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From Dawn till Dusk
From Dawn till Dusk
December 26 2009
Driving the brand new black S.U.V. he had bought from the bonus he had received from the countless hours of overtime he had killed himself over, he kidnaps his first victim in his own suspicious yet perfect act of murder. He spent countless hours of his precious yet small amounts of free time, planning this dreaded sin. Thou shall not kill, the majestic, ultimately commanding thought from the lord and of the sixth commandment had entered the darkened depths of his mind, he found himself questioning his own mental health his own mental state for the occasion, he stops thinking his mind focusing on the murky waves belonging to the lake of Tempe crash over and over onto the bottom of the bridge named the Loop 202. “Get out.” He orders, pointing the cap of the gun at the drunken captive, he watches the captive slip out of the car, onto the ground face first. As he drags his captive, over to the shallows of the chilling water on the breezy fall October night the night of his sister’s birthday. He was kneeling beside the victim; a tall, lean, muscular, Hispanic male in his late teens earning a psych major over at ASU, the killer begins to tie his captive up with rope noticing the dagger which laid right next to his left leg, the mysteriously lethal weapon of choice perfect for the first stage of the murder, strangulation. Shivers were running down his own spine. His victim tries to fight against the restraints that held him. The killer smiles; the smile had held so much hatred, so much evil within. “You’re a fighter. Good. I like that in my victims. It pleases me so.” He pulls on rubber latex gloves, the solid strong shield of invisibility. His killer was already in the zone. The darkened zone that held the metallic scent of blood, as the second stage in the murder is committed…torture. His victim slurred words assaulted his ears making him irritated. Made him yearn for death. The call of death could not be rushed. “Please… please let me live. I’ll… I’ll do anything.” He looks around, surveillance of the streets waiting… watching the streetlamps for any known sign of life. There must be no soul watching him commit this deadly sin. After he was satisfied no one had seen; he peers at his watch, marks down the time, the mode of operation, the symbolic time of death 2:12 a.m. He goes to grab the small black and gold knife, when he lets it catch the mysterious light of the full moon peering from the misty-red clouds. Piercing his victim had given him a strange, yet…utterly satisfying feeling. The victim had shown a dramatic look of fright. He falls to his knees -- dead. When the disastrous feat was finished, he leaves a final message, the warning of death and crime behind. He signs his initials with the sacrifice’s blood. Placing the body in a symbolic cross, he takes off sprinting into the quiet depths of the night. Leaving the body for someone else to find.
The words flowed from my heart to my notebook, scribbling down the poem as fast as I could,

“I have heard of reasons manifold why love must be blind. But this the best of all I hold. His eyes are in his mind, what outward form and feature are. He guesseth but in part, but what within is good and fair, he seeth with the heart.”

My partner to the right of me, suddenly stops the questioning, asking for my notes, snatching my notebook, as he lets it fall to the ground in a heap, he takes me down to the ground with him, when Dirk Arthurs, a widely known drug dealer to the Phoenix area, decided to pull a gun and begins firing at us. “Get down!” Jack screams, covering my head as the bullet strayed from its original target into the wall. “Someone always pays.” A psychotic cry coming from Dirk's mouth, I saw the foam-like saliva pouring down his face onto his neck. Two more shots flared from my gun, the angle from the table was near impossible. “I can’t get an angle on him. Not from down here.” I whisper to Jack, reloading my gun, I found only two rounds left, the glass shattered around us, Dirk stops shooting to reload pausing for breath.
“Alexis, you need to get yourself out...” Jack tells me, stalling the battle, shaking glass out of his hair as I shook out mine, “I’ll take the blow of all of this, from the Chief, and from the media, just get yourself out.” Nodding I begin to crawl away on my hands and knees, heading towards the door. Dirk lets off a couple more rounds close to me, when the door suddenly is bashed open, Sergeant Allen Noble drags me to my feet, surveying for any serious injuries.
“Where’s Jack?” Fear growing wide within his eyes as he watches me shake like a leaf against his embrace, “Inside the interrogation room, he needs help. Get more officers in there now.” I command wiping away the blood from the glass with his handkerchief. More cops swarm the room; I heard the deafening bang of the table breaking the solid structure of the building. Rushing into the room, the dust begins to settle, I kneel beside Jack, helping him up, he pats the dirt off of his outfit, while a homicide rookie named Harper Cole reports,
“Your suspect is running on foot towards Scottsdale Road near Chandler Fashion Square.” Running towards the patrol cars, I take the passenger seat hearing Jack swear under his breath in the driver’s seat.
Stepping out of the car, I catch a glimpse Dirk Arthurs running to the grand entrance of Nordstrom, immediately lost within the enormous number of crowds. Grasping my shoulder, the look in his eyes reveal the mystery of carefulness and concern wondering where to take the situation, Jack orders, “Stay here and radio for backup, I don’t want to lose him.” He steps away from the car when he looks back staring at me with dark gray eyes, “I don’t want this to turn into a hostage situation either.” He sprints to the open door when he nearly knocks over a woman and her child. The woman sulks away quietly with her child going to her car.
Nearly ten minutes have passed, since Jack had gone inside alone, people come pouring out onto the main parking lot in large masses in a rise of dead panic, the backup and Phoenix SWAT had been called for crowd control. The tinted glass doors burst open for the first time with Jack carrying Dirk handcuffed. He drags him over towards me. “Dirk Arthurs, you are under arrest for the attempted murder of myself and of my partner, also for the possession of illegal drugs.” Throwing him inside the S.U.V. quoting the ever-famous Miranda Rights,

“You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him with you while you are being questioned. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning, if you wish one, do you understand these rights as I have given?”

Arthurs tries to fight against the cuffs unsuccessfully I pull him back to the original place against the car, as hard as I possibly could. He grumbles through gritted teeth; the dark, diabolical look of evil written upon his face, “Yes. I understand my rights.” While I slide into the driver’s seat securing the buckle of the seat belt, Jack leans inside the window; I find myself staring at all of the marks over his body caused by Dirk , “When you’re done with Arthurs, meet me at the crime scene. There’s someone I want you to meet.” I nod. He explains that he will remain here to speak to the press and to Chief Robert McHeartly who had just arrived. “See you there.” I let go of his hand. Leaving it for the wheel I drove slowly and carefully out of the mall, the emergency vehicles had arrived to check on Jack and the masses of people who had gotten hurt.
Arriving at the prison gates, a gruff voice came from the entrance, “Sergeant Montana thank you for driving the prisoner here, I certainly appreciate it.” The voice belonged to David Gerald, and his slightly younger brother Tom as they teased me, placed Dirk Arthurs in a single cell with padding along the walls. Upon leaving the prison grounds, I received promises of not leaving him out of their sight.
