Chapter no 70

The Teacher


IT SHOULD COME as no surprise that I sleep horrendously.

I toss and turn, and when I do sleep, I have dreams of a zombielike Eve rising from her grave in the pumpkin patch, wearing a pair of red stiletto heels, which she then proceeds to bludgeon me with. Suffice it to say that every childhood memory I have of that pumpkin patch has been effectively destroyed.

I finally drag myself from my bedsheets and brew myself a cup of instant coffee, as the coffee machine is still on the fritz and the new one has clearly not arrived. I’ve managed to choke down most of the cup when the doorbell rings.

If there’s another package of dirty shoes at my door, I simply cannot cope anymore.

I shuffle to the front door, and when I check the peephole, this time Detective Sprague is standing there. I hope she has good news for me.

The detective seems startled by my appearance when I open the door. I suppose I seemed more put together yesterday. Yesterday, I was playing the role of the disheveled, worried husband. Today, it is genuine. I haven’t even managed to shower or put on clothing yet.

“Could I come in, Mr. Bennett?” she asks.

I stifle a yawn. Yesterday, I asked her to call me Nate, but I don’t have the energy to correct her a second time. “Yes, please do.”

I step back to allow her to enter the living room. I wonder if I should suggest sitting on the couch, but I don’t want her to become too comfortable here.

“Any word on Eve?” I ask.

Sprague shakes her head slowly. “I’m afraid not. But I did speak with Debra Higgins this morning.”

Good. I’m sure that conversation has solidified Addie as one of her key suspects. “Oh?”

The detective cocks her head to the side, an unreadable expression on her face. “How come you never told me Adeline Severson was in your English class?”

My fingers freeze in the middle of scratching at the stubble on my jaw. “Excuse me?”

“You said Adeline was one of Eve’s students,” she reminds me. “But you never mentioned that she was one of your students as well.”

“Does it matter? Eve is the one she had a grudge against.”

“Yes, but you acted like you hardly knew her. Not only was she in your class, but she also wrote for the poetry magazine that you’re the staff supervisor for.”

I don’t like the edge of suspicion that has crept into her voice. I have to nip this in the bud quickly. “I’m sorry if I gave you that impression. I do know Addie. She’s always done adequately in my class.”

“Just adequate?”

I lift a shoulder. “She was fine. I had no issues with her.”

Detective Sprague is studying my face so intently that it takes all my self-restraint not to squirm. “Mr. Bennett,” she says, “have you or your wife ever had an extramarital affair?”

“No,” I say—too quickly. “Absolutely not. I mean, I certainly haven’t.” “But you’re not sure about her?”

“I…uh…” I tug at the collar of my robe. “I don’t think so, but you never know.”

Was Eve having an affair? Did she tell him about my own infidelity, and now he is seeking retribution on her behalf?

“So it’s possible,” she presses me.

“I… I don’t know.” I rub my eyes with the balls of my hands. “I’m sorry, Detective. I didn’t sleep well last night, worrying about Eve. It’s hard to think straight at the moment.”

She gives me a sympathetic nod. “All right then. I can give you some space.”

I want to fall down on my knees and thank God that this woman is leaving. My temples are starting to throb, and I need a long, hot shower.

“I’ll come back later,” Sprague adds. “Oh,” I say weakly. “Yes. Okay.”

“Or would it be better for you to come down to the station instead?”

The idea of walking into the police station makes me physically ill. “I’ll be home all day. You can come by.”

Detective Sprague gives me one last look, and I know that look. She is onto me. Her gut is telling her there is more to this situation than I have let

on, but unfortunately, she has no proof. And without that, there is absolutely nothing she can do to me.

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