The Rookie Club: Dead Center Part 19

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"But the main page lists who's online at any one time. So if you signed up with your name, anyone who Googles you will find it there."

Just then Jamie saw her full name next to the screen ID "JVail." She hit the link, watched as the log-in page for their chat group came up. "It takes them right to the chat group's log-in screen."

"Right. It gives them your ID and if they've got the pa.s.sword, they're in."

A dead weight sank in her gut. "I made it too easy." Thoughts trampled across her mind. "Mary, you were probably talking to her killer."

The line was silent for a moment. When Mary spoke, her voice was nearly a whisper. "I thought about that. It's why I had you call."

He'd been there. There had to be something she could use. "Is there an abstract for the session?"

"No. I'm the one who usually logs the sessions, but I didn't. The conversation was sort of roundabout and off topic. I'll e-mail the others and ask if anyone else logged it."

Christ, had Devlin's killer been online using Jamie's ID? She tightened a fist. But why her-why not Hailey? Maybe they had searched Hailey Wyatt, too. Maybe the chat group was the opening they found. "Did anything stand out?"

Mary paused. "I was trying to think. A lot of it was what we'd read. Whoever was using your ID did mention she was promiscuous. Oh, jeez-how could I forget?"

Jamie felt herself tense. "What?"

"He said that she'd slept with your husband."

Jamie didn't respond.

"I'm sorry," Mary added.

She started to say that it was okay, but couldn't bring herself to do it. "He's my ex now."

Mary gave her a moment, then said, "You should consider that, Jamie. Who knew about that incident? Sounds like someone within the department."

Jamie nodded, dread pooling in her limbs. "I was thinking the same thing."

"Have you brought in a suspect? I thought he mentioned that you'd been looking at a cop."

She thought about Scott Scanlan. He was someone to consider. "What did he say about that?"

"Just that you'd pulled in one suspect who you held but who didn't look good for it." She stopped. "You thinking it might be him?"

"I don't think so." Tim had only been released tonight. He wouldn't have access from the city jail.

Mary seemed to consider this. "He didn't let on any real emotion about the suspect. That's why I didn't really consider it out of character for you except for a few questions about who the group would recommend looking at based on the scene."

Jamie considered Marchek. Tim's arrest had made the news, but would he have access to the fact that Devlin had slept with Tim while Tim and Jamie were married? It seemed far-fetched but not impossible.

Mary interrupted her thoughts. "I've got to go, but I'll dig up what I can remember and e-mail it to you."

"Thanks, Mary."

"And change that pa.s.sword."

"I'm doing it now."

After hanging up, Jamie changed her pa.s.swords on the chat group and her personal e-mail. She had no way of knowing if someone was in her e-mail and the realization was terrifying. She left a message for Hailey and lit a cigarette. She was tired, but she couldn't imagine going to bed. Couldn't fall asleep now. Not with the notion that someone had gotten access to her personal information. What else did he have? Did he know where she lived? Just how close was the killer?

Jamie shivered and stubbed out her cigarette. Forcing herself up, she checked the doors and windows.

As she mounted the stairs toward her bedroom, Jamie had the haunting sense that someone was watching. And more than ever, she wished Tony would come home.

Chapter 22.

Jamie had finally drifted into sleep when something woke her. Startled, she sat up in bed. Her heart clashed in her chest. Her head pounded. She yanked the robe off the chair and pulled it over her shoulders, crept to the window and looked out, saw nothing. She turned her ear to the door. Was it inside?

She glanced back outside as a shadow crossed the gra.s.s. Adrenaline burned in her gut. Tony?

Tightening the tie on her white terry-cloth robe over the T-shirt and sweats she slept in, Jamie stepped into a pair of suede moccasins, pulled her holster off the back of the bedroom door, and started downstairs. She caught her reflection in the hallway mirror. Like a cross between Martha Stewart and Annie Oakley.

She drew her gun, flicked the safety off. Gripping it in her right hand, she held it barrel down, her finger off the trigger. At the bottom of the stairs, she turned off the inside lights and stared out the dining room window into the backyard. The shadow was gone. She flicked on the outside lights, wishing she'd spent the money to have them upgraded to motion sensing. With a quick breath, she opened the back door, gun in front of her.

She heard Barney's claws click on the stairs and soon he was beside her. "Nice of you to wake up."

He growled into the dark.

"Be my guest."

Barney didn't move.