The sun started to lower in the sky, leaving marvelous streaks of color in the sky I made it to the scene. “Montana!” Jack called, waving me over. I flashed my I.D. to Harper Cole; “Go on in Miss Montana.” He blushed scarlet softly grinning from ear to ear, “Rookie.” I murmur snickering behind my hand. I stopped straight into a man from my past life, “Alexis Montana, meet Special Agent Shaun Hammermill, he’s with the…” Shaun placed a hand up in the air, interrupting Jack. “We’ve met.” We said simultaneously. Special Agent Hammermill shifts his weight side to side, a sure sign of impatience. Walking closer to the body, the smells came at me like a ton of bricks; I felt my body sway back and forth from nauseosness. Shaun grabs my arms, steadying me. Jack gives him a strong look of disapproval and hatred.
“Are you all right?” The gentle touch of his hand upon mine was far too close for comfort. My heart needed to feel heavily guarded behind the solid walls of my job. I jerk away from his touch and from him, “I’m fine.” The body had been placed like the cross, arms were spread wide and his feet close together. Small dark bruises and fresh dry blood covered the victim’s wrists. It looked like suicide, but I knew it wasn’t suicide. “Smart killer.”
“Andrew Zachary Kingman, age 19, five foot eleven inches, weighs two hundred and seventy pounds, blood alcohol level .20.” Shaun summarized reading the initial report. Jack looks at the corpse defiantly his hands on his hips, beginning to challenge me with a smirk attitude, “What in this report makes you so certain that he was murdered?” Shaun and I glanced at each other, my eyes rolling deepening with sarcasm as we answering simultaneously, “Look at the B.A.L.” A confused look suddenly lay upon Jack’s face. The look quickly changed showing of wonder and sadness, burrowed deep within his eyes darkening the color from shades of gray to midnight gray. The words came afterwards the facial expression had been lost beneath the words, “So? The kid was drunk under aged. A lot of college kids do stupid stuff like this. What makes this one any different?” Shaun looked at the corpse hiding any real emotion, then at me saying “This time a kid is dead.” Shivers crawled down my spine.
Walking up towards his best friend, who had been standing discreetly beyond the yellow caution tape, sealing off the crime scene away from any curious onlookers and the annoying, gnawing, nagging anything for a story reporters of the press, “This killing was a complete success. The cops have no idea, that; it was I, who killed Andrew Kingman.” He tells him quietly, with adrenaline pumping throughout his brain, breathing heavily with pride. His friend gives a small approving laugh, approving of the deed completed by his friend and of his own escape. Smiling, the sole smile reveals evil and death. “That perfect murder of yours was just on KTVK only a few moments ago… that b***h partner of yours knows far too much. She’ll discover your secret, discovering who you truly are.” The friend warns glaring down over at her, who had been talking to a reporter named Kathleen Chavez whom had been from KTVK. His partner rarely talked to the press; she had the same thoughts of the press as he did. She never talked to them or with them unless she felt she had to. “I’ll get rid of her.” He promises his friend. A promise he wasn’t bothered to keep. After saying farewell, he notices the reporter had left. Leaving her alone with the fed, Chief Robert McHeartly had hired as they quickly engaged in conversation possibly about the old times they had recently shared together. He walks back to the yellow tape wondering with distinct curiosity what he was going to do with her.
CSU showed up an hour later with two other homicide detectives. “Hey Lex-a-million, who’s dead?” Allen called from the yellow tape, showing his I.D. to Cole, I shield my eyes from the golden faded light shining from the setting sun, “Allen, a teenager was found here… dead. I also think he was murdered.” When he comes over to us, I introduce him to Special Agent Hammermill. “Special Agent Shaun Hammermill, it’s a real delight to finally meet you. I read in a crime magazine that you stopped a drug cartel leader from attempted first-degree murder of Timothy Kaine the governor of Virginia.” Handing Allen the Polaroids taken of the scene, he ponders over them carefully; Shaun kneels over the dead body, eyes locked with mine his hands ran against his jeans distracting his mind. Allen kneels beside the body, staring at the paper wrapped around his neck. He pulls on rubber latex gloves, examining the message, reading it aloud for our benefit, ‘The body and the blood have been officially restored to you my lord redemption shall soon be ours. Signed J.C.’ “The initials are written in blood.” I point out; Allen stares up at me, pointing to a part of the letter J, “Look how it’s smeared here, here and here. Our killer uses something to hide his prints, hide his own identity. It’s a good ploy but it does tell us one thing.” He paused; violently adding suspense to the situation, “This murder was premeditated.” Bending down next to him, I ask out of curiosity, “What could he have used to hide his own identity?” He shakes his head. “What the hell does the message mean?” Jack asked, as he stood hovering over me his hand upon my neck supporting his own weight against me. “The act of communion...he’s talking about the Christian act of communion in the message, and of the circle of life. Our killer is probably a schizo.” I tell him. Conscious of everyone staring, Shaun stood, rubbing his pants from any particles of dust questioning, “Can you get a hold of a pastor, for an initial interview?” The question brought back certain unwanted memories of the past, my past.
‘Alexis darling, welcome home. We all hope that you will enjoy it here with us.’ Mrs. Sarah Montana had said. When she had welcomed me with open arms to her home on Red Wren Drive and 24th Street. I don’t quite remember it all, but I do remember it was a long time ago; I had been seven years old -- seven alone and afraid for my life. My birth parents had left me behind in a church orphanage. Running away several times from the orphanage also from my past certainly didn’t help me. It hadn’t made me feel any better. The images flood my brain, like a darkened poison seeping through my veins,
I heard myself scream with terror, “No! Don’t! I don’t want to remember any more!” My hands were clutching my head as hard as possible, begging almost screaming at my mind to stop remembering. I push Shaun away whilst I stare at the blood on my hands, which had also softly stained his blue dress shirt, “I’m a friend of Father Timothy Montana with Corpus Christi Catholic Church, over on 36th street and Knox.” He smiles, the beautiful white teeth revealed an idea, “Come with me.” He grasps my hand. “While the two of you are gone working over on that angle, I’ll figure out what the killer used to hide his identity. Also, if he was murdered or not.” Allen volunteered; winking at me knowing it was my idea.
