Paradox of Love
J. M. Dragon & E. O'Reilly
Whenever Parker walked into a room, the raw energy she emitted commanded that everyone look up. As she strode toward David’s desk, she knew everyone was watching her. Do they know? Before she could get to David’s desk, her captain, Roger Beasley stopped her. “Let’s go into my office.” He turned to walk away expecting Parker to follow him.
“I can’t…I need to speak with David.”
“I wasn’t asking you Davis,” the man said. “Now.”
Parker closed her eyes before following the man into his office and closing the door. “Ok, I’m here,” she said in a belligerent tone.
With a shrug, Parker said, “I don’t know.”
“Don’t fuck with me,” he growled. “I’ve got a dead DA and the prime suspect is one of my detectives.” Noticing that Parker didn’t seem surprised by the information, he leveled her with a malevolent gaze. “Where is she?”
Parker wiped a hand over her face as she centered herself. “I don’t know where she is. I came here looking for her.” She cocked her head to one side. “I haven’t seen her since she left after her brother’s funeral.”
Beasley churched his fingers and tapped them together. “Are you sure about that?”
With a nod of her head, Parker said, “Yes, why would you think otherwise?”
For several minutes, the man stared at the woman as he decided his next approach. “If you are protecting her…I’ll charge you for obstructing an investigation.”
She felt her teeth gnash while her heartbeat increased. “Who else knows you suspect Olivia,” she asked.
The man looked out the window to the detective’s sitting at their desks. “For now, just me and David Tourney.”
“That’s all,” Parker said in disbelief.
“Yes,” he said fixing Parker with his eyes. “Her father was once my partner and out of respect for him, I’m hoping to keep this quiet…she needs to turn herself in.” His voice softened. “What happened to her brother was horrible. All she had to do was come to me and we would have investigated…instead she killed the man.” He swallowed hard and saw what he thought was confusion on Parker’s face. “Two officers saw someone leaving with blood on her clothes. I confiscated the tapes from the garage and got a positive ID. The longer she hides the worse it will be for her so if you know where she is you need to tell me.”
Parker rubbed a palm over her mouth before she said, “I don’t know where she is. When did it happen?”
“About two hours ago.”
“She couldn’t have…the murder took place while she was at Nick’s with a bunch of us after the funeral.”
The man cast a disparaging look at Parker. “What game are you playing Davis? I know for a fact she didn’t stay there long.”
As she blew out a breath and shook her head, Parker said, “No game.”
Beasley nodded and stood up. “Don’t ruin your career Davis.” He shook his head. “Go on, get out of here. Just remember what the consequences are if you’re protecting her.”
Parker pushed back her chair, stood up and headed for the door. Before she left, she turned back and said, “I don’t know where she is so I won’t ruin anything.” Sure, that everyone was looking at her, she looked straight ahead, as she walked through the myriad of desks. She needed to find Olivia and time was not on her side. There was no doubt in her mind that someone would follow her. First, she’d check the house again then go to the cemetery. She knew Olivia would never leave town without first saying goodbye to her family. That left a bitter taste in her mouth…Olivia hadn’t said goodbye to her.
+ + +
The red mustang slowly entered The Good Shepherd Cemetery and weaved down gravel roads until coming to the resting place of Nicky Santos and his mother. Parker saw no sign of Olivia or the Harley but stopped anyway and gazed at the mound of fresh brown dirt covering Nicky’s casket. “Where are you O…I need to find you.”
She started up the engine and again began the slow drive along meandering roads as her eyes scanned the area for any sign of Olivia. When she saw a motorcycle parked outside a mausoleum, she felt her heart skip a beat. She parked her car on a road adjacent to the motorcycle and cautiously moved in the direction of the concrete and plaster building. As she walked up two steps to the crypt, she saw Olivia sitting motionless on the marble floor.
Parker crouched down next to her lover and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Are you ok?” she asked before sitting next to Olivia.
Brooding eyes filled with desolation turned up to gaze into Parker’s face, words un-necessary as the look penetrated even the most insensitive. Olivia dropped her gaze back to her contemplation of the marble floor shaking off Parker’s hand from her shoulder as if it burnt her.
In a hesitant voice, Parker said, “Hey, look I know you didn’t mean to kill the DA and if you turn yourself in that will be in your favor.”
A hollow sound almost maniacal emitted from Olivia then she raised her eyes and caught Parker’s troubled gaze her own reflecting distaste. “You know nothing, absolutely nothing Parker. I killed that scum and would do it all over again without hesitation.”
“I went to see David but the captain pulled me into his office. They’re looking for you O…you’ve got to turn yourself in.” When there wasn’t a reaction she said, “We can run and change our identities.”
“There isn’t a we anymore Parker. I won’t bring you down with me. I made my choice and for once it wasn’t about you and I’m sorry about that, really I am.” The sincerity of the words echoed around the cold marble interior of the building.
All Parker heard was ‘there isn’t a we’ and she grasped at her chest. “You can’t mean that Olivia. We’ve pledged our love to each other…your pain is my pain.”
For a moment, Olivia forgot about her dilemma and realized not for the first time how Parker had ingratiated herself into her life and assumed that they thought the same way. It had been one of the reasons she’d contemplated asking for some personal space–now she was going to get exactly what she wanted forever. “I’m not in pain Parker. You’ve assumed once more that you know all about me you don’t. Killing that low-life freed me.”
Closing her eyes and breathing in the cold stale air of the mausoleum, Parker tried to digest all of Olivia’s words. “Are you telling me that you never meant forever? Am I that much of a burden to you?” She took hold of Olivia’s chin and jerked it toward her. “I’ve never begged for your love and I won’t now. Look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t love me.”
“No not a burden. Do you really want the truth? Can you take it?”
The simple words surged through her body making her shiver in the knowledge she didn’t want to know. “I love you O…I have since the first time I saw you standing at that bar. You bring me happiness and joy beyond anything I ever imagined…if you no longer love me it won’t matter …I will always love you.” Parker looked away from the cold blue eyes. “If you need me to cover for you while you get away I will, but you will be making a big mistake.”
Reflecting on the words Olivia gave a tight smile as she reached out, stroked Parker’s soft skin, and silently said three words, I love you. She didn’t repeat them aloud as she shook her head and softly said, “I don’t need you to do that for me Parker. I know what the next step is. I made a drastic choice and you need to get as far away from me as you possibly can. Why not go home and see your folks.”
Parker’s eyes searched Olivia’s for any sign of love and when she saw it, she knew what she had to do. Without thinking Parker replied, “My place is with you. I won’t desert you or let you flounder through a trial. I’ll be by your side forever.”
Closing her eyes, Olivia felt the frustration that had been building for some time with Parker now at fever pitch. They were in the perfect place for what she was going to say next–the death of their relationship. “I don’t want you in my life forever Parker. I’ve never felt the depth of emotion you have regarding me. I love you but eventually you were going to smother me with your love. Now you can’t because I won’t be here for you anymore.”
