The Candy Shop

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“She’s on the move,” Peters blurted, balancing the laptop on his knees. “Or at least her cell phone is. She’s on highway 40 heading downtown.”

“Call her,” Rocco barked, making a U-turn and heading back toward the highway entrance. “Tell her to meet back at the hotel unless she has reason to believe that location has been compromised.”

Peters punched in the number and held the phone out for Rocco to take. “She’s your girlfriend, you talk to her.”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Rocco snipped and Peters shot him a one-eyebrow-lifted glare.

“You really wanna argue over titles right now?” Peters smirked.

“Just give me the damn phone!” Rocco muttered and snatched the phone.

When Kira answered Rocco resisted the temptation to lay into her, but only because he could tell she was in an emotionally unstable state. “We’re not far behind you on the highway,” Rocco told her. “It’s important that you remain calm while you’re driving…”

“I’m not calm!” Kira shrieked. “How the hell can I REMAIN calm when I’m not calm!”

Rocco exhaled frustration. Dealing with emotional women was not his specialty. In fact, in every life situation he had tried his best to avoid emotional women. “I want you to listen to my words and I want you to focus on your breathing…”

“What the…?” Peters snickered. “Is she in labor or somethin’ man?”

“Don’t tell me to breathe!” Kira yelled. “I am breathing but Leon might not be because I might have killed him.”

“You might have killed him?” Rocco repeated.

“Oh, that shit don’t sound good,” Peters muttered.

“Wouldn’t you know for a fact if you had killed him?” Rocco questioned.

“I Tasered him twice and I didn’t stick around to check his pulse,” Kira uttered, her voice now breaking into sobs. “I didn’t mean to kill him,” she cried.

Rocco lowered the phone from his lips so Kira couldn’t hear what he was saying to Peters. “Send an ambulance to Leon Bate’s house right away.”

“Now this shit just sounds bad,” Peters shook his head and pulled out his cell phone.

Rocco managed to convince Kira that the hotel hadn’t been compromised and she agreed, though somewhat reluctantly, to meet him there. As soon as she pulled into the lot, Rocco rushed Kira from the car and Peters slid behind the wheel and drove off in Leon’s car.

“Where is he going?” Kira asked.

“He’s going to dump the car in an undisclosed location, wipe it clean and then meet us back here,” Rocco explained, leading Kira into the room. “You’ve stolen two cars today!” As soon as the door closed, he spun around and pulled her into him. He wanted to scold her and hold her at the same time, as both anger and relief surged through his veins. Drawing back from their hug, Rocco took her face in his hands and looked deeply into her eyes. “What were you thinking? Why did you leave? You could have been killed!” His voice elevated and tears formed in Kira’s eyes.

Sitting her down on the couch, Rocco draped his arm across the back and gave her shoulder a tender squeeze. “I need to know what happened.”

Kira began by telling him about the call from Frank and then from Audrey and Ian’s threat to kill her if Kira didn’t go the The Candy Shop within twelve hours. Rocco shook his head. “Why didn’t you tell me about the phone calls when I talked to you this morning?” He exhaled forcefully. “All of this could have been avoided.”

“Frank said you were on Coronado’s payroll.” She looked down and fiddled with her fingers in her lap. “I didn’t know what to think or who to trust so I called Officer Downing.”

“I hope you know now that you can trust me?” Rocco said it as a question but Kira didn’t answer. Instead she leapt to her feet and pulled the files from the inside of her sweater and the folded papers from the back of her panties.

“Is there anything else you have hidden in there that you’d like to show me?” He teased.

“Nothing you haven’t already seen,” she rebutted and sat back down, clutching the files to her chest. “I found these at Leon’s and I’m sure they all contain useful information, but there’s one in particular I think you’ll want to see.” Kira took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “This will be hard for you to look at, but…” her voice faded. “What I mean is…it’s something you…” her voice caught in her throat.

“I chase down serial killers for a living and dig bodies out of dumpsters. I think I can handle whatever is on those papers,” Rocco quipped.

Unfolding the surveillance photos of Landon murdering Adrienne, Kira handed them to Rocco. “This is personal,” she whispered.