Once we got to his rented red unmarked impala, he opens the passenger seat, helping me into the car. “Thank you.” He smiles, “Even an old dog like me can learn a new trick.” Driving to the church we had a somewhat casual conversation of the body, up until Shaun states, “You look absolutely stunning.” It felt awkward hearing him say that. Afterwards we barely spoke to one another. I never wanted him to know my secret. What would he think of me when he found out? Arriving at the church with the sun almost completely set, leaving brilliant colors streaked across the sky, I stop him by seizing his upper arm, “Wait! You should know…” I told him everything, when he hadn’t responded; I mumble mostly to myself, “I never wanted to tell you. I was embarrassed of my past, I thought that if you knew about my past you would’ve told Eric Saunders at the time…” I stopped, he interrupted me placing a finger upon my lips, “Alexis, you’ve always known I can keep a secret. I would never tell Saunders. He would have fired you in a heartbeat.” He tries a sense of humor. Rolling my eyes, I see Father Timothy come out of his office; “Daddy, we need to ask you some questions on the act of communion.” He laughs a joyous tone ringing through my ears, “Ask away, Alexis, ask away.” Showing us around his office where we could talk without the risk of being overheard, we asked him for information on the act of communion, “The bread is the symbol of Christ’s body, while the wine symbolizes the blood of Christ. It is the most sacred act in the entire religion. It is supposed to be rejuvenating, a release of sin, and to secure a place for us at the golden gates of the kingdom of heaven.” Shaun hands him the Polaroids of the crime scene, glancing over to me. Daddy glances at the Polaroids, I watch him frown deeply in thought. “It looks to me like your killer might be a schizophrenic, God is supposedly speaking through him to commit such an act of violence.” A dark tone, which made me shudder. After saying good-bye, we head back to the scene as soon as we could. The sun had finally set letting the darkness engulf the city of Phoenix.
“Bye, Daddy. I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I tell him, over the phone once I got back to the scene. I felt like I needed his wisdom now more than ever. Jack had already left the scene earlier today. Time had also scared away the forensics crew, any curious onlookers and the reporters. The silence was almost unbearable; the only sound was the clicking of my high heels on the ground. I heard Shaun carefully creep up behind me, moving some of my blunt straight black hair from the back of my neck, he states in a smart-a** tone, “You know when your partner leaves, you’re supposed to go with him.” He makes me laugh. Honestly, it almost felt good to laugh. The smile disappears from my lips; quickly I changed my facial expression to one of seriousness. “I know, I should’ve left and gone home, something is missing.” After ten minutes of intense searching, I solemnly gave up. I start walking to the deserted parking garage named after Dan Marjerles where I parked my car; he stepped in rhythm beside me. “Let me take you home.” He offers. I shiver with cold as I respond, “Thanks, but why the sudden acts of kindness?” He laughs as he stares at me, “Because you need them.”
He sits at the dinner table with his father, conversing of the past, his past, his shared past with his sister. “The reason why I chose to give up on her, my own daughter was to save her life. If I had remained as her father, she would’ve died a long time ago. Or she would’ve gotten hurt.” His frown deepened showing deep wrinkles in his face. He feels bad for making his old man remember this; he feels it’s his responsibility to know why she left. “Dad, I got you help with AA and with the government after I went to the academy in Washington D.C. You could’ve looked her up! Found out where she was! Where she lived! Who had adopted her! So you could forgive yourself, her, and Mother for leaving.” He explodes in his father’s face. His father makes no reply, which makes him upset. He storms off out of anger, at his father and the way his life had turned out, yelling behind him, “I found out who she really is. She works for me now. I’m working with her now. She’s my sister and you never told me!” He stomps out of the door, without looking back at the face his father had. The defiant look of loss, death and evil lay upon his face.
Something didn’t feel quite right as we walk closer and closer to the parking garage where Alexis had decided to leave her car. I felt it in my gut, digging within my bones. As a cop, I’d been trained at an early stage to listen to signals such as these. “Alexis, do you feel like you’re being watched?” I could only hope she didn’t feel what I felt. She looks at me, concerned. “No. Do you?” I felt someone’s eyes bear into my back. The hairs upon the back of my neck stood. My heart pounded loudly within my chest. My throat felt as dry as a desert. My instincts sharpened to the core. My right hand lingered toward the gun I had, a nine-millimeter handgun. My left hand wavered near Alexis’s. Getting her safely to her car, in the poorly lit depths of the garage, which had been deserted since rush hour had passed, the feeling had grown stronger, more gnawing when she climbs into the driver’s seat, staring at the parking space, starting the car. Two men grab her by her arms, throwing her into the back seat. She screams out my name, I open the back door, carefully using it to my advantage shielding my chest; I jump out aiming the gun at them, she tries to break her kidnapper’s grip on her. Squirming, she screeched, “Tom! Dave! Let me go!” When I heard her call her kidnappers by name, I dropped the gun and my guard towards them. “Sorry Lexi. We didn’t mean to frighten you.” One of them had apologized, as they let go of her, I help her down beside the car. “Tom, it’s a bit late for that…” She squeals, placing a hand to her chest, as if the action would stop her heart from falling out of her chest. “Tell me what’s going on.” Her hands clenched into tight fists upon her hips, staring hard at the both of them, a sure sign of irritation, frustration and impatience. “Now.” “Dirk Arthurs escaped from prison while you were at the Tempe Town Lake scene.” Tom winced when she had punched him hard in the arm. She collapses against the car; I sat down next to her, trying to give her some comfort. After forty minutes of collaborating ideas as to where Dirk would be hiding, if he had an accomplice to aid and abet him into hiding, the twins had left promising, they wouldn’t quit searching until they found him either dead or alive. While I drove her home she barely spoke; she just sat there in her seat with her arms crossed. “You know they’ll find him alive, Lexi-bee,” I stated, trying to cheer her up by using her old nickname. She nods afterwards with a small grin, but she still won’t speak. Arriving at her house, she whispers, “Thank you for the ride.” I walk her inside not ready to leave her alone; she sneaks a peek at the answering machine. I notice a red “1” flash on and off on the machine. Max decided to show himself acting excited, jumping around and barking. I pet him quietly, watching her as she listens with one ear possibly out of habit, while she pours herself a cup of green tea and feeding Max. The twins report in one at a time, “Still no sign of Dirk Arthurs, Montana, we’ll keep on looking until we find him.” She gasps, pounding the counter with her fists. Max’s ears perk up knowing his master was upset. The cup wobbles from the force of her fist, I watch her, intently staring at the marks on her wrists while she places it back into her hands and back onto the counter she speaks for the first time, “s**t, I thought he would been found by now.” I stare at her with awe, wondering what she meant when she stated that single thought about Dirk. “Lexi-bee, he’s a smart-a** criminal. They usually aren’t found within just two hours of escaping from prison. You know they’ll find him.” Hugging her, I breathe in the cool cucumber scent of her hair, before she pulls away. With her arms crossed, something clearly bothering her. She had remained unwilling to tell me, she needed a friend, someone to count on. I wanted to be that someone, if she ever would let me. After a minute or so of watching her, she asked me to drive her back to the crime scene. I knew that look that lay on her face, the look of intelligence she had an idea. “What if the M.E. hadn't called it a suicide yet?" She asked. I had no idea where she was taking this. She's on a roll. “They haven't. The autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow." I inform her. She smiles. “He was murdered. I knew there was something wrong with the strange bruises on his wrist, it wouldn't make sense if it was a suicide and the note wouldn't make any sense either, since it's a mortal sin to take your life." When I take her to the scene she already tells and explains her theory to me. “It all makes sense.” She states. “I don’t see why I didn’t see it before.” As she walks to where the body was only this morning. I knew why she didn’t see it before. She