Forgiven

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Growing Suspicion

Chapter 56:

As expected, Alec was still not convinced that they were out of the woods. This forced Lesly into the same old arrangement of staying with him and having someone accompany her at all times. Sharing an apartment with Alec was not supposed to be that big of a problem. However, ever since the incident at the venue, he had become more obsessive than before. She found it sweet at first, but after having to put up with his attitude for a while, it started to bother her a great deal. Her office had become something of a sanctuary now because it had become the only place where she did not have to sit and suffer his obsessive attitude. It had also become the sole place where she could follow up on her own investigation without having to worry about his finding out about it.

The dark-haired woman was busy examining a document on her computer screen when her phone began vibrating. She took a look at it and found it to be the caller she had long been waiting to hear back from. Her hand eagerly swiped the screen to accept the phone call as she stood up to lock the door to her office for some privacy.

“Al, you finally called!”

“I took too long, didn’t I?”

“You did.”

“I’m sorry about that. I wanted to make sure I had the right intel before I got in contact with you.”

Lesly hastily shut the door to her office before asking the one question she wanted to have answered, “Did you find something new about the informant?”

“Unfortunately, nothing, but there’s something that I thought you should know.”

“What is it?”

“It’s about that Reid individual…,” Al answered hesitantly.

Lesly’s grip on the phone tightened nervously in anticipation. Her voice wavered as she spoke, “You ran a background check on him two years ago and found nothing.”

“I remember…and I wouldn’t say I found nothing. I distinctly recall telling you that something was off about the guy.”

“You didn’t have something solid, though,” Lesly retorted with a hint of hope in her voice, but the more she spoke to Al, the more this tiny glimmer of hope disappeared.

“I told you everything looked so neat. Besides, it was not just me who had a feeling that something was off. You were in doubt about his intentions, too.”

Lesly shut her eyes and tried to get the frantic beating of her heart to calm down. Her voice barley sounded neutral as she asked dreadfully, “What did you find?”

“You told me he had been through an accident way back that almost killed him?” Al asked.

“Yes.”

“I checked,” the old man explained. “There’s no record of such an incident in any hospital in Redlyn. The same thing goes for police records.”

“But he told me he got injured here, in Redlyn….”

“I checked in Coaling where he used to work, too. I found nothing there as well. Did you try asking him for more details?”

“I did. He always evades answering my questions.”

The old man went quiet before responding, “Then you might be right. He could be hiding something.”

“What exactly is he trying to hide?”

“Too early to tell at this point.”

Both parties fell silent. Al waited for her to say something, but Lesly was too busy trying to process the implications of what he just told her.

“Collins?”

“I’m sorry, Al. I’m just trying to figure out why he refuses to say anything about what happened.”

“Are you sure he was telling the truth?”

“I saw the scars. He wasn’t lying.”

“Don’t push him then,” Al instructed. “If he has anything to do with Lang like you suspect, it would be wise not to alert him to the fact that you’ve been investigating him.”

Lesly went quiet because she did not know how to respond. She genuinely believed that Alec would never turn against her, but at this point, it felt like she could not make any definite conclusions about him at all.

“Al…”

“Yes?”

“Do you think he’s connected to Lang somehow?”

“I really can’t say. We could be reading too much into the situation. Then again, he could either be working for Lang, or trying to get something on Lang through you. I would advise you to be careful. I’ll try to investigate the matter further and get back to you with a response.”

“Thank you, Al.”

The old man hung up and left Lesly to rethink everything the assailant told her about Alec. She did not believe him then, and she definitely did not believe him now, but perhaps there was some semblance of truth to what he told her. This directed her attention to her desktop computer and the email she dreaded to check. Days ago, she tried to follow up on the story Hannah shared with her when they first went out for drinks together. The young woman told her that she met Alec through a legal clinic in Coaling years ago. It was not hard to locate it and to get in contact with the people who ran it. After too much back and forth, they, too, told her the same thing Al just told her. They have no record of a person by the name of Alec Reid ever working there.

Hannah was definitely telling the truth. The clinic managed to pull out the record of her father’s case, but Alec’s name was nowhere to be found. Unable to give up on the lead, Lesly asked someone to get a copy of those files sent to her email. She would have been able to get those records herself, but with the way she was followed everywhere, she was worried that Alec might be alerted to what she was doing. Her contact did not disappointed. He did what she requested him to do, and he managed to send the case records to her email two days ago. Dread kept her from checking them, but now that Al had told her the same thing she heard through the legal clinic, she felt compelled to take a look at those files.

