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Chapter 15

It was almost a week before Doctor Aimes agreed that the both of them were alright to be released and Addison was pretty sure she had only done it because the both of them had turned their hospital room into a makeshift office with files and pictures hanging up.

“Leave the files,” Rossum told Addison as she started to pick them up, “I already asked a crew from the office to come and clean them up. They’ll take them back to the office. Let’s just worry about getting you home safe and sound.”

“You’re the one with the gunshot wound. I only have one measly little puncture.”

“You also lost almost half the blood in your body. Doctor Aimes said you need to take it easy for a while.”

“And on what planet do you see that happening?” She threw him a condescending glance and slipped on her ballet flats. As she was reaching for her purse the familiar ring of her phone resounded throughout the small hospital room. “Hello?”

“Miss Randall?” A gruff voice answered.

Addison tried to remember why and where she had last used that alias, but was coming up short so she decided to just go with it, “yes, speaking.”

“You put in a request to speak with an inmate of United States Penitentiary Lee… a Mr. Joel Harrington? Is this information correct?”

With everything that had happened she had almost forgotten about Mr. Harrington, “yes, of course! Thank you for getting back to me!”

“Yes, Miss. Randall. The inmate has agreed to the meeting. Would you be available tomorrow at 7:15am for a 30 minute viewing?”

“I think I can work that out. Thank you again, sir.”

“When you arrive you will be asked to produce government approved identification. A driver’s license or passport will do. It is recommenced that female visitors do not wear provocative or skimpy clothing. Please also stay away from wearing denim or the colour blue as that is what the inmates wear. All visitors are required to wear undergarments, but be advised that a bra with an underwire may set the metal detectors off. Additionally, clothing with –”

“ –Sir, I don’t mean to be rude, but this isn’t my first rodeo. I know the rules and I can assure I will adhere to them all. Thank you, and have a nice day.”

“Just doing my job ma’am. I’ll see you at 7:15 sharp.”

Addison hung up the phone without saying goodbye and finally remembered that she was not alone in the room. Rossum looked at her funny and cocked his head to the side, “who was that?”

“Just a call about a case I’m working on.”

“Was it about the Tri-Way killer?” Rossum sounded excited.

“No, sorry. This is actually a case that I’m working on by myself. I had completely forgotten about it before this phone call. It’s quite exciting don’t you think?”

“It maybe would be if I knew anything about it. Can I help? What was that phone call about?”

“It’s nothing you have to concern yourself with. I can assure you that I am in no danger. That phone call was confirming an appointment at a Federal Penitentiary. I think they’re pretty good about keeping visitors safe.”

“Alright, but if there is anything I can do, please let me. Also, try to keep in mind that you are still on the mend. You’re not one hundred percent yet, and, despite what you think, you are not superwoman.”

“Shows what you know.” She scoffed with a smirk playing on her lips, but Rossum just looked at her with his famous stoic expression, “I’m kidding. I’m not looking for a fight; I’m going to talk to an inmate. I’ll be there a grand total of half an hour, then I’m out of there. But, there is actually something you can do for me?”

His ears perked up at that, “what, anything?”

“I’m not going to be able to come into work tomorrow. I have to be in Virginia for 7 am and I’m not sure when I’ll make it home.”

“That I can do. When you get home, just go to bed and rest, don’t worry about anything.”

“Only if you do the same.”

At that moment Doctor Aimes walked into the room with her face stuck in a file, “Well, if it isn’t my two favourite patients.” She said sarcastically.

“Aw, we’ll miss you too Doc.”

“Now, I’m assuming that once you guys leave all your files leave with you, yes? We’re going to need this room again.”

Rossum smiled warmly at her, or as warm as Rossum could smile, “Sorry for being terrors for almost a week. You have been very patient with me and Addison and I think we are both very grateful for what you did for us. There should be three guys here in about 15 minutes to clear these out and bring them back to the office.”

“Alright, well, you guys are free to leave, but I am serious when I say you are both recovering from life threatening injuries. I know that this is falling on deaf ears, but don’t exert yourselves, I’m looking at you Miss Grace.” She threw a glance at Addison who innocently batted her eyelashes back at her.

“I already got the ‘take it easy’ speech from father dearest over here.” She pointed at Rossum with her thumb, “but I agree that I owe you a thanks, but I am very happy to be going home.”

Within the hour Rossum pulled up in front of Addison’s building. She looked up at it uncomfortably. Rossum noticed and placed a hand on her knee, “do you need me to come up there with you? Check things out a bit before you get settled? You don’t have to go home right now, you know, you can always stay with me for a while. I don’t mind, not at all.”

Addison smiled at him sadly, “Thanks for the offer, Ross, but I’ll be fine. I’ve been in scary situations before. I just need to deal with it.”

“Okay, call me if you need me.”

