The area was blocked off as a search for the masked man was underway. Three more police cars showed up. One of them, unmarked, carried the two lead detectives appointed to the case.
Detective Artie Cutter was a fifteen year veteran and decorated cop. He never had a cold case in his career. Detective A.J. Chance, six years on the force, passed the requirements to become a detective by earning a perfect score on his exams.
A.J. was the youngest in his unit to gain a detective’s badge. He became Cutter’s partner and didn’t disappoint in his performance solving cases. They dressed for the eye in business attire.
The Forensic team had arrived before them and were already upstairs in Gavin’s apartment. Police barriers blocked off a wide range keeping back any spectators. Yellow police tape blocked off the area in front of the apartment door. White numbered cards marked suspicious footprints and objects on the ground.
“You go find out what’s waiting for us upstairs; I’ll get the names of any witnesses from the first responders,” said Artie.
“You’re allowing me to get the scoop first?” asked A.J.
“We’re a couple. We’re supposed to share everything.”
“I think that meant rent, bills, food and bed.”
“Then I must have meant that I’m your boss and I told you so.”
“Wow I wish I could respond to that properly.”
“With a kiss?”
“No, a punch,” said A.J. walking way as an officer in uniform walked up. Artie gave him a quick glance and saw a smirk on A.J.’s face before turning away. He greeted the officer, who informed him of the situation and the names of the witnesses.
“Are you serious? Adam Potter lives there?” he asked the uniformed cop motioning to the building next door.
“Okay, thanks.” Cutter looked towards A.J., his partner on and off duty. They hadn’t made it official that they were dating, worried they might not be allowed to remain partners, so they promised that they stayed professional when working. Colleages asked A.J. out on dates frequently. He’d turn them down, but they were persistent and it was a source of friction in their relationship.”
A.J was twenty-five, with a regal body. His black, salon-cut hair had no split ends and danced just above his shirt collar line. He was of mixed race that reflexed his island roots. His hazel and gray eyes caught Artie's blue ones watching him. He flashed a smile as he finished taking notes and talking to the first responders.
A.J. walked over to Artie, who met him halfway.
“What’s with the look?” A.J. asked, tapping his leather notepad on his knuckles.
“Look--what look?” he shrugged, glancing at his tie that A.J. had fixed for him that morning. Before the start of their relationship, Artie was content with his way of life. Work, a few drinks with friends from the department, and home. When he met A.J., he opened new experiences for him. Theater, dancing, and science fiction and action films were some of the connections between them. Besides great sex. A.J. was his breath of fresh air.
“You have bad news to tell me?”
“No, it’s not bad news—at least not for you.” A.J. smiled. He knew when Artie was lying to protect him. He wanted to kiss him, to reassure him that all was well.
“You found out Adam Potter is involved with the case.”
“See bad news for me.”
“He’s my ex-boyfriend, not the plague.”
“Don’t remind me.” A.J. glanced at Adam’s new home and place of business and sighed. Deep down he wasn’t ready to see his old flame. He had hoped that Adam took residence in his hometown near his family or maybe with his older brother Damien overseas. He decided to give himself and Artie some time before interviewing Adam.
“Louie said there’s one stiff and we can go up and look the place over.”
“Fine, Potter can wait.”
“There’s another witness” A.J. said checking his notes. “A Patrick Valdez.”
“Valdez, is he related to Raoul Valdez?”
“His pride and joy.”
“Just great. Does his father know yet?”
“If he did young Valdez would already be lawyered up.”
“Let’s hope it stays that way.”
“I informed the men to keep it quiet on the radio until we’re done here.”
“Fine, they both can wait. Let’s go up and see the stiff.”
After the police had roped off the area, an officer took Adam and Patrick’s statements including a description of the intruder. He informed them that once the detectives arrived, they would need to talk to them as well.
“Would it be alright if I took Patrick up to my office? It’s right next door.”
“A uniformed officer would have to accompany you and you’re not to discuss what happened with each other.”
“That’s fine. I just want to get him someplace warm.”
Adam followed the officer to the police cruiser. Patrick, whose head was down, sat in the back seat with a blanket around him, provided by the special victims unit. An officer stood guard outside the car.
