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tomorrow by eleven o’clock. But you were also given originals. We executed two of them. Did you …”
I finished typing the message to Meredith, asking her to tell me when she’d confirmed the documents were ordered. Chelsea would need them at the hospital, which halfway explained why she was in my office, instead. What it didn’t explain was why she hadn’t simply called. Nor did it explain what she or Arturo’s sons could have had to do with an admittedly strange car accident involving, among other oddities, a small swarm of bees. She turned from the window, crossing her arms, and I finally saw in her pale green eyes what I hadn’t been able to put my finger on before: this woman was terrified. For the second time in just a few minutes, Chelsea de Modelo seemed to sense my unspoken questions and answered them both.
“They’ve stolen them,” she said, a little venom in her voice as she cut me off. “Jeremy and his awful brother.”
I felt my brow furrow and my body grow tense and wary. That was a serious charge. Did she think they stole them, or did she know they stole them?
Still, I was only a few clicks from their file, so I pulled it up and took a look. “You did both sign Medical POAs,” I told her, my fingers clicking across the keyboard. “I’m messaging Meredith to have the original brought in tomorrow.” But Meredith walked into the room as I said it, nodding at me to indicate she’d heard me and placing a steaming cup of cinnamon tea on the table by the tissues. I recognized the aroma from the de Modelos’ previous visits. Sensing the gravity of the situation, Meredith closed the door behind her as she withdrew.
“It wasn’t a car accident,” she said. “It was attempted murder.”
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Chelsea said, “They’re acting like I had something to do with it, but I know it was them.”
Charles Darwin called blushing “the most peculiar and most human of all expressions.” For hundreds of years, makeup has helped women re-create this rosy look with blush and rouge. But did you know the ritual of pinking one’s cheeks has an intriguing and violent history? During the Middle Ages in Europe, a ghostly white pallor was associated with wealth. The societal expectation to uphold this appearance was so deep-rooted that overlords and ladies even underwent bloodletting procedures to maintain their plaster skin tone. Makeup trends changed in the following centuries, when rosy cheeks were associated with fertility and arousal, resulting in the creation of multiple beauty products designed to give cheeks a youthful glow. An Italian countrywoman named Giulia Tofana decided to take advantage of this trend by selling a poisonous “complexion aid.” Tofana had spent much of her life learning the tricks of alchemy from her mother, who was executed after being accused of poisoning her husband. Tofana spent
her adult years creating a poisonous makeup she dubbed “Aqua Tofana.” This product was rumored to kill in just four drops, containing just enough arsenic to do the job without leaving a trace. Tofana disguised the poison as liquid blush and traveled around southern Italy, where she peddled her product to women whose families had arranged their marriage to malicious men. Her main sales pitch was to offer these women an “early Italian divorce,” and it worked. Reports indicate that Tofana was behind the murder of over 600 men. Tofana’s death was almost as violent as her 20- year murder streak. One of her customers got cold feet after dropping some of the poison in her husband’s soup, so she told the papal authorities that Tofana was the one who had sold her the concoction. Tofana, along with her daughter and three employees, were tortured until they confessed. Many contemporary women may consider blush an outdated beauty product, but it was once so popular that people killed to have it.
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