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Chapter 11: A Night to Forget

That Monday night Cassidy spent more than three hours inside The Cavern Nightclub. She watched as David filtered through a stack of credit card receipts. At the end of this effort he had only seven names that he could match up to a face in his surveillance video. This number included the six regulars that Cassidy already knew about. The nightclub staff was excluded from this search. David gathered their names and addresses from out of his employee file cabinet and gave them to Cassidy. Together, he and Cassidy, counted the faces of thirty-seven patrons that had to be in the club at the time of the call. The names of all but the seven that David had identified were unknown. He advised Cassidy that she would have to return Thursday evening when the staff was there. With their help, he hoped to put names to the other thirty faces.

“They’ll be able to put names to some of these faces, and they should be able to tell me at what table they were sitting. Once I have that I can connect faces to credit card receipts.”

Cassidy took this as the best she could get that night and set off for her home. She went to the job the next day with the names and addresses of The Cavern employees, the name of one patron and the images of thirty faces that were in the club at the time of the call. The employees, and the one patron, were people that she was planning to run background checks on. And the images of the thirty patrons were destined to be uploaded into a facial recognition program.

In Cassidy’s mind neither of these efforts had much of a chance for producing a suspect. She knew that most of the employees of The Cavern did not have the years in age or employment to be a good fit for these crimes. And experience told her that the images of the patrons were too vague, and the angles too acute, for a good match to anyone in the State’s motor vehicle and criminal databases. Despite this thinking, she believed this had to be done for the sake of thoroughness. The six regulars to booth three were excluded from her side project at work. She had already run the backgrounds on them. Without evidence that connected them to Albert Haynes or the victims, she believed the only way forward here was through face to face interrogations.

The bulk of Cassidy’s hope was attached to the list of names she expected to get from David Burrell Thursday evening. She knew that if she could connect one of those names to a business or residence in the vicinity where the call originated from then she would have a solid suspect. And if none of them had a connection then the booth three regulars would look even more suspicious. But she was two days away from making this assessment. She was advised by David that he would not be able to gather these names until the whole of his staff was back inside the club. This was expected to occur Thursday, the first day of the club’s weekend run. In between this moment and her next meeting with David Burrell, Cassidy planned to research what she could whenever it was possible to do so. Because of her new duties as the squad room ready-secretary, she anticipated that there would not be much time for this.

By Thursday evening Cassidy had completed her side project task to the limits that she could. The employees of The Cavern weighed out to be highly improbable as participants in the Greenbelt Nine murders, and the facial recognition program did not produce one solid match to the facial images from the night club’s surveillance videos. However, these failures had no effect on Cassidy’s spirit. She had high hope that her meeting with David Burrell later that evening would give her something significant to investigate. When her workday was finished, Cassidy hurried home to prepare for this meeting.

For the second time this week, Cassidy took her children to the home of her parents to spend the night. She then went back home to dress for her meeting and set off for The Cavern immediately after that. Cassidy walked through the front door of the club at shortly past seven-thirty in the evening. To make herself look like a patron, she attired herself in a black crepe midi skater dress with a plunging neckline and spaghetti straps. Her feet were adorned with black ankle strap stiletto heels. Her face was modestly adorned with blush and eyeshadow. Eyeliner accentuated her eyes. As usual her hair was short with soft waves and brushed away from her face, and a thin pair of silver-tone and crystal drop earrings could often be seen dangling beneath its fall. Bold red lipstick punctuated her face. A small black purse connected to a silver chain strap completed her ensemble.

Cassidy had no fixed plan for these adornments, but she did have an option in mind that she wanted to keep open. David first noted the embellishment to her face and hair with a smile. When Cassidy removed her overcoat, he acknowledged her attire with a slight bow in unison with his greeting.

“Good evening, Mrs. Tremaine.”

David inferred from Cassidy’s attire that the title Detective would not be appropriate this night, and in this he was not wrong. Cassidy was amenable to this form of address but for one correction.

