Helena woke up to the sound of someone knocking on her door early the next morning. In her sleepy state, she had completely forgotten that Gianna was supposed to come over that morning for breakfast so she could dish about her date the night before. Her eyes widened as soon as the realization hit her what today was and quickly began cleaning off her coffee table.
“One sec, Gi!” Helena called out as she scooped up her notes from the night before and quickly carried them off to her room to hide them. She ran her fingers through her hair, wincing as she hit a few tangles, and opened the door.
Gianna was standing there smirking, holding a bag with some of the ingredients she liked in her pancakes meaning she was going to load them up with chocolate chips. Helena on the other hand took her plain which made Gianna say in a teasing way that she was boring. “Did someone fall asleep on the couch last night?”
Helena gave her friend a look that said she was not amused. “You know me so well,” was her only response to Gianna’s quip.
“I should hope so,” she put her bag down on the counter and leaned against it. “We’ve been friends for long enough now that I like to believe I know you better than most do.”
It was true. Gianna had been the one person that Helena had let in had felt close enough to. There was even a time when Helena had considered telling Gianna her secret. She held off though because what would Gianna think? She would probably have Helena committed again. But there was still a part of her deep down that longed to share this burden with someone and she wanted to share it with her best friend.
Helena gave Gianna a smile and moved on to get things ready for making the pancakes and as she did she asked, “So how was the date?”
Gianna helped Helena, knowing where everything was located in the kitchen. They worked together like a well-oiled machine. “It was great, she took me to this little bistro along the Potomac and had called ahead to order the wine so it would be ready when we got to our table. Everything was delicious, I want to take you there sometime.” Helena made a noise of agreement but didn’t interrupt Gianna. “I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much on a first date before, Hel. She was so funny and she had all these stories about models and the photoshoots she’d been a part of. I felt a bit awkward about telling her I was a geneticist, my life isn’t nearly as glamorous as hers.”
Helena rested a hand on top of one of her friend’s, “Hey, I think your job is really cool and interesting. You get to study genetics and find out a person’s history just by their DNA alone. Sure you may not be jet setting off to interesting and exciting locations, but you still get to do something amazing and cool every day.”
There was a moment of silence and then Gianna leaned her head against Helena’s shoulder, “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”
Helena chuckled, “Maybe once or twice.”
Gianna continued her tale of how the night went and how they had a second date set up for next week on Wednesday after Jacki got back from a photoshoot in New York. “Enough about me, how’d your research go last night?”
“It went all right for the most part, I’ve got a few loose ends I’m trying to piece together,” Helena told her. “I’ll probably be working on it for the rest of the weekend.” She would, once Gianna left she already had plans to go and visit the crime scene for Victoria.
“Let’s go out tonight!” Gianna suggested excitedly. “I have a couple of errands I have to run after this, but why don’t we have girls night? It’ll be like old times, we can hit up that quiet bar you like on 9th Street.”
“Carmin’s?” Helen perked up.
Despite the fact that she was more suited for an introverted life Helena had enjoyed going to bars with Gianna when they were in college. After Helena and Gianna graduated and started jobs in their field of choice neither of them had the time to go to bars or have much of a social life. Helena actually preferred it because the deaths of her parents were still so fresh that it provided a distraction from her pain and the panic she had felt after it had come out.
“Yeah, I know it’s quieter there than at some of the other places. It’ll be like old times before we became actual adults and had responsibilities,” the two of them giggled and Helena felt the stress of the previous night lifting from her shoulders.
She was grateful for Gianna’s friendship. In her first life, there hadn’t been anyone like her in Helena’s life. She found the elite of London to be a bit snobbish and too obsessed with status to form actual bonds with people. Elijah had been her first and only true friend, they had shared similar values and Elijah supported Helena in her dreams. Finding Gianna in this life had been like finding Elijah in her last.
The two shared breakfast and watched Golden Girls reruns together, Gianna quoting Blanche’s lines while Helena was doing Sophia. They had bonded over the show in college, their grandmothers had introduced them to the show when they were younger. Gianna had been thrilled to find someone under the age of sixty that enjoyed it just as much as she did. Helena joked that they only needed two more people to fill out their Golden Girls quartet and then when they all grew older they could move to Miami together and become the actual Golden Girls.
“I’ll meet you back here at eight, wear something nice like that black dress you wore to my surprise birthday party a few years ago,” Gianna told Helena as she gathered up her things. “You looked sexy in that one.”
“All right, all right, I’ll wear it if you promise to not try and set me up with anyone at the bar.” Helena knew the exact reason why her friend had suggested that dress.
“Promise,” Gianna said, holding up her hands to show that she had nothing crossed and wasn’t lying. “See you tonight, Hel!”
