Quang Ngo shrugged his shoulders. Rivulets of rainwater slid down his neck as he adjusted the collar on his raincoat. "Fuck." He shivered as the wind picked up causing his pant legs to ruffle in its wake. Quang looked across the street at the building he had been watching for the last three hours. "Of all the gods be damned days to rain…" he mumbled as his hand swiped away the moisture form his face.
It was one of those mornings. Nothing went right. Child protective services showed up at seven am. They marched through the house like the Gestapo, questioning children and adults alike. It didn't help that McKee was in pissy mood from the word ‘go'. How the hell did she get the damn black eye to begin with? Quang thought as he replayed the CPS' investigators questions to his employer. He wondered why the woman was so defensive about everything. The CPS people left all pissed off, promising to return.
"…Soon, and we hope for better cooperation next time." The unyielding woman had said as she stepped off the porch. Quang and Anthony had flipped the proverbial bird at the same time to the woman's retreating back as she marched to her car at the curb. They turned to re-enter the house chuckling to themselves when three police cruisers pulled up to the curb.
Quang had trained himself not to panic in such situations after being with McKee for the last four years. It wasn't that uncommon of a thing for the woman to be hauled away to be questioned by the local authorities. She didn't exactly play by the rules. Quin had been cuffed and thrown into the back of a police cruiser, not without putting up a noble fight, and not until she had told Quang what he would be doing on this not so lovely Southern Californian day. It took some doing to calm down the kids and the nanny. Not to mention Justin Downs, who Quang found hiding in a cabinet in the kitchen, it took two valium and his girlfriend literally tying him down to get the young man to even listen enough to convince he was safe.
The Asian man shook his head sending a spray of water off his spiky hair. He checked his watch and growled. "Where the hell is McKee!"
Quin had been pulled from a crowded holding cell just twenty minutes earlier and placed in a dingy yellow room. She rolled her shoulders to relieve the ache from having been handcuffed for the last four hours. It was the same game she always played with the local cops. They didn't like her, and she didn't much care for them. Well except for maybe two. And one of those two scared her to death in the most pleasant of ways. Quin looked up to catch herself ginning at that thought in the mirror opposite her. The grin faded as she looked at herself. Her face was bruised from last night, and a new split lip from the morning encounter with the boys in blue was prevalent. "I look like shit." She said to herself wincing a bit as she spoke and the swollen skin on her lip pulled painfully.
The door creaked open and a large pear shaped man shuffled through followed by a severe looking woman. The woman remained standing while the man sat on a wood chair that strained under the sudden burden it was expected to hold.
"McKee." The voice was pitched high with just a bit of a wheeze. It didn't sound like it should come from the man opposite her.
Quin looked disinterested as she once again moved her shoulders to ease the discomfort. A photo was slid in front of her.
"Do you know this man?"
She fought back the urge to mimic the man as she leaned forward to look at the fuzzy Polaroid. "Yup."
A long manicured finger tapped the photo. "Did he look like this when you last saw him?" The woman detective asked.
Quin narrowed her eyes at the photo. "Pretty much" she nodded to herself, and then let her eyes travel up the arm extended in front of her to gaze thoughtfully at the woman it belonged to, "except for the gaping hole in his head." She added with a sweet smile and a penetrating gaze that produced a pronounced blush on the other woman.
The man cleared his throat breaking the spell Quin had woven. "I'll take it from here Maggie."
Quin let the neutral mask fall once again as the flustered woman retreated from the side of the table to lean against the door. "You never were much fun Franklin." She said drolly, looking past the man and once again into the mirror behind him.
"And you're still an asshole."
"Well my Pop always said, ‘find one thing you're good at and stick to it.'" A soft rap sounded on the mirror from the other side causing Quin's reflection to shake.
"You know we're running ballistics on your gun."
"You might as well confess…"
McKee started to chuckle, "You're really not thinking that I'm going to confess to shooting this guy do you?"
