Chapter 17: Motherly Instinct
“Um…wow! Right to the point. I like it,” said Shawn to Avery. “And, what makes you think someone is trying to kill you?” he continued, seriously. She seemed surprised at Shawn’s readiness to listen to her.
“Well…last week…I was hanging out at an abandoned factory down by the marina with some friends. I went outside for a smoke and I saw something…someone.
“Whoa! You were doing what?!” said Shawn. “Where are your parents?!”
She rolled her eyes. “My mom is dead, and my dad doesn’t give a f- ”
“Hey, missy! Watch that mou- Oh my God. Gus, help me. I’m turning into my dad!”
“Avery, please continue,” said Gus, ignoring Shawn.
“Um…anyway. I saw this creepy man. I don’t know what he was doing there, but he seemed really angry when I saw him. He…he…” Avery was having trouble continuing, seemingly unsure of whether telling the men in front of her what happened was the right thing to do.
“It’s ok. You can tell us,” said Gus compassionately.
“He pointed a gun at me.”
Shawn and Gus exchanged uneasy glances. This could be more serious than they thought.
Avery continued. “Well…I turned around and ran out of there as fast as I could. He followed me for a while, until I found my friends. Then we all got the hell out of there! Ever since, strange things have been happening. I’ve been getting cryptic phone calls…seeing strange men following me…getting in nearly fatal accidents everywhere I go. I am afraid to be alone, anymore! The police won’t help me! Please, I need your help!” Her last few words were pleading and filled with fear.
“Don’t worry, Avery,” said Shawn. “You’ve come to the right place. Gus and I can help you.”
“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!” she said and pulled both men in for hug. Shawn and Gus stood awkwardly until the hug was over.
Shawn coughed. “Uh…now, tell us some more about this creepy dude you saw…”
At the SBPD, all of the detectives and other officers were gathering for a briefing. Juliet settled in next to Wallace and noticed a somber looking Carlton Lassiter across the room. Lassiter looked up and caught Juliet’s eye. She gave him a quick smile, which seemed to lighten him up a little.
As they were waiting for Chief Trout to begin the briefing, Juliet glanced at Wallace who was messing with his cell phone. It looked like he had gotten a text from a contact called “M.O.M.” Seeing Juliet looking at him, he blocked her view of his phone with his other hand. She knew she had seen that contact appear on his phone more than once before, including the moment when Lopez escaped. Was he really getting all of these calls and texts from his mom? If so, then why was he being so secretive about it? It all seemed very suspicious and made her feel uneasy.
Trout began the briefing. Several more armed robberies had occurred around the city since they had arrested Lopez. It was starting to look like they were connected, but as Lopez had been in jail, they knew it wasn’t him. In fact, all evidence pointed to a larger organization being responsible for these crimes and they had reason to suspect a well-known group called El Chotacabras. Despite multiple interrogations, Lopez refused to corroborate their suspicions. However, Crofton suspected a potential location for the group’s headquarters, and Trout was sending all teams over there to check it out and hopefully take down their operation. For the first time in a long while Lassiter and Juliet would be working the same scene, though not necessarily side-by-side.
Just before it was time to go, Juliet took advantage of the hustle and bustle to sidle over to Lassiter’s desk unnoticed. “Carlton!” she said softly.
Lassiter’s face lit up for a moment, “O’Hara,” he said. “How are you?” he asked.
“I’m fine. Good. I mean…as good as I can be…considering,” she answered. “Shawn’s doing ok. I’m healthy. The baby’s healthy. How about you? You seem sad…”
“Yeah…it’s just…” he glanced at Crofton in disgust.
“I know,” said Juliet. “Let’s just hope everything gets back to normal when Chief Vick comes back. And how is Marlowe?”
A smile crept onto Lassiter’s face at the mention of her name. “She’s wonderful!” Then his face turned sad again.
“Carlton, what is it?” asked Juliet, concerned.
“Remember when I said Marlowe and I were trying for a baby?” Juliet nodded, and he continued. “Well, it’s been almost 6 months and…” He trailed off.
“It hasn’t happened yet.” Juliet completed his sentence with a frown, and he nodded in confirmation.
