"What have we got so far?" I ask once I enter the detectives offices. Traci, Sam, Dov, Andy and Nick were all sitting, some by the computers, some by the desks looking through files.
"We just ran a check on Miss Tallon, we tried to match the information with her address, and we searched her house. And guess what?" Traci says as she walks away from her desk and my way and hands me a file. "Her name's not even Tallon."
I open the file to check and she's right. Everything seems to be registered under the name 'Veronica Moore'.
"Are we running a background on a Veronica Moore?" I ask and Traci nods.
"Yes, we're checking the data base for every 'Veronica Moore' in the area." She tells me.
"Expand it." I say and she looks at me questioningly. "If she changed her name and stayed in one place, then it must be for a reason and I doubt she's from this area. Expand the search, and you'll find a match." I explain why I need her to expand the search and then she turns towards Dov, who I just noticed was sitting by the computer and nods.
"How'd the kid get taken?" I ask then lowering the file and taking a seat.
"Well the mother took a pill to sleep, she takes anxiety meds and after the day she had, she needed one." Traci starts explaining.
"Which left the kid with the sister." Sam continues. "Who says she heard the door bell, opened the door, greeted 'Emma' and let her in, thinking she was here to check on them, especially on the Kid. next thing she knows she's waking up groggy and the kid is gone."
"Hit or drugged?" I ask them.
"Hit. She was hit in the head." Traci answers and I nod.
"She's had a weird fascination with the kid. The little girl must be why she went after the Mr Whitman. She wanted her for herself." I try to make sense of the situation then.
"We have no proof she killed Mr Whitman but this makes her a primary suspect." Sam informs me and I nod already knowing that.
"Okay let's see. She has a fascination with the kid. She babysits when Anna can't, which means she's bonded with Carly, became attached. Then she started hanging out with the father as well, especially when his wife is away, and that led to an affair, which could still have only happened because she wanted the kid. Mr Whitman probably wanted to end it or he refused to give up his daughter, which could have angered her, and cause her to kill him." I give an idea on what might have happened.
"So they were arguing in the kitchen, she lost it and she stabbed him. He found a gauze and used it to cover his wound. Then what? How'd he get into the basement?" Traci wonders.
"He had already lost some blood so he must have gotten dizzy. She must have freaked out about it, she just stabbed someone and if she tries to help him, she'll be in trouble, so she drags him towards the basement, the closest door to her, if he was dizzy already then it wouldn't have been hard. She sits him down and thinks of leaving him there but she knows he'll probably get up if he doesn't die of blood loss, so she tries to choke him, but she doesn't kill him with that." I try to imagine the scene and it makes a bit more sense now.
"He fell asleep and she thought he was dead, so she tried to cover some of her tracks but she didn't have enough time, because the wife would be there soon, so she left." Sam adds to my little imaginary scene.
"But why the fascination with the little girl?" Traci wonders and I start to think about it. Before we discuss that Dov catches our attention.
"Okay, I found her." Dov exclaims.
"Are you sure?" I ask him.
Nick answers for him though. "That's her in the picture." And he points at the screen. We all huddle behind it then.
As we read her profile we realize she's the daughter of Lawyer Howard Moore, who died two years ago. She has a couple charges for DUI when she was younger but I'm sure her dad made them go away. Other than that not much. Which means, we may need to be looking into the little girl herself as well. To get full answers on everything.
"Run me a check on Carly Whitman, and the Whitmans." I ask and Andy who was by the other computer gets to work. A couple of minutes later she calls for us and informs us she found what we needed.
As we check I find the link I was looking for. Carly was adopted.
"Can we get a check on Veronica Moore's medical records. I'm guessing the fascination goes far deeper than just getting attached to a kid she babysat sometimes." I say. Nick then lifts his phone ready to make a call to get us that information.
"Are you thinking she might have given birth to a kid? And she thinks it's this kid?" Traci asks catching on to my drift.
"I'm guessing it's this kid. Miss Moore has enough money to know for sure who her kid is." I say and we wait then for the medical records as we try to contemplate where she could be hiding and Traci calls to see if they found any more useful things at Moore's house.
Twenty minutes later Nick walks in with the information we needed.
"Veronica Moore gave birth to a girl five years ago, gave her up for adoption. She has mandatory therapy, once a week now. She's had it for the past seven years. I'm guessing her mentality was the reason she gave up the kid." He says and then hands us a copy of what he found.
"Or she didn't give up the kid. She was forced to." I think out loud.
"Which is why she came looking for her now." Sam adds and agrees with me. "If she has mental problems, we need to find them now."
