Chapter 11: Chapter 11

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

Reads: 67

The background chatter of the bullpen became white noise. The smell of burnt coffee and stale pastries hung in the air. No one spoke directly to her, but Alex felt their stares and heard their whispered comments. She leaned all of her weight onto the table for support. Her head ached, her eyes weighed heavy, but she couldn’t quiet her mind. There was nothing and there was everything. She couldn’t seem to be able to prioritize the multitude of thoughts bombarding her. How had everything spiraled so badly? How had something that should be black and white become muddled greys?

The door opening wider had her head jerking upwards. There Luke towered in the doorway. The contrasting light behind him made his already dark complexion appear a few shades darker. The new day's stress tugged at his features. He stood still, staring at her, analyzing her. She felt it coming, but at that moment she wasn't prepared. 

”Did you get any sleep?” he asked.

“I went home long enough to shower and came right back.”

He nodded but got right to his inquisition, “What aren’t you telling me?”

“What?” she asked, standing up straighter.

“I saw how both you and Quinn reacted when I showed her the picture of Michael O’Hara. You still haven’t told me what you talked about.”

For the first time, she didn’t know the best angle of approach. 

“I’m not-” She stopped in the realization that the only thing that could come out of her mouth was a lie. She hated this. She hated lying, especially to him.

Luke crossed his arms. “You’re not what?”

“Nothing.” It didn’t matter that she wanted to tell the truth, Luke was aware of her lying through omission. 

“I get it. This is hard. It’s hard for all of us. You’re not alone here, and neither is Katelynn.”

“Yeah.” She couldn’t help but let her doubt roll off the word.

“You’re not the only one that wants to get this guy.” He pointed out of the room. “There’s not a single person in this department let alone the entire RPD that doesn’t want to see right done by Katelynn and Tyler. But, there’s something more you’re not telling me.”

 “Don’t.” Alex closed her eyes willing him to stop. 

Luke shook his head and stepped into the room before shutting the door. “Don’t what? Care?”

“Give me a break, Luke.”

“Look, I get your trust issues, always have, but I've never felt this distance from you.” His voice deepened and fell close to a whisper, “Whatever this is, it’s weighing you down; suffocating you.”

“The mind reader now.”

He ignored her. “Let me in. Let me help.”

Alex opened her mouth to speak but stopped. She trusted him but knew just saying she did meant nothing. She couldn't tell him, yet. The pressure built more. She rubbed her hands together and tried to breathe. She began to pace a small circle. She felt trapped; a caged animal with no escape and Luke wouldn't stop.

“Do you want to know what I think?” he asked, straightening; his tenor suddenly shifted from careful and delicate to something harsh and sharp.

“No, Detective Ryan, I don’t.” She reached over to a file that lay on the table that separated them and tossed it in his direction. “I want to focus on the case, not some reaction you think you saw.”

He disregarded the folder as it opened and papers scattered. “I’m the reason you can actually do anything on this case. You get that, right?”

“My hero.”

Her sarcasm did little to falter his efforts. “Who is Michael O’Hara and how is he connected to Katelynn Quinn? To you?”

“Don’t do this,” Alex warned, but it did little to keep Luke from trying to push the truth to the surface.

His eyes narrowed. “I don’t know how to stop you from tripping over yourself.” 

“Seriously,” Alex was begging now, “Stop.”

“Do I need to say it out loud for you to get it? This is serious.”

“I agree, it’s very serious.”

“Michael O’Hara worked for Quest Medical. Which is interestingly a contracted subsidiary to Ridgemont Regional Medical Centers.”

“Your point?”

“Sloane Enterprises has quite a large stake in the Medical Centers. Caleb Sloane is on the board.”

“A lot of people hold stock in the medical industry. Why are you singling out Sloane Enterprises?” she asked in a continued attempt to play dumb.

“I know that when Katelynn had headed up Criminal Intelligence she had her sights on Sloane, and even more so after her husband died in the fire at Casa Bella.” 

“That’s no secret. And we all know the whole fire was to cover Caleb’s money laundering and a death trap for those firefighters.”

Luke approached closer to the table. “There was no proof.”

“Right.” Alex felt herself wanting to step back from his nearing proximity but held strong. “So, what’s your point?”

“I don’t think Quinn had stopped going after Sloane, and I think you knew that, and Michael O’Hara is linked somehow. She had interviewed him for a seemingly unrelated case. That’s how we got his profile information. Maybe she had stumbled onto a connection between them and he wanted to silence her.”

“Wow, Luke, that’s an interesting theory. Far fetched, but interesting.”

His head began to shake at her stubbornness. “I’m not stupid, Alex, I know there’s more.”

“Just stop talking!” Alex warned again. 

He stepped back at her intensity, but she saw no end to his pursuit of what he thought was the truth. He wasn’t even scratching the surface and she had to stop him. He couldn’t seem to understand that she was fighting to protect him. Since the beginning so much of her wanted his input, his fresh eyes, to simply let him in. Everything she wanted to tell him pressed outward and wanted to be released. The words sat on her tongue, only needing a guided breath to be made vocal. Then her attention drifted to the opened file and photo. Tyler’s bright hazel eyes twinkling with life and his wide gap-toothed grin hinting to a giggle about to be released. The picture to the right told a different story. A sight no one should have to see, no mother should experience. Emptiness surrounding a bloodstained carpet. She shook her head and looked away fighting the tears stinging her eyes. 

“How old’s Allie now?”

“Six, but you know that. Don’t change the subject.”

“It is the subject.” Alex took in a breath and spoke calmly. “Keep your head down and do the groundwork. Focus on Tyler.”

“And when it’s all finally dredged up, what then?” Luke looked around the room before he brought his interrogation back to her. “The truth is so much easier to deal-”

Alex slammed her hands on the table before he could finish. “Do you want to have a file dedicated to your daughter?”

Luke’s grey eyes grew wide but didn’t respond.

“You keep digging in that direction and that’s where we’ll be!” Her body trembled, her control was lost with the outburst. Rogue tears escaped and rolled rebelliously down her cheek. She used the back of her hand to wipe them away. Luke parted his lips to speak but the door opening stopped him.

“Captain wants to see you two.”

Alex felt a sliver of relief for the interruption but was acutely aware Luke wasn’t done.

“Please,” Alex silently mouthed, and pushed past him to finally make an escape. Luke didn’t speak. He didn’t move. He was one of the most perceptive human beings she had ever come in contact with and it made him an amazing detective, but also made it incredibly hard to keep him safe. She had already said too much by not saying anything. It was all about to come undone and she couldn’t stop it.









Submitted: September 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.


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