Parker felt the death blow to her relationship with Olivia and her heart cried out. She knew that the police would arrive any moment and considered the notion that if Olivia were in prison she would always be available to her. The sound of tires on the gavel drew her attention to outside the mausoleum and she held back the smile of satisfaction that threatened to erupt. A dark sedan pulled up alongside the motorcycle effectively blocking its movement forward. “I guess that decision is out of both our hands now,” she said pointing her chin toward the two men exiting the vehicle. David Tourney and Roger Beasley entered the building.
Olivia glanced at the two men approaching. Neither had their weapons drawn and that was something for which she was grateful. As she stood up, her mind filtered through the fact that they were there and she wondered how they knew where to find her. Then she gazed at Parker who didn’t seem at all phased by their appearance. With gritted teeth, she savagely whispered, “It was you! You told them where I’d be. There I was feeling sorry for you, and you led them to me. Is that what you call love?”
“NO!” Parker exclaimed. “How could I have done that Olivia? I didn’t know where you were…I had to search for you.” She saw the cold detached gaze her lover gave her and she shivered once again. “You have to believe me…I never did that!”
With a bitter laugh, Olivia bit out, “You knew…from the first day we met you’ve known where I was every damn second of my life! Well aren’t I the lucky one. Not only have I freed up my demons I’ve become free of your smothering love too.” The words echoed ominously as Roger Beasley placed his bulk in front of her.
“You’re going to come with us now Olivia… peacefully. It’s what your daddy would have wanted.”
Parker stood with her mouth opened as she felt her world falling apart. She couldn’t and wouldn’t lose Olivia…not to another woman, jail, or even death. “I want to come along,” she said as she gently placed a hand on Olivia’s arm. “I’ll find a lawyer for you.”
David Tourney saw the dark expression in Olivia’s eyes and as she was about to speak, he chose that moment to intervene. He liked Parker and he understood that Olivia was creating an unreachable chasm for Parker’s own good. Placing his body between Parker and his friend, he insisted quietly, “Leave it be Parker. We can sort all this out at the precinct. Right now, Olivia needs to come with us. Why don’t you follow behind?”
Olivia seethed inside. She didn’t want anyone’s help especially from Parker. Her anger fed on the woman’s insistence to attach herself like a limpet to her side. Her expression turned ice cold before giving Parker one last concentrated look. “You’re out of my life Parker. I never want to see your face or hear your voice ever again.” She then turned to Beasley and said, “The air is getting stale in here. Let’s go Captain.”
Stunned, Parker watched as David fitted handcuffs around Olivia’s wrist and he began reciting the Miranda warning. As the two men walked Olivia outside, Parker watched them as she tried desperately to awake from the all too real dream she was sure was taking place. Then, what was surreal became crystal-clear as she heard, “Olivia Santos, you’re under arrest for the murder of Damien Reeves. You have the right to…”
+ + +
Looking out of the mausoleum door Parker watched a handcuffed Olivia being lead to the squad car and ushered inside. The whole ordeal was bizarre until she saw Olivia lean forward and stare at her from behind the pane of glass. She shivered. The malevolence in her partner’s eyes transcended the distance between them. Parker stood rooted as the lone vehicle pull away.
“I can’t let this happen,” she growled. “There’s no way I’m going to let them take her away from me.”
Captain Roger Beasley pulled at his elongated chin extenuating it’s ugliness by drawing attention to the prominent feature. Then he gazed long and hard at Olivia before speaking. “This is a fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into Olivia. I wonder what your daddy would say.”
Olivia knew by his tone that he wasn’t taunting her just stating a fact. “He would probably be standing here looking like you do Captain, or…” As her words seemed to echo ominously in the room, Olivia didn’t finish.
“Ok I’ll take the bait or what?”
This time Olivia moved her head a fraction and gave the man that she’d known for years, a cold look. “He’d be kicking my ass so hard I’d never be able to sit for the rest of my life…probably.”
Beasley shook his head at the comment. He knew Paul Santos would have done exactly that before trying to find a way to help his daughter. There weren’t many options left. He had to book his detective for murder and hope that the new DA would be lenient. “Fat chance of that,” he muttered. When he saw Olivia’s puzzled expression he said, “Your father would have done that but would have found a way to help you. I’m not sure I can do that for you Olivia. All that’s available is a guilty plea with mitigating circumstances. I know Nicky’s death was a blow to you. A good lawyer could plead diminished capacity.”
With a bleak expression Olivia said, “Nicky wouldn’t lie to me…not about something as important as a crooked DA. He was responsible for Nicky’s murder…I know it.”
Beasley shook his head and then scratched his forehead before he replied. “We have no positive proof Olivia. All we have is your testimony about what Nicky told you. I can’t see how that will be enough of a defense. I figure that’s why you killed him…am I right?”
The room was heavy with the question and as time drifted slowly by without an answer. The captain didn’t need her answer–he knew she murdered the man.
“Vengeance is a crime few get away with. You crossed the line and the best we can hope for is a smart lawyer who uses the system.”
Olivia reflected on the word ‘vengeance’ for a few moments then remarked, “I won’t go to prison Captain. We both know that I’ll live long enough to take my first shower then I’m dead meat.”
“Don’t go there Olivia. You’ll get protection…that’s one thing I can help you with.” He shook his head. “Damn it Olivia…what a mess. I had great hopes for you kid.”
The door opened to the room and David Tourney gave Olivia a bleak smile. He motioned for the captain to join him in the observation room.
Once outside, Beasley saw two men he didn’t recognize in plain, well cut suits. Annoyed by the interruption of his interrogation, he looked at David and barked, “Yeah what is it?”
The censure made David’s cheeks color slightly as he pointed to the two men. “They wanted to talk to you about Olivia. They say they can help.”
Beasley glanced across at the men who waited in silence. The one word traveled through his head was bullshit. Without any of the preambles of politeness he asked, “Who are you?”
The men moved forward and the taller of the two held out his hand. “My name is Drew Simpson. If you’ll allow us a few minutes with Officer Santos I’m sure we can help.” When he saw the disbelief on the captain’s face, he gave the man a card. “Call the number if you’re not sure.”
Roger Beasley took the card and saw the name and organization–DOCO. He’d never heard of the government department before. He held up the card and said, “Tourney, keep them company while I check this out.”
David Tourney crossed his arms over his muscled chest and nodded. “They will be here when you get back,” he said. David wondered how the men could help Olivia for in his opinion she was beyond help. A high profile murder wasn’t something you could just push under the carpet. Curious, he asked, “How can you help Olivia?” His eyes then turned to look at the woman he considered a friend through the one way glass.
Simpson, the taller man looked down at his polished shoes and said, “It’s up to her.”
“How? She’s about to be booked for the murder of the DA.” His voice rose in irritation as he added, “It is close to impossible to get her out of that.” His anger was aimed his own inability to help someone he cared for deeply. He’d lost too much in the last couple of weeks. His former partner and best friend and now the only sister he’d ever known even if she was only a surrogate.
