CHAPTER TWENTY

Hazel opened her eyes. It was dark and she couldn’t see anything. Her head was pounding. She closed her eyes back again and for what seemed like a few seconds opened it back again. Her vision was blurry.  She couldn’t make out her surroundings. Her head was still pounding and there was a numb sensation in her left hand. There was a buzzing sound in her ears, she couldn’t remember where she was or how she got there.

Her vision cleared. It was bright. The room white, she was on a bed. She looked at her hand. There was an IV tube attached to it. It connected to a bag full of clear liquid. She was in accident, she remembered. She was probably in a hospital. She tried to sit up, but her head pounded furiously so she lay back down. She tried to remember what had happened. A car ran them off the road. She remembered Her and Toni screaming, then that was it. Oh my god Toni, she thought. Was she alright? And how had they survived?

The door to her room opened. Hazel quickly tried to sit up again. Her mother came in and saw her trying to sit up.

“Oh no honey lie back down.” Maria Stuart said rushing to Hazel’s bedside and gently applied pressure to Hazel’s shoulder forcing her to lie back down. “The doctor says you have a concussion. You need to rest.”

“I feel fine mom.” Hazel said ignoring her throbbing head. “Where is Toni?”

“Don’t worry about her honey she is fine.” Maria said. “I should go call the doctor.” she quickly left the room.

Moments she arrived with a man wearing a white lab coat came in.He had a friendly face.

“Hi. I’m Doctor Kent. How are you feeling?” He asked her bringing out a light and shining it in Hazel’s eyes.

“I feel okay I guess.” Hazel said. “My head hurts a little.”

“Well you hit it pretty hard.” Doctor Kent said. “Do you know what day it is?”

“Umm, Thursday, April Thirtieth?” Hazel said her tone raised at the end inflecting a question.

“Good, very good.” Doctor Kent said. “Do you remember what happened?” He said turning off the light and placing it back in his pocket.

“I was in an accident.” Hazel said. “The details are a bit fuzzy.”

“Okay.” Doctor Kent said. He held out his finger. “Follow my finger with your eyes.” He said moving it from side to side. Hazel obliged. After a few seconds he put it down. And wrote in a chart.

“What time is it?” Hazel asked.

“Two pm.” he said. “You slept for almost eighteen hours.”

“I woke up in the night, I think.” Hazel said. “Just for a few minutes.”

“Well you have a concussion so it’s normal to be tired.” Doctor Kent said. “We did a CT scan, found wrong other than a concussion. You were very lucky.” He wrote some more in his chart. “I’ll get you some aspirin for the pain.” He left the room.

Hazel turned to her mother. “Mom can I see Toni?” She asked.

“Oh, I’ll go get her.” Maria Stuart said. “She has been here all day.” She left the room. A minutes later Toni walked into the room looking perfectly fine.There was a grim look on her face.

“Hey!” Hazel complained. “How come you are not bandaged up?”

Toni laughed. Her worried look disappearing momentarily. “That’s because I am indestructible.” She joked going over to Hazel’s bed and giving her a hug. “How are you feeling.” she asked still holding her.

“My head hurts.” Hazel said. They detached. “How long have you been here?”

“I was here all night.” Toni said. “In the morning I snuck home to get a change of clothes and I came back. You were asleep the whole time.”

“What happened?” Hazel asked. “All I remember is that car ran us off the road, and then I am waking up here.”

“Well you were right.” Toni said reluctantly. “It was detective O’Brian. I saw him.”

“How did we survive?” Hazel asked.

“Well the airbags came out” Toni said carefully. “So I wasn’t hurt or anything. But someone pulled us out.”

“Who was it?” Hazel asked.

Toni let out a deep sigh. “It was Jaz.” She said. “She pulled us out.”                             *                                                   *                                               *

James sat in his desk looking at the ceiling. He knew he should be feeling elated. The case was solved but all he felt was an emptiness in his chest. He would have never guessed his partner was the one who murdered Thomas Bridges and Jeremiah Gates. His mind went back o the previous night.

When he received that card. He quickly put it together and rushed to his car, calling Jakes for backup. He was on his way to Corbin’s house when an accident was reported via radio occurring on Scheiman road. Following his gut, he took a detour there and found Hazel’s car in a gorge at the side of the road. He stopped his car and got down pulling his sidearm and flashlight out.  He recognized Corbin’s black car stopped dead center in the middle of the road. Corbin lay on his back unmoving blood coming out of his head. Then he saw another blue car at the far side of the road. Then he heard some noises coming from Hazel’s car. He saw Three huddled shapes climbing out from the ditch. He shined a light towards the shapes and recognized them. Hazel was unconscious, and  Toni and Jasmine were supporting her from both side. By then he was already hearing the ambulance sirens blaring.

“Put your hands where I can see them.” He bellowed at Jasmine.

“I can’t.” Jasmine snapped. “Toni can’t bear her weight alone.”

“Lay her on the floor then.” James said. Toni and Jasmine lay her gently on the floor. Jasmine reluctantly put her hands up and James moved in and cuffed her. “What happened.” He asked Toni, who still looked shaken up.

“Detective O’Brian ran us off the road.” Toni said. “He got down from his car and was about to shoot us when Jasmine hit him with her car.  Detective, He killed Tom-”

“Yeah I know.” James said grimly. He looked at Jasmine. “You are bit cryptic with your messages aren’t you?”

“You figured it out didn’t you?” Jasmine said. “Besides I had to write it in a hurry.”

“Are you okay?” James asked Toni.

“Yeah I’m fine.” Toni said. The paramedics arrived. James looked at his partner lying down on the ground again. Was he dead? He thought. He hoped not. He wanted answers.

“Detective?” Jakes said, shaking James out of his reverie.

“Yeah?” James said, coming out of his flashback.

“I got word from the hospital.”Jakes said. “Hazel Stuart is awake.”

“Oh that’s alright.” James said. “Any word on O’Brian?”

“No he’s still in a coma.” Jakes said. “I got two uniforms guarding him though.”

“Yeah, but I doubt he would be going anywhere.” James said. “What about our guest. How is she holding up?”

“Well she still refused to leave her cell.” Jakes said. “I don’t think she would be giving a confession anytime soon.”

“She wouldn’t need to.” James said. “We have her.”

“What about John Heathway?” Jakes said. “What are we charging him with?”

“I don’t know that’s the DA’s problem.” James said. “But he confirmed Corbin is Colby. Apparently Corbin helped do some dirty work, in return for cash. Jeremiah never met him.”

“So O’Brian killed Thomas Bridges and Jeremiah Gates.” Jakes said. “I still can’t wrap my head around that.”

“Me neither.” James said looking at the far end of the room. Someone had walked in. It was Richard Prescott.

“Excuse me.” James said standing up to meet him. “Mr Prescott.” James said.  “What can I do for you?”

“I called you last night.” Richard said. “I told yo I have some information.”

“Oh that won’t be necessary.” James said. “We have our killer. We caught him last night. He was trying to kill your daughter.”

“Yes I heard, I saw Toni briefly this morning.” Richard said. “But there is still something else.”

“What?” James said guardedly.

“After we talked yesterday, I checked some documents he gave to me and I found a name, Zas. Does that mean anything to you?”

James froze for a moment and then walked briskly to the holding area. He went to Jasmine’s ell.

“What can you tell me about Alex Stone?” He said without preamble.

“I thought we already established I am not saying anything.” Jasmine said.

“You should talk.” James said. “What do you have to lose?”

Jasmine rolled her eyes and said nothing.

“You saved your friend’s lives.” James said. “You could have made a clean getaway, but you stayed. That shows there is still something in you so do this for them. Not for me.”

“You are really terrible at speeches.” Jasmine said. She stood up. “Let’s see, I met Alex last year.” She said. “He helped me set up the account I used in my dealings, He also gave me the info that Morraine Heathway was embezzling. Was instrumental in framing Jeremiah, and he helped keep Tom off my back. Well he tried anyway, I had to steal his computer to erase some files he gathered.” She finished. “You’ll never find him anyway.”

“Why do you say that?” James said.

“He is a drifter.” Jasmine said. “The reason he helped me was because my dad saved his life in the army. That was what got him killed.”

“So he rewarded him by helping his daughter become a drug lord.” James said. “Bravo to him.”

“Well I never said his morals weren’t questionable.” Jasmine said. “He is long gone now anyway.”

“You told me something in that church.” James recalled. “‘While you were awake’. That verse your father taught you. Do you think this is what he had in mind?”

“Not exactly.” Jasmin said. “And you told me you were speaking from experience when you told me memories stay when people die. You never told me who it was.”

James stared at her for a moment. Then he turned and started walking. After a a  few steps he turned around to face her, and opened his mouth. “My mother.” He said. Then he walked away.

*                                                            *                                                       *

It was the next day. Hazel had been discharged from the hospital. Toni had come over to hang out with her after school.

“So did you hear about John?” Toni said. “Heard he was arrested.”

“I just want a break from all that drama.” Hazel said. “Jaz, and Detective O’Creepy are locked up. End of story.”

“You know she did save us.” Toni said. “If she wasn’t there, we would have been killed.”

“Yeah sure.” Hazel said. “But she did start this whole thing.”

“I saw Keith today.” Toni said. “Poor kid looked distraught.”

“Poor kid?” Hazel said. “He is taller than you are.”

“You know what I mean.” Toni said throwing a pillow at Hazel.

“Ow.” Hazel laughed. “My head is still sore.”

They both giggled and were quiet for a moment. “What do you think would happen to Jasmine.” Toni asked.

“Well she is eighteen, so she’ll probably go to jail.” Hazel said. “I don’t want to think about that.”

“Me neither.” Toni said. “I saw Richard yesterday by the way. He is living town.”

“Really?” Hazel asked. “How do you feel about that?”

Toni shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean he is like two hours away so I guess we will see. But the funeral is tomorrow, so he isn’t leaving until sunday.”

“Oh yeah, Tom’s funeral.” Hazel said. “Crazy year huh?” She said sadly.

“Yeah.” Toni agreed. “Crazy.”

*                                         *                                              *

It was the next day. Thomas Bridges funeral was today. James thought to how this crazy chain of events had started. It had all started with Carla Heathway. And just like a stack of dominoes, everything began to fall apart.

He watched at Thomas’ family, The Bridges graciously welcomed everyone who had come. Ava Bridges looked different last time he saw her. He looked more, worn. Like she had carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. As he moved closer he noticed Toni was standing beside her. Richard Prescott was nowhere to be seen.

“Thanks for coming Detective.” Ava Bridges said taking his hands.

“No problem.” James said. “I’m sorry for your loss.” He nodded at Toni and walked inside. He remembered the last time he came to a funeral. He was with Corbin then. He looked around. It Had almost the same turnout as Carla’s. He took a seat and waited for the ceremony to start.

His phone buzzed. He removed it from his pocket. It was Jakes. He sighed and picked it up.

“Hello?” He spoke into the phone.

“Detective.” Jakes said. O’Brian is awake.

*                                                                 *                                                         *

James walked into Corbin’s room. Corbin was on the bed propped up, his left hand handcuffed to the bed. He had a cast on his right leg, and a bandage on his head. When he saw James he sat up.

“Hey Ashwood can you tell me why I’m handcuffed to the bed?”Corbin said. “Don’t  tell me you got kinky”

James didn’t reply. He pulled up a chair and sat down. Then he started stone faced at Corbin.

“James?” Corbin asked. “Why am I handcuffed to my bed?”

“What do you remember?” James asked.

“Hazel Stuart and Toni were in an accident.” Corbin said. “I was trying to help when Jasmine Green knocked me over with her car.”

James laughed derisively. “I knew you would try to lie your way out of this but I never knew you would be terrible at this.”

“What are you talking about?” Corbin asked looking confused.

“Toni and Hazel claimed you ran them off the road.” James said.

“Are you kidding?” Corbin said. “I didn’t run them off the road.”

“Pieces of black paint was found on their car.” James said. “Your car showed signs of damage, and also, Toni saw you pointing a gun towards their direction .”

“If black paint was found on their car, that was Jasmine’s doing.” Corbin said. “And as for the gun, I drew it out as a precaution.”

“Hazel and Toni received a note from Jasmine identifying you as Bridges’ Killer.” James said. “I received the same from Jasmine too. They were on their way to tell me when you hit them.”

“You are seriously going to believe Jasmine’s word over mine?” Corbin laughed. “She killed Bridges-”

“Toni said you came to their house trying to intimidate them.” James said.

“She called the station and hung up.” Corbin said. “I just went there to check on them.”

“Stop lying.” James thundered. He calmed himself down. “I found an email correspondence between you and John Heathway. John Heathway. John Heathway confirmed you as the person that was helping him and Jeremiah.”

“That kid is lying.” Corbin said.

“I didn’t just believe Jasmine.” James said. “I did the math. When Gary Stevens was murdered, I was at Bridges house. You left saying you had to take care of something. That was around the time Carla’s body was stolen.”

“So you think I killed Gary Stevens?” Corbin laughed.

“No, one of those druggies did.” James said. “We checked your call records. Jeremiah called you around the time Gary Stevens was murdered, that’s why you left. After I dropped you off at home, You drove down to the ME office, You stole those autopsy files, and cleaned up the scene before anybody else arrived.”

Corbin laughed. “That’s absurd. Can you prove any of these?”

“Actually I can.” James said. “We searched your house.”  James pulled out a piece of paper. “We found stacks of cash that Jeremiah was obviously paying you, we found a compound similar to the poison used on Bridges; I remember you were the first on that scene too, and the security footage  for the day Jeremiah Gates died in his cell was recovered. It showed you stabbing him with a desk nail. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.” James looked up.

Corbin’s smile faded. “Funny how evidence seems to turn up when you know the right place to look. Where did you get the security footage by the way?”

“Actually, I don’t have it but you just confirmed you killed Jeremiah.” James said. “Why did you kill him anyway?”

“I am not saying anything else.” Corbin said lying back down. “You can get out  of my room.”

“Really? You are giving up just like that?” James laughed. “I thought you were going to fight harder than that.” He stood up. “You are under arrest for the murder of Thomas Bridges, and Jeremiah Gates. You are going away for a very long time.” James walked out of the room. He didn’t look back.


It was Three days later. Toni sat down waiting patiently, her fingers drumming the table nervously. She stared at the glass absently her mind recapping the past three weeks. She never thought all of that would lead here

The door opened and Jasmine walked through, escorted by a security guard. Jasmine saw Toni through the glass and hesitated, then sat down  and picked up the phone.

“Hi.” Jasmine said.

“Hi.” Toni said. She paused. “Orange is so not your color.” She said.

Jasmine laughed. “I don’t think so.” She smiled wistfully. “Happy birthday.” She said.

“Thanks.” Toni said.

“So this is how you spend your birthday?” Jasmine said. “Visiting your friend who killed your other friend in prison?”

“I wasn’t in a celebrating mood.” Toni said.

“Where is Hazel?” Jasmine asked.

“She left town.” Toni said. “After Tom’s funeral she decided to take a break.”

“Can’t say I blame her.” Jasmine said. “So what are you doing here?”

Toni shrugged. “I don’t know. I just drove around and ended up here.” They stared in silence for a few seconds. “So what is going to happen now?”

Jasmine shrugged. “I don’t know.” She said. “But they are moving me to a different facility tomorrow. They say this is overcrowded.”

Toni nodded. “I never did thank you.” She said. “You actually saved my life.”

“Well I couldn’t let you die.” Jasmine said. “And I don’t need your forgiveness. I’ve made my peace with everything.”

“I wasn’t going to give it.” Toni said.

“I could always tell when you lie.” Jasmine said. “Don’t try now.”She looked back. “My time is up. It was good seeing you.” She hung up the phone. The guard came and escorted her back inside.

“Yeah it was good seeing you too.” Toni murmured, but Jasmine was already gone.


James was in the office when he got a phone call. He picked it up. “Hello?”

“Is this James Ashwood, lead detective of the Heathway case?” A voice said on the other line.

“Yes.” James said “Who is this?”

“This is Heather from the department of corrections. I am afraid I have some news for you.”

“What is it?” James said.

“Jasmine Green died this morning.” Heather said. “She was found dead in her cell this morning.”

“Jesus christ.” James said. “What happened?”

“Looks like a heart attack.” Heather said. “There doesn’t seem to be any foul play involved.”

“Okay, thanks.” James said. “Where are they taking her body now?”

“Her family has asked it to be sent to them.” Heather said.

“Alright.” James said. “Just send over the paper work.” He hung up the phone. He sighed. Hopefully, this would be the last death in this town.


 

EPILOGUE

She sat down on the bench waiting for her train to come. By her right a man had his head buried deep in a newspaper. One of the headlines said:  ‘Local murder mystery ends in death’. She was disinterested. She had already heard that story. She looked at the date on the paper. It was a week old. After a while, the bus finally arrived. The man put down the  newspaper and picked his bag. He headed towards the bus. The girl remained seated. She wasn’t in a hurry. She would get the next train. She picked up the newspaper and flipped through it. There was a section on dying hair. She stopped and looked at the various hair colors. She always wanted to try platinum blond. but it did’t seem like it would suit her. She touched her black hair, it had green highlights in it. She smiled at herself at the irony.

An hour later another bus arrived. She put down the paper picked her bag. Her trip to Montreal would take a couple of hours. She  missed New York though.  She had only been there for a few days, but she had fun. It was better than boring Ottawa. She would definitely go back. She stood up and slung her bag over her shoulder, and entered the bus. She sat beside an old woman who was knitting. As she sat down the woman looked up.

“Ohh nice perfume dear.” She said. “What flavour is that.”

“Jasmine.” She said smiling. “You like it?”

“Very much so.” She said.

The girl smiled. People were nice in Canada.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

“Hey Sonya what’s going on?” Corbin said walking into the room.

Sonya looked up. She ignored Corbin and continued typing. Corbin half sat down on top of the table. He leaned towards Sonya.

“I was asking you a question.” Corbin said.

“And I was ignoring you.” Sonya replied without looking up.

“Why do you hate me so much?” Corbin asked.

“Maybe it’s because you hit on everything that moves.” She retorted.

“Come on.” Corbin said coyly. “Don’t be overly sensitive. What are you working on?” He stretched out his hand to touch Sonya’s computer. Sonya slapped his hand

“Thomas Bridges laptop.” She said. “I am trying to recover missing files.”

“I thought we told you Jasmine has the real hard drive.” Corbin said.

“And this one is hers.” Sonya said. “I am trying see if I can pull anything useful from here.”

At that moment Jakes walked in. “Detective. Hazel Start is on the line for Detective Ashwood, but he is out now so-.”

“I’ll take it.” Corbin pushed his way out of the room and headed for the phone. He picked it up. “Hello?”

“Detective Ashwood?” Hazel’s voice came through.

“No this is O’Brian.” Corbin said. “How can I help you?”

Hazel’s voice faltered. “I wanted to speak with Detective Ashwood.”

“He is not here right now.” Corbin said. “How can I help you?”

The line disconnected. ‘Weird’ Corbin thought. He re-dialed the number. It rang. No one picked up. He hung up the phone. He grabbed his keys. It was time to take a trip.


 

“What did you do that for Hazel.” Toni said exasperated. “We could have told him about the note.”

“Don’t you get it?” Hazel said. “D.O killed Tom. As in Detective O’Brian.”

“Oh come on.” Toni said. “That doesn’t mean anything. And why should we even believe anything Jaz says anyway?”

