3.5

07-05-15_2-33 PM

“I’m sorry I asked you to come back. Thank you.”

“No problem. What happened?”

I had spent the rest of the party not doing much. I had sat back down outside but I had been too preoccupied with the threat left on my freezer to enjoy myself. Soon after I had rejoined the crowd my guests had thinned out, and before I knew it everyone had left and it was getting dark. I thought I’d be fine, but the moment I was alone inside my house my legs had started shaking again. I had locked the doors and windows, but the feeling that someone was watching me didn’t leave.

That’s when I had called Emery. I didn’t want to be alone right now, and if I could trust anyone in this world it was my partner.

How was I going to explain to him why I didn’t want to be on my own inside my own house? Could I tell him about the note? Should I tell him about the note?

“It’s nothing, really. Just something someone… said.”

“Are you sure that’s everything? I’ve seen guys twice the size of you trying to intimidate you, and you never even flinch.”

I nodded, hoping he would leave it at that.

07-05-15_2-33 PM-2

For the first time since he had been assigned to me I took a good look at Emery. He had a friendly, warm smile and eyes which reflected that. Mum’s words echoed in my mind, and I had to admit that he did look a little like Marvin. Their faces were completely different, but Emery had similar bright eyes and his hair was the same shade of brown. I could see why Mum would make the connection, but there was still nothing there. I still didn’t have feelings for him like I had had for Marvin. I knew enough about Mum’s past to know that a long time ago, feelings wouldn’t have mattered to her but I didn’t want a physical-only relationship like that. I had liked Marvin, and I would wait until I liked someone in the same way again.

07-05-15_2-34 PM

“Yeah, I’m fine. Mostly. Would you like to come inside? We could watch a movie, and I’ve got some brownies left over if you’d like some.”

If there was one thing I had learned about Emery during this party it was that he loved food. He had a big sweet tooth, and loved cooking as well as baking.

“Well, I can’t say no to that!” He smiled, following my lead.

I quickly stacked some brownies and some fresh cookies onto a plate, and took everything to the sofa where Emery was already getting started on the TV. The many times he had repaired this old thing had taught him a thing or two about which channel was where or where all the recorded shows were stored. He found my movie stash in no time.

07-05-15_2-37 PM

“What did you want to watch?”

“I don’t mind, anything will do” I said truthfully, grateful for the distraction and to Emery for being such a good friend. He probably had made plans for tonight, but he had dropped everything because a note on my freezer had freaked me out. Letting him pick the movie was only fair.

He flicked through everything quickly and settled on Zombieland.

07-05-15_2-38 PM

After that the night went by very quickly. The movie was hilarious and did a wonderful job of taking my mind of my stalker. Emery was really funny and almost made me laugh more than the movie did. We were still sitting on the sofa talking long after the credits had finished, and I was wondering if we could do this more often. Not for the same reasons, but just for fun.

I felt much better by midnight. What had I been so scared about? All my doors had locks, and I was a police detective! A small note or threat couldn’t scare me! I’d be looking into it at work, there were bound to be fingerprints all over the note. Maybe I could even figure out who’s handwriting it was.

I was feeling positive, when Emery suddenly moved closer. Our legs were barely even touching, but I could feel the warmth radiating from his body and Mum’s words repeated in my head. Was she right? Did he really like me in that way?

Suddenly uncomfortable, I got up.

07-05-15_2-42 PM

“It’s past midnight, you should probably get home.” I was facing away from him but wished that I could have seen his face. Did he look tired? Disappointed?

“Oh, sure.” Disappointed. Emery was definitely disappointed. I felt bad that I had led him on. Me asking him to come over and stay late to watch a movie? Maybe even to protect me? He had said it himself, I never even flinched at the toughest criminals waving their fists at my face. He had probably thought that this was more than it actually was, and I felt bad that I had given him false hope. I didn’t like him in that way, and it would be highly unprofessional. My job and my personal life shouldn’t mix, and I was determined to keep them separate.

“I’m sorry I made you stay so late. See you tomorrow?” I hoped working together wouldn’t be awkward now. Mum was likely right, he did have feelings for me. How could I work with him knowing that I was bound to disappoint him? Was that fair on him?

“Yeah, see you tomorrow. Let me know if anything else happens, alright? I’ll be over if you need me.” I smiled at his genuine offer, hoping it didn’t give him the wrong idea once again.

“Thanks, Emery. I will do.”