"If I was to kidnap my own kid, with the police thinking my name was different, where would I hide?" Traci starts.
"Somewhere the police would never expect." I add to her thinking.
"Or check out last."
"My own house." I conclude.
"Any houses under Veronica Moore?" Traci asks the masses.
"Other than her father's house which she inherited?" Andy asks us
"What's the address?" Traci asks. And Dov gives it to us.
"Okay guys let's go." Sam says as he starts to walk out and we all walk out ready to go get the little girl back and get our killer.
We gather up some troops, the officers get in their square cars, while we get into the detective cars. Traci rides with Sam which leaves me taking a car by myself.
If this case didn't involve a dead man and a missing child, I'm sure there wouldn't be a need for all three detectives to be on the way. In total there was five squad cars and two detective cars driving the streets with the sirens on.
On the drive over I start to study the mental health of the woman and the situation we might be headed to. The woman has mental issues, the little girl must be confused and wondering about her family, probably even a little frightened. The house might be big and secured. This may not be as easy as we are hoping.
And when we arrive there, it turns out my fears were right. The house was big, and secured. There was a security system at the gates outside. Only way in is by putting in the code, we could drive through the gate, but it looks to too solid to be brought down by a car. So when we get out of our cars, I make a note of the officers present, hoping James wasn't around. I may not be allowed to use my gadgets for this job, but this involves a child, so screw the rules, but using them around James is a dangerous move.
With relief I note that James wasn't anywhere around. He wasn't on the troops that came with us.
"There's a car parked inside, so she's in there. Run a check on the tag number anyways." Traci says to Chloe and she calls for the information.
"Call ETF." Sam orders and I see Dov picking up his cellphone to do just that.
Oliver on the other hand announces our presence through the speaker in his squad car and informs miss Moore that the place was surrounded.
Chloe then confirms that the car was miss Moore's car, which meant we needed to get in there as fast as we can.
"Can't we just climb over?" Dov asks.
"No, she knows we're here, we need to go in as teams, not individuals. When we climb in, we have to put our guards down for a few seconds and that's not good." I answer him and he then ponders my point.
I pull out a small device from my pocket. It works like a magnet device, all I have to do is attach it to the security system for ten seconds for it to jam the system's work and for the gates to unlock. Unfortunately for me, the security system was surrounded by two officers, McNally and Diaz, which meant I need to distract them. So my sight roams around the area, hoping to find something, or a way in. That's when I catch sight of the few cameras hanging around.
"She knows we're here and she's watching us." I declare to the two officers as I nod towards the cameras.
"We need to move in faster then." Andy comments as she takes count of how many cameras I pointed out.
"Exactly, which is why I need you to shoot the cameras out. Or break them. She has an advantage to us, and we need to even the odds. She might be armed for all we know. So when we get in, I need you to be ready to do the same to the cameras in there." I command them, and they nod their agreement as they move towards the cameras ready to break them. I take a look around to make sure no one is noticing me, thankfully Sam is on the phone, some of the other officers are getting ready to waltz in while another part goes to Help Andy and Chris and Traci was talking to Andy, and from what I could make out she was asking her what they were doing and why.
So I pull out my device then and put it on the security system and I wait for access to be granted. Once the system beeps I tuck my device away and when the gate starts to open I feel every eye on me.
"Peck. How'd you do that?" Swarek asks me once he realizes I was the one who opened the gate.
"I had to try something! Luckily my guess was right." I say as I pull out my gun and get ready. "The code was the kid's birthday." And with that everyone pulls out their guns and gets ready too.
"I'm calling ETF." Traci announces as she does just that and tells ETF that we've figured out a way to open the gate.
"Cameras out?" I ask McNally and she nods in confirmation.
"This is a big house, so we should spread out into three groups. The suspect is probably armed and she will probably not hesitate to shoot, so be careful. Our main mission is to make sure the little girl is safe. So no matter what the situation is, the kid comes first." I order and they all nod in confirmation.
"You four, come with me. We'll take the front entrance." Sam says as he points at McNally, Diaz, Brennan and Miller. He probably picked the bigger team since he'd be going through the front. Traci then points at Epstein, Price and Stone as she announces they'll take the back. I end up with Collins, Shaw and Rivers as I notice an entrance through the side, probably kitchen door.
Before we split up to go inside I remind them to watch out for the cameras.
Each group then makes it's way into the house over to the entrances they claimed. The kitchen entrance was unlocked, so the three officers with me and myself make sure our guns are ready as we take our postures and walk inside the house ready to search it and face our suspect.
