The Rookie Club: Dead Center - novelonlinefull.com
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"I felt guilty, Hailey. It actually felt like I was cheating on you," he added, lowering his voice. "But then, I thought, that's nuts. You were away-with your husband."
She ignored the reference. It was different. He knew she had a husband. He knew the score with her. He had no card to play there. She focused back on the morning of Natasha's murder. "So Marshall sent you to the scene?"
"He called me first to find out when I'd stopped seeing her-that I had. Then he told me about Deputy Chief Scanlan. I'd heard the rumor before that, but we decided I should go down there to be sure someone else from the department hadn't been there-that there wasn't something obviously harmful to the department."
Her hands trembled. "And you didn't tell me?" She lowered her voice again. "You screwed with my crime scene and you never told me?"
He pleaded with her with his eyes. "I'm sorry."
She shook her head.
"David asked me to keep it quiet. I did as he asked."
She turned to leave.
"There's something else I've wanted to tell you. I don't know if it'll help."
She didn't turn back, waited. Fury coated her skin like hot chills after a sunburn.
"She called maybe a month ago. I didn't call her back the first time. I didn't want anything to do with her, and it didn't sound like a business call."
"She called back a few days later. She was furious. She'd somehow heard about the list we had. She told me to send it to her so she could make sure we hadn't missed anyone." He shook his head. "She had a right to be p.i.s.sed."
"h.e.l.l yes, she did."
"The list wasn't my idea."
She shook her head, turned her back. "I don't care."
"That last conversation, she made a comment at the end, something that I never quite figured out."
"She said something about the list missing her most recent conqu-qu-quest."
"What does that mean? That the guy has a stutter?"
He nodded. "That's how I took it."
Hailey remembered Tim's comment that he'd been struck by someone who had stuttered. "Deputy Chief Scanlan?"
He shook his head. "I don't think so. I've never heard him stutter."
She frowned. "But you don't know."
He paused. "No, I don't. Some people only stutter when they're upset. I've never seen him really heated."
She started to leave but paused. "Why didn't you tell me about the comment before?" Bruce didn't respond. Hailey waited, her pulse drumming. "What about you, Bruce? Do you have an alibi for the night she was killed?"
He frowned. "Yeah."
She hesitated, suddenly not sure she was prepared for his answer. "You were home alone?"
"You were with someone else?"
"s.h.i.t," she said, the word just slipping out.
"Hailey, you know-"
"Don't," she said, cutting him off. It felt almost comical now. "Don't say anything. Please." She shook her head, lowered her voice. "Don't f.u.c.k it up any worse than you already have."
"Christ, this is a mess," he said. "I want to talk about this somewhere else. I'm done talking here. As for your case, Marshall knows about it. He's had my alibi confirmed. I am not a suspect in this case, but I'm also not partic.i.p.ating in the investigation of her homicide-because of the fact that we were-had been intimate."
She felt the word "intimate" hit her like a blow. Exhaled. "I'm the lead investigator. I need to know who slept with her, G.o.dd.a.m.n it."
He shook his head. "Everyone slept with her, Hailey."
"So that's supposed to make it better?"
"I'm not talking about us right now," he said. "You see someone else. I see other people, too. Anytime you want it to change, I'm ready."
That was it. The whip had cracked and it struck hard. She rubbed the spot just above her left breastbone. She sucked in a breath, let it slide out through closed teeth. She couldn't make demands when she wasn't prepared to fulfill her end of it.
And yet she would. She knew she would. She didn't need to be with him. She could walk away. It was either only her or she was done. Those were her rules. That was the upside of the affair. It was all about her. Everything else was laced with complications-kids, family, but not this.
She didn't look back at him, couldn't. "G.o.d, this place is like musical f.u.c.king beds," she whispered as she left.
She walked back through the department, head down. All she could think was what right did she have to stake a claim to him when she would let him stake no claim to her?
And yet she still knew she would do just that. She would have it no other way.
Jamie arrived at the station at 8:50 a.m. to see the front of the Hall blocked by news vans. She left her car down the block, left her police parking pa.s.s on the dash, and hurried to the stairs. The newscasters were each recording their bits off to the side of the main entrance, and Jamie recognized the start of a press conference. What the h.e.l.l was it about?
Her stomach knotted, she started up the stairs when the chief's press secretary walked out the gla.s.s doors. Behind him was the chief, Captain Marshall, and Hailey Wyatt. Chip Washington followed behind them. Hailey caught Jamie's eye and shook her head. Bad news.
Jamie stood back and waited.
As soon as the chief was in view of the camera, the reporters began shouting questions.
"Is it true that the murdered inspector had a long-term relationship with Deputy Chief Scanlan?" called one. "Is he a suspect in her murder?"