was surprised earlier. I had shown up, out of nowhere without even the slightest thought of calling her first. It was off by a couple of hours. The forensics team had already taken the body to the morgue for the autopsy, which was scheduled for sometime tomorrow afternoon. Storm clouds covered the sky, sending rain down in sheets. Surprisingly to my point of view, Jack had been there at the scene as well. When had he gotten here? How long has he been here? Alexis barely talks to him as she reenacts the murder the way she saw it. Something else caught my attention. The shadow of a woman jogging through the darkened alley, not too far from the scene’s cut off from the tape lines, the odd thing I found, she was not alone. A man had been jogging next to her; there had been a strong difference in stride between the two joggers, I watched unmoving with no emotion with dread growing within the pit of my stomach as they stop jogging two yards from the scene, continuing to walk towards us. Jack badges them asking them to leave, when the man suddenly pulls a gun from the back of his sweat-pants. “Welcome to the end of the line, Sergeant White.” He sneers gently pulling back the hammer. Alexis’s eyes grow wide in fear, the man had seen. He points the gun at Alexis, “Your life won’t go before Sergeant Montana’s life. Lucky for you, you get to watch her die.” Jack lets thrifts of anger release from his body. He had a strong attachment to Alexis. The man stroking the gun gently with his forefinger as a lingering threat. The woman standing next to him reached for her gun pointing it at us. I reach out for Alexis’s arm, pulling her behind me for her safety, her protection. She looks at me, the look of fear clearly written on her face. The woman sees this and decides to use it to her advantage. “Special Agent Shaun Hammermill, you just made the biggest mistake of you life. The one you shall most regret.” The woman warns the foreboding effect coming from her eyes and from the words that she speaks. She is the first to fire her weapon. I felt myself being pushed away from the path of the bullet. I watch unfortunately like a statue, my body refusing to move as the shot launched itself into her rib cage. “No!” I run out to her, catching her head in my lap, she winces in pain; I wrap one of her arms around her bullet wound. As the rain continued to pour down on the city of Phoenix, it left a misty description to the alley making it almost invisible to the outside world. I see the rain glisten her skin as she tries to speak. “Shaun…” I place a finger upon her lips, forbidding her to talk. I see fresh tears forming in her eyes, a clear disadvantage for her and for me. “Please…please don’t talk.” I whisper, there was another shot this time coming from the man’s gun. Throwing myself onto Alexis as a human shield, careful of her injury, she stares unmoving watching Jack fall to the ground from the bullet’s impact in his stomach. The couple disappeared after Jack was hit into the alley and into the night never to be seen again. Jack crawls his way over, holding his wound with his right arm, “You need to get her out of here, to a hospital…to safety. She trusts you. Go!” I drove her to the hospital in tears; it hurt so badly for my heart to see her this way. Forty-six hours pass slowly, as I continue to pace the entire floor of the waiting room before collapsing into a chair out of pure exhaustion, placing my hands into my face, a man came over sitting down on one of the chairs next to me, whispering so only I could hear him, “Special Agent Hammermill, that is my little girl in there, I need to know what happened to her.” I felt rather secretive, not wanting to tell him but one of the nurses came out of hiding from behind the hanging curtain to report, “Mr. Hammermill, Miss Montana is conscious now. You will be able to see her now.” Walking towards her room, I felt my heart melted from the stone cold lead as it was during the very beginning of the case this morning, to an actual beating heart. When I arrive at her door, I inhale deeply, intently focusing on the heart machine beep every second. She smiles as I walk inside it was a lazy, yet relaxed smile, while the diamond-like tears fell down over her beautiful hazel eyes onto her cheeks. “Alexis.” I say her name with such a pain in my heart. She placed her hands above the blanket upon the bed within my reach a tempting temptation; I saw them as they were, pale and fragile. I entwined my fingers within hers, softly, gently, careful as to not cause her anymore pain. I hear her beeper go off on the nightstand by the bed. I grab it off the table handing it to her, staring at the screen. “It’s McHeartly.” I watch her dial the phone with her frail, pale, shaking hands. I heard the phone connect after three rings; Chief’s voice came onto the line, it was filled with concern. Whether the concern had been real or not, I didn’t know for sure. “Alexis? I already heard about your accident through Jack and Special Agent Hammermill. Don’t worry, you are still on the case whenever you get dismissed.” I overheard the chief say, “Thanks, Chief.” Her voice cracked with appreciation after releasing a sigh of relief. When the conversation ended, she began to think. “I think that woman knew who died at the scene last night.” As she said this, I felt my blood rush through my body. “Geez, Lexi, you think? She shot you for Christ’s sake!” I felt absolutely terrible after yelling at her, but I wanted her to know. When I saw the freshly, cried tears; I felt ashamed of myself. “Alexis, I almost lost you yesterday, I almost lost you the day you resigned from the C.I.A.” I state as I gently stroke her fingers. I felt the warmth of my hands seep through to her cold fingers. “I can’t lose you again, Alexis. I won’t.” I take a breath after seeing her face, I turn my back to her heading towards the door, and I respond when the silence was too much to bear, “I can’t, never again.” She smiles; it almost feels good to see her smile. A nurse came in explain to me that she needed to take her medications, I decided to head down to the cafeteria for a late night snack and a cup of coffee knowing full well I would need it for the morning that lay ahead.
After taking pain medications, I thought it would be best to at least try to get an hour or two of sleep. Shaun decided to stay with me choosing to sleep in the small chair, which stood by the hospital bed softly, soundly he was asleep within three hours. I suffered from the realm of nightmares.

‘Michael! No! You can’t leave me. You mustn’t leave me! We have our children to think about here!’ She falls into a fetal position screaming, tears falling onto the floor. As he turns, I back away into a large loveseat as a large masculine fist reached down on my hair pulling me back. ‘Dad! No! Don’t do this to her! She’s my sister!’ A young boy cried out, shielding himself onto me.
I wake in an awkward position on the chair, legs numb from lack of circulation, hearing Lexi scream. She was holding her head with her hands, crying her eyes out. Jumping out of the chair, I rush to her side to hug her, comfort her to tell her that it was all a terrible nightmare. She pulls away from me and from the night terror still going on within the depths of her mind as she winces with pain from her injury and from clawing at her head, she tries to get out of the hospital bed. I help her up; she scrapes through her notes on Andrew Kingman. She swears upon not being able to find what she is looking for. “Where are the notes I took on the mother?” She asks in a rush. “Lexi-bee, it’s 2:12 in the morning. Why the hell do you want the notes?” I wonder as I stare back down at my watch. She comes closer to me, needing to lean on something for support. “Shaun, what if she killed Andrew?” Thinking at a new angle that got me wondering with curiosity, “How could she have done it?” She doesn’t answer. Instead, she moves to the small window and stares out into the night. The telephone on the nightstand rang. She let it ring unanswered as the machine picks up. “Alexis? You need to get down here to Madison Avenue down by the county’s courthouse. The man that Special Agent Hammermill described talking to him at the hospital,” I heard the pause as Jack continued talking to someone else in the background, “He’s dead. Stabbed twice in the chest just like Kingman.” Jack abruptly hung up, “Come with me.” She whispers in my ear, as she grabs for my hand, kissing me lightly on the cheek. “You need to I.D. him, for me.” This job just keeps getting so much harder for me I suddenly felt pressure in more places. I felt the sudden rush to drink. The headache of lack of alcohol was starting to pound behind my eyes. The feel, the urge to drink was too strong. I fought myself to resist; it was still too strong. "I'll meet you there, I have an errand to run." I lied. She nods in an approval to the little white lie I told. Standing on her toes, she kissed me on the cheek. "Thank-you. For everything." She whispers wincing wrapping an arm around her bondages. I knew she meant her gratitude. I help her into her car, watching her drive away from the hospital to the scene that lay ahead of the rising sun.