Suddenly it felt as if time stood still as emotion rocked him. Rocco stared at each photograph, tortured by the evidence of a truth he knew but was never able to prove. Adrienne, his Adrienne, had been brutally murdered by Landon Parker. Rocco sifted through the photographs, feeling the agony of that night encompass him. He fought back his rage until he reached the very last photo; and then he paused. His eyes darted wildly to Kira and then back down to the picture. “Have you looked at these?” He asked.

Kira shook her head. “I accidentally saw the first one and I couldn’t handle it so I didn’t look at the rest. I just grabbed them and shoved them in my pants.”

Rocco flipped the last picture around and held it up for Kira to view. There, next to the bloody Mercedes and Adrienne’s crumbled body stood Landon, Ian and Frank. Kira gasped as if she couldn’t believe her eyes. “Omigod,” she uttered. “I knew Frank lied to the insurance company and I figured out today that he lied in the police report, but I never would have guessed he would have been involved in murdering Adrienne.”

“He wasn’t involved in her murder,” Rocco clarified. “At least I don’t think he was, but he was certainly an accomplice who helped cover it up.”

Peter’s banging on the door momentarily drew them away from the conversation, but once he was safely inside and the door was locked the three of them made coffee and began to dig through each file Kira had stolen from Leon.

“There’s enough evidence here to put these cats away for life,” Peters uttered. “I’m talking lock ’em up and throw away the key.”

Rocco glanced at Kira, after all it was her husband they were talking about; but she appeared to be taking it in stride. He was certain after the events of today she was in a moderate state of shock and that when reality hit, her calm would crumble. He hoped to be the shoulder she leaned on whenever that time came.

Kira pushed aside the pictures of Frank screwing other women and focused on the photo of him and Audrey kissing. Rocco could see that this picture caused more brokenness than the others combined. It was the picture of a dual betrayal. He was just about to ask Kira if she was okay when Peters’ cell phone rang.

“This is Peters,” he answered.

“Officer Peters,” the precinct switchboard operator said. “I have a man on hold that is asking to speak with Detective Sterling. I’ve put him through to voicemail three times already, but he insists it’s urgent. I’ve tried Detective Sterling’s cell phone but it just rings and rings and he isn’t responding to my text messages. Do you know how I can reach him?”

“Yeah, I can get him a message,” Peters said. “Give me the man’s name and contact information and I’ll make sure Roc…uh, Detective Sterling calls him back right away.” Peters jotted down the name and number on a piece of paper and slid it across the table. It read:

Leon Bates 314-555-6363

“Evidentially he’s still alive,” Rocco said and Kira breathed an obvious sigh of relief. Rocco grabbed one of the temporary cell phones and keyed in Leon’s number. “Time to get some real answers.”

“Detective Sterling,” Leon answered, his voice sounding raspy and weak. “Thank you for returning my call. I need to meet with you. I’m ready to come clean and I have evidence that will prove beneficial to your cause.”

“Come clean about what?” Rocco posed.

“I can’t discuss the matter over the phone. I’ve got to find Kira Sullivan before it’s too late.” He sounded out of breath, as if he were rapidly moving around while speaking.

“I have Mrs. Sullivan,” Rocco retorted and he could sense genuine surprise in Leon’s pause.

“She stole information and my car and…” Leon began but Rocco cut him off.

“If you’d like to file a report you can do that at the station.”

“Listen, Sterling,” Leon’s voice changed and though still winded, he was seething. “The information she took is a matter of life and death.”

“Yes, it is.” Rocco couldn’t control the sarcastic anger that crept into his tone.

“I need you to send a car to pick me up. I need you to take me into custody now. Now!” Leon hollered and Rocco could hear the sheer panic in his voice. “I’m a dead man, do you hear me? I’m a dead man!”

“Calm down, Mr. Bates. We’ll send an Officer to your location immediately,” Rocco responded.

“And I want you to meet me at the station. I’m not talking to anyone else. Only you.”

“I’ll be there.” Rocco disconnected the call and instructed Peters to pick up Leon. “He’s scared to death,” Rocco said. “The question is why?”

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