Adam watched as Patrick sat in his jeep, with his head in his hands. Gavin’s body, his clothes, even Patrick’s cell phone were not located.
Adam left Patrick as he walked over to speak with the police officers.
“Do you know how much trouble he’s in?” asked Officer Saxon.
“Clearly, someone chased him—I saw him, and he had a knife. If this is a prank it’s at his expense. You can see he’s in shock by not seeing his friend where he left him. He’s the victim.”
“Fucking college kids,” said Officer Powell.
“Come on, give him a break. I’ll take him home.”
“Not until I get his full name. You wait here, Potter.” Adam wanted to protest but knew it wasn’t his call. Officer Powell walked over to Patrick, who sat up with a blank stare on his face.
“I might let you go if you give me your full name.” Patrick glanced over at Adam to make sure he was out of earshot. As if he removed a mask, he stared back at the officer in a righteous, arrogant way his father taught him.
“Patrick Valdez, son of Drusilla and Raoul Cyprus Valdez.”
“You’re a Valdez?”
“Should I contact my parents, Officer Powell?”
“No, that won’t be necessary,” Officer Powell said. “Um, you’re free to go,” he said as he returned to Adam with a look of defeat. “Fine, take him.”
Adam noticed the officer’s changed behavior but didn’t want to hang around any longer. He returned to his jeep and Patrick already shut his passenger door. Officer Powell shared Patrick’s last name with Officer Saxon, upon hearing it, raised an eyebrow.
“He’s Valdez’s kid?” asked Officer Saxon.
“Yeah and I don’t want to be on the receiving end when his daddy finds out.”
“No worries about that. His own kid tried to hide his name from us. I doubt he’ll say a word to his old man.”
They rode in silence as Patrick leaned his head against his window, staring off into space. Tears stained his cheeks as he tried to conceal his pain.
“You want to talk?” Adam asked.
“There’s a diner not far from here…”
“Can you take me someplace?” he asked, interrupting Adam.
“Um, sure,” Adam said, glancing at him then back at the road. “Where would you like to go?”
“To Gavin’s place. It’s not far.”
Red flags raised in Adam’s mind when he heard Patrick’s request. He wasn’t sure Patrick was thinking with a clear head.
“Listen, you had a bad night and need to rest and calm down before you confront him.”
“Who?” Patrick asked. Adam thought he looked downright adorable when he scrunched his eyebrows together.
“Why would I see him there? He’s dead.”
Adam flashed a confused stare at Patrick.
“Patrick, remember—there was no trace of Gavin at the grave site. There’s a good chance he’s playing a trick on you.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time.”
“This happened before?”
“I need not explain. I need to go to his apartment.”
“Okay. I’ll humor you. Why to his apartment?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“If you want me to drive you, it is my business.”
“Then stop the jeep.”
“Stop the jeep,” Patrick said in a firmer voice.
“No. You’ve fallen out of a tree and traumatized by some nut job.”
“So? I’m fine. Stop the jeep.”
“It’s the middle of the night. Cabs don’t ride around here and public transportation is down for the night.”
“I can walk.”
“Patrick…” Adam wouldn’t abandon him on the sidewalk. “Okay, you win. Where does Gavin live?”
Patrick told Adam, Gavin’s home address, He returned to staring out the window. Adam recognized the location—because it was right next door to his place.
The Jeep pulled up to the three-story building identical to Adam’s. Patrick didn’t wait. He jumped out and ran to the side door leading to the apartment on the second floor as Adam parallel parked the jeep. Aware Gavin had an extra key made and had hidden it behind a false panel on the door frame that he released by double pressing the corner. Patrick grabbed the key and shut the hidden door as he heard Adam close his jeep’s door. In haste, he unlocked the deadbolt, and handle, thrusting the door open. Adam came up behind him and he turned to the detective, using his body to block him from entering.
“Thank you, Mr. Potter. I’ll be fine from here,” Patrick said in a stern, but drained voice, causing Adam to tilt his head with concern.
“Are you sure you want to do this now? You should sleep on it someplace else?”
“Do you have a proposal, detective.” Adam couldn’t help but feel turned on by his statement.
“Family or a friend, you freaked out a moment ago…”
“True. But you and the police stated it was a prank.”
“I stated nothing, Patrick. You were sure someone murdered Gavin. And that same guy chased you into a tree causing you to fall out of it.”
“You believe me?” Patrick’s eyes lit up upon hearing Adam’s trust in him and wanted to hug him, but a pang of guilt prevented him.
“Let’s say I’m not completely convinced that this is a hoax? For all you know, Gavin is the ring leader. But who I’m worried about is the one with the harlequin mask. Do you have any clue who it was?”
“Perhaps a friend of Gavin’s?”
“I don’t know.”
“The more reason you shouldn’t be here. If it was a joke, it was a sick one.”
“I can handle Gavin—if he turns up.”
“Mr. Potter, Gavin and I are childhood friends. He wouldn’t hurt me.” A knot wedged in his throat from his lie. He wanted to confess to Adam, but he had to face what was upstairs; he needed to be his own man. “Now I’m tired. I’m going to shower and go to sleep.”
“You’re sleeping here?”
“If Gavin is up there, then he and I need to work this out—alone,” he said.
“All right, if that’s what you want. Just take my card and call me if you need me to come back.”
“I will, thank you. Also…” his tone softened as he touched Adam’s forearm, “… thank you for coming to my rescue. You were a perfect gentleman, and I mean that with the highest regard.” He leaned forward, holding Adam’s arm to steady himself, and kissed him on the cheek close to his lips. “Goodnight, detective.” He stepped inside and closed the door. He placed Adam’s card in his back pocket.
Adam stood in awe, gazing at the door, wishing Patrick would open it and kiss him again. He sighed, turned, walking the short distance to his building. Unlocking the front door, he entered and took the stairs instead of the elevator enjoying the brisk jog up. A quick cut through his office he entered his apartment. Still feeling Patrick’s lips where they pressed against his face. A tingling sensation ran through his body, gathering at his privates. if he’s to get any sleep he needed to address it. He recalled Patrick saying he needed a shower and decided it to be the best location to release his yearnings. He stripped bare, leaving his clothes where they landed and headed for the bathroom.