“What reason would she have to lie?” Hazel asked.

“So she doesn’t go down for two more murders.” Toni retorted.

Hazel sighed. “Okay Toni I know he was your brother, but-”

“But nothing.” Toni said. “Jaz killed Tom. She thought we were sleeping together so she killed him. Remember after he died and she was being all sympathetic? That was just guilt.”

“You don’t really-” Hazel began.

“And at Carla’s funeral?” Toni continued ignoring Hazel’s interruption. “Where she was being all weepy. That was the guilt talking to.”

“Exactly. guilt.” Hazel said. “She didn’t mean to kill Carla. She told me so. And you know what, she could have killed me too. But she let me go. Why exactly would he do that?”

“I don’t know.” Toni said.

“Because she still has a heart.” Hazel said. “And that’s why she sent us this.” Hazel held up the card. “To get justice for your brother.”

Toni folded her arms. “That doesn’t mean D.O stands for Detective O’Brian.” She said. “It could be Dylan O’Connell.”

“Really? Dylan?” When was the last time he was in Harbor?” Hazel said skeptically.

“Just pointing out it could be anyone with those initials.” Toni said.

“Well let’s not take any chances.” Hazel said. “Let’s take this directly to Detective Ashwood.”


 

“How are you feeling Ms Heathway?” James asked as he sat in the Heathway’s living room.

“Much better.” Moraine said. “So why are you here detective?”

“Just need to touch base with the investigation.” James said. “You handed us all the paperwork you used in dealing with Zas.”

“Jasmine Green.” Moraine Heathway corrected.

“Yes.” James said. “But we never had any indication she had a partner.”

“I didn’t know the full extent of hat she was doing.” Moraine Heathway said. “All I did was set up trusts for her.”

“What kind?” James asked.

“College funds, scholarships.” Moraine Heathway said.

“Are they still active?” James asked.

“Yes.” Moraine Heathway said. “But you can’t touch them. They belong to a third party.”

“How about her personal assets?” James asked.

“All gone.” Moraine heathway said. “That girl could be in Switzerland by now.”

James nodded. “Do you know an Alex Stone?” he asked.

“No I never heard of him.” Moraine Heathway said. “Why?”

“He told us he was sent by the FBI to investigate you. But when he had what he needed to make an arrest he disappeared.”

“Well I never heard of him.” Moraine Heathway said.

James brought out a picture of Alex and showed it to her. “But you have identified him before. You said he was talking to Thomas Bridges at the Gala.”

Moraine Heathway peered at him closely. “This is Alex Stone?” She asked.

“Yes.” James replied, taking the picture back.

“That man works for Richard Prescott.”  Moraine heathway replied. “He is not FBI.”

“Figured as much.” James replied. He stood up. “Thank you for your time Mrs Heathway. I’ll be in touch.”


 

“Hazel hurry up.” Toni called out waiting at the door.

“Just a minute.”  Hazel’s voice rang from the second floor. Toni sighed and brought out her phone. Nothing like a good game of candy crush to pass the time.

The doorbell rang. Without thinking,Toni opened the door. Corbin O’Brian stood in front of it.

“Where is Hazel?” Corbin asked without preamble.

“Umm she isn’t home.” Toni said nervously.

Just then Hazel’s voice rang out again. “Who is at the door?”

Toni didn’t reply. “i thought you said she wasn’t home?” Corbin asked Toni.

“Did I?” Toni laughed nervously. “I meant, she and I were about to step out. So she wouldn’t be home.”

“I see.” Corbin said nodding his head. Just then Hazel came running downstairs.

“Okay I’m rea-” She froze when she saw Corbin.

“Hey Hazel.” Corbin waved his hands at Hazel.

“Detective. Hi.” Hazel said recovering quickly. “We were about to step out.”

“Oh yeah, your friend told me.” Corbin said. “Just wondering why you called and hung up on me.”

“Did I?” Hazel laughed nervously. “The line went dead so I thought you had already hung up.”

“No I hadn’t” Corbin said. “So why were you calling?” He asked.

“I wanted to talk to Detective Ashwood about Jaz.” She said quickly. “I just remembered she has family in New York so she might be hiding out there.”

“On the East Coast.” Corbin said. “Where he has no Jurisdiction.”

“Yeah, it was just a thought.” Hazel said. “Anyway we were stepping out now. So-” She made to move out of the doorway but Corbin blocked her.

“Are you sure that is all?” Corbin asked.

“Yes I am sure.” Hazel said staring up at Corbin defiantly. “My butler is here by the way. And the chef is still in the kitchen. So if you need anything I am sure they will be happy to accommodate you.”

“No that’s quite alright.” Corbin said moving aside. “Call me if you hear anything okay?”

“Sure we will.” Hazel said standing still.

Corbin turned and walked away. Hazel quickly shut the door.

“I thought we were going to the Police station?” Toni asked.

“Change of plans.” Hazel said. “We are staying right here where we are safe.”

“No come on, you don’t think he knows.” Toni asked.

“Yes he does.” Hazel said. “Call your parents. You are staying here tonight.”


 

Richard Prescott was just packing up to leave when he heard  light tap on his door. He looked up to see James Ashwood standing in his doorway.

“Heading out?” James asked.

“Yeah, It has been a busy day.” Richard said. “What can I do for you?”

“Do you know a man by the name Alex Munroe?” James asked.

“No I don’t think that rings a bell.” Richard said without skipping a beat.

“He came into our office pretending to be an FBI agent.” James said. “A source told us he was working for you?”

“A source? What are you talking about?” Richard asked.

James brought out a picture of Alex and showed it to Richard. “That’s him.”

“Oh him?” Richard asked. “That is my PI. He does some work for me.”

“Like impersonating Federal officers? And I thought you said his name doesn’t ring a bell” James asked.

“I don’t know anything about impersonating anybody. I just give him a job, and he gets it done. And as for the name thing, I don’t even know his real name. I just call him Markos.”

“Do you know how I can reach him?” James asked.

“I have a number for him.” Richard said. “But I doubt that would yield any desired result.”

“This man might have killed your son.” James said.

“He didn’t.” Richard snapped. “That girl did didn’t she?”

James was quiet for a moment. “What was the nature of the work you sent him to do.”

Richard spread his arms wide. “Look around. This is what I paid him to do. Fix this. And he did. So if you are done asking me unnecessary questions, I am going to head home.” He picked up his briefcase and pushed past James.

“Mr Prescott.” James called out. Richard looked back.  “Be careful.” James said. “People can be very unpredictable.”


 

Jasmine packed her bags. She was leaving for good. She too one last look around. Oddly enough, she wasn’t feeling any nostalgia. She knew it was going to come to this when she started on this path. The slung a bag over her shoulder. Getting out of Harbor wouldn’t be easy. She had said all her goodbyes, given Toni the closure she needed, and now she was heading off to a new life. No more Zas, no more games. Just her. She took a deep breath and stepped out.


 

It was already getting dark. James got back to the office and just sat on his desk exhausted. He thought his problems were over but there was another killer out there. Of course this could be another tick Jasmine is playing on them, but his gut told him she was telling the truth. And he never went against his gut.

James looked up to see Jakes walking towards him. Jakes placed a document on the table.

“This was recovered from Thomas Bridges Computer.”He said.

“What is it.” James asked. Picking it up and looking at it.

“It is an email correspondence between Jeremiah Gates and someone with a username called ‘Colby409’.” Jakes replied. “I am guessing that is our killer.”

“Our second killer.” James corrected. “Have you gone through this? Does it give any information about him?”

“Yeah it seems he lives right here in Harbor.” Jakes said. “But there was something else.”

“What is it?” James asked.

“It seems he is familiar with John Heathway.” Jakes said.

“What do you mean?” James asked.

Jakes rifled through the page and pointed at a section. James looked at the text.

Jh23: What time is the shipment arriving?

Colby409 : 4 o’clock tomorrow. Is your partner coming along?

Jh23: Yes I am bringing him.

Colby409: Don’t. Come alone.

Jh23: He wants to meet you.

Colby409: And I am not ready to meet him. Do you fully trust him?

Jh23: Not exactly.

James peered closely at the conversation. “Are you sure this is Jeremiah?” He asked.

“Yeah,” Jakes said. “I mean the Jh is short for Jeremiah right? First and last letters of his name? And they are obviously talking about John.”

James studied it again.

Jh23: I think I am close to finding Zas.

Colby409: Has he revealed himself to your partner?

Jh23: He has him running around in circles. Did you have any luck on your end?

Colby409: No. But the police are getting close.

A light bulb went on in James head. “This isn’t Jeremiah”. He said. The person talking is John Heathway.

“How do you know?” Jakes asked.

“Jeremiah was the one that Zas had running around in circles” James said. “John was the one in contact with this Colby. Colby didn’t want Jeremiah  to know who he was so when he found out. Colby killed him.”

“Right here in the station?” Jakes asked.

“Alex was the one who found Jeremiah. I’ll bet you Alex is Colby.” James said.

“So John knows exactly who killed Thomas Bridges?” Jakes said.

“Yes.” James said. “But he is not cooperating with the police.” He sighed and looked around. “Where is O’Brian?”

“He left a while ago.” Jakes said. “So how do we get John to fess up. We don’t have anything to charge him with.The only person who knew his drug involvement is dead.”

“I’ll sleep on it.” James said standing up. “Good work Jakes.”

“Thank you.” Jake said. James watched him walk away.


 

Hazel peeped out the windows. It was already dark outside.

“Come on Hazel.” Toni complained as she sat on the bed. “You cant keep me prisoner here.”

“I am keeping you safe.” Hazel said.

“I left my homework at home.” Toni said. “Can I at least go and get it?”

“Do you know if he is still out there?” Hazel asked.

“Your parents are not home right now. We are practically alone here. Which is a good reason for us not to stay here.” Toni argued.

“We have state of the art security.” Hazel said. “We will be fine.”

“And he is a cop.” Toni said. “Look we can just drive down to Detective Ashwood house and just tell him. I think you are overreacting though.”

“I am overreacting?” Hazel asked. “Alright fine go.” Hazel said crossing her arms. “When you get attacked, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Okay fine.” Toni said, standing up from the bed and walking towards the door. “See you in the Am.”

“No wait.” Hazel said, quickly running to intercept her. “Okay how about this. We take my car and give this to James.” She held up the card. “Then we come back here and you can go home in the morning.”

“James?” Toni asked. “When did that start.”

“We are on a first name basis.” Hazel replied. “So how about that plan?”

“Is there any scenario where I get to go home this night?” Toni asked.

“No.” Hazel replied.

Toni sighed. “Fine. But if you are wrong. You owe me a big apology.”

“Deal.” Hazel said. She went to her closet and picked up a hockey stick.

“Why are you taking that?” Toni asked.

“This what Jaz used when she kidnapped me.” Hazel said. “It has a good edge.”

“So you defend yourself against a guy who carries a gun with a hockey stick?” Toni asked raising her eyebrows.

“Just lets go okay?” Hazel said.


 

Corbin watched as the gate opened. A silver ford exited from the compound and drove into the street. ‘Finally’ He thought to himself. He thought they would never leave. He waited until there was some distance between the car and himself. Then he put his keys in the ignition and turned it. The car roared to life. He thought about turning on his headlight then decided against it. He quietly drove after The silver ford. Of all the obstacles he thought. He would be facing, he didn’t think it would be three tiresome teenage girls. This was the last time he would underestimate anyone. He pushed his foot on the gas and accelerated. He had a deadline to meet.


 

James got home and looked around his house. It was messy as usual. He dropped his keys on the table and took of his jacket. It was unusually cold this evening. He looked at his answering machine. There were a couple of messages waiting for him. He pressed play. One of them was a telemarketer. He deleted it. The played the second one.

“Hey James this is Richard Prescott.” The Richard’s voice said. “I left a message on your cell, but it seems you never use that thing so I am leaving one here too. I think you were right and I may have trusted the wrong person. You and I should talk, I have some information that could be of value to you. Call me and we will schedule a meeting.”

James sighed. His night wasn’t over. He dialed Richard’s number. It rang there was no reply. He decided to try Corbin’s number. It wet straight to voicemail. He hung up without leaving a message. He dropped his phone. Then he remembered he hadn’t checked his mail. With a sigh he went to his door and opened the cage. He brought out a handful of papers and rifled through them. There were a few coupons, His water bill. Then he saw a Green Envelope. There was no information on the sender, and there were no stamps meaning it was hand delivered. He opened it. It had a strange scent. Smelled like flowers. He sniffed it again. It was jasmine he realized. It smelled like jasmine flowers, meaning there was no doubt to who this was from.

There was a card inside. Against his better judgement he opened it. It had three words inside it.

‘D.O killed Tom.’ It read. He was puzzled. Who was D.O? He read it again just to be sure. Jasmine made it seem like he knew this person. Then a horrific realization set on him. It couldn’t be true. But he could see the pieces fall together. It all made sense. He grabbed his keys, and his gun. He had someone to confront.


 

“There is a car behind us.” Toni said.

“Ha ha very funny.” Hazel said. “Trying to scare me.”

“So seriously. There is a car behind us.” Toni sad. It has its head lights turned off.

“What?” Hazel said looking at her rearview mirror. There was no car behind them.  “I don’t see-”

“Hazel look out!” Toni screamed. Hazel look forward to see a dark car swerve in front of them. Hazel turned the steering sharply to the right. The side of the car scraped the bridge. He hit the brakes, but the other car was already beside them. It rammed into them again and Hazel’s car tilted dangerously over the edge. Toni was screaming. Out of the corner of her eyes, Toni saw a blue car approaching them. There was something familiar about it. The dark car hit them again, and they went over the edge screaming.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

“Hazel you can’t stay in your room forever.” Maria Stuart said standing in Hazel’s doorway.

“I was downstairs just a minute ago.” Hazel said, staring at her computer screen.

“You know what I mean.” Maria said. “You didn’t go to school on Monday, or Tuesday or today.” She said. “You have finals coming up.”

“And I am preparing for them. Here. At home.” Hazel said. “I already got accepted into Berkeley.”

“But you still need to keep up your attendance record.” Maria said.

“Mom, I found out one of my best friends is a killer.” Hazel said. “I am just not ready to face everyone at school, so can I just get this week?”

Maria sighed. “Fine. But you will be in school monday, no excuses.”

“Promise.” Hazel said as her mom left the room. It had been days since she found out about Jasmine. The police had been looking for her, but she had disappeared. There was no sign of Ben either, but she hadn’t told anyone about him. Not even Toni.

Of course that hadn’t stopped the police from asking questions about him.

She had spent hours with detective Ashwood recapping everything Jasmine had told her. They found it suspicious that Ben had disappeared the same time Jasmine did. But as far as she knew they hadn’t put out an APB on him. They had found her car though. It was left on the side of the road. No damages, no scratches.

Her phone rang. She picked it up and looked at the screen. It was Toni. She let it go to voicemail. She had been dodging her calls. She had come over a couple of times, but it had been kind of awkward. They just hung around in silence, didn’t talk much. Neither of them had brought up Jasmine’s name. It was like they had a silent pact not to ever speak her name.

The phone stopped ringing. Hazel felt guilty. Toni was probably going through the same thing she was. She picked up the phone and dialed her number. It rang once.

“Hey.” Toni’s said, her voice sounding dull. “What are you up to?”

“Nothing much, just catching up on homework.” Hazel replied, her voice sounding equally dull. “How about you?”

“Same.” Toni replied. “Were you in school today?”

“No, I stayed home.” Hazel said. “You didn’t go either?”

“Haven’t gone since Monday.” Toni replied. “Hey, are you up for a movie later?”

“Sure, your place or mine?” Hazel asked.

“Yours definitely.” Toni said laughing a little. “See you in a bit.” She cut the line.

Hazel set down her phone. She sighed. Another night of awkward silence.
* * *
“I don’t get it.” James said in frustration. “How could an eighteen year old girl be this good at evading the police?”

“Considering all that she was able to pull off, I am not surprised.” Corbin replied. “She is probably in Kansas by now.”

“Probably.” James said. “Have you gotten a hold of Alex?”

“Funny thing, I called the office in Los Angeles, and they said he was on assignment. Classified.” Corbin said.

“Feds and their classified jobs.” James snorted. “Any progress on Ben Adrian?”

“Yeah his credit card was swiped at a gas ‘n’ sip not far from here.” Corbin said. “You think he is helping his girlfriend hide?”

“It is possible.” James said. “But if he has been lying this long we’ll never get him to talk. It’s best we keep following him.”

Corbin nodded. “Maybe he’ll lead us to her. That is, if she isn’t in Kansas already.”

“True that.” James said. “Well so far Hazel’s story checks out. It doesn’t look like Jasmine killed Jeremiah. She was in school then.”

“How about Thomas Bridges?” Corbin asked. “She admitted to being in his house right in our kill zone.”

“Yeah, but why would she lie when she was already blown?” James asked. “I don’t know, there is something else going on here.”

“You keep thinking that.” Corbin said standing up. “But I say we have got our killer.”

“Where are you going?” James asked.

“Gonna patrol a little bit.” He replied. “Wanna come along?”

“We have got a bunch of paper work to deal with.” James said.

“And they’ll be here when you get back.” Corbin said. “Come on I am tired being cooped up in this place.”

James sighed and closed the file that was on the table. “Fine. But you are buying coffee.”
* * *
Jasmine set the remote on the table. She sat back and set her bowl of popcorn on her lap. She had seen this movie before, but it was the only thing on that was worth watching. She hated, motels, but they were a necessary evil.

There was a knock on the door. Jasmine grabbed the remote and hit the mute button. She got up from her bed and looked through the peephole. It was a guy with a hard face and a beards chin. She knew him. That was Frank. She opened the door.

“Were you followed?” Jasmine asked.

“Who you think you talking to?” Frank snorted. He handed her a brown package. “It’s all in there. Id’s, passport, Social security, a whole new Identity.”

Jasmine took the package.”Thanks.” She handed him a roll of cash. He put it in his jacket.

“How long so you think you can run?” Frank asked.

“I am not running.” Jasmine said. “I am buying time.”

“Whatever.” Frank said. “Stay sharp.” He exited. Jasmine closed the door. She picked up the remote and shut off the television. It was time to blow this joint.
* * *
Ben watched as the man with the bearded chin left the building. That was where she was. He waited until he got in his car and drive off. He was not going looking for a confrontation with him. He got down from his car and walked towards inside the building. He went to the receptionist.

“Hi, I’d like a room please.” Ben said to her.

“Okay give me a moment.” She disappeared through a door behind the desk. Ben grabbed the records book, and began to search it, he didn’t expect to see her real name or Zas, but he knew the kind of aliases she used. His eyes caught a name. Pearl Harbor, room seventeen. That was definitely her. He closed the book and rushed upstairs quickly before she came back.

He reached number seventeen. He was deciding whether to knock when the door opened and Jasmine stood in the doorway. Her eyes widened in shock and she grabbed him and pulled him inside, and shut the door.

“What are you doing here?” She hissed. “Do you know you are being followed?”

“What how do you know?” Ben said defensively.

“Because I have been tracking your credit cards you moron.” She said. “If the cops had any brains, they’d be doing the same too.” She grabbed her bag I am getting out of here.

“Wait,” Ben grabbed her arm. “I want what you have on me.”

Jasmine grabbed his arm and twisted it. She heard his bones snap and she swept his legs from under him. He fell on his back.

“Ow.” He complained. “You broke my arm.”

