Midnight Owl (A Joe Leverette Mystery, Book 1)

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Carole Sage returned to the precinct about an hour later. She walked to the front desk and told the sergeant she was here to see Billingsley.

The desk sergeant called to Billingsley and he said he’d be right there. On his way he passed Leverette and Marsden’s desks and told them to be in his office in five minutes.

“Sure chief,” Marsden said, “What’s up?”

“The Sage woman is here. I’m going to get her,” Billingsley said and headed to the front desk.

“Ms. Sage,” he said with a smile. “We’re all ready to talk with you.”

She smiled back and nodded her head then followed him to his office.

Leverette and Marsden, who were seated, stood when they entered. Billingsley noticed Leverette was trying to hide a smile. He had Carole sit at the opposite side of his desk that the detectives were on. He knew something was up and hoped Leverette wasn’t going to blow the investigation with this attraction. He shook his head and sat behind the desk. He knew it would be good for Leverette to start seeing someone again but not now. Not her.

Leverette tried to adjust his chair so he could see her and bumped Marsden. “Sorry,” he said. Marsden just rolled his eyes and looked at the Chief. Both shook their heads.

“Okay, first thing, someone leaked the North murder to the paper. There was a short article in this morning’s paper and I’m sure none of you had anything to do with it,” Billingsley said looking at all of them in turn. They shook their heads and he decided to continue.

“Obviously they haven’t been able to find out anything about the case so that’s good. It almost reads as though they think it’s a prank.”

“The murderer could have sent something or called something in,” Marsden said. I didn’t get any calls from the press.”

“I didn’t either,” Leverette said.

“Well, I’m checking with PR to see if they got anything. It wasn’t first page so it’s hard to say.

“Second, Ms. Sage said something this morning that I think is vital to these cases,” Billingsley said turning to Carole. “Do you want to tell them about the vision you had last night?”

Leverette was pissed that he’d missed her this morning. What a great way to start his day.

“What I saw was the murderer, dressed in black with his face covered except for his eyes. He was holding a head by the hair then put his fingers to his lips and shushed me. I heard an owl hoot and when I looked at my clock it was midnight,” she said feeling like she was in a dream or some other reality.

“Did you recognize the person,” Marsden asked.

“No, but he was young,” she said. “I’ve never seen him before.”

Marsden sat back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest. He stared at the front of the desk deep in thought. Billingsley was surprised Leverette didn’t have anything to say. It was as if he were distracted and Billingsley didn’t like that from his best detective.

To his surprise Leverette spoke first.

“None of the witnesses know each other from what we’ve learned so far. What if we showed her their photos in case it happens again?”

That made Billingsley feel better; at least Leverette was thinking about the case.

“Especially since we don’t know if he’s going in any specific order, or if he’s even going to keep going,” Marsden said before looking up at Billingsley.

“I have a feeling he’s not going to stop,” Leverette said, “Should we say something to the other witnesses?”

“I think all that would do would cause them to panic. The only thing I can think of is to have Ms. Sage call one of you if she has another vision,” Billingsley said. “If she saw this one she might see the next one and we could catch him in the act.”

Carole sat there not knowing if she wanted to be part of this. She knew there was a connection but this was wearing on her.

“You live alone, Ms. Sage?” Marsden asked.

“Yes for the most part. Amy Lang is staying with me since all this happened,” Carole said and felt a chill go through her. What if he came for Amy at her house? Could she handle finding her body with a body part missing?

“Well according to the note he’s not going for Ms. Sage until last,” Leverette blurted out. The Chief and Marsden glared at him and Carole stood up, shocked.

“Note? What note?” she asked and started shaking very hard. Billingsley got up and went to her, gently putting his arm around her shoulder.

“Now Ms. Sage, we’re hoping to catch him before he gets to another person. With your help we will,” he tried to sound reassuring.

He got her sit back down and poured her a cup of coffee. She took it and sipped at it, still in shock. She leaned back in her chair and stared into space.

Marsden looked at her and hoped she’d be able to hold on. He could just imagine the stress she was going through.

Once Carole had gotten herself together as best she could, Billingsley continued.

“It seems, for some reason, that these visions happened at midnight,” he said, “And the murders happened sometime later, so we might be able to get him.”

Leverette thought for a moment and nodded. “I could stay with her and when she lets me know I can call it in. That way we’ll know Ms. Sage and Ms. Lang are safe, also.”

Marsden raised his eyebrows, which was not wasted on Billingsley.

Billingsley though for a moment and said, “I think we can have Gentry and Williams stay with her.” He knew Leverette wouldn’t like the idea but two female officers would be better than one male officer, especially since he obviously had feelings for her.

Marsden didn’t have to look at Leverette to know he was disappointed. He could almost feel the tension in him when Billingsley told him his plans.

“I’ll be calling their captain and letting him know what I want his officers for and have them follow Ms. Sage home,” Billingsley said and looked over at Carole.

“Okay,” she said. “Amy will be there, with her dog, but I have a three bedroom ranch so if one wants to sleep while the other is awake that won’t be a problem.”

“I think I’d like both of them to be awake, Ms. Sage. I’d feel safer,” Billingsley said to her. “You two get what you needed from the lab?”

“I was getting ready to head to the morgue to see about, uh, to see if they have any more information,” Leverette said almost slipping again. He knew Billingsley didn’t want to get Carole any more freaked out than she already was.

“The lab is still working on the evidence from the King’s home,” Marsden said. “They’ll let us know for sure once they find out.”

“Okay, then you two get going and I’ll take care of Ms. Sage,” Billingsley said in a way that let them know it wasn’t up for discussion.

Leverette looked at him wondering if he could tell he had feelings for her. Shit, he must, if that damn murderer knows. That thought made him wonder if it was someone on the force.

As they left the chief’s office they nodded at Carole, who gave them a forced smile. She was scared shitless now. A note. Why didn’t Billingsley say anything about it? Was he trying to protect her? This was making her feel, shit, she didn’t even think there was a way to describe how she felt.

Billingsley dialed the phone and asked about the two officers and explained why he needed them tonight. “Okay, Williams and Michaels then, Thanks, Paul. Have them report to me and I’ll fill them in. I hope they have open minds.”

After hanging up the phone he turned to Carole. “He’ll call them and then I’ll let them know what’s up. I’ll call you when they’re on their way to your home,” Billingsley said.

“Can I ask you a question?” she asked coyly.

He knew what it was going to be about and he made a mental note to kick Leverette’s ass. “Sure.”

She cleared her throat and squirmed in her seat. “Just what was on that note?”

Billingsley hung his head. He really didn’t want to tell her but now he figured he had to. He opened the file that was right on top of the others on his desk.

“It said ’Six to go. The last will be your lady love,” he looked up at her. “That’s all it said.”

“So one of them is seeing one of the witnesses?” Carole asked. “That must be horrible for them.”

So she didn’t notice Leverette’s behavior. Marsden said he was grinning at her the whole time they spoke to her and not saying much. He decided to play it smart.

“Yes, it must be,” was all he said. He got up and escorted her to the front of the precinct. “I’ll call you as soon as I hear from the officers.”

“Thank you,” she said and left.

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