Only four cruiser cars were at the scene. I slowly limp my way over to Harper Cole, the rookie on call that had stopped me when I flashed my badge, placing a hand perfectly on a grown bruise. “I’m sorry, Sergeant Montana, I’ve received word that you’ve been suspended from the case.” He states as he pulls out the orders to prove his claim. “Harper? But why? You know I would never do anything like that,” I growled. “That’s not what Miss Janet Dowell said on the hotline this morning.” Chief McHeartly cuffed me as he would any criminal rough. Wincing with the terrible pain, “Chief!” I screamed out in pain, I heard the ever-famous Miranda Rights. “You have the right to remain silent…” he drove me to the third precinct throwing me in the interrogation room. The questioning had begun with the ever-famous question of the alibi.
Sitting at the small table within my hotel room at the Hilton, I grab a beer out of the miniature bar under the sink. I sat the can down. I stare at the number blinking on the machine Alexandria Gehm, a reporter for the Virginia’s Opinion a national newspaper called earlier this morning wondering how I’m doing. I think about calling her back, before I get the chance, I stare at the small twin bed, lying there was the suit coat; I wore to the scene where Alexis was shot. I never sent it to the laundry room. The scene folded in front of my eyes. “Shaun!” I hear her scream; the tears start to fall as I gather the coat to my face, smelling the metallic scent of her blood. I ran out the door, carrying the coat heading for the third precinct.
“I’m telling you myself Chief, I didn’t do it.” I shout as Daddy and Jack burst through the door. “Good morning, Robert.” Daddy says, with a smile as he comes behind the chair in which I sat in. “You can’t just barge in here in a interrogation room, Father Caleb.” Chief growled clearly irritated with the disturbance. Daddy scowled back at the chief, challenging him. “Daddy, please.” I tamed, placing a hand upon his shoulder while the other hand covered my injury hoping to God he hasn’t heard about it yet. “Why are you in here Alexis?” After telling my story, he exclaims. “My dear Alexis, you most certainly have an alibi for the first murder.” He pauses, only to cough into his hand. “She does? Then let’s hear it by all means.” The Chief said with false enthusiasm soaked with heavy sarcasm. I glared at him, feeling my blood pressure go up. “She was indeed at our house, Robert. Asleep, up until around two o’clock in the morning. You see she’s been having reoccurring nightmares. I sought out to comfort her, not leaving her out of my sight, until you paged her to the interrogation room at six o’clock that morning.” He explains. “What about the second strange murder? Does she have a miraculous alibi for that murder here?” Chief asked, leaning back into his chair silently hoping for sheer unheard silence. “I…” I was interrupted by Shaun’s presence in the doorway. The bloodstained jacket slung over his broad shoulders. I smile at him; when I see him return it, I slowly mouth the words, “Thank-you.” Hoping he got my message. He brings it to the Chief saying, “This should prove where she was. At Saint Mark’s hospital resting after surgery.” Daddy stares at me in shock, while Jack stares at the jacket as if remembering that faithful night. ‘No! Shaun!’ The echoing sound of the gunshot forever haunted in the depths of his memory. “Chief, it’s true. The jacket does prove it.” He mumbles, his voice barely above a whisper. He swallows, getting up as he leaves the room, I saw the look on his face, and it was painted pale, his eyes cold as ice, the lips quivering in fear and in a worried state. “I’ll send this to the lab for tests, if the ME’s office declare it’s your blood Sergeant, I’ll gladly drop the suspension.” He slowly walks towards me adding suspense and tension throughout the room. “But…you’re still on thin ice. If I get any more crap like this coming form your end. I’ll suspend your a** so hard that your family will feel the effects.” Daddy darkened his gaze on McHeartly. I’ve never known him to do that to anyone.
Silence had descended around the room since Alexis and I were the only ones there; it had an eerie feel to it. I felt it again, the feeling lingered through my body and of my soul; it was like I was being watched. Placing my hand towards Alexis, the lights flashed suddenly going out. The mirrors darkened, while an unfamiliar masculine figure, stood next to Alexis, whispering in her ear. “Alexis, ye are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” Quickly, quietly she stands, leaning against my arm. The lights flashed on. No one but us -- were in the room. She squeezes my hand slightly; turning my head towards her, I saw a pool of blood less than two feet away from her. I order, “Call Allen, he needs to see this.” She nods. I watch her leave the interrogation room, while I fall back into a chair staring at the blood.
