Page 42 of One Big Secret

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"We've got you covered," I reassured him as Chase set things up, and soon we could see several file folders on his desktop.

Giuseppe proceeded to show us how he had arranged the evidence gathered from Agent Downing for easy identification. Each incident had a separate file with its own password and authentication process. As he clicked through each file folder, he explained the significance of each piece of evidence and how it fit into the bigger picture from the first murder and finally to the picture of Amy holding the sign.

"Now, what our team has noticed so far, is that the perp or perps love to taunt you with riddles and stupid shit," Giuseppe explained, and continued, "It seems there have been only three actions of extreme violence against anyone associated with Rosedale. First, the murder of the maintenance person - that was to get your attention. To shock you. Then you had one failed kidnapping attempt, like the one against that precious child.... her name is Harper, right Daniel?"

"Yes, sir. That's correct.”

"Then we have the cop, Carter Brown, being tied up and left to die. That was ridiculous—an amateur job, for sure. Ryder, your family was called into question regarding the murder of the maintenance person working at the original Rosedale office, but that ultimately went nowhere... more taunting."

"More like harassment!" Ryder added.

"Now, things take a stranger turn. Guy, your driver is mysteriously killed in the restroom of a popular restaurant. This leads to an acquaintance of your sister, Chelsea, pranking your then-girlfriend, Ariel. Things spiral out of control here... and Meagan is kidnapped and left for dead in the ditch allegedly by Chelsea."

"What do you mean, things take a stranger turn?” Chase asked.

"Well, for one thing, this Chelsea person turns up dead in Canada, and the perp makes sure Chase knows about it. So there's your third murder. And there is some question about an individual named Alex.... another dead end. But again, Chelsea's death doesn't trace back to anyone from Rosedale, thankfully.”

"What about Amy's kidnapping? How does it fit in?" I asked.

"That's the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question. We can't figure it out, possibly because we still don't have anyone in custody to question. That lies squarely on the local legal system and probably, to some extent, lazy law enforcement. The most obvious is that you'd lose funding from a grant you were banking on for financial success. But why the kidnapper picked Amy is unclear." Giuseppe explained.

"Other than someone knowing Mitch was interested in her, despite the involvement with the mother of his child…." Guy pointed out.

I cringed but held my head up high when I expressed a notion that had been buzzing in my head since I found out I was Ava's father. "Giuseppe, do you think there's a connection between Nicole, Ava's birth mother, and Amy being targeted?"

"Let me tell you this. As you know, Vail is a small town, and Nicole's family owns a ski resort, Mitch. So it isn't a stretch that Nicole and her family influenced the killer in some weird way. But honestly, I doubt it. I know that Nicole's parents aren't exactly proud of how their daughter leads her life. And they had to know getting involved with my Amy wouldn't bode well for them."

Guy scooted back in his chair and added, "Here are my two cents. Amy wasn't a stranger to the Rosedale crew, so it is possible they planned to target her one way or another and simply followed Amy to Colorado. It might be interesting to have a look at a list of the passengers on the flight Amy took from San Diego to Vail."

"Excellent idea," Giuseppe said, scratching down a note. Then suddenly, he closed his laptop and crossed his hands over his chest. "Here's the problem we're against. The local cops aren't' killing themselves to solve this! You have to ask why? And the FBI has bigger fish to fry. Amy was kidnapped in Colorado; of course, I became aware. Ferrara got involved immediately, and the feds were brought in because my brother threatened them. But what have they done? Where are their reports? There aren't any! They were just going through the motions to keep the Russo family happy."

"So, we have incompetent law enforcement and an FBI that’s just twiddling their thumbs, right?" Daniel asked.

"Botta Bing, Botta Boom!"

"So where does that leave us?” I wondered out loud.

"You're looking at it!" Giuseppe swept his arms open dramatically.

I was struggling to digest everything when I heard someone snapping their fingers in the back of the room and turned to see who it was. Bob was getting Giuseppe's attention. "Hey boss, we gotta go. The yellow bike is on the move!"



As the limousineglided to a stop at the Blushing Bridal Boutique and Spa, Ariel exclaimed, "Elana, you've outdone yourself with this gem of an idea!" Meagan and I tittered in eagerness. Our hearts were aflutter with visions of the romantic escapade I often conjured up in my daydreams.

"How fortunate we are that Martha offered to mind the little ones. She's quite the quintessential grandma," I remarked.

"You know my mother," Ariel said, "her life revolves around the kids. And she loves Ava, Lily, and Liam as much as her own grandson, Jonathan."

"She's a sweetheart, for sure," Meagan added, stepping onto the sidewalk. "Since you have visited this spa before, Elana, could you recommend a great facial treatment?" Meagan asked.

"Oh, choosing a favorite is quite impossible. Each of them is so thoroughly divine and soothing," Mum chortled. "Let's not hurry. The fashion show commences only after our leisurely luncheon."

The moment we entered the spa, the air was laden with the scents of a dream brought to life: lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, and peppermint intertwined in a delicate dance, casting a spell of relaxation upon us.

Soon, Milly, the bubbly proprietor, greeted us with her radiant smile and started explaining their services. "We have an array of treatments tailored to the unique needs of different skin types," she began, detailing a range of facials such as the indulgent gold leaf treatment, the collagen-boosting vampire facial, and the gentle rose quartz facial. "Our body treatments, including wraps, scrubs, and massages, are designed to rejuvenate and luxuriate."

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