“It’s Ms., not Mrs.,” Cassidy advised with a flat delivery. “Tremaine is my maiden name.”

Behind this greeting David took Cassidy’s coat and checked it into the cloakroom. He then led her into the main room of the nightclub. As they made their way through the room, Cassidy noted the band performing at the front of the room, the sparsely filled room of patrons and the absence of any of the booth three regulars.

“Is it always this empty on Thursdays?” Cassidy questioned as she followed David’s lead.

“It should pick up a little later,” David explained. “Fridays and Saturdays are our busiest nights.”

Cassidy accepted this report without remark as she followed David into his office.

“As soon as my staff came in I had them identify what patrons they could from the night that the call was made,” David explained while leading Cassidy to his chair behind the desk.

David opened a word program on his computer as Cassidy sat in the chair. Images of the patrons, data about their identities, the tables where they sat and the people seated with them was listed in it.

“I wasn’t able to get all of the names,” David continued. “But we were able to identify more than half and at least one from every table.”

Cassidy took a moment to examine the list and then responded to the report. Five of the faces were listed with first names only. Nearly half had first and last names listed.

“This is good for a start. I can do the rest.”

After making this statement Cassidy retrieved a memory stick from out of her purse and inserted it into a port on David’s computer. She then used the computer mouse to instruct the computer to copy this data into the memory.

“Do you have plans for tonight or is this new look for me?” David questioned while the computer worked on its task.

“I wanted to look like a patron, just in case,” Cassidy explained.

“Just in case of what?” David questioned with a slightly confused expression.

“Just in case someone got it into their mind that I’m out of place here,” Cassidy answered.

David gave this answer a smile before responding to it.

“There is definitely no chance of that tonight.”

Cassidy ignored the comment as she followed the progress of the download. It took another few seconds for this task to complete and then she removed the memory stick from the computer.

“So, am I correct in assuming our collaboration is completed?” David questioned as Cassidy placed the memory stick back in her purse.

“Yes, you are,” Cassidy confirmed without a pause to look up at David.

Behind this remark, Cassidy got up from her chair and started for the door. David intercepted her there and opened it.

“Thank you for your help, Mr. Burrell,” Cassidy softly proffered as she lingered at the door.

“You’re welcome, Detective Tremaine,” David returned.

After a look and a nod from the two of them, Cassidy stepped through the open doorway and David followed in turn. After a short walk, they reached the hallway exit and were moving through the main room of the club. Once again David took the lead and steered a path towards the front door of the club. He was halfway across the floor when Cassidy came to a stop and focused her attention on a location deeper into the room. An instant later David stopped, moved in beside Cassidy and traced her stare back to where all six of the booth three regulars were sitting.

“At least one or two of them are usually here on a Thursday night,” David advised in anticipation of Cassidy’s thinking. “It’s unusual to see all six but not surprising.”

Cassidy continued to study the six regulars to booth three. She watched as they listened to the music of the band while intermittently whispering to each other. She studied their faces and mannerisms. She examined the four individuals that were with them, two men and two women.

“Who are the others?” Cassidy questioned while holding her stare.

“I don’t know,” David answered with a shake of his head. “But the young lady in beige is familiar. I believe she’s been here several times in the past.”

“Is she always with them?” Cassidy queried with a look toward David out the corner of her eyes.

“I couldn’t say,” David returned “But I doubt it.”


“I believe I would have noticed if that was true,” David explained.

Shortly behind this answer, Cassidy squared her gaze back onto the six regulars. She was a few seconds into this when she noted the female with the long wavy light brown hair looking back at her. Cassidy knew her name to be Alexandra Hays. She held her look at Cassidy for a few seconds and then leaned over and whispered in the ear of Ryan Sandoval. A moment later he turned to look toward Cassidy as well.

“Uh oh,” David began with a lean toward Cassidy. “You’ve been noticed.”

“Do they know who I am?” Cassidy questioned with a full turn toward David and away from the six regulars.

“If they do it didn’t come from me or my staff?” David answered.