I stand next to the phone, leaning against the wall, looking to see no one was eavesdropping. “Yes Allen, I realize that I’m suspended from the case, I need a favor from you and the crime scene guys. I need all ya’ll on over to the third precinct’s interrogation room, it looks like a crime scene in there.” There was silence on the other end of the line, “But isn’t that place is supposed to be guarded?” I begin to laugh, “Yeah, either someone broke in…or we’re looking for a cop.” After explain my story, again I heard the silence. “Lexi? L---?” He started when the line suddenly went dead. I drop the phone, the busy signal ringing, yet echoing loud through the phone. The growing sense of dread in my stomach doubled in size. Once I arrived back to the scene unnoticed up until Jack greeted me, “Alexis, I sent the blood found at the scene on over to the lab already they should have some results by sun-down.” The sun was beginning to rise, leaving magnificent streaks of color in the sky. The clouds were beginning to darken due to the weather. “Tape over the entire room, make sure no outsiders get inside under any circumstances.” Jack ordered the rookie on call. As I stand in the middle of the room, looking around I ask, “Jack, what does this mean?” “It means we’re on a manhunt for a religious serial killer.” He murmured deepening his voice for the dramatic effect, mostly for the rush, for the thrill. I frown as Shaun reached for my arm rubbing it gently, “Jack, stop messing with her. Can’t you see she’s had enough of this killer for the past two days? We have to find him, before he strikes again.” Shaun threatens, with gritted teeth eyes glaring as they revealed the hatred of Jack. Through the death of silence that had fallen upon us, I heard Tom on the scanner, listening with one ear out of habit he boomed, “Montana if you’re listening, get downtown by the U.S. Airways Center. We found Dirk Arthurs’s body. The guy struck again.” I gasp. Heading towards my car, I see Shaun to the right of me, “Did I invite you?” my tone of voice turns for smart-a**. “No, I shouldn’t leave you alone Alexis.” He didn’t understand what this job means to me. “Shaun, I don’t need you to protect me all the time. In case you haven’t noticed in the past three years, I’ve done a great job at being a cop. I like it.” I tell him in a quiet voice barely above a whisper as I head outside to my car. “I know that Alexis, I see it in you now.” I hear him speak in a louder voice as we walk into the parking garage. “Shaun, stop. He’s gone.” I tell him. The only reason I stalled into an argument, someone had lingered following us onto the upper path of the parking garage. “Who’s gone? What’s going on?” I shush him as he gets into the car, “I don’t know who he was but he looked oddly familiar, he followed us out of the precinct to the upper path.” Arriving to the apartments of San Simon on Washington Avenue and Jefferson Street. “I’ve been here. Why does all this look familiar?” I ask myself. I climbed to the fourth floor apartment B a body laid on the ground. Dirk Arthurs. Shaun stared at me, then at what was Dirk. Suddenly grasping my forearm pointing at his neck, there was a note; “He was my friend faithful and just to me.” “What do you think it means?” Allen asked me; I had already come up with an idea. “The quote is from Julius Caesar, possibly somewhere in the third act where Antony is speaking at Caesar’s funeral. I am not sure what our killer was banking on, but Dirk asked to be killed as a final request.” “Being dead is pretty final wouldn’t you say?” Allen asks as I turn around, stepping away from the body, feeling a sudden urge to sit down. I felt my knees buckle under all the pressure. “Alexis!” I heard someone shout before all went dark.
“Go call 9-1-1!” I order carrying her to the car. She had a pulse but it had been dangerously faint. Allen nods as he pulls out a cell phone. Jack gasps seeing her in the car, pale, frail and saw the bruises. “What the hell did you do to her?” “Nothing.” I hiss back. Allen comes over, placing an arm in between us. “Will you two back off already, jeez you two act like my two boys.” What he had said silenced us. “The ambulance will be here momentarily.” He crosses his arms, staring at her. When the ambulance arrives the paramedics do some tests on her. As one comes closer to all of us waiting, he states, “The reason for her fall is from lack of nutrition she skipped a meal most likely dinner from last night. If one of you feeds her she’ll be alright.” I try to remember all I could about what had happened last night.
Waking up this morning. I felt almost dead. Shaun had left rather early in the morning, thinking I was still asleep until I heard the shower running. The blinking light next to the phone reminded me I still had one unheard message on the machine. Glancing at the calendar, I saw that today was Sunday the Sabbath day. I called Ethan to see if he was going to the service today. When I heard it ring for the third time, I felt something was seriously wrong. A young voice grumbled, “Alexis? Jesus Christ? What time is it?” I knew that voice. He had been hung over. “Ethan? Is Daddy there?” I asked. “Lexi? Daddy was murdered. Jake and I both have alibis. Mother’s not home yet.” My father? Dead? “How is he dead? Is he stabbed twice in the chest?” I gasp. I hear footsteps in the background. “Yes. He was stabbed there’s a note tied to his ankle.” He stammers. “Ethan, don’t touch the note! I’ll be over as soon as possible.” I tell him. Grabbing my keys off the counter, I ran towards my Toyota 4Runner. When I got to the house, I burst into tears. I got Allen to come over when he opened he note, reading it aloud; “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” “He changed the M.O. he’s irritated with us.” I blurt out. Chief burst through the front door of the house. “Of course he changed the freaking M.O., Sergeant Montana, of course he’s irritated. Alexis, Ethan and Jacob, I am truly sorry for your loss.” “Thank you.” Jake murmurs, heading towards the door. “I’ll return when I can.” He slams the door shut. “Lexi, what about Mother? What about her alibi?” Ethan asks. I wished he never said that in front of the Chief. Whenever someone didn’t have an alibi, chief automatically assumed they were guilty of anything. “Bring your mother in for questioning. I have a few questions for her to answer.” He growled in my face. I felt my blood boil from irritation. After taking a breath, I heard the Chief ask, “Where the hell is your partner Sergeant? He hasn’t been to any crime scene since Kingman was murdered.” He storms out of the front door, making the structure of the house shake and shutter with age. “Well, that was pleasant.” I whisper sarcastically. Ethan pats my shoulder. “Jake’s gone. He went to look for Mother.” I gasp out in anger. “Why would he go alone?” I ask, wiping away the tears. “He wouldn’t.” Something had been on his mind. My mind as well. “I won’t let you go alone.” He whispers, helping me with my coat. “Thanks. But Shaun came back. I’ll explain everything when I return with Mother.” I tell him, stepping on my toes to kiss his cheek. “You’ll come back alive?” He asks grasping my forearms. Shaun comes over. “I’ll get her home, Ethan.” He states. Ethan groans. “If anything more happens and you’re around, you’re a dead man.” He threatens. I laugh. “Sorry. Ethan’s always been overprotective.
Sitting at the Hilton wasn’t as grand as I had originally hoped. I take another beer out of the bar before glancing at the phone I saw a red 2 light up, two unheard messages. “Who the hell is calling me?” I snap out at no one in particular. Listening to my messages, I heard Alexis’s voice or what had seemed like her voice, “Shaun? Where are you? I need to talk to you.” Oh God, something’s happened. “Where the hell was I when she needed me?” I wondered out loud. I was drunk when she needed me. I picked up the phone dialed her number and waited. She answers, “Alexis? It’s Hammermill, what happened?” I wait impatiently for the answer. “Another body, he changed his M.O. he’s pissed. So is the chief if we don’t make an arrest soon.” Her voice filled with hurt, frustration and sadness. “Who is it?” I dread asking the question as soon as I thought it. “My father. Father Caleb.” “I’ll be there. I promise.” A promise I shall force myself to keep. “I’m sorry Alexis.” I grab a coat and ran out the door. I should’ve been there! I could’ve been there to spare her the sight of her father. Once I got to the scene, I put Alexis into my arms; it felt good to hold her, with her strength falling apart bit by bit. She violently pulls away, arms crossed over her chest. Upon holding my breath, I sigh, a small yet unrecognizable sigh of sorrow. “My father… my father is gone…” “Alexis, trust me, I will help you catch this sick b*****d.” I whisper, kissing her gently on her temple. One of her brothers comes towards us, eyes darkening at the sight of me.