Lesly hastily marched to her desk, took a seat in front of her computer and spent the next two hours examining ever single detail the files contained. No mention of Alec’s name was found anywhere, not even in the record of employees who worked at the clinic during the time Hannah’s father sought their help. Still, one name stood out in those records, a Jacob Wallace. According to the records, he was the only male law student who worked at the legal clinic during the period in question. The others were more seasoned lawyers who volunteered their time to help with some of the cases. This forced Lesly to direct all her attention to Jacob Wallace. If no one in the legal clinic recalled ever working with Alec, then this Jacob individual should be able to remember Alec seeing how he was the one who introduced Hannah’s father to the clinic. After all, Jacob was one of the students who helped with Hannah’s father’s case and who did most of the prepping and research. He could perhaps confirm whether Alec had indeed worked there and whether the clinic had made a mistake in keeping a record of their past employees.

Without giving it much thought, Lesly typed a quick text with a new set of instructions and sent it to her contact in Coaling. Answers should reveal themselves soon enough.


Dinner felt bland. She had been poking a piece of roasted chicken Alec had laid on a plate in front of her for a while now without even noticing. Her mind was occupied with the new intel she received a couple of days ago, and she could not focus on anything else. Alec kept on watching her as she pushed the roasted veggies on her plate aside with her fork while staring at them. Thinking that she found the food he prepared to be lacking in salt like always, he got up and fetched her a saltshaker. When he placed it in front of her, she gave him a blank stare before realizing what was happening.

“Too bland?” He asked.

“No,” She smiled at him.

“Food is not to your liking?”

“No, it’s delicious,” she said to him as she resumed the task of eating what was left of it.

“You don’t have to force yourself to finish it. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it.”

A pang of guilt gripped her. He went through all the trouble of preparing dinner on a Friday night, and she sat there thinking of what her contacts uncovered about him so far. Al was right. It could be nothing, but that nagging feeling that gripped her when she first met him was back, and she could not shake it off.

Lesly smiled at him as she told him the truth, “I’m sorry. I just have a lot on my mind.”

“Work problem?”

“Yes.”

“Wanna talk about it?”

“I was hoping you’d distract me from thinking about it.”

He smiled seductively at her as he held his wine glass and began swirling it. “I can certainly do that.”

Lesly frowned, “That’s not what I meant.”

Alec chuckled. He drank what remained of his wine and then grabbed the wine bottle to refill their glasses. Lesly eyed him with interest.

“Are you trying to get me drunk?”

“You wanted to be distracted, didn’t you?” He said, laughing.

She did not argue with him, but simply smiled and tried finishing her meal. When she was done, Alec took the dishes to the sink and began cleaning them. Lesly followed him and grabbed a towel to dry the dishes he had cleaned. The two chatted as they attended to the task. When they were done, Lesly resumed her seat at the counter while Alec began examining a cabinet whose door had become loose in the last couple of days. She watched him silently as she contemplated approaching him about her findings. Then she spoke.

“Stacey told me that she wants to continue working with me after she graduates.”

“Really?” Alec asked. His attention was temporarily drawn away from the cabinet.

“You seem surprised.”

“I figured someone as young as her would be more concerned with finding a job that could help her pay the bills and keep a roof over her head,” he explained before he grabbed a toolbox from under the sink.

Lesly eyed him cautiously as he opened the toolbox and began looking for a screwdriver. Her mind wondered if it was wise to ask him the question she was thinking about. She eventually decided to go for it.

“You did that, too, didn’t you? You worked at a legal clinic for a bit. Was it at Coaling?”

“Yes, it was, but it’s different for me.”

“How so?”

“My family’s doing well financially, so money was not an issue. I don’t know if I would consider working there for a bit longer than I needed if I had loans and debts to worry about.”

“How long have you worked there?” Lesly asked in an effort to get an answer that she could match with the records she obtained.

Alec shrugged, “Two years and a couple of months I guess.”

“And after that?”

“I worked at a law firm in Coaling. It wasn’t bad, but I had to leave eventually.”

“Why?”

He said nothing. His attention was focused on tightening the screws that held the cabinet door, but Lesly knew from the frown on his face that he heard her. She thought he was distracted by the task, so she tried to draw his attention back to their conversation.

“Alec?”

“It took me a long time to recover,” Alec answered reluctantly.

“Oh…,” Lesly realized immediately what he was talking about. She knew he wasn’t comfortable talking about it. Still, she needed him to say something.

“Do you mean after the incident?”

“Yes.”

Silence again. Lesly eyed him cautiously and tried to study his face. Aside from the focused look, there was nothing in his eyes that could help her understand what went on in his mind. Eager to get some answers, Lesly asked again.

“What happened there, Alec?”

“I told you,” He replied. His attention was still focused on the task of tightening the screws. “I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s all there is to it.”

“But…”

“Can we not talk about it,” he interrupted, “please?”

Alec continued to work on fixing the cabinet for the next few minutes. When he finished, he began swinging the door back and forth to make sure the screws were properly installed. Lesly continued to watch him. Her hand began to nervously tighten around the wine glass on the marble top. The words she wanted to say escaped her lips before she had a chance to think them through.

“You still don’t feel comfortable telling me what happened?”

Alec paused. His hand was still fixed on the cabinet door and his eyes were still focused on the task at hand.

