Gus sighed. "I didn't break any laws."
"Then why am I here?" asked Henry. He looked around the holding cell. "And why did I post bail?"
"I wasn't going to call my own parents," said Gus, as if it were obvious.
Henry raised an eyebrow, looking behind Gus, into the other criminal's cell, then back to Gus. "Where's Shawn?"
"He's not here."
"Wait," said Henry, crossing his arms. "So you got yourself arrested? With no help from Shawn whatsoever?"
"Yes," said Gus exasperatedly, already having given himself this lecture for the past hour. "But—but I'm not even sure I was actually arrested! This is just Lassie trying to keep me out of his case. That bail money probably went straight into his pocket."
"Damn it!" whispered Henry, looking back out the doorway. "That was a hundred bucks, Gus!"
"I've been in here for over an hour!" Gus grabbed and rattled the bars. "Get me out of here!" begged Gus.
As if on cue, an officer descended the stairs with a ring of keys in his hands. He opened the cell door and Gus rushed outside of it, embracing Henry in a tight hug that Henry had not been ready for. He stumbled back step, giving the officer a shrug, and he awkwardly patted Gus on the back.
"Thank you, thank you!" whispered Gus.
"Jus' lemme know 'bout tha' cop," said the convict to Gus' back. Gus didn't stop to respond—he released Henry and bolted for the stairs.
"Where is Shawn?" asked Henry, as he struggled to keep up with Gus' pace. "I thought he and you solved cases, you know, together."
Gus shook his head, slowing down as they walked through the station. "To be honest, I don't know where Shawn is." His nervousness kicked back into his system. "I haven't talked to him since yesterday."
"Call him?" asked Henry.
"Straight to voicemail. And the Psych office is empty." said Gus. He stepped aside as two officers passed between them. "So is his apartment. I mean… He's probably just blowing off steam with the whole Juliet thing."
Henry was about to respond, but both men's eyes wandered to Juliet's desk, less than twenty feet away. She was reading something off the computer, eyes fixed to the screen. Her eyes looked tired. Restless. Henry sighed. "I told him the psychic thing would come back to bite him. Kid never listens."
"I've never seen him like this," said Gus quietly, dropping his voice and leaning against the wall. "He's just… empty." He shook his head. "The last time I remember him like this was when he—" began Gus, but quickly stopped himself before the words came out. Henry crossed his arms, raising an eyebrow.
"When he what, Gus?" asked Henry, drawing out the words.
"When he…" Gus hesitated. "When he had a… falling out… with… you," he finished awkwardly. Gus bit his lip, wishing he hadn't brought it up.
Gus waited, tense, but Henry didn't seem to take it the way Gus thought he would have. Henry just nodded and said, "I was afraid you were going to say that. Shawn made the stupidest mistakes back then."
Gus felt a coldness inside him, as if ice were crawling through his veins. Something wasn't right. Shawn would have answered Gus' calls by now, at the very least to get Gus to leave him alone. Gus looked at Henry. "Are you sure we should just assume he's… fine?" asked Gus hesitantly.
"With Shawn?" said Henry, his eyes reflecting Gus' feelings. "Never." Glancing back at Juliet, Gus started walking back to her desk, feeling a déjà vu moment from the morning. Henry followed behind. Juliet looked up from her desk, and seeing him, she set her jaw.
"Gus, I told you—" she began, but Henry cut her off.
"Have you heard from Shawn?" he asked. Both Gus and Henry watched a flicker of pain cross her eyes. Subtle, but there.
"I haven't talked to him, no," she said in a low voice, nearly emotionless. No, not emotionless, Gus realized.
"But he's called you?" prompted Henry.
"Nine times," was Juliet's quick answer, though she seemed to notice a second too late that her answer was more specific than Henry or Gus expected. She tried to hide a blush. "Or something," she finished lamely.
"Today?" asked Gus.
"No," she said slowly, regaining the edge in her voice. "Yesterday. He hasn't called today."
Gus and Henry exchanged looks. Juliet shifted her gaze between them. "Look, I'm not calling him, if that's what you're trying to—"
"Forget about that for a second!" exclaimed Gus, making a few heads turn toward him. Gus understood Juliet's pain. He understood why she was angry. But this was just not the time.
"Gus can't get a hold of him," explained Henry, his voice quiet, watching as the other officers slowly turned back to their work.
"What makes you think I have anything to do with it?" asked Juliet hotly. "I told him I needed space. That's the last time I spoke with him."
"Space?" repeated Gus.
"Guys," said Juliet suddenly, taking a breath to calm her nerves. "I don't care where Shawn is. I have a case to solve, and a taxi station to visit. Just please go." Juliet stood.
The three of them turned as Lassiter entered the room, a scowl branded on his face. He glared at Gus. "I thought I arrested you." He walked straight up to Gus, danger emanating from his eyes.
