Chapter 32: Chapter 32

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

Reads: 53

Alex dumped the contents of the boxes she had onto the floor of the office and spread the files out. She sorted them and though she had the connection now she wasn’t sure what she was looking for. As her eyes scanned notes and photos she twirled the ring she found in the box that had been delivered. She couldn’t remember why the symbol or brand hadn’t been in any of the files, or if Kate had even mentioned it. They really couldn’t have expected Kate to have been the one to focus on it when she had just lost her son. Maybe she had said something, and it was overlooked. At that moment Alex realized it didn’t matter. Kate had tried to tell her before Paul showed up and it all went sideways. She had the clue now and would make the difference. She had hoped that maybe where Kate was taken would just appear in front of her just as the symbol had. She had been so close before and the stakes were even higher this time. She looked up when she saw Luke appear in the heart of the bar.

“In here,” she called out to him and continued speaking as he approached, “Damian Sloane has motive, he’s your killer, and Kate is his stressor.”

“I see where you’re at with that.” He handed her a photo. “Damian does have the brand on his left wrist. It’s a Triskelion Symbol. It can have a handful of meanings but goes back to a triad. Creator, Destroyer, and Sustainer. The problem is-” Luke shook his head. “Damian Sloane is in Chicago.”

“No, I spoke to him and Caleb yesterday.”

“He arrived at O’Hare around eight. The airport security footage doesn’t lie, but to more of a point, when did you speak to Caleb, and why?”

Alex pointed to her bruised cheekbone but didn’t verbalize an answer.

Luke’s scowl deepened in response to her admittance. “He’s a dangerous man, why do you keep pushing this with him?”

“I think you know the answer to that.”

Luke sighed and looked to the piles. “So, want to truthfully fill me in on your theory to Damian’s motive?”

“Peter Sloane didn’t die from a heart attack,” she answered. “Kate shot him.” With the weight of that specific disclosure, she paused to let that it sink in. 

He didn’t flinch but spoke up for clarification, “What were you two doing and why did she shoot him?”

“I really can’t get into that right now, just know if she hadn’t I’d be dead.”

“I need more than that.” He stepped in closer and his expression revealed his mind was working to absorb and sort the information. 

“Which I will tell you eventually, and right now if it pertains to finding Kate.”

Luke appeared moderately satisfied with her answer and tossed the files he brought on to the desk. “From the information you gave me and recent events, I think we’re dealing with a serial killer. And, he’s been at it for a while. We broadened the search outside Ridgmont and have uncovered two other murders that fit these criteria and each victim was branded with the symbol. It wasn’t put together because they were in different cities and states. But, even with the brand link I just don’t think it’s Damian Sloane.”

Alex stood with his words. Hearing that they were dealing with a possible serial killer only made her anxiety rise more.

“I’d like to hear your theory then,” she encouraged.

“The brand is his signature. If you say that Kate had one like this.” He opened a file and showed a close-up photo of the exact design she had seen on Kate the night before. “Then she was one of his victims.”

“Or intended target all along,” she said and tossed the ring at him. He studied it as she continued. “Why are you so resistant to Damian? The brand is the exact design of Peter’s. His father, who was killed by Kate.”

“Where did you get this?”

“It was delivered to Kate yesterday. Along with a small piece of the headstone that belonged to Tyler.”

Luke looked at her in shock, and she used his silence to keep filling in the gaps. “These past cases show he was practicing before he got to Kate. Maybe he didn’t have a real reason to kill beyond wanting to and then with Peter’s death he narrowed his purpose. But, he failed.” Alex paused and lifted up Luke’s files. “The more recent murders show he wants to finish what he started but needed surrogates until he felt prepared. He’s more confident and organized now. He had taunted Kate, and even with our guards up he was able to successfully take her.”

Luke lifted a shoulder in response but didn’t speak up. He watched her and waited knowing that when she started really digging in she needed to let her mind play it all out. 

She continued to speak, “If it’s not Damian then who? Caleb? He’s definitely smart enough, but he’d rather pay someone than actually do anything. And we’re talking torture, Caleb would want it done quietly.”

“Could there be someone else that close to Peter or Caleb?” Luke asked. “This man’s extremely intelligent, and patient, but if his first slip was not killing Kate, why did he wait so long?”

Alex shrugged and rubbed her eyes. They stood in silence both at a loss trying to find the answer. Alex mindlessly shuffled through what seemed like endless paperwork. 

“I just keep going back to that name.” She looked at her old partner. “There was no one by the name Kyle Ramirez here or in any of the states where the women were murdered? Is there anything at all connecting him to Sloane?”

“Oh yeah, Kyle Ramirez.” He grabbed the handful of papers and sifted through them and pulled out a single printed page. “Not sure what you’ll find, I had to dig deep and use some outside contacts. There’s not a lot there, all the information is fifteen years old.”