"Christ," Jamie whispered under her breath. How the h.e.l.l did that get out? She watched the lines on the chief's face deepen into a scowl. Hailey looked as though she'd already taken a tongue-lashing. She stood, expressionless, and waited for more s.h.i.t to follow.
"Didn't she also have a relationship with his son? The one who is on probation for beating up a college student over a burrito?" shouted the Fox affiliate.
"Is it true that your Internal Affairs Department has a full list of everyone the inspector saw in the months before she died? Is it your policy to track the s.e.xual relationships of your officers?" ABC called out.
"Is that considered police business?" The last question came from NBC.
Finally, the press secretary raised his hand to silence the crowd. "Please, ladies and gentlemen. Quiet. Please. Chief Jackson is going to issue a brief statement on the murder case. However, we will take no questions at this time. This is an active investigation."
The press issued a series of moans and complaints, but the chief ignored them as he stepped forward. "Ladies and gentlemen, a member of our police force has been murdered. Devlin was a decorated inspector with a strong track record. She served this department for more than twelve years. Our homicide team-" He motioned to Marshall and Hailey. "-is doing everything in its power to uncover who did this. The list of people Inspector Devlin was involved with contains both professional and personal relationships and is standard protocol in any murder investigation. It is our job to look at each person as a potential suspect. At this time, we have not identified a suspect."
Jamie thought that was good news for Tim.
The chief nodded to the crowd. "That is all I can offer at this time. Thank you."
"Why didn't the list contain anyone from outside the department?" shouted Fox.
"What about the rumor that the murder is tied to the series of officer rapes?" ABC called out.
The press secretary stepped forward and leaned into the microphone. "That will be all at this time."
The press continued to shout out questions as the group turned and disappeared into the building.
Jamie pushed through the crowd.
The NBC affiliate stepped into her path. "Inspector Vail, is there a connection between Devlin's death and the rapes?"
"Isn't it true that you threatened Officer Scanlan at Tommy's Mexican Restaurant last week?"
Jamie's heart thumped a little louder. "No comment."
"What about the rumor that the rapist was at your house and attacked your dog?"
"No comment," she said through clenched teeth as she reached the door. She yanked it open, hurried inside and let it shut behind her. Finally, the noise quieted. She took off her holster and slid it through the x-ray, walked through the metal detector and retrieved it.
"That's why they call them news-hounds. They smell the blood."
Jamie looked up at the security guard who manned the door. "I guess." She just wondered how they'd even gotten on the scent.
She rode the elevator to Homicide and found Hailey coming out of the department. "Let's get out of here."
Jamie turned and followed her down the corridor to the stairwell. "What the h.e.l.l happened?"
Hailey shook her head. "No idea, but someone got hold of it-all of it."
"Sometime this morning-early. I've been hearing it since the six a.m. broadcast. It's unconfirmed, but it's all there-the list, the fact that she came back here with a cop, the print that links her murder to the rapist, the fact that we haven't arrested him, even the s.h.i.t about Scanlan at Tommy's. It's like someone sent the press a f.u.c.king synopsis." She shook her head. "Excuse my French."
"Don't worry. It's my favorite language."
Hailey smiled wearily. "Christ. We've got to find a quiet spot to sit down and talk this out."
"I've got just the place."
At the Starbucks two blocks from the Hall, Jamie ordered a grande triple nonfat latte and sat down while the one woman and two men behind the counter worked their magic. She'd heard all the complaints about Starbucks and its monopoly, but she didn't give a s.h.i.t. She liked the coffee, and the characters who worked in this store were worth an extra buck.
The man Jamie liked best was maybe five-two and had been evolving from man to woman over the past two years. When she'd first seen him, he'd had short hair and a small goatee. Now he had long hair and b.r.e.a.s.t.s. Got to love San Francisco.
Jamie took her coffee to the table where Hailey was already seated.
"We had a visitor last night, too," Jamie said.
Hailey waited for her to explain and Jamie described the attack on Z, how Tony had saved him, the trip to the hospital. "Zephenaya is at my house with Tony today. He's going to a temporary foster home this afternoon."
"This is Shawna Delman's brother?" Hailey asked.
"Does the kid know about his sister?" Hailey asked.
Jamie dropped her gaze, shook her head.
Neither spoke for a moment.
"Christ," Hailey whispered.
"I'll tell him," Jamie said. "It just felt like he'd been through enough."
"He have other family?"
Jamie shook her head. "I don't think so."
"I hate the foster system," Hailey said. "Maybe someone will adopt him," she added without conviction.
Adoption for a ten-year-old homeless black boy was about as likely as Marchek walking into the station and confessing.