The men didn’t reply as they continued to wait in silence. When they heard the heavy footfalls of someone rounding the corner of the corridor, they looked up.
Roger Beasley stormed toward them before he stopped and gave the men a disgusted look. “Let them in Tourney.”
David looked to his boss in question. “Shouldn’t one of us be there as well?”
“We need privacy,” Simpson said. “I will expect you to leave the room and not monitor what we are saying.”
With the shake of his head, Beasley replied, “Not this time Tourney.” He leveled the two men with his eyes as he switched off the sound. “You have thirty minutes.”
Reluctantly, David opened the door and let the men inside. He saw Olivia give him a despondent gaze that tore at his gut–he couldn’t help her. He closed the door behind the men and heaved a heavy sigh as he watched them sit opposite Olivia.
Roger placed a hand on his arm. “It’s up to her now David.”
“That’s what they said,” he said. He turned, gave the door to the room one last look before disappearing around the corner. “Don’t you think we should stay, she might need…”
Beasley shook his head. “Not this time David. Trust me these people mean what they said. No monitoring includes body language via the one-way mirror. Come on, I think we both need a drink.”
David couldn’t help but feel that there was more to this than met the eye. He looked around the empty corridor–he wouldn’t get any answers there. “I need more than a drink…I need answers.”
“When the time is right David, you’ll get your answers.”
“We have a proposition for you Officer Santos,” Simpson said as he leveled Olivia with a gaze.
With heavy lidded eyes, Olivia pursed her lips and tilted her head for them to continue.
A smile creased the man’s face. “A woman of few words…even better. Of course you know that it’s a foregone conclusion that you’ll end up with life or possibly the death penalty for what you did?”
Olivia lips curled churlishly. “Where’s the innocent until proven guilty part? I haven’t been booked on the charge or faced a judge and jury…,” she said as she sized up the men. “…unless you’re it?”
“No, we’re the get out of jail free card.”
Olivia moved out of the seat. “Bullshit! No one has that ability.” She sneered at the men. “Or did they leave something out when they told you what I did…sorry, suppose to have done.”
“You haven’t admitted it then?” the man said. “Interesting, why? Wasn’t it vengeance for your brother’s murder…an eye for eye situation? I thought you’d want the world to know it was you.”
“Like I don’t know that this conversation is being monitored…what do you take me for a fool? Go to hell! If that’s all you have to say, you can just get out…this is over,” Olivia snarled before she kicked the chair in rage.
Simpson glanced at the man at his side and once he saw the imperceptible nod he continued. “I assure you that no one is monitoring this conversation,” he said. “We work for a government agency called DOCO, otherwise known as the Department of Covert Operations. We want you to work for us. Your talents match our organization perfectly. What do you say?”
Olivia gave out a crushing laugh. “Pull the other one it has bells on it. Last time I checked, no one was recruiting murderers into government agencies. Aren’t you supposed to be the good guys?”
Simpson inclined his head to the left slightly then replied, “Sometimes it takes special skills to make the country safe. It isn’t always prudent for the public to know how we handle certain situations. You are perfect for the role.” He eyed Olivia. “You think you murdered him for justice…right?”
Olivia turned the word over in her head. ‘Justice.’ It was a simple word with a wealth of meaning. It could take forever to dissect and never understand its terminology in today’s world.
Mentally Olivia conceded that she did murder the DA out of a sense of justice. “If I agree, how do you sell it to the rest of the department? They think they know what I did.”
“That’s a fair question. You simply disappear. As far as they’ll know, you’re turning state’s evidence. A new identity and leaving the old life behind is something they are familiar with.”
Olivia closed her eyes as she tried to get her head around what they were offering. Could it really be that easy? “What about people who care about me…friends and ….”
Simpson tipped his head to one side as he heard the hesitation. She hadn’t mentioned her live in lover, Parker Davis, and thought it odd. “They’ll know you’re not in prison that has to be enough.”
Quietly Olivia turned over the word that passed her lips. “Enough.”
“Yes. The subject is not up for negotiations. This is a one shot deal Detective. Are you interested?” Both men fixed her with their eyes before Simpson said, “If you say yes we will take care of the mess you created here.”
Olivia blinked rapidly and softly said, “If I say no?”
Simpson gave her a hard gaze then with a tight smile replied, “We leave. You face the consequences…end of story.”
“End of story.” Again Olivia repeated something the man said as if hearing it in her own voice would have a bigger impact.
“We haven’t all day, Santos. Yes or no?”
Olivia had the opportunity to live again if she took the offer. Or, she could go jail, where she would surely die at the hands of the other inmates, or get the death sentence. Either way she was screwed. She had made her bed now she had to lie on it. “I accept.”
Simpson smiled, nodded to his partner and then shook Olivia’s hand. “Let me introduce your handler, Herald. He’ll be your contact for your duration in the department. Welcome aboard Olivia Santos.”
She drove to the station with the bubble light on her dashboard flashing. The fastest route was the freeway and after driving two miles, she came to a screeching halt. A dump truck was lying on its side blocking one lane of traffic. “Shit,” she screamed. “I don’t need this now.” With the light still flashing, she tried to pull onto the shoulder and drive but other cars blocked the way.
When the Mustang finally came to a stop in the parking garage, Parker got out and hurried into the building. She stormed past the other detective’s desks and pushed her way into Roger Beasley’s office slamming the door closed. “Why the fuck couldn’t you let her turn herself in, you shithead. Do you know how humiliated Olivia was when you and David arrested her?” An indiscernible look passed over the man’s face so quickly that Parker wasn’t sure that she saw it, but she had. “What’s going on?”
The man slammed down the phone he’d been using and flew out of his chair and took a threatening stance. “She killed a man! Shot him between the eyes. I don’t care who she is…in my book, no murderer gets special treatment,” he said in a low voice. “Now sit down!”
Something in the man’s tone put all of Parker’s senses on alert. She leveled the man with a glare as she took a seat.
Roger Beasley shook his head at the woman who looked so wired he’d swear she was taking drugs but he’d bet his badge that it wasn’t her style. “I’ll be back in a few minutes. When I get back, if you’ve simmered that attitude down, maybe we can talk.” He left the room without another word.
No one was going to tell her what to do so Parker stood up and looked out the window at the other detectives. When she did, she saw them all turn their heads away. “They know…they think I turned her in,” she whispered before sitting down. “Fuck,” she growled. “This can’t be happening.” She dropped her head as the minutes ticked by.
The door opened and the captain’s attention drew immediately to the silent woman. He heaved a sigh of relief for right now they all had to stick together and uphold the integrity of the department. Concerned, he asked, “How are you holding up?”
Parker leveled the man with a grim look. “I want to see Olivia.”
“Out of the question, besides Olivia made it plain she didn’t want you near her.” He moved over and took his chair at the desk.
Parker blew out a breath. “I don’t believe you.”
He stared at the woman facing him and curled his lip in derision. “Did the mausoleum strike you deaf or just dumb Davis. I never approve of relationships…personal relationships with fellow officers. It never works out. Get over it Parker so we can get back to normal.”
