See Chapter One for disclaimers.Website: www.KatLynFic.com
Loraine Osborne knocked on the heavy oak doors and waited until she heard the baritone voice grant her entrance. Walking across the plush carpeting, she took a seat in front of the desk and placed her briefcase beside her. "Good morning, Chief."
Len Youngblood wasn't what one would call handsome. His graying hair and creased, broad forehead were tell-tale signs of the stressful years serving as the Pittsburgh Chief of Police. His eyes could be cold and piercing when dealing with the men and women that served under him, yet she knew from experience that those same eyes could be gentle and kind when the situation warranted.
After working alongside Len Youngblood for 15 years, she had learned to read the small, almost hidden, signs that indicated his mood. Today she saw fatigue, weariness not from long hours of working a case, but long years of leading the battle against crime and losing. Shifting in her chair, she cocked her head sideways, indicating the ever-present tape recorder on the sidebar. "I think you may want to make sure that thing is off for what I'm about to tell you."
Templing his hands in front of his face, the Chief regarded his Commander for a long moment before speaking. "Before I do that, can I assume this is about the The Strip District case?"
"Yes, and I just had a long conversation with one of our esteemed politicians who is in way over his head with Langston." She waited while the Chief turned in his chair and removed the cassette from the tape recorder and tossed it on the sidebar beside the machine. Taking a deep breath, she began telling the long story of how Herbert Whittaker became ensnared in C.W. Langston's web of corruption and deceit.
Youngblood listened without interrupting for almost twenty minutes as Osborne confirmed what he had suspected for several years. When she finally fell silent, he stood and looked out the window at the skyline of Pittsburgh, wondering how much longer he could remain at the helm. "How long have we worked together Loraine?"
Startled by his question, she looked at the back of his head, knowing the reason he had turned away was so she wouldn't see the disappointment in his face. "A little over 15 years Len. Why?"
In all that time, how many people do you think we have put in prison that had connections with Langston?" His back was still turned towards the skyline, but he knew exactly how his Commander was reacting to his questions...in her regular stoic manner.
"I couldn't say Len, probably well into the hundreds." Still unable to figure out where his line of questioning was leading, she watched and waited.
Finally turning from the window, he moved back towards the chair and sat heavily. "Because in all that time I've dreamed of putting that bastard away, once and for all. This time he has gone too far, Loraine. I don't care what we have to do; he's going down this time."
A small smile creased her face as she silently applauded her decision to come to Len. "We have a good opportunity before us right now to gain access to his records. In fact he was served a search warrant last Sunday morning."
Youngblood's eyes were closed and his head rested heavily on the high leather back of the chair, contemplating his options. The Commander sat quietly, understanding the thought process of the Chief of Police, knowing that he was laying out a master plan to bring Langston to his knees.
Finally, after several minutes had passed, the silence was broken. "The warrant that was issued for Langston Development, what did it include?"
Sitting forward in her seat, Osborne readied for the fight she knew would either send Len Youngblood into retirement as a hero or a failure, and she was determined to do whatever necessary to see that he went out a winner.
It had taken Jen less than an hour to take the photographs of the crowd and drive back to the office. After handing the film off to Robert, the darkroom manager, she walked back down the hall to the newsroom. She stepped through the wide double doors that led into the bowels of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette; it was here in this noisy room with it's high ceiling and peeling paint that she felt most comfortable. The smell of still damp ink from freshly printed newspapers hung in the air and to Jen, it smelled like home in Lexington. Just as some kids grew up smelling mom's apple pie, Jen had grown up smelling newspaper ink. Before she was old enough to charm her father into taking her to the newsroom with him, she could remember the scent of ink that remained on his clothes each night when he would come in to tuck her in and kiss her goodnight.
Her father, Carlton Phillips and Jack (Jacko) Silverstien, her uncle, were co-owners of the local Lexington newspaper, The Lexington Herald-Leader, having inherited the thriving business after Herman Phillips death in 1995. Jen's grandfather, Herman, had come to the States in late1928 at the age of 19 and worked as an apprentice for a newspaper in New York. Several years later, he moved his wife and young son to Kentucky and founded the city's first newspaper.
Jen loved hearing her father tell stories of his younger days as a struggling reporter, enough that she too wanted to make it on her own merits and not on the coattails of her family name. As she sat down at her desk, she thought about The Strip Case, it was just the story that could send her into the ranks with the best. She also knew the story came second to her loyalty to Logan...nothing could make her jeopardize their friendship, not even a career rocketing story such as this one.