“Mother’s still not back. It’s been three hours.” Ethan states in a worried tone. “Stay here with Jake, in case she tries to call the house.” I commanded. I take off in the direction of my car, Shaun following in stride, “Did I ask you to come along?” I ask in a smart-a** tone. He grasps my forearm, forbidding me to walk any further. “Two pairs of eyes searching are better than one. I’ll try not to be a jerk, and I’ll drive. You shouldn’t be behind the wheel. It’s too dangerous in your condition.” “I’m not in a condition.” I gasp, the pain increased in my sides. Driving to all the places Mother loved, I felt a sense of dread growing heavier in the pit of my stomach. What if we didn’t get to her in time? Suddenly Shaun stops the car. My body is thrown onto the dashboard. Wincing with pain, I give him a look, which he shrugs off, “Look!” He points to the front of the Hilton where he had been staying at, were two cruisers and a swarm of the press. Driving carefully to the room, the media seemed to follow us everywhere during this case. “What the hell is she doing here?” I ask pointing to Kathleen Chavez. “Doing her job.” Shaun tried to get a laugh off of me. Helping me out of the car, the media swarmed asking loads of questions. “Mr. Hammermill, any comment on the ransacking of the hotel room?” Kathleen Chavez asked, a local reporter with KTVK. He shoves her out of his way making his way inside the hotel room. It had been chaotic. Papers had been thrown everywhere, the tiny bar under the sink was completely empty, and glass broken from the wine glasses and from the small plasma TV was broken onto the floor. I grabbed for Shaun’s hand. There was a blood trail leading to the bathroom, “What? What do you see?” He asks staring in my eyes. I point to the bathroom. On the mirror was a threat. ‘She’s next to die.’ It had been written in blood. “Oh God!” He gasps. After leaving the room, he explains that he’ll leave a patrol car in front of my townhouse twenty-four hours a day. “Are you sure? There’s no other girl in your life?” I ask. Part of me, part of me yearned for him to say no. “Alexis, you’re still the one.”
We walked to the car; I got into the passenger seat while he had hesitated showing a look of fear. “What? What is it? What’s wrong?” He stops altogether. “Alexis, get out of the car! Now!” He screams, running away from the car. I unfastened the seat belt, when I had heard a loud “TICK!” Shaun’s eyes grew wide with fear. I ran out to him, when immediately the car burst into flames. My body had been thrown quickly to the ground. My head grasped into my arms for protection, Shaun threw his body on mine as a shield against the second explosion. “Are you all right?” “Yeah.” I stated glancing quickly for any new injuries. “Thank you, for saving my life.” I grin, slightly punching his arm. The car sizzled as the flames were cooling off. Limping towards the car, I saw a mechanical piece of equipment that had been unfamiliar to me. After discovering that it was still hot, Shaun picked it up using rubber latex gloves, placing it in a rubber bag. “Take this down to Allen, he could possibly figure out what this is.” “What about you?” “I’m staying here. I’ll try to find out anything about who destroyed my hotel room. If I get done before you, I’ll join you.”
After hailing a taxi, I went to Allen’s office. “Lex-a-million? I didn’t expect you here… you’re hurt. What happened to you?” He exclaims, placing a hand on my cheek, glancing at the enlarging bruise on it. Clothed in a blue hazard rubber suit and black gloves, he walked away to go back to work, slightly leaning over a male body. “Who is this?” “ His name was Michael Crownwell. He was as drunk as his son, when he died. The B.A.L. was .20.” “His son?” This put the case at a very strange angle. “D.N.A. results came in this morning. Andrew Zachary Kingman is really Zachary Aaron Crownwell.” I gasp, glancing down to the strange object that lay in my hands. “I came to ask you what this is.” “Interesting. Very interesting. You came with a challenge, Alexis.” He ponders over the piece. “Call me when you figure out what this is, Mister M.E.” I tease, handing him my business card. “Certainly, Lex-a-million, certainly.” He says. When I start to head out the door, Allen gets a phone call. “Noble.” He listens to the caller. “Yeah, yeah… she’s right here. Why? What the hell did Mr. Fed do?” A chill ran through my veins. Shaun. “Oh God! Another one? Well, who the hell is it?” I stop dead in my tracks; Allen called me over silently with his fingers. “Wow, yeah give me about half an hour. Get White or somebody to take some Polaroids for me. And for god’s sake preserve the scene, I don’t want those animals getting a single whiff of this.” He says, hung up the phone; filling me in on what’s happening.
Half an hour later, we arrive at the scene; Shaun walks over, gently placing a hand upon my back, leading me to the body. He doesn’t say a word. That’s not good. I place a hand in his. “Tell me. Tell me who it is.” I see the body for the first time as it lies on the bed of another room. Mother. “Mother… oh god… mother…” I felt my eyes begin to blur as a masculine figure pulls me out of the room in sheer, unbarring silence. He wipes the tears away from my eyes. “This cannot be easy for you can it?” I hear him whisper. Pounding my fists against a wall, I wonder of the last time I told my mother I loved her. “Yes. It is rather trying.” I whisper. My eyes begin to clear when the masculine figure who helped me was Shaun. Holding my hand he takes me to his car. “Thanks. For… for everything.” Glancing at the scraps that lay on my knees. “I’m surprised you’re still going after all of that. I give you less credit than you deserve Sergeant Montana.” Chief came over to the car; I place a hand on the car door, forbidden him to come any closer to me, “Yes you do. Unfortunately that’s not going to change one bit now is it Chief?” Shaun asked in a sarcastic tone. I frown at the Chief when he says, “It is going to change a lot of things are going to change, Alexis. Things take time.”
Helping her into the passenger seat of the car, my guard automatically doubled when Jack approached the car, noticing dried blood and the early appearing bruises on her, “What the hell did you do to her?” He gently touches her examining her; there was silence. “Jack, please don’t be like this. Shaun didn’t do this to me. It was an accident.” I pleaded trying to get him to back away from Shaun, before Jack tries to hurt him. He grunts. He never trusted Special Agent Hammermill from the very beginning. During the ride home, Shaun didn’t speak a word, he decided to escape to the dark depths of his thoughts. “Are you all right?” His hands tighten on the grip of the steering wheel. He loosened up, staring out at the open road of Jefferson Street. “No. Your partner accused me of hurting you… it’s just…” He paused, clearly upset. “Alexis, I will never ever hurt you in the way you were hurt today.” One hand wrapped its fingers around mine. The feeling I had earlier this week returned. I grab Alexis’s arm. “What?” She gasps, completely off balance. “Shhh…” I tell her as I drag her to the front door. For some odd reason the feeling suddenly stops when I opened the door, while Alexis unwinds, I decide to lock up the house. She pours some black opal wine for me green tea for herself. I glance at it, not wanting to drink in front of her. “What is it? Is it the drink?” She asks noticing my mood. She places a hand upon mine, “You didn’t hurt me today, Shaun, and Jack knows that. I know that. You don’t have to worry about it anymore.” Squeezing gently, I felt the warmth through her battered hands, I still felt like I was to blame for what happened to her. What if I lost her? The memory of her falling from the explosion was too raw, also too vivid for me to leave her alone, tonight. Going for the phone as it begins to ring. I hear her gasp as she glances at the number upon the caller I.D. “Hey Michele, thank you. I am honored by that…” Her voice was shaking and saddened. “Thank you, yes, may the lord bless you too.” She hangs up, turning around, tears clinging to her lashes. She falls into my arms, feeling comfort and support. I wished with all of my heart and with the half of my soul that I could take away the pain she felt. “Stay.” She whispers, noticing I’m still in a mood. “What? What is it?” I place my glass between my lips, hiding a deepening frown. Taking my drink down to the table, she placed her small, yet smooth hand in mine, to the stairs into this dark yet strangely mystical bedroom with a large queen sized bed with Egyptian cotton bed sheets with marvelously sewn pillows. She throws herself onto the bed, with a wide grin ear to ear. I stop her, staring into her striking yet defined hazel eyes, I begin to tell her the truth. As I should have done a long time ago, “Wait. There’s something you should know,” I hate to break her heart but she needs to… deserves to know the truth. The lines on her forehead mish together while she frowns, the disappointed look in her eyes made my heart break. The ache and pain crushed my stomach knotting it even further. The pain of the truth impacted what I had said next. “That reporter Alexandria Gehm, she was my girlfriend for a while.” I watched as she begins to cry. The tears shattered at my soul. “I never meant to cheat on you, Alexis. One thing lead to another and suddenly she and I were dating while you and I were separated by two thousand miles.” I apologize. She kicks me out of her house. “Tell it to me, again when you’re ready to be sincere to me, and when you won’t break my heart.” She closes the door, leaving me alone in the cold fall weather. Wrapping my coat around myself, “I am sorry Alexis.” I whisper, to the closed door, the door to her soul and my soul before leaving the rest to destiny.