Her eyes searched the man’s face. “Why would I care what you think? If you won’t let me see her I‘ll find a way without you.”
Beasley didn’t answer immediately then he sighed. “Look, it isn’t as simple as that Davis. Right now Olivia’s with people who can help her. We can’t and don’t give me any bullshit about how you can–you can’t!”
Parker let out a sarcastic laugh. “You have no idea what I’m capable of so don’t underestimate me.” She stood up and leaned into the desk. “I want to see Olivia and I really don’t care what you say or do…I will see her.”
The captain just shook his head. “I’ve sent Tourney for coffee.” He rubbed a sweaty hand over his face. “I for one sure as hell need a caffeine fix. After that, I’ll arrange an interview with Olivia. Once you’re through that’s the end of it Davis…we go back out there and do our jobs. Do we have a deal?”
The captain’s words were like music to her ears. All Parker wanted was to see Olivia and explain what happened. “Sure as long as you hold up your end of the bargain we do.”
He raised her eyebrows at her attitude. “You know Davis if you weren’t so good at what you do I’d put you in the next cell to Santos for insubordination.”
It was impossible for Parker not to laugh at the man’s ridiculous statement. “Go ahead and try.”
Beasley stood up irritated at his junior detectives attitude, he walked over to the door and bellowed, “Tourney did you go to fucking Brazil for those beans?”
+ + +
David Tourney stood at the coffee machine with his mind brimming to overflowing with the current situation. His gaze landed on the captain talking to Parker Davis. Then his attention turned to several officers standing behind him. He was aware of the whispers that started when he and the captain brought Olivia in and decided to squelch them before they got out of hand. “You have a problem?”
A burly officer gruffly stepped forward. “Did the cocky bitch give up Santos Lieutenant?”
“Yeah, did she?” another man asked.
“If so, we want a piece of her…we don’t give up our own.” A chorus of others suddenly appeared growling in background.
David frowned. It wasn’t the time for in-fighting they would have enough shit flying once the media got hold of who killed the DA. “Forget it guys. You all know that just because we are questioning someone it doesn’t mean we suspect them of anything. Look guys all will be revealed soon enough, right now let’s not go all hot headed.”
“But what about Davis…did she squeal on her partner?”
“Whatever you think Davis did or didn’t do doesn’t matter right now,” he said knowing that the other detectives had already convicted Parker. He considered letting them continue to think she had but knew that wasn’t fair to the woman. Just as he was about to set them straight they all turned toward the sound of laughter coming from the captain’s office.
“Look at that, she doesn’t even give a damn she thinks it’s a joke. I can’t wait to get her in the locker room and see what she thinks when things aren’t going her way. That bitch has been trouble since day one.” Alec Manheim stepped out of the shadows and forced his way almost into David’s face.
Before David could reply, the Captain bellowed at him and he quickly placed three coffee cups on a tray and walked into the office.
Alec Manheim stood with his arms folded as straight as a ramrod and snarled as the lieutenant walked away. Then, he quietly said, “It’s time to take care of our own dirty washing and I know just how.” The others nodded in agreement.
+ + +
David entered the captain’s office and placed the coffee cups on the table then he glanced at Parker. “Hey, you want to share why you were laughing? I could do with a good joke right now.” He turned his attention to the captain. “The boys are pretty riled up out there Captain”
Parker hooked her thumb in the direction of the captain. “Yeah, he thinks he can stop me from seeing Olivia.” She chuckled again and fixed David with a glare. “Do you think you can do that too Lieutenant?”
Beasley snorted. “They’ll settle down. Davis wants to see Olivia. I said she could once we had coffee.”
“Glad you see it my way,” Parker said with a sly grin.
David frowned. “Ok, but what about…”
The phone rang at that moment and Beasley answered it. Moments later, he jabbed the remote control and the TV blared to life. “You’re never going to believe this.”
Parker’s eyes glued to the screen as a picture of a man she did not recognize flashed. Her brow furrowed as she listened to the commentator say, “He was the chief suspect in the murder of Portsmouth’s district attorney, Damien Reeves. In a stunning attempt to escape the cops that were surrounding him he ran toward them firing a gun…”
“What the hell is going on,” Parker demanded.
David watched in fascination. “Shut up Parker so we can hear it all.” A sense of relief flooded him even though he felt certain this was all a fabrication.
Once a commercial began to play, Parker looked at the two men in question. “He didn’t kill the DA…Olivia did. What kind of game are you playing?” With her resolve returning she said, “You said I could meet with Olivia…let’s go.”
Beasley held up his hand. He’d been surprised as much as the rest of them but as he heard the cheer from the squad room, he acknowledged it had taken the edge off the situation and the department. “You can’t see her Davis she isn’t here.”
Fuming, Parker went toe to toe with the captain. “Either you let me see Olivia or I’ll make sure everyone knows about your little cover-up.” She jammed her finger into his chest. “Do I make myself clear?”
Feeling his temper rise at the detective’s attitude, David decided to step up to the plate. “Who do you think you are Parker? Olivia’s off the hook and you want to put her back on it. What kind of partnership is that? She was here and now she’s gone…it was her choice.”
Disbelief filled Parker’s heart but she knew the truth–Olivia had left her for good. As she tried to piece together her shattered heart she whispered, “Where did she go? I need to talk to her.”
Roger Beasley looked at his two officers and shook his head before calmly saying, “She’s turning state’s evidence with information her brother gave her. We won’t be seeing her again. She’ll get a new identity and new life that none of us can be a part of…even you Davis. From what I saw, these people are good and you’ll never find her if they don’t want you to. Believe me Davis when I tell you that they don’t.”
Parker nodded and turned for the door. “I guess we’ll see if that’s true,” she said as she opened the door. All the eyes of her fellow detectives turned to her in disgust and loathing.
David felt relief and sadness all in the same moment as he realized the words the captain said earlier, ‘it’s all up to her now,’ made perfect sense.
Parker stood in the kitchen of the house she shared with Olivia and listened intently. There was nothing. In the living room, she sat in the chair that both Nicky and Olivia loved and closed her eyes. She tried to get a handle on all that had happened in less than a week. Nicky, dead at the hand of an assassin, was gone. Olivia had killed Damien Reeves in revenge and now she too was lost. The bitter truth filled her with sadness and remorse. “I should’ve known what she was going to do. If I hadn’t gone to the police station and found O first we would still be together.”
She got up and walked into the bedroom and her eyes fell on the strap-on still lying on the floor. Then her eyes tracked to the bed where rust colored stains that once were crimson gave testament to what happened there. She picked up Olivia’s pillow, held it to her face and breathed in deeply as her tears saturated the fabric. It was all she had left of the woman who she deeply loved. Shaking as her tears continued to fall, she crawled on the side that was Olivia’s and curled up with her knees to her chest.
The ringing of the phone three hours later woke Parker from a demon ridden sleep. “Hello,” she whispered. “Is that you O?” She listened and thought she heard breathing but no one was speaking. “Please talk to me O…please,” she begged as tears created streams down her cheeks and into her ears.