“You are lucky that was the only thing I broke.” She said angrily. She took out a thumb drive and tossed it to him. “There it is.” She said. “Goodbye Ben.”
* * *
James phone rang. He picked it up. “Hello?” He said into the phone.

“Our boy just entered a motel downtown.” Officer Bruce said. “And get this, he didn’t check in.”

“He is going to see her.” James said, motioning for Corbin to turn the car around. What is the address?

James listened to the address as Corbin turned and started speeding in the other direction. “Thanks.” James said after a while. “Secure the area, do not let anyone leave” He hung up the phone.

“They found them?” Corbin asked.

“Yep.” James said. “They are in a motel downtown.”

“What do you think his role is in all this?” Corbin asked.

“I don’t know.” James said. “But it isn’t a coincidence he ran away, the same time Jasmine did.”

Five minutes later they were at the motel. There were cops surrounding the place. James went up to Bruce.

“Where are they?” James asked.

“No one has left the building.” Bruce said. He pointed at a blue car. “That is Adrain’s car. They should still be inside.”

Corbin cussed out loud. “Did you try to find them?” He asked.

“No I was waiting for backup.” Bruce said looking confused.

“Backup? They are a couple of kids.” Corbin un-holstered his gun and went inside, James behind him. He went up to the receptionist, and flashed his badge. “We are looking for a guy, white, jet black hair, green eyes, eighteen years.”

“A guy like that came up to check in. But when I left to get the book he disappeared.”

“Let me see your records.” James said. She handed it to him and he flipped through it while Corbin described Jasmine to her. His eyes caught a name.

“Pearl Harbor. That’s her.” He said pointing at the book.

“How do you know that?” Corbin asked.

“It’s a cliché.” James said. “A variation of her name and her town. She is in room seventeen”

Corbin and James rushed upstairs. They got to room seventeen and James banged on the door. “Police open up.” He bellowed. There was no answer
Corbin nodded and they kicked the door in. It was……….empty.

“What the hell?” Corbin yelled. “Where are they?”
There was a noise in the hallway. James peeked to see a figure in a hoodie get into an elevator. Long brown hair peeked out if the sides. “Stop!” He yelled. He rushed to the stairs Corbin behind him. He got to the ground floor, pressed the button for the elevator and waited for it to open. After about a minute it opened. There was no one there.

“Where did she go?” Corbin asked.

James looked around in confusion. Then he saw Ben running towards the exit. “Freeze!” He yelled running towards him. He reached him and tackled him to the ground. “O’Brian get Jasmine.” He said while cuffing him. Corbin ran back upstairs. Bruce came up and James handed him to Bruce. He ran after Corbin. They got to the hallway. It was clear.

“How many floors are in this building?” Corbin asked.

“Just two.” James said panting. “How did she get out of the elevator.” He wondered aloud.

Corbin smacked his head. “She never went down. She is somewhere on this floor.”

They started opening rooms. Then they heard a crash from one side of the building. They ran in the direction of the noise and found a broken window. Then they heard a ding and saw Jasmine in the elevator. She waved at them mockingly as it closed. “Stay here.” James told Corbin as he ran downstairs to intercept her. But when he got down stairs, the door was already opened and she wasn’t in sight. He went outside

“Where is she?” He bellowed at Bruce.

“She who?” Bruce asked.

“Jasmine.” James yelled. “She was in that elevator.”

“No one has come out.” Bruce replied.

James went back inside and looked around. There was a service exit at the end. He ran to it and opened it. It led outside, to the parking lot. James exited and looked around, but he knew in his heart there was no use. She was gone.
* * *
“You let a teenage girl evade you?” Jones thundered. “How did this happen?”

“She used Adrian as a distraction sir.” James said. “She managed to get away using a service exit.”

“A service-” Jones spluttered. He put his hands in his face. “Where is Adrian?”

“He is the interrogation room.” James said.

“Go see what he knows.” Jones said.

“Will do sir.” James replied. He left the office and headed for the interrogation room. This was all Bruce’s fault. It was his incompetence that let Jasmine escape.

He got to the interrogation room and opened the door. Corbin was already there. He was sitting across Ben.

“The nitpick wouldn’t say anything.” Corbin said as James entered.

“That’s fine.” James replied. “We will just charge him for murder.”

“Whoa hold on, murder?” Ben exclaimed. “I didn’t do anything.”

“Didn’t do anything?” James snorted. “You helped a fugitive escape. Who is to say you haven’t been helping her this whole time?”

“I didn’t help her escape.” Ben retorted. He moved his right arm uncomfortably. James noticed.

“What happened to your arm?” James asked.

“A gift from Zas.” Ben said wincing. “She broke my arm.”

Corbin laughed. “You got beat up by a girl? What were you doing there?” Corbin asked. “Why were you meeting her?”

“I am not saying anything.” Ben said. “Unless we can work out some sort of deal.”

“I thought you didn’t do anything?” James asked.

“I may have done some things.” Ben said. “Not murder though.” He said quickly. “I swear I didn’t kill anyone.”

“Okay, tell us what you know, and we’ll work out something.” James said. “It’s the best I can do.”

Ben hesitated. There was dead air in the room for a minute. Then Ben started talking. “Jasmine caught me stealing test questions last year. She started using that to blackmail me to do things for her.”

“Like what?” James asked.

“Drop bags at random places. I didn’t know what was in them until I opened it one day and found out they were drugs.” Ben said.

“So you committed a bigger crime, to cover a smaller one?” James asked.

“I didn’t know they were drugs.” Ben protested. “When I told her I didn’t want any part of it, she put those test questions they found in my locker, and tipped off the principal.”

“So Jasmine stole them not you.” James asked.

“No I did. I just didn’t keep them in my locker.” Ben replied.

“Okay, so why were you hanging out with Carla?” James asked.

“Carla and I became friends after the test question incident. When she was on the run. Jasmine wanted me to keep an eye on her to make sure she was okay.” Ben replied.

“But Jasmine killed Carla.” James said.

“No, that was Jeremiah.” Ben said. “Jasmine got her money back, but Carla thought Zas tried to kill her, so she ran. Jeremiah killed her, that’s what Jasmine told me.”

“No, Jasmine did kill her.” James said. “She confessed to Hazel.”

Ben slumped in his seat. “So I was framing Jeremiah for no reason?”

“Wait what do you mean you were framing him?” Corbin asked leaning forward.

“Everything you guys found that pointed to Jeremiah, Jasmine and I put it there.” Ben said. “The Van? We moved that. When the girls came clean to you about the money? That was my Idea, so it would lead to Jeremiah. Jasmine convinced me Jeremiah killed her. That bitch! ” Ben slammed his fists into the table.”

“So you had no Idea who killed Tom either?” Corbin asked.

“It was probably Jasmine right? If she lied about Carla, she would lie about him too.” Ben said.

“We don’t think she killed Tom.” James said. “So if you know something else now would be the time.”

Ben hesitated. “Jeremiah had someone helping him. I don’t know who it was. Jasmine does.”

“How do you know?” Corbin asked.

“She was having me keep tabs on him.” Ben said. “Jeremiah kept meeting up with this person. I never saw his face.”

“So how does Jasmine know who it was? Corbin asked.

“That hack Tom did.” Ben said. “Jasmine thought it was her name that’s why she stole his computer. But it was him.”

“And Jasmine never told you his name?” Corbin asked.

“No.” Ben said. “She said it was leverage.”

“Techs are going through that laptop right now.” James said. “We should be able to find out who that person is.”

“Don’t bother.” Ben said. “Jasmine swapped the hard disk. She has the real one.”

“Wonderful.” James said sardonically. “Guess we have to find her.”
* * *
Keith sat in front of his father’s tombstone. He reached into his backpack and pulled out a can of soda. He popped the lid and took a long sip. He set it down.

“So Jasmine is still at large.” Keith began facing the tombstone. “Me and mum didn’t tell the cops we found the laptop in her room. They still figured it out anyway. But it’s only a matter of time before they find out. How long can she run for anyway?”

“I’m surprised you have little faith in me Keith.” A familiar voice said coming from behind him.

Keith turned to see Jasmine walking beside him, wearing a baseball cap over her head. Her hair was cropped short. “Jasmine.” He hissed. “What are you doing here?”

“I knew I’ll find you here, duh.” Jasmine said.

“The police are watching Mom and I.” Keith said. “Why aren’t you leaving town?”

“No one is watching us right now, I made sure of that.” Jasmine said. “As for leaving town, I still have a lot of things to do.”

“Why did you do it?” Keith asked.

“It’s a long story.” Jasmine said. “Just want to let you know. You are covered.”

“Covered for what?” Keith asked.

“Everything.” Jasmine said. “I set up a trust for you.”

“You want me to take drug money?” Keith asked.

“It just money.” Jasmine said. “And I also came to give you this.” She handed him an envelope.

“What is this?” Keith asked, glancing down at the paper.

“It’s a letter I wrote for your sixteenth birthday.” Jasmine said. “It’s corny stuff.” She pulled the hoodie over her head. “Take care Keith.” She ruffled his hair and walked away.

“Wait.” Keith said staring up from the letter, but Jasmine was already gone.
* * *
“My father is moving to Harbor.” Toni said.

“Wait what?” Hazel asked sitting up.

“Yeah, he told me yesterday.” Toni said. “Apparently, he said Carla’s mom was mishandling his company.”

“What are you going to do about it?” Hazel asked.

Toni laughed. “I am going to college in the fall. I’ll hardly see him.” There was a few minutes of silence. Then Hazel broke the ice

“Do you know where Jasmine applied to?” Hazel asked.

“Stanford.” Toni said surprised. “Why are you asking?”

“She told me she applied for a scholarship last year. We didn’t know about it. Do you think we were bad friends?” Hazel asked.

“We are not to blame for what happened.” Toni said. “This is all Jasmine’s doing.”

“I just can’t help thinking if we were better friends-” Hazel said but Toni cut her off.

“Don’t beat yourself over this.” Toni said. There was a knock on Hazel’s door. “Come in” Hazel called out. It opened and her butler walked in.

“Ms Stuart, you have a package he said handing a brown parcel to her.

“Thanks.” Hazel said, taking it from him. As he closed the door, Hazel started opening it.

“Who is it from?” Toni asked.

“I don’t know.” Hazel said undoing the wrapper to reveal a box. Hazel opened it to reveal a picture frame. It was The four of them. Jasmine, Carla, Hazel and Toni. There was a note attached to it.

“For all the good times” Hazel read aloud. “Love, Jaz.”

“Why is she sending you this?” Toni asked.

“I guess it’s an apology or something.” Hazel said. “Wait there is something on the back of the note.” She looked out it and read aloud. “D.O. killed Tom.”

“Who is D.O?” Toni asked confused.

Hazel widened her eyes. “Oh my God. We have to call Detective Ashwood right now.”

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

“You know, you can keep screaming but no one will hear you.” Jasmine said as Hazel kept screaming at the top of her lungs.

Jasmine rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Come on Hazel, you can’t possibly be afraid of me. How many times have we been alone together?”

Hazel continued screaming. Jasmine grabbed a piece of cloth and stuck it in Hazel’s mouth. “Will you just shut up.” She said crouching at eye level with Hazel. Hazel’s screams were muffled coming from the cloth. “I just want to talk.”

Hazel spat the cloth out. “Talk? You kidnapped me and tied me up and you just want to talk?” She said indignantly.

“Finally, a coherent sentence from you.” Jasmine said standing straight up. “I was beginning to think you have brain damage.”

“No, you are the one who as brain damage.” Hazel said angrily. “How many people have you killed huh? Three? Four? And that’s not including those who you tried to kill.”

“Wow, so you are just throwing me into the fire.” Jasmine said. “You don’t even care about my side.”

“Oh my God would you listen to yourself?” Hazel said. “You kill people and now you are trying to justify it.”

“I am not okay.” Jasmine yelled. “Don’t try to prove you are better than me, you self-righteous bitch!”

Hazel cringed. She had never seen Jasmine lose her cool that way. This was not the same person she knew.

“Sorry,” Jasmine said calming down. “It has just been a really stressful,” she paused. “year.” She completed.

Hazel looked around her. She was in a room, with only one window. The walls were musty and there were cobwebs in the corners. “Where are we?” She asked.

“In an abandoned house of highway 74.” Jasmine said. “There is nothing around us for miles.”

“Great, so you brought me here to kill me. Just like you killed Carla.” Hazel said.

“Carla was an accident.” Jasmine snapped. “I didn’t mean to kill her.”

“Yes you did.” Hazel said. “John told me about all the drugs. So you are him right? Zas? I bet you killed her because she was onto you.”

Jasmine laughed derisively. “Trust me, Carla didn’t have a clue.” She said. “Well, until the end.”

“How about the others huh?” Hazel said. “The ME? Tom? Probably Jeremiah. I bet his death wasn’t even a suicide.”

Jasmine laughed. “You think I would sneak into a police holding cell and kill someone?”

“I don’t know what you are capable of.” Hazel said.

“Yeah well I can assure you Hazel,” Jasmine said. “I didn’t kill any of them. Someone else did.”

*                                                   *                                                                          *

“No.” Toni said fiercely shaking her head. “I don’t believe it.”

“I know this is hard to understand.” James said. “But it is true. She is the killer.”

“Where is Hazel.” Toni asked. “Jasmine was going over to her house last time I saw her.”

“We haven’t been able to get in touch with her.” James said. “I suspect Jasmine has her.”

“Oh my God.” Toni gasped. “You don’t think anything has happened to her do you?”

“I don’t know.” James said. “But you have all been alone with her right?”

“Yeah.” Toni said. She buried her face in her hands. “I don’t believe it’s been her all this time.”

“So you never noticed anything strange in her behavior this past few weeks?” James asked.

“Jaz has always been weird.” Toni said. “But after Carla’s funeral she seemed more withdrawn. Kind of like sad.”

“Do you have any idea where she might be hiding?” James asked.

Toni thought for a moment. “No, I have no idea.” Toni said. “I guess never really knew her..”

“Okay how about Hazel?” James asked. “Do you know where she can be?”

“You think they are in this together?” Toni asked.

“We have to consider it yeah.” James said.

“Well, Hazel could be in Newport,” Toni started. “Or her aunt’s house, it’s about forty miles from here.”

“So that day you found Tom,” James began. “Where was Jasmine? Was she at school? Where was she after school?”

“I don’t really know.” Toni said. “I saw her at school, but we were fighting that day, so I didn’t see her for most of the day.”

“Do you know who she was with?” James asked.

“She was with Hazel for most of the day I think.” Toni said. “I remember Hazel mentioning she spent some time in the chemistry lab with her.”

“Chemistry lab? As in making drugs?” James asked.

“It was the school’s chemistry lab so I don’t think so.” Toni said.

“Okay,” James said. “Hang tight. Your parents would soon be here.”

*                                              *                                                                *

Hazel couldn’t believe the words coming out of Jasmine’s mouth

“You didn’t kill them? If you didn’t then who did?” She asked indignantly.

“That is valuable information.” Jasmine said. “One I am not willing to share, yet” She said.

“What’s the point?” Hazel said. “You are going to kill me anyway. The least you can do is give me answers.”

Jasmine sighed. “Okay what do you want to know?”

“Did you kill Carla?” Hazel asked.

“Yes.” Jasmine said.

Hazel was taken aback. She didn’t expect such a blunt answer from her. “Why?” She asked.

Jasmine pulled up a chair, turned it backwards so the back rest faced Hazel and sat down. “Okay, let me start from the very beginning. Last year, I was in desperate need of cash. So I sold a couple of pills.”

“What kind?” Hazel asked.

“ADD medication.” Jasmine said. “I swiped them from my brother’s medication.”

“What did you need cash for?” Hazel asked.

“My chemistry project.” Jasmine said. “Not everyone that has rich parents to take care of all their problems.”

“Of course.” Hazel muttered. Chemistry genius.”

“Yeah I bet it makes sense now right?” Jasmine said cocking her head to one side. “Anyway I burned through my brothers pills. completed my project, but surprise surprise, I didn’t win it.”

“Win what?” Hazel asked.

“The scholarship.” Jasmine said.

“I didn’t know you entered for a scholarship last year.” Hazel said.

“Because I didn’t tell anyone.” Jasmine said. “Anyway, I knew I had to make my own way through college, so selling those pills gave me an idea.”

“So you became a drug lord-or lady-to get college money.” Hazel said skeptically.

“Okay I didn’t become a drug lord.” Jasmine said annoyed. “And It wasn’t just for me, it was also for my brother. Don’t make judgments you entitled piece of-”

“Okay okay, I get it” Hazel said apologetically. Jasmine’s temper was rising again.

Jasmine calmed down. “First I needed some more amphetamines so I wet to the only person I knew who had them. Jeremiah.”

“John told me he didn’t know who you were.” Hazel said.

“And he didn’t duh.” Jasmine said. “He just thought I was speeding. I told him I had a tough test coming up. So he bummed me some, and I studied it, and came up with a whole new formula.”

“Who did you test it on?” Hazel asked slowly squinting her eyes and looking at Jasmine with suspicion.

“What? Just on me okay.” Jasmine said. “I am not some kind of monster.”

“You? Took amphetamines.” Hazel said snorting with laughter.

“What did I say about judging?”

“Sorry.”

“So, I got the formula right, made the drugs and delivered it to the only drug dealer I knew. Jeremiah.” Jasmine said. “He didn’t know who I was. I was leaving it like gifts in his car, storage locker, and he paid me using an offshore account I had access to.He never had a clue who was doing all that.” Jasmine said smiling. “I actually felt bad-ass.”

“Okay I get it.” Hazel said. “You were a bad-ass. What does this have to do with Carla?”

“Few months ago,Carla found out what John was dealing with Jeremiah.” Jasmine continued. “I didn’t care, it wasn’t my problem until she started sending me messages. So she got on my nerves so I told Jeremiah to cut John loose. Jeremiah did, but Carla still wanted me to stop dealing all together.. So I tried to give her a scare. I jumped her when she alone at night. But she didn’t stop. Her and Tom went after my lawyer.”

“Who?” Hazel asked.

“Moraine Heathway.” Jasmine said simply. “Carla’s mom.”

*                                                          *                                                              *

“Still haven’t found the girls?” Jones asked.

“No not a sight.” James said. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think Hazel is in this with Jasmine.”

“Let’s not conclude yet, until we have all the facts.” Jones said. “Where is O’Brian?”

“He is doing some legwork.” James said. “He’ll call me with updates shortly.”

Jakes came up. “I just came from The Stuarts mansion. Hazel’s red sedan is gone.”

“So that’s their getaway car.” James mused. “Where is it?”

“Well, traffic cams spotted it on a road leading to Highway 74.” Jakes said. “I reckon that’s the direction they went.”

“North or south?” James asked.

“What?”

“Did they take north or south.” James asked.

“Uh, I don’t know” Jakes said.

“Find out.”

*                                                                            *                                                                     *

“See a while back.” Jasmine continued. “I knew I had to have a reasonable explanation for where I was getting that money. So I hired Moraine Heathway as my lawyer to set up a trust.”

“Why her?” Hazel asked.”

“Cause I had dirt on her.” Jasmine said. “She was siphoning money from her client’s trust accounts so I blackmailed her into helping me.”

“So Carla found out?” Hazel said. “So you killed her.”

