Bail had been set at one million, and Gabrielle got out the second she could, grateful she had survived one night in the hell hole she slept in.
Detective Ike had come to visit her that morning. He seemed a little uncomfortable, and looked like he hadn’t meant to visit but was drawn in by a greater force.
Gabrielle looked up when he walked in and her expression cleared.
“Oh, Officer Udeh,” she said.
“Detective,” he said correcting her.
“Oh, yes, I’m sorry. That’s important, isn’t it?” she said seeming annoyed with herself for under ranking him.
“It is to me,” he said lightly. They gazed at each other. She looked as if she had spent a sleepless night, the bags under her eyes made him wonder if she had been crying all night. She still looked beautiful. He was trying not to stare but he just couldn’t look away from her.
“Is there anything else I need to do?” she said sharply.
He blinked. “I beg your pardon?”
“Will they let me out on bail?” she asked, changing the question. “Nnamdi, Judge Anozie,” she corrected, uncertain what name Ike knew the judge as. “Said the DPO and the prosecuting attorney might be trying to make an example of me and would argue to keep me confined.” She smiled thinly and it made the hairs at the back of his neck stand. “I understand the DPO wants to become governor someday, and my misfortune may help him get there.”
“You’re not a career criminal, Mrs. Rosenfeld. I’m sure they would let you out.” He said.
“I seem to be convicted already.”
“I can’t discuss your case outside the presence of your lawyer, but I tell you that from my experience, people in your situation are usually released on bail. A high price, but they get out.”
“People in my position?” she asked, more to herself. “I don’t understand, Detective, why are you here?”
Great question, he thought. “I just wanted to see if there was anything you needed.” He said, almost embarrassed.
She gazed at him. “How thoughtful,” her words carrying different meaning from her expression.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked.
She looked blank. Then. “Oh, yes. I forgot to mention this to Nnamdi and it’s been worrying me. It is morning now and news of all this will have reached the school where my children are staying. I don’t want them to hear…” Her words were caught in her throat and she bit her lower lip.
“Yes, of course. I completely understand. What do you want me to do?”
“Could you contact my grandmother, Beatrice? Nnamdi has her number, and make sure she has called my children; I’d really appreciate it very much. To know their father is dead and their mother has been arrested for his murder –” she stopped and shook her head. After a moment, she began again. “Grandmother would find an easier way of breaking it down to them than hearing it from a schoolmate or from the morning news.
I’d also like her to bring them back from school. It’s not the best place for them to be now. Can you do that for me? My grandmother may have talked to Nnamdi about this already but I just want to be sure and at ease.”
“I’d take care of it,”
She nodded and sighed, satisfied. He appreciated the way she took his word for it, which made him determined to complete the errand.
“I’d have to leave now, Mrs. Rosenfeld.”
She laid her hand on his arm, touching his shirt sleeve. “You’ve been very kind.” Her gaze was direct and full of feeling. “No matter what happens to me, I will remember your kindness when I needed it most.”
Ike was speechless, and then turned away quickly before she could see his expression.
The prosecuting attorney, Amobi Chima closed the Rosenfeld file on the desk in front of him and glanced at the calendar above his shelf. With luck he would wrap this up by May.
Amobi had no problem with sending Gabrielle Rosenfeld into a conviction for capital murder. He was a man who detested George Rosenfeld. The wife, smiling by his side and acting all perfect when almost everyone knew they weren’t. He was salivating at the prospect of exposing George Rosenfeld as a sham and convicting his lovely widow as quickly as possible.
He looked up as his secretary showed James Ugochukwu through the door. George Rosenfeld’s press secretary looked grey and uncomfortable but impeccably dressed, as usual.
“Have a seat, Mr Ugochukwu,” Amobi said coldly.
“I’ve been reading your report,”
Ugochukwu said nothing.
“It says here that you can absolutely identify the shooter as Mrs. Rosenfeld, is that correct?”
“How can you be so sure?”
Ugochukwu sighed. “I knew the woman for fifteen years. I saw here almost every day. It was Gabrielle.”
Amobi nodded. “That brings me to the next question. What reason would she have to kill her husband?”
Ugochukwu was silent.
“Can you think of anyone? The officers didn’t ask you all these but you’d find I’m very persistent.”
Ugochukwu wet his lips.
“You might as well tell me now, because I guarantee I would get it out of you in court. You wouldn’t want to be charged for restraining information from the court, would you?”
Ugochukwu looked up at the ceiling, and shrugged. “What the hell, George played around. A lot, actually. I don’t think he even touched her after the boy was born.”
Amobi jotted something down into a pad. “Any woman in particular?” he asked.
Ugochukwu shrugged. “He liked prostitutes and escort services, you know, no loose ends. They may have been one girl he saw more than the others, but nobody he was emotionally attached to.”
“What about his wife?”
“She wrapped her life around the kids, charity groups, and cultural activities. Things like that.”
“George made it very clear that she’d never see the kids again if she ever thought about it, and that she would be the bigger loser in a divorce. He could have done it and she knew it.”
“So how did she take it? Was she ever treated for emotional problems, mental illness?”
“Not that I heard.”
“So he had other women, in fact, he never slept with her at all. She was ignored, restless, unhappy. Then with his new additional pressure of his new involvement in politics, could she have flipped out?”
“I can’t say anything to you –”
“Would you say she was unstable?” Amobi persisted.
“I don’t know. She always seemed perfect, like she had everything under control, but there had to be a lot of suppressed anger. Had to be.” Ugochukwu emphasised.
“Was there ever any physical abuse? Did Rosenfeld ever hit her, for example?”
Ugochukwu shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
“I saw him swat her couple of times.”
“Slap, you know. Not hard. Just enough to…”
“Show her who is boss?” Amobi supplied.
Ugochukwu looked away.
“He sounds like a prince, your pal,” Ugwu said. “What were they fighting about? The women?”
“No, after a while she tolerated that. It was mostly the kids. George wanted them sent away to boarding school, and she wanted to keep them with her and have them attend day classes. They were a lot of problems about that.”
“But he won.”
“George always won.” Ugochukwu said flatly.
“Who else would want him dead?”
“Wealthy people often have enemies.”
“But his wife was the one who shot him in front of you,” Amobi supplied.
Ugochukwu nodded. “Maybe they weren’t perfect but nobody deserves to die the way George did.”
“So he had something good to offer?”
“Like keeping you employed for close to ten years?”
“I don’t think that has anything to do with this case, does it?” Ugochukwu asked.
Amobi smiled slightly. “I think that would be all for now. If I need you again, I’ll let you know.”
Ugochukwu left the office in a great hurry, as if he was fleeing from a burning house.
Amobi grinned to himself as he slipped the Rosenfeld file into the drawer on his desk. He hated computers; he liked to see everything written out in black and white. What he saw here was that he had everything; means, opportunity, eyewitness and evidence. That was all he needed to get her convicted.
Even famous Onyeka Umeh would not be able to save her.