“I’m starting to worry that we can’t…we can’t…” It was too hard to finish the sentence.
“Carlton, sometimes these things take time. Just give it a little time,” said Juliet.
“Yeah! That means so much coming from someone who wasn’t even trying!”
Juliet didn’t really know what to say and didn’t want to egg on another insult. After a few more moments she brought up the real reason she had come to talk to him.
“Lassiter,” she said. She tended to call him Lassiter, rather than Carlton when the subject came to work. Her voice got quiet. “There’s something…odd…going on with Wallace.”
“What do you mean?” he asked, suddenly seeming very concerned.
“He’s been taking these phone calls…I thought they were from his mom…the contact that comes up on his phone says M-O-M. But, it’s weird because it doesn’t sound like he’s talking to his mom…and he always gets all secretive when he gets the calls, like he doesn’t want me to see or hear him. Plus, the contact is spelled M.O.M. in all caps, like they are initials for something. I’ve never seen the actual number though.”
As she said this, Lassiter’s eyes got bigger and bigger. Juliet noticed. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“555-0967,” he said. “Crofton has been secretly getting phone calls from that number, and it’s listed as MOM. He thought I didn’t notice, but I’ve been keeping an eye him.”
“You think they could be involved in something?” Juliet asked in a fearful whisper. But before Lassiter could answer, Trout announced that everyone was to prepare for departure. He shot a glare at Lassiter and Juliet, and the two of them split up without a word and joined their respective partners.
Wallace’s car pulled up to a warehouse near the marina and Juliet and Wallace got out. Lassiter and Crofton pulled up behind them followed by three black and whites. Crofton quietly led all of the officers through a side door and they followed, firearms in hand. Crofton stopped and instructed everyone to stay quiet and to keep hidden, and then continued carefully on his own. Juliet crouched next to Wallace behind a wooden crate. Her eyes momentarily met with Lassiter’s who was crouched behind another crate across from them.
It seemed like they had been waiting an eternity for Crofton’s next signal. Juliet heard voices in the distance and suspected these were the men that they were looking for. She glanced over to Wallace and saw him fidgeting with his cell phone again. She carefully peeked at the screen and again saw the “M.O.M.” and tried to distinguish the number below it. ‘555-09..’ She couldn’t see the whole thing, but she was feeling pretty confident that it would end in ‘67’ just as Lassiter had predicted. “Why was he checking his messages now?” she thought.
Suddenly, Juliet felt a fluttering in her stomach. It was nothing like she had ever felt before, and the suddenness of it made her gasp. Lassiter noticed her reaction but Wallace was oblivious. Instinctively, she positioned her free hand to her stomach to feel the strange movement. Just as she was realizing what had just happened, Crofton called everyone to move forward.
Juliet tried to stand up and follow, but she found herself locked in place by a sudden wave of extreme fear. She had done this kind of thing a thousand times, but for some reason this time she was terrified. Wallace had already charged ahead, but Lassiter, who was concerned, lagged back and called her name. His voice was enough to rouse her to action and they headed in to surround a group of five members of El Chotacabras.
The suspects were ready for them. Bullets started to fly. Officers and criminals started yelling and moving in every direction. Juliet’s fear returned. Everything around her was a blur and noises of screams and gunshots sounded like they were miles away. One gunshot rang louder than all of the rest, and the next thing Juliet knew she was on the ground, Lassiter on top of her. The gunshots stopped and Juliet heard the sound of footsteps running away from them. An officer yelled, “They got away!” and then all was quiet.
Lassiter was sitting up as Juliet’s head started to clear. She saw blood on her hands where she had just been holding onto Lassiter and then noticed a gush of the red liquid coming from a hole on his arm.
“You’re bleeding!” she said.
“Don’t worry, it’s just a flesh wound,” said Lassiter. He had been grazed by the bullet that was meant for Juliet. “Are you ok? What happened to you?!” he said.
“I…don’t know…” said Juliet.
An hour after the shootout, Lassiter and Juliet stood in the office that formerly belonged to Chief Vick being chewed out by Trout. Lassiter’s arm was wrapped and bound in a sling. He had a frustrated look on his face but was trying hard to be respectful. Juliet looked as if she was sick to her stomach. Wallace and Crofton stood by. They seemed to have sidestepped Trout’s wrath.