Picking up the phone, she dialed the information desk at Mercy and was quickly put through to the third floor ICU nurses station. After speaking with Logan's guard and finding that Thornton had cleared her to visit, she grabbed her coat and headed back out the wide double doors to see her friend. She would get her story, but she would do it her way, in her own time...for Logan...for all of the victims of this deranged killer.
Madison stood silently watching the rain as it gently fell beyond the window of Logan's room. As small droplets slid down the pane, the sky slowly darkened as another day came to an end. She gazed at similar rooms along the adjacent L of the hospital, the lights within signifying the presence of others, ill or injured. A feeling of helplessness shrouded the doctor and for the first time in her career, she truly understood the anguish one felt at having a loved one confined within the sterile, uncertain walls of a hospital. She hadn't experienced those feelings and emotions with her father, his death had come quickly with no need for heroic intervention or a hospital stay.
As she watched the droplets of rain slide down the window it struck her how odd those droplets resembled life. Each appeared as a single dot on the pane. As each continued its journey downward, some merged with others to be swallowed up into large rivulets, their individualistic identity disappearing as single droplets became one large mass. Others somehow managed to survive the magnetic pull as they traveled down the glass, avoiding the call of the easy course and retaining their individual qualities as they furrowed out their own pathways. The doctor knew that somewhere on the pane of life, Logan was one of the single droplets fighting for survival, trying to avoid the gravitational pull that was, at this moment, trying to suck her into the massive void.
As she turned to watch the slow, rhythmic rise and fall of her lover's chest an overwhelming anger took hold of her. I will not let you be swallowed up into this madman's chasm. He will pay for what he has done to you. Walking to the small bedside table, she opened the drawer and removed the phone directory. Flipping through the pages, she found the number she was looking for and picked up the phone, hesitantly dialing the one number she never thought she would have a reason to call.
After waiting for the switchboard to connect her, a brusk voice answered on the other end. "Major Crimes, Phillips speaking."
Struck by the abrupt salutation, Madison resisted the urge to hang up, but instead took a deep breath and spoke into the handset. "Yes, This is Dr. Madison Cavanaugh and I'm trying to contact Commander Loraine Osborne."
The gruff voice answered back. "The Commander is out of the office for the rest of the day. Try calling back tomorrow."
Raking a small hand through her blonde hair, Madison silently cursed, "Can you give her a message then? Ask her to call me at her earliest convenience at 555-1836."
A quick 'will do' and then a click was all she heard as the officer hung up, breaking the connection. Replacing the receiver, Madi turned back towards Logan, placing a tender kiss on her forehead. "I'll be back soon baby. I'm going home to shower and grab a bite to eat."
Madison suddenly stopped just outside the room as a powerful urge to go back swarmed her, afraid that if she left, Logan would not be there when she returned. Realizing the guard beside the door was staring at her, she gave him a quick smile. "Sorry, I'm a little tired."
As he nodded, Madison turned and began walking through the ICU towards the double doors passing other patients and their families on the way. She waited at the elevator and stepped aside as the doors parted, allowing the occupants to exit. As she stepped into the car and turned to punch the button to the garage, her eyes trailed to the retreating backs of the previous occupants. A tall, dark haired woman turned and momentarily looked back towards the elevator, her eyes locking with Madison's for only a second, before once again turning and pressing the square pad beside the ICU doors.
An apprehensive feeling washed over the doctor as the stranger passed through the double doors. The woman looked vaguely familiar but she couldn't place the face. Shaking off her uneasiness, she rode the elevator down to the first floor, fully aware that for the first time in her life she felt out of control, afraid and uncertain.
Through the fog of sleep, Dove faintly heard the insistent ringing of the doorbell as a pleading whine came from the excited lab bouncing on the bed beside him. Rising slowly, he pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt and padded barefoot out of the bedroom, as Femur enthusiastically ran to the door and back to dance around his legs. "Okay, kiddo I'm coming."
Yawning and raking a hand through his tussled hair, he pulled open the door and immediately had to grab for the jamb to keep from falling as Femur shoved him aside to get to his mistress. He couldn't help but smile when he saw the excitement on the faces of both the doctor and Femur at being reunited.
Madison, kneeling in the threshold hugging and kissing her furry friend, practically shrieked with excitement. "Oh baby, I've missed you so much. Come here and give mama a kiss."
"Hey, hey, hey you're going to kill my reputation as a hard ass with the neighbors if you keep carrying on like that. Get in here before they think you're talking to me."
The Doctor lifted her head to see Dove's grinning face, stood and walked into the neat apartment as Femur continued to prance around their feet. "Well Detective, I certainly wouldn't want to be the cause of your reputation being harmed." She allowed Dove to take her coat and as he hung it in the closet, she took a moment to take in her surroundings.