“How do you know that?” Cassidy inquired while holding her attention full onto David.

David responded to this question quickly and with practiced proficiency.

“My employees are under strict instructions to maintain the trust of our guests. Gossiping about the affairs of others is grounds for termination.”

David gave Cassidy a smile behind this answer and then made an addition to it.

“I also told them not to say anything about you and your partner. You’re not good for business, remember.”

“Yes, I do,” Cassidy returned with a nod and a smile.

Cassidy turned her head back toward booth three and watched the six regulars for several seconds. Over the course of this time all six intermittently turned to glance at her.

“I think they find you interesting because you’re with me,” David explained in a soft voice.

Cassidy wasted no time behind this report to ask the question that she had been considering for the past several seconds.

“Can you introduce me?”

“You want to meet them?” David questioned back with a hint of surprise in his voice.

“Yes, I want to meet them,” Cassidy responded with a reflective delivery.

David took a moment to see if Cassidy was going to reconsider her answer. When it became clear that she was not he began speaking his reply.

“Okay, but I warn you, they’re conversation can be a little—lewd.”

“I can deal with lewd,” Cassidy assured in a confident voice.

David gave this answer a smile and then asked the question that popped up in his mind.

“How should I reference you?”

“Tell them I’m a friend,” Cassidy returned as though she was speaking the obvious.

Cassidy took a moment to consider the question a little further, and then she began adding more to her answer.

“We met three years ago when I vacationed in England, and my name is Margaret Petrucci.”

Cassidy chose to give herself another name. Her concern was that one or more of the members in the group heard or read her true name from a local news report. Her mother’s first name and her married last name popped into her head the instant she gave thought to this concern.

“Were we romantically involved, Ms. Petrucci?” David questioned with a smile.

Cassidy returned his look with a squint and then gave his question an answer.

“A summer fling—we separated as friends, and we’re renewing our friendship.”

“Our friendship?”

“We’re taking it slow,” Cassidy responded with an inflection of annoyance. “Can we do this?”

David took the hint and promptly agreed to get things started. With a gesture, he encouraged Cassidy to follow him. As he led the way they saw the six regulars, one after the other, note their approach.

“David,” Alexandra spoke up at the instant he got within earshot. “Have you come to join us?”

“Hi,” David greeted the group as he stopped next to the booth. “I’m just here to make sure that you’re enjoying yourselves.”

“We are,” Ryan Sandoval assured without hesitation. “Who’s your friend?” He questioned an instant behind.

“This is Margaret Petrucci,” David introduced as he stepped aside for all to see. “She’s an acquaintance from my past.”

“Hello,” Cassidy greeted modestly.

The women at the tables were quick to return Cassidy’s greeting with hellos and large smiles. Evan Pritchard spoke up behind this with a suggestive question.

“A past love?”

Giggles erupted from the women and smiles from the men. David responded to the suggestion with a smile of his own and then followed that with a response.

“Our first meeting was too brief for that, but I have hope for the future.”

“Oh, I have no doubt of that,” Evan returned with a wide smile.

There were more giggles and laughs behind this. Ryan Sandoval waited for this to die down before speaking on something that caught his notice.

“I think Ms. Petrucci may have been in here a couple of weeks ago.”

Alexandra’s excited nodding of her head indicated her agreement with this observation.

“Yes, I was,” Cassidy confirmed with a quick response and a smile. “I dropped in to say hello to David.”

“I told you,” Alexandra bragged into Sandoval’s ear with a mixture of excitement and delight.

Sandoval took a moment to acknowledge Alexandra’s elated boast with a look and a smile. He then followed her response with a personal greeting.

“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ms. Petrucci. Won’t you join us?”

Cassidy feigned a look of reluctance before speaking her response.

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

The six regulars, with the help of the additional four, quickly voiced their simultaneous assurances that this would not be the case.

“Okay then, I think I will,” Cassidy accepted with a smile.

Cassidy sat down in the open seat created when the regulars scooted to the left.

“What are you drinking?” Ronald Hollis inquired an instant after Cassidy settled in her seat.

