Chapter 19: Chapter 19

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

Reads: 70

When the series of knocks fell harder against the door it pushed Alex to shuffle all the papers and files she had scattered around into one jumbled pile. Content that they were at least all together she stuffed them without much care into her bag. As she threw the flap over to seal them in she scanned her apartment for any other evidence of what she had been working on the last few weeks. She tensed as Luke hollered from the other side of the barrier. She would have continued to ignore him in hopes he’d just give up, but he had stated clearly he wasn’t going anywhere until she at least opened to speak to him. She knew enough that trying to call his bluff was futile and only prolonged the inevitable.

 She slowly unlatched the chain lock and turned the deadbolt but waited another moment before she cracked the door enough to just get a glimpse of the six foot five man. She was taken aback briefly at his attire, then remembered that Jeremy’s sentencing was in a few hours. He seemed to stand taller in a charcoal grey three-piece suit that complimented his skin tone. His slate blue tie brought out the flecks of grey that intermixed with the light brown color of his eyes. His usual three-day scruff had been cleanly shaven off and his hair had more care taken to keep the unruly strands in place. She didn’t regard him verbally but squinted her eyes when they made contact.

He stepped back to try and get a better look at her, then spoke to his annoyance. “How about you answer on the first knock, Cruz?”

“You’re lucky I opened it at all.”

He disregarded her statement and came closer with the clear intention of entering, but Alex closed the door further to block his objective.

“Come on, let’s not do this? Let me in so we can talk.”

“Why?”

“Why? Because it’s me, Alex.”

“Doesn’t sound like a good enough reason.”

“Five minutes, and I’m not leaving until you give it.”

She let out a breath knowing he would hunker down and wait, and she had somewhere to be. She opened the door just wide enough for him to slip through. When he fully entered Alex quickly shut the door and bolted it. As soon as she turned she caught on that Luke was scrutinizing her apartment. His eyes darted around every inch of space as he slowly turned in a circle.

 “Nothing’s here,” she said, calling out his suspicions.

“What? Oh, come on its habit,” he scoffed. “Kinda our job to be observant.”

“Yeah.” Alex shrugged and pushed for him to get to the point of his visit. “So what do you want?”

“I thought it would be best to brief you on what to expect.”

“Expect with what?” she asked in honest ignorance.

Luke’s eyes grew wide with shock. “Your meeting with Peterson about what you pulled at the office.”

“Oh. Yeah. I’m not going,” Alex said with a flick of her wrist and moved towards the small bar that separated the kitchen and living room. “I have something to do, I’ll reschedule.”

“Are you really looking to get yourself fired? Isn’t a suspension enough for you to see that things are pretty serious here?”

“Hey, he was lucky I broke his keyboard and not his face!”

“What the hell happened to you?”

“I’m still me. Everyone else has lost their minds.”

“No, the Quinn case changed you. I don’t even recognize you anymore.” 

Alex quickly threw the scrutiny back at him. “What happened to you having my back?”

“You’re burying yourself in something that is over, and I’m sick of your accusations that no one has your back,” Luke fired back. “I’m probably the last one fighting for you right now, and you’re making it really hard.”

She ignored him and moved to pick her keys from the counter and settled her arms across her chest. “Would you be okay if your daughter was killed in front of you and everyone you fought in the trenches with turned their backs because of one man? The man you and I both know is behind all of it.”

“I wish it was that simple. I don’t want to imagine what Kate is going through and no one has turned their backs. We have rules and protocol to follow, Alex. We can’t just do what we want.”

“That’s the problem right there. You’re all a bunch of pansies, afraid to dig a little deeper.”

Luke didn’t respond but he staggered his stance with the continued pounding of insults.

Alex leaned down, circled her hand around the strap of her bag, and slung it over her shoulder. “I’m done talking. I‘ve gotta go, and it’s not with you or to see the Captain.”

In a few strides, she was at the door and had it unlocked and opened. She stared at Luke and nodded for him to exit before her. He drew in a breath and shook his head in the clear disappointment he was feeling. Alex didn’t care.

After locking up, she followed behind the man that had been her partner for three years. She wished she could tell him what she had discovered. He was the first person she thought of.She wanted to pull out all the files and show what she had connected and that once she confirmed her most significant finding with Kate they would have no reason not to really push for the case to be reevaluated. What he said sealed it all for her. She was to go at it alone. She thought she could trust him, she had, but it wasn’t safe anymore. Now she felt like a stranger was trudging along in front of her. She let him descend the stairs hanging back enough to make sure he understood she was truly done engaging in any conversation.

Luke stopped at his car and tried again to speak, but Alex spoke up to cut him off. “Looks like a nasty storm is brewing.” She glanced up at the darkening sky. “You should probably hurry, you don’t want to get that rented suit ruined.”

“Don’t do this,” he said. His eyes grew soft and his head dipped slightly. “You’re too good to flush it all away with this.”

Alex straightened more, trying not to be affected by his sincerity for her to do what he thought was the right thing. Instead, she scoffed at his weak compliment and continued away towards her car.

“Go to the meeting, please.” His voice followed her and he no longer hid his pleading tone. “Show you can play along.”