"When the ballistic report comes back…."
"You'll have squat!" Quin snarled.
Franklin leaned forward making the wooden chair creak under him, "Oh yeah smart ass? You were reported as being the last to be seen with him, the slug taken from his body was a .45. You're notorious for carrying a .45. You admit you know him…" This time a knock came to the door of the small room. The woman detective stepped aside to open it.
"Turn her lose." A familiar voice said firmly.
A grin pulled painfully at Quin's lips as a piece of paper floated down on top of the table in front of Franklin.
"Ballistics doesn't match." Vivian said as she fully entered the small room.
Franklin picked up the single sheet of paper. After a glance at the information clearing McKee's gun, he crumpled the paper in a ball and stood, sending his chair into the wall behind him. His face redden with frustration and anger as he pushed the table in front of him forward into Quin, causing the PI's chair to topple backward. The other two women in the room halted his forward progress.
"Get out of here Franklin." Maggie instructed.
Franklin noted the woman's hand at the ready on her service revolver that was at the moment still holstered. He looked from Vivian who stared him straight in the eye, back to his partner who had to look up a bit, but their hard gazes sent the same message. "Too many fucking dykes," he spat as he looked down on the brunette lying on the floor in obvious discomfort, "This is not over McKee." He pushed past the two women detectives and exited the room.
Vivian turned with a sigh and stooped down to help Maggie set Quin upright, "Having a bad day gorgeous?"
"Ugh. Hasn't been the greatest so far." Quin felt the cuffs come off her wrists and slowly moved her arms in front of her. She rubbed each wrist and flexed her fingers to get the blood moving again into her cold digits.
Quin looked up at the stern looking woman, her mousy brown hair was tied back in a tight bun, and her wire rim glasses gave her a librarian appearance. "S'okay Mags can't pick your partner." She then looked to Vivian who was setting the table and Franklin's discarded chair back in place. "Thanks for coming to my rescue."
Vivian smiled as she picked up the photo and handed it to Maggie, "Just doing my job."
The brunette shrugged her shoulders and cringed at the pain the motion caused. The interrogation room door swung open again. This time a tall, solidly built, striking black man stood shaking his head at the women, "I heard Quinlan McKee was in the station, and I said to myself, ‘naaaa, can't be, that mean ass piece of shit ran off to Chicago.' Then I saw Richard Franklin toss his desk out a third story window, and I knew it was true."
Quin stood and approached the man, "His whole desk?"
Teddy Adams smiled and nodded, "The whole damn thing landed on Lieutenant Marquez's Volvo."
Quin roared with laughter causing her lip so split and bleed, "Damn." She wiped at it with the back of her hand causing herself more pain, "Christ."
"You're a walking disaster McKee," Teddy put his arm around the much smaller woman and ushered her from the room. He looked back over his shoulder at the remaining two women, "Detectives Walsh and Donner, my office, now!" He hugged Quin to him and softened his voice, "I was real sorry about Grace. I wish…"
"How are Cheryl and the girls?" Quin changed the subject.
The police Captain was silent for a moment then sighed, "Okay, off limit topic." He nodded his acceptance, "The wife and kids are fine, and Cher was just talking about you a few weeks ago."
"I always did think she was psychic. I got back a few weeks ago." Quin was guided into a stark functional office that had changed little in her three year absence. A thick dark finger pointed at a chair in a silent order to sit. As she sat in the simple vinyl chair, Vivian and Maggie entered the office.
Vivian had been quietly watching the exchange between the most feared man in the station and the PI. It was obviously a comfortable relationship and she found herself a bit jealous not to have the same connection with either of the people walking in front of her. She looked to her left at Maggie Donner who raised a bushy eyebrow at her. She could only shrug and continue on down the hall to her ordered destination. Once inside the room she stood semi rigidly in front of the much too small steel case desk. She could see McKee fidgeting in her chair out of the corner of her eye.
