Each with their own platter of large crab legs, the pair relax at a table next to a window that gives them a clear view of the street. Gemma admits that talking to Roy has helped clear her head of a few questions. Both of them are sure that Dawn is involved in the disappearances and killings even if she is not committing the acts herself. Comparing notes on the Las Vegas and New York City events, they have uncovered several similarities, including the repeated mentioning of a husband that nobody has seen. Neither of them are sure if the man exists or not, but they consider that he is the real killer and Dawn is the one feeding him targets. Having only conjecture and assumptions to work off of, Gemma and Roy get more outlandish with their ideas as the dinner progresses. By the time most of the other dinners have left, the pair are laughing about zombies in the basement and a potential alien invasion. Waving a waiter over, they order more drinks and food that are from the more expensive side of the menu.
“So I took this case because it seemed like an easy paycheck,” Roy explains, using his finger to swirl the ice in his drink. Licking the digit clean, the man returns to battling the crab legs that he swears are more trouble than they are worth. “With so many deaths and disappearances, you’d think the evidence would be easy to find. Not to mention the suspect bolted from the city. She even demolished her casino overnight, which nobody noticed. Maybe Ms. Addison is better at hiding her tracks than I realized.”
“She’s definitely one that shouldn’t be underestimated,” Gemma replies as she nurses her drink. With more ease than her companion, she breaks open a long crab leg and meticulously peels the shell away. “The first two cases weren’t suspicious since accidents happen. It wasn’t until I tried to talk to Ms. Addison that something felt wrong. Can’t put my finger on what it is about her that gives me the creeps. I thought it was her casualness in regards to the deaths, but it’s just a vibe I get from her.”
“She does seem to be carefree and eccentric,” the private investigator points out, scanning the restaurant for any sign of the hotelier. The feeling of being watched returns until he spots a waitress who swiftly returns to the kitchen. “One of the things that I remember from Vegas is that her employees were almost fanatically loyal. Some claimed that they would rather die than betray her. Others actually did die instead of talking to me. Needless to say, I don’t recommend interviewing the staff too aggressively. Then again, you appear to be some kind of pet to her, which you haven’t explained. Have I earned your trust?”
Finishing her drink, Gemma gazes out the window and slips her hand into the pocket that has her notes. Her mind goes back to the riddle that she has yet to figure out, the words seeming more gibberish than hints. Watching Roy by his reflection, the detective can see him patiently waiting for a response. It is the same expression he has had every time he brings up the topic, which seems to be on the hour. Part of her still refuses to put him in any more danger than he already is, the man’s own hunt for Dawn risking the woman’s attention. As someone who has gained the interest of the whimsical serial killer, Gemma is not sure she wants to share her situation with another. Running a finger along the edge of one of her notes, she realizes that she might not have the luxury of being safe and there is nobody else she can turn to for help.
“Ms. Addison seems to think of me as a rival or challenge or simply someone worthy to play with,” Gemma explains with a tired sigh. Turning back to the man, she hands him the notes she took in the morning while holding onto the page with the riddle. “She liked that I was going after her and I believe she had a hand in my vacation. The woman was far too quick to make me an offer to stay here. Then she admitted that she plans on killing somebody and wants to see if I can stop her. That isn’t enough to bring her in because it would be my word against hers. My boss might not side with me since I’ve been rather aggressive towards her, which means I need solid evidence.”
Roy stares open-mouthed at the detective, making her blush until he clears his throat and takes a drink. “Somebody has been watching too many TV shows and movies. Not you in case you were wondering. Geez, I don’t even know how to respond to that. Total brain basher to learn you’re being toyed with by a psycho.”
“It would be easier if I was her target, but she’s going for other people,” she says, holding out the last piece of paper. She unfolds it with one hand, but refuses to let it go out of fear of losing the only lead she has. “This is a riddle about Ms. Addison’s next victim. I am young and old. My kingdom made from circles, squares, and triangles. Many blindly praise me when I create smiles. Others despise me when I forge tears. The only guess I have is that it’s a celebrity or someone who runs a big business. Considering she once talked to me about losing her unicorn, it could even be about a fictional character.”
“I always liked riddles and this one is a challenge,” the black-haired man states, pulling out his own notebook to copy the riddle. Putting spaces between each line, he taps at his temple with the pencil eraser. “You have to take it sentence by sentence. Personally, I would start with the second part because it’s not as vague as the others. The target has made a kingdom that involves those specific shapes. I would say construction. The smiles could be from designing playgrounds and hospitals. In that case, tears would be when the person demolishes something. Maybe they got in trouble with environmentalists?”
“I’m praying she doesn’t go after someone that is high profile.”
“That would definitely make a circus out of the situation.”
“There’s an architect down the hall from me, but she’s pretty young.”
“Yeah, that age thing is throwing me off.”
“What if it means the person is middle-aged?”
“That makes sense.”
“Wait a second. Wouldn’t construction involve more than those three shapes?”
“Could be a specialty.”
Frustration and anger setting in, Gemma begins doodling the shapes on the back of the riddle page. The sloppy drawings do nothing to help, so she tries to make a picture using only circles, triangles, and squares. She can hear Roy chuckling at some of the combinations that remind both of them of a child’s depiction of a house. Realizing that she is only making potential buildings, Gemma attempts to draw things that could be logos or pieces of art. It is not until she puts a circle inside a square and a triangle within the circle that Roy takes her hand. He is still staring at the image as he moves her pencil away and adds more triangles to the middle of the drawing.
“This is ridiculous,” Gemma mutters as she collects the rest of her notes. Chugging her drink in one gulp, she waves at a waiter to get her another. “Do I have to wait for her to order a pizza and try to kill the delivery boy? I guess people would smile when it arrives and get angry if it’s late. Feel free to explain the kingdom and age thing.”
“One of the guests owns a national chain of pizzerias,” Roy answers, keeping his voice to a whisper. Seeing the waiter approach, he finishes his drink and waits for the man to leave before continuing. “His name is Demarcus Lang. He’s a young man who married a slightly older woman. The shapes are a box, a pie, and a slice. People blindly praise this man is a way of saying they appreciate his work without thinking of him specifically. The tears are probably because pizza isn’t considered a healthy food and can make you fat. Not that such a risk would stop me.”
“And how do you know about this guy?” asks the detective while sliding her hand toward a fork. Her suspicions are removed when her companion pulls out his phone and shows her pictures of the guest registry. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. Mind if I ask how you got the registry? From what I saw, it was behind the front desk.”
With an impish smile, the proud investigator takes out a pen to write the room number on Gemma’s palm. “They aren’t too careful with their uniforms around here. Snatched one on my first day and snuck around whenever Ms. Addison was at a party or went up to her room. The pictures were tougher, but I only had to look like I was texting.”
“Great. I think it’s best that I do this alone and avoid bringing my new friend’s attention on you,” Gemma says while sliding out of her chair. She moves to check for her gun before remembering that she is unarmed. “Thanks for all of your help. Feel free to order more stuff tonight and put it on my tab. Just tell them that I went to the bathroom or something. Talk to you tomorrow.”