TRIGGER HAPPY TWENTY-THREE: A STEPHANIE PLUM-INSPIRED NOVEL
After Ranger showed me how to monitor the station, he headed back to his office to work on his new account and I went up to the apartment to worry about the surveillance the next day. I tried to watch TV, but could not find anything of interest. Out of desperation, I picked up the novel that Ella had brought me.
The novel was a story about a female police officer who was chasing a thief. In the book she didn't know that the thief was her boyfriend. I don't know how she could not know. It seemed pretty obvious to me. Of course, I didn't know that Brodie would act the way he had either when I started chasing him. In the book, the police officer kept going to bed with the thief. There were some pretty graphic sex scenes. I skipped through those. I had enough going on with trying to keep my hands off Ranger. I didn't need to give my body any more ideas.
Ranger came into the apartment and saw me reading. "How's the book?" he asked.
"I always find it amazing that women can spend a quarter of their lives having a period, but that in a book the heroine never has one", I said.
Ranger smiled. "I guess that wouldn't make for good reading", he said. I put down the book and asked him if he was ready to go to bed. He stretched and said he was, saying he wanted to get up early for a work out the next morning. He set his watch alarm for five thirty. "How are you feeling?" he asked as we were getting ready for bed.
"I'm starting to get sore again. I took some more pain relievers. I'll be glad to go to sleep. Tomorrow will be a better – usually only the first day is bad for me." We climbed into bed and Ranger flipped me on my stomach. He started massaging my lower back, easing out the cramps. When I felt completely boneless and sleepy, he moved me onto my side and cuddled me from behind like two spoons nestled in a drawer. I fell asleep with his arm wrapped around me and his warm hand on my abdomen.
The next day I woke up to Ranger's body wrapped around me and the sound of Ranger's alarm going off. Ranger quickly shut off the alarm and tried to ease out of the bed without disturbing me. "It's okay", I mumbled. "I'm awake."
"I'm sorry", he said. "I didn't want to wake you." He got the rest of the way out of the bed and leaned down to give me a kiss. "I'll be back in about an hour and a half. How about you go back to sleep?"
"Okay." I yawned sleepily. Mornings are not my time of the day. Both the men in my life are morning people. The alarm goes off and they are wide awake, ready for the day. In comparison, my alarm goes off and I grope blindly for it in an attempt to shut it off. I have killed several alarm clocks by knocking them onto the floor as I tried to turn off the alarm in my sleep. I have started to have to keep my alarm clock on the other side of the room just so I have to wake up and walk over to it in order to shut it off.
I turned over and buried my head in the pillow. I was asleep again before Ranger left the apartment.
Ranger and I had breakfast before we left the apartment for the day. I had two cups of coffee. Ranger didn't have any. He said it was better not to drink too much before doing a four-hour surveillance. I guess I could see his point.
We met Tank, Hal and Rafael in the storeroom. Ranger, Tank and Hal got suited up in Kevlar, and all of us put in earbuds. The Merry Men were ready to go. I walked them down to the parking garage, giving Ranger a hug and a quick kiss before watching them leave. "Stay safe", I whispered to them as they drove out of the parking garage.
About ten to nine in the morning I could see that all of the cars, including mine, were sitting in place in the area of the doctor's office. At nine o'clock, Rafael and I did a sound check like we planned. Everybody was in place and on line. We started to wait.
Around nine thirty we could hear Morelli talk to the doctor. It was confirmed that Brodie was expected at eleven in the morning for his appointment. Morelli played the phone messages for Dr. Fineman, and the doctor said that the voice sounded like Brodie but that the messages didn't. "I can't talk about what we talked about during our sessions, but I have found that over the past week he hasn't seemed so angry." Morelli asked him whether there was a chance the balance Brodie had found could be a result of a focus on me. Dr. Fineman thought for a moment, then said "Hypothetically speaking, I suppose it could. Having someone to focus all that anger on could reduce the level of anger he feels in other parts of his life."
"How is Stephanie dealing with this?" Dr. Fineman asked, concerned.
"She's in hiding. She's upset, but she is handling it. She's a survivor. She'll be okay."
"Good." Dr. Fineman's next patients came in for their appointment and Morelli settled down to wait again.
"Damn straight, you're a survivor", Tank said.
"Don't worry", said Hal. "We'll get this jerk."
My eyes filled with tears for a moment. "Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. Just you guys be safe, okay?"
We waited for another forty minutes. Dr. Fineman's patients left and there was a five minute gap between patients. Morelli used that time to talk further with Dr. Fineman.
"Is the pattern of escalation that you heard in the phone messages something you would expect from someone with that level of anger? I'll explain what I mean. On our side, we think that it has progressed rapidly between the first point where he threw mud in Stephanie's face – simple assault – almost two weeks ago, to harassment and vandalism a week ago – also both more simple charges – followed by a jump in severity of behaviour to stalking her and shooting her through her apartment window, to following her and shooting her when she was travelling in the car. What is he so angry about?" Morelli asked.
"I'm sorry, but I can't give out that information. He did start talking about a new, personally disturbing, topic last week which may have influenced his behaviour. But that information is protected by patient confidentiality." Dr. Fineman's next patients came into the office and Morelli went back to waiting while Dr. Fineman took his patients into his inner office.
"I hate patient confidentiality", Morelli muttered. I could hear Ranger smiling in agreement over the channel.
Eleven o'clock came and there was no Brodie. Eleven thirty came and there was no Brodie. Twelve o'clock came and there was no Brodie. At twelve thirty the doctor broke for lunch and checked his messages. There was one message from Brodie. Dr. Fineman played it for Morelli. It said "hi there. I have to cancel my appointment today. I am in the process of something and I have to see it through. I am not getting the anger outbursts though that I was. There is a woman who is helping me, who is channeling my anger. I will definitely be there for my Thursday appointment to tell you about it. I want to start flying again. See you at eleven on Thursday."
Morelli had Dr. Fineman play the message back again while he recorded the message on his phone. He then called off the surveillance. Ranger arranged for everyone to meet back at Rangeman for lunch and a debriefing session.