"I want you two to partner up." The captain said as he sat behind his desk. He picked up an unsharpened pencil and waggled it between his fingers, as was his inclination. "I gave Franklin some time off. He won't be back until he gets a psych eval, and Ross will be out for three weeks." The pencil stilled for a moment, "How's Ruth and the baby?"
Vivian blinked realizing that was a question for her, "Great… umm she comes home from the hospital later today."
The pencil started up again, "Good good, where are we on the Peer case?"
This time Vivian shifted her feet and grimaced slightly, "We've got a lead, but aren't sure if it's going to pan out." She couldn't help the sideways glance at McKee, who raised an eyebrow at her accompanied by a quick shake of her head.
Teddy sat for moment, completely still except for the waggling pencil, his eyes shifted from the tall blonde detective then back to the PI.
Quin was ready for the explosion and almost laughed at Maggie and Vivian who jumped and practically cowered away from the booming voice that came from the Captain.
"GOD. DAMN. IT." Each word was its own staccato sentence. "DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME WE HAVE NOTHING?!" The pencil stopped it's up and down motion to be pointed directly at Quin, "And what the hell is a civilian doing working this case? I do not recall authorizing any sorry ass, beat up, piece of shit PI…"
"HEY!" Quin protested.
"SHUT UP MCKEE." The Captain shouted causing the PI to sink into her chair. "Now…" he took a deep breath, "I want something on this case by Monday. Does everyone understand me?"
Vivian and Maggie each gave a hardy, crisp, ‘yes sir'.
The Captain inclined his head toward Quin, "I don't think I heard you McKee."
The brunette swallowed, "Yes sir?"
"Fine." The man settled back into his chair, "Walsh and Donner get out of here. McKee stay."
Vivian turned and followed Maggie from the room. She silently mouthed "sorry" at Quin and received a smile and a silent "s'alright" in return.
"Are you two involved?"
Quin's head jerked back to the Captain, "That's none of your business Teddy."
"Perhaps not." The reply was spoken softly. "She's a good detective Quin, and a fine human being, which is more than I can say for eighty percent of the people in this building."
The PI shifted in her chair as she crossed her legs and leaned back, "Where do I fall?"
Teddy snorted and a grin graced his handsome features, "Right up there with the best of them Quin. I just don't want to see either of you get hurt. You didn't exactly handle losing…"
Quin turned her head and gazed at the blank wall next to her, "I'll admit that I went a little over the edge, but I'm okay now. I've been certified sane and fit by three professionals in the employ of the State of Illinois." She gave a sarcastic huff as several tears flowed over her eyelids and down her face. Everywhere she went they wanted to talk about the one thing she was desperately trying to keep stuffed away in her mind. The pain the few rushing memories caused was nearly unbearable. Quin closed her eyes and concentrated on putting them back in their place as Teddy continued to speak.
"We all loved Grace, but we all love you too Quin. We are here for you."
Quin nodded briskly and stood wiping at the tears on her cheeks with the sleeve of her shirt, "I need to go Teddy… Umm I'll give you a call okay?" She forced a smile and a small wave to the man behind the desk and exited the room. She left the building without even glancing at another person on her way out, and nearly sprinted to the corner. She looked frantically in the four possible directions she could take. Her legs carried her across the street, narrowly dodging cars as they passed her. Her destination was set in her mind as rain dripped from her hair and down her face mingling with her tears.
Vivian cocked her head to the side. There was an insistent cell phone ringing near by and no one seemed to be answering it. It was becoming quite annoying and she decided to put an end to it. Using her superior detective skills she hunted the little device down. The ringing stopped as she neared the blank space that had once been occupied by Richard Franklin's desk. There was a loose pile of papers and odd envelopes that had been hurriedly pushed against the wall in order to prevent any tripping accidents as officers and detectives rushed about the room in pursuit of justice.