She looked from him to the report. Slight disappointment to the minimal information had her shoulders dropping. “He’s just a kid in this photo. Who’s the woman?”

 She didn’t let him respond and kept reading. She glanced over it once more somewhat discouraged it wasn’t immediately clear. She was staring at the photo when the answer hit. It was so obvious she almost didn’t want to believe it.

“Did you bring back Peter Sloane’s file?”

He nodded and sifted through them until he landed on the one she wanted.

“What are you thinking?” he asked.

She didn’t answer as she searched, but when she found the connection she almost jumped with excitement. 

“Come on, Alex.”

“Patricia Ramirez.” She pointed to the information in front of her. “I knew it! She has to be Kyle’s mother.”

“Damian has a brother? No way.” He looked confused and looked past her in thought. “How do you know he wasn’t fathered by someone else?”

“Even if he was, Peter may have raised him as his own.” She showed him the photo of fifteen-year-old Kyle. “But, they all have the same features and the woman, it’s Patricia. Make a call, find out if Patricia had another child, he must be at least three years older than Damian.”

“Okay, so where has he been all this time and why have we never known about him?”

“I’m not sure, but this has to be the reason that Jeremy was set up, he must have uncovered who Kyle was.”

“That name again, who is Jeremy?”

Alex sucked in a breath before she finally revealed some of the truth she had been keeping hidden, but now Kate’s life was even more dependent on the truth. All of it. 

“We had been a part of a project called Achilles. The whole goal, as it was laid out to us, was to collect information that could be used to indite Caleb Sloane. We worked with two, or what we thought was two other people. Byron Cooper and Jeremy Miller. Jeremy’s cover was as Michael O’Hara.”

“Wait, did you say Byron Cooper?”

“Yes, why?” Luke’s recognition of the name caused an immediate sinking feeling within Alex. She knew what Luke was about to say, but had to hear it. 

“Because,” Luke paused and cleared his throat. “There have been cases that cross state lines we had to-“

Alex threw her hand up to stop him. “I get it, does he know I came to see you?”

“Yes.”

Alex groaned as she scrubbed her hands over her face. Regret for going to Luke hit her with full force, but she had not considered how big it would become. She had naively thought it would only be about finding Kate alive.

Luke stared at her but didn’t speak. A clear indication that he didn’t want to stop her from finally divulging.

“Byron is going to try and cover this.” She tried to get her mind back to what she had deduced and continue to fill Luke in on the truth as she knew it. “Jeremy was onto something bigger than the weapons smuggling we were following. We didn’t know what at the time, but the reason his prints were in Kate’s home was that he hid a drive with all the information he had accumulated. It was raw and incomplete but I had started to put all the pieces together. Then the accident happened and I lost it all.” She paused to let the new information settle.

“Okay, but what about Jeremy’s confession then, and the notebooks? Why would someone willingly take a fall like that?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” Alex paced along the edge of the papers lining the floor. Suddenly her head shot up. “Kate could have mistaken Kyle as Damian.”

“He has been off the grid for fifteen years, how and why would he suddenly appear?”

“Peter may have been in contact with Kyle and just like we assume with Damian his death was the stressor. He told Kate she had taken away the only important person in his life.”

“But we don’t know anything about him.”

“Caleb’s fiercely protective of his family and worked overtime to cover up what his nephew had done. He even convincingly faked the reason for his brother’s death. Caleb has spent all of his time creating the facade that he’s a straight edge businessman. Having a serial killer in the family isn’t something you want out. Caleb could have been hiding him away because he knew what he was early on.”

Luke nodded and she could see he was coming around to her theory. His phone burst to life with a series of texts at the same time it began to ring. He turned slightly to take the call but didn’t hide what was being said. 

When he hung up his head dipped slightly. “I’m being called back to the office. I will take the information to them.”

“You leaving is a waste of time,” she argued. “Call back and tell them what you found, we can get this figured out.”

“This isn’t just you working on this.”

“No, but I can’t trust what Byron is going to do. He doesn’t care about Kate, he would probably prefer not to find her alive. She can’t talk then. You said it, the truth is easier. Well, this is the truth and he’s afraid of it for whatever reason. You can’t trust him.”

“I will do what I always do, Alex, you can trust me.”

“I know, it’s just-“

“I promised you we’ll get to Kate and we will. I have to go. I’ll call you the instant we have something. I hope you do the same and not think you can go charging in anywhere alone.”

The idea of how quickly the power transferred ground at her. Especially since Byron reappeared, and in a role that could change the truth once again. She knew at that moment she had to get to Kate first.

 

 

 


Submitted: November 05, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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