"He posted bail!" countered Gus, gesturing to Henry.
Lassiter ignored both of them and turned to Juliet. "Did you find the taxi station?" asked Lassiter.
"Yeah," she said, picking up a file and handing it to him. "Alastor's Taxi Corporation. It's about six miles from here."
"Woody got an ID on our victim. His name is Juan Matis." said Lassiter absentmindedly, thumbing through the file.
"Let's go check out the station then," she said, grabbing keys from her desk drawer.
Juliet walked past Gus and Henry without a word. Lassiter followed her, jabbing his thumb at Gus. "Do not make me arrest you again."
Gus glared at Lassiter's back as he watched them leave. He shook his head. "Sometimes, I really hate that guy."
Henry looked at him. "Sometimes?"
"Can you give me a ride to my car?" asked Gus. "When Lassiter arrested me, he drove me here in the squad car and refused to get an officer to drive the Blueberry back here."
Henry nodded. "Yeah." said Henry, starting to head outside. "And then we'll find Shawn. I don't even want to know what trouble he's probably gotten himself into by now."
Juliet looked out the window, taking in the sight. The station was not well-kept. The lot was merely gravel and dirt, and there were less than ten cabs in all. No wonder it was a cab station they'd never heard of. The cabs looked dusty and barely functioning. The only building in sight was a small, shed-looking structure. It suddenly didn't seem so far-fetched that a cab driver from a place like this had been killed.
And what happened to the passenger?
Juliet sighed as Lassiter pulled the car into a parking space, neatly between the two faded white lines, and turned off the engine. She stared at the gray sky, waiting as if to see the rain hit the window. But none did.
Juliet looked at Lassiter, snapping out of her daze. He was already out of the car, bending back into it, giving her a quizzical look.
"Oh," she said absentmindedly. "Sorry."
Lassiter nodded stiffly, watching his partner carefully. He knew there was something bothering her. And being head detective, he had a pretty good idea what it was.
Or who it was.
Juliet got out of the car and started toward the station, not even waiting for Lassiter. He picked up his pace, falling into step next to her. They walked in silence for a moment. Normally, the silence would have been comfortable. Lassiter didn't like small talk nor did he usually enjoy sharing any of his thoughts with anyone, hardly even himself.
But Juliet was different. She was the first person he'd been partnered with who hadn't disliked him from the beginning. Even when he was being difficult with her—Lassiter had to admit he was—Juliet didn't seem very bothered by it. She seemed almost driven by it. And, still, she would genuinely care about him. It wasn't something Carlton Lassiter was used to—caring.
But it's started to go both ways for Lassiter and Juliet. Lately, he'd been having a certain tightness in his chest when he and Juliet were under fire. It wasn't something he'd felt very much in the past. It took him quite a long time to figure out what that tightness was.
And even now, as he and Juliet walked toward the station, he felt that tightness. But it had nothing to do with gunfire, the threat of death or any kind of danger.
Juliet was hurting, and that bothered him.
Lassiter's hand slowly receded to his gun in his holster. He fingered the leather, feeling uncomfortable. His gun was usually all he had to go to when he was uncertain, but… this situation would require much more than his firearm.
It would require his words.
Lassiter dropped his hand and his eyes slowly crept to Juliet. Her eyes were fixed in front of her. He should say something. He really should. But…
Lassiter blinked as Juliet pushed open the door to the cab station. She held it for him and he took it, muttering an almost inaudible thank you. Never in his life had Lassiter thanked someone for holding a door. Why was he choosing to start now? Is that all he had to say to his partner? Could he really come up with nothing more?
"Can I help you?"
Lassiter and Juliet turned. The station was very small and dimly-lit. It was a single room. It felt stuffy and smelled faintly of exhaust fumes. The walls were grimy and stained, the floors a cracked cement. A single desk stood behind them, papers scattered across the surface.
"Hi," said Juliet to the man who'd spoken. This man was short and scrawny, and didn't look much older than twenty. He wore dingy overalls, as if he were a mechanic. He fixed his glasses and returned Juliet's smile.
"I'm Hal," said the young man, running a dirty, grease-stained hand through his untidy hair.
"Hi, Hal," said Lassiter, trying to resist the urge to scowl at the unkept office. He pulled his badge out of his jacket and held it to Hal's eyes. "I'm Detective Carlton Lassiter and this is my partner, Detective O'hara. We're with the Santa Barbara Police Department."
Hal's eyebrows raised in innocence. "Police? Did… Did I do something, Officer?"
"Detective," corrected Lassiter flatly. "And I don't know, you tell me. Do you know anything about a driver here? Juan Matis?"
Hal grinned. "Juan! Yeah, gotta love Juan. He's a funny dude."
"He's dead." said Lassiter shortly.
Hal's mouth dropped open.