We search the bottom floor on this side of the house and we do not find anyone. Fifteen minutes later our radios come to life as Andy announces that suspect was in custody and the kid was safe. THe found them in the second floor's main bedroom and that they were leading her outside.
We all make our way outside then where McNally was putting miss Moore into the back of her squad car as Chris talks to the little girl so I make my way over there to make sure she's okay.
"Hey little girl." I say as I crouch down to her level. "You doing okay?" She simply nods.
"My name is Gail. Let's get you back to your mommy." And with that I stretch out my hand for her to take as I stand up. She nods again and takes my hand.
"Let's get back to the station. She can ride with me since I rode here alone." I say to Diaz, but loud enough for others to hear.
"You did good today Peck." Sam praises me as he walks into the detectives offices, Traci in two, where I was filling up today's paperwork.
"Yeah, you were amazing." Traci adds as she takes a seat at her desk.
I just give them a small smile in return. "Is the little girl okay?" I ask them instead.
"She just left with her mom a few minutes ago."
"Good." I say as I nod and go back to my paper work.
Andy waltzes in, out of her uniform and takes a seat on Sam's desk.
"Some of the guys want to go for pizza. You guys want to come?" She asks us.
"Yeah sure." Sam agrees while Traci declines.
"I gotta go check on Leo." She reasons as she starts tiding her papers.
"Tell the little guy this coming weekend, he and I have a date with an Xbox." I say to Traci with a wink as I lift up my semi injured hand now. "Since this won't sting anymore by then."
"I'm sure he'll be happy about that arrangement." Traci says with a chuckle.
A minute later Steve walks in and greets us.
"Ready to go?" He asks Traci.
"Yes." She replies as she starts packing her stuff.
"Steve, Little Peck here is a better detective than you are." Sam informs my brother who just raises his eyebrows.
"Oh really?" He asks.
"I'll explain later." Traci tells him as she slings her bag over her shoulder.
"Mom would love to hear about that too." Steve adds as he smiles at me. I get praised as better than him and he brings up mom. That must be his way for revenge over me being better than him.
"Weren't you leaving Steven?" I ignore his mom comment.
"See you tomorrow." He waves.
"Tomorrow?" I ask in confusion before he could walk off.
"Shooting range, remember?" He asks and I do remember us making plans about it on Saturday.
"Right. I'll be there."
"See ya Abigail." He walks off with Traci in tow as I glare daggers at his retreating back.
"So Gail, Pizza?" Andy asks me once my brother and his girlfriend are out of sight.
I am ahead on the paper work, I am starving and pizza soungs so good right now. I can meet with Marcus after, and I can always invite 'the hot Pathologist'.
"Yeah sure, why not." I answer and with that I start packing my stuff.
Sam does the same and they stand up ready to go out.
"Just text me the address. I'll meet you there." I tell Andy once I notice she was standing there waiting for me. She simply nods and walks out, Sam in tow.
I pack my things and follow suit. I nod goodbye at a few people, noticing that most people who made the arrest were gone. I make my way to my car and once I'm in the driver's seat I pull out my phone. The best choice would be to call Marcus right now and brief him in on my day, telling him what I've noticed about Jameson and ask if he's got anything. But Marcus can wait. Instead I dial someone I shouldn't already be missing. Not when I've just seen her a few hours ago. But my fingers work by themselves and are already tapping the call icon.
"Detective Peck." A soft voice greets at the other end of the line.
"Doctor Stewart." I greet back. "What are you doing right now?" I ask her before she gets any words in.
"Working on this report from a case that's two weeks old." She explains. "Why?"
"How long will that take?" I ask ignoring her inquiry question.
"Like half an hour." She answers. "Again, why?"
"I was hoping I'd get to see you." I confess. "You see everyone's going for pizza, and I'll be going too. But they're not as fun as you are. So thought I'd ask if you can come keep me entertained."
"I see. I'm your entertainment tool then?" She teases.
"You said it not me." I say and I could already imagine the small playful glare she must be getting.
"There will be food Gail. I'm sure that will be more than entertaining." She was definitely right about that.
"Food is not as fun as you." I tell her, and then lower my voice to seductive. "Unless, you were the food."
A few seconds of silence follow that comment, and suddenly I felt bad for saying it. Was it too soon for such comments? Especially since we're not at that stage yet? We barely even started to get to that stage. We're still at that stage where we know we like each other, and the kissing is great, but no more than kissing. We're still in between the fun and the relationship thing. And I maybe just jumped too far.
"Gail." Her voice shakes as she says my name and I hurry to change the subject.
"So um, finish your report and join us?" I say hurriedly, jumping right to the point of the phone call.
