Chapter 13: Chapter 13

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

Reads: 62

Alex slid past the mingling coworkers who were more than curious to see what the commotion was all about. She ignored their questions and quickly took refuge at her desk. She slunk into her chair and booted up her computer. As she waited impatiently for it to run through its startup, she watched Luke and the Captain continue conversing in his office. She wanted to know what more they had to discuss. They had a ticking clock to prove that Kate was right. She had expected some resistance to Damian being a suspect but never expected to be shut down so fast. Luke could do some digging on Jeremy, but she doubted he'd find anything more. He knew how to hide and cover his tracks. If he didn’t want to be found he would become a ghost. She had her complete focus on Damian, the window was shrinking faster than she could control and needed to find the one thing no one could question.

When Luke left the office she turned her chair away from his approaching form. Before he got to his desk her phone vibrating had once again saved her from having to engage with him. She popped up and in a swift motion scooped up her phone and moved away from all the listening ears. She didn’t say a word until she had pushed through the doors and was in the hall.

“Hazel.”

“Alex, can you talk?”

“Yeah, what’s going on?”

As Hazel’s voice changed to her professional tone Alex leaned against the wall to prepare her for the information she had discovered.

“Tyler’s tox screen came back. He had two times the recommended dose of Diphenhydramine in his system.”

“Isn’t that an antihistamine?”

“It is.”

“So, what does that mean? He was drugged, and if the effects make you drowsy, how did he wake up?”

“Not everyone gets drowsy, some people have a reverse reaction.”

Alex stood in silence as she digested the information. Hazel took the cue and waited patiently on the other end of the line. There were too many questions filtering through her head, but one kept circling back to the forefront.

“If he basically drugged Tyler with Benadryl then he had no real intention of hurting him. So why didn’t he take Kate to a second location?”

Alex tried to imagine what Damian might have been thinking. He had to have it planned out, but it all went wrong. 

"Kate fought back. He lost his chance maybe. He needed to be in control, and with Tyler drugged he thought he had more time."

Hazel’s pained exhale brought Alex back around to the fact she was having a conversation with someone. 

"What is it?"

"I'm sorry," Hazel answered, "We have conversations like this almost every day, but knowing it's about Kate and Tyler, I just." She didn't finish her words bringing the silence back to the other end of the line.

"I'm sorry," was all Alex could say; As much as she agreed, she had to shut that part of her mind off is she wanted to actually be productive.

 “You’ll find the person responsible, right? I mean I know you’re not on the case, but I know you enough. If anyone can do this, it’s you.”

Alex wanted to give any confidence she had to Hazel, but she couldn't seem to swallow her growing doubt. It was the doubt that had doubled as soon as the Captain and Luke showed hesitation to Kate's identification of Damian Sloane. She wasn’t ignoring the growing case against Jeremy, but she saw no reason Kate would lie or mistake Jeremy for Damian.

"What about that DNA?" Alex asked.

"I haven't gotten anything back yet."

"Rontu?"

"The animal hospital had cleaned him before surgery so there was nothing. But, he's going to be okay."

"That's good, but I need that DNA."

Hazel had responded but Alex didn't hear her as Luke burst through the door waving a torn piece of notebook paper. "We’ve got an address."

"What? For who?"

"O'Hara." Luke walked past her and kept talking and gesturing her to follow. "I just spoke to the manager. He fits the description, and apparently, he’s paid the year in advance."

Alex quickly said goodbye to Hazel and followed but spoke to her confusion. “How?"

"Police work."

"He won't be there." Alex countered. She knew if they had the address based on the profile that was set up for Achilles it would be an empty apartment.

"Come on, Alex." He stopped and faced her. "We need to exhaust this lead, and we won't know unless we go.”

“You mean you go. I’m chained to the desk because I’m not allowed to be involved with the investigation, remember?”

“I told Peterson I was driving you home.”

“Since when do you lie?”

 “Don't you want to know?” he asked completely disregarding her question and spun away. “Even if you don't believe he's good for it."