“Don’t jump the gun.” Said Jasmine. “She found out her mother was helping Zas, which was a name I used to communicate with Jeremiah and sometimes Carla. So she and Tom started stealing files to try to uncover my Identity. Fortunately, I used an alias, John Smith. But unfortunately that helped her find my account, and she had Tom hack it and steal all my money.”

“How much?” Hazel asked.

“Fifty Grand.” Jasmine said. “It wasn’t all of it, but still that’s when I got mad. By then, Jeremiah was tired and wanted out, but just like Carla, I had a lackey, who had been helping me collect dirt on Jeremiah.”

“Who?” Hazel asked.

“Not important.” Jasmine said. “Actually, very important, but I am not sharing. So I tasked Jeremiah with getting it back for me, but he failed, so then I quietly suggested to you that we go to Newport for spring break.”

“So that was just part of your plan?” Hazel gasped.

“Yes. I knew Carla would bring the money with her. Remember those huge bags she carried? That I coyly asked why she packed so much?”

Hazel nodded her head. “Yeah.”

“The money was in one of them.” Jasmine said “So I told Jeremiah to search her room, just to make him feel like he was doing something, then when we had spent a few days in Newport, I texted Carla to give me some face time at the Gala. I had Jeremiah set that up.”

“But you were in Newport” Hazel said slowly.

“Yes.” Jasmine said. “I searched her bags and found the money. But I didn’t take it, ‘cos that would have made it easier to figure out it was me. So I stayed quiet for a few days planning my move. Then I told Jeremiah to join me in Newport.”

“So it would look like it was him who stole it.” Hazel guessed.

“Gold star.” Jasmine said. “So I lured him to the house and clubbed him over the head. I had my lackey take pictures just to be sure I had evidence of him in the house, I went upstairs to get the money, but Carla was there.”

“She saw your face?” Hazel asked.

“No.” Jasmine said. “I was dressed in a hoodie. I tried clubbing her on the head too, but I missed. There was a struggle, and Carla got away.”

“With the money?” Hazel asked.

“No, she left it there.” Jasmine said. “I knew it was a matter of time before she called you guys, because she obviously thought I was trying to kill her,”

“Weren’t you?” Hazel asked.

“No, I just wanted the money.” Jasmine said. “So I changed, and by the time I was done, you and Hazel were getting home.”

A light dawned on Hazel, “You were the first to see all the damage.”

“Yeah.” Jasmine said. “So when Carla called and told us about the money, I thought, who better to hide it than, Hazel. The girl who sucked at hiding things. Really? In the cupboard in your basement? That was too easy.”

“So you stole it.” Hazel said.

“Damn straight.” Jasmine said. “I only had one problem. Carla was still out there running from nothing. Luckily, I had my lackey keeping a close eye on her.”

“Ben.” Hazel said suddenly. “That’s who was helping you.”

“You do realize the more you know the more reason I have to kill you right?” Jasmine said.

“Sorry” Hazel said.

“Anyway, when Carla saw John, freaked out and ran to Hazel’s house, Ben called me. So I intercepted her when she left, and I came clean.”

“You did what?” Hazel asked shocked.

“I am not the monster you though me to be right?” Jasmine smiled. “We were in the forest then. At the spot she used to meet Ben. So after I finished, that bitch told me she couldn’t take it, and told me to turn myself in.”

“She was probably scared.” Hazel said.

“Yeah she was.” Jasmine said, her face blank. “I could see it in her eyes. She tried to get away, but I couldn’t let her leave.” Jasmine said, her eyes beginning to water. “Not without trying to explain. So we struggled and for a moment, I got angry. Just a tiny moment. Enough time to bash Carla’s head in the tree. And again. And again.”

Hazel put her hands to her mouth. “So you killed her. And Ben knew?”

Jasmine shook her head wiping her eyes. “No, I told him it wasn’t me.” Jasmine said. “I texted him from Carla’s phone asking him to meet so he could find her there. Then I called Jeremiah, and told him what I had done. And just one tiny part of me wanted to make him suffer, so I told him I framed him for it. Then he went all psycho, stole her body, and killed the ME in the process.”

“What about Tom?” Hazel asked.

“He was still sniffing around trying to find out who I was.” Jasmine said. “So the day he died, I went to his house with every intention of killing him. I mean, I figured, why can’t I do it again, right? So I broke into his apartment waited for him, but I changed my mind.”

“Just like that?” Hazel asked.

“Well, I didn’t want to be a killer.” Jasmine said. “So when he walked in I clubbed him in the head, and stole his computer. I don’t know what he had, but it definitely wasn’t my name, I checked. So I left him on the floor and went home.”

“So who killed him?” Hazel asked.

“Who else saw him that night?” Jasmine asked.

“Oh my God.” Hazel covered her mouth. “Toni.”

*                                                          *                                                                     *

“We found something sir.” Jakes said. coming up to James.

“What is it?” James asked him turning around.

“We found a camera on La pate avenue showing the car turning on 74 north. The road is a restricted forest there, so I bet that’s where they are.”

“Great, let’s go.” James said.

*                                  *                                                       *

“Your mind sure goes to dark places huh.” Jasmine said. “No, Toni didn’t kill her brother.”

“Then who did?” Hazel asked.

“Well, it’s probably whoever he found in that payroll.” Jasmine said.

“But you had the computer.” Hazel said. “You saw whoever it was that Jeremiah found.”

“Yes I did.” Jasmine said. “But I am not going to tell you.”

“Why? Who am I going to tell?” Hazel said.

“It’s my last bargaining chip okay?” Jasmine said. “I am not telling anyone.”

“Okay fine, so what happened to Jeremiah?” Hazel asked.

“The van he used to steal Carla’s body, I stole it from where he buried her and put Carla’s phone in there.” Jasmine said. “I wasn’t going to let Carla’s body rot in the back of a sawmill factory.”

Hazel shook her head. “So you kept on framing him? Why? What did he do to you?”

“He is an entitled brat who sells drugs, not because he needs to make money, but for the fun of it. Why not?” Jasmine spat.

“If you stole that money, why would you encourage us to tell the police about it?” Hazel asked.

“Okay first of all, I didn’t steal the money. I was simply taking back what was mine. And I knew leading the police to the money would lead them to Jeremiah.”

“You said you didn’t kill him. So he committed suicide?” Hazel asked.

“No.” Jasmine said. “Someone did kill him. The person on his payroll.” Jasmine got up from her chair and looked out the window. It was getting dark/ outside.

“How about Mrs Heathway” Hazel asked. “Why did you try to kill her?”

Jasmine shifted uncomfortably. “Well, when she found out I was the one who killed Carla, she tried to turn me in.” Jasmine said. “I without thinking, I hit her, and she fell. There was blood everywhere, I thought she was dead. So I buried her in the woods. Apparently I was wrong.” Jasmine reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone.

Hazel slumped in her chair. “So, what are you going to do with me now?”

“Yeah, Hazel.” Jasmine said taking out a knife. “What am I going to do with you?”

*                                                             *                                                                          *

They had completely surrounded the building. They had scanned the area and found nothing but one old abandoned house in the forest. Hazel’s red sedan was nowhere in sight. But there were signs of movement in the house.

“Think she is in there?” Corbin asked James as they got down from the car.

“This is the only place they could have gone.” James said. He took out a bull horn. “This is the police. You are completely surrounded. Come out with your hands in the air.”

“She has a hostage.” Corbin said. “There is no way she would come out.”

A few seconds later, a figure emerged from the building. It was a girl, she walked slowly putting her hands up. The light hit her face. It was Hazel.

“She is gone.” Hazel said.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“Where did you get this?” Hazel gasped. “When you said you had something to show me I never knew It would be this big.”

Keith glanced at John for a second. “Yeah that’s the thing I-” Keith started, but before he could finish, all of a sudden, there was a flurry of activity  in the graveyard. Men in uniforms flooded everywhere telling them to put their hands up. They obliged. The police handcuffed three of them.

“Not this again.” Hazel mumbled, as she was cuffed. “I am sick of you guys.”

“The feeling is mutual.” James said stepping forward. “You are under arrest for the murder of Carla Heathway.”

Thirty minutes later they were at the station.

“You gave us quite a chase Ms Stuart.” James said, as Hazel sat before him in the interrogation room. “I was surprised when you were not in school. Then I checked Carla’s phone. She has that find my friends and family app. And there you were with a known fugitive.With a possession only Thomas Bridges’ Killer would have.”

“What do you want me to say?” Hazel asked.

“What were you doing with that laptop?” James asked.

“Keith was showing it to me.” Hazel exclaimed. “You know, the fourteen year old boy you just arrested.”

“Oh, he has been released.” James waved his hands. “We called his mother, she came to get him immediately.”

“Why?” Hazel exclaimed. “He found the laptop.”

“Yes he did.” James said. “Just before he left with his mother, he said he found it behind the woodshed in the cemetery.”

“So why are you asking me what I was doing with it?” Hazel asked.

“Trick question.” James said. “Here is a real one, Is John Heathway staying at your house?”

“I am not answering that.” Hazel said. “I don’t know why I am still talking to you.”

“Yesterday, I talked with Carla’s Killer.” James said. “The location of that call was coming from your house. This was about Four. pm.”

“There you have it.” Hazel declared. “I was not even home then.”

“But John Heathway was.” James said. “You have been harboring him in your house since Wednesday night right?”

Hazel was silent for a moment. “Yes.” she finally replied. “But he is innocent.”

“Really?” James said. “Let me give you a recap. John and Jeremiah were drug dealers. Someone was supplying drugs to Jeremiah but he didn’t know who, that person happened to know his every moves, and where to leave him the drugs. John conveniently happened to be at his side through all that. That person finances were being represented by Moraine Heathway, who just happens to be John’s mother and lawyer. We caught Jeremiah. who claimed that person killed Carla Heathway. John saw Carla that night. Jeremiah committed suicide this morning, but I am beginning to believe your friend played a hand in that. Moraine Heathway was found yesterday. She had disappeared on Wednesday night the same night John did. She was buried alive but managed to climb out. She is in a coma now. Tell me, when John came to your house how did his clothes look?”

Hazel thought for a moment. “Muddy.” She finally said. “But-”

“There you go.” James said. “What else do you need?”

“John said he wanted to find put who was framing him.” Hazel argued. “That’s why we were in that graveyard. Keith said he found something”

“And that something happened to be Thomas Bridges’ Laptop.” James said. “Do you know Thomas gathered evidence of Carla killer on his laptop? It is password protected so we ares still trying to get into it, but did you consider he was only following you to destroy that evidence?”

“But if he killed Thomas wouldn’t he have the laptop?” Hazel retorted.

“Well maybe he killed Carla but didn’t kill Thomas.” James said. “Or maybe he did, but he stashed the laptop it somewhere and Keith found it. Let’s talk about the money Carla gave you. I assume John knows his way around your house?”

“Well yes.” Hazel said.

“There you go.” James said. “Did he ever come into your house during that time that money went missing?”

Hazel nodded her head tearfully. “He would come by often but-”

“There you go.” James said. “It has been him this whole time.”

“Detective would you listen to yourself?” Hazel cried. “You are suggesting that John Heathway not only killed sister, but also buried his mother alive.”

“Anyone who is sick enough to kill their sister, their own blood is capable of anything.” James snapped. He took a deep breath and regained his composure. “You are lucky we found you when you did. He could have been planning on killing you both after he destroyed that laptop.” He stood up. “Your parents are waiting for you outside. You are free to go.” He left the room. He left the room. He sighed a deep breath of relief. The case was over. They had caught the bastard.

*                                        *                                        *

“So what’s gonna happen?” Corbin asked James.

“Well, he lawyered up.” James said. “So It’s probably going to be a brutal trial, But we definitely have him.” James said. “As soon as we get into that laptop. We will have more proof.”

“How about Moraine Heathway?” Corbin said. “You think she would testify against her son?”

“Probably.” James said. “She was probably already going to, that is why John probably killed her.” They looked in the window where John sat. He was looking unremorseful with a stone cold expression on his face.

“Now that is the expression on a killer.” Corbin shuddered. “Why do you think he did it? The drugs?”

“Probably the high.” James said. “He probably felt like a puppet master pulling the strings.”

“So that sneaky guy was busy manipulating his friend while he looked around him for another face.” Corbin mused.

“You seem so upset about this.” James said

“Just expected it to be someone less obvious.” Corbin said. “How about our girl Hazel?”

“Yeah we are letting her go.” James said.

“Is that smart? I mean she might know something.” Corbin said.

“Highly doubt it.” James said. “It seems Heathway played her. The only thing she is guilty of is being naive.”

“Yeah, I heard your interrogation.” Corbin said. “You sure didn’t spare any feelings, huh?”

“That’s not my Job.” James said. He looked at his watch. “Gotta get some paper work done.”

“Ah, perks of catching a killer.” Corbin said. “I am heading to the hospital. I’ll call you if there are any developments.”

“Okay, sure” James said, walking away.

*                                            *                                                   *

“Jaz, have you seen this?” Toni asked Jasmine as she ran up to her. She showed Jaz her phone it was a text from Hazel.  It read ‘SOS’.

“Yeah I got one too.” Jasmine said. “I think I know what it’s about.”

“What?” Toni asked.

“I got a text from my mom.” Jasmine said. “She said, my brother got into some sort of trouble with Hazel. Told me to come home straight from school.”

“So you are going home?” Toni asked.

“I think I’ll swing by Hazel’s first.” Jasmine said opening her locker. “Why? Aren’t you coming?”

Toni held up a slip. “I have detention. Again. I think Mrs Glass hates me.”

“Because you are a smart mouth.” Jasmine said smiling. “What name did you call her this time?”

“I didn’t. I just said she was old.” Toni said.

“Toni.” Jasmine said reproachfully.

“It’s true.” Toni said defensively. “It’s not my fault she is overly sensitive about her age.”

“If you are in your thirties and not yet married you would be too.” Jasmine said. She looked at her watch. “I think I am going to cut last period. I don’t want my mom to know I didn’t come straight home.”

“You. Cut last period.” Toni laughed. “I thought I’d never see the day.”

“Yeah me neither.” Jasmine muttered. “I’ll text you the details.” She closed her locker and left.

“Yeah you do that.” Toni said. She watched Jasmine go before returning to her class.

*                                                 *                                                                *

“So this is it?” Jones said to James.

“Yeah, finished the last report.” James said.

“Have you resolved the security camera issue?” Jones said. “About Gates suicide.”

“We are still working on that.” James said. “But there is nothing from the ME’s report that says he didn’t commit suicide.”

“Hmm.” Jones murmured inspecting James work. “Good work.” He said looking up. “Any word from the FBI?”

“Not yet.” James said. “I sent word to Agent Stone that we found Moraine Heathway, but I didn’t get a reply.”

“There would be soon.” Jones predicted. “After all their suspect is a witness in this case.”

There was a knock on the door. Jakes peeked his head in. “Detective Ashwood. Ethan Heathway is here to see you.”

“That’s fine.” Jones said to James as he was standing up. “Let me talk to him.” He walked out the door. As James left Jones office his phone buzzed. James looked at the screen It was from Corbin.

“Hey what’s up?” James said.

“You should get down here now.” Corbin said. “Moraine Heathway is awake.”

*                                                                   *                                                                           *

“It was so messed up Jaz.” Hazel said throwing her clothes on the bed. “They were taking me apart like I was nothing.”

“So let me get this straight.” Jasmine said. “My brother found Tom’s laptop and he showed it to you? Why you?”

“Beats me.” Hazel said bringing out shoes. “He just called me and said he wanted to show me something. I can’t think about that right now.”

“So John is the killer?” Jasmine asked.

“That’s what they said, He and Jeremiah were selling drugs of some sort-I don’t know my brain is too muddled right now.”

Jasmine moved towards the window. “You said something about Carla’s mom.”

“Yeah, she was buried alive.” Hazel said throwing some clothes back in her closet.

“Buried Alive?” Jasmine exclaimed sounding shocked. “They found her body?”

“Not exactly.” Hazel said opening a suitcase. “She crawled. Out. Of. A. Grave” Hazel said punctuating each word. “She is in hospital right now.”

“Do you know which one?” Jasmine asked.

“No.” Hazel said. throwing clothes

“Where are you going?” Jasmine said eyeballing Hazel’s clothes.

“Ironic as it may seem, Newport.” Hazel said. “I can’t stay in this messed up town.”

“Maybe we should come with you.” Jasmine said moving away from the window.

“Yeah, maybe you should. Where is Toni?”

“Detention.” Jasmine said. “Is anyone else home?”

“It’s just me.” Hazel said. “My mom left.” Hazel stopped packing and froze.

“What is it?” Jasmine asked.

Hazel turned around. “The cops said, they were talking to the killer and the call came from inside this house.”

“Yeah well, John was in here right?” Jasmine asked picking up a hanger Hazel had dropped on the floor.

“Yeah he was hiding in the basement.” Hazel said. “The reception is terrible there.”

“Okay so?” Jasmine said.

“So, I am pretty sure John is innocent.” Hazel said. “I have known him almost all my life. He wouldn’t go homicidal on his whole family.”

“John is hardly innocent.” Jasmine said. “He was selling drugs remember?”

“I know, but what if someone else was here?” Hazel asked she diverted her eyes to the side of the room. “Who else was in here yesterday?” She asked, thinking hard. Jasmine bent down and picked something up. “My dad was here, you told me-” Hazel murmured and Idea starting to form in her head. “The laptop Keith found.” A horrific realization began dawning on her.

“Your suitcase is going to fall to the ground.” Jasmine said breaking Hazel out of her thoughts. Hazel turned towards her bed to put it upright and then, she felt a sharp blow on her head. Her head felt dizzy and she turned around to see Jasmine wielding her hockey stick. Jasmine struck again and then everything went dark.

*                                                             *                                                              *

She looked fragile and pale. Her head was bandaged. She  was laid on the hospital bed the heart monitor beside her bed beeping normally. James nodded to the two guards in front of the door. They let them in.

“Mrs Heathway.” James said gently. “Can you talk?” He asked. Moraine Heathway winced, and nodded. She tried to sit up but Corbin put his hand over her.

“Please don’t get up.” Corbin said. “We have a few questions.”

“Jasmine.” Moraine said, her voice hoarse. “Jasmine Green.”

“What are you talking about?” James asked confused.

“I was on my way to talk to you.” Moraine  said hoarsely. “She intercepted me. My head. The dirt. Cold.”

“Who intercepted you?” James asked.

“Jasmine Green.” Moraine Heathway said. “She killed my daughter.”

A wave of Ice washed over James. The killer was still out there. “Are you saying Jasmine Green is Zas?”

Moraine Heathway nodded. “I pieced it together after I talked to you. I made the mistake of confronting her about it.”

James nodded to Corbin. Corbin went outside and radioed it in. “Can you start from the beginning?”

*                                                            *                                                                   *

He picked up his phone and dialed a number. After a few rings someone answered on the other end.

“What?” Came Jasmine’s curt reply.

“You are blown.” He said. “Hide.”

“I already know that.” Jasmine said. “You should bring me more fresh news.”

“Well sorry if my spy skills aren’t enough for you.” He grumbled. “Where are you?”

“Taking care of something.” Jasmine said. “Hazel in particular.”

“She found out? Where are you taking her?” He asked.

“Somewhere private.” Jasmine said.

“No no no don’t kill her.” He said. “Do you hear me? Don’t hurt her.”

“Bye Ben.” Jasmine said. “It has been fun.” She cut the line.

Ben Adrian groaned in frustration. Things had gone from well to hell. He started his car. It was time to take care of number one.