07-05-15_12-51 PM

The next morning I was fired up. I was going to figure out who had left that note, and then I’d take my evidence to the Police Chief. Threatening a colleague was reason enough to issue a warning, possibly even a final warning, and I needed whoever had done this to know that they couldn’t toy with me like this. If they had something to say to me they could say it to my face!

Emery was busy typing up a report on the last case we had worked on, so I had a couple of hours at least to work this out. I was just running the third test on fingerprints when I was asked into the Chief’s office.

Scowling, I pocketed the note away safely and made my way over to his office. I hadn’t found anything but my own fingerprints, which implied that whoever had left and written the note knew what they were doing. They were here, in this police station  – I just had to figure out who it was.

I knocked, and saw through the window in the door that he motioned for me to come inside. Quickly I shut the door behind me and sat down in the chair opposite his desk.

07-05-15_12-56 PM

“Some of your colleagues have voiced concerns about you, Miss Seaworth.” My heart dropped. This was not what I had expected!

“Concerns? Like what?” I didn’t understand why they would say something like this, I always arrived first thing in the morning and often stayed late. My success rate was fantastic, and feedback from witnesses and civilians even better. Why would anyone have concerns about me? Had I slipped up and hadn’t noticed?

“You understand it would be highly unprofessional of me to tell you who said what. The concerns reported to me revolve around your obsession with one case in particular. Our colleagues are worried that you are spending too much time chasing something which we have put to rest many years ago, and that you can’t focus on current cases as a result.” Oh Maker. Had I really been that obvious?

“I assure you, I am very focused on all current cases. I would never let my work slide because o-”

The police chief gave me a sympathetic nod. “Of curse not, I know you are a professional. I believe your… interest revolves around the case of a prison outbreak some years ago, where several criminals managed to flee their confinement. May I ask what has drawn you to this case in particular?”

I couldn’t tell him. If anyone here had reason to think that my interest was personal they would never assign me to pick up Blaine’s case again, and I couldn’t let that happen.

07-05-15_12-56 PM-2

I forced on my best smile, and offered: “It’s merely curiosity. The breakout happened when I was a young teenager, I watched the news the night it was covered. I only wondered if all of the criminals who escaped that day had been recaptured, or if I might be able to track down any stragglers who have eluded us so far.”

The concern on my boss’ face relaxed into a smile. “I am glad to hear it, Miss Seaworth. Rest assured that we have caught everyone who escaped that day, every last one of them have been moved to a high security prison.” I really hoped that my face didn’t show the surprise I was feeling. He was lying. The police chief was lying to me. Why do that?

“Thank you. It’s good to hear that everyone has been brought to justice.”

“If you are interested, we have received a new case only a few hours ago and I have yet to decide who to assign it to. It’s more difficult than what you and Mr. Dwyer have dealt with before, but if you perform well there might be a promotion waiting for you. Can I count on you?”

Barely listening, I nodded. “Yes, thank you! I won’t let you down.” Why would he lie to me? It didn’t make sense – he was the police chief, he knew everything there was to know about all cases. He had all important information available to him. My father was still out there, and he was covering it up. Why would he cover it up? Did my colleagues know about this?

Suddenly, I felt sick. Corrupt police officials only existed in movies, not here, in sleepy little Willow Creak, and yet the evidence had just presented itself to me. I couldn’t let this go, but I couldn’t do my research from work any more. If anyone else saw that I continued searching for the truth they’d report me again, and then I’d be in trouble. I couldn’t afford to be in trouble. Not until Blaine was in prison and I had gotten to the bottom of this cover-up.

“I know you won’t, Miss Seaworth. Good luck.” We shook hands, and I left the office with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I knew that something had been wrong here, but this? This was larger than I had expected.

07-05-15_12-58 PM

For now, all Emery and I could do was solve our newest case. The chief had been right, this was complex and would take a while to solve. I had the uneasy feeling that we had only been assigned this case because it would keep my mind focused on something else for a long time, but I had no way of proving it.

Whatever was going on here, I had to uncover it and fix it. Who knew how many officers were in on this? How many corrupt colleagues we had? What if even Emery was included in their circle?

I felt sick yet again. Was it possible that he had only been assigned as my partner to keep his eyes on me? Suddenly I felt very alone in our crowded station.

All these people who had sworn an oath to do the right thing, and I didn’t know that I could trust any of them.

