Åsa didn't make it, to the window or to me, because Neil grabbed her by the collar of her leather jacket and tossed her back into the chair. It was nicely done, I must admit. Then, as he tied her up with the bandannas, I saw him note where I was now standing. He glanced at my previous position, and then he nodded at me, so slightly that I'm sure nobody else noticed it.
"To take it a bit further," my employer continued, when she was sure the interruptions were over, "we have a potential blackmailer, a potential blackmail victim, and a joker who thought I was at least a bit overrated. So, lets make some assumptions and see where we end up, what other blanks we can fill in.
"Let's assume that Spence was blackmailing Åsa, his price probably being her sexual favors, at least. I thought from the first that the romance between them was not very convincing. She had no apparent interest in having him with her as she was recovering, and he seemed to have no real interest in her condition. If I was hurt, I'd want Marshall to be with me, and he'd want to be there, and vice versa.
"In any case, quite understandably, Åsa found this whole situation intolerable. Not only was she forced to have sex with a man she despised, but she was still in constant danger that he would reveal her secret. And Lloyd would have helped her, both because he was infatuated with her and because it would have struck him funny to prove that I'm overrated. So, he told us an incredible story about Åsa visiting his room and ravishing him every night, ariving by the window, naked, and floating across the room, and he was laughing at me for believing it.
"Now, how did the case first come to our attention? Åsa developed vampire-like wounds on her neck." She smiled and looked at me. "Can we imagine people inflicting wounds like that on themselves?"
"It's become something of a fad," I replied.
"Exactly. And, very cleverly, she never admitted that anything was happening. In fact, she denied it, repeatedly and sarcastically, which was one of the best parts of her plan.
"We know she went out on at least two nights and went to Isaac Ashford's house, going into a shed at the side of the house. There is an entrance from the shed into the house, but there is no actual evidence that she used it, or that she interacted with him or any of his staff on those nights. Ashford denied he had ever met her, and we know that part was a lie, but the only time we know she was in the house was a week earlier, when she may have been investigating, learning what she needed to know for her plan to work. So, she could have gone into the shed that night and waited there for a while, without anybody in the house knowing anything about it, opening the wounds on her neck in the process, so she could leave an impressive blood stain on the floor.
"It may seem outré for a person to do this, but an animal will chew off its own paw to get out of a trap. She was in a trap, and she was tough enough to get out of it however she could. And she didn't even have to lose a limb, just some blood, and she had to miss some meals and pretend to be even weaker than she actually was.
"In any case, she came out of the shed, bloody and staggering, and made her way back here. Then, as she was apparently about to scale the side of the building to Lloyd's window, she collapsed into Marshall's arms." She looked at me again. "It seems that, if you hadn't been there, she'd have taken a nasty fall, but could she have heard you running across the street to catch her?"
"But how did she know we were there at all?" Christy asked.
"Because, according to our current assumptions, she was putting on a show. She had probably put it on the night before as well, and she would have continued to give repeat performances until an audience showed up. From what Marshall has said, it would have been fairly easy for her to spot you at some point, since she was apparently quite oblivious and that would have caused you to lower your guard. Besides, having seen me earlier in the day, it probably wasn't difficult to figure out the investigation was about to start."
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