Nathan signed heavily and pinched the bridge of nose to ease the oncoming migraine. Eighteen months had passed since Angeline had left. Since then he had hoped to find at least a hint of his wife’s whereabouts, but nothing had turned up. She was good. Damn good at covering her tracks.
I will find her though, he thought, no matter how good she thinks she is, I’m better. I’m a damn cop.
All the same, no matter how confident he felt that he would find her, the fact that she hadn’t been found yet left him frustrated.
The search for his wife had kept him up night and day, yet, the end didn’t look any closer than it was when he had started.
He’d just hit another dead end, a private investigator had come upon an Angeline Snyder matching his descriptions three months ago. He’d followed up in that trail until she had relocated to Canada. He hadn’t panicked at the emigration—he was fine as long as she was close enough to reach.
And just when he thought he had her, the PI had called a few minutes ago to tell him that was the wrong Angeline Snyder. In his anger, he had immediately fired the investigator. Nathan had spent a lot of money on the PI and yet, in over a year there was nothing to show for it.
He would have to take matters into his own hands.
Just then, his desk phone rang, and interrupted his musings. With a frustrated growl Nathan picked up the receiver, and stabbed the button to connect the call.
“This is Detective Snyder,” he said.
“Hello, Detective Snyder? This is Deborah Sparks, I’m an attorney—”
The line went dead.
Nathan stared at the receiver for a while before replacing it in the cradle. He wondered briefly what that was about. What would an attorney want with him? Unless...
He rubbed his throbbing temples with his fingers before leaning back in his chair, his brows drawn together in a frown.
Nathan raised his head at the sound of approaching footsteps. An officer stopped at his desk.
“Hey.” The officer said. “Nathan?”
“What do you want?” Nathan groaned.
“Captain Langston wants to see you in his office.” The officer replied.
Nathan’s frowed. What in the hell did his Captain want with him?
Nathan looked past his desk. The office was empty, Nathan looked at his watch and realized the other officers were on their lunch break. He should be off too, the Captain couldn’t be sure he was at his desk.
“Tell him I’m busy at the moment.” Nathan said. He was in no mood to deal with the captain and his drivel.
“He needs you now. It’s important.” The other officer stated matter-of-factly.
Another frustrated groan erupted from Nathan. He pushed away from his desk and followed the officer down to the Captain’s office.
The first thing that struck Nathan as odd was the hush that fell over the bullpen as he walked past. The officers that were gathered by the water cooler instantly clammed up as they fixed their eyes on the dark haired detective. Not once during his time serving this department had he seen them quiet down so he wondered what made today so different.
As he stepped inside his Captain’s office, he wasn’t expecting to see Daniel Hightower, Veronica’s husband and Los Angeles’ District Attorney standing beside his Captain’s desk.
“Daniel,” Nathan greeted him and held out his hand for Daniel to shake. Daniel stared at his hand for a few seconds but made no move to take it.
“Have a seat Nathan.” Captain Langston said motioning to the chair in front of his desk.
Nathan made no move to sit down. “I’ll stand, thanks. What’s going on?”
Langston crossed his arms. “I called you in here to let you know that I’ve received several, um... reports about you.”
Nathan raised a brow. “What kind of reports?”
The captain fixed Nathan a level gaze. “The allegations against you are serious, Nathan. Internal Affairs is involved, and as of now, you’re being suspended pending an investigation.”
Nathan’s eyes widened. What? “On what grounds?”
“Detective Emilio Chavez’ murder,” Daniel chimed in.
Nathan turned to Daniel, blanched and incredulous. “Murder? Chavez wasn’t murdered.” He said defensively. “He shot himself inside his apartment. I had nothing to do with what happened to him.”
“There were witnesses, Nathan. Witnesses claimed they saw you and Chavez arguing at Kingsman strip club. They later stated they saw you two having an altercation outside the parking lot before seeing Chavez leave with you when in fact he brought his own vehicle.”
“This is such bullshit, Cap. Chavez was my partner...my friend.”
Langston held up a hand to stop him. “We also received reports from online individuals, friends of a young man by the name of Clay Johnson.”
“What were you doing at his apartment, Nathan?” The captain squinted at him.
Nathan met the captain’s eyes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He replied coolly.
“Mr. Johnson was playing an online game when someone knocked on his door,” Langston explained. “Witnesses heard an altercation inside the apartment followed by him screaming.”
Nathan’s face remained a mask, giving nothing away. “What does that have to do with me?”
“His microphone was unmuted at the time,” Langston said. “They heard everything that went down, Nathan.”
The mask cracked.
“Fortunately the boy is alive,” Daniel said. “However, he sustained multiple fractures and a broken jaw which had to be wired shut. Despite his current situation, he was able to provide a description of the assailant, which pointed back to you.”
Shit. Shit. Shit.
“Where’s Angeline, Nathan?” Langston asked.
“She’s at work.” Nathan tried to hide the tremor in his voice.