Jamie stepped out onto the small back deck and surveyed the yard. She was almost never out there. What little gra.s.s there once was had been displaced by the weeds. Like the tougher gang marking its territory, the weeds had won out here. A lone tree stood in one corner-a maple, she guessed, though she'd never been good at that kind of thing. Bushes dotted the yard like green islands about to be washed over by a sea of brown weeds. The little potting shed looked partially drowned by the weeds around it. It's green corrugated roof was dark with leaves and dirt.

Nothing flowered. Even with all the rain, the green was limited to a few bushes and the tree. It was a sad yard. She turned back inside and saw the same thing. Weeds outside and inside a sea of brown boxes littered the rooms. Jesus, how pathetic. Barney moaned as though understanding, and she patted his head.

She locked the back door when she heard the sharp ping of gla.s.s breaking on the front porch. A man howled. She ran across the house, peering out into the dimly lit front. Through the small window beside the front door, she saw Tony on his knees. He lifted a piece of crooked gla.s.s toward his lips.

Jamie holstered her gun and yanked the door open. "What the h.e.l.l are you doing?"

His tongue out, he poured brown liquid into his mouth.

She grabbed the piece from his hand, skimming it across the insides of her knuckles. She dropped the gla.s.s as blood pooled in her hand. "s.h.i.t."

Tony reached for another piece, but Jamie grabbed his arm, smearing his skin with her blood.

The smell of whiskey was overwhelming, and she was both nauseated and desperate at once.

Tony twisted his arm away, but she tugged back harder. "Stop it. Jesus Christ, Tony. f.u.c.king stop it!"

He looked up at her, green eyes bloodshot. Dark circles shadowed the skin beneath his eyes. She clutched his arm, dragged him toward her. Blood dripped down her white robe. She ignored it, held Tony. His arm felt spindly in her grasp. As he turned to look back at the broken gla.s.s, she noticed the way the light cast shadows in his cheekbones. Jesus, he was thin.

"Where have you been?" she demanded.

He didn't answer. He glanced down at the broken bottle with longing.

She kicked the gla.s.s off the porch.

Tony stood motionless, watching the last bits of Jack Daniel's spill onto the dirt.

Shaking, Jamie went inside, leaving the door open. Tears burned her eyes. d.a.m.n it. At the sink, she ran her hands under the water, waiting for her pulse to slow. The water stung the wound.

Tony wasn't her child. She'd never played the parent role-that had been Tony's older brother Mick's job. As kids, they had spent nearly every evening together. Their dads mostly worked opposite shifts, so one could be in charge of the kids. Although even then, Mick was the one who helped with homework and made sure Tony and Jamie were in bed on time. Pat and her father made the meals. That was a rule-no cooking without one of them around. Fire safety, of course. If both men were going to be out, they made cold sandwiches for dinner.

Jamie looked down at her b.l.o.o.d.y hand. She washed the wound out with soap, wincing at the sting. She wrapped a paper towel around her knuckles, pinching it closed with her fingertips.

Where had they gone so wrong? Besides a few rules, her father mostly ignored her as she developed into a woman. From time to time, the women her father or Pat dated tried to help. When it came to Jamie, though, her father just smiled and shook his head, casting one of his wide blue-eyed winks. "My Jamie can take care of herself," he'd say, the Irish brogue always thicker around the ladies.

For a while, Jamie a.s.sumed the distance her father kept was because she was a girl. And maybe that was part of it. But Tony and Mick's father, Pat, ignored the boys in much the same way. Maybe it was the loss of their wives. Maybe the reminder in their little faces was too much for the men to bear.

Sometime in high school Jamie also realized that growing up in America was completely different from what her father, and Pat for that matter, had experienced in Ireland. Being immigrants, they had no idea what to expect for their children here.

Whatever the reason, Jamie's father didn't ask and she didn't tell. That rule became the basis of their entire relationship. And it had spilled over to the relationship between her and Tony and Mick, too. Despite all the death and tragedy, no one ever talked. Loss was something you put in a dark place, in a deep drawer, and sealed off. That was supposed to make it hurt less, keep it from doing damage. Christ, look at them now.

As Jamie shut the water off, she noticed the stains on her robe. Most were the bright red of blood, but one was a tiny patch of brown. The water had stopped, but she heard it rushing in her ears as she lifted the robe and smelled the stain. She closed her eyes and drew in the unmistakable scent of whiskey. She touched the liquid with her finger and brought it to her mouth. Her tongue reached out for it and the two almost met. But Barney nudged her leg, nosing her.