Addison hopped out of the car and pulled her bag over her shoulder; she waived at Rossum and walked toward the big glass doors as he drove away. Pausing for a moment to make sure Rossum was out of sight, she pulled the Mercedes keys out of her pocket and checked that she had a change of clothes in her bag. Then she took off towards the garage of her building instead of going in the front doors. She wasn’t sure that she was ready to deal with what was waiting for her up there so she decided to make her way to Virginia and stay in a hotel for the night. It may have been putting off the inevitable, but she wasn’t thinking about that, all she was thinking about was the act of avoidance, and she was about to put a state in-between her and that apartment.

It felt nice to be alone on the open road again. It had been a long time since she had been by herself. She had forgiven Rossum, and he wasn’t the problem. The issue was that she had started to depend on a team, she had slowly started to lose her independence and she was more than a little scared that she was getting rusty.

Night had fallen by the time Addison got anywhere close to Lee so she kept her eye open for a hotel to stay in. Just when she thought she was going to fall asleep behind the wheel she saw a small inn shining like a beacon in the distance. The steering wheel jerked to the right as Addison almost missed the exit.

Walking into the main building Addison was overwhelmed by the feeling of coziness and warmth; despite herself she smiled and rang the small silver bell that sat on the counter. A grandmotherly looking woman greeted her with a smile. “Hi there, sweetie! Are you looking for a room?”

“Yes, I am, just for the night, please.”

“Sure thing, darling.” She turned her attention to the computer in front of her and started tapping away at the keyboard, “I’m just going to need a credit card and some identification.”

Addison pulled out her wallet. She found her Katy Randall driver’s license and handed it over to the woman. Next, she found the matching credit card and tapped it on the counter as the older woman took a quick glance at Addison’s ID. She clicked her mouse a few more times, printed out a statement and grabbed a skeleton key from under the desk.

“Here we are. I put you in room nine. It’s actually just around the corner from this building and you can park right in front.” She gestured around the right side of the building and handed over the key. “Have a great night! I hope you enjoy your stay with us.”

Addison smiled again, “Thank you, I’m sure I will enjoy.”

Addison took a deep breath as she stepped out of her car and stared at the fences with barbed wire wrapped around the tops in ominous loops. Guards sat perched in their towers, but Addison paid them no mind as she walked down the path that led to the entrance of the building.

A stoic guard greeted her with a grunt and thoroughly examined her before holding it in his outstretched hand along with a visitor’s pass which she attached to her shirt. Next, she was off to the metal detectors, but she had been through this process enough times to know what not to wear so she whipped through them without incident then set down in a familiar place outside the Plexiglas wall and waited.

Usually when Addison saw an inmate walk into the visiting space a knot tightened in her stomach, but as Joel Harrington walked through the thick steel doors all Addison felt was sympathy. He was sporting a black eye on his innocent face and, looking into his eyes, she saw the look of fear. It wasn’t a recent fear though, not like he had been surprised by something frightening, but a more realized fear, a fear more long term and accepted.

Addison’s eyebrows knitted together as this kid sat down in the seat across from her. He couldn’t have been any older than her, in fact, she thought as she did the mental calculations in her head, he must have been a few years younger, but it was clear that both had seen too much hardship in their lives.

“Hi,” she managed. Addison was not accustomed to this situation. Usually when she ventured to a prison it was to get a confession from someone she knew was guilty, not to get a man to confess to being innocent.

“Hello,” he responded with a half-smile, but it wasn’t a real smile. It was more one of politeness than joy, one that brought back sad memories for Addison.

“Thank you so much for agreeing to see me.”

“Thank you for asking to see me. I don’t get many visitors and it’s kind of nice to talk to another human being.”

“Do you not get much interaction with the others here?”

He looked at his folded hands and unconsciously closed his swollen black eye, “not anyone I would consider human, no.”

“I see.” Addison bit her lip nervously, then released it quickly and hardened her stare, “why did you confess to a crime you didn’t commit?”

It looked like all the colour had drained out of his face, “How… How do you know about that? Who are you?”

“So it’s true? Why would you do that?”

He pursed his lips, “You couldn’t possibly understand.”

“I understand a hell of a lot.”

“No, you don’t get it,” He squinted his eyes at her and she saw tears gather making the green irises look huge, “I don’t even fully understand.”

She cocked her head and gave him her most sympathetic look, “Why don’t you try telling me? Maybe I can help figure it out with you. Let’s make some sense of this, okay?”

“It was like… it all happened so fast, you know? One minute I’m walking into my apartment like it’s any other day, next the cops are pounding on the door and leading me away in handcuffs.” The tears had started to freely fall down his cheeks, and, though his eyes were looking at Addison, she could tell that they weren’t really with her, “there was just so much blood. It was everywhere.”

“Okay,” she said slowly, “let’s take this one step at a time. Why was there blood in your apartment? And why were the police there, how did they know?”

“I don’t know, I honestly have no idea. Once they found me with the blood they weren’t saying anything. They immediately arrested me.”

