Detective Banks leaned forward to switch on the recording device and then sat back in his chair. Ainslee watched him, her hands gripped three facial tissues like a lifeline. She swiped at another tear and tried to calm the trembling of her body.
“I just want you to take us through the events of this morning,” Banks said. He used a handkerchief to wipe the sweat off his bald head. Ainslee wondered why the little room didn’t better air conditioning, but then chided herself for thinking of something so trivial at a time like this.
She hunched forward, closer to the microphone. “Mom had just left to take Ashlyn to soccer. It’s just at the park up the street from our house, so they walked.” Her throat caught on a sob and she swallowed before continuing. “I was supposed to go with them but I’d been up all night studying for my geometry final and Mom let me sleep in.”
Banks nodded like he was encouraging her. “And then what did you do?”
Ainslee looked down at the partially shredded tissues in her hands. She’d been tearing at them ever since they sat down. “I got in the shower. I always hook up my iPod to the waterproof speakers and I guess I had my music on pretty loud.”
He moved as though to put a hand on her arm but reconsidered and leaned back. “What happened next?”
You already know, she wanted to scream. Why are you making me tell you?
“I heard a couple of bangs and a thud,” she said. “I figured Dad and Jayce were roughhousing. They always get a little wild so Mom doesn’t let them do it when she’s home.” She thought of her little brother, how he had taken the last bowl of her favorite cereal this morning and how she’d yelled at him for it.
She wished she could take everything back.
Ainslee took a deep breath to keep the tears in check, but there was no way to keep her voice from wavering. “I felt something shake the walls. I thought maybe it was an earthquake, so I turned down the music and listened. Maybe my dad would call me to get into a doorway or something. But I couldn’t hear over the water so I turned that off too.”
“Did you hear anything?”
She shook her head, but then realized the microphone couldn’t pick that up. “No. It was so quiet. I got out and put on my robe and called for my dad. He . . . he didn’t answer. I yelled for him again, even though I could tell there wasn’t an earthquake.”
Banks nodded again. “And then what?”
“I heard footsteps,” she said, her voice hoarse. She didn’t bother to wipe the tears streaming down her cheeks. “Then the bathroom doorknob rattled. I thought that was weird since Dad would have said something so I thought it was Jayce being a dork—“
“Do you always lock your door when you shower?”
Ainslee shot him a look. With a prankster brother and his perv friends what do you think? “Yes.”
“Did the person say anything?”
“No.” Ainslee choked back a sob. “I thought it was Jayce, so I yelled at him to leave me alone. Then the rattling stopped.”
“Did you exit the bathroom at that time?”
“No,” she said. “First I put on my moisturizer and then got dressed. See, I thought everything was normal.”
“When did you discover the bodies?”
The question sent a shiver right through her soul. Ainslee’s tears poured down her face. “I went to the living room to watch TV,” she sputtered between sobs. “And there they were. Jayce was behind the couch but Dad was right in the middle of the floor!”
“We have the recording of your 9-1-1 call, so I won’t need you to repeat that,” Banks told her. “Do you remember anything? Did you see anything? Hear anything?”
“I only heard screaming,” she whispered. It had been her screaming and she knew it, but couldn’t remember opening her mouth. “I just don’t understand. Who would do this? Why?”
“We don’t have any answers yet, but I promise you we will.”
Then the question spilled out. “Why didn’t he kill me? He knew I was there. Why didn’t he kill me too?”
Detective Banks reached over and shut off the recorder. “Miss Dawson, I just don’t know.”