Chapter 5: Chapter 5

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

Reads: 92

Miles of land stretched out beyond them. Blue agaves peppered the landscape leading up to their isolated hacienda. It was a rugged and romantic building. The rich colors covering the natural stone captured the eye while the succession of arches and covered walkways played into the atmosphere of subdued elegance. The rows of wrought iron lanterns and hanging chandeliers flickered on with the darkening sky and emphasized the subtle mood. Alexis swiveled around on her stool and took in a breath of awe to the sunset exploding in the distance. It silhouetted the mountains along the horizon and the brilliant oranges and reds danced over the rippling water of the pool below.

Blinking away she turned her focus to her companion. Kate sat perfectly upright and still except for moving a few strands of her coppery brown hair that swirled across her face. She appeared more serious in demeanor than she had earlier and Alex tried to get a read on her.

“Man, those empty cabanas down there are entertaining,” she teased.

Kate glanced towards her friend, her green eyes not amused at the quip. Alex looked back meeting her annoyed stare with indifference. 

“Want a drink?” she asked as she had each time she reached for one of the bottles on the table behind them.

“No, Alex, I don’t.”

Alex ignored her answer and blindly grabbed a bottle to pour out two shots. With another twist, she extended a shot glass towards Kate. “At least try this one.”

Kate acknowledged the offer with a shake of her head. “I don’t do tequila.”

“Well you should, these are amazing.”

“I’m good.”

“Why the hell did we come here if you don’t even like tequila?” Alex asked before taking a small sip. She savored the subtle nuance of the agave, smoked wood, and vanilla notes. When she finally swallowed, Alex tipped her half-filled glass towards the other side of the building. “Do you want to call Hazel again? Tyler’s fine. You know he’s beyond spoiled when he’s with her.”

A man taking a seat under one of the umbrellas next to the pool’s edge had suddenly captured Alex’s attention. His presence created a shift in Kate’s demenour. 

 “Who’s that?”

Kate didn’t acknowledge the question and rotated on the barstool to fully faced Alex. “How many homicides have you worked that reek of Sloane, but just can’t make it stick?”

Alex didn’t answer right away. She wasn’t expecting that type of question. 

“More than I want to admit, why?” She shrugged, not really wanting to discuss work, but it was obviously something Kate needed to talk about. 

“What if I told you there was a way to get him?”

“We’ve all tried. You of all people have tried. He has too much reach.”

Kate shook her head. “We just had to think smaller and smarter.”

“I’m listening.”

“We have to investigate Sloane without his knowledge. He has too many eyes and ears everywhere.”

“Does he have something to do with it?” Alex asked gesturing again in the direction of the man now watching them interact. “So, this was a business trip. No wonder you’re not drinking.”

“His name is Byron Cooper. He has technology and knowledge that will keep us under the radar.”

“Really? There is no way Caleb isn’t aware of a Federal investigation, or this guy.”

“Caleb is very aware. Byron is only in Ridgemont as a consultant, but is nowhere near any actual investigation, on paper anyway.”

“Seriously?”

 “I don’t just jump into things. He’s legit and you’ll meet Jeremy soon, who I trust more than this guy, but-”

 “I’m in,” she interrupted and filled her glass to the top. She began to see the direction the conversation was heading. It was clear that Kate had already been working on something outside of the department. She was impressed that she had been able to keep it from her up until that point. 

Kate paused for a moment in slight shock. “You don’t even know what it entails or who. It’s going to be a lot of following paper trails, no cool spy stuff.”

Alex took a small sip of the newly poured drink and pretended to sit in contemplation before she spoke again. “When do we start?”

Kate smiled at her response and Alex could see a weight lift.

“Alex?”

Alex blinked out of her memory and looked up. Luke had appeared over the top of her like a towering beast. Though he prided himself on his intimidating height there was no threat in his posture and the typical sternness in his eyes was nothing but soft and concerned. His usually gelled and styled tight brown curls were wild and matched the unshaven whiskers around his chin and jawline. She was the reason he looked as disheveled as she felt. Tentatively he extended a coffee. Alex didn’t want it, the effort to even hold the paper cup was more than she cared to do, but she had to acknowledge the gesture. As she reached out for it she realized her hands had been clenched so tightly impressions of her nails were left in her palm. She stared at the indentions as he spoke.

“What’s going on?”

She couldn’t answer at first. She had bailed on him, but she had her reasons. Alex rubbed her thumb across the edge of the plastic top and refused to look away from her action. 

“No news yet.”

“I mean with you.”

“Tyler’s dead.” She paused and glanced down the hall. “Kate doesn’t even know. I told her he’d be okay.”

“Did you know she was in trouble?”

