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.”

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