*                                                    *                                                                *

“So it’s a chick that has been whacking people this whole time.” Corbin grinned as James sped towards the Green house. “Now that is much better.”

“You think this is funny?” James said. “There is a killer on the loose. Someone who looks innocent.”

“Relax. I mean she has been on the loose all this while right?” Corbin said.

“And look how many people turned up dead.” James said.

Corbin looked at James. “You seem really upset about this.”

James sighed. “I talked to this girl. I had no clue.”

“It is usually the person you least suspect.” Corbin said. “So are we just going to jump in there, guns blazing?”

The dispatch radio came on. James listened. “Damn.” He said after listening. “She isn’t at home.”

“You think she ran?” Corbin asked.

“Definitely.” James said. “How did she know anyway?”

“Well, her friend probably told her Moraine Heathway was alive.” Corbin reasoned.

“Damn. That’s right.” James said. “See if we can get in touch with Hazel Stuart or Toni Peters. Corbin dialed a number and called the station giving out specific orders.

“Done.” Corbin said hanging up. “They are dispatching officers to their houses now.”

“He was lying.” James said.

“Who?” Corbin asked.

“Keith.” James said. “When we asked him where he found that laptop. I bet you he found it in his sister’s room.”

“That’s why he took it to her best friend.” Corbin said as it dawned on him. “He knew she would protect her.”

“Exactly.” James said, as they arrived at the house. There were police cars already surrounding it. James and Corbin came down holding up their badges.

“Mrs Green.” James said as they came close to them. “We need to speak to your son.”

“I don’t think so.” Martha Green said. “And you don’t have a warrant so you can’t come in here.”

“Oh if you want one we can get it.” James said. “A warrant is being issued for your daughter’s arrest as we speak. Now if you are harboring a fugitive-”

“She isn’t here.” Martha Green said.

“Then why don’t you let us come in and search the house?” Corbin called out.

“It is best if you cooperate now.” James said. “And while you are at it, we’d like to speak to Keith.”

“Come in and search all you want.” Martha said. ‘But my son and I have nothing to say.”

*                                      *                                                *

The doorbell rang. “Alicia, door.” Toni called out. No reply. She sighed in frustration and got up from her bed. She walked down the stairs towards the door. The doorbell rang again, and this time accompanied with a knock.

“Coming, Jeez” Toni grumbled. She opened the door to find two officers outside. He heart jumped.

“Is there a problem?” She said fear creeping in her voice.

“I am afraid so.” One of them said. “Are your parents home?”

“No.” Toni said, shaking her head. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Where are your friends?” the officer asked.

“I don’t know.” Toni said. “I just got home, they were supposed to meet me here.”

“You need to come with us.” The officer said.

“Why?” Toni said.

“We will explain when we get to the station.” he said. “We can call your parents from there.”

“Okay fine.” Toni said. “Just let me grab some shoes.”

*                                               *                                                                 *

Jasmine secured Hazel firmly. Hazel was still unconscious. Her mouth was already covered with duct tape. She checked again to make sure she was still breathing. She was. Jasmine tied her legs firmly too.  Hazel began to stir. Jasmine checked all the windows and made sure they were airtight. She looked at Hazel’s phone. She had turned it off before they moved anywhere She put it in her purse. Hers was turned off too. Hazel was still trying to stretch. Jasmine re positioned her to make her more comfortable Hazel opened her eyes.

“You are awake. Just on time.” Jasmine said. “So I guess you must have a million questions?”

Hazel looked at her fiercely unable to talk.

“Oh right.” Jasmine said. “You can’t talk.” She went over to Hazel and removed the duct tape.

“So Hazel.” Jasmine said. “I guess you have a million questions for me. Go on.”

Hazel opened her mouth, and let loose a scream.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

“How did this happen?” James asked.

“Looks like he killed himself.” Corbin said pointing to a nail on the ground beside his outstretched hand. It was stained with blood.

“Is there anyway we can see what happened?” James asked. “How about surveillance cameras.”

“Yeah Jakes is pulling that up now.” Corbin said. “This is so freaking bizarre.”

“Perhaps he didn’t like the idea of going to jail.” James said watching as CSU examined the scene.

“Where did he get the nail from?” Corbin asked. “It doesn’t look like it was pulled from anywhere in the cell.”

“No it doesn’t.” James mused. “Could have lifted it from a desk outside.”

“Yeah well there goes our big witness against Zas.” Corbin grumbled. “What else are we doing about that?”

“Well it seemed Jeremiah was his only dealer.” James said. “We tried picking up John Heathway, but he too, has disappeared like his mother. We’ll have to just scout the streets now, see if there is any similar products being pushed around.”

“John Heathway disappears right after Jeremiah talks. And not long after his mother went off the grid. That is not a coincidence.” Corbin said.

“Think they are together?” James asked.

“Probably.” Corbin said, turning his head to the right as Alex walked up to them.

“Detectives.” Alex said as he got closer. “I am heading back to headquarters. My case here is done.”

“We haven’t caught Zas yet.” James said. “Doesn’t the FBI care about a drug dealer pushing his product around?”

“Just doing what I am told.” Alex said. “Came here to investigate Moraine Heathway. We have enough evidence to charge her.” He put his right hand in the air and waved. “See you around.” He turned and left.

“Does that seem suspicious to you?” James asked Corbin as they watched him walk away.

Corbin shrugged. “All Feds are weird.”

*                                  *                                       *

“You know, we have spent more time together than when Carla was alive.” Hazel said, as she and Toni drove down the road in her car.

“That’s a totally sensitive insensitive thing to say.” Toni laughed. “But yeah it’s true.”

“So what do you think about what Ben said?” Hazel said as she turned into a street.

Toni shrugged. “Makes sense. Jeremiah was in Newport that weekend. He could have been the person after Carla.”

Hazel shook her head. “But the Jeremiah I know isn’t a killer.”

“Maybe he isn’t the person you knew.” Toni said absent-mindedly as she studied the buildings on the side of the road. Hazel continued talking but Toni wasn’t listening.

“Earth to Toni.” Hazel called out, snapping her fingers at Toni’s face. “You totally spaced out.” She said.

“Sorry I was trying to remember something.” Toni said.

“What?” Hazel asked.

“That day we left for Newport.” Toni said. “That I saw John and Jeremiah in the grocery store?”

“Yeah but we told the cops that remember?” Hazel said.

“Yeah but, I could have sworn I saw John had Jeremiah a roll of cash.” Toni said. “I wasn’t sure at first but now after all that’s happened-”

“You think John hired Jeremiah to kill his sister?” Hazel finished grimly. “Has anyone ever told you have a dark mind?”

“What? You came to the same conclusion too.” Toni said. “Remember Carla’s grandmother? She left a bunch of money to them. What if John-”

“Killed her so all the money would go to him.” Hazel finished again. “There you go again.”

“I don’t know it’s like bad horrible thoughts are coming to my head.” Toni said covering her face with her hands. Then she removed them from her face abruptly. “Where are we?”

Hazel had pulled over to the side of the road. “Okay, don’t get mad but-”

“You brought me here.” Toni said with a stone cold voice.

“Sorry.” Hazel said. “But he made a compelling argument. He says he just wanted to give you something. Then you can go.”

Toni was silent for a minute. “Fine.” She grumbled. “But you owe me big time.”

*                                                      *                                                              *

“We got it” Corbin said, slamming the paper on the table. “The number Carla was using to communicate with Zas.”

“Excellent.” James said rubbing his hands. “Who is the number registered to?”

“To Zas” Corbin said. “It is one of those WiFi calling numbers. Anyway, there is no way of getting his real Identity.”

“So let’s call him.” James said. He picked up his phone and dialed a number. “Sonya, I am about to call out. Trace this call.” He hung up. He dialed the number on the paper. It rang three times. Then someone picked up.

“Zas enterprises.” a deep male voice said at the back ground. James didn’t recognize it.

“Am I speaking to Zas?” James asked.

“Who is this?” Zas asked.

“A fan.” James said. “I sampled your product. Let’s meet so we can talk business.”

“Don’t patronize me Detective Ashwood.” Zas said. “There is only one person who has this number and that person is dead. So you obviously got this number from her phone, which is in custody of the police.”

“Why did you kill Carla?” Jeremiah asked.

“Who says I did?” Zas asked. “How do you know it wasn’t that lowlife you have in your cell.”

“He says it’s you.” James said, signalling to Corbin to check on Sonya.

“Well he is a pathological liar.” Zas said. “Don’t believe everything he says.”

“Okay how about we meet up.” James said. “You can tell me the side of your story.”

“Nah.” Zas said. “I am out of business. I don’t need to tell my side. Besides you are tracing this call right? So we should be having some quality face time very soon.”

James chuckled. “You know all masterminds think they are smart. Until they get caught.”

“Call me whatever you want Detective.” Zas said. “I am just someone trying to provide for my family. I am sure you can understand that.”

“You got a kid?” James asked.

“Yeah something like that.” Zas said. “Aren’t you done? How long does it take to trace a call?”

“Just trying to get an accurate read.” James said. Corbin came back signalling a thumbs up. “But our time is up. Looking forward to seeing you.”

“Oh I’ll be seeing you alright.” Zas chuckled. At the background a door slammed shut. The line abruptly cut. James turned to Corbin.

“He is at Fifth and Holloway street.” Corbin said.

“Let’s go.” James said standing up. “Let’s get this bastard.”

*                                                      *                                                                    *

“Who were you talking to?” Toni asked Hazel as she got back in the car

“No one important.” Hazel said putting her phone back in her pocket. “You didn’t spend long in there.”

“No I didn’t.” Toni said. She pulled out  a book and handed it to Hazel. Hazel flipped through it. It was an album. In it was a young blonde who looked a lot like Toni, holding a baby. There were other pictures in the album featuring those people too.

“He gave it to me.” Toni said, answering Hazel’s unasked question. “That’s my mom and Tom.”

“Yeah I figured.” Hazel said sadly. “So you gonna see him again?”

Toni shrugged. “I don’t know.” She faltered. A man was walking towards the building. Dark hair, muscular, average height. “That guy seems familiar to me.”

“Who?” Hazel looked up squinting. She stared at him for a while. “I don’t know him.” She turned on the engine. “We better get going. Jaz is probably waiting at my house.”

“Sure.” Toni said. “Let’s get going.”

*                                                 *                                                            *

There was a knock on the door. “Come in.” Richard said as he poured himself a drink. The door opened and Alex walked in.

“Isn’t it a little bit early for a drink?” Alex asked.

“I just saw my daughter.” Richard said. “I need this.” He downed the whole glass at once.

Alex shrugged. “Well I got the information you asked for.” he handed over a folder to Richard

“How about her location? Did you find her?” Richard asked as he shuffled through the folder

“No she disappeared.” Alex said. “Her son too. No sign of either of them.”

“It doesn’t matter. I can make her go away with this.” He shook the folder. “By the way heard you went undercover. How did you manage that?”

Alex chuckled. “You don’t to know. Plausible deniability.”

“Come on.” Richard said. “Tell me.”

“I have friends everywhere.” Alex said. “Guy who makes fake badges, another guy who will make fake phone calls. It just takes a network.”

“Well, tip of my hat to you.” Richard said writing in a checkbook. “The world needs more PI’s like you.” He ripped off the check and handed it to him.

“Thanks.” Alex said. “I’ll see you around.”

*                                                      *                                                                          *

“So that was all for nothing?” Corbin asked. as they got back to the station.

“Seems so.” James said walking alongside Corbin. “Bastard cleared out before we got there.”

“Or he wasn’t even there at all.” Corbin said.

“Maybe.” James said. “But that wasn’t for nothing.”

“What do you mean?” Corbin asked.

“I am no expert,” James began, “But I am pretty sure that voice Zas used was digitized. That’s not his real voice.”

“So he was using a voice altering software.” Corbin asked.

“Definitely.” James said. “And another thing, Zas recognized my voice. He knew my name.”

“So you are saying this person knows you?” Corbin asked.

“Yes.” James. “And not just my reputation. This person must have heard me speak a number of times, to be able to recognize my voice. Even over the phone. Which means I have come in contact with this person.”

“Did you record that conversation?” Corbin asked.

“Definitely.” James said.

“They can crack it right?” Corbin asked. “Try and get the real person’s voice?”

“I already presented that to Sonya.” James said. “She was skeptical about that. But she is giving it a try.”

Just then, Jakes came up to Corbin and James. “The footage doesn’t exist.” He said without preamble.

“What are you talking about?” James asked.

“The footage of Jeremiah committing suicide.” Jakes said. “The cameras were out off, so we don’t have that.”

James groaned in frustration. “The coroner will tell us what we need to know.” He said after a while. “So we are back to square one? No leads, nothing?”

“At least we know his name.” Corbin said. “It’s only a mater of time.”

*                                            *                                                    *

“Where is Jasmine?” Hazel asked as they got home.

“Right here.” a voice said from her bedroom. Hazel went into the house and found Jasmine on her bed with her computer in front of her typing something.

“What are you doing.” Hazel asked, getting on the bed and glancing at Jasmine’s computer.

“Homework.” Jasmine said simply. “Where have you guys been?”

“Went on a little field trip.” Toni said. “What have you been up to besides homework?” Toni asked.

“Just homework.” Jasmine said. “Oh, and your dad came by looking for you.” She said to Hazel.

“Wait why is he home? He is never home at this time.” Hazel asked.

Jasmine shrugged, “Beats me.” She closed her laptop. “So have you guys heard about Jeremiah?”

“Oh Ben told you? Yeah we did. He confessed.” Hazel said.

“He confessed to killing Carla?” Jasmine asked with surprise. “Well, that explains it.”

“Yeah, why he was in Newport.” Toni said. “And why are you acting surprised.”

“Because I didn’t hear about that until now.” Jasmine said. “And remind me to ask you why Ben is feeding you information after I tell  you this.”

“Tell us what? What did you hear about Jeremiah?” Hazel asked.

Jasmine took a deep breath. “He is dead. He killed himself this morning.”

*                                                     *                                                           *

It was dark outside. Rain was pouring A woman crawled through the mud. There was nothing but forest around her. She was covered head to toe in dirt, which was normal considering she had climbed out of a shallow grave last night. She was exhausted, dehydrated. She was sure she could not survive another night without medical attention. She could feel her heart pounding weakly and her chest heaving, struggling to breathe. If only she could find the main road.

After crawling for what seemed like centuries, her hand hit the pavement. She saw a vehicle approaching with bright lights down the road. She half-stood up and waved with all her strength. “Help!” She called out weakly. The car didn’t slow down it sped past her. She collapsed to the ground and her eyes began to fade. Before her eyes closed, she saw the car slowing down and then stopping. Then slowly it began to back up. She fell into oblivion.

*                                                    *                                                    *

He was driving that night. Rain was pouring heavily on his windshields. Suddenly a car with bright lights came out of nowhere and slammed into him. Everything went dark for a moment, then suddenly he was back home in his room. The house he grew up in. His parents house. There was some noise in the living room. The lights in the hallway was bright to his sleepy eyes. He heard his father’s voice shouting. It was like a ringing sound in his ears. His mother’s voice pleading quietly. He found them arguing in the living room, his father drunk as hell, his mother cowering under him. For a moment he stood in the doorway. When his parents noticed him, the shouting stopped. His mother went to him and scooped him up. ‘Daddy is just angry’ she said. ‘go back to sleep everything will be fine in the morning.’ As she put him to bed. James woke up with sweat drenched on his body. His phone was ringing loudly. He picked it up.

“Ashwood speaking.” He said.

“Hey James.” Corbin’s voice said. “I got some news.”

“Jeez don’t you sleep?” James complained, wiping his eyes.

“Apparently not.” Corbin chuckled. “A woman fitting Moraine Heathway’s description was just checked into St James hospital.” Corbin said. “And get this, she was covered in dirt.”

“Dirt? As in buried?” James asked.

“Yeah.” Corbin said. “She is fine, just some dehydration, and exhaustion.” Corbin said. “Actually she is in a coma right now. We can’t see her until she comes out of it.”

“Where was she found?” James asked.

“Some good Samaritan found her at the roadside.” Corbin said. “But we can’t do anything right now. Guess we will have to wait till morning.”

“Yeah,” James said. “Everything will be better in the morning.” He mumbled.

“You sound like you need sleep.” Corbin said. “See you later.” He hung up.

‘Everything will be better in the morning.’ James thought bitterly. Those were the last words his mother ever said to him. In the morning, she was found dead.

*                                       *                                        *

“Jasmine you are going to be late.” Martha Green called out.

“Just a second mom.” Jasmine replied as she packed her books into her bag. She slung her bag over her shoulder and opened her bedroom door. Keith was standing there clutching a backpack.

“Great, your dressed can we go now?” He said scowling

“I thought you take the bus.” Jasmine said.

“Well I missed it, so I need a ride.” He said going downstairs.

“You want to be seen with your big sister.” Jasmine laughed. “Wouldn’t that ruin your reputation?”

“No one will actually see me with you.” Keith said. They both got down stairs, took their lunches and headed out the door.

When they were safely outside Keith spoke to his sister in a low voice.

“Actually, I am not going to school.” He said. “I need you to drop me off at the graveyard.”

“Again?” Jasmine said. “Why?”

“Nothing important.” He said. Jasmine looked at him skeptically. “Okay something important, but I promise I’ll make it to school.”

“You are gonna walk from there?” Jasmine asked.

“Someone will drop me off.” Keith said. “Just no questions.”

“Okay.” Jasmine said. “Just make it back to school.”

*                                        *                                                        *

“Where is Hazel?” Toni asked Jasmine as they walked down the hallway.

“I don’t know.” Jasmine said. “I assumed she was with you.”

“Well she isn’t.” Toni said. “She probably stayed home.”

“Right because of Jeremiah.” Jasmine said. “She really shouldn’t beat herself up. I mean she barely knew the guy.”

“The were childhood friends.” Toni scolded. “His parents lived next door to hers before they moved to their new house. Same with the Heathways too.”

“Okay sorry.” Jasmine mumbled. “I gotta get to class.” She walked towards the other direction. Toni watched her go. Her phone buzzed. It was from Hazel. She picked it up.

“Hey Hazel, where are you?” Toni asked.

“I am taking care of some things.” Hazel said. “I’ll be there by fourth period. Just tell Mrs. Glass I went home sick.”

“Okay-” Toni said, but Hazel had already hung up. Weird. Toni thought. She shrugged it off and headed for class.

*                                                     *                                                        *

Hazel got off the phone and entered the graveyard. It was eerily quiet. John Heathway was beside her wearing a hoodie.

“Is this where the kid said you should meet?” John asked.

“Yeah, but he doesn’t know you are here so stay hidden.” Hazel said. “You know I am gambling a lot trusting you.”

“I am gambling a lot trusting you.” John said. “For all I know you are the person who is after me.”

“True.” Hazel said. “But you are sure Jeremiah didn’t kill Carla?”

“Positive.” John said. “Where is the kid.”

“Right here.” A voice said from behind. The turned around and saw Keith Green standing behind them leaning on a tombstone. “Why did you bring him? He is wanted by the police.” He asked.

“Aren’t you a little young to be dealing with this kind of stuff?” Hazel asked.

“I am going to be fifteen next month.” Keith said. “That’s just three years younger than you.”

“Still young.” John said.

“Well I was old enough to figure out what you and Jerry were doing here.” Keith said. “I am always here remember?”

