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Chapter 19: Love at first bite?

Hammond received a phone call while he was in his meeting with his team. The call came in on his cellphone. It was Rhonda Redman wanting to see Hammond at her home. She wished to talk to him in private, could he come alone. Hammond thought to himself that this was a little odd. He wouldn’t usually do this, but Rhonda pleaded with him to go over. Now she had captured his imagination. Was this going to be a meeting with a person who might have new information about the homicide? Or was it purely a contrived opportunity to become better acquainted. Either way, Hammond decided to meet this lovely lady after work around seven o’clock that evening.

Tony’s vehicle was a Chevy Camaro SS; it was the car he had admired as a younger man. Even though the model he purchased was a little on the pricey side, he had indulged himself.

Rhonda heard him pull up and stood at the window admiring both the car and the handsome man driving it. Hammond had decided to treat the meeting on a professional level. That way she would be the one to make advances on him if she chose to.

When the door opened, it revealed a strikingly beautiful woman, tastefully dressed. Hammond liked the fact that Rhonda preferred not to put on too much make-up. She had a natural beauty that needed little assistance from cosmetics.

“Detective Hammond I’m so glad you’re here, please come in,” said Rhonda.

“Thank you, Miss Redman,” Hammond said as he stepped inside.

Rhonda showed Hammond into the living room. Hammond noticed that there were two glasses of red wine on the coffee table.

“Oh, do you have company?” asked Hammond pointing to the glasses of wine.

“No silly, they are for us, is that alright Tony?” Replied Rhonda.

“I was hoping they were, and I’m glad you’re calling me Tony.” Replied Hammond.

” I’ve never met a homicide detective before, or any detective for that matter. Especially such a handsome one… enjoy.” Said Rhonda was holding her glass of wine up.

Over the next couple of hours, Tony and Rhonda talked, not about the homicide of Hillary Bush, but about each other. Hammond felt strangely comfortable around this woman. He was not a man who fell for flattery or the charms of a beautiful woman. It took so much more for Tony to become interested in a woman. Rhonda told Hammond enough about herself without telling him too much. He could sense there was a lot more to learn about this woman. For the first time in years, he was very interested in finding out. Hammond was not the type to talk about himself. He didn’t mind telling about his family history and where he grew up, but the inner Tony Hammond was out of bounds for now. Rhonda picked up on this straight away. She called him the strong silent type, which he was. It was ok with her if it took time for Hammond to trust her enough to tell her more; after all, they were just getting to know each other.

Rhonda new what she wanted, and she wanted Tony. At the first sign of a lull in the conversation, Rhonda leaned over and kissed Tony. Hammond was a very willing recipient and put as much passion into the kiss as he could muster. In the silence that followed Hammond thought to himself that he was pleased that the evening had progressed this way.

He also had to make it clear to Rhonda that despite what had just occurred, any relationship between them would have to be kept low key until after the Bush investigation was over. Rhonda agreed and understood.

Hammond told Rhonda he would see her again soon if she could stand his company. The two chuckled, and then Rhonda said “My door is always open for you Tony, I’m a very patient woman. I know what I want and what I want is you.” Said Rhonda as she embraced Tony and kissed him again.

As Tony drove off, he was deep in thought about the evening. He and Rhonda indeed hadn’t spent much time together. That evening had been an eye opener for Tony Hammond. Of all the women that Tony had dated in the past, none had connected the way that Rhonda did. Tony decided that he would continue to see Rhonda and just see how their relationship developed.

The next morning Hammond was anxious to get into work. After leaving Rhonda’s, his thoughts had returned to homicide. He wanted to know the results of the stakeout and wiretap on Ed Reynolds.

Dave Bell was already in the office when Hammond arrived for duty. Dave had already checked in with the surveillance team. There had been nothing out of the ordinary as far as Ed Reynolds was concerned. He had spent the rest of the day at his office and then went directly home and stayed there through the night. He had no visitors, and nothing suspicious had occurred at the house.

Hammond checked with the wiretap team who had nothing to report; there had been no calls going into or out of the house and that included the ex-mayor’s cell phone. The wiretap warrant was good for two weeks, so the team was told to keep it going to the extent of the two weeks.

Hammond placed a call for Berta Lewis at city hall. He wanted to drop in to ask her a few more questions. She was more than willing to be re-interviewed by Hammond. In fact, she was a little bit flirtatious on the phone. Hammond thought to himself “that’s all I need, a horny married woman” as he chuckled to himself.