“A white wine would be nice,” Cassidy responded with a smile.

David promptly agreed to take care of it and set off to do same. No sooner had David turned away did the group begin to introduce themselves to Cassidy. She was fully aware of the names of the six regulars, but she pretended as though she did not. One by one she greeted Ryan Sandoval, Alexandra Hays, Brooke Chapman, Ronald Hollis, Christine Meyer and Evan Pritchard with a pleasant smile. They, in turn, were exuberant in their greetings to her. The additional four, seated in chairs outside of the booth, were Barbara Markowitz, Elliot Copeland, Cora Peterson and Kenneth Dunn. They were pleasant in their greetings but less enthusiastic in their deliveries. Cassidy recalled seeing Ryan Sandoval, Alexandra Hays, Brooke Chapman and Ronald Hollis the first time she was here. This was her first time seeing Christine Meyer and Evan Pritchard in person.

“So, Ms. Petrucci, what do you do?” Ryan Sandoval questioned with a pleasant expression.

Ryan Sandoval was a moderately tall man with handsome features that were well groomed and adorned. His attire was conservative, but not formal. He wore no tie, his colors were black and gray, and his expressions always vacillated between pleasant and a modest grin.

“Margaret please,” Cassidy reacted to Ryan’s chosen way of addressing her.

Ryan accepted the correction with a smile and nod, and then waited on her answer to his question. Cassidy wasted no time in providing this. Her fictitious answer to this question was already set in her mind. She chose her mother’s occupation as the subterfuge to use because of her familiarity with it.

“I’m a school teacher, fourth graders.”

“Really,” Brooke Chapman responded with surprise in her voice. “I always think of school teachers as staid, proper and unattractive, for the most part. Obviously, I’ve gotten it all wrong.”

There were a few giggles in reaction to this reply.

“Well, I’m happy to disappoint you,” Cassidy returned with a smile.

“Oh, you’re no disappointment,” Brooke returned with a smile and a nod.

Again, there were giggles and laughs in response to what was said. Brooke displayed a wide smile.

Brooke Chapman was average in looks and dimension. Her facial features were pleasant and her shoulder length brunette hair hung down in long soft waves. Her dress was red and thigh length, and her demeanor was cool and mischievous.

“This is a late night for a school teacher, isn’t it?” Ronald queried with a look of confusion.

Ronald Hollis was an average height man with features that was substantially less than handsome or attractive. Despite this failing he was well groomed. His blond hair was cut short along the sides and back and was noticeably longer on top. He was thin but well groomed. He wore a dark suit with a dark pattern shirt and a tie. A colorful handkerchief protruded out of his breast pocket.

“Very late,” Cassidy answered in response to Ronald’s question. “But I’m taking Friday off, and I understand Thursdays are slow nights. So, this is a good time to visit with David.”

“Thursdays are slow,” Alexandra agreed with a dismal expression. “This is my least favorite day. I like it when the place is full of people and excitement.”

Alexandra’s long single braid was gone. That is what Cassidy recalled seeing the first time she was here. On this day, her blond hair was unbound. It hung loose about her head in long soft curls. She was both cute and pretty, and her bubbly demeanor appeared to be a fixed disposition. A colorful thigh length dress was a match for her manner.

“Somebody is playing hooky from school,” Evan playfully announced.

Again, there were laughs and giggles from around the table. Christine Meyer waited for the mirth to die down and then leaned in to add her comment.

“Someone needs to spend time in detention.”

Christine Meyer was visibly above average in height for a woman and unquestionably attractive. Her long blond hair hung straight down half a foot below her shoulders. Her facial features were undistinctive but elegantly proportioned and balanced. Evan Pritchard looked to be equal in height with Christine. He was attractive and adorned to accentuate that fact. His hair was a thick dark brunette. A modest mustache and goatee adorned his face. A three-piece dark gray suit with stripes, a light gray vest, a bold red tie with a matching breast handkerchief and a bright white shirt covered his person. A diamond stud adorned his left ear.