"Carlton!" hissed Juliet disapprovingly. She looked at Hal sympathetically. "You were friends with him?"
"I—I worked with him, I mean—I guess you could say that…" stuttered Hal. "He's dead?"
"He was involved in a hit and run this morning," said Juliet softly. "Do you know of anyone who would have wanted to hurt Mr. Matis?"
Hal sank to the desk, leaning on the surface. It took him a moment to speak. "He—he took strange routes."
Lassiter cocked his head, his interest piqued. "Strange how?"
"Well, I mean, it's not done religiously, but when the drivers get calls and drive clients, they get recorded. But—and I thought I must have just been missing out on something, but his records weren't ever in line with the miles he drove. Not even close. I mean, I'm the only one who records anyone's routes—"
"What is it you do here?" asked Laasiter, cutting the young man off.
Hal didn't seem offended. "I help out, keep track of the books…" he hung his head sheepishly. "Like I said, it's not done every single time… I try my best, but… well, I try. This is my uncle's place. He hired me to help out with whatever he needed."
Lassiter looked around. "Where is your uncle?"
"He's out driving clients," said Hal, wringing his hands together nervously. "We don't have a whole lot of clients. A few months ago, Uncle Ian thought we were going to have to close up shop. But I put up fliers. Made a website. Business picked up and we were out of the hole."
Juliet and Lassiter resisted the urge to exchange glances. Something was fishy.
"When does Uncle Ian get back?" asked Lassiter.
Hal scratched his chin. "I dunno. Maybe nine?"
Lassiter frowned. "Well, we're going to have to get a look at those books."
Hal stood to get the paperwork out of the desk. As he was rifling through the papers, Lassiter examined the room. His eyes scanned over the dusty, dinosaur of a computer, outdated calendars on the walls, and rested on the corner. It was piled with bags and other junk.
Lassiter pointed to the corner. "What's all this?"
Hal followed Lassiter's eyes. "Oh," said Hal, turning back to the drawer. "That's the leftover stuff. Clients forget bags and stuff all the time."
"What's inside them?" asked Lassiter.
"I don't really know," said Hal. "I don't look inside. I just find them in the cars and pile them over there for the clients to pick up, if they ever do. But they don't usually—most of them are just headed for the airport or home from a bar. Either they're too far away or too drunk to care about picking up their stuff."
One of the bags looked familiar. Not the bag, per say, but the size. The shape.
Lassiter walked over to it and picked it up. It was heavy. Stiff. It had been wedged between a few other bags, but Lassiter didn't care about the others. He grasped the zipper on the bag and pulled.
A lot of cash.
Lassiter held the bag, looking at the wads of cash staring back at him.
"Carlton!" whispered Juliet, looking over his shoulder. "That's got to be…"
"Four million?" guessed Lassiter, picking up a wad, sifting through the bills with his thumb. "Five?"
Hal shut the drawer. "Here's the paperwork."
Lassiter and Juliet turned as Hal held out the crumpled stack of messy stapled papers. Hal's eyes shifted to the bag of money. He gasped aloud.
"That was in there?" he exclaimed. He dropped the papers on the ground and walked around the desk, gaping at the money. "No wonder Uncle Ian doesn't want me in his office!" He looked at Lassiter and Juliet, stunned.
Lassiter barked a laugh. "Yeah." He looked at Juliet. "Simple. Uncle Ian finds a fortune in the back of a cab and Matis finds out, threatens to call the cops. Gives Uncle Ian some motive."
"He wouldn't kill anybody!" protested Hal. "Uncle Ian's not like that!"
"Well, where was he this morning?" asked Juliet.
"I—he was on driving clients all day," said Hal hollowly, seeming to realize that his uncle's alibi wasn't quite crystal.
"Check those books," said Lassiter to Juliet. He looked at Hal. "You wrote down all clients today?"
"Today—?" said Hal, shaking himself, tearing his eyes away from the money. Juliet picked up the papers from the floor and Hal nodded. "Yeah, I wrote down all the clients from this morning. Addresses of the clients who called for transport. Uncle's clients will be in there."
Juliet scanned the list. There weren't many drivers to this station—seemed to be only five. The three unfamiliar names had clients all morning from the addresses of three different bars. Ian had picked someone up from the Santa Barbara airport. Hal didn't lie about those two types of places being nearly the only pick up addresses. Her eyes dropped down to Juan.
"Oh my god," breathed Juliet, her eyes freezing on the address directly across from Juan's name. She read it over again. And again.
"What?" asked Lassiter, slowly standing next to her, scanning the page himself. "What are you—"
But he stopped talking. Because just like Juliet, his eyes zeroed in on the address beside Juan's name. It was an address that was all too familiar.
"You've got to be kidding me," whispered Lassiter as Juliet's gaze slowly met his. She swallowed hard, her heart dropping low in her chest, her voice barely above a whisper.