“Yeah I always wondered why you spent so much time here.” John said. Hazel smacked him upside the head. “What?” John demanded.

“My Father is buried here.” Keith explained. “That’s why she hit you for being an insensitive prick.”

“Oh sorry.” John mumbled. Hazel smiled. Keith was so much like his sister.

“So where is it?” Hazel asked. Keith motioned for them to follow him They obliged. They followed him to a small building. Keith ducked under the gate. He entered the building and after a few seconds reemerged with a back pack. He opened it to reveal a silver laptop inside.

“Is that what I think it is?” Hazel gasped.

“Yeah,” Keith said grimly. “That’s Thomas’ Laptop.”

*                                              *                                                     *

James was still going through papers in his office when Sonya walked in. “Detective?” She said tentatively.

“Yeah? what is it?” James said looking up.

“Turns out I was inaccurate yesterday.” Sonya began.

“What do you mean?” James asked.

“The location of the recipient, It turns out it wasn’t at the location I gave you. The recipient simply rerouted it there.” Sonya said.

“So did you find out the real location?” James asked sitting up eagerly.

“Yes.” Sonya said. “It was coming from inside the Stuart Mansion.”

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“His name is Zas.” Said Jeremiah.

“Zas?” James said skeptically. “What kind of name is that?”

“I don’t know alright?” Jeremiah said. “That’s what he called himself.”

“Himself? Did you speak to him?” Jeremiah asked.

“Yes I spoke to him a few times, but he texted more. And it was always over the phone.” Jeremiah said

“So you never spoke face to face?” James asked.

“No.” Jeremiah said. “I never saw him not even his shadow.”

“So, how did you do your deals?” James asked. “How did it all even start?”

“It started almost a year ago.” Jeremiah said. “I was making my rounds when I found this package in my car, with a note taped to the front. It said ‘try this.’ I opened it and found two capsules green in color. I thought it was from one of my buddies, so I tried it, and it was amazing. I mean I have never done anything like it. It was like my brain cells were super sharp and-”

“Okay skip that part. Just tell me what happened next.” James said.

“Well obviously I wanted to know who sent it to me, so I went to John.” Jeremiah said. “He said it wasn’t him. So I kept looking around but I couldn’t find the person. The two days later I received a call from some guy, and he asked me if I liked his gift.”

“What did his voice sound like?” James asked.

“It was deep, almost resonant.” Jeremiah said. James motioned for him to continue. “So he asked me if I wanted more, and I said yeah so he sent me another package this time containing about thirty capsules. I sold that pretty quick. Then after that he sent me some information on a link to deposit some money, and i return he would send me some more.”

“And you did?” James asked.

“No, I didn’t trust him. So I asked to meet, and he told me he didn’t want to meet, but If I felt uncomfortable, he could send me the drugs first and I could deposit the money later.”

“How much?” James asked.

“Three grand.” Jeremiah said. “So I found the package in my car again and in good faith I sent the money to him, because I wanted more.”

“And this continued?” James asked.

“Yeah.” Jeremiah said. “He would drop the packages in random places and I would send him money. Of course after a while he required a down payment first, and the packages became bigger.”

“So how did Carla come in?” James asked.

“Well, It wasn’t just me selling the drugs. John helped too. We were kind of partners, but about six months ago, Carla found out John was dealing HPC- that whats we were calling it- So she threatened to out him to his father unless he stopped. So we became more secretive. But we didn’t know she was still watching us. She even rented an apartment that overlooked one of our dealing sites.”

“Bridges apartment?” James asked

“Yeah, that’s the one. We caught on so obviously we moved. But she kept watching, even asking her boyfriend to spoof our phones. That’s how she found out about Zas.”

“So what did she do?” James asked.

“Well she started playing with fire. She got in touch with Zas telling him to stop supplying us, So Zas told me to cut John out of the deal.”

“So you did?” James asked.

“Yeah I did.” Jeremiah said. “But it wasn’t enough. Carla wanted HPC, off the market, so Zas decided she was too much trouble.”

“What did he do?” James asked.

“He attacked her. Gave her a good scare.” Jeremiah said. “But Carla didn’t scare easily. She continue doing what she was doing, Using her boyfriend to get information on Zas. I don’t know the specifics exactly,but I think Zas was a client of Moraine Heathway.”

“So what was Zas doing?” James asked.

“He continued threatening her up until a month ago, then she stole about fifty grand from him.”

“Fifty?” James asked.

“Yeah,” Jeremiah said. “And that sucked too, because that was my payment.  Zas told me to get the money back by all means or I will suffer too. By then I was tired, and I wanted out, But Zas had a lot of dirt on me that could bring me down. I tried to reason with Carla but she didn’t listen.”

“Did John know about all this?” James asked

“Bits and pieces.” Said Jeremiah. “When they were going on their trip I filled him in hoping he’d search Carla’s room for me.”

“Did he?” James asked.

“Yes, reluctantly.” Jeremiah said. “But he didn’t find it. Which means she took it with her. So Zas set a plan. He told me to lure her back to Harbor. While he had someone search the beach house in Newport.”

“So you did?” James asked.

“Yeah, I said Zas wanted a face to face with her at the Fairway gala. She couldn’t refuse that. But she just found me there.”

“So I assume Zas’ guy didn’t find that money.” James said.

“Actually he didn’t say. After Carla returned to Newport he was silent for a few days. Then on Saturday he told me to join him there.” Jeremiah said.

“So he followed her back there.” James said.

“Probably. So when I got to Newport , Zas told me to meet him at the beach house where the girls were staying, and-” Jeremiah paused.

“And then what?” James asked.

“Nothing.” Jeremiah said. “All I remember is a sharp blow to the head, and I am waking up on the floor hearing the girls come in. So I ran and got back here. Next day the girls came back. Said she was missing.”

“So you didn’t kill her?” James asked.

“No.” Jeremiah said.

“Then why steal her body?” James asked.

“Well, it was obvious Zas tried to frame me for her murder. After she was missing, He sent me pictures of me entering the beach house. Time stamped. The girls were even asking me what I was doing there when they got back. Apparently one of them saw me.”

“So let me guess you started doing his work for him” James said.

“Not anything I wasn’t doing before.” Jeremiah said. “Still selling for him. Then Saturday, John came to see me, told me he saw Carla in the woods. When I realized was alive, I told Zas immediately I wanted out. The next day they found her body.”

“So he just killed her to prove a point?” James asked.

“Yeah.” Jeremiah said. “So I figured my prints or something of mine would be found on the body, so I hired two guys to help me steal her body.”

“And killed Gary in the process.” James said grimly.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen. I don’t know which of them did it, but I was outside when all that happened. So when I saw blood all over them, I ran back inside, and um-grabbed the autopsy reports. I came back and drove off.”

“So where did you bury the body?” James asked.

“On old miller Farm. I cleaned it first though. Then I wiped down the van, then though about how I was going to get rid of it, but Zas beat me to it.”

“What did he do?” James asked although he already knew the answer.

“He moved it.” Jeremiah said. “Luckily I had gotten rid of all the evidence inside.”

“How about Carla’s phone. We found it in the Van. That’s how we knew where it was.”

“I don’t know anything about her phone.” Jeremiah said. “Zas probably put it there.”

“Okay.” James said. “So according to you, we are looking for a faceless person called Zas?”

“I know it all sounds crazy,” Jeremiah said.

“No, aliens landing on earth sounds crazy. This is something else.” James said. “So, what about Thomas Bridges?”

“Never came across him.” Jeremiah said. “I Just heard he was killed. So at Carla’s funeral, I had a plan to expose Zas.”

“How?” James asked.

“I knew he would be there, So when they were giving their eulogies, I sent him a message telling him to meet me outside or I am telling everyone who he is.”

“But you didn’t know who it was.” James said.

“Well, no. But I was looking for any kind of reaction from anyone. The only person who reacted was you.”

“So you thought I was Zas.” James chuckled.

“Just for a moment.” Jeremiah said. “But it didn’t make sense. But weirdly after that I didn’t hear from Zas again.”

“He just disappeared?” James asked.

“Into thin air. No phone calls, no texts or emails.” Jeremiah said. “So. What are you charging me with?”

*                                                *                                     *

“Wow, that was some confession.” Corbin said, when James came out.

“Yeah, my head is still spinning.” James said.

“Do you believe any of that?” Corbin asked. “I mean it sounds like a pretty good story. Too good to be true.”

“He just implicated himself of other crimes.” James said. “I don’t think he is lying.”

“Okay, so how do we find this person?” Corbin said throwing up his hands. “It’s not like we can but an APB out on him.”

“I have an Idea.” James said. “We should gather information Thomas Bridges got. The account Jeremiah was sending money into? That should be this Zas person’s account.”

“I have been through that with a fine tooth comb.” Alex said. “That account is registered to a John Smith. If that is not an alias I don’t know what is.”

“How does someone create a fake account with a fake profile?” James asked.

“People with resources.” Alex said grimly. “We are looking for a criminal mastermind here. Definitely not a high school or college student.”

“I hear you.” Corbin said. “So what other moves do we have?”

“We are out of moves.” James said. “If Zas-I can’t believe I am calling him that-went radio silent. It means he has ended his game. There is no other way to draw him out.”

“Wait, that’s what we need to do.” Alex said. “He likes games right? Playing with people’s minds, making people run around in circles trying to guess who he is. Maybe we can use that against him.”

“How do we do that?” Corbin asked.

“By tracing his phone. The one he uses to communicate with Jeremiah.” Alex said.

“Jeremiah said he uses a burner.” James said. “He contacts him before he can contact him.”

“Well we know Carla got in touch with him somehow.” Alex said. “How?”

“She stole a number from their phones.” James said. “You have access to all of Jeremiah’s hacks don’t you?”

“Yes. But I never came across a number.” Alex said.

“How about Carla’s phone?” Corbin said. “It might be there.”

“Part of the phone memory was wiped.” James said. “Tech is trying to recover some of it.”

“Guess we just have to sleep on it.” Alex said.

“Agreed.” Said James. “Let me know if you come up with anything.”

*                                       *                                                     *

“Toni it is getting late. Maybe we can continue this tomorrow.” Richard said.

“No, I want to know this now.” Toni said. “Who are you really?”

Richard sighed. “When I left your mother I was at a low point in my life. My dad had disowned me, I was expelled from school the previous year, been arrested on multiple occasions, I was a waste of space. So left thinking I was doing good. I went back to my father, he took me back, pulled some strings and in three years I graduated from law school. Started working in my dad’s firm. So after a few years I decided to look for your mother, but I found out she had died, and your brother was in foster care. I looked for him too, and I found him. But along the way I learned about you.”

“You knew about me?” Toni asked.

“Yes.” Richard said. “It didn’t take me long to find you here in this town. I learned you and your brother were separated and out of touch, so I asked my father, to let me break away from his company and start a new practice. My PI gave me a picture of you but when I saw Carla, I mistakenly thought that was you. You looked so much alike. That’s what drew me to Moraine”

“Wait you are not about to tell me Carla is my sister or something right?” Toni laughed nervously. “Because I don’t think I can take it.”

“No, no she is not..” Richard assured her. “But anyway, I met Moraine. She had her own practice. I offered to help her expand, I had my father’s resources. She agreed. We finalized a deal became partners. I only had one request. I made her offer Wayne Bridges a job that he couldn’t’ refuse. Just to ensure he moved to Harbor. So I could have my two children in one place.”

“So then what happened?” Toni asked.

“I met you.” Richard said. “I saw you both with your families, and I decided I couldn’t insert myself into your lives. So I left. Well until I heard about what Moraine Heathway was doing.”

“What was she doing.” Toni asked.

“She was embezzling funds from clients account using bogus charges.” Richard said. “So I came back to confront her, and then when I tried to see him again.”

“Thomas?” Toni asked.

“Yes. and you too.” Richard said. “Before I was chased off by Carla.”

“So that’s it?” Toni asked. “You just gave up, left us here?”

“I was doing you a favor”

“Like you were doing me a favor the first time you left?” Toni asked.

Richard remained silent. After a while Toni spoke up.

“Look  you were right.” She said. “You cant insert yourself in my life. I understand what you did to get us back, but you need to go Richard. I don’t need you.” Before Richard could utter a word Toni walked to the door, opened it and walked into the night.

*                                                    *                                                            *

“Jasmine would you stop tapping your feet.” Hazel said. “You are making the whole room shake.”

“Sorry.” Jasmine said. “I guess I am still nervous.”

It was the next morning. The three girls were in the library, studying.

“How was the exam?” Toni asked.

“Still going on.” Jasmine said sighing. “I have another paper tomorrow.”

“Brutal.” Hazel said. “All that for a scholarship?”

“Apparently it is very competitive.” Jasmine said tapping her feet again.

Toni looked at Jasmine in concern. “Are you okay? You haven’t really been yourself since-”

“The funeral.” Hazel finished. Toni looked at her reproachfully. “What?” Hazel said defensively. “I say. ‘rip off the band-aid’.”

Jasmine smiled. “You know I can say the same about you both too. You have been kind of mute since Sunday.”

“Well, my father showed up in town.” Toni said. “And Hazel’s boyfriend was arrested for murder.”

“Hey!” Hazel protested. “For the umpteenth time he isn’t my boyfriend”

“Sorry,” Toni smirked. “Anyway we know what is bothering us. What is bothering you? It can’t be the exam, you are a genius, you love exams.”

Jasmine sighed. “I guess Carla’s funeral brought up more memories.” she said.

“Oh you mean your father” Hazel said.

“Yeah.” Jasmine said. “Everything just reminded me of him.” She turned to Toni. “Yours is still alive. Do something about him.”

“Yeah I did.” Toni said. “I told him to get the hell out of town.”

“He is still your father.” Jasmine said. “Give him a chance.” She got up packed her books ad left. Hazel and Toni stared after her.

“She is crazy.” Toni said.

“Crazy, but right.” Hazel said. “Make peace with your dad.”

“What-” Toni started to talk,but just then Ben came towards them.

“Where was Jasmine going?” He asked.

“She has an exam or something” Hazel said. “What’s up stalker boy?”

Ben glared at her. “I have an update on Jeremiah.” He said. “He confessed.”

Hazel stared at him in shock. “He killed Carla? That is impossible.”

“I don’t know the full details, but apparently he gave the cops a lengthy confession. If I hear more I’ll tell you.”

“How do you know all this.” Toni asked.

“Friends.” He said simply. “Now if you would excuse me, I’ve got stuff to do. Give Jasmine my regards.”

“Sure we will.” Toni said as he walked away.

*                                                                      *                                                               *

“Where are we on that phone.” James asked as Corbin walked in the room.

“Still working on it.” Corbin said. He looked at his watch. “Is it noon already?”

“Yeah. It’s crazy right?” James said. “Gates lawyer is coming in for a visit today.”

“Thee is no point.” Corbin said. “He confessed already.”

“Yeah, but we are getting him a deal.” James said. “Speaking of lawyers, still no sign of Moraine Heathway?”

“Not a peep.” Corbin said. “She is probably dead, or in Hawaii.”

“Probably.” James chuckled. Just then there was some commotion in the station. Jakes came running towards them. “You have to see this.” He panted. James and Corbin, made their way towards the source of the commotion. It came from the prison holding cells. They found Alex standing there.

“What is it?” James asked as he got there.

“See for yourself.” Alex said grimly. James made his way to where Alex stood. He looked towards the direction where Alex was looking. What he saw was shocking to the bone. Corbin joined him. He too was speechless. Jeremiah Gates lay on the floor. Blood oozed from his neck. His eyes were glassy and unmoving. He was gone.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

He sat in the room looking calm and composed. His hands were handcuffed to the table, but he leaned back in his chair as far as possible. James, Corbin and Alex watched him from the observation window. James noticed his hair was a little rough, but his face was shaved. There was a tiny scar above his right eye that looked no more than three weeks old.

“So what do we have on him?” Corbin asked.

“Almost next to nothing.” Alex said. “We have his name on an account that has been moving money around, The testimony of two drug addicts, that identify him as a drug dealer and body thief but their testimony is unreliable. At best we have him at conspiracy to commit fraud.”

“That’s not nothing, that is something.” James said. “How are we going to do this?”

“Well getting the whole story is important.” Alex said.  “O’Brian and I should go in. Stay and watch. When we need you come in”

“Sure.” James said.

Alex and Corbin went in. Jeremiah perked up when he saw them. He sat up straight and pushed his chair back.

“Finally.” Jeremiah said. “I have been bored out of my mind sitting here.”

“Keep talking smart ass.” Corbin said.

“I want my lawyer.” Jeremiah said.

“A lawyer isn’t going to help you fool.” Alex said. “You are better off just talking to us.”

“What did I do wrong?” Jeremiah said with a hint of a smile. “I swear I had no idea that girl was a hooker until she demanded I pay her.”

“Nice try.” Corbin said. “Tell us why you killed Carla Heathway.”

“I am not saying anything else without a lawyer.” Jeremiah said crossing his arms.

“We have two witnesses saying they saw you stealing Carla Heathway’s body.” Alex said. “We also have evidence of you dealing drugs. We have your fingerprints on the van, we have your name on accounts involved in fraudulent activities, there is no way you are walking out of this one. So we are giving you a chance to tell us your side of the story.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about.” Jeremiah said. “So please get me my lawyer or leave me alone.”

After a few more minutes Alex and Corbin left the room. “He is not going to say anything.” Corbin said. “And if a lawyer comes in it will be all over.”

“So what is our game plan.” James asked.

“It is your turn.” Alex said.

*                               *                                         *

Moraine Heathway was packing up her office when there was a knock on her door. She looked up to see Richard Prescott Standing in the doorway.

“I see my name is still on the wall.” Richard said.

“When I name a new partner it will come off.” Moraine Heathway said. “Can you please move?”

Richard still stood in her way. “Why did you do it?” He asked.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Moraine said.

“You know damn well what I am talking about.” Richard said. “Did you really think you’d get away with it?”

“Look I don’t have time for this.” Moraine said.

“Fine.” Richard said. “Maybe I’ll just go to the police and explain everything.”

“You?” Moraine exclaimed. “Explain? Well I hope you try harder than you did last time.”

“I helped you build this company. I took out the other partners and put your name-our name on that wall. And this is how you repay me?”

“You helped me build this company?” Moraine laughed. “You mean your daddy and his checkbook.”

“It was a man trying to get my family back.” Richard said. “Which you never cared about doing for your own family. Your daughter dies and what? It is business as usual?”

“That is not your business.” Moraine snapped.

“Isn’t it?” Richard asked. “My son was killed too. Are you sure Carla was even your daughter? Because I met her. She was everything you weren’t. Kind, warmhearted, and not a pathetic weasel.”

“Just move out of my way.” Moraine said trying to get past.

Richard stood still for a moment. Then he stood aside. “Just remember. Karma is a bitch.”

*                                  *                                            *

James walked inside the room holding a cup of coffee. He sat down opposite Jeremiah, Took a long sip from his cup, and set it down. Then he turned his eyes on Jeremiah.

“So, who is she?” James asked.

Jeremiah looked amused. “What are you talking about.”

“The girl you were meeting in that motel room.” James said . “That’s why you were there, right? Meeting a girl, not running from the law.”

Jeremiah laughed. “Okay let’s go with that. Yes I was meeting a girl.”

“So what is her name?” Jeremiah asked.

“I don’t remember.” Jeremiah said with a chuckle. “I mean who needs names this days right?”

