Public Service…a late afternoon writing…unedited…

Several moments passed before Dr. Robbins joined us. Wynette Robbins, 43, raised her eyebrows when she noticed us and gave us a professional smile.
“Hello. You’re the officers Christy mentioned.”
“Yes, I’m Lilly, this is my partner Thermopolis.”
“A pleasure to meet you both. I’m Wynette Robbins. Christy mentioned a murder investigation. How may I assist?”
Lilly took a breath and let it out through her nostrils. I looked at my wife and waited for her to continue.
“Dr. Robbins, wolfsbane is the cause of death in a couple of murders. The victims die from asphyxia, and both victims have shown signs of arrhythmia.”
“I see. Asphyxia does occur. How does the killer use deliver it to the victims?”
“We haven’t figured that out yet.”
“The petals are toxic, the roots are too.”
“We found petals at the last scene of the crime,” I interjected. “It appeared the last victim rubbed the flower against his skin.”
Dr. Robbins raised her eyebrows and sighed. “That’d do the trick. Do you think they got the wolfsbane from here?”
The thought hadn’t occurred to me, and judging from Lilly’s face, I wasn’t alone. I shrugged and asked, “Do you sell it?”
“No, we don’t sell it. However, it grows outside, and people are in and out of here daily.”
“Could we get a list of employees, staff, and students? That could help narrow it down some.”
“Sure, I will print off a copy for your records.”
Christy came in with our copy and handed them to Lilly. She scrunched up her nose and pushed her glasses up on her nose again. “Um, Dr. Robbins, it’s none of my business, but Chloe might have something to do with the wolfsbane.”
Dr. Robbins frowned and every wrinkle seemed to come out on her face. Her veins in her neck grew taut, and she forced a smile at Christy. Her eyes dimmed and grew cold, as did her mannerism.
“Thank you, Christy, for reminding me.”
“Who’s Chloe?”
Dr. Robbins cut her eyes to Lilly and gave her the same smile she had leveled at Christy. Lilly wasn’t deterred. She returned the fake smile with one of her own.
“Chloe was a student at Southern U. She had troubles and the administrator cut her loose.”
“She poisoned the cheerleader squad with hemlock,” Christy said, ignoring the warning signs Dr. Robbins kept sending her way. “They didn’t press charges, but she got kicked out.”
“Does she work here now?”
“No,” Dr. Robbins snapped. “She’s not come around in some time. Such a waste of a talented botanist.”
“Any idea where we could find her?”
Christy shrugged and said, “Last I heard, she went to work for a local floral shop, or she opened one out in the western woods. I’m not sure.”
Dr. Robbins shrugged, and we thanked the women for the help. We had a name to check out, and it was growing late. By the time we made it back to town and briefed Janko, our shift would end.
After the past couple of eventful nights, I looked forward to relaxing at home with my wife and stepson. Things had worked out.
Or so it seemed.

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