She clears her throat before she answers. "Yeah, just text me where."
She said she'd come. Good. That means I haven't completely screwed things up. Yet.
"Okay. See you in a bit."
There it was, the throat clearing again, before she utters a "See you."
With that the phone call ends and I drive to the address Andy had texted me while I was on the phone with Holly.
When I get there, I find that the place was packed. And of course the cops have put two tables together. And already seated at the table are Andy, Sam, Dov, Chloe, Chris and Nick. No James. And the table still had three empty seats. So I make my way towards them and take a seat at the edge of the table, which happens to be next to Nick.
"Hi." I greet them before I take a seat.
Before anyone could say anything to me, Chloe greets me with a very perky, cheery and high pitched "Gail Hi." And I almost wince at that. Almost, but I don't. I give her a small fake smile. She smiles back, not seeming to care that my smile was fake. And after that a small conversation forms. A couple of minutes later the waiter shows up. They had already gotten their drinks before I came here, and now the waiter came to take their food order. I simply order a beer, deciding it would be better to wait for Holly to order. I simply played it off as being undecided yet and asking for a few more minutes. Unfortunately Nick didn't buy that.
"You already know what you're getting, so why haven't you ordered yet?" He asks me once everyone else is engaged in their own conversation.
"But I don't know what I want. Or I would've ordered." I lie.
"Bullshit. When you hear restaurant and food, you ponder what to order before you even get to the restaurant." He calls me out on my obvious lie.
"Not this time." I try again to fool him but it doesn't seem to work.
"Don't worry, I'll figure it out." He gives up on the questioning once Chris calls his attention.
The waiter comes back and places my drink and then for the next few minutes they talk about idle stuff. Dov suggests they play some trivia game and they all shut him down, thankfully. Then they divert the conversation to some camping plan that they discussed today, for the weekend and they ask me to come along. I immediately turn them down. Me and camping never got along. I had to cope in my training for the agency, and also for a mission where I had to be at camp, but all the training and the experience, didn't make me like it. If camping was avoidable, then it will be avoided.
Nick however expects my answer and laughs when my immediate "No" shoots out when Chris invites me along.
"Don't take it personally. Last time we were supposed to go camping, she pretended to be sick, to get out of it." Nick tries to explain.
"I was sick." I argue.
"Getting bitten by an insect does not make you sick Gail." He reasons.
"Oh really? So a bee sting or a spider bite aren't dangerous?" I ask.
"Those, are. A mosquito bite on the other hand is not."
"It so is." I knew it was childish and unreasonable, but that playful defensive part of me took over at that moment.
"A bee, I'd understand, you're allergic. But it was just a mosquito bite." He says.
"Yeah, a big one. And then you wanted me to go somewhere where they come in hundreds and where I could get eaten by bears. No thank you." I say in ways to end this conversation. Even though everyone at the table laughs at my statement.
"I got bitten by a spider when I was ten. I thought I thought it'd be good not to tell anyone and endure the pain. I thought I'd turn into Spider-Man." Chris then says and he diverts the conversation towards him, which I was thankful for.
Two minutes later, I feel someone behind me.
"Hi guys. I hope you don't mind me crashing, but this one here, insisted I come." Holly's voice speaks behind me and I turn around to face her.
"Of course not, join us." Dov tells her as he motions towards the two empty chairs. One at the other edge in front of me, next to Chris, and the other and the end of the table, in between the edge chairs, which would make her next to me. She obviously takes the seat next to me.
"Hi." I greet her with a genuine smile once she sits down, a smile that she returns with a "Hi."
"Done with your report?" I ask her.
"Yes." She answers as she starts to take off her jacket and I just stare at the movement. How she pulls each arm back to pull on the sleeves and how she arches her back to get better access. I involuntarily gulp and avert my gaze.
"You hungry?" I then ask her.
"Starving." She answers and I then slide the menu the waiter left with me towards her so that she can decide what to have.
A minute or so later a couple of waiters come with the food for the table. Once everyone gets their plate, I call one of them back so that me and Holly can order.
"Guess I just figured it out." Nick whispers to me once the waiter leaves and I elbow him in the guts.
"Shut up," I hiss at him as he rubs where my elbow hit.
"You haven't changed." He says.
"I so have." I say in argument.
"Pineapple on your pizza?" He asks as if that's obviously a reason why I haven't changed.
"It's good." I try to be convincing and he raises his eye brows questioningly.
"Not like you'd know, you never tried it." I remind him.
