Phillip Rossum stepped out of his sleek black Buick and ran his fingers through his thick, dark hair. He stretched his sore muscles and heard a few pop with reluctance. The crisp air stung as he sucked it in through his nose, but he welcomed the freshness in it. The earth beneath his feet felt solid and frozen and he pulled his jacket tighter to him. Agent Brogan approached to his left while speaking into a cell phone.
“Yeah, we figured as much. Alright, thanks.” He flipped the phone shut and tucked it into his pocket, “That was HQ, they want us back ASAP.”
Rossum squinted at the local police department in front of him, “Makes sense, we’ve finished up here anyway. I’m pretty sure they can take it from here. What’s the urgency?”
“They want you to interview some killer on death row; he’s suspected for a couple cases that are cold, but still open.”
He slipped his sunglasses back on, “good thing this one was close to home, it’ll be less than an hour back.”
Brogan nodded, “Why don’t I drive? It was a late night for you, this way you can get some shut eye before you have to rush out again.”
“I just might take you up on that.” They folded into either side of the car and Rossum’s eyes were shut as soon as he hit the headrest.
It seemed like no more than five minutes have passed before Brogan was nudging him awake, “Sorry for waking you up, sir, but I was wondering if you wanted to go back to the office, or to your house?”
“The office is fine, Alex, thanks.” He readjusted his seat so it was upright and shielded his eyes from the setting sun.
Rossum sternly walked into his office and shut the door behind him. The chair behind his desk was untucked and he flopped his body into it. His office was just as he had left it. Papers form cases he had been working on strewn all over, but there was something new. There was a single white envelope in the centre of his desk and he held it in his hand. There was no postage, no return address, just his name neatly written on the front. The handwriting was meticulous and familiar to Rossum. It was unsealed and he pulled the pages out and smoothed them over his desk.
Newspaper clippings of a series of murders were on the first few pages. Next page had a picture and a name, “Paul Dredon, 30 years for unlawful imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, assaulting a police officer, and resisting arrest. Lovely man.”
He turned the page over. There was a single highlighted passage: Kurtis Hector Dredon leaves his farm to his only living relative Paul Martin Dredon, located at 764 Oreander Drive.
Rossum spread the papers out on the desk and searched the crime in the national database. All of them in the area and none of them solved, “Are you trying to tell me…” He pulled his phone off the receiver, “Debbie, could you please patch me through to the mailroom?”
The line went dead for a moment, “Can I help you Agent Rossum?”
“Yes, did you deliver an envelope to my office today?”
“Yes, sir, I did. Is something wrong?”
“Well, there’s no postage, and I was wondering if you might know who sent it?”
“I don’t know how that could have happened; we only deliver the outside mail. All interoffice mail, or mail that’s directly dropped off goes to reception, then people have to show ID and sign it in. It must have been some sort of mistake. I don’t know what happened.”
Rossum pursed his lips, “I do.” He redialed Debbie, “Could you possibly pull the reception surveillance and email it to me right away?”
“Video? Is there a problem, Agent Rossum?” Debbie’s voice sounded shaky with worry.
“Everything is fine, Debbie, there was just a piece of mail left on my desk today and it’s very important that I see who left it.” Rossum already knew who the culprit was, but he needed to be sure before he proceeded.
Rossum was restless as he waited for the footage. He repeatedly clicked the refresh button on his browser until Debbie’s name was bolded at the top of the inbox. The footage was clear, and, although she was trying to duck the cameras and hide her face, there was one shot as she turned to leave that he paused on. It was unmistakably hers; he had basically seen that face mature.
The phone was in his hands within seconds, “Boss? It’s Rossum. We have to talk about Project Grace.”
Agent Mortimer’s voice was gruff, “Is there another one?”
“I’ll have to check it out, but I think so. Can you send Agent James to the interview with the killer? If this is what she thinks it is, I had better head out there sooner rather than later.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll ring James right now. Call me after you know what’s going on at the scene, only then will we talk about Project Grace, and don’t mention it to anyone before then.”
Rossum was already on his feet and grabbing his briefcase, “Yes, sir, I will call you as soon as I know anything.”
He dropped the receiver and hesitated before clicking off the video footage. Addison Grace’s large green eyes seemed to stare directly into him, “This time,” he thought, “This time we meet in person.”