The tall blonde stood still, her eyes narrowed at the pile. Her instincts told her the phone was there amongst the debris of Franklin's meltdown. The ringing started again and a sly grin crept to Vivian's lips. Three small steps and the shuffling of paper produced a large manila envelope. A single word was hastily scrawled across the front.
The detective manipulated the small fastener at the top and reached into the envelope. Her hand emerged containing the small phone she had seen on numerous occasions with its owner. She flipped the front of the phone open and pressed the small green button, then placed it next to her ear.
"For FUCKS sake McKee! Where the hell have you been? I need you to come down here, that fat cop… shit… whatshisname… you know, the one that Grace was so hot to bring down…"
Quang's voice streamed in a nonstop rush into Vivian's ear. Her brow furrowed as she spoke the name of the man Quang inquired about. "Franklin."
"That's it! Dickhead Franklin… wait, who is this?" Quang questioned as he wiped his palm across his face to clear the gathering moisture.
Quang fell silent for a long moment. "Is she still there?" He finally asked.
"She was with the Captain. She hasn't picked up her personal effects yet, so I'm gonna say yes, she's still here." Vivian crossed to her own desk and dumped the rest of the contents of the envelope out. She took her seat as she stared at the small heap on her blotter. "What's this about Franklin now?"
Quang pursed his lips, "I don't know Detective, McKee might be pissed…"
"We're all on the same team Quang. You can trust me; I'll tell McKee as soon as I see her." Vivian picked up the small leather wallet, a Q and a M had at one time adorned its front in gold that had long since worn away, leaving just a trace of the precious metal.
"Can I have that in writing?"
Vivian chuckled, "She's really not that bad is she?" Her thumb parted the leather revealing the inside of the wallet. The instant her eyes landed on the picture inside she felt a twinge of guilt for prying into Quin's private life. The photo of a woman was protected from daily wear and tear by plastic that was slightly fogged over from age, but there was no denying the look of love the woman beamed at the picture taker.
"On a day like this, yes." Quang looked back at the building across the street, "but I suppose it'll be alright. She seems to like you well enough."
The detective brushed her thumb over the picture, "You were a real beauty, weren't you Grace?" She said softly.
"Are you there Detective Walsh?"
Vivian shook her head and looked away from the image closing the wallet, "Spill it Quang. Where are you and what does it have to do with Franklin?"
"Storage complex on Central, and he just walked in like he owned the place with three other guys, one of which is our prime suspect."
"Justin's handler…" Vivian flipped open her notebook and turned to the last page, "David Gentry?" She read the name making a line under it and writing Franklin's name with an arrow pointed up.
"Well that is interesting. Do you know the other two guys?" Vivian doodled a hangman's noose next to Franklin's name.
"One. I think he was at Peer's office the day McKee took the case. I can't be sure."
"I'm pretty sure."
"You don't remember a name do you?" more scribbling and a flip of the paper to a new sheet followed as Vivian transcribed the information given to her.
"Tase, Chase, something along that line, McKee would know for sure." Quang wiped at his face again.
Vivian opened a drawer at her knee and retrieved a bundle of small notebooks that were rubber banded together, taking the one on top away from the rest of the stack. She opened it up near the end and scanned the pages quickly until her eyes landed on a name. "Simon Days."
"Could be. Tell McKee I'll stay here and keep watch. Ask her to call me, and tell her she owes me big time. I'm talking Makers Mark big time."
"Ummm, yeah, okay." Vivian answered distracted as she continued to write in her notebook. She pressed the little red button on the phone ending the call. Three names and a question mark stared at her from the page. She placed the cell phone and the rest of Quin's things back in the envelope securing the metal fastener at the top.
She found the Captain's office empty, and spent twenty minutes scouring the building for either McKee or Teddy Adams. She sank into her chair, throwing the envelope onto the desk. It landed with an audible thunk.
Maggie's head popped up at the noise and noticed her new partner's defeated posture. "What's up?"