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3.4

05-10-15_9-47 PM

Working with Emery by my side made my job a lot easier. We shared the paperwork, and could pull off the whole Good Cop/ Bad Cop routine. When we went on patrol we could split up, covering a larger area. We communicated well and let the other know if we saw the slightest hint of trouble. He was good at his job, very good, and we made an even better team.

07-05-15_12-24 PM

07-05-15_12-25 PM

We spread out to find the suspects we were looking for, and then met up again to question and arrest them together. Often the profiles led us to teenagers with weary looks in their eyes, or jumpy grown-ups who knew we were looking for them. Thanks to my martial arts training I had never had a problem arresting anyone no matter how violent they tried to get, but now that Emery had my back it was almost effortless. He didn’t have the same expertise in hand-to-hand combat as I did, but he had speed. He couldn’t block attacks as well as I could, but he could dodge them easily. Our teaming up was working out well, and it didn’t take long before we had a routine worked out.

When it came to questioning a suspect back at the station we took turns, and we were only in the room together if the suspect was proving particularly difficult or possibly dangerous.

07-05-15_1-31 PM-2

I loved most aspects about my job, but bringing in teenagers was hard. They were still so young, but I felt like we had failed them already. Their offences ranged from graffiti to drug dealings all the way to money laundering, although the latter was rare. It was troubling what they got up to, and how easy it seemed to be for them. Their motives varied, but they never seemed to have a problem getting involved in these things. It was almost like someone out there was specifically recruiting teenagers, and I was eager to bring him or her in.

Presenting these kids with clear evidence was the worst part of my job. They all felt that they had something to prove, but they had chosen the worst possible way to do it. They were ambitious, and sometimes cunning, and I could always see the exact moment in their eyes when they realised that they had lost. It was a game to them, and they weren’t as good as they had thought at playing it.

07-05-15_1-31 PM-3

“How did you get that!” Bethan had vandalised a local pub after they had refused to serve a minor anything stronger than a coke. I was showing her images taken from the CCTV footage, as well as a spray can she had left behind by accident. It had her fingerprints all over it, and the fact that she recognised it was as good as a confession.

“We found this under one of the tables at John’s. We have searched it thoroughly and have found your fingerprints.” There it was. The moment she realised she had lost this round.

“It isn’t mine!” She blurted out. “I was hiding it for a friend, he must be the one who did it!”

“Bethan, I know you are scared, but we both know that you’re not stupid. The only other fingerprints on here are from the sales assistant who sold you this can, who is currently out of town.”

Her lips were quivering when she confessed. “I don’t want to go to prison!”

“I know. Because you are still a minor we will only keep you here for one night, after that you will serve community service for a month. This is your first offence so no further action is necessary, but I advise against doing anything like this again.”

She nodded, and hid her head in her arms which she was resting on the cold table between us.

07-05-15_1-43 PM

When we weren’t at work Emery sometimes came over to fix my appliances. I had been able to renovate a little here and there since moving in, but my TV was still old and the bathroom appliances were ancient, so things broke often. Emery had learned a lot of DIY skills from his father, a mechanic, and was happy to lend me a hand. He didn’t mind and insisted that I didn’t have to pay him anything, but offering him some brownies was the least I could do. A lot of my electronics weren’t quick to fix and I felt bad for taking up his time.

07-05-15_12-50 PM

My first big renovation had gone into my garden, but I knew that I needed to put more money into the inside, too. I had build a small fence around the patio area, and had bought some garden furniture including a comfortable bench and a small bbq.

Since it was the middle of summer and relatively warm, I invited my family and everyone at work over for a bbq to celebrate my first year at the station coming to a close, as well as the renovations.

07-05-15_2-22 PM

Everyone came, including Mum, Gramma and Grandpa Milan. Momma was still a little weak from all the tests done at the hospital but she was better overall. Mum said that she had wanted to come but the doctors had put her on very strict bed-rest, so Mum was going back home again right after the party instead of staying a night.

A couple of people from work couldn’t make it, either – our Chief was staying the weekend with his daughter and two sons in Twinbrook, and another co-worker had gone undercover, but otherwise everyone had made it. Grandpa Milan took over bbq duties, and Gramma kept bringing him more home-marinated steaks which she had prepared herself. She was a much better cook than Mum or me, but maybe one day I would be at least half as good.

People had started dancing or getting drinks when Mum sat closer to me.