Breakfast had been a quiet meal I had been alone, as a feeling lingered from last night, the feeling of danger, until the call came in, “A penny for your thoughts Alexis. Get down here at Ray and 48th Street, there’s been a fire, our killer just struck, a person was burnt alive.” Allen summarized. “Give me twenty minutes, I’ll be there.” Arriving to the scene, I gave my badge to Cole. Police Tape was spread around the entire intersection. Blocking the scene from onlookers and the press. Pieces of glass were spread around to at least twenty feet where the accident had occurred. The corpse spilled out of the car as M.E. place it on the ground, in order to disinfect the car, searching for any clues of the killer. “Alexis!” Allen cried out. I ran over, careful not to step on any glass. “There’s no note.” Taking off his glasses, Shaun responded, “The M.O. changed.” Everyone remained silent. “There’s another body in the passenger seat.” Katrina exclaims. She brought out the body; there was no mistaking this one. It was Jason Clifford, Michele’s newlywed husband. “Oh my God.” I murmur. My brain felt woozy, fuzzy and disoriented when I heard a masculine voice, “Alexis!” I felt my knees buckle in front of me; someone had their arms wrapped around me catching me before I fell to the ground in a faint.
I saw her eyes flooding within my dreams. I hear her cry deeply restored within the inner soul of my subconscious. I saw the unmistakable tears fall from her eyes, she leans over the body, but the body was her’s. When I had awakened from the horrid nightmare, as the sweat bedded my entire body Alexis laid next to me within my arms, oblivious— to the dream – to the sweat— everything and I was glad.

The screech of the multiples upon multiples of tennis shoes against the hard wooden floor swims around my ears searching for Shaun at the YMCA near Liberty Road and Desert Foothills Parkway. I see him running hard to the steady beat of a treadmill, drenched with sweat. Taping the machine getting his attention, he glances at me with a small mischievous smile revealing nothing as he pushed the stop button. He pants regaining his breath, taking the ear buds from his Ipod out of his ears. “I’m just glad, you’re here and actually talking to me.” Groaning with disproval and from the recent heartbreak, “Allen wants to talk to us, he says he found something that could be of use to the case.” I still couldn’t look him directly in the eye. Not after what he’s done. “Sure.” Jumping off the treadmill, “Want a lift?” The green eyes that knew me so well had forcibly reopened my heart, my most vulnerable organ. “No.” The one word seemed to have little meaning but caused so much hurt, destroying any love we had shared since the case started. “I’m sorry, Alexis for the way I acted and the way I treated you.” The apology seemed so genuine, but the smile he shown to me had revealed otherwise. “Tell it to me when you’re ready to be sincere.” I walked out of the gym without looking back.
Driving to Allen’s office, it felt like someone was watching me. I dismissed the gut feeling as I walk in to Allen’s office. “Guess who I found, that has a juvenile criminal record?” Glee showing on his face and in his voice, “Andrew Kingman, apparently when he was younger he killed someone named James Greensburg because they called him names. And that’s not even the best part.” Completely out of breath from excitement. I stand up in confusion, arms crossed, shifting my weight back and forth from one hip to the other. “The best part is —- that is not even his real name, it’s Zachary Andrew Crownwell.” He stops. “Why would he change the name?” It didn’t make any sense to change his name. Staring at the open doorway past Shaun, I watched a shadow move closer and closer to the office door where we were. Someone was watching, someone could hear everything we were discussing. “His past might just be the right answer we’re looking for.” Shaun volunteered, arms crossed, eyes locked with mine. “You two want to work on that particular angle? Of his past?” Allen asked pointing to the both of us. Nodding an approval, he gives me the address of the parents. Shaun had already left starting for his car. “Let me know what you find Lex-a-million, I like to stay in the loop.” He teased. His tone turns from joyous to seriousness as it deepens into a whisper,
“Also keep me in the loop with the lover boy situation.”
“Is it really that obvious?”
I leave the room with a wide grin. Catching up with Shaun, I ask giving him a second chance, “Do you want a lift?” He grins, nodding in approval. I only wish I had his confidence in my job.
“Thanks.” He nudges me in the side, “Anything for you, Alexis.”
When we got to the house, I got this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that continued to grow. My right hand lingered towards the gun I had. Shaun sees this action whispering, “Are you all right?” Quietly I respond, “Yes take that side.” Knocking softly on the door, I realize it was already open, the door just hung on its hinges swinging gently back and forth, back and forth from the lazy gusts of wind billowing through the air. Leading the way, I step into the kitchen where a man sat in a chair crying,
“Stephanie, forgive me, please forgive me.”
His face had been in his hands, without putting my gun away; I ask him, “Sir, who are you?” He looks up, seeing me for the first time; the solemn tears of the fallen had stained his eyes, nose and cheeks with water.
“I…I am a neighbor to the late Michael and Stephanie Crownwell, I saw it on the news the other day, Michael’s murder. Steph, she…she took it rather hard. I started looking after her, as a friend when I see her dead on the bed, just in the same position as Michael had been placed.” A leak in the M.E. office, I thought as he stops. He seemed to be mentally stable, yet in an emotional wreck. Shaun and I share a look of shock and annoyance, before going to the bedroom. The body had been placed in a cross, like all the others, dark bruises covering the entire body and blood was coming out of her stomach.

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