"I have a message for McKee, and a lead for the Peer's case, but I can't seem to find McKee or the Captain, and Quang is probably imploding by now."
"I saw McKee leave about an hour ago. I think the Captain has left for the day, and who is Quang?" Maggie rolled her chair closer to Vivian's desk.
"An hour? Are you sure? she didn't pick up her stuff?" The blonde tapped the envelope.
"Positive. Who is Quang and why is he imploding?"
Vivian stood and pulled on her police issue windbreaker. "I'll tell you while we drive." She shoved her notebook into her pants pocket and picked up Quin's effects.
Maggie rushed to pull on her own jacket as she followed the tall detective from the room.
The alley hadn't changed much in the past three years. It was still dark, dirty, and smelled of piss and booze.
A crack pipe broke under her booted foot as she strode with purpose down the imposing passage to stand beside a light blue dumpster. The rain had let up a bit, making it easier to see. Quin however wasn't seeing the current state of the alley. She was transported back to three years prior.
Tom had called. She remembered the way his voice quivered and knew it was bad. She didn't recall the actual drive, but she did remember with vividness the scene upon arrival.
The blue and red flashing lights of the cruisers would blur into purple every so often as she passed police, firemen, and EMTs. Uniformed officers, detectives and crime scene investigators milled about everywhere as she ducked under what was just one of several yellow police line tapes that contained the area. Little orange cones sat next to brass shell casings that were circled with white chalk. She was careful not to disturb anything as she made her way towards the only person that mattered at the scene.
Grace Taylor was a tall woman. Five foot eleven in her stocking feet. She was also a curvaceous woman. There were few men or women who wouldn't take a second look as Grace walked down the street. Her long black hair had a blue hue to it in the right light and her green eyes could see right through a person. She had a crooked little grin that would creep onto her lips when she felt mischievous, and a full blown toothy smile that stopped hearts when she was truly happy — if only Quin could have been greeted by that smile that night in this dark alley.
Quin's eyes found Tom's silver head leaning over a figure on the ground. It didn't take much to realize it was Grace he was soothing. The brunette saw a bloody hand rise from the ground and clasp Tom around the neck pulling his head closer to blood stained lips.
Tom looked up after receiving that farewell kiss to see Quin striding toward them. He whispered to the woman laid prone on the ground giving a forced smile as he nodded in Quin's direction. Grace moved her head just enough to see her lover take the final few steps to be at her side.
Quin settled to her knees opposite Tom Ross, she didn't even acknowledge the man's presence. Her total focus was on Grace. She reached out a shaky hand and caressed Grace's cheek.
"Don't cry my love…"
Quin blinked at her lover's words, ‘am I crying?' She curiously wiped at her own cheek feeling the streams of moisture for herself. She looked up at the people seemingly idly standing, waiting, when it seemed to her they should be doing something to save the woman she loved. She looked at the man opposite her, "Why are they just standing there? Why aren't…"
Tom shook his head and started to speak when Grace coughed causing him to focus his attention back on his dying partner.
"If they move me, I'm done." Grace rasped.
Quin took stock of the prone woman's condition for the first time. Her dark blue, bulletproof vest was still strapped to her chest, but there were four visible indentations, each centered with a rip of nylon and shreds of Kevlar raggedly standing from nickel size holes. Quin then knew what Grace was saying. It was only the pressure of her own body on the gaping wounds that would be found on her back that was keeping her alive. It was just a matter of time however until she bled out internally.
Grace knew she was dead, but had wanted whatever time she could get to say goodbye to Quin. "I… I l-love you, ya know."
Quin nodded, blinking tears from her eyes, unwilling to take her hands from Grace's for a moment to clear her vision. "I love you too, so very much."
"I wanted forever Quin, b-but wouldn't trade what we had f-for anything." Grace's sentence trailed off softly as she spoke, her strength failing her.
