother/daughter place.
The boutique smelled of baby powder and strawberry sachets. Everything was pink and white! The walls were covered in a pink and white stripped wallpaper, and on the floor, were hand stenciled pink and white plaid rugs complete with fringe. There were pink gingham tuffets and the windows were covered with pink floral curtains tied with pink grosgrain ribbons. His mother, he thought, was right about now sitting at the kitchen counter enjoying a cup of her favorite flavored Café Delights coffee, having a good laugh at his expense, but he was determined to suffer through this humiliation.
As he and Kaila searched through racks of little girl’s clothes for a ballerina costume or for that matter anything that would get him out of the place quickly, there was a real debate going on among the women in the store as to his motives. He tried his best to ignore it, but it really kicked into high gear as he stood outside the little girl’s dressing room while Kaila tried on her selection. He fidgeted nervously, shifting his weight from side to side, but he could feel the tension his presence had wrought.
Mothers shopping with their daughters were casting suspicious looks in his direction. Sales girls put their heads together, conferred, giggled, and then glanced in his direction. He could tell they were sizing him up. Discussing him, very discreetly, as to whether or not he was a well-meaning dad, hen-pecked husband, or a degenerate pervert. At six foot four, two hundred and ten pounds, David felt completely out of his element.
He thanked God several times that afternoon that he’d decided to wear the Armani, and not his usual off-duty attire of a frayed gray sweatshirt from his alma mater and jeans.
When Kaila had emerged from the fitting room wearing the shimmering pink copy of an authentic ballerina costume, it had all been worth the effort. She looked as though she was about to dance the lead in Swan Lake.
His heart ached over the lost of her mother. If only she could have lived long enough to see how beautiful their daughter was becoming. Kaila’s features were predominately white, but she looked as though she’d been dipped in a vat of honey and spray coated a light shade of gold. Even her hair was a golden bronze color. Seeing her for the first time was always a shock, because how could black and white produce gold instead of gray.
He took a sip of his coffee and realized it was cold. Glancing at his watch, it was six fifty p.m., and by now, the Trick-or-Treating was over. Kaila was back at home, safe and sound in the loving protection of his mother.
She was, he mused, more than likely sitting sprawled on their living room floor going through her Halloween goodies with her best friend Pammie by her side.
The two girls had been best friends since they’d learned how to toddle across to each other’s house. Their friendship had been a God send, when Kate had been killed. Having a friend her own age so close by, had taken the sharp edge of despair off Kate’s absence.
Her death was so unexpected. It had come out of no-where. Neither one of them had been prepared for her leaving them. She had simply left for work that morning and had never returned.