The living room was immaculately kept. The furniture looked relatively new and Madison wondered if he had recently moved into the apartment. On the far wall a large entertainment center held a wide screen television and a state of the art stereo system. In almost every available nook stood small photographs of a young girl with a woman and she wondered if the photos were of Dove's wife and child. She walked towards one of the framed photos and lifted it off the shelf. "Is this your wife and child?"
Closing the closet, Dove turned back towards the doctor and she glimpsed the sad smile that crossed his face. "Yes, well my ex-wife and child to be correct." Padding over to Madison, he took the frame and touched the image of his child's face. "She's a beauty isn't she? She was lucky and got her mother's eyes."
Madison noticed the melancholic look in his eyes and it tore at her heart to think about having a child and not being able to share in the joy of her growth. "You miss her a lot."
It wasn't a question and Dove simply nodded while replacing the frame on the shelf. "Libby, my ex-wife, and Rachel live in Philly with her new husband. He's a doctor too you may even know him, Peter Wainright. He used to have a practice here in Pittsburgh. I think he is a surgeon."
Madison recognized the name, one that was closely associated with the terms player and dangerous yet she didn't let on to Dove of the Doctor's long-term reputation for being a playboy. "Yes, I remember him. I didn't have an occasion to work with him, but I hear he is an excellent doctor." In an attempt to move away from the subject, Madison moved towards the couch and sat down. Femur nudged her hand and she scratched his head while looking back at the detective. "Thank you so much for keeping him for me. I really don't know what I would have done with him the last couple of days."
Dove dropped into the adjacent recliner and ran a hand over his two-day-old beard. "You're not planning to go back to your house in Bridgeville are you? I really don't think that would be a wise decision with this madman still out there."
"No, I'm not exactly sure what my plans are. I spent the night at the hospital, but I guess I do need to make some plans. I really don't want to go back to Bridgeville, not with what has happened in the last few days."
Dove noticed the pallor in Madison's face. Knowing the last few days had been horrendous for her, he wanted to do something to ease her mind. Remembering the helpless feeling that overcame him as he waited for the doctors to inform him of Logan's condition at the hospital, now spurred a need to do something...anything to help Logan. "Look Madison, I know you don't know me very well, but Logan is my best friend...we not only cover each others backs at work, we care deeply for each other."
He noticed the faint rise in the Doctor's brow as he spoke and felt a warm heat cross his face when he realized that she misunderstood his last statement. "Well, let me rephrase that. I care about her as I do my sister and well anyway, what I'm trying to say is, I have an extra bedroom here and you are welcome to use it for as long as you like."
Madison felt her shoulders relax and suddenly felt embarrassed by her jealousy. I don't have any reason to feel jealous. It's not like we are an it.m." I really don't want to impose on you Dove. You've done so much just by taking care of Femur."
Dove lifted a hand to interrupt, "Really it's no imposition. Actually, I would prefer it. One good thing about having nosy neighbors is that, on occasion, it works to my advantage. There is a state of the art alarm system here and Mrs Anderson, next door will catch anything that happens to slip by the sensors." His lips pressed together tightly as he observed his guest for a moment. "You'll be safe here Madison. Please...I want to do this for you and Logan."
Madison smiled as she nodded and thanked Dove for his kindness. "I can see why Logan thinks so highly of you Detective. She's really lucky to have you in her life."
She saw what looked like tears fill his eyes as Dove quickly rose and walked across the room. "No Madison, I'm the lucky one." He returned with a small keyring and a slip of paper and held them out to the doctor. "These will get you in the door and here's the alarm code. I'm in and out at all hours, so just come on in and make yourself at home." Dropping his tall frame into the chair, he laughed. "Mrs Anderson and Femur have bonded. She has been taking him for walks two or three times a day. I'll let her know you'll be staying here for a while so just let her know if you need her to watch him. Just don't yell at me when he's spoiled rotten."
The blonde rolled her eyes at Dove's last remark. "Sorry Dove but he's already spoiled rotten. I really don't think he can get any worse." She grinned as a bright grin crossed her new friend's face, realizing that this was the first time since meeting him that he had really laughed. Maybe this will be good for both of us...to have someone to talk to, be afraid with.
Scratching Femur's head, Dove spoke lovingly to the animal. "Say Femur, what say we go out to your house and let your mom pack up a few things?" His eyes lifted to Madison's as a sad expression shrouded his face. "I'm sorry, but there was nothing left to salvage from the house. I really hate to tell Logan, she loved that place."
Continue to Chapter Twenty-Three of Code Blue
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