Chapter 10: Chapter 10

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 74

Alex couldn’t help but release a heavy sigh as the elevator pulled upward. Luke and the other two occupants turned their heads towards her in curiosity. She could only straighten her shoulders in response and stared at the reflective steel doors. She had not meant to be so obvious to her distress and mentally scolded herself to rein it in before she got to Kate. She had tried to shake off the dreadful feeling that overwhelmed her, but it wasn’t easily done. She felt Luke’s stares but refused to acknowledge him. Her mind was filled with scenarios of what happened in Kate’s home. All of them created a gut-wrenching physical response, but the worst she could come up with didn’t compare to what really happened. She had to force her mind to focus on the facts and Kate had that crucial information.

When the door finally opened to the floor, Alex pushed through and stepped away from Luke. As much as she needed him there she wanted time alone with Kate. He would only hinder the realness in their conversation. When he called to her to say he had a phone call and would catch up, she felt immediate relief.

Slowly she approached the room not prepared for what she’d see. Stopping at the door she felt the reality of the situation. Kate looked so fragile. Though her skin tone was already light she looked exceedingly pale. The bronzy tints of her shoulder length hair contrasted on the white pillow and splashed around its curves. Kate’s eyes had been closed, but slowly opened when she heard Alex’s footsteps. Her head tilted in Alex’s direction and her lips parted slightly, but no words came out. Alex wanted to smile in encouragement but couldn’t.

Kate’s eyes were dull and distant lacking their usual emerald sparkle. Alex wasn’t sure if it was the pain meds or the shock of reality that left Kate’s appearance to be nothing more than a shell of her former self. Either way, Alex proceeded carefully. She looked around and found a chair tucked in the corner. With a swift movement, she lifted it and swung it around next to the bed. She was mindful of the IV and other wires that circled Kate’s hand as she drew their hands together.

“Hey,” she forced out.

Kate just stared at her. Alex knew there wasn’t an appropriate greeting. The myriad of topics she wanted to discuss ran through her mind, but she struggled to find the right moment to start asking any of them.

When the silence became too much, a burst of courage had Alex trying to breakthrough. "Are you up for some questions?” 

“If you answer mine.” Kate’s delivery was weak. The power normally behind every word she spoke was gone.

“Of course,” Alex answered, but wasn’t ready for the truth hovering around them.

“Tyler.” In saying his name Kate’s eyes filled with tears.

Alex could see that Kate knew, but there was a need for the verbal verification from her that he was gone.

“Hazel.” Alex had to stop. Gently she squeezed the hand she was holding and choked down her own pain and tears to answer, “Hazel is taking really good care of him.”

Kate looked away but that didn’t stop the tears from falling. More guilt welled up. Suddenly the weight in the room was suffocating and words were impossible. Alex didn’t speak; she waited. Nothing was right at that moment. It took all of her compartmentalization skills to not lose her composure and cry with her friend.

“You said,” Kate whispered, bringing Alex back around, “You said he’d be okay.”

“I’m sorry,” she tried, but the words were empty. They sat in agonizing silence. A devastating heartbreak dominated the room’s energy.

When the tears halted long enough for a breath, Alex couldn’t let it pass and had to ask, “Who did this?”

Kate licked her lips as if to speak, but then looked past Alex. Alex turned to see Luke standing patiently in the doorway. Kate closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. Alex could tell the visit was exhausting her, but she had to know who was responsible and what she saw.

When Luke saw that he had their attention he broke through the door frame and spoke as he approached, “We may have someone. If you don’t mind looking.” 

He held up his phone and Alex stood to get a better look at the screen. To hide her own shock she turned to Kate for an immediate reaction.

Kate shook her head then closed her eyes longer than a standard blink, but when they opened she had focused her attention in Alex’s direction. Alex didn’t speak. Kate’s eyes addressed the same questions she had.

Not satisfied with her answer Luke kept at it. “Maybe look again. Is there anything familiar about him?”

Kate shifted her eyes back to Luke but didn’t acknowledge the photo again. 