“But then why did you confess? And I thought the police report say that the cops found you at the scene?”

“Because I was at the scene. The crime scene was my apartment building. As for the confession, that’s the part that I’m not a hundred percent sure about. I mean, I had just found my girlfriend dead and all these cops were screaming at me, telling me that I was guilty…”

“Rosie Parker was your girlfriend…” Addison said more in self-realization than to Joel, but he nodded sadly at her anyway, “That’s why you were covered in her blood. You found her there, you didn’t kill her.”

“No, I didn’t kill her. I loved her, but I sure as hell acted like I did. I was… in shock and now I have to live with that.”

“No Joel, you shouldn’t have to pay for that with your life! I’m not going to let you. But there are a few questions that need answers.” She opened the file she had on Joel Harrington, “it says here that a drop of blood from the previous victim was found on your boot, how did it get there?”

“I already told the cops this story, they didn’t believe me.”

“I’m not the cops, and I’m a pretty good judge of character. I’m here, and I’ve believed you so far, right?”

His nod was almost unnoticeable, but Addison caught it, “I’m sure everybody knows by now that Rosie was a prostitute. That’s really not the way that I wanted her to be remembered, just the last in a series of prostitutes that were murdered… that’s why I was trying to get her to give it up. I had enrolled in college and I was trying to convince her to do it too. I had her, she had filled out the enrollment papers and I had the money ready, then, all of a sudden, my hours at work got cut back, way back and Rosie freaked out.”

“Why did she freak out?”

“Her pimp… Rosie was apparently good business for him. She had that innocent look to her and she had kicked her drug habit a long time ago, she just couldn’t get back on her feet… that’s why I was trying to help her. He had beaten her, a couple times before, but I had gone to him and told him to back off and he did for a while. When my hours got cut Rosie took that as a signal from him, and she was right. While I was out trying to find another job he found her and beat her so bad,” his eyes trembled shut and he shook his head slightly, “it was bad, the worst he’s ever done, but it worked, Rosie went right back to work for him. I knew when I came home and saw she wasn’t there, I knew right away that she had gone back and I stormed over there in a rage. When I got there he was beating up on some poor girl, she looked a lot like Rosie and I actually thought it was her. I pushed him off her and the girl landed at my feet, she was bleeding profusely out of her mouth, her name was Tracy Lines.”

“The fifth murder victim.”

“I didn’t even know her blood was on my boot until the cops started yelling it at me in the interrogation room. When I told them the story all they said was that it was a hell of a coincidence and there was no way they were buying it.”

“Not really if you think about it. They were both prostitutes and most new serial killers like to work within a safe distance. I bet when I look into the others they will have been within a five mile radius of where Tracy and Rosie worked.”

“I bet you’re right.”

Addison closed the file and took a deep sigh, “Look, Joel, I believe you and I would like to do everything I can to help you because I don’t want to see a young kid like you die for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and trying to protect his girlfriend, but I’m not going to be able to do this if you don’t help me. You can sit there and be passive while I do all the work. You’re going to have to try and make yourself look a bit more innocent, and you need to tell me everything that happened during the interrogation. I need something to work with if we are going to make that confession go away.”

“What are you, a lawyer or something?”

“No, I’m just a concerned citizen, but I know a hell of a good one.” She looked at him again, tried to look right into him, “I just need to know why? Why did you never try to get out, tell anyone that your innocent?”

“Guilt is a hell of an emotion. I felt… I feel guilty about not being able to save her. I think in a way I felt like I deserved to be here because I didn’t protect her and that’s as good as killing her.”

“It’ not Joel, that’s not the same thing. I need to know that you’re not going to fight against me if I do this? I don’t want to waste my time on a lost cause.”

“I think maybe I just needed someone to believe in me like you do. I won’t fight it and I will try as hard as I can to help you, but can I ask you one thing?” Addison nodded, “will you try to find the person who really murdered her and those other girls?”

She bit her lip as she smiled to herself, “that is exactly what I’m going to try and do, Joel. But, it might take a while and I’m not willing to let you rot here while I do it, I do have other cases, so I’m going to hook you up with the lawyer I know.”

“I don’t think I can afford any halfway decent lawyer.”

“Don’t worry about it, he owes me a favour.”

Joel licked his lips, “that’s an awfully big favour for you to spend on someone you don’t even know. Why are you doing this?”

“Let’s just say that I’m trying to make up for some of the evil in this world by doing the right thing. Getting you out of here is the right thing.”

“You’re an angel,” Joel said as the loudspeaker announced that their 30 minutes were up.

Addison stood up and pulled the visitors pass off her lapel, “An angel I am not, but I’m going to get you out of here Joel Harrington.”

“I don’t even know your name!” He called to her as she walked down the hall and an officer came to escort him back to his cell.

“You don’t need it,” she told him without turning back. As soon as she got her cell phone back and was headed back to her car she checked her voicemails, six missed calls from Rossum, “shit.”

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