Alex didn’t respond but followed and reluctantly got in the car with him. She really didn’t want to be alone with him. He had lied to Peterson so he could continue to pepper her with more questions. She avoided him by trying to focus on the file compiled on Jeremy, or as everyone knew now, Michael O’Hara. There wasn’t a lot, but the information suddenly fit too conveniently with the type of person they were looking for. She hadn’t stopped looking for him since the docks, but there had been nothing. He wouldn’t be so careless and it was out of character for him to be caught on camera and leave fingerprints in Kate’s home.

The whole situation reeked of a setup and she had to find who was behind it. Her first thought immediately went to Sloane, but Byron kept cycling back into her mind. She thought about their last conversation and him telling her to leave Miller to them. She didn’t even know who ‘they’ were. Achilles was obviously something bigger than the information gathering her and Kate took on. When they overstepped their roles at Manuel’s dock it had caused a domino effect she hadn’t been aware of, but it was starting to be revealed. 

Jeremy’s involvement was important, but overall she believed Kate when she said it was Damian. The only difficulty in Kate’s statement was that Damian constantly presented as an impulsive child. Though she wouldn’t doubt him seeking revenge on the person that killed his father, she highly doubted he’d personally take it on. How he found out was concerning, but proving it without exposing their involvement with Achilles was going to be a delicate endeavor. Unless, Peter had been able to identify them before he died she wasn’t sure who else beyond Jeremy would have exposed them. Then there was Caleb Sloane. He would want all eyes off him and his family, so it was very probable he had influence in the jagged game. A game Alex felt like she and Kate were the underdogs in. But that gave her more fuel to fight. Her mind spun at all the unanswered questions and theories.

“What’s going on over there?”

Luke’s voice had snapped her completely back to the present. She hadn’t realized they had come to a stop until she saw the red light glaring down at her. Sirens wailed somewhere, a horn honked, but all were insignificant noises. She felt Luke’s scrutinizing stare and she became impatient for the light to change.

Seeing there was no use to continue to ignore him she closed the file and tilted her head slightly to acknowledge him. “What?”

“Just your partner over here trying to do his job too. Disclosure would be awesome.”

“Did you really think I was going to throw out Damian Sloane when you were on a full attack?”

He lifted his hands off the wheel in his building frustration. “My partner, Alexis Cruz, would have wanted me to stay in that hospital room and then would have immediately informed me of any pertinent information. Like the victim identifying her attacker.”

“Don’t, Luke.”

“This again? I don’t know who you are right now.”

“Still me.” She turned her head and finally looked at where they were. She hadn’t been paying attention and the part of town they were in began to raise her anxiety. She should have stayed back, but her need for control took over. She had been there weeks ago looking for any sign of Jeremy. She hadn’t actually talked to anyone but knew she had been seen walking the property. The lies would slowly rise to the surface and she wasn’t interested in trying to create more layers to them but began to see no other option.

“I know you have little trust in people, and it’s hard to keep and gain yours, but you can trust me.”

“Yup.”

He kept talking and to avoid him further she was stepping out before he had fully pulled to the curb and stopped.

It didn’t take much to catch up and he was talking as they approached the apartment complex. “Quest Medical said they had let him go about three months ago. They had a suspicion he was fudging documents and stealing drugs. That was the case Quinn was working.”

“Fudging documents?” Alex repeated with a taunting tone.

Luke ignored her jab and kept talking, “Though no one actually worked with him. Except for Carl Parks, who had hired him, but he left a few months before Michael. He consulted and worked on the road mostly.” 

“How convenient. So they couldn’t identify him with a photo?”

“No, but I was able to download his profile from the company website. It’s him,” Luke said.

“Because that can’t be faked,” Alex commented under her breath.

The two stopped at the waist-high chained link fence. They waited and watched as the property manager came to greet them. His progress was slow from an obvious limp. He waved to let them know he was coming. He was just as Alex remembered, a short stalky man with a shrinking grey hairline and a belly that bulged a stained white T-shirt and spilled over a pair of worn jeans. Alex felt overwhelmed with impatience to get the interaction over with and get back to looking into Damian. As he grew closer, Alex adjusted her sunglasses in hopes it would disguise her identity from him. She never thought she’d have to pretend she was someone other than who she was, but there she was ready to lie again. 

When he was within a decent speaking range Luke displayed his badge. “Good afternoon, Sir, I’m Detective Ryan and this is my partner, Detective Cruz. We spoke on the phone.”