She looked down at him, the liquid still moist on her skin. She closed her eyes and steeled herself. Before she could think more about it, she turned the water on high and washed the whiskey from her finger.

She slid the holster off her shoulders and hung it on a cabinet k.n.o.b. She shook the robe off. Bunching it into a ball, she threw it in the sink and let the water drench it. Washing away any trace of whiskey, any risk of that brown liquid so close to her.

Barney walked to the back door and whined. She let him out, stared at the dark yard. She shut the door and turned.

She saw Tony standing in the doorway, swaying as though to a slow tune only he heard.

"I have to work tomorrow," she said, though it was the weekend.

He didn't answer.

Blinking, she swiped tears off her cheeks and turned for the back door to get Barney. She couldn't bear to discuss it now-not the alcohol and definitely not everything else.

As she touched the doork.n.o.b, Tony spoke. "I killed him."

In his voice, she heard the slightest lilt of her father's voice. A bit of slurred brogue that came out of Mick and Tony only when they drank. As though the genes they'd gotten from Pat had included some deep a.s.similation between alcohol and the accent. She thought momentarily of her father-where he was, when they'd last spoken, what he thought of her, what he'd ever thought of her. She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall.

"I can't get it out of my head," he continued.

She stared into the dark, wishing she could go, escape. Instead, she turned around slowly, dragging out the time before she met his gaze.

When she did, it was like a physical blow.

His shoulders hunched, he gripped his hands together. A smear of blood-hers, she a.s.sumed-made a hash mark down his cheek, tears just beginning to blur it.

"That was the last thing dad said to me."

She moved toward him, and it was like walking through moving water, the sense of being dragged back by so many forces. "You didn't kill him."

Tony sank onto the couch, then slid onto the floor. "He said, 'I never thought it would be Mick. He was always the quick one, the bright one.'"

Jamie perched on the edge of the couch. "You didn't kill him," she said again, more emphatically.

"My own father," he said. The words were slurred in drunken anguish.

Jamie pressed her hand to her chest, searching for something to say. Christ, why was it so hard?

"He wanted it to be me."

She dropped to her knees. "No, he didn't."

"The h.e.l.l he didn't. He told me. 'It should've been you, Tony. Mick was too good.'"

She turned back, anger rising. "f.u.c.k him, then."

"Ha!" he shouted. "That's what I told him, the b.a.s.t.a.r.d. I said to h.e.l.l with him."

"Good for you."

"Yeah, good for f.u.c.king me. He died, you know. He died the next week. I never talked to him after that. My last words to my own father were 'Go to h.e.l.l.'" He choked back a sob.

Jamie sank to the floor beside him, rubbed her eyes. She reached out to touch his shoulder. Her hand was tentative as though expecting an electrical shock. It found the bony shoulder and she squeezed gently. "He was wrong, Tony."

Tony shook his head, dropped it to his knees.

"He was wrong to say that. He didn't mean it," she promised. "He was angry. s.h.i.t, we all say things we don't mean when we're angry."

"He meant it. He was calm when he said it, not angry. He was just disgusted that I was the one he was left with. So disgusted that he went and f.u.c.king died."

Jamie pressed her palm to the back of his neck, felt the moisture of his sweat. She laid her hand flat, felt his pulse, the rough edge of the wounds under her fingers. How long had it been since she'd touched another person? The tears fell harder. "They never got over Lana and Mom, you know. Neither of them ever did," she whispered. "They had a raw deal, those two-one s.h.i.tty thing after another. We were just reminders of the women they'd lost."

"Like we had it so f.u.c.king easy."

Jamie thought back on her childhood. It hadn't been that bad. There were moments when it had seemed pretty great. She put her head on his shoulder, listened to the rhythm of his breath. The constant beating, the promise that things would continue. She savored it.

He sat up, leaned his head into hers. "G.o.d, haven't you got anything to drink?"

"I quit."

"That was a stupid idea."

"I was about to lose my job. It's no good, you know. We can't handle the booze. Dad and Pat never could either. It's lousy Irish luck." She lifted her head, looked at him. "You've got to quit it, Tony."

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The Rookie Club: Dead Center Part 19 summary

You're reading The Rookie Club: Dead Center. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Danielle Girard. Already has 94 views.

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