Since Thanksgiving is next week and I am already having issues with my jeans (I swear they must have shrunk in the wash), I am heading out to the YMCA where they are offering a ZUMBA class. I am sure I will be completely coordinated and and will not drop after three songs. I am positive. Wish me luck.
In the meantime, here is Chapter Thirteen of COVERT REICH
Have a wonderful weekend.
Kelly locked the house up behind her. She’d fed Stevie T and left a light on in the entry and kitchen since she planned to get home late. Her shift would start at nine and go for 12 hours. Leaving at 6:00am would give her enough time to visit her horse, and maybe get some perspective out on the trail.
The rich scent of earth, dew, and freshly cut hay hit her as she stepped out of her Land Rover. Nickers and whinnies echoed across the grounds from the equestrian center. It was breakfast time and the horses were definitely ready to eat. She knew her timing wasn’t the greatest, but it was the only time she had until the weekend to visit.
Kelly let out a low whistle as she walked down the barn aisle. A big bay mare popped her head out and turned to face Kelly. Sydney nickered a gentle hello. Kelly smiled. “I’m happy to see you, too.” In fact, she was more than just happy…she was relieved. Tears welled in her eyes. She was exhausted and reeling from Jake’s horrible death. This was the only place she could come and find peace, even if only for a short while.
“Hey big girl.” Kelly slid a hand down Syd’s face. She reached in her pocket and brought out the apple slices she’d prepped at home. Syd took it eagerly. “I hope this makes you feel a bit better about being late for breakfast.” Kelly knew it wasn’t kosher to take Sydney off her feed schedule, but she’d only be an hour behind by the time Kelly was finished with her.
She took Syd out, put her in the cross-ties, and quickly groomed her. After tacking the mare up and putting on her helmet and gloves, she led her out to the mounting block and got on. A few minutes later, Kelly and Syd were walking along at a leisurely pace on one of the back trails behind the equestrian center. Tree branches reached across the wide path, leaves blowing gently in the slight breeze. The sun shone strong overhead with only a puff of cloud here and there, dotting the powder blue sky. For the first time in 24 hours, Kelly felt like she could breathe again. And, more importantly, think.
In the 30 minutes it took her to arrive back at the center, Kelly had gone over the current situation multiple times. She needed to get a hold of the charts on the two other women who died like Lupe Salazar. Unfortunately, Jake had been her primary connection in the morgue. She really didn’t know the other pathologists well, and she had been out on the days those women came in. She may have a difficult time getting access to their charts. God she wished that Dr. Pearson was around. He was a far more amicable man to deal with than Pierce Brightman. Joe Pearson was a good doctor. He was nearing retirement so it was kind of surprising he was now on vacation. However, as a doctor and especially one who worked the NICU Kelly understood the pain one endured when a little one was lost, and Pearson had apparently lost two within a week.
She wondered if the chief had suggested Pearson take time off, as Eric had indicated. Brightman had been OBGYN on both Lupe Salazar’s case and one of the other young women. One thing was certain, she would need to speak with him. Amicable or not. Kelly knew she needed to have a chat with Brightman to get his take on all of this. Would he have the same strange reaction Jake had with her? The reaction Kelly was sure had gotten him killed. How much did she want to look into this? Paranoia was beginning to get the best of her.
However, there was right and there was wrong. And it was right to find out what had happened to Lupe so at the very least she could help Baby S. And then there was Jake.
Kelly played Jake’s conversation with her over and over in her mind. She thought about Lupe Salazar and Baby S and what the reports detailed. She would need to see if the other women and baby charts matched up in any way. Kelly sifted through her theories, most of which were conspiratorial and bizarre. But at the end of the trail, she was no further into making sense of anything, leaving her frustrated and confused.
She put Syd away and headed toward her car, when she spotted a familiar face—Dr. Tamara Swift, her vet. Tamara was tall, very thin with long blonde hair, which was always pulled back and tucked under a ball cap. She had warm hazel eyes and a golden glow, likely due to her time spent outdoors in the sun. If she hadn’t been a vet, Kelly was certain she could’ve made one heck of a volleyball player. The moment Kelly saw Tamara, an idea began to form. “Hey Tam,” she said, quickening her pace.
“Hey there.” Tamara took a step back. “Wow, Kel. You okay? You look a little…”
“I know,” Kelly said holding up her palms. “I can’t go into it right now. Um, but I need a favor.” Tamara had become more than just Kelly’s vet over the years, she was also a friend. Kelly had actually introduced the vet to her now husband who Kelly had interned with. She’d been in her wedding. They had barbeques together, drank wine, enjoyed each other’s company.
“Sure,” Tamara replied.
“How do you mean?”
“I need some blood work sent in for some tox reports.”
“Something wrong with Syd?”
“No,” Kelly replied.
“What are you talking about then?”
Kelly sighed. “Okay, I can’t go into details here, but if I can get you the blood, can you help me?” For a second she started to rethink her request. Could she get her friend into any trouble? Or worse, would she be putting her in any kind of danger? She shook her head. “You know what, Tam, never mind. It’s silly. I never…” Kelly closed her eyes and fought back tears.
Tamara put an arm around her. “Hey, hey, Kelly? What’s going on? It takes a lot to make you cry. Hell, I remember last year when you broke two of your ribs after Syd dumped you going over that double oxer?” Tamara pointed to the jump arena. Kelly couldn’t help but laugh. “No tears then, right? I mean you kept saying how you were fine and you could get right back on, until you nearly passed out.”
“That hurt like hell.” Kelly smiled.
“Okay, so what’s this all about?”
“I don’t really know to be honest with you.”
“Let’s start with why you want the tox reports.”
Kelly knew if she was going to ask Tamara for help on this, she owed it to her to tell her everything she did know.
“So, your friend Jake, the pathologist, he was murdered after he basically warned you there was something sinister that caused this girl’s death?”
Kelly nodded. “Yes.”
“What about the police? Did you tell the detective who interviewed you last night about any of this?”
“I told him we were going to meet and discuss some patient cases.”
“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you tell him about this?” Tamara asked.
“Because it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? The detective was kind of, I don’t know…not a jerk, but also not exactly gentle. I mean he was prying and asking things about my sex life.”
“He thought I was hooking up with Jake, I guess. Look, I know I need to tell the police, but I needed a sounding board first to hear me out and let me know if it is as crazy as it sounds.”
“It does sound a bit strange, but you’re a grounded person, Kelly. You’re a good and respected doctor. The police might find it odd, so I can understand where you’re coming from.”
“Do you see why I want some kind of proof there is something behind the deaths of these pregnant women, something that got Jake killed?”
“And you think the tox reports may show something more?”
Kelly shrugged. “After hearing Jake talk about this, I don’t know if I can trust the tests that were already run, and I don’t know if everything was done thoroughly. I mean inconclusive means simply that.”
Tamara nodded. “I’ll do it for you.”
“Please be careful. I have no clue what we’re dealing with.”
Tamara gave her a hug and said, “Hopefully, we’ll find out.”