“Detective Lassiter! What were you doing out there?!”
“Sir,” began Lassiter. “I saw my fellow officer in danger and followed my instincts. If I hadn’t pushed O’Hara out of the way she most certainly would have been severely injured or killed.”
Juliet swallowed deeply, trying not to let her tears fall.
“Lassiter, do I need to remind you that you are now Crofton’s partner, not O’Hara’s! While you were busy seeing to her, you failed to assist your partner in apprehending the head of a major criminal operation and he got away. As noble as you think your actions, protecting O’Hara is no longer your responsibility.”
“With all due respect, Chief Trout, if Wallace had had his partner’s back like he was supposed to, I wouldn’t have had to step in.” Both Wallace and Crofton roared in protest and a heated argument began.
“Stop!” shouted Juliet, speaking up for the first time. “I can clear all of this up.” Everyone turned their attention to her. “It was myfault. I…I choked. I failed to follow my partner to the scene, so he must have lost track of me.” She took a deep breath. “Lassiter had to protect me, because…well, because it wasn’t just me he was protecting…” Everyone had a confused look, except for Lassiter who knew what she was about to say. “He was protecting my unborn child.” Trout’s eyes grew wide with surprise and Wallace’s jaw dropped.
“You’re pregnant?” Trout asked, still sounding surprised.
“Yes,” said Juliet.
“And Lassiter knew about this?”
“Everybody out!” yelled Trout, “…except O’Hara.” The three men turned and left, and Lassiter placed a comforting hand on Juliet’s shoulder as he left.
For the next several minutes Trout berated Juliet. She didn’t argue, or even say a word. She stood there and took it. Despite his anger though, Trout didn’t fire her. Instead he informed her that she would be transferred to desk duty, effective immediately. She didn’t object. She knew it was time.
When Trout’s rant was over and he invited her to leave, Juliet exited the office to find Shawn standing before her.
“Lassiter called me,” he said.
Juliet wrapped her arms around Shawn’s broad shoulders and held him tight. Finally her tears began to fall. Shawn reciprocated the embrace and rubbed her back with comforting hands. Lassiter looked on from his desk several feet away. “Maybe Spencer isn’t so bad for her,” he thought.
Trout peeked out from his office, his face getting angrier than it already was when he spotted Shawn. “What are you doing here? I told you, you are not welcome in this station anymore!”
“What is wrong with you?” said Shawn. “This is my fiancé! You think I came here just to piss you off?!” Trout didn’t respond. Juliet ended their embrace and hid her teary face in Shawn’s chest.
“I’m taking her home now.” Shawn gently guided Juliet away, but stopped mid-step and turned. “By the way, if I ever again hear of you treating her like you just did, you can be sure you’ll be seeing me here again!”
Even by the time they got home, Juliet was so shaken up by the events of the day that Shawn insisted she immediately change into her pajamas and head to bed. She was lying on her side, head buried in her pillow, when Shawn came to her with a tray of hot soup and toast. Juliet had hardly said a word since leaving the station but thanked Shawn for his thoughtfulness and attempted to stomach the food even though she didn’t have much of an appetite.
Shawn stripped down to his undershirt and boxers and sat on the bed next to her. He didn’t push her to talk about what just happened. He knew that she would talk about it when she was ready.
“I felt the baby move,” she said out of nowhere.
Shawn perked up. “What…just now?” he said.
“No, earlier…right before the shootout. That’s why I…I just got really scared.” Her eyes started to water again.
“Shh…Jules,” said Shawn rubbing her back. “I…I’m sure that’s normal. It was just your motherly instincts kicking in.”
“We…we could have died…” she wept. “I should have listened to you. I shouldn’t have been out there.”
“Jules, there’s no use worrying about what should or shouldn’t have happened. That’s all in the past. The important thing is that you are ok now.”
“Thanks to Lassiter,” she said.
“Yeah, thanks to Lassiter,” agreed Shawn. Shawn moved the tray of half-eaten food from the bed. He put his arms around Juliet, pulled her close, and rocked her gently as she cried.