“Bye, Gi!” She closed the door and let out a soft breath before changing out of her PJs and into something a bit more comfortable. She then checked her bag to make sure she had a camera, a pad, a pen, and her phone before she too headed out into the city.
The parking garage where Victoria had been killed was located on K Street near the Washington Post where she had worked. Helena had called a cab to take her there and as she went down the street where the crime had taken place she took note of her surroundings. It was pretty active during the daytime hours as were most streets in D.C., not great for a murder when the sun was out.
The cab driver pulled over at her destination and she thanked him before stepping out and looking both directions. She wondered if the killer would be lingering around the garage or the street. Maybe they liked this area and wanted to stick to it. They had already killed here once without being caught so maybe they would return. Jacqueline had gotten used to the Whitechapel District, she was comfortable killing there because there wasn’t hardly anyone there to disturb her as she killed.
Or maybe the killer would come back to relive the murder. She knew that some liked to revisit crime scenes while others didn’t. If this killer was smart then they would return because they could be caught if seen coming back time and time again, even if they decided to murder someone somewhere else in the city.
A few feet away Ryder stood back in a small crowd of people watching Helena. Normally he took Saturdays off to give himself some downtime, but he wanted to know what Helena Jekyll was up to. She had strayed from her usual routine and the agent who had been watching her house the night before said that she hadn’t appeared to be doing anything out of the ordinary, but that she had brought some work home with her.
Now here she was entering the parking garage where Victoria Lane had been killed several days prior. Forensics had been over the scene with a fine-tooth comb and had cleaned up most of the mess the killer had made. If Helena was looking for clues she’d be sorely disappointed. There was nothing left to be found, the killer had been pretty thorough in cleaning up their tracks.
She took the elevator up to the third level where Ms. Lane had been when she died and Ryder took the stairs. When he reached the third level he saw Helena pull a camera from her bag and start taking photos. She took one of where the actual crime happened and then of the surroundings as well. It reminded him of what the CSIs had done when the scene had first been discovered and they had been called in.
She then took out a notepad and scribbled down some notes. “I know you’re there,” her voice echoed throughout the structure, her head turned toward the stairs where Ryder had been trying to hide. He hadn’t noticed it the other day when they had been together, but she had a slit lilt to her voice as if she had an accent she was trying to keep hidden.
Ryder stepped out of his hiding place and moved closer to her, “And how did you know I had followed you?”
“Well I wasn’t sure it would be you tailing me today, but I caught a glimpse of you on the street before I came up,” she explained as she went back to writing in her notepad. “I’m a private investigator Ryder, do you really think I don’t know when someone is tailing me?”
She had a point, she wasn’t like other people he had tailed before. “What’re you doing here, Ms. Jekyll?”
“Helena,” she corrected and he fought the urge to chuckle.
“All right, what are you doing here, Helena?”
She put her notepad away and turned to fully face him, there was no nervousness on her face today, she seemed more confident and sure of herself. “I’m looking into the case,” she said bluntly.
“Helena, this is a federal matter, you shouldn’t be worried about this,” he chastised. What was she thinking involving herself like this on the case?
“And I thought I wasn’t a suspect, and yet here you are having me tailed as if you think I’m the killer,” she fired back. “My friend Gianna wasn’t happy when I told her that by the way.”
Ryder pinched the bridge of his nose, “You’re not a suspect, I’m just keeping an eye on you.”
“Oh? Then why did you write in your notes that day you questioned me that I was possibly the killer? Oh don’t look so surprised,” he hadn’t even realized he had looked surprised in the first place, but he quickly schooled his features back into a neutral expression. “I did need water and a break from you being in the room, but I also wanted to see what you had written about me. Look, I know I look suspicious and that day probably didn’t help and neither does this, but I can tell you without a doubt that I am not Ms. Lane’s murderer.”
“Why do I get the feeling you know more than you’re letting on?” He raised an eyebrow and she shrugged.
“Maybe I do, Mr. Lynch. Maybe I am hiding something dark and mysterious. And I know that you’re not going to stop tailing me, so either you swear me in and let me help you or I keep investigating on my own.”
“I could have you arrested for obstruction of justice,” he threatened, but Helena didn’t even seem phased.
“Go right ahead, but technically I haven’t done anything to obstruct you. I’m here on my own time when the crime scene has already been cleared. And since I don’t know who did this then I can’t tell you that. There’s nothing for you to charge me with.”
“My superiors might not go for you helping me officially on the case,” he told her.
“Then I guess I’ll have to slip you manilla folders with my findings in them at coffee shops or at a restaurant,” she teased, a slight smile on her face. She shouldered her bag and headed for the garage, “I’m done here Mr. Lynch, are you going to take me home or am I going to have to call a cab?”
He hurried to catch up to her, “I can do one better.” She looked at him quizzically, but he could see the spark of excitement in her eyes. She wanted to know what he had planned.