A gravelly voice said, “You bitch…you sold your partner out!”
“NO! No I didn’t,” she screamed.
“You’ll pay bitch,” the caller said before ending the conversation.
“I didn’t sell you out O…I didn’t. They followed me.” She held the pillow clinging to the last traces of Olivia that lingered. A voice deep in her subconscious struggled for acknowledgement until it screamed. “You would have turned her in.”
The truth of the words cut her so deep that she looked at her chest–it wasn’t bleeding. How could blood escape her for her heart scattered in sharp shards and was cutting her from the inside out. “What you did O was wrong…it went against all we stood for. How could you betray our love like that?” She clutched the pillow close to her and began to cry again.
Sometime in the night, Parker awoke and got out of bed. She wandered through the memory filled house while she tried to formulate a plan on how she would get Olivia back. First, she needed to find her and that seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. She sat at the desk in the living room and began rifling through the drawers in search of names and places. There had to be someone that Olivia would contact or some place that she would go–nothing. She took her search into the bedroom and searched all the drawers and the closet and still there was nothing.
After several hours of searching, Parker had left no stone unturned. She found a stash of pot along with several porn movies that she thought belonged to Nicky. In the back of their father’s closet, she found an old shoebox that obviously belonged to Olivia’s mother. It contained books, baby teeth, clothes, drawings of the family along with pictures of the significant events in Nicky and Olivia’s lives. It gave her new insight to the woman she loved but it held no answers.
Looking at the clock on the wall, she realized that soon she needed to be at work. “I’ll look in O’s desk at work,” she said as she stepped into the shower. “If I have to prostitute myself or sell my soul to the devil, I will find her. There’s nothing I won’t do for you Olivia.”
Parker walked somberly past the other detective’s desks with her eyes fixed on the furthest wall. She heard the derogatory remarks the other detectives made but held her head high. There was no way she would react to their words for that would only give credence to their lies. She hadn’t intentionally sold out her partner and nothing they said could taint that.
She took a seat behind Olivia’s desk and opened the middle drawer–it was empty. “What the fuck,” she said as she pulled the others open. Pushing back, she stood up and headed for the captain’s office.
Walking in without knocking, Parker found the man on the phone and glared at him. Holding his hand over the receiver he said, “The door was closed for a reason…get out.”
Ignoring his comment she demanded, “Where’s all of Olivia’s stuff?”
Roger Beasley said, “I’ll call you back in a minute,” and hung up the phone. “Don’t you ever walk into my office again and demand an audience,” he growled. “As for Olivia…get it through your thick head…she’s gone and doesn’t want to be found. Do yourself a favor Davis and move on.” He leveled his eyes on Parker. “We don’t need a hot headed bitch working here!”
Parker squared her shoulders and traded glances with the man then said, “I will find her you can count on that,” before she walked away.
+ + +
For the rest of the morning, Parker fielded phone calls and used the police network to start her search in earnest. At lunch time, she left and made her way to the Mustang. As she closed in on her vehicle, she frowned. A brown paper bag sat on the hood. With eyes scanning the parking garage and with her hand on her gun she cautiously picked up the bag and opened it. Feces filled the bag. Jerking her head around, she ran her eyes around the area as she walked to the driver’s side.
When her hand hit the handle, she pulled back immediately. Smeared on the handle, window and side of the car was more shit. Sucking in a deep breath, she pulled the door open and slid behind the wheel. Pulling a rag out from under the seat, she wiped her hand before starting the car. She’d spend her lunch at the car wash. “Damn shitheads,” she muttered as she guided the car out of the garage.
Over the next month, Parker grew weary of the daily assault on the Mustang. Not only did the entire police force shun her but the phone also rang constantly throughout the night as various voices screamed epithets at her. Stubbornly she came to work and sat at her desk seemingly unfazed by the treatment.
Roger Beasley approached her desk. “Get your butt up to Dr. McKinney’s office.”
With a defiant tone, Parker said, “Why?”
“This is not something that is up for discussion Davis. The doctor is waiting for you so get going.”
“Listen, I’ve had about as much of you as I care to take. You either do what I tell you to or…you can give me your badge.”
Her chair scraped loudly across the tile floor. “Have it your way,” she growled.
“I’m the one that’s in charge here Davis.”
Parker shook her head and silently gave the man the finger as she walked away.
+ + +
Eliza McKinney heard the knock on her door and said, “Come in.” When she saw Parker Davis standing in the threshold she smiled. “I’m glad you could make it Parker,” she said softly. “Come on in and take a seat.”
The doctor was the first person in over a month that smiled at her or treated her civilly. “Why am I here?” Parker asked without moving.
The doctor came out from behind her desk, approached Parker and gently took her arm. “Come, sit and we’ll talk.”
Reluctantly, Parker allowed the woman to pull her into the office as she took a seat. Her brow furrowed when the doctor positioned herself in the seat next to her. She blew out a breath and said, “Why am I here?”
“I understand that you’ve had quite a hard time lately and I thought we could discuss strategies to make things easier for you.”
Parker bent her head and rubbed her forehead. “A hard time you say…exactly what do you mean by that?”
“Your interaction with fellow officers is strained.”
“I don’t know who told you that for it isn’t true. I do my job then go home…end of discussion.”
“What about Olivia Santos? I understand she has left the police department. That must have been quite a blow to you.”
Parker’s eyes bore into the doctor. “Olivia leaving had nothing to do with me…circumstances did…she’ll come back.”
“And, you’ll be here waiting for her?”
“Of course,” Parker said with a knitted brow. “Why wouldn’t I…once her situation is straightened out she’ll be back. I don’t know why you would question that.”
Eliza gently placed her hand on Parker’s arm. “How would you feel if she didn’t come back?”
Parker shook the woman’s hand away, stood up and glared at the doctor. “She’ll be back! Now if there’s nothing else I have a job to do.”
The doctor watched as her patient began walking toward the door. “We’re not finished… please sit back down.”
“Well I am!” Parker growled.
With her eyes squarely focused on Parker, Eliza firmly said, “Sit down Detective. I’ll tell you when you can leave.”
Parker reluctantly sat down and folded her arms. “You can keep me here all day but I won’t discuss Olivia with you.”
“Ok, I will agree to that but I want you to tell me about what the others are doing to you.” When she saw Parker’s eyes flinch she added, “I know how they’ve been harassing you. I want your take on what is happening.”
For a long time Parker stared out the window refusing to answer. Then she blew out a breath, sighed and said, “They think I am responsible for Olivia leaving.”
“If they hadn’t arrested her would you have turned her in?”
With eyes blazing, Parker said, “Who said she was arrested?”
“It is my job to know.”
With her thumb and forefinger, Parker rubbed her eyes. “She broke the law. We swore to uphold the law…if we don’t comply with the rules and pick the ones we’ll follow then anarchy follows. Olivia…” She shrugged.
“What about Olivia?”
“She should’ve trusted me.”
