The smell of chocolate filled the air, liquid chocolate being heated in large tanks. Some of them also had the smell of oranges, others smelled of strawberries. In the factory, they also created various candy and even flavored soft drinks. Temco was one of the largest companies in the country and it only dedicated itself to sugar-based goods. The amount of it that they used in a year, was worth a good contract and that’s why Anna was there, touring the facilities. She wasn’t especially fond of sweets. To be honest, she was one of those people that avoided eating many of the most delicious things. Some called it taking care of herself; others thought it was self-deprivation.
In any case, Anna represented a sugar company that had the capacity to provide several more tons of the precious good in order for Temco to produce more and even new products. Anna was a great saleswoman and the idea of growth always attracted people and companies that wanted to grow more and more. They signed the contract that same afternoon; after a nice lunch where they praised each other often and had no sugar at all. Anna liked to celebrate her contracts with champagne, which was the only time she allowed herself to step out of her strict diet. But maybe this time she shouldn’t have done. Somehow, the following morning when the maid entered the room to clean the bed, she found Anna still in the bathtub but dead.
It was all over the news and many concluded, even before she got to the morgue, that she had fallen asleep and drowned in her own warm water and bubbles. But when the body was thoroughly examined, they found no traces of water in her lungs. Oddly enough, her hair was dry and she had only ingested the equivalent of one cup of champagne. They did a toxicology exam on the contents of her stomach and found out Anna had been poisoned. The police then took the case, as it had happened on one of the most prestigious hotels and soon Temco was also dragged into the storm by various reporters that had found out about everything before anyone else had.
Detective Preston was in charge of the investigation and the first thing he did was talk to the CEO of Temco. After all, he had had dinner with Anna the same day she had died and maybe he could say something about her demeanor during that time. But the man did not remember anything strange, nothing that would be notable. He only said that he found strange she didn’t really ate much. She had ordered a salad with tuna and many vegetables but barely touched any of it. Preston visited the restaurant and talked to the young waiter who had served them. He also remembered the almost full plate of salad at the end of the dinner.
Preston decided then to talk to the family. Surprisingly enough, Anna’s mother was not at all shocked or visibly sad by the death or her daughter. The father had died several years ago from a heart attack and the mother seemed to be focused on other things such as exercising, tanning her skin and also dieting. She told Preston that Anna’s diet was one much more strict than the one she was on. She was very adamant about respecting it and they had quarreled several times over it because the mother thought her ways were better. Besides that, she didn’t really provide anything new or insightful. It was obvious she didn’t really know her daughter besides those silly details. Maybe that’s why she looked absolutely oblivious to the whole thing, as if it had nothing to do with her.
The detective then visited Anna’s house and checked every corner of the apartment. She had no alcohol and no drugs. The medicines she had were harmless and there was barely enough good food to feed an adult human being. The place was tastefully decorated and it was obvious Anna’s job was a very good one. Her clothes and shoes were pretty expensive and they filled a large room she had between the main bedroom and the bathroom. But nothing there could lead anywhere, neither to an accidental death nor to a reason to kill her. She did deal with multi-million contracts but she never handled actual money so why would anyone kill her? Maybe blackmail was the reason.
Preston’s next stop was Anna’s office and it was the first time he met someone that apparently cared about the death of the woman. Her secretary sobbed and cried a bit as she opened the office were her boss had worked for almost three years now. She told Preston that Anna was not really a people person but that she wasn’t and ogre or anything. She saw herself as Anna’s friend and her only one as they had shared a couple of laughs and nice times, mainly attached to work. Preston realized that Linda, the secretary, was absolutely honest so he decided to ask her if Anna was dating someone. Linda only looked at Preston, which was enough of an answer for him.
There was nothing interesting in the office. Many papers relating to contracts she had made with several countries around the country and the world. She was clearly very prolific and documented everything in detail. Linda gave him access to Anna’s personal agenda but there was nothing he didn’t know in there. He couldn’t discard the idea that maybe she did have a lover that no one knew about and that it had been him or her that had killed her. Maybe because of the money she had. Preston had seen her two bank accounts and it could be said that her mother was going to have a very nice old age with all that dough. It was amazing for Preston, who struggled every month, how much others made in a single month.
It was better for the detective to head back home and just check every piece of the puzzle at the same time. He had checked with the hotel and they hadn’t found anything curious in her room besides her clothes and the bottle of champagne she had never finished. Besides, they confirmed that no one had entered Anna’s room besides her and the maid that discovered the body and there were cameras everywhere in the building so the theory of the lover had to be ruled out. Nevertheless, Preston still thought that people always have at least one private thing, something that they hide to others because it’s embarrassing or simply because they don’t want anyone to know everything about them.
He went through Anna’s school records, as well as her college ones but nothing was found there either. She had been a great student, having failed no courses and always a teacher favorite. Someone might have not like that but it wasn’t enough to poison her. Anyway, Preston checked the hotel once more and everyone who had made any kind of contact with the bottle. But, as it turns out, the poison was in Anna’s stomach but not in the bottle of champagne. She had been poisoned earlier that day and died slowly at night in the bathtub. So Preston headed to Temco and talked to everyone who saw her and realized she had not accepted a single glass of water and they did offer Preston one at lest ten times. Anna was just a strange woman and it was becoming more and more difficult to understand her.
Finally, Preston designed a theory were someone from a competitor company, also selling sugar, killed Anna to get to the contract first. Maybe this was all about the possibility of making tons of money. But as he looked for the other companies, no other was large enough to cover the amount of sugar that they had signed for in the contract. Temco was very big and at the moment, only Anna’s company was big enough to supply them what they needed. So competition was scarce, close to null. So Preston decided to check everything once more and then he realized he had forgotten about a key aspect of the night of the death: the dinner at a prestigious restaurant. He had interviewed the waiter but nothing more.
He went there and asked for the tapes of the cameras that covered the area where Anna had dinner. He also asked them for the menu and everything they had to eat that night. He checked every ingredient in his computer, at home, until he realized about something: Anna’s salad had a very curious ingredient, a mushroom that grew wild in the vicinity and that people had started consuming only in the recent years. He looked it up and discovered that the mushroom was potentially dangerous if consumed with alcohol. And Anna had it with wine and then drank champagne in her hotel room. The forensic team agreed that, with her very poor diet, Anna’s stomach wasn’t able to process the mushrooms as most people could. They were only toxic if the gastric juiced were just weak enough, which was her case.
So Anna had, in a strange way, killer herself. Preston was relieved to solve the case but just sad for someone who had taken such steps to be healthier and had ended up killing herself.