“You’re right, I should,” Cassidy agreed with the detention joke. “I’m planning to call in sick so that I can turn this into a three-day weekend.”

There were some giggles about this, but it subsided quickly. Ryan spoke behind it with a slightly hushed comment.

“We won’t tell anyone.”

“No, we won’t tell,” Alexandra gleefully agreed.

Laughter and agreements came from all around the table. Ronald interrupted the tail end of this mirth with a question for Cassidy.

“So, how late do you plan to stay out, Margaret?”

“I don’t know,” Cassidy answered with a shrug. “I haven’t thought about it.”

“You should join us,” Ronald suggested with a smile. “We always have a little get-together when we leave here.”

“Oh yes, you must come,” Alexandra urged with an excited bob of her head.

Cassidy paused to consider the invite. As she did this, Christine, Brooke, Ryan and Evan spoke up in near chorus to encourage her to come.

“Our get-togethers are great fun,” Christine added when all others were done. “Aren’t they, Barbara?”

“Yes, they’re the best,” Barbara Markowitz agreed with a suggestive smile.

“Okay,” Cassidy responded after a moment of thought. “I will.”

“Yippee!” Alexandra exclaimed with a light and brief clap of her hands.

“What are we celebrating?” David questioned as he set a white wine down in front of Cassidy.

“Margaret is joining us for one of our late-night get-togethers,” Alexandra answered with enthusiasm.

“Are you sure you want to do that?” David questioned Cassidy with a dubious expression. “I’ve heard rumor that their get-togethers tend to lean toward the—risqué.”

“David! You make me blush,” Christine complained with feigned modesty.

Brief laughter erupted around the table. At the end of it Ryan spoke to Cassidy with a sober delivery.

“We like to give our friends the freedom to enjoy themselves. But their pleasure is always of their own making. We simply provide the—ambiance.”

“Ambiance, I like that,” Brooke spoke approvingly and with a wide smile.

“Well said, Ryan.” Evan agreed an instant later.

Again, there was brief laughter and giggles from around the tables. At the end of it Ronald looked to Cassidy and added his support for Ryan’s choice of words.

“We’re very good at providing ambiance.”

Cassidy took a moment to study Ronald and Ryan. But this was all acting. She had already made up her mind. In the middle of this examination David leaned in toward Cassidy and cut in with his thought about this word choice.

“It’s the ambiance that worries me.”

Cassidy thought a little more and then spoke her answer to David.

“I’ll be fine, David.”

“Yes, Burrell,” Ryan supported. “She’ll be fine. Don’t be so protective.”

Again, there was laughter from around the tables. David gave it all a look and a shrug, and then he inched back in acquiescence.

“Okay then, try not to have too much fun,” David spoke with a sigh.

“Is that possible?” Christine challenged with a grin.

Brooke and Evan were quick to verbally agree with that inquiry. An instant behind their words Alexandra tossed out a suggestion with her usual display of eagerness.

“But you must come with, David.”

There was an immediate support for this idea from all at the table. Generally, the ladies were more excited about this than the men.

“Yes, David, do come,” Brooke urged suggestively.

“No, I think not,” David responded with a shake of his head.

“Margaret, you must convince him,” Christine urged. “David never comes to our get-togethers.”

Cassidy was busy noting everyone’s eagerness to get David to come. Her surprise at seeing it was not matched by her understanding of why it was happening. By her estimation, David was the most attractive man in the room, and she had little doubt that the ladies agreed with this assessment. She briefly gave thought to the idea of having a partner by her side, but she was loathed to bring a civilian along with her.

“I’m sure I can’t convince David to do anything he doesn’t want to do,” Cassidy deflected with a shake of her head.

“I think you underestimate yourself,” Ryan countered slyly.

“I agree,” Christine seconded. “I think David would be willing do anything to please you.”

“I prefer not to play with David’s affections like that,” Cassidy replied with a look toward Christine.

With a smile on her face, Christine returned Cassidy’s gaze for a moment and then turned her attention to David.