Eliza again touched Parker’s arm. “You trusted her?”
Parker frowned. “Of course I do…I love her.”
“What have the others done to you since she left?”
As she sucked in a breath, Parker could feel her anger rising and disguised it so the doctor couldn’t see her vulnerability. “It isn’t anything I can’t handle.”
“You don’t want to retaliate?”
“No, if I do that they will have power over me.” Her mind flashed to Olivia and how she ravaged her the last time they made love–Olivia had power and always would. So caught up in her thoughts she didn’t hear the doctor’s next question. “I’m sorry, what did you ask?”
“Is there any way you could condone what Olivia did?”
“What if it was in the line of duty?”
“I know that…what if the job calls for actions that are for the greater good?”
For a long time, as she digested the information, Parker didn’t answer. Then her eyes focused squarely on the doctor. “It would depend on the situation but I can see where it could be useful to bend the rules.”
Eliza nodded. “Good. I think that is all for today.” She patted Parker’s arm. “I’d like to chat with you again next week.”
As her back went stiff, Parker stood up. “I wouldn’t,” she said as she walked quickly to the door and left.
For a moment, Eliza stared at the door before she picked up her phone and dialed a familiar number. “I’ve interviewed Davis again and I think she will be useful to us.” She listened for a moment then added, “No, we don’t need her now but from what I know of Santos, we will need her eventually.”
Parker closed the door behind her and took a deep breath. There was no way she wanted the shrink or anyone else to know how rattled she was. She turned and ran smack into Elisabeth Hill. Holding the woman by the waist, Parker let a lascivious grin cross her face as she extended her arms while still holding the woman. “Well aren’t you a vision,” she said as her eyes racked over the woman.
Elisabeth took a step back and Parker relinquished her hold. “Parker, it’s been a long time.”
Parker winked and said, “Not so long that you forgot me.”
The doctor distanced herself further and said, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“You just trembled when I held you.”
“I can’t have this conversation with you.” The hurt Elisabeth saw in Parker’s eyes was evident. She turned and said, “Come into my office.”
Once inside with the door closed, Parker pulled Elisabeth to her. “Hmm, I like how this feels and judging by your reaction you do too.”
With a firm push, Elisabeth disengaged from Parker’s hold. “I won’t allow this to happen.”
“Why not,” Parker said as she moved closer.
“Just because your Latin lover left you, it doesn’t mean you can waltz back into my life as if nothing has happened.”
Parker felt her blood go cold. “She didn’t leave me.”
“Get real. Everyone knows that she left. Since you didn’t go with her I’d say that sounds a lot like she left you behind.”
“She’ll be back,” Parker snarled.
“Bull…you can’t really believe that can you.” She looked deep into Parker’s eyes. “You do believe that,” she said before laughing. “You used to be fun Parker a real taker until that bitch came into your life. Then you became whipped…even now when it’s obvious she walked out on you you’re still whipped.” Elisabeth laughed louder. “How delicious…you finally got a taste of your own medicine.”
With a fierceness that conveyed her anger, Parker pulled the doctor into her arms and kissed her hard.
Elisabeth wrestled herself free and slapped Parker’s face. “Don’t you ever touch me again. I’m not some whore that is waiting for you to come back. I’m through with you! Now get out!”
With her hand holding her cheek, Parker felt the wall she constructed around her begin to crack. Her world was collapsing around her and she needed to take control or she would lose everything. “I’m sorry that I hurt you in the past Beth. You deserved so much more and I…” She closed her eyes hard so the tears wouldn’t come–they did anyway.
When she saw Parker dissolve into tears, Elisabeth’s heart went out to the woman. She tentatively stroked Parker’s cheek. “I won’t be your lover but I can be your friend.”
With a swipe, Parker pushed the doctor’s hand away. “I don’t need friends,” she said before she turned and left. She needed to feel in control and she knew just where to find it. The bar at Sixth and Maple had more than its share of woman who wanted a good time.
Parker opened the side door to the house to leave and the stench of death immediately assaulted her nostrils. Laying on the walkway was a dead vulture with a red painted letters–traitor. Through clenched teeth she said, “That’s it!” before she stepped past the dead bird and headed for a small shed that held gardening tools. With shovel in hand, she dug a shallow grave before scooping the carcass and burying it.
The incident only added to her foul mood. The rejection by Elisabeth sent her on a path to find somebody…anybody…to take control over–she found none. The only person she wanted was gone and until she returned, Parker would remain celibate.
After finding feces smeared on and in the vehicle for five days in a row she took action and no longer parked in the police garage. She pulled the Mustang to a stop in the now familiar private garage two blocks from the police station. No longer would she allow anyone to intimidate her for she believed it was only a matter of time before the others would realize they needed her to solve the more complicated cases.
As she did every time she passed by her co-worker’s desks, she held her head high and squared her shoulders. There was no way she would allow any of them to see the annoyance their assault of the last month caused. Sitting at her desk, she began to review incidents that occurred on the night shift. She was so engrossed in her task that she didn’t notice someone standing by her desk. When the person shifted slightly, she looked up–David Tourney was looking at her.
“What do you want,” she snarled. She detested the man for he was part of the conspiracy to keep Olivia away from her.
“We need to talk…privately. Let’s go into the interview room.” He didn’t wait for her to answer as he walked toward the empty room opposite them, opened the door and waited for her to join him.
Parker felt her heart ramp up in beats, as she was certain that he had information about Olivia. As she entered the interview room, she eyed the man critically. “Ok, I’m here what do you want?”
David bristled at her attitude. He wasn’t surprised that some of the guys were playing crude jokes on her for she did go around the place with a superior attitude. “Sit down Parker and maybe if you take that condescending look off your face I’ll tell you.”
“Fuck you David. I’ve had enough of the shit you and your cronies are dishing out. You’re punishing me for something I never did.”
“I’d rather you didn’t Parker…my wife might have something to say about it. Look if you want to complain about what’s happening to you, go ahead, I’ll listen…or you can take it to internal affairs…your choice.” He didn’t have the details but heard the rumors.
Parker let out a sarcastic laugh. “As if you didn’t know.” She glared at the man. “As for your wife…I’d never sink as low as to have anything to do with you. Your wife might be a better proposition though. How’s she in the sack?” She knew her coarse remark had hit a mark as his face turned red with anger. Through gritted teeth she said, “Listen, if this is all you wanted me for I have better things to do than to be here with the likes of you.”
David clenched his teeth. “Olivia called me.”
It was impossible for Parker to hide her dismay as her heart boomed out of her chest. “She did?” When she saw, what she thought was a confident look on the man’s face she frowned. “I don’t believe you. Olivia would never call you instead of me…she never would do that.” In a low ominous tone she said, “Exactly what kind of game are you playing?”
“No games Parker.” He shook his head as he took a seat opposite the agitated woman. “I was as surprised as you but she had her reasons. If you’ll listen, I’ll tell you what you need to know. Although I warn you it probably isn’t what you want to hear.”
