Today Alex and I race up to LA (the word race should make you laugh if you know Southern California Freeways at all). It typically takes us three hours up and three hours back on a Friday. It just is what it is. However, the good news is that he is doing very well. The bad news is, I am still trying to finish the last minute edits on the book. Should be next week.
Here is Chapter 8 of COVERT REICH. Hope you enjoy!
Kelly was now following the man toward a private room to talk. Following the detective. Tony Pazzini. Her heart raced and every nerve pumped adrenaline. He still hadn’t told her anything other than he needed to speak with her in private. However, her gut told her what was coming.
This was about Jake. It had to be.
As they headed down the hall, they passed an orderly who dropped a handful of charts. Kelly bent down to help pick them up. The detective grabbed her arm. “I think he can handle that.”
“I was only trying to help.”
He touched her shoulder. “I understand but what we need to discuss is important.”
She turned to him, hands on her hips. “I’m not going any further until I know what this is about.” She needed to know. She needed to hear it.
“Look, I just need to ask you some questions. I’d like to do it in private.”
Anger, fear, and confusion stirred a vicious brew inside her. Kelly was terrified of what he was about to tell her. She nodded.
Once inside the doctor’s lounge, she turned and faced him, crossing her arms. “Okay. Now can you tell me what is going on here?”
“Did you have an appointment with Dr. Jake Hamilton this evening?”
“I did. We were supposed to have dinner together.”
“He didn’t show up,” the detective stated.
Kelly closed her eyes for a second. “No. I was on my way downstairs to see him when you came off the elevator.” Beads of perspiration formed on her top lip.
“I am sorry, but Dr. Hamilton was found murdered about an hour ago.”
Blood drained from her face as her stomach twisted into a knot that made her want to vomit, leaving a sour burn in the back of her throat. She gagged from the wine that came back up. Her hands shook, and a cold descended upon her, chilling her whole body. The detective reached out and took her elbow as she collapsed onto the yellow sofa. She put her face in her palms, too stunned to cry. Too stunned to think.
Only one thought came to mind: She was the reason Jake was dead.
She knew that with the most painful certainty.
The detective poured her a glass of water. “Do you think you can answer a few more questions for me?” he asked. “I’m sorry to do this now, but it’s necessary.”
She nodded. “I’ll try.”
“Okay. Thank you. So, you did plan to meet with Dr. Hamilton this evening?”
“I did.” She was tearing up again.
“What time was your dinner set for?”
“Seven-thirty,” she answered, barely audible.
“Where were you meeting?” He jotted a note down on his pocket pad.
“Was this a date?”
“No. Dr. Hamilton and I were friends.” Her gaze fell to the ground. She didn’t want him to know she had considered the possibility of being more, but now…
“So you were not romantically involved with Dr. Hamilton?”
She hesitated. “No I just told you that it wasn’t a date.” She took a sip of her water and ran her fingers through her light brown hair. She eyed him. He’d hit a hot button. He gave her a weak smile. “We planned to meet for dinner because we needed to discuss some patient cases we were working on.”
“A dinner date to discuss business, then?” He decided to ignore the edge in her answer.
“Yes. Some patients, as I said.”
“Did you plan on going home with him?”
She frowned. “No. That actually had not crossed my mind, Detective.” Heat was rising in her face.
“Were you sexually involved with Dr. Hamilton?”
She frowned, her eyes narrowing. “I am not that kind of woman, and I don’t see the relevance to that sort of questioning. I told you, he was a colleague and a friend.”
“I’m working a murder case. Everything is relevant. I don’t judge what kind of woman you are, Doctor. Honestly. I am only trying to establish facts. Friends and colleagues can mean one thing to one person and a something else to another. And then once you quantify it as a relationship, we are at another level.”
“What are you, a detective or a relationship expert?”
This got a slight laugh out of him. “Well, actually, in my line of business you become a little bit of everything, I guess.”
She frowned. “I still don’t understand your questions.”
He paused for a second. “I’m gonna lay it on the line.”
“I wish you would.”
“When I have a murder case, I have to flesh everything out. I’m sure you can appreciate that. And the thing is, I can’t discount anything. Many times these cases wind up being crimes of passion or at least the victim knew the assailant.”
She crossed her arms, the frown on her face deepening. “Wait a minute, are you suggesting I murdered Jake?” She let out a soft cry. “Oh my God! As I said our relationship was a friendship and one of mutual respect. I liked him. I liked him a lot.” The tears welled in her eyes again. ”He was an excellent doctor and a decent man. He was also my friend.” She wiped her face with the back of her hand, and tried hard to contain her emotion. “We were not intimate. We’ve never been. I don’t know where things were headed, Detective. But what I can tell you is there is no way in hell I killed Jake.” She shook her head vehemently.
“Hey, I’m sorry if I offended you. I am only doing my job. What do you say we get back to the questions and I can let you go home?”
“Fine. Ask away.”
“Where were you between seven-fifteen and eight-fifteen this evening?”
“I left the hospital, drove to the restaurant, and waited there for Jake. When he didn’t show up, I came back here. I think you know the rest.” She stated it matter-of-factly and wiped the last of her tears away.
“Can someone verify they saw you at the restaurant?”
“I assume so. A hostess seated me. A waiter waited on me.”
“Are we finished? I would really like to go home now.”
“Yes. I’ll probably need to speak to you again. Some time tomorrow. I may have more questions.”
“I will be here.” She left after that, holding back more tears, choking back emotion, feeling harassed, and convinced she had in some way caused her friend’s murder.