Luke’s scowl deepened as he brought the phone back down. “Please, whatever you can remember is helpful. Help us get justice.”

“Justice? For who?”

Alex turned and with a firm hand on his chest, she pushed Luke out of the room. “Let me try to talk to her.”

“If she fought back then she knows who attacked her,” Luke whispered. 

“Right, but she did just lose her son, maybe a little more tact.”

“Okay, but we have facial recognition after receiving this from a neighbor’s security camera.” He swiped to a video on his camera roll. “You can see him jump the fence into Quinn’s yard. The timestamp is two days ago, and I can bet you we get a positive fingerprint match to this guy.”

“Sounds open and shut.” 

“What did she say so far?” 

“Not a lot.”

“Okay.” His tone was different. There was a tinge of judgment and distrust.

“You don’t trust me.”

“That’s not it. I don’t understand why you’re being dismissive.”

“She didn’t recognize him,” she began to argue, but saw the doubt in his eyes and quickly responded to it, “Let me see.”

As she read the information on the phone she became shocked in the realization that the situation was already getting beyond her reach. Jeremy Miller’s cover profile was as Michael O’Hara and all of his backstory and information was laid out in front of her. To her understanding, there was supposed to be limited access, and she couldn’t grasp how a facial recognition search would reveal the alias and not his true identity. She fought her reaction again when she handed the phone back.

“Do you see where I’m at?” he asked tucking the phone into his back pocket.

“Yes.” Of course, she did but didn’t like where it was headed. She needed to get back into the room. But, without Luke. 

“Let me talk to Kate alone, maybe she’ll open up more if she doesn’t feel crowded.”

He agreed with hesitation, but when he took his leave she felt some relief she had a little more time. Alex turned back into the room and approached the bedside. 

“I’m sorry.”

Kate looked towards the now vacant doorway. “Why is he showing me a photo of Miller?”

As Alex answered she lowered her voice, “Because apparently he looked directly at a security camera before jumping into your yard, and there are unknown prints in your house.”

"What?”

“In Tyler's room.”

Kate shook her head in confusion.

Alex used the slight momentum to keep asking questions. “When was the last time you saw or spoke to Jeremy?”

“Same night as you.”

“Who did this, Kate?”

Kate paused, then her eyes darkened with her delivery. "Sloane.”

Alex felt her heart pulse with the name. “I knew Caleb wouldn’t be far off. Do you think it’s possible Jeremy is involved?”

“No.” Kate swallowed. “Damian.”

“Damian Sloane?” Alex repeated and the name had her stepping back. It didn’t make sense. “You’re sure?”

“I’ll never forget.”

Alex wanted to ask all the questions plaguing her. Damian was Peter’s spoiled son. She couldn't picture him as anything other than the rich brat that seemed to spend most of his time on extravagant vacations and when in Ridgemont bounced around the bars and clubs. He didn’t fit the profile she was building of an extremely intelligent man with years of medical training. Jeremy on the other hand suddenly conveniently fit.

“He has motive,” Kate said interrupting her thought.

“Yeah, he does. It’s a motive that could have only been shared by Jeremy.” She didn’t want to believe that Jeremy would just give Kate up so quickly. Then again nothing was making sense or fitting together.“Did he say anything?”

Kate nodded slightly. “He did a lot of talking.”

“Were you restrained?”

“I tried to fight, but I couldn’t move.”

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“I-” Kate swallowed; tears once again welling up. “Tyler was my only focus.”

She didn’t have to say anything more. Alex drew her hand into hers again. Kate didn’t return the pressure; she only let her eyes drift closed again. It cut at Alex, but it was a selfish feeling that she needed acknowledgment from Kate that she knew she cared. Kate was aware, but why should she express gratitude? Her son was dead. Nothing mattered and now that she named Damian as the perpetrator the water became muddied. It should be clear and simple, but that wasn’t the way when it came to the Sloane’s.

“I’ve got this, okay?”

Kate opened her eyes in acknowledgment. Alex wanted to believe she could deliver on that promise, but they both knew the road had become even more slippery and steep.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: September 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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