“You’ve had it out for me ever since Olivia and I started dating so why would I believe anything you tell me.” She shrugged, “Go ahead, and say what you need to so I can get back to something that is important…like my job.”
This time David let his temper show as he thumped the table. “This isn’t all about you Parker! I lost not only my best friend but someone I called a sister too. If you can’t see that you’re not the only one hurt then go, I’ll let the lawyers handle it.”
Parker cocked her head and considered the man’s words. It was true that David had close ties to the Santos family and she may have read him wrong. “Ok, what do you want to tell me?”
David cleared his voice as she replied, “Olivia called me to tell me that I was going to get a letter from her lawyer.” He held up his hand. “Yeah, yeah before you say anything it isn’t about her troubles. She left me the house Parker and she wants me to get rid of everything in it except her family’s personal stuff and the motorcycles.”
Parker grabbed the table in an attempt to steady her knees that went weak. Her stomach churned as she felt her world collapsing inside her. There was no way she would allow the man to get the upper hand by knowing the effect Olivia’s decision had on her. When she was alone, she would hash over the information and come up with a viable reason for her lover to make such a move.
“Those items are going into storage and I’m to keep the key safe until such time as she can claim them back. The indication from her conversation was that it would never happen but I’m an optimist and have to have faith that it will, especially when we prove she did the right thing about the DA.”
“Exactly where does that leave me? Are you putting me in storage too?”
David hung his head in embarrassment. “She asked that you leave the house without any trouble.” He wasn’t going to rub salt in the wound by telling her that Olivia hadn’t wanted to speak about Parker and that she blamed her lover for her lack of trust.
“I don’t believe you,” she whispered. “Olivia would never do that to me.”
“I never said you’d like this Parker. If you want to read the letter from the lawyer here it is.” He slipped a white envelope from his jacket pocket and slid it along the table toward Parker.
Trying to steady her shaking hand, Parker reached for the envelope only to pull her hand back. “How do I know it is authentic? Maybe you and the rest of my fellow officers thought this would be a sick joke to play on me.”
With a heavy sighed David stood up. “You’re not a fool Parker. I’m not your enemy and you know I loved Olivia like family. Right now it’s what she wants that’s important…not what we want. If there’s any hope she’ll come back to…us. We have to do this. I’ll give you as long as you need to move–but you will move out,” he said with determination.
Parker would not give the man the satisfaction of seeing her melt down emotionally. She shook her head and pursed her lips. “I’ll be out in two days,” she said before she turned and walked away. Once in the bathroom, she buried her face in her hands and began to sob silently.
With the Mustang loaded with her belongings, Parker looked back at the house she and Olivia shared for over two years and sighed. Although she could no longer live there, it didn’t mean she would stop her search for the woman she loved beyond all reason. For now, she would go back home, back to the farm and draw from the strength that her family and the land gave her. Leaving Portsmouth was a minor setback that was temporary. Once she could get her head clearly around all that occurred she could begin to move forward again. She touched a locket around her neck that belonged to Olivia’s mother. She found it in one of Olivia’s drawers buried under t-shirts. Wherever she would go from that time forward, Olivia would always be with her.
As she drove out of town, the conversation she and David had played over in her mind. It was a relief to know that Olivia was alive and was apparently able to communicate with the outside world. Although it was a blow to know that Olivia chose to speak to David instead of her, she rationalized that the action was typical of the woman she loved. Most likely, Olivia wanted to make sure that she didn’t have to cope with paying the mortgage and all the other bills that their combined income accommodated. She was convinced that her lover never intended for David to kick her out of the house. If Olivia knew what he did, Parker was certain she would be very angry.
As the vehicle ate up the distance between Portsmouth and the farm, Parker listened to the CD’s she and Olivia created. The more she listened the deeper her depression grew. When she guided the Mustang down the familiar gravel and dirt road to the farm house, their song, began to play. When my body is done and my soul disappears, I will love you…I’ll love you. The tears that she held at bay flooded her eyes and created unstoppable rivulets down her cheeks. When the sun starts to cry and the moon turns to blue, I will love. Will you stay with me for all time and keep my heart safe? If you do then I’ll give my heart for all time. As she pulled her car in front of the house, her body, wracked with sobs, was shaking as she turned off the ignition and listen to the words that Olivia sang to her every time they made love. I will love you. When she looked up, she saw her mother coming toward the car and that made her cry even more. How her mother loved Olivia.
She flung the door open, got out and melted into her mother’s loving arms. “Olivia is gone and I don’t know how to find her,” she sobbed.
Parker looked out of the plane’s small window at the clouds covering the land below. She pulled the business card that she received and read it for the hundredth time. The offer of a job as a private investigator for an organization based out of Philadelphia seemed legitimate enough, but she still had a lingering suspicion that more was involved. Whatever that was she would find out once she met with the man who had called her six weeks earlier.
For a little over two years, she hid out at her parent’s farm attempting to find Olivia while nursing her shattered heart. Her parents were supportive to a point–as the days stretched out into months then years they encouraged her to move on with her life. They never understood that for Parker, her life ended when Olivia disappeared. Until she found her, life for her would be nothing more than going through the motions.
If she took the PI job, it would afford her the opportunity to use the agency’s resources to find her lover. When the light above the seat flashed, fasten your seatbelt, she did so and watched the land come into view as the plane approached the tarmac.
+ + +
Parker exited the terminal and let her eyes scan the people waiting for passengers. The person requesting the interview said that someone named Dan Estevez would meet her and escort her to the meeting. Her eyes fell on a man she guessed was of Spanish decent and approached him. “Are you Estevez?”
Dark brown eyes raked over Parker’s body before the man shrugged. He knew who she was when she disembarked from the plane but he was testing her skills as an observer. “Yes,” she said. “You must be Ms. Davis.” He held up a picture of her and said, “This doesn’t do you justice.”
“Shall we go then?” She held up a small bag and said, “I have no baggage to pick up.” Parker began to walk a few steps then stopped and turned to the man. “Seat three D, you were on the same flight as I was.” She eyed him cautiously. “Exactly what is going on here?” she asked cautiously.
A sly smile filled Dan Estevez’s face. “They will be pleased to know that your powers of observation are highly honed.” He began to walk away and when he noticed Parker still rooted in the same position he motioned her forward. “Come on…they do that to all potential employees.” When the woman still didn’t move he added, “Ninety-nine percent don’t make the connection.”
“I don’t appreciate your deception Mr. Estevez,” Parker said as she began to walk.
“It is important to the company that their detectives have a leg up on the competition,” the man replied as he too walked. “It is a very competitive business and the company only hires those that are at the top of their game.” Dan walked to the exit before he spoke again. “No deception…that’s why you are here. Had you failed to recognize me the chances of your being hired would be slim. Since I’ve been doing this, only one other person not only recognized me but knew the seat number.”
As they moved out of the terminal, Parker noted that a Lincoln Town Car pulled up and a smartly dressed man exited and held open the door to the back seat. When the man that met her, motioned for her to get in, she did and he followed.