07-05-15_2-30 PM-2

“Is that handsome young man over there your partner you’ve told me so much about?”

I frowned, hoping that Emery hadn’t heard her. I had mentioned him, yes, but I hadn’t told her all that much. I didn’t know that much myself, despite us working together. I knew he was the youngest from a small family in Bridgeport, that his parents were divorced and that his sister had just gotten married before he was transferred here, but we didn’t talk much about personal things otherwise. We were focused on the job, there wasn’t often time for chitchat.

“Emery? Yes, that’s him.”

Her eyes lit up, and she leaned in closely. “He’s cute, Sophia! Has he asked you out yet?” I smiled when I noticed Mum looking around nervously, speaking in a hushed voice hoping that Grandma didn’t hear her.

07-05-15_2-31 PM

“What? No, why would he? There’s nothing between us.”

Mum raised her eyebrows like she knew better. “Does he know that there isn’t? I’ve seen the look he’s giving you all day a lot, and I’m telling you he likes you!”

“Well, we are partners. We see each other everyday and work closely together, but that’s all there is. I’d never mix work and personal relationships, Mum.”

Still on the lookout for Grandma, Mum scooted even closer.

07-05-15_2-31 PM-3

“Look, sweetheart, I know we told you that you can’t settle down or get married or start a family, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself a little! Emery seems like a very nice young man, and he’s into you, believe me. You’re a hard-working girl, you deserve some fun.” I sat there staring at her, unsure of what to say. Was my Mum really telling me to sleep with my partner?

“Erm…” I hesitated, searching for the right words for this conversation. “Thanks, Mum. But it’s really not like that. I don’t want to string him along like that, if I’m not serious.”

Again she smiled like she didn’t believe me. “I just thought you might like him because he looks a bit like Marvin.” Now that I hadn’t expected! Marvin? Emery?

“He doesn’t- How does he look like Marvin?”

“Don’t you think? The bright eyes, the dark brown hair…” Even with her spelling it out I couldn’t see the resemblance.

“No, sorry. I can’t see it. I’ll put the burgers in the fridge, be right back.” I felt bad for cutting her off like that, but she didn’t look disappointed and I was done talking about Emery like this. We were co-workers, nothing more. Even if I had felt something for him I wouldn’t have considered it.

I quickly grabbed the plate piled high with left-over burgers and hurried inside.

07-05-15_2-32 PM

I was just placing them, carefully, between chicken wings and steaks when the light from the fridge fell onto a small note left on the freezer. It was folded up, but had my name handwritten on it. I didn’t recognise the handwriting and hadn’t even realised that anyone had come inside, but I guessed at some point some of them would have needed to use the bathroom.

Curious, I took the paper from the freezer and unfolded it.

Stop your private investigation or you will regret it.

My heart was hammering in my chest. A threat. Someone had left a threat in my kitchen! Even worse, I hadn’t told anyone about my research – not even the Chief – but someone knew what I was doing, and they wanted me to stop so badly that they were threatening me.

I felt sick. Someone from this party had entered my house without me realising it, and had left me this note about something they shouldn’t know about.

Shivers were running down my arms uncomfortably. I wasn’t a rookie at my job any more. I had seen blood, murder and other crime scenes, but this was the first time my legs were shaking so much I had to sit down for a moment.

3.3

05-10-15_9-10 PM

Every time my boss looked at me or asked me into his office to discuss something I felt uneasy, or even threatened. Something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. On top of that, I had been with the police for half a year now and I still didn’t have a lead on my father. It was like he had disappeared into thin air after his escape, and I hated that I couldn’t track him down. I was good at picking criminals out from the crowd, but somehow Blaine managed to elude me. Since I couldn’t really discuss either problem at work and didn’t want to bring it up over the phone to my mum, I vented my frustration at my punching bag instead. It felt good to work out and to hit something, and after an intense thirty-minute workout I felt better.

05-10-15_9-36 PM

I had taken up baking in my free time. I wanted to be the kind of Mum and Grandma who always had freshly baked cookies in the house, and since my baking skills equaled zero at the moment I wanted to throw myself into it. I was going to be the Mum who was always asked to participate in the bake sales at school, and I knew that right now I was very far away from that.

05-10-15_9-37 PM

Although I really had to get away from using the brownie mix they sold at our superstore. It was so easy, and so yummy, and it required next to no work at all! It was great but it didn’t teach me anything. I was miles away from being begged to take part in a bake sale, but I wanted to at least be able to bake from scratch. Mum had never been a very devoted cook, but Momma had talent and some of her love for fresh food had rubbed off on me.