“Sweetheart, it’s not you,” he spoke to her while evading her gaze, “It’s just one of those issues that I don’t like to dwell on.”

Lesly waited for him to look at her, but he didn’t. He quietly put the tools back in their box and placed it under the sink. She was not ready to give up. The hint of sadness in her voice was difficult to mask as she asked, “How long are you going to keep this from me?”

He stared at her then, not knowing how to respond. She carried on, “It certainly helped when I told you everything about my past. I just wish I could do the same for you.”

Alec straightened up, took a couple of steps towards the counter, and stood right across from her. He held her hand with both of his and stared deep into her eyes, “I will. I promise, just not now.”

“Is that the only reason? It’s difficult for you to talk about it?” She asked softly.

“Yes,” he whispered.

“Okay,” she smiled warmly at him. Her smile deepened when he returned the gesture and held her hand to his lips. At that moment, she was ready to drop everything. He was being honest with her. She could tell. It felt like there was no reason to harbor the suspicion that he was hiding something.

“Where were we?” He asked seductively.

“You tell me,” Lesly answered with a smile.

He raised an eyebrow and took a few steps around the counter to where she was sitting, “I believe you wanted to be distracted.”

Lesly immediately stood up and started giggling, “I told you that’s not what I had in mind.”

She tried to run away from him, but he immediately grabbed her by the waist. Her giggles turned into laughs as he tried to keep her from running away. He eventually overpowered her, held her arms behind her back with one hand and held the side of her face with the other as he trapped her between him and the counter. She was still giggling as his eyes stared deep into hers before settling on her lips. She, too, stared into his as he lowered his head and began kissing her. His knuckle stroked the side of her face gently as his mouth continued to tease her. He could feel her growing restless because she was trying to free her arms from his hold. Feeling that he had teased her enough, he decided to release her. However, before she managed to throw her arms around him, he picked her up and put her on top of a stool. She continued to giggle before he held her face and crushed his lips against hers. Her giggles soon turned into sighs as his kisses grew more carnal, more possessive, more passionate. Just when he was about to pick her up and take her to his room for another wild night, his phone began buzzing over the countertop. He stared at it without any intention to pick it up. However, when he noticed the name of the person who was calling, he knew he had to take the call, so he ended the kiss and gave Lesly an apologetic look before he picked up the call.

“Hello…”

Lesly stared at him as he listened to what the person on the other end of the line was saying to him. She got down from the stool and tried to leave, but Alec held her hand and kept her trapped between him and the counter. A frown appeared on his face as he narrowed his eyes.

“When did that happen?” He asked the person who was talking to him.

It did not take him long to get an answer. His frown intensified.

“Fine, I’m on my way,” he announced before he hung up.

He stared at Lesly then with disappointment evident on his face and ran a hand through his hair in exasperation, “Babe, I’m sorry, but I have to step out.”

“Something wrong?” Lesly asked, concerned.

“Another family drama,” Alec explained as he stashed his phone in his pocket and went to grab his coat. Lesly followed him.

“Is everyone okay?”

“They are. It’s just…,” Alec paused for a bit as if he was contemplating telling her. Then he proceeded to explain as he put his coat on, “Emma’s at the police station. I have to see what the matter is about.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t know the details yet, but my guess is that it’s another attempt at rebellion that somehow backfired.”

He grabbed his car keys and walked towards the door, muttering all the while, “The old man will definitely give us both hell for this.”

“Maybe I should come with you,” Lesly offered.

“You shouldn’t worry about that. I can handle it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.” Alec opened the door and turned to Lesly, “Don’t wait up. This could take a while.”

“Call me.”

“Sure.”

He gave her a chaste kiss on the lips and walked out the door. Lesly locked it behind him and marched to the counter to grab her phone. She would probably not be able to get any sleep until he made it back, so she might as well get some work done until she at least heard from him. Her first order of business was to call her contact in Coaling and to tell him to hold off the assignment she had given him. Then, she should probably give Al a call and ask him to do the same thing. Her talk with him earlier was enough to convince her that he was merely holding off telling her because it was too painful for him to talk about it. As for the matter of discovering no record of him, she was sure he could explain it to her once he told her all about the incident. There was no reason for her to jump to conclusions before he had a talk with her. Until then, she was going to respect his privacy.

When Lesly held the phone to text her contact, she found a message from him informing her that she should call him as soon as she could. Curious and concerned, she did as he requested and placed a call immediately.

“Hello”

“Collins, it’s a good thing you called,” answered her contact on the other end of the line.

“Did you find something?”

“Actually, I did. That person, Jacob Wallace, that you wanted me to track.”

“You located him?” Lesly tried to confirm.

“I did.”

Lesly waited for an answer, but her contact appeared to be busy talking to someone who was asking him for directions. She waited impatiently for him to finish.

“Well?” she urged him to speak when he was done with the distraction, “Did you talk to him?”

“I don’t think I can,” the contact muttered with a sigh.

“Why not?”

“He’s dead.”

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