“Stop lying to me!” his Captain shouted, and slammed his fist onto his desk. “Her bakery shut down over a year ago. Now I’m only going to ask you once more. Where is your wife?”
“You think if I knew where she was I’d be standing here right now?”
“Is that why you went to Mr. Johnson’s residence? To find her?”
Nathan turned to Daniel, who stared at him passively. He turned his attention back to the captain. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“How stupid do you think I am, Nathan?” Langston asked. “Clay Johnson ran an underground business forging fake identifications for individuals. So what, you stopped by his apartment in hopes of finding out Angeline’s whereabouts?”
Nathan was silent.
“What did you do to Angeline, Nathan?” The Captain very nearly growled.
Nathan resisted the urge to pull on his collar; he was starting to feel hot. “Nothing, I did nothing to her. What would I do to her? She’s my wife. I love her. And she’s been missing for eighteen months.”
Daniel scoffed, but said nothing. Nathan turned to him, his eyes dared Daniel to say something.
Langston exhaled heavily. “The department is under investigation, Nathan.” Nathan returned his attention to the captain. “Internal Affairs is claiming that Angeline had attempted to file multiple domestic abuse claims against you, but were thrown out from several of the officers in this precinct, officers that you are well acquainted with.”
“Domestic violence!? I would never lay a hand on my wife.”
“Right,” Daniel said. “Then explain why Angeline would come into work every day covered in bruises. Why was it she was afraid to go home after closing up the bakery?”
“You stay out of this you piece of shit,” Nathan growled.
“You raped her, Nathan. If anyone is a piece of shit, it’s you!” Daniel shouted. “She was your wife and she loved you! But that wasn’t good enough for you, was it? You had to turn around and beat that poor woman into submission. It’s a good thing she left you when she did. If she hadn’t, she’d be six feet under right now.”
Silence stretched in the room.
“Officers who failed to turn in these allegations against you have been placed on administrative leave. You, however, are to hand over your gun and badge immediately.”
“This is such bullshit,” Nathan snarled, handing his badge to his captain. Then he took off his gun and placed it on top of his desk.
Langston rose from his seat and motioned for the two officers who were standing outside his office to come in.
“By order of the District Court,” Langston began, “I am hereby placing you under arrest for the murder of Emilio Chavez…”
Nathan never heard the rest. He couldn’t believe this was happening. Everything he had worked so hard for over the years was ripped right from under him, and it was all Angeline’s fault.
The officer that had called Nathan in stepped forward, pulled out a pair of handcuffs and took a tentative step toward Nathan.
“Nathan Snyder, you’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent.”
“You can’t do this.” Nathan told them as the officer twisted his arms behind him and finished reading his Miranda rights.
“We can and we are.” Daniel said as he approached Nathan. “It was only a matter of time, Nathan. The moment I found out what you were doing to Angeline, I had to step in. She might not be here right now, but I will fight for her where others like you have failed.”
“This isn’t over.” Nathan snarled.
“No. But you are.” Daniel leaned close to him, as if he were going to tell a secret. “You’ve messed with the wrong man, Nathan. Don’t threaten my family and expect me to just stand by and do nothing. When this is over, I’m going to have you put away for a very long time. You’ll never hurt anyone else again.”
Nathan frowned and the officer pushed Nathan toward the door. Nathan moved with no resistance, his jaws tight, and eyes vacant.
“Your bail has been posted,” the sergeant said as he turned the key in the lock of Nathan’s cell. “Stop by the front desk and sign the papers agreeing to your court appearance, and then you’re free to go.”
Nathan sat up on the edge of his cot. “Who posted my bail?”
“Your attorney,” he answered.
His attorney? He didn’t have an attorney. He had been denied the right to a phone call following his arrest. Apparently, committing, or even being suspected of murder as a cop put you in the bad books of the other cops.
No one knew of his arrest, the only explanation would be that the attorney outside was a government issued one.
It’s about fucking time. He thought.
“She’s parked and waiting for you outside. She needs you to sign paperwork.” The sergeant continued.
Nathan signed some papers at the front desk and left the building.
Outside, he used his hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun. It felt too bright after two weeks of artificial lighting.
As his eyes adjusted, he saw a lean blond woman dressed in a red power suit, leaning against a blue Chevrolet Camaro.
“Nathan Snyder?” the unknown woman asked.
The blonde woman pushed off her car and walked towards Nathan. “Your attorney,” she said. “You’re welcome by the way.” She held out a hand.
Nathan ignored her hand. “I never asked for your help.”
“Would you rather rot in that cell? Because you and I both know that’s not what you would have wanted.” She dropped her hand.
“Who are you?”
“You’re the woman who called me a few weeks ago.” He realized.
“Indeed. However, I was rudely disconnected before we even had the chance to talk.”
“Well take it up with someone else. I’m no longer employed with that department.”
He turned to leave
“Still looking for that missing wife of yours?”
He stopped and turned around slowly to look at her.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she said. “Fortunately for you, I can help you with that.”
Nathan curled his lips in a wicked smile. “Start talking.”