“Play along?” Alex stopped hard and turned to make sure their eyes met and he saw the anger he had ignited in her. “Go to hell!”

He threw his hands towards her in a silent apology and made a final attempt to stop her. “If you walk away I can’t help you anymore, Alex.”

To show his words had little effect on her, Alex kept her back to him but raised her arm high and extended her middle finger. She could hear the mumbling under his breath and she smiled to herself. She kept her hand up the entire way to her car to make sure the message was clear. When she heard his car door slam and engine fire she looked back. As he peeled away a small pang tightened her stomach. He was a good man, but she couldn’t trust anyone’s motives to not be detrimental to her or her intentions. She kept the reminder of how he so quickly threw her under the bus when the politics started soiling the integrity of the case and those involved.

Her anger began to build more as the conversation she just had really settled in. Alex unlocked the door and climbed in. She didn’t put the keys in the ignition right away. She knew better than to throw the car into gear and tear off down the street as she felt like doing. There had been a wall built to hold her back from using all her resources within the department to find the evil that took an innocent child and destroyed a woman’s life. A woman that fought the same evil, and now was left to pull herself from the hole she had been tossed in. Alex sat in confusion pondering why there was the resistance. It was their task, their call to arms to right the wrong. To make sure those who had committed such horrors were brought to justice. The people and politics telling her to stop only caused her to push harder for the truth. She looked at the leather bag in the seat next to her. It was only a twenty-minute drive to the hospital to see if Kate could provide the last key to unlock the door that had been so expertly sealed and bolted.

Reminded of her focus Alex started the car just as a light sprinkling of rain covered her windshield. By the time she eased onto the street, the drizzle had quickly turned into a pelting downpour. Luckily the late afternoon traffic had barely started as Alex threaded through the streets. It felt like it was evening with the blackened sky and the streetlights beginning to flicker on. They created a soft glow that illuminated the heavy sheets of rain. The rhythmic time of the wipers and rain had her mind drifting to Luke. She figured that was the last personal conversation she’d ever have with him. For a brief moment, she gave herself a mental kick. Maybe her paranoia and conspiracy theories had really caused the rift between them. He had never been anything but honest and hardworking. She quickly shook it off; she knew what she saw and heard. Once she had all her evidence, he would be the person she approached. He wouldn’t be able to ignore the truth once it was presented, regardless of their personal standing.

Swiftly approaching headlights flashing in the rearview mirror caught Alex’s attention. She narrowed her eyes to try and make out the vehicle. It was unfamiliar and her guard rose with its quickening approach. She gripped the steering wheel and stomped down on the accelerator to create more distance. It did little good as the clear and sudden acceleration of the diesel-powered truck roared behind her. She looked up in time to see the grill fill the entire strip of the mirror. Without another warning, the collision occurred. The truck pitched the car forward and an almost immediate second hit caused it to rotate and traction was lost over the now soaked road. As the car swerved and slid Alex cranked the steering wheel to regain control, but not before another force sent her blindly flying across the intersection into cross traffic. She had no control as the vehicle went barreling off the side of the road and down the steep embankment. She felt her stomach drop with the weightlessness of the car hurdled towards the bottom of the ravine. Time halted as she sailed through the air, but exploded forward at an accelerated rate upon impact. The deafening sound of metal and plastic crunching combined with the crackling of glass that spider-webbed and shattered. The seat belt bit at her chest as it tightened but the airbag bursting from within the steering wheel caused Alex to black out momentarily. As she came around again the car lurched up to a vertical stance before it fell and settled on its roof. Alex couldn’t move as she hung upside down. Pain erupted and encompassed her. It radiated from every molecule of her being and the smell of fresh blood filled her senses. The bright red tainted her vision as it rushed to her head. She struggled to try and find the latch of the seat belt. Fumbling with the button she pressed it weakly to only find it was either stuck or she lacked the strength to release it. She tried to think clearly, but the pain became so overpowering that darkness tugged at her from the corners of her mind. She fought the desire with all she had left, but a promise of painless sleep begged her to give in.

The sound of heavy footsteps and glass crunching underfoot kept her mildly alert to try and get the help she needed. She tried to call out but her voice failed. She could only move her eyes to the direction of the boots that filled up the space of the collapsed window frame. An unfamiliar face came into view as he bent down.

“Looks painful,” he said and a vicious smiled stretched across his face.

Alex froze when she realized he was not there to help. She tensed as he leaned in and the shine of a large knife caught her eye. 

“Here let me get that.”

“Please,” she tried to beg, but she couldn’t form any more words.

With a swipe of the blade, the belt was severed and she tumbled down causing the pain to become more intense. Her mind began to disconnect and moments became a series of fuzzy clips as she wavered between levels of consciousness. Her head lolled toward the side she heard his voice. She had not realized he had moved. She lay helpless as he grabbed her bag and the few papers that had escaped.

He rummaged through the pockets and lifted a small drive in a show of triumph. “Thank you for finding this for us, Alexis.”

The assaulting rain became the most dominant detail while his drifting voice echoed in her mind and followed her into the consuming darkness.

 

 

 


Submitted: September 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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