"Not likely to try it." He shrugs. I guess the difference between him and Holly is already evident. He refused to try what I was interested in. Never went along with my crazy ideas or food interests. Holly on the other hand wasn't opposed to trying something, even though we weren't anything yet.
"It's great that you two can still be friends." Chloe then exclaims and I could visibly see Dov nudge her to not say anything more.
"Me and him?" I ask motioning between me and Nick. "Friends? No." I fake deny as I chance a look at Holly, remembering that there's a lot I need to tell her.
"Yeah, no." Nick agrees.
"What was Gail like before?" Holly then joins the conversation directing her question to Nick.
"No." I warn Nick pointing my finger at him, telling him to shut up and say nothing, he however ignore me.
"She hasn't changed much really." He answers, and I exhale. His answer was safe.
"Any embarrassing stories?" Holly then adds a question and I turn my gaze towards her and glare.
"Oh plenty." Nick tells her. Traitor, he stuck up for me before but now he won't?
"You're both mean." I sulk and they just laugh.
"Do tell." Holly encourages Nick to continue and I just keep alternating my glare between the both of them.
"Oh this isn't embarrassing, but it's so how Gail was. Probably the only part that changed." He tells Holly before he turns to me. "Remember that party? At Josh's house?" Nick asks me then and I try to remember which party he meant. I guess the best part is to play along and deflect any parts of his story to my benefit then.
"Hmm yes, the night I was free of you." I answer.
"I was there Gail."
"Not with me."
"Anyways," he continues. "Gail walks in, ignores everybody and goes straight for the tequila. She sits on the stairs and drinks. Until this girl shows up and starts hitting on Gail."
"God not that story." I whine.
He however ignores me and continues. "Two minutes later the girl tries to make out with her. Gail pushes her away though. The girl puts something in Gail's drink then. Guess she couldn't handle rejection."
"She obviously didn't know I was a cop's daughter." I interject.
"Obviously. But you played along as if you didn't notice and caused trouble." He reminded me.
"Well how was I supposed to know everyone would get scared I'd call my mom? They all thought I was an idiot, who would end up putting them in trouble if something bad happened to me."
"You turned limb next to her, so most people freaked out and left. That's when she caught on, hearing the name Peck and freaked out. But the funny thing was when Marisa showed up, and stuttered her way to try and help you. That girl was so in love with you."
"Was not." If she was I'd know.
"Was too. And she tried to get you out but you refused to leave without the alcohol, so you took down your anger with me and asked me to help you carry it out."
"It was good alcohol." I reming him and he just laughs.
"So all you need is food and alcohol?" Holly asks me knowingly then.
"I'm always hungry and I don't mind getting drunk." I tell her with a wink.
"Good to know." She says with a smile. "You still plan on playing games with people in dangerous situations?"
"I don't think I'm allowed to anymore." I tell her with a pout and she just laughs.
The rest of that evening was full of stories. Everyone shares a funny story. Even Nick, and I share another one. And Holly tells us about how her friends thought it'd be scary to go into a morgue on Halloween (considering one of her friend's moms worked at a hospital). When she was the only one who didn't get scared was Holly so they thought she was a zombie and they ran from her too.
I was surrounded by people. And I was comfortable with Holly there. I felt a part of something.
When dinner was over and everyone started to leave I walk Holly back to her car.
"And here I thought I wouldn't get to see you today." I tell her once she stops at the door to her car.
"I'm really glad I did get to see you." She says.
"Me too." I smile at her.
"Will I get to see you tomorrow?" She hopes.
"Can't get enough of me doctor?" I tease.
"Not even close." She says and my smile grows bigger.
"Maybe I can stop by for lunch?" I ask and she agrees.
"I'd like to cook you dinner sometime this week." She says and I immediately think of what day would fit.
"How about Friday? My shift finishes early and I have saturday off. So you'll have my undivided attention." I suggest.
"Friday it is. But lunch whenever you can." She then leans closer and gives me a chaste kiss. Before I could deepen it or anything she's back away and already opening her car door.
"That's all I'll be getting?" I try not to let my voice sound whiny.
"If I give you any more than that I probably won't be leaving any time soon." She says as she sits down in her car. "But you can decide what you'd like to eat for Friday. Unless you want something more exciting than food." She says with a wink as she closes the door and starts her car. She was obviously referring to before, my comment on food. And my mind wanders to all the possibilities. And my want for Holly grows, a heat surges over me and I try to shake it off. We've barely started and I'm already lusting over her like crazy.
And if I don't shake those thoughts off, I'd probably still be in place for a long time.
So I pull myself together and the phone ringing helps.
"Yeah?" I answer knowing it's Marcus.
"I think we've got something."