“Are you really going to leave your fair lady alone to our wicked designs?”

“Margaret can make her own decisions,” David responded nonchalantly. “Besides, I have a business to manage.”

“Excuses, excuses,” Brooke challenged with a scowl and a shake of her head. “I think you’re afraid of us. We won’t bite—unless you’re in to that sort of thing.”

The last part of this remark produced laughter from around the table. David gave it a chuckle before responding to it from behind a bashful smile.

“The truth is I prefer not to mingle with my patrons. I wouldn’t want to start having feelings of guilt about gouging them.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t feel guilty about that, David,” Alexandra teased suggestively. “I would be happy to pay more—much more.”

This remark produced a hefty laugh from everyone. When this subsided a brief time later, Christine chided in with her teasing remark.

“I think he’s embarrassed. Did we embarrass you, David?”

David gave the question a slight grin before responding.

“I think I have work to do.”

David then looked to Cassidy and spoke his final words to her.

“Call me.”

“Okay,” Cassidy agreed.

David then gave her a slight bow and walked away.

It was just past 3AM when Cassidy parked her car in the driveway outside of her home. The street was quiet. The lights inside the homes that lined either side of the street were all off. For some reason this all felt unnatural to Cassidy. After taking a moment to gear her mind to the task of figuring out why this felt wrong, she happened upon the knowledge that she did not remember the drive home. She knew that it happened, but the details of the act were missing. The more that she tried to clear away the fugue state she was in the greater the disposition became. After a brief time, she decided to focus her thoughts back to The Cavern. She remembered her meeting with David and the details of it. She remembered the list of names she got from him, and the memory stick in her purse. An instant behind this recollection she decided to verify this memory and reached for her purse. The movement caused her to twist in her seat and a new sensation caught her attention. She was wet. It was a feeling that she likened to how she felt after having sex with someone. The shock of this caused her to quickly put her hands on her hips. She noted that her panties were still on, but this did not dispel her wonder about how and when she became aroused or if it happened at all.

After a minute of thought Cassidy began to wonder about the state of her mind. It seemed mentally abnormal for her to not remember the drive home. The fact that she was home and behind the wheel confirmed the sensation that she did drive home. This thinking motivated her to put it aside for a later time. It was her hope that sleep and a new day would return her mind to its usual sharpness. Shortly behind this decision, Cassidy got out of her car and closed the door behind her. The action added to her feeling that something was amiss. She soon came to the belief that it was too quiet. The streets seemed too still for this time of the night. She walked towards the front of her house with all her senses attuned to her surroundings. She was a step away from turning up the walkway to her front door when she noted a shadow of movement across the bay window. This was the first indication to her that a light was on somewhere in her house. This was something that she knew should not be. She remembered very clearly turning off the lights before she left.

Cassidy stopped in her tracks when she saw this movement. She slowly brought her gun out from her purse and up to the ready. She then began to approach the house one step at a time. Her brain was collecting input from all sectors of her field of vision. No movement was too small to attend some attention to. No sound was too faint to ignore. It took her several seconds longer than normal to reach the front door. She stopped there to listen for noise from inside.

The possibility that a member of her extended family was inside was a consideration that Cassidy’s mind began weighing from the beginning. She examined the street for the vehicles of her parents and her brothers, and saw nothing that looked familiar. This absence did not convince her that someone she knew was not inside. The street was lined with cars. She entertained the possibility that one of these cars was parked further down the street. Despite this thinking it did not make sense for anyone to be inside while she and her children were not home.

Cassidy tried the front door and found it unlocked. She pushed it slightly open and went through the narrow gap with her gun leading the way. She was just on the other side of the doorway when she figured out the light was coming from the second-floor hall and possibly a room. She moved slowly and quietly across the family room and up to the foot of the stairs. She heard movement in Cynthia’s room and began to quietly ascend the stairs towards it. She was three steps away from the second-floor landing when a man walked out of her daughter’s room. Cassidy brought her gun to an aim at the center mass of the torso that suddenly appeared in front of her.