Quin leaned closer to hear her as Grace spoke. Bloody lips brushed her ear.
"Thirteen children… F-Franklin… Tom… files."
Quin moved to look at her lover, but a hand held her head in place as Grace made a last request.
"Live Quin. Please, for me… l-live. Promise."
That last word was a mere breath against Quin's ear as her lover's hand fell from her head releasing her. Grace was gone. And so it seemed was Quin's very soul as she screamed in anguish as the pain of her loss slammed into her full force.
She sat with Grace's cooling body for another ten minutes until one of the paramedics talked her into letting them take care of Grace. She didn't remember getting home, and barely remembered calling Grace's family, and making the funeral arrangements. What she did remember was the outright need for justice, revenge, the need to make someone pay for her pain, for the loss of Grace, for the loss of their child. It consumed her.
The agony was too much for Quin, four months after Grace's murder she tried to kill herself but was unsuccessful. So she went after everyone she considered responsible in hopes that one of them would kill her, and then she would be free of the pain. The night she stood at Tom Ross' bedside with an empty gun she thought she had accomplished her goal. She thought for certain that Tom would pull the trigger.
But he didn't. He saw through her. She could hear Grace's soft chuckle as she walked from the Ross' house that night. "Tom knows a gimmick when he sees one Quin." Tom could smell deceit from a mile away. It was what made him a good detective. Grace had always envied him the ability, as she herself was a sucker for a good sob story. But not Tom, he knew a put-up deal when he saw one, and he knew Quin was looking for him to end it for her and debunked her attempt. It took Quin sometime to forgive him that. She eventually came to thank his decision not to pull the trigger on her. She ultimately made the promise to Grace, the promise to live.
Now here, back in that same alley where her soul had been ripped from her, she began to put the pieces back together. She replayed Grace's words for the first time since that night. She must have blocked them in her rage. Now she saw them for what they were. The clues she needed to find Grace's killer. Everything else would wait.
The rain started again in earnest, large heavy drops pounded the pavement around her and her exposed body. Quin searched for her cell phone, immediately realizing she left everything at the police station. Hell, it's probably in Lt. Marquez's Volvo with the rest of Franklin's desk. She mused as she started walking.
Franklin. Grace had spoken the man's name clearly that night. There was no doubt he didn't think much of Grace or Quin. Quin was used to such things. There was a long list of people who hated Quin. Some she hadn't even met yet. But Grace was a different story. The woman had very few enemies. Those she did have wouldn't admit to it for fear of looking bad. Quin smirked, even Franklin.
The files Grace spoke of would be at Tom Ross' house. Grace and Tom had a little make-shift office there, tucked away in the corner of the kitchen. Grace would spend part of a day off there with Tom, or even alone, working on what Grace called ‘hobby files'. These were cases long since closed due to the lack of new information. ‘Dead files', ‘Cold case files', the duo had solved and closed a half dozen of them before Grace had been murdered.
Quin lengthened her steps as she walked toward her destination. For the first time in years she felt she was close to making an end with Grace.
"There he is." Vivian pointed out her window at a huddled figure standing against a wall in the pouring rain. "Pull over Mags." Maggie curbed the car as Grace lowered the passenger side window, "Hey kid!"
Quang's head snapped in the direction of the voice that was almost drowned out by the rain. He smiled and ran to the waiting car, sliding with ease into the back seat. He pushed his hair back, squeezing the moisture out, while he looked puzzled at the occupants of the car, "Where is she?"
"We had hoped she'd be here with you." Vivian answered as she turned to take stock of the young man who resembled more of a drowned rat at the moment. "Anything new here?" She asked throwing her thumb toward the storage building across the street.
"They all left about ten minutes ago. I was hoping McKee would show up and we would break in…"
"Break in?" Maggie asked.
"Well you know… just umm take a look." Quang tried to ease the other detective.