James pulled his chair forward. “I don’t believe you are a bad kid. You just made bad decisions. We are here to help you fix them. Just give us the names of the people you are working with, and we’ll see what we can do to help you.”

Jeremiah threw his head back laughing. “You people must think I am an idiot. There is no way I am saying anything.”

“So you don’t even care a girl died? You don’t care you killed someone. No, three people actually, Carla, Thomas Bridges and Gary Stevens. What kind of monster are you?”

“The kind that wants a lawyer. So please get me my phone call so I get my basic rights.”

“What was the problem huh?” James continued. “She said no, so you kill her? She found out your secret? Or what You Moraine Heathway were up to?”

“Whoa, whoa.” Jeremiah said sitting up. “What does Moraine Heathway have to do with this?”

“She was helping you right?” James said. “Helping you move your money around using clients trust accounts?”

“So that’s how he did it.” Jeremiah murmured.

“That is how who did it?” James asked

“Nothing.” Jeremiah said quickly.

James stood up. “Who is your partner Gates?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Jeremiah said raising his voice. “And if you could prove Moraine Heathway was helping me, she would be here in handcuffs already.”

“Who says she isn’t?” James said. “We are holding her in the other room waiting for her to dime on you.”

Jeremiah laughed uncontrollably for a while. Then he finally stopped to start his sentence. “Good luck with that. And by the way please let me know what she tells you. I am very curious myself.” He continued chuckling.

James nodded his head. “You have been most helpful. Thank you.” He turned and walked out of the room. He met Alex and Corbin outside.

“What did you get?” Corbin asked anxiously.

“He isn’t working with Moraine Heathway. But she does know something. Something he wants to know badly. We need to talk to her.”

“I can get an arrest warrant for her based on what I have.” Alex said. “It’ll only hold her for forty-eight hours until we have enough proof to charge her, but it should do.”

“Great.” Corbin said. “Let’s go catch a lawyer.”

*                                           *                                                *

“Toni you have to go home.” Hazel said shutting her blinds. “Your parents have been calling your phone non-stop.”

“That’s because he’s there waiting for me.” Toni groaned. “Alice texted me and told me some guy came by today. Said his name was Richard. Sound Familiar?”

“You cant hide in my house forever.” Hazel said.

“But your bed is so comfy.” Toni said. “Where did Jasmine go by the way?”

“She went home to study. Said she has that exam tomorrow.” Hazel said.

“Now there is a girl who let’s nothing get in her way.” Toni said. “Not even hearing her best friend’s boyfriend is a murderer.”

Hazel threw a pillow at Jasmine. “He is not a murderer, or my boyfriend.” Hazel said. “He is being framed or something.”

“Sure.” Toni said. “If I agree, can I stay here?”

Hazel threw her a murderous look. “Fine.” She relented. “But if your parents come here looking for you I will deny you.”

“Nice to see you have my back.” Toni said.

“You are welcome.” Hazel said. She frowned at something from the floor and picked it up. It was a card. “What exactly does your father do again?”

“He is an investment banker.” Toni said.

“No I mean your birth father..” Hazel said. “What does he do?”

“Oh he is a lawyer I think. He is in litigation or something.” Toni said. “Why do you ask?”

“His last name is Prescott. As in Heathway and Prescott.” Hazel said.

“So?” Toni shrugged. “A lot of people have the same last name. I’m sure Prescott is common.”

“That is what I thought to, but I found this.” Hazel showed it to Toni. Toni read it. It said. Richard Prescott. Senior Partner. On the top left hand corner was the name and logo of Heathway and Prescott firm.

“Your father owns Moraine Heathway’s company?”

*                                          *                                              *

Moraine Heathway’s body was dragged across the ground. Zas took a shovel and started to dig.  Everything thing Had gone to hell.  First Carla, then everything had just fallen down like a pack of dominoes. There was no one to pin this on. After digging exhaustively, Zas climed out of the hole. Taking a longing look at Moraine Heathway, Zas shoved her body into the hole and started covering her with dirt. No one would find her here.

*                                               *                                                     *

“Okay got it.” James got off the phone.

“What is it?” Corbin asked, his mouth full of Mexican takeout

“We went to pick up Moraine Heathway from her house. She wasn’t there.”

“Maybe she is at work.” Corbin said.

“Her assistant confirmed she left there two hours ago. Said she was heading straight home. Her car was parked at her house, but she wasn’t there.” James said.

“You think she ran?” Corbin asked.

“I doubt it.” James said. “That kind of woman doesn’t run.”

“So where is she then?” Corbin asked.

“I don’t want to think of where she might be.” James said.

“What about her son. John. What are we going to do about him?”  Corbin asked.

“We’ll bring him in again.” James said.

“On what?” Corbin asked. “There is no substantial evidence against him. And he would never agree to come down for another round of questioning.”

“If we can just get Jeremiah to talk-”

“But he isn’t.” Corbin said. “Time is running out. We have thirty six more hours to charge him or release him.”

“So what are we going to do?” James asked.

“We can start by finding out who the hell has been tipping people off.” Alex said appearing out of nowhere. “First we issue a warrant for Jeremiah, and he runs. Then we decide to pick up Heathway, and then she runs too. Is that a coincidence?”

“Let’s not get crazy.” James said. “Who would be tipping them off?”

“Someone in your department.” Alex said.

“Someone in my department?” James roared. “If there is one wild card here it is you. We don’t know you? Are you even really FBI? Since when is the FBI interested in small town cases?”

“Okay gentlemen let’s calm down.” Corbin said. “If we have a breach we would address it later. Right now we need to figure out a way to find Moraine Heathway.”

“If she is alive.” James said grimly. “Gates could have had one of his partners kill Moraine,”

“His partner is John Heathway.” Alex said. “You think he’d kill his own mother?”

“He killed his sister didn’t he?” James asked.

“Allegedly.” Corbin interjected. “We don’t know the full story.”

“Yes.” James said turning to Alex. “Like how Jeremiah knew Thomas Bridges knew his identity. You were the only one who knew right?”

Alex stopped in his tracks. “That is brilliant.”

“What?” James asked.

“Thomas never explicitly said Jeremiah is the killer He only said he was the owner of the account.” Alex said.

“So?” James said. “We know whoever Carla was investigating killed her.”

“But that is just it.” Alex said. “Jeremiah had a boss. He was just a dealer right? Where was he getting his supplies from?”

“Someone was giving it to him.” James said it dawning on him. “But why would he try to tell me who killed Carla and not you?”

“The software.” Alex said. “When I pulled him out of that shop and told me to go home, he told me he was still downloading the rest of the file. When he got home it must have completed.”

“And he found out the killer’s identity.” Corbin finished. “We have to get that computer.”

“What computer?” James asked. “We tore that place up, we didn’t find any computer.”

“Because the killer took it.” Corbin said.

“So are you saying Jeremiah isn’t the killer?” James asked. “Because he stole Carla’s body. He looks guilty as sin.”

They were all silent for a moment. “We need him to talk.” James finally said. “He is central to this.”

“He has already said he isn’t going to talk.” Corbin said. “I don’t think we can make him do that.”

“Yes we can.” James said. “I’ve got an idea.”

*                                                         *                                                  *

Toni walked over to the front porch. She raised her hand to knock, but the door swung open. Michael Peters was standing in the doorway, holding the door.

“Where have you been?” Michael asked. “We have been calling.”

“I didn’t want to see him.” Toni said pushing past Michael. “So where is he?”

“Richard? He isn’t here. W sent him away.” Michael said closing the door.

“You sen’t him away?” Toni exclaimed turning around.

“Yes we did.” Michael said. “Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Yes, but now I want to see him.” Toni said. “Where is he?”

“I don’t know.” Michael said. “Look honey can we talk about this for a moment?”

“There is nothing to talk about.” Toni said. “You lied to me. Simple.”

“Yes but-”

“Look dad.” Toni said turning around. “I get it okay. I forgive you. But right now I need to find Richard. So where is he?”

Michael sighed. He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. “He said to give this to you if you want to see him.”

“Great.” Toni went up to her father and collected the card. “Thanks.” She mumbled. There was an address on the card. She made for the door.

“You shouldn’t go alone.” Michael called out.

“I am good.” Toni said. “Hazel is waiting outside.”

*                                                *                                                *

James entered the room again. Jeremiah looked up when he saw him and groaned. “You have got to be kidding me. I asked for a lawyer over three hours ago. Why haven’t you given me my phone call?”

“We are here to give it to you.” James said. He took out his cell phone and dropped it on the table. “There you go make your call.”

Jeremiah picked it up and stared at them. “Can I at least get some privacy?”

“Oh yes you can.” James said. “But are you sure you want to make that call?”

“What do you mean?” Jeremiah asked.

“Moraine Heathway is gone.” James said.

“So? She isn’t my lawyer” Jeremiah said.

“Oh no, I didn’t say she was. It’s just that it is strange. She just disappeared. She didn’t pack her clothes, her car was still in the driveway, There was no evidence that she had fled other than the fact she was gone.”

Jeremiah’s hand was visibly shaking. “So what?” he said defiantly. “I still want to make this call.”

“You see it seems the person you got in bed with is crossing people off. Now you can call your lawyer, they can get you out on bail, and when you get home this person can cross you name off his list. Or you can tell us who it is and we will protect you.” James said

“You are kidding me right?” Jeremiah said. “You are trying to get me to confess to a murder I didn’t commit?”

“If you didn’t do it, then you know who did.” James said.

“If I knew would I be sitting here?” Jeremiah said.

“But you do know something.” James said. “And the sooner you start talking, the sooner we can help you.”

Jeremiah sighed. He was silent for a moment. Then h spoke. “No deal. I am making that call. Sorry.”

“Sure. No problem.” James said standing up . “Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.”

*                                                         *                                                                   *

“Yes It’s just for tonight.” Richard said on the phone. “She doesn’t want to see me anyway. I’ll be back tomorrow Okay. Love you too.” He hung up the phone. He turned the television on and flipped through channels. He needed something to help him sleep. Soap operas seemed to do the trick. He found one he liked and settled down. He was about thinking of going to get some food, when he heard a knock on the door. Who is it now? He thought as he made his way to the door. Probably the cleaning lady. He opened the door and saw Toni standing outside the doorway. Well isn’t this familiar? He thought grimly.

“You came.” He said. “I didn’t think you would.”

Toni held up his card. “I found your old business card. Have you been in Harbor this whole time?” She asked.

“What are you talking about.” Richard asked.

“Heathway and Prescott. That is your company isn’t it? Has been around since Tom moved here? Have you been here this whole time?”

Richard sighed. “You better come inside.”

Toni hesitated for a moment, and then walked in. Richard closed the door.

*                                                                   *                                                               *

“So how did it go with Gates.” Corbin asked James.

“Give it a couple hours.” James said.

It didn’t take an hour. A few minutes later Jakes came running.

“Jeremiah Gates is requesting for you.” He said.

“Alright.” Corbin said standing up. “Let’s go.”

Jakes held his hand. “He said he would only talk to Detective Ashwood.”

“No way.” Corbin said. “Tell him it’s both of us or no deal.”

“It’s alright.” James said. “You can listen at the window right?”

“Fine. Let’s get this show on the road.”

CHAPTER TWELVE

“Are these all the pictures you have from the gala?” Alex asked.

“We have a video too. But it is in one room only.” James said. He stood up and paced around the room. “So let me get this straight. Thomas Bridges was your informant?”

“In a way yes.” Alex said. “Carla Heathway had been up to something. He was helping me shadow her.”

“So he had been following her?” James asked.

“Yes.” Alex said. “Although he lost track of her in Newport.”

“Why would a twenty year old be helping a FBI agent shadow his girlfriend?” Corbin asked.

Alex sighed. “Okay, let me start from the beginning. I was sent here four months ago to investigate Heathway and Prescott. Large sums of money were being removed from clients trust accounts, and being transferred to an offshore account. During my investigation, I encountered Thomas Bridges who was doing his own investigation only he was doing his illegally.”

“Through hacking.” James offered.

“Yes.” Alex said. “He and his girlfriend were a typical Nick and Nora Charles, trying to solve a mystery themselves. Anyway when they inevitably crossed paths with me, I told them to stop. Thomas obliged but Carla did not. So I told him to follow her and report everything she did back to me.”

“So Thomas and Carla were working together. What were they looking for?”James asked.

“He didn’t know. He was just doing things for her. It became apparent that she didn’t tell him everything. I suspect she was protecting someone.”

“Her mom.” James said.

“Perhaps. But he knew enough. I collected all the information he had managed to gather. But when she got killed, I told him to pull out. Obviously I didn’t want any civilian getting hurt on my watch. But he kept digging, pulling files and going through names. Until he found a name he recognized.”

“Who?” James asked.

“I’ll get to that. Anyway after both of you interviewed him, he came to see me. He told me he might have figured out something but he wanted permission to hack into Heathway and Prescott. I said no, told him to go home. I knew he wouldn’t listen, so I followed him to the coffee shop  I didn’t want to engage him, but I kept a close watch on him and I made sure he knew I could see him. He wasn’t poisoned there. When he left, I made sure he went straight home. I told him not to do anything stupid and keep hat he found to himself.”

“So what did you find?” James asked.

“During our investigation, we found out it was not just a case of embezzlement. I believe the money that was going in and out of the accounts were coming from a source. The sale of narcotics.”

“Drugs? Someone was selling drugs?” Corbin asked.

“I cant be sure. But there was money coming from somewhere. Three weeks before she died Carla withdrew-”

“Fifty thousand dollars which came from an offshore account.” James said. “We know.”

“Right. But what you don’t know is she stole it.”

“What?” James said.

“She found a way to transfer the money to her own account, and she withdrew that money possibly hoping to lead that person to her. And she did. At the fairway Gala, Carla went to meet someone there. I asked Thomas to intercept her, but he said he had something to do, about his father or something, So I went there myself but he was already there. Said he changed his mind.”

“Do you know who Carla was meeting?” Corbin asked.

“All in good time.” Alex said. “After the gala I decided to put a stop to Carla’s investigation once and for all, but When she went back to Newport, everything got quiet.”

“What do you mean?” James asked.

“Carla stopped digging, money stopped moving around and I thought it was all over. But when she disappeared everything started again. So Thomas went back to his own investigation. Found the original file that Carla had stolen and found a name, and everything made sense.”

“Who was the person Thomas found?” James asked leaning forward.

“Jeremiah Gates.” Alex said grimly.

*   *     *

“No way.” Corbin said. “Jeremiah Gates is Carla’s killer? Why didn’t you arrest him?”

“I am not a hundred percent sure. There is still an investigation ongoing. Arresting him might jeopardize the investigation.”

“Doesn’t murder trump over embezzlement?” James cried.

“It isn’t just embezzlement.” Alex said. “Gates was selling drugs. I befriended John Heathway who by the way, is probably his partner, there has been an increased presence of narcotics in the university campus, in the high school. And trust me it is something new entirely. I was suspecting John was the one dealing and using his mother’s company to move the money, and It seems I was right. Only part I missed was Jeremiah Gates is his partner.”

“So Carla was investigating her brother and his friend and they killed her, and Thomas.” Corbin said. “Case solved. Let’s go and pick them up.”

“The network is more wide than you realize.” Alex said. “I need to access every team member before I go in. Besides this is mostly speculation and some underground digging. If you want to take down a drug ring you have to collate hard evidence.”

“Not when three people have been killed. At your watch I might add.” James accused.

“So what do you want to do?” Alex asked.

“Get those son’s of bitches.” James spat.

“You don’t want to hear what else I discovered?” Alex asked

“What?” James said.

“The van that was used to steal Carla Heathway’s body. I tracked the employee down, which by the way you didn’t think of doing. I found out who signed for it. I have been following some leads and, this morning I found out who stole it.”

“Jeremiah obviously.” Corbin said.

“No. He hired two junkies to steal the body.” Alex said. “I know them, they are friends of John. We can start with them.”

“Okay. Let us go.” James said standing up.

“One more thing.” Alex said. “Thomas Bridges was killed after he was interviewed by you.”

“So everything he told us was bull eh?” Corbin asked.

“He told you a version of the truth I asked him to tell.” Alex said. “Nevertheless, I told him to keep his mouth shut about Jeremiah Gates.” He turned to James. “I know he called you and tried to tell you. Which I specifically told him not to. So by not listening to me, he got killed. I want to make sure you will follow instruction I give.”

“No offense.” James said. “But this is our investigation. We really don’t have to follow your orders”

“This is a federal investigation.” Alex said. “You will follow instructions or I will get you kicked out from this case are we clear?”

James and Alex squared for a moment. James relaxed. “Fine. But no one else get’s hurt.”

“No one else will.” Alex promised. “Let’s go get them.”

*                          *                                       *

He ran fast as he could. He had been made. He made it to the door and knocked. John opened the door.

“Hey Jerry what’s up?” John asked.

“I need your help.” Jeremiah panted  ” No questions asked. I need cash, pronto.”

John pulled Jeremiah in and shut the door. “Don’t tell me you have still been messing around with that stuff?” He said angrily. “I told you I am out. I promised-”

“Carla yeah I know.” Jeremiah said. “But see I just got word that I am about to be arrested for her murder-”

“Wait what? You killed her? Both of you?” John yelled.

“I don’t have time to explain.” Jeremiah panted. “You just have to trust me.”

“Trust you? After you killed my sister?” John yelled.

“I didn’t-” Jeremiah started.

“Don’t lie to me!” John shouted pushing Jeremiah against the door.

“Okay fine, but remember if I go down, you go down with me! And him too.” Jeremiah said. “You think they would believe you if you say you didn’t help? So help me disappear, or when they come knocking, I’ll sell you out!”

*                                                   *                                                *

They were two scrawny looking boys. They had picked them up from the university campus. They sat in different rooms adjacent to each other. They watched them from the windows.

“So which one do you think would break first?” Corbin asked.

“Let them stew for a bit.” Alex said. “Soon they will be jonesing for a hit, and they will tell us everything.”

Sure enough, after a couple of hours they began to fidget. Alex and James went in the first one.

“Edward Sutter.” James read out from a file. “Is that right?”

“Call me Ed.” Edward said acting tough.

“Okay Ed let’s cut to the chase. Tell me who hired you to steal Carla Heathway’s body.”

“Carla who?” Edward said acting clueless.

“We know you stole it.” Alex said. “We have fingerprints, photos, signatures. We just need you to tell you his name?”

“I got nothing to say.” Edward said.

This went on for quite a while. They left and went to his counterpart Greg Dudley. He too acted clueless. They lasted for about thirty minutes. After that they spilled everything.

“Jeremiah Gates.” they wailed. “He called us. Told us he could give us an unlimited supply of HPC. if we did a job for him.”

“What is HPC?” Alex asked.

“It is this new thing he has been selling a while now.” Edward said. “It’s dope.”

“So what happened?” James asked.

“Well, we stole the van,” Edward said shaking. “Jerry was driving. So we went out to the place, and we got in. We were as high as fuck. Jerry said he had taken care of the cameras and everything but when we got there. The man was there.”

“Stevens?” James asked.

“Didn’t know his name. He was about to call security when Greg grabbed a knife and stabbed him.”

“But Greg told us you stabbed him.” James said.

“He is lying. He stabbed him. There was blood everywhere so we just took the body through the back entrance. When we got to the van Jeremiah saw all the blood and freaked out. He ran back inside to do something. He was only there for a minute. Then he ran back out and we drove away.”

“And no one saw you?” James asked.

