Front Page Affair

Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal

Book: Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal Read Free Book Online
Authors: Radha Vatsal
and now it seemed as though everyone clamored to speak to her. What could Hotchkiss possibly want? She pictured the handsome, fretful secretary before she saw him adjusting his tie beside the three-faced clock in the Sentinel ’s lobby. He looked nervous. A young man, likely a reporter, sauntered over and murmured something to him.
    In response, Hotchkiss reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a lighter. The young man put a cigarette in his mouth and bent over the secretary’s cupped hands.
    â€œMr. Hotchkiss.” Kitty approached them.
    Mrs. Basshor’s secretary fumbled and dropped his lighter.
    â€œThanks.” The young man strolled off, puffing away.
    Hotchkiss picked up his lighter and put it back into his pocket. “Good morning, Miss Weeks.” He sounded more than a little flustered.
    â€œWhat brings you here, Mr. Hotchkiss?” Kitty said. “May I help you with something?”
    The secretary wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. “Can we speak in private?”
    â€œThis way.” Kitty led him to a marble bench in a quiet corner of the atrium.
    â€œMrs. Basshor doesn’t know I’m here.” The secretary remained on his feet. “She’ll worry if I’m not back soon. You might think it odd of me to be so concerned, but I owe her everything. I’d be nowhere and nothing without my employer.”
    â€œI understand, Mr. Hotchkiss.”
    â€œYes, well.” He coughed into his hand. “Let me start by saying that I came to you, Miss Weeks, instead of anyone else because I thought I might be able to count on your discretion. You seem to me like a young lady of tact and understanding.”
    â€œI appreciate the compliment, Mr. Hotchkiss, but I haven’t got all day.”
    â€œOf course.” His smile was apologetic. “I believe you are aware that when Mrs. Cole was questioned by the police detectives, she said that she’d been waiting for her husband at the children’s tables for the duration of the fireworks?”
    â€œYes.” As far as Kitty was aware, no one had been able to confirm Mrs. Cole’s claim. On the other hand, no one had disputed it either.
    â€œI have reason to believe that that may not be entirely accurate.”
    â€œGo on,” Kitty urged.
    â€œWhen I was at the club yesterday, wrapping up some housekeeping matters, one of the waiters approached me and said that he had something troubling to report. Apparently, one of the ladies had lost her bracelet and asked him to search for it. He hunted around the children’s tables for at least five or six minutes while the fireworks were in progress. During that time, the tables were empty. He said there was no one sitting there at all.”
    â€œWhy didn’t he tell the police?” Kitty’s mind raced through the implications of this new information.
    â€œHe didn’t think it mattered at the time.”
    â€œI see. Well, perhaps you should report it now.”
    The secretary smiled nervously. “Mrs. Basshor would fire me on the spot if she knew that I was talking to you out of turn, let alone bringing one of her guest’s movements to the authorities’ attention. The waiter won’t say anything for the same reason—the club frowns on it. I could have kept quiet,” he added, “but instead, I decided to come to you .”
    â€œWhat can I do about it, Mr. Hotchkiss?”
    â€œYou could speak to Mrs. Cole and find out what happened. She won’t mind if it comes from another young lady. And in the end, it might be nothing. She may have needed to powder her nose, or something like that. Something she wouldn’t have wanted to tell the detectives.”
    â€œAnd suppose she doesn’t have a convincing answer?”
    â€œThen perhaps you could inform the authorities?”
    â€œReally, Mr. Hotchkiss.” He wanted her to do his dirty work. He wanted her to question Mrs. Cole and

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