“Officer Henson, follow Mr. Potter and Mr. Valdez inside the adjoining building,” he pointed to Adam's building.
“Yes, sir.” He opened the back door, and Adam reached for Patrick, who was relieved to see Adam.
“Can I go home now?” asked Patrick, gripping the blanket tighter around him.
“Sorry, no. We still need to talk to the detectives when they arrive.” Adam found it odd that all Patrick wanted to do was leave, now that the police finally believed him.
“It won’t be much longer. Come with me. I’ll make you some coffee in my office and there’s a nice comfortable couch there you can crash on,” said Adam.
“Yeah, I work and live next door.”
“You live next door?” Patrick was unsure why this made him a bit uncomfortable.
"I just moved in yesterday."
"Oh yeah, I remember seeing the moving van."
"That was me."
"I would like some coffee."
“Okay, Officer Henson is coming with us and we can’t talk about what happened until we speak to the detectives.”
“I’m too tired to talk anymore.”
"You need some help walking?" Patrick nodded as he allowed Adam to walk beside him with his arm around his shoulders.
The coffee was good, and it did help with Patrick’s fatigue as Adam served him a second cup. Officer Henson accepted one himself as he stood by the door.
“There. Feeling better?” Adam asked, sitting beside Patrick, who lounged on the leather sofa with a blanket over his legs and feet. Adam tried to make him feel comfortable, telling him to take off his shoes and relax.
“Yes, thank you.”
“Good, I’ll make sure you get home safely once the detectives question us.”
“That’s alright; I can take a cab.”
“That nut is still out there. There’s no way I’m letting you go home alone. Unless—I mean—the police will probably send you home with an escort.”
Patrick realized that his response to Adam came out wrong.
“No, Adam, that’s not what I meant. I wanted…” but his explanation was cut short when he heard a knock on the door. Officer Henson opened it and greeted the two lead detectives Cutter and Chance. Adam rose to his feet as Patrick turned, sitting up in his seat. He wanted Adam to stay beside him, but lost his attention to the entering detectives. He sighed as he put his shoes back on.
“Mr. Potter, Mr. Valdez, we are…” Artie Cutter began, but Adam took the introduction away from him.
“Detective Artie Cutter and Detective A.J. Chance,” Adam said with a grin towards Cutter. But his expression smoothed when he looked at his ex-lover, A.J.
“Hello A.J.—Artie,” he said with a bite in his tone saying Cutter’s first name.
“Hello Adam, how are you?” asked A.J.
“Tired and sore.”
“Well, we’ll try not to keep you long.” He looked to Patrick. “Mr. Valdez?”
Patrick stood up leaving the blanket on the couch, but said nothing.
“How are you?” asked A.J., approaching him with concern in his eyes.
Patrick unconsciously stepped close to Adam, brushing his arm with his hand. Adam realized Patrick was reaching the end of his self-control as he watched the tears well in his eyes.
Adam grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around Patrick’s shoulders, holding him close.
“Don’t worry Patrick, I’ll stay with you while they talk to you,” said Adam.
“That can’t happen, Potter. You both need to be questioned separately. You know the routine,” said Cutter.
“Damn it, look at him, he witnessed his friend being killed, almost got raped, and that mad man is still on the loose. Does he need to repeat it today?”
“We still have questions, Potter. Mr. Valdez does want us to catch this guy?” asked Cutter.
“What about a victim's advocate?” Adam asked.
“They're downstairs. We can have someone sit with Mr. Valdez if he’d like.” said A.J.
“Fine,” Patrick said suddenly. “Let’s get this over with.”
“Wonderful, Officer Henson can get an advocate,” said A.J.
“No, detective it’s fine—I’m fine.”
“Patrick, you don’t have to do this alone,” said Adam.
“If I can’t have you with me, then I’ll just do it alone. I’ll be okay, Adam.”
“Now that’s settled, Detective Chance will interview Mr. Valdez, and I’ll interview you, Potter,” said Artie.
“Go easy on him A.J. You can use my office,” said Adam.
“He’ll be fine Adam. Tell Detective Cutter everything you know.”
Detective Chance opened the office door and allowed Patrick to enter first. The young male glanced back at Adam as he crossed the threshold. A.J. closed the door behind them.