“It was a dead Zone. And Jeremiah knew his way in and out.” Edward said. “Now please just give me something.” He begged.

“Tell us every other thing you know.” Alex demanded. “Where does Jeremiah get the drugs? Who else is dealing?”

Edward and Greg were incoherent after that so they took them to the cells. “Okay so let us go pick Jeremiah now.” Corbin demanded. “It seems we are at a dead-end.” James said.

“I still need to-”

“Look Agent Munroe or Stone or what you call yourself. People are dead. We might have just solved one but there are still two remaining. Now Jeremiah is the key to all this. Let us hold him.”

“With what evidence?” Alex asked. “Two druggies whose testimonies conflict? A name gotten from an account by illegal means? No way.”

“Just trust me.” James said. “I will get him to talk. I always do.”

Alex was thoughtful. “Fine. Let’s go. But if it goes wrong, I am pulling the plug.”

An hour later, it was already getting dark. They swarmed Jeremiah’s house.  He lived alone. They burst in. There were clothes thrown everywhere, wardrobes opened. They searched the house from the top to bottom. He wasn’t there.

“Where the hell is he?” James shouted.

“Just as I feared.” Alex said. “He is gone.”

*                        *                                        *

The next morning they were still looking for Jeremiah Gates. He had bought a bus ticket to Arizona online, but there was no way track if he had gotten on the bus or not. John Heathway had been brought in for questioning. He refused to say anything. They had gotten a search warrant and turned his house upside down. It was clean. No evidence of drug use or possession, they had nothing to tie him to the case. Moraine Heathway had come in to represent him.

“So detectives are you charging my client?” Moraine asked.

“Look John, buddy.” Alex said. “I know Jeremiah’s your friend. But he killed your sister If you know anything about where he is you have to tell us.”

“My client has nothing to say.” Moraine said.

James whirled on Moraine. “He killed your daughter. Do you know what they were doing? Selling drugs. And you stand there defending him.”

Alex put his hands on James shoulders. James calmed down. He was exhausted. He had been up all night. Alex turned to Moraine Heathway. “I have gathered enough evidence to prove you have been draining several trust accounts. I have enough to get you on a charge of embezzlement and fraud. But I also care about catching who killed your daughter. So work with me and I can get you a deal.”

Moraine Heathway remained stone faced. “Charge or release detectives.”

An hour later, John Heathway was released. James walked up to Alex. “You just let him go? How are we going to find Jeremiah?”

Alex smiled. “Never underestimate what a mother would do for her children. We just slipped her information that of her clients killed her daughter. She was protecting her son first, but she would lead us to Jeremiah.”

“And you are sure Jeremiah is the anonymous client?” James asked.

“Well the account that has been transferring money to the offshore account is Jeremiah’s. I am betting big it is his.” He looked around. “Where is your partner by the way?”

“Doing police work.” Corbin’s voice said. They looked and saw him walking towards them. He stopped when he reached them. “I got the reports on Thomas Bridges autopsy. It seems he was hit with a blunt object that rendered him unconscious before he was poisoned.”

“That means the killer hit him and then injected him with poison.” Alex said. “So he was killed at home.”

“9.07 To be exact.” James said. “That was when he called me.”

“So he died three hours after being injected.” Corbin said. “That is a slow death. “Anything from Carla’s?”

“Nope. Nada.” Corbin said. “Just what we know. Blunt force trauma to the head, spinal injury from the neck. No DNA, or fibers. Jeremiah must have wiped them off.”

James made a noise. “The autopsy notes.” He said. “Those two junkie didn’t take it. They were not there so someone cleaned up. “Who?”

“They said Jeremiah went back in remember?” Corbin said.

“Only for a minute.” James said. “He couldn’t have gotten rid of all of them. There is another person in this.”

“Okay, calm down” Corbin said. “You can’t trust what they say. We can ask Jeremiah when we see him.”

Just then Jakes came running down. “We found him.” He panted.

“What? where?” Corbin said turning around.

“We got an anonymous tip that he was hiding out in Sherwood Motel.” Jakes said. “It seems he was meeting someone there. They sold him out.”

“Good Job.” Alex said. “Let us take it from here.”

*                                        *                                          *

Jasmine was washing her face in the bathroom. Her phone buzzed. She sighed and looked at the screen. It was Hazel. She declined and put it in her bag. Moments later Hazel and Toni burst in the bathroom door

“Where have you been?” Toni demanded. “We have been looking for you.”

“Okay I am here now.” Jasmine said turning off the water and drying her hands. “What is it?”

“Jeremiah was just arrested.” Hazel said.

“Wait, what?” Jasmine said looking shocked. “For what?”

“Carla’s murder.” Toni said. “They just picked him up.”

“Oh my God.” Jasmine said. “That’s why he was in Newport. He was there to kill her.” She looked at Hazel who looked like she was about to cry. “Are you okay.”

“No I am not actually.” Hazel said. “Is it okay If we all just go skip the rest of school and go to my place?”

“Sure.” Jasmine said. “Let me get my bag.”

“It’s okay Hazel.” Toni said, her arm wrapped around Hazel’s shoulders. “At least we know it is over now.”

*                                                   *                                                   *

It was a bright and sunny day. Well it almost always was in California. Zas drove through the town with a feeling of content. Everything had worked out. There was a piece of guilt that was buried deep but, Zas shook it off. Jeremiah had been arrested. He might tell them what he knows but there was nothing tying Zas to Carla Heathway’s murder. Zas grinned. That name was cool. Zas.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

“So detectives, why are you here?” Moraine Heathway asked Corbin and James as they sat across her in her office.

“We were told there was a data breach here on Thursday?” James asked.

“Yes that’s right. Someone accessed some confidential files” Moraine said.

James looked at Moraine. She looked calm and composed considering she just buried her daughter. He and Corbin had argued over doing this too soon but James though she would want to help to find who killed her daughter.

“Do you know which file was accessed?” James asked.

“When you called me here you said this was regarding my daughter’s case. It is the only reason I agreed to see you.” Moraine said.

“We believe this is connected.” Corbin said. “The culprit who attacked your system was Thomas Bridges. I am sure you know he was murdered.”

Moraine sat back. “So this is about he and his father? I assume you think he was after the file my daughter stole?”

“Yes we believe so.” James said. “Can I ask what was in that file?”

“I am afraid not.” Moraine said. “That file is highly confidential, it contains privileged information.”

“Ms Heathway this could help with your daughter’s murder. Isn’t there anything else you can give us?”

Moraine was silent for a few seconds. “The file contains a list of companies a client wants to acquire. My daughter was curious about my recently acquired clients. She took a personal interest in this one.”

“So who is the client?” James asked.

“I can’t tell you that. They wish to be anonymous.” Moraine said.

“This could-”

“Detective please.” Moraine Heathway interrupted raising one hand. “Let’s not push this any further.”

“Okay then.” James said. “How about Thomas Bridges then? We know he hired you to be his lawyer.”

“What are you talking about?” Moraine asked confused.

Corbin took out a picture and showed it to Moraine. It showed Carla and Thomas Bridges at the fairway gala.

“Where did you get this?” Moraine asked after looking at it.

“Maria Stuart.” Corbin replied. “We asked Thomas what he was doing there, he said he was there to see you.”

“He was most definitely not there to see me.” Moraine Heathway said. “But I saw him talking to a man. He had dark hair broad shoulders, white.

James brought out the sketch Eve from the coffee-house had described for the sketch artist that morning. He showed it to her.

“Yes that’s him.” Moraine Heathway affirmed.

“Do you know who he is?” Corbin asked.

“I don’t remember his name, but I know he is a friend of John.” Moraine said. “I just can’t remember his name.”

“Did you know Carla was there?” James asked

“No I didn’t.” Moraine said. “I had no idea she was at the party.”

“Okay. Thanks.” James said standing up. “We will be in touch.”

* * *
“So who is the mystery guy.” Corbin asked as they drove back to the station. James kept quiet and said nothing. He just kept driving. “Look buddy don’t hold back on me. If you know something say it.” Corbin said to James. James still said nothing. Finally he spoke out.

“I don’t know who the mystery guy is.” James said. “But I do know what Carla was up to.”

“Okay. Spill.” Corbin said.

“You said it. Money laundering.” James said.

Corbin laughed. “Carla was laundering money? That is ridiculous.”

“I have seen this before. People who are into drugs sometimes need to push money around. Best targets are rich girls with huge trust funds, that wouldn’t raise any red flags if they made large transactions.” James explained.

“And you have seen this before? Where?” Corbin asked.

“Back when I was in foster homes.” James said. “It explains all the weird behaviour. Moving money around, stealing lists of rich clients, she was probably doing it for her boyfriend.”

“Bridges?” Corbin asked

“That’s what I’d think.” James said. “Unfortunately this is just speculation. I have no proof.”

“Well then let’s find out.” Corbin said.

When they got back to the station Jakes was waiting for them. “I’ve got news. He said without preamble. “We ran facial recognition of that drawing like you suggested. We got a match.”

“Who?” James said his heart pounding.

“Alex Munroe.” Jakes said. “He lives close by.”

“Well bring him in.” James said. “You know what? We are gonna come with.”

“Oh, and one more thing.” Jakes said. “There is a man who wants to speak with you. He is in the waiting room. He says he is Thomas Bridge’s father.”

“Wayne Bridges?” Corbin asked.

“No.” Jakes said. “He says he is his real father. Richard Prescott.”
* * *

He looked like Thomas. He had Brown hair, wore a serious look on his face, was tall and broad. He was pacing in the room with his chin resting on his hand which rested on his other arm. When James entered the room he dropped his arms and walked over to him extending his arm.

“Hello detective. I am Richard Prescott.” He said shaking James hand.

“James Ashwood.” James said as he shook his hand. “So what can I do for you?”

“I recently learned that my-” He paused. “Thomas has been murdered.”

“Yes the investigation is ongoing.” James said. “You are his birth father?”

“Yes.” Richard said. “I wanted to talk to his parents but they are out of town?”

“As far as I know.” James said. “So what can I do for you?” James repeated.

“What happened?” Richard asked.

“Well as far as we know, he was poisoned.” James said. “We are working to find who did it, but his case is tied to another murder case going on so we are doing our best to work the angles.”

“Do people in this town get murdered a lot.” Richard asked perplexed.

“No, this is actually much excitement for a town this small.” James said.

Richard put his head in his hands. “I should have never left them.” He said “I thought I was doing the right thing-”

“No one is doing the right thing if you leave your children.” James said. “Sorry,” he added. “I know it’s not my place.”

“Please you don’t have to apologize.” James said. “So Toni is your daughter.”

Richard smiled. “Yes. She looks so much like her mother.”

“You have seen her?” James asked.

“Yes she found me last week. I didn’t know I had a daughter. She was the one who told me about Thomas”

“And it took you a week to get here?” James asked.

Richard looked abashed. “I had to take care of things.” He murmured. “So is she here?”

“Yes.” James said. “Her friend Carla is one of the people who was murdered.”

“Oh my God.” Richard said putting his hands on his mouth. “Is she okay?”

“Well I doubt it.” James said. “She doesn’t need any more pain in her life right now.”

“Of course.” Richard said. “Wait did you say Carla?” He asked.

“Yes.” James said.

“Did Thomas know her?” He asked.

“They were dating actually.” James said.

“Blonde girl, blue eyes, had kind of an attitude?” Richard described.

“Well I don’t know about the attitude but yeah that’s her.” James said.

“I know her.” Richard said. “Some years back I tried to find Thomas.” He said. “I was able to get in touch with his adopted parents, but they said he didn’t want to see me. They were living in San Francisco then. When they moved to Harbor, I hired a Private investigator to find him when he turned eighteen thinking it was his parents that didn’t want me to see him. He found him a few months back but when I tried to talk to him, this blonde showed up at my door.”

“Carla?” James asked.

“Yes that’s what she said her name was.” Richard said. “She said he didn’t want to know me and I should back off.”

“You live close by?” James asked.

“About two hours away.” He said. “But it was at my motel room she showed up.”

“In Harbor?” James asked.

“Yes.” Richard said. “After that I left him alone. Then about a month ago I got word that he was looking for me. We talked on the phone.” He smiled his look faraway. “He said he had something to show me. We arranged to meet at this party here he called Fair place something-”

“The fairway gala.” James said.

“Yes that was it.” He said. “Anyway he didn’t show. But I saw her again. Talking to some guy.”

“What guy?” James asked.

“I don’t know dark hair, tall, looked like a football player.” He said.

James brought out the picture of Alex Munroe “Is this him?” He asked

Richard looked at it closely. “No I don’t think so” He said. “Anyway, they were arguing very intensely, then When she saw me she came over and asked me what I was doing there. When I told her she told me Thomas had left a while ago. Then she asked me not to tell anyone she was there.”

“Why?” James asked.

“I don’t know.” Richard said. “But she seemed really scared. Not at all like the bold girl who showed up at my door”

“Scared of the person she was with?” James asked.

“I can’t say. But yes it is possible.” Richard said. He sighed. “Anyway, do you have Toni’s parent’s address?”

*                          *                               *

It was an apartment building. It was similar to the one Thomas Bridges lived in.  Corbin and his team went up to the building after other members of the team surrounded it. Corbin walked up to apartment seven and knocked. Seconds later a man opened the door. He had dark hair, medium build. very muscular. He was dressed as if he was about to go out.

“Alex Munroe?” Corbin asked.

“Who wants to know?” He asked.

“HPD.” Corbin said holding up his badge. “You need to come with us.” Corbin said

The man laughed. “You are making a mistake. I am not going anywhere with you.”

Corbin signaled to a member of his team. He moved forward and grabbed the man at started to cuff him. “You have the right to remain silent.”

“Okay look, take this cuffs off me right now” The man said resisting a little. Another officer used force to bring him down to his knees and down on the floor spreading his feet apart.

“Anything you say can or will be used against you in a court of law.” the officer continued.

“Okay look let me explain you are making a huge mistake.” The man yelled. The officers didn’t listen and continued to frisk him and read him his rights. Corbin stood by watching.

“Are you insane? This is how you treat people?” The man yelled.

“Just come quietly.” Corbin said. “We have a few questions for you.” They dragged him up.

“Okay fine.” He said. “But before we go, can you check my back pocket for my wallet. And there should be a gun in the holster on my pants.”

Corbin patted him down. He pulled out a gun from a holster and then pulled out his wallet. He opened it and saw a very familiar badge. “You are-” he started

“FBI agent Alex Stone.” The man said. “Nice to meet you.”

*                      *                                   *

“My father is here.” Toni said as she came through the door Hazel had just opened for her.

“Richard?” Hazel asked perplexed still holding the door open.

“Yes. close the door will you?” Toni said walking up the stairs to Hazel’s room.

“Okay.” Hazel said closing the door and following her. “Did you see him?”

“Yes I saw him at school. He was making a beeline for me. I jumped in my car and drove off.” Toni said plopping herself on Hazel’s bed. “I don’t know if he followed me.”

“You were the one who went to look for him in the middle of the night.” Hazel said laughing. “You can’t be surprised he wants to see you again.”

“Yes but I was still emotional after Tom.” Toni said. “I had that address for weeks but I was putting off on seeing him.”

“And when Tom died you just acted impulsively, yes that is what I told you when you came over that night demanding I drive you.” Hazel said. “Can I tell you I told you so?”

“Oh no.” Toni covers her face with the bed sheets “What am I going to do?”

“Tell your parents you don’t want to see him.” Hazel said sitting down on the face and uncovering Toni’s face.

“I’ll be eighteen in less than two weeks.” Toni said. “That strategy is not going to last for long.”

“Then get a restraining order.” Hazel said.

“Don’t you think that is a bit extreme?” Toni asked

“Yes, because you do want to see him but you are just afraid.” Hazel said.

Toni sat up. “You don’t know how Tom described him. He called him an alcoholic, drug using loser who left our mom when he was just one and a half years.”

“What did Tom know?” Hazel scoffed. Toni looked at her sharply. “Sorry but it is true. Tom was still a baby. no way he remembered him. and besides it seems like he cleaned up his act.”

“Yeah whatever.” Toni said lying back down.

“So just go talk to him.” Hazel said. “Or at least if you don’t want to tell him to leave you alone. Just don’t avoid him.”

Toni sighed. “I don’t know. But I am going to need some moral support.”

Hazel smiled. “You know we will be there. But you talked to him before. It wasn’t so bad was it?”

“We were not alone.” Toni said. “His wife was there. She was actually really nice.”

“How about his kids? You said he had two boys?”

“Yeah I didn’t see them, just pictures around the house. One of them was thirteen, I think. The other one was eleven.”

“So you have two little brothers.” Hazel said. “That is so cute.”

“Ugh, you have no idea how annoying younger siblings are. You don’t know how lucky you are.” Toni said.

“Me? I would kill to have a brother.” Hazel said. “Younger or older.” She added. “Although when it  inherit all my parents money, I’ll be glad I am an only child.” She laughed.

Toni laughed too. “You better not say that aloud. That you would kill for a brother. People would start to think you killed Carla for her brother.”

Hazel laughed. “John? No thank you.” They laughed for a while then quieted down. “I miss her.” Hazel said. “She’d know what to do.”

“Yeah Carla would definitely know hat to do in this situation.” Toni agreed. “She was quite fierce.” She buried her face in a pillow. “What am I going to do?” She said, her voice muffled. She raised her head up. “Can I stay here forever?” she asked Hazel with a hopeful smile.

“No way.” Hazel said. “I’d get sick of you. Until college maybe but not forever.”

*                                      *                                       *

“So what is the FBI doing in Harbor” Corbin asked as they walked through the hallway in the police station. “And what is your connection with our case? And by the way, what kind of alias is ‘Munroe’?”

Alex glanced at Corbin. “You talk a lot. I’ll answer your questions later. Right now I want to talk to the lead detective on this case.”

“I am the lead detective.” Corbin said indignantly. “Ashwood and I are partners.”

Alex Stone glanced at Corbin again this time, in amusement. “Sure you are. Let me talk to Ashwood.”

As they were walking Captain Jones approached them. “Who is this?” Jones asked as he got closer.

“Alex Stone. FBI.” Alex said. pausing to shake the Captain’s hand.  “I am doing an investigation here.”

“Regarding?” Jones asked.

“You are going to have to speak with my superior in Los Angeles.” Alex said. “Right now I just need some information about the Heathway, Bridges murder case.”

“And Gary Stevens too.” James added appearing out of nowhere. “He was the he medical examiner.” He stretched out his hand towards Alex Stone. “James Ashwood.” he said.

“Alex Stone.” Alex said taking James hand. “Heard a lot about you. It’s nice to see you have recovered after the accident.”

“Thank you.” James said stiffly.

“Okay great. Now that we know each other, can you tell us what is going on?” Corbin yelled.

“Calm down. In a minute.” Alex said. Jones phone rang. “That’ll be my superior.” Alex said. Jones picked it up and spoke with someone on the other end for a minute grunting ‘yes’, and ‘I understand’. After a while Jones hung up.

“Give him what he needs.” Jones said. He walked away.

“So, I’ll start by reviewing your case so far” Alex began.

“No wait.” James interrupted. “Before we give you squat, you need to tell us exactly what it is you are doing in Harbor.” James said. “Please.” He added as an afterthought.

“Okay.” Alex said. “I was sent here to investigate Heathway and Prescott.” Alex said.

“Moraine Heathway’s law firm? For what?” James asked.

“Embezzlement and Fraud.”