The drive down highway ninety-five into the city was in silence as Parker concentrated on the route. If she had to leave suddenly, she wanted to be certain she knew how to get away. Once in the city proper, the car weaved its way through multiple one-way streets, she closed her eyes–a quick getaway meant using streets she didn’t know. Damn. She saw what she recognized as the Liberty Bell just before the vehicle entered an underground parking garage. They passed by parked cars before they veered off into a small area that was void of other vehicles. Finally, the car came to a stop in front of what looked like an elevator. The driver got out and hurried around the car to open the door.
Once Parker and the man were out, she heard the man say, “Don’t wait Fred, I’ll call you if I need you again.” Dan turned to Parker and said, “This way,” as he led them to the elevator door.
Parker’s eyes scanned the area for potential danger and noted that the area t was dark and desolate. Her defenses were on a heightened alert as her body prepared for battle with the man at her side or others that might be in the shadows. Her mind flashed back to the vitriolic life she led in the waning days of her employment as a detective for the Portsmouth PD. In her mind, she considered the possibility that the job offer was a ploy to make her pay. She reached in her pocket and fingered the small, very sharp plastic knife that she had stitched into the lining. With very little movement, she pulled the single thread that released the weapon. If she was going down it wouldn’t be without a fight. She watched as the man inserted a key and the doors to the elevator opened. Once inside, she saw that the only buttons were up or down–there wasn’t any indication of floors. Before the man could punch at the up button, she slapped his hand away.
“Where the fuck are you taking me?”
“Relax,” the man said with a tight smile. “This is a private elevator for the agency.” He looked at the woman and saw the distrust in her eyes. “Look, I mean you no harm I’m just doing my job.”
Parker released the man’s arm and allowed him to press the button. “You should know that I won’t go down easy if this is a ruse.”
The man only smiled as he waited for the elevator to come to a halt.
+ + +
When the elevator doors opened, Parker saw a number of people all seemingly oblivious to their arrival, milling around a reception area. As they walked forward, she saw on the wall in bold letters I Spy. “I Spy, what kind of corny name is that?” she mumbled as she followed the man further into the office area.
The man knocked on a door before he opened it and turned to allow Parker to go first.
With her senses on high, alert as she clutched the weapon in her pocket before she walked through the door. If there was an unwelcome surprise for her, she was ready to do battle. Instead, she saw the man with snow white hair sitting behind a desk get up and hold out his hand. Ms. Davis, I’m pleased to meet you at last.”
Parker cautiously took the man’s hand and found it to be warm and strong. “I’d say the same but I don’t know who you are.”
“Carter Malloy. I’m the company’s representative who will interview you for the position. Please take a seat.”
Again, Parker heard the word ‘company’ and wondered if the detective agency was nationwide. “Exactly what position is that Mr. Malloy?”
The man in front of her smiled slightly and said, “Please sit down and we will discuss all the particulars.”
She pulled her hand holding the small knife out of her pocket and sat rigidly in the chair. “Ok.”
Carter Malloy sized the woman across from him up as he shuffled the papers on his desk. “I understand you recognized Dan from the plane…that is an important factor in your favor. We only hire people who are of the highest caliber for in this business competition is fierce.”
“How did you know I recognized him? He’s been with me ever since I made the connection.”
Malloy smiled before saying, “We have our ways. It’s something you will learn if you join us.” His eyes tried to read the woman’s reaction–he saw none. “The company feels you would be a perfect fit.”
“You just met me…how do you know that?”
The man sat in quiet contemplation before speaking again. “We have people that monitor most colleges and universities for those students that show exceptional aptitude in the law enforcement field.” He motioned to the papers on his desk. “You are someone we’ve been watching for a number of years.” When he saw objection and what he thought was fear in the woman’s face he held up his hand. “Please listen. You did an exemplary job on the mayor’s taskforce in Portsmouth in devising and implementing the disaster preparedness plan. We were most impressed by your attention to detail and ability to be flexible in planning.” He smiled at Parker. “You are exactly who we are looking for.”
Parker’s outward demeanor was calm but inside a shiver ran up her spine. Whoever the man was, he was well informed and that put her at a distinct disadvantage. “That was a long time ago…why are you approaching me now?”
Carter rubbed his hand across his face before remarking, “We are aware of your problems with the police department in Portsmouth. What they did to you was unconscionable…you deserved better. However, that was to our advantage. When the unfortunate incident of the district attorney’s demise happened we were about to approach you with a job offer. One of our people works for that police department and highly recommended you.”
With a cock of her head, Parker asked, “Who.”
Parker knitted her eyebrows. “She works for you?” When she saw the man nod his head, she continued. “Exactly what kind of detective agency is this?”
“Legitimate. We assign each member with specific cases. Some work as teams others work alone, which is what you will initially do.’ He motioned to the office and said, “This will be your office along with an unlimited budget.” He slid a piece of paper across the desk. “This is your salary.”
Parker took the paper and fought the urge to let her surprise show. “A hundred and thirty thousand is extravagant and that leads me to believe that there is something more.” She fixed the man with a cold stare. “Exactly what are you trying to sell me? Obviously, you think I can be bought…well you’re wrong.”
“Detectives are a dime a dozen…highly competent ones are rare. You fall into that category and if we are to keep you we need to pay you accordingly.”
“Again, what’s the catch?”
“The company recognized your potential for excellence in planning when you were in college and saw it grow while you were with the Portsmouth PD. Then you dropped off our radar.” She didn’t need to know that they watched her at her parent’s farm. Malloy eyed her critically. “We…the company would like to reinvigorate that talent in you. We can help you hone that ability by sending you scenarios of various situations that you will critique and point out any flaws or…ways of preventing the situation from happening.” Carter Malloy watched as imperceptible hints of various expressions flitted over the face of the woman opposite him. Only a highly trained observer could read her face and that was a plus in her favor.
“I thought you wanted a private detective,” Parker said as she eyed the man skeptically.
“We do. The critiques would be in addition to being a private detective.”
Parker shook her head and let out a small snort. “This sounds like a bad B movie. I think I’ll pass.”
The man sat silent as he waited for sufficient time to pass before he dealt the final card. He knew that once he spoke again, Parker Davis would be theirs. He watched as the woman stood up and took a step toward the door. “We get a lot of missing person cases. You will have access to search the databases from all government offices…nationwide.” He saw Parker, who had her back to him, stop in her tracks before adding, “You’ll have the full use of all our resources and the latest technology in locating missing persons. The detective game is cutthroat so we provide our detectives with everything they need to stay ahead of the others.”
For Parker, she didn’t hear everything the man said but she did hear the words ‘missing persons’. In spite of all the warnings that were going off in her head about the man and the job, her focus turned to Olivia. Her search for Olivia while living on the farm always came up empty because she didn’t have the right connections or resources. If the man’s words her were true, she would have access to all the resources she needed to track down her lover. Without turning around she said, “How do I know you’re telling me the truth?”
The man pushed back from the desk, stood up, and walked over to Parker. “Come with me and I’ll show you.”