Vivian smirked, "Quang means he would have called us first Mags, and we would have gotten a legal search warrant, while he and McKee rifled through the place. Right kid?" She narrowed her eyes at the Asian man.
"Sure, sure," Quang nodded, "I would have called you first."
"Uh huh." Vivian turned back to face forward, "Let's take him home. Maybe McKee is there, in the least Quang can get dried off and fill us in." She looked over her shoulder, "Right?"
Quang nodded vigorously sending drops of water off his head. Stuck with two cops now, gee thanks McKee. He thought as the car pulled away from the curb, its tires whooshing along the wet street. A vacation, that's what I need. No McKee, no cops, no perverts, no pressing emergencies…. Quang let the list grow in his head as the car entered the interstate.
Quin knocked solidly on the door in front of her. It took just a few moments for it to open. James, Tom's oldest stood on the other side wide eyed. "Is your dad home?"
James was frozen for a moment, then shook his head up and down, "We just sat down to eat." He didn't know if he should let the woman in or not. His mother had spent a better part of a year telling him not to even accept mail from Quinlan McKee. By the time he was fourteen he was convinced she was evil itself and that the woman before him would drag him off to a torturous death.
"Will you tell him I'm here? I'll wait here on the porch." Quin read the fear in the boys eyes and was sick with the knowledge she put that fear there herself. The door closed softly but firmly and the soft snick of the deadbolt being turned hit her soul.
Tom looked up as his son entered the dining room. He was pale and trembling. "Who was at the door?"
"Aunt…. Ummm, Quin McKee." He said softly his eyes dropping to the floor in shame at almost using the familiar title for the woman he grew up with. "She's on the porch." He said raising his eyes to judge his mother's reaction.
Ruth winced at the look James harbored on his young face. "It's okay James. Really." She was going to have to repair her children's psyches in regards to the woman she had purposefully torn to pieces in their young minds so they would hate the woman as much as she had. "Sit down to your supper." She offered with a warm smile.
Tom stood and made for the door as Ruth spoke quietly to the children. Things were so complicated as of late, and it all seemed to center on one diminutive brunette. He opened the door to a soaked McKee who stood shivering in the fall air. "Jeez, get in here Quin." He reached out and dragged the P.I. across the threshold, "Let me get a towel."
Quin watched as he bounded up the stairs, then looked about the small entryway. She glanced down and noticed she was making quite a puddle on the small tiled area. She heard Tom's heavy footfalls as he came down the stairs with several towels in hand. One he handed her, one found its way across her shoulders, and the third to the floor to soak up the growing pool of water. "I won't be staying long. I just need to know what you and Grace were working on when she was killed, not officially working on." She added the last to define the reason for the intrusion.
It took Tom a moment to process the request, but then his face showed recognition followed by a frown, then a grimace as he recalled the cold cases stored in the small alcove beside the washer and dryer in the kitchen. "Thirteen missing children."
Quin's eyes widened, "I need the files. I need her notes. I need…"
"Follow me." Tom urged as he pulled Quin along through the house.
The brunette gave an apologetic shrug toward Ruth as they passed through the dining room to the kitchen.
"I haven't even looked at the damn things since she died. I guess since no one asked for them back at the station they just sat here." He opened two louvered doors to expose a small desk.
Quin moved forward and lifted the folder from the top. A note scribed by Grace was clipped to the front, two words, ‘Franklin knows.' "I need to take these Tom." She gathered the brown files and loose pieces of paper with her lover's handwriting on them.
Tom took two steps to retrieve a plastic grocery bag. He looked back at the growing stack and doubled the bag to hold the weight.
Quin placed the items in the bag and took the handles from Tom. "I'll call you."
"Tom, I remembered what she told me," Quin moved to the back door of the house, "I need to do this." She shrugged off the towel around her shoulders and handed it the older man.
Tom nodded, "If you need me, you call."
Quin simply nodded and opened the door. Tom closed the door as McKee disappeared into the rain.
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