The man looked from the badge and then over to Alex. His eyes widened as he studied her face. Besides the constant throb, she had forgotten her appearance was most likely shocking.

“Looks painful,” he remarked.

“Yeah, mind if we ask you a few questions and look around?”

His head tilted and eyes squinted more. Alex felt the question coming. 

“You look really familiar, do I know you?”

“I doubt it, but I bet there are a lot of women around here with black eyes.”

“Humph, you’re a rude one.”

Luke brought his attention back by pulling a photo of Miller. “Is this the man that we spoke about, that may live here?”

He slowly turned his eyes away from Alex to look at the photo. He nodded and pointed behind him. “Mikey. Lives in 2B, but rarely stays there. Always on the road or school I guess. He said he was studying to be a doctor.”

“When was the last time you saw him?”

“Come to think about it, been quite a while. Some friend did stop by yesterday, had a key. I guess to pick up a bag. The place has always been pretty empty.”

“Did you speak to this friend?”Alex asked; her interest suddenly piquing.

“Nope, didn’t see a need.”

 “You didn’t happen to see the car he drove or got a license plate number? Could you describe what his friend looked like?”

“Nope and nope. He was a guy, tallish, had a hat. Wore jeans, maybe?”

Alex let out an irritated groan and looked at Luke.

Luke disregarded Alex’s obvious agitation and continued to speak to the Manager. “Mind if we go have a look around the apartment?” 

“Don’t you need a warrant?” His face scrunched and he scratched the back of his head evident he wasn’t sure if he believed his knowledge in what he was asking.

“He’s not in trouble, we’re just worried about him,” Alex said. She fought the need to acknowledge Luke, who was staring her down, but she wasn’t fully lying. She was worried about everyone involved. 

“Yeah, right. But, whatever. Not like there’s anything in there.”

The three slowly made their way to the building. It was in complete disrepair, and probably why it was chosen for Jeremy. The cream colored stucco was cracked and crumbling, while the railings and window sills were rusted from the years of exposure to the salty ocean air. Alex sighed again and took a glance at her watch. Luke nudged her and raised a brow in response to her constant outward impatience. She returned the look but knew they were wasting time. The manager unlocked the door and let it swing open. He stepped to the side and proudly presented the space. Luke slowly stepped in. It was empty, as expected. A stained carpet led to a curling laminate floor that bordered the kitchen and living area. There was no bedroom, only a small bathroom in the same dingy state as the rest of the apartment. She watched Luke check every empty corner, closet, and drawer.

“Satisfied?” Alex huffed.

Luke ignored her and turned back to the manager and handed him a card. “If you see him will you give me a call.”

“Sure, should I tell him you’re looking for him?”

“Not necessary,” Alex interjected, “He knows.”

Luke shook the man’s hand and led Alex back to the car. Luke spoke to the air in front of him but clearly directed his words toward Alex. “You’re insufferable right now.”

“You’re the one who dragged me along because you don’t trust me to be out of your sight.”

“Give me a break, Alex.”

“Honestly, Luke, what did you expect? Him standing in there with his hands up, saying I did it?”

 Luke scrubbed his hand over his face in his frustration before leaning against the hood to continue their engagement. “You really think I’m an idiot, it’s like you forgot how to do the groundwork.”

Alex refused to acknowledge his statement and pulled the door open and sunk into the passenger seat. Luke followed her lead but didn’t bother to start the car. He just sat staring at her. She kept her eyes forward hoping it would be enough for him to give in and begin to drive.

“Don’t you find it odd he paid a year in advance for an empty apartment?”

Alex tipped a shoulder as she answered. “Maybe he got a new place.” 

“Maybe this was a cover. Maybe it’s all a cover, and there is something deeper going on.”

Alex didn’t respond beyond putting her seat belt on and opening the file again. Luke grunted a few profanities under his breath before he fired up the car. She was trying to hide the fact his speculations were dead on and he was closer than he realized. 

As they pulled away from the curb Luke glanced over. “I don’t care what you say, when we get back to the office I’m taking you straight to your car and don’t think I won’t follow you home. You need to take a serious break.”

Alex began to protest, but quickly realized it would give her time to look into the people she wanted to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: September 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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