Bell and Hammond arrived at city hall and before long were in Berta’s office.

“I just wanted to touch base with you again Mrs. Lewis, first have you heard anything new in regards to the homicide?” asked Hammond.

“The only thing I’ve heard is that Ed Reynolds will be here tomorrow. The Feds have asked him to fill in as acting mayor until a proper election could be held. I like Ed. I wish he had won the election in the first place. He loved being mayor. It was like his whole world was in crisis when he learned he had lost, and boy was he mad.” Replied Berta.

“One of the people we have been checking out is Rhonda Redman. She was the woman calling the mayor; you know the female caller who you couldn’t identify. What can you tell us about her?” Asked Hammond.

“Oh Rhonda, yes what a nice woman, I have to confess detective that I suspected it was Miss Redman that had called but didn’t say so. She has always been nice to me when she called, and I know that Mayor Bush was taking advantage of her. Her company supplies all our office equipment. The only thing I know about her is that she didn’t get along with Hillary. Every time she called I could hear Hillary yelling at her on the phone, she was threatening to take the contract away from Miss Redman’s company. I never met her.” Answered Berta.

Hammond could tell Berta was continually looking at him. At one point when Hammond was looking at her, she purposefully crossed her legs in a very exaggerated way obviously intended for Hammond’s pleasure.

Hammond thought to himself that she was a pretty and sensual woman, but he had no interest in her at all. Berta was a married woman. Hammond had always prided himself on respecting the sanctity of marriage. He would never impede on another man’s woman, no matter how attractive she was.

Hammond and Bell thanked Berta for her time and then left city hall. As they were getting into their, car Hammond’s cell phone rang. After a short conversation, Hammond hung up.

“Well things are heating up a little Dinger, that was the office. There’s been another homicide. Steven Stewart was just found dead at his office.” Said Hammond.

A uniformed sergeant met the two homicide detectives outside of Steven Stewart’s office. Hammond noticed there was a woman seated in the rear seat of one of the patrol cars on scene. The sergeant told Hammond that the coroner and one officer were still in the building which otherwise was secured. The office had been declared a crime scene when the body was discovered. The sergeant pointed at the woman in the back of the police car and told Hammond and Bell that she was the one who had found the body.

She had said the first officer on the scene that Stewart had called her to come and visit him, but when she went in, she found him on the floor. She also said that that big ape that worked for Steven nearly knocked her over in his rush to leave.

The coroner bent over the body of Steven Stewart.

“Well, we meet again doc,” Bell said sarcastically

“Yeah, business is sure picking up.” Replied the coroner

“Anything interesting you can tell us Dr. Langdon?” asked Hammond.

“Well, your murderer will be a big man and very powerful, your victim’s back was snapped like a twig in two places. The first location low in the back looks like he was in the mother of all bear hugs, the second break was in his neck. Then he was thrown against this wall over here (pointing to the far wall), as you can see his head caused a circular break in the drywall. That coincides with the contusions on the back of the victim’s head. It was the broken back that killed him though. We will confirm this, as you know when I do the autopsy.” Explained Dr. Langdon.

Hammond thought to himself that it wouldn’t take a mathematician to figure out who their first suspect would be. Stewart’s hired behemoth, Reuben, would have to be located and brought in for questioning. Another team of detectives would get assigned to the Stewart murder. Hammond made the call to the office, and before long another team was on their way to the scene of the crime. Hammond and Bell would wait at the crime scene so they could fill the new team in on what they knew about Steven Stewart and his crony Reuben.

While the new team was digging up information on the suspect “Bosco,” Hammond and Bell returned to the office to check with the surveillance team watching Ed Reynolds. Bell called the wiretap team to see if there had been any calls made to or by Ed Reynolds.

Hammond left the office to meet up with the surveillance team for a quick meeting. One of the officers walked away from his observation point and met with Hammond about a block from the ex-mayors home. Reynolds had not been out of his house, nor did anyone come to visit him.

On the way back to the office Hammond couldn’t help thinking how odd it was that Reynolds was threatened like he said he was. It just didn’t add up, and it convinced Hammond that there was more going on here than what they had been led to believe.

Back at the office, Bell had called the wiretap team lead officer who told Bell there had only been one call into the Reynolds home, and that was a family member. The call lasted for four minutes and consisted of the usual small talk one would expect from a family member.

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