After a particularly stressful week at work, the smell of brownies never failed to lift the stress and exhaustion right off of me. It was after one of those hectic weeks that Mum dropped by, asking why I hadn’t called all week. I had a feeling there was more to her visit, but didn’t want to press her for the truth right away. I really wanted to tell her about my search efforts but I wasn’t sure how much I should tell her, and was grateful when she suggested to see my progress at the punching bag instead.

05-10-15_9-18 PM

“Just five more, Sophia, you can do it!” We had always trained together, and now that I lived on my own I sometimes missed my training buddy. It was nice when she stopped by and gave me some pointers, and it never failed to amaze me how energetic Mum still was, despite her age. She was nearing her 75th birthday, but she could still beat the life out of one of these and she could probably still run for longer than I could, too.

Panting, I punched the bag another six times before dropping my hands and pulling off my gloves, letting them fall to the ground.

“Well done, baby girl, you’ve made very good progress! Now why don’t you tell me what’s been bugging you?”

05-10-15_9-16 PM-2

How did mothers always know?

“It’s nothing, really. I’m just tired from work this week, and I get the feeling that there’s something off about the Police Chief.” I left out the part about how I still didn’t have a lead on my father. I didn’t want to worry her with it, and she deserved never to have to think about him again. It wouldn’t be my fault if she did.

“How do you mean?”

“It’s just the way he looks at me sometimes… I don’t know, I can’t place my finger on it. No one else feels the same about him, so I’m sure I’m just tired.” Really wanting to change the subject, I added: “What made you stop by? You could have called if you wanted to talk, rather than drive all the way here.” Immediately Mum’s face fell, and I braced myself for bad news. I knew I shouldn’t have pressed her after all, but the conversation had taken a direction I didn’t want to discuss just yet.

05-10-15_9-16 PM

“Well, sweetheart, we don’t want to worry you, but Gemma isn’t well. She’s been coughing for a few weeks now, and she’s been referred to the hospital for some tests. We’re sure it’s just a cold, but we wanted you to know in any case.” I heard the words she wasn’t saying very clearly. Just in case it’s more than the flu, after all. An old TV advert from my childhood resurfaced in my mind, and suddenly I was freezing in my well-heated home. Have you been coughing for four weeks? See your doctor and ask to be tested for cancer. You wouldn’t want your loved ones to take the risk, so why would you?

A dry lump formed in my throat, and I did my best to swallow it whole without Mum noticing. I was glad she had told me. On the other hand I wished I hadn’t known. I hated not being prepared, but I had never lost someone close to me, either, and wasn’t sure what to do if Momma died. Marvin had just moved somewhere else, and Grandma and Grandpa Milan were immortal. Momma would be the first person I’d truly lose, permanently.

05-10-15_9-12 PM-2

For the rest of the weekend I did my best to distract myself. Mum had gone back to Oasis Springs to be with Momma in the hospital, and had promised to give me a call if anything changed. I had already baked more batches of brownies and sugar cookies than I could ever eat all by myself, so I threw myself back into the search for my father. My Sunday ended on a frustrating note when, after hours of very specific researching, I still had found nothing. After all this time the only things I knew for certain were that he had been obsessed with my Mum – possibly still was – and had raped her in a pathetic attempt to make her his, he had gone to prison but had broken out sometime during my early teenage years, and now he was apparently a master at playing Hide-And-Seek. I was tired of still being ‘It’, but couldn’t start my own reinforced search while I was still so far down the ladder. All I could do was be patient and bide my time, and I wasn’t very good at either.

And then, finally, another two months later, I was promoted. I still didn’t have the influence I needed to open his case again, but it was another step into the right direction. And, most exciting of all-

05-10-15_9-10 PM-3

I no longer needed to shadow somebody else. I was no longer someone’s junior partner. Finally, I had my own partner allocated to me, and he wasn’t a junior member of the police force, either. Emery Dwyer had just moved here from Bridgeport and had been promoted himself shortly before being transferred here to work for us instead.

I had felt good in my job before, but now that I had a partner I felt like a proper, real professional cop. I felt motivated, and ecstatic.

There was still quite a long way to go, but together we’d find my father and we’d put him back where he belonged. I was sure of it.