"No." First lie. Well, half a lie. Her gut had screamed that something was wrong, but it had from the moment it was decided they had to cut close contact until it was certain that they had not been compromised. She had been at Kate’s home, too busy sitting in her car contemplating how Kate would react if everything had been fine. But, it hadn’t. If she had stopped overthinking for a second she could have prevented or at least interrupted the attack.

"Why were you at Quinn's house so early?"

She tilted her head and arched a brow. "What?"

"I'm just trying to understand the timeline and how you fit into it all."

"What did you see?" she asked changing the subject; she wasn't interested in added more lies than necessary. She dropped her head again. 

Luke adjusted his position to be directly in front of Alex. "I want a little background, then I'll tell you what I saw."

Alex didn't look up, she continued to pretend the cup kept her attention. She was preparing for what was to be the second lie, or maybe third. She had started to lose count. She remembered the knee injury fabrication she had told everyone after being shot by Jeremy. She hated lying, but it didn't do Luke any good to be pulled into the truth, for his safety. The real story was too complicated. 

Slowly she raised her eyes to meet his. "We sometimes workout together before heading to work.” There was a sliver of truth in her lie, Kate was always up early and did actually run and workout every morning.

"But, you weren't dressed to workout. You had the same outfit you wore yesterday."

"Were you going to let me finish?"

"Yes."

"I had stayed late to catch up on paperwork. When I finished I realized I had been at the office all night, and definitely wasn't interested in running. I knew she'd be up, and when she didn’t answer my call, I just stopped by."

Luke sighed heavily.

"What?"

"Try to see this from my viewpoint."

"Please." Alex gestured. "Enlighten me."

"You call me frantic, but don't tell me more than to help you. When I get to you, you basically tell me nothing."

"Must be the concussion."

Luke shook his head in frustration. "Alex."

"Because I don't know anything, Luke," she responded with the same level of dissatisfaction. "I didn't see who attacked, and the only people who did can't talk."

"Did Katelynn ever express concern about anyone?"

"No." What she really wanted to say that Kate was concerned and that they should be concerned all the time, but that would just create a need to explain further. A one-word lie that was an iceberg.

"There was no sign of forced entry, but you said the side door was open. Is that normal?"

Alex thought about that question. She had a key to Kate's house and thought back to when she had arrived. She hadn't used it, or had she? She couldn't seem to remember if the lock was there or how she got through the door. It wasn't like her to not have a memory to what exactly she had done, but there were blank spots to crucial events and it worried her.

Alex looked at Luke. “This is why I need you to see things from the outside.” 

Luke began to respond, but she ignored him. She stood, her entire focus went to the doctor that came into view. She tried to get a read on him. His face was neutral but tired. The sweat on his brow glistened and slightly fogged up his thin round glasses that didn’t quite match his large nose. As his eyes carefully slid over the troubled faces in front of him he drew the chart close to his chest as if to give him a small sense of security to the news he was about to deliver. Without another thought, Alex handed her cup to Luke and moved to intercede him before he got closer. Luke didn’t follow and she was grateful. Whatever the news was going to be she didn’t want Luke to see her initial reaction.

After a quick introduction and verification of Alex’s identity, his light brown eyes flickered past her then cast down before he opened his mouth to speak. “Ms. Quinn is recovering in ICU. She’s extremely lucky, I dare say a miracle, that no arteries or major organs were perforated. She had lost a lot of blood and our biggest concern has been Hypovolemic Shock.”

“What does that mean?”

“There can be organ damage from lack of blood flow. As the body loses blood it goes into survival mode and restricts where the blood is circulated to.” The stalky doctor shifted slightly before he continued, “She is undergoing transfusions and is responding. We also have her on antibiotics to prevent septic shock or other infections. She will have to be monitored closely until we know that no permanent damage has been done.”

His words felt like a suffocating mass. The simple fact Kate was alive wasn’t enough. Alex didn’t want to hear the negative possibilities that could still lay ahead for Kate. Alex could see he wanted to retreat and she thanked him quickly. As the doctor slipped away Alex spun and looked to Luke. He stood in response to her change of direction.

Before she reached him she made her intentions clear. “I want Tyler’s case.”

Luke shook his head. 

“You promised.”

“Actually I didn’t. It’s not my call one, and two, you’re too close to it.”

“That’s exactly why I want it.” She didn’t wait for a response and pulled out her phone.

His brows furrowed to her action. “What’re you doing?”

“I’m calling Steve.”

“Why?”

“So he knows we get all forensic information first.” 

What she didn’t say was she wanted to maintain vigilance on everyone involved. Every thought in her head shifted to Caleb Sloane. If he was involved then she had to work even more carefully. It meant their team had truly been compromised, and Jeremy could have been the first to disappear. She had minimal trust in anyone and had to take it upon herself to make sure that whoever was involved, the truth, whatever it ended up being, was not buried or altered.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: September 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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