Chapter 4: Chapter 4

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

Reads: 87

Homicide Detective Luke Ryan tried to calm his mind as he cut through traffic. He cursed at each red light and driver that crept along and dare slow him down. Slow was not his desired speed nor had been the entire time he was behind the wheel after he heard his partner, Alexis Cruz's voice twenty minutes earlier begging for his help. Was it her cracking voice, or the fear behind the words? All Luke knew was that he had to get to her. His urgency was only matched by his anxiety. Too many unknowns and possibilities muddled his mind. 

When he turned the corner of the street he became more concerned at not knowing what had happened. Two police cruiser's flashing lights indicated where she was. The street was filled with people; more people than the small neighborhood probably was used to seeing. As he slowly worked his way towards the destination he had to be careful to avoid the milling people and cars that filled the narrow street, but it didn't stop him from honking and yelling at them. Seeing that being on foot was faster he hastily pulled to the curb. He climbed out of his car and secured his coat tighter around himself. 

The sun had burst through the darkness but barely cut the bitter cold. The gentle breeze felt cruel as he moved with purpose towards the house. A subtle taste of salt hung on the edge of the air, but it was nothing new to him. He barely noticed its presence. He was too focused on the house that was curled up around the bend of a cul-de-sac. A neighborhood that on most days probably lived up to the image of quiet and calm. On any given morning he could imagine that the only movement and sound was the rustle of leaves that skidded along the sidewalk and the singsong greeting from the birds announcing the day. Now, it surged with activity.

He searched frantically for the one person he needed to see. When he finally saw Alex he almost didn't recognize her. She looked smaller than her usual petite height, which was alarming since it would never have been a thought he’d ever consider. She was anything but small, in strength, attitude, and personality. Her thick black hair had hastily been pulled back and a few errant strands curved down in front of her face. Her clothes were covered in blood, and he wasn't sure how much of it was hers. A bandage covered her right brow and he could see that bruising and swelling already circled her eye and cheekbone. Besides scrubbing her hands with a blood-stained towel she didn't move. She stared at the gaping door of the house and only turned when she saw him approach. From the distance, he could see her eyes were dark pools of pain. A look he'd never seen. The strength held within them flickered and faded briefly. As he neared, he saw them cloud with the seriousness that usually enveloped them.

Luke closed his eyes to center himself. He was relieved that she was okay and hadn't considered beyond that simple fact. He had no clue what he was walking into, which wasn't unusual, but it was Alex's role in it all that had him more concerned. He needed information now more than before.

He approached carefully. "Are you okay?"

She shook her head and looked down. He didn't like how fragile she looked in both demeanor and behavior. He felt an overwhelming need to protect her, and the thought scared him. She never needed protection and was quick at any point to prove that.

"What happened?"

"Tyler, I couldn't. Kate," she said and then paused. Her eyes rose back to meet his. "Promise me this will be ours."

"Who's Tyler?"

"Luke, promise me this will be ours."

"Our what? I don't even know what happened." 

She was leaving out crucial information and assumed he would already know everything. The concussion she most likely had was creating the chasm between their communication. 

"I tried. There was so much blood," she said with a trembling voice, "He's gone."

"Take a breath." Luke put his hand up and made sure to bring her eyes to his. "Tell me who he and Kate are."

"Quinn. Katelynn and her son, Tyler Quinn."

The name struck familiarity and didn't take long to put it together. Lieutenant Katelynn Quinn. She had headed up Criminal Investigation before moving to an administrative desk job. They had collaborated on a few cases that had overlapped. She had always been completely professional, minimal casual banter, or personal conversations. Just her name alone was saturated with rumors that she frequently overstepped boundaries to connect Caleb Sloane to anything criminal. Corruption, racketeering, and an array of violence were only a few of Sloane’s many talents, but the best trick in his bag was getting away with it. Most hoped Quinn would have been the one to find the one slip that would finally bring his empire down. It was never officially said but was rumored her new position was a way of stifling her investigations.

He twisted to look at the house, thought about the early morning hour and any reason Alex would be there, but couldn't.

"Okay, I can't help you unless you start filling in the details."

"Tyler's dead and Kate-" She stopped and looked down the street. "There was a lot of blood."

"You keep saying that. Where do you come in?"

"Doesn't matter. I couldn’t help."

"So show me."

She shook her head and silently mouthed no. This made him more confused. It wasn't like her; she'd want to study every inch of the scene with her detailed eye. Especially if it was someone she knew. The two of them always worked so well together because they could bounce ideas off each other that quickly led to solutions, but she was distant and clearly distracted.

"Give me something."

She sighed heavily but spoke to his question. "I arrived just after five and entered through the side door," she said pointing to the entrance along the West side of the house. "There was someone- I thought it was Kate. The light went out." She stopped short.

"Did you know there was an intruder?" Luke asked to hopefully guide the conversation along.

"No, and he fled," she answered quickly. "I found their dog bleeding in the hallway, then Kate and Tyler were in the master bedroom. His bod- Tyler is still in the room. Hazel's on her way."

"Just ten minutes, it's all I ask. Walk through it with me."

Alex didn’t verbally respond. Instead, she looked back down the street.

"You can't help her by sitting in a waiting room."

He had more motives for having her stay. She hadn't been acting like herself for almost a year. Clearly lacking sleep, agitated, and constantly running late. She would be short with him when he asked probing questions about why things had changed. Alex kept her private life, just that, private. He realized if she and Katelynn Quinn were friends this is exactly how he'd find out. He had no clue Alex played in a basketball league until she showed up to work one day on crutches stating her leg injury was a result of a poorly timed defensive move. She played it off like he should have known. Anything outside work with Alex was now news to him, which made the current situation even more frustrating. He wasn't about to start guessing and needed her to start divulging.

Together they moved to the side of the house. Before they entered he stopped in the doorframe and looked back to Alex. She just stared. Everything about her at that moment was alarming. It wasn't the Alexis Cruz he had left at work the evening before. Shock maybe? The concussion? He thought if he got her to focus on the job she'd snap out of it.

"Why the side door?"

"What?"

"Why did you go to the side door, and not the front?"

"Friends and family," she answered plainly.

"Okay," he encouraged.

"Front door is for visitors, the side's for friends and family." 

From where he stood, he could see the kitchen and the open floor plan that exposed the rest of the home. It was modest with no clutter and minimal furniture. A small hallway cut around the corner that most likely led to the bathroom and bedrooms. He looked to the blood on the counter and the floor.

"Was the door unlocked?"

She nodded but looked confused to the question.

"You were attacked from the front or the back?"

"I don't know. The light was cut and threw me off."

"Okay. Then?"

"Then I saw the countertop my head was smashed into."

He tried not to allow her sarcastic quip to deter him and began to ask another question when she abruptly turned to face him and her hand went up in an effort to physically stop his words.

"Can we do this later? I promise you I will. I didn't see who did this and really can't see Tyler again right now. I know you've got this. Please."

"Okay, I'll talk to the first responders and secure the scene. You're going to have to stay until CSI gets here, then I really want you to get your head checked out."

She nodded but seemed only to appease him. She was clearly shaken, distant, and uncharacteristically uncooperative. He worried she was hiding something. They were going to talk. He wasn't going to push it just yet, but it was going to happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: September 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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