“There you are,” James scolded an instant after stepping into the hall. “Where the hell have you been?”

James Petrucci came to a stop in the hallway ten feet away from Cassidy. He was holding a thin hardcover book in his left hand and a scowl was fixed across his face.

“What are you doing in here,” Cassidy shouted back before James could finish speaking. “I could have shot you.”

“Cynthia, our daughter,” James spoke back with an emphatic voice. “Remember her? She called me from your parents’ house and said she needed some story book for school tomorrow. Why are the kids with your parents’? And where the hell have you been?”

“You shouldn’t be in here,” Cassidy yelled back. “How did you get in?”

“I used my key.”

“You don’t have a key,” Cassidy insisted. “I changed the locks.”

“I’m not going to be locked out of a house where my children are living,” James countered forcefully.

“You son of a bitch.”

James ignored Cassidy’s insult and steered their talk back to the subject that interested him.

“Where have you been? What are you doing?”

“That’s none of your business,” Cassidy answered defiantly.

“When you’re abandoning our children to be raised by your parents it is my business,” James argued back.

Cassidy took strong objection to this suggestion and reflected it in her reply.

“I’m not abandoning the kids. It was one night.”

“It was a week night—a school night,” James raged back. “Cynthia said that you were working. What the hell kind of work are you doing at 3 o’clock at night?”

“Three?” Cassidy questioned with a start.

Cassidy quickly raised her arm up so that her watch was in front of her face. She noted the time with a look of surprise. By her reckoning it should be no later than eleven o’clock.

“Yes three,” James confirmed angrily.

Cassidy took a moment to absorb this news about the time. She then responded to James’ inquiry.

“I was researching a case.”

“What case?” James challenged an instant behind.

“That’s none of your business,” Cassidy responded defensively.

“Bullshit!” James roared back. “What kind of case requires you to dress like that.”

“I didn’t want to look like a cop,” Cassidy explained behind a look of frustration.

“So, you were working undercover?” James questioned with a look of incredulity.

“I was doing research,” she responded defensively.

James charged in with his challenge to this without hesitation.

“That’s a load of crap, Cassidy. You’re on light duty. You don’t have any cases.”

“My cases are mine,” Cassidy yelled back. “And don’t question me about what I do on my time.”

“And the lipstick,” James challenged from behind a smug look.

“What about it?” Cassidy questioned with a so what look.

“It’s smeared,” James answered with a look of disdain. “Was that part of your effort to not look like a cop.”

Cassidy quickly moved to a nearby mirror hanging on the wall and noted that her lipstick was slightly smeared to the right. She then gave it a moment of thought and then responded with a lie.

“That’s nothing. It’s an accident.”

“Right, an accident,” James responded with an inflection of disbelief. “Damn it, Cassidy, isn’t it a little late to be turning into slut?”

Cassidy wasted no time in responding to this query with a sharp and venomous counter.

“You made the transition without any problem.”

James took a moment to fume over this answer. He then changed the line of his attack, and he did so with a vindictive edge in his tone.

“If you can’t take care of our kids, then maybe they should be with me.”

Cassidy almost laughed at this remark. She knew that James was very happy with his return to the life of a bachelor.

“Oh, don’t you even go there. That’s an empty threat. You don’t have time for our kids in your busy social schedule. Don’t even think about challenging me for custody, because I just might give them to you. And that’s what you don’t want. So, don’t play the dutiful father with me.”

James was visibly flustered by Cassidy’s words. He took a pause to fume and huff as he stared back at his ex-wife. Shortly his mind came to a response. He grumbled the words out at a volume that was a little above a whisper.

“Don’t be so sure you know me.”

Cassidy held her stare at James, paused and then said her final words to him.

“Get out!”

James could see that the argument had gone as far as it was going to go. Experience told him that Cassidy was not going to engage with him on this or any subject now. He took a moment to hold his stare and then he commenced to brush by Cassidy while speaking his final words.

“You need to get your head on straight,”

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