Chapter IV ... Give Us This Day
Before she even realized it, Abbie was standing in the outer office of the supervisor of campus security, pacing like a large wild animal in a very small cage. She had tried to call Olivia and advise her of what was happening but Olivia was in a meeting and unavailable. Abbie knew, of course, that if she had an emergency, there was no way in hell she couldn't get a message to her partner but the more she thought about this incident, the more she wanted to handle it herself. Finally, a quarter after eight, forty-five minutes before Abbie's class was to begin and fifteen minutes after the supervisor should have reported to work, he strolled in, unlocking his office door. He didn't really acknowledge Abbie but he didn't ignore her, either.
Instead, he looked at the young man sitting at the desk outside his office, finishing up an activity log. "Yo, Crandall, what's up?" the supervisor nodded.
"Nothing. This lady needs to talk at you. Says it's kinda urgent."
Abbie dropped her arms to her side, incredulously. She looked at the young security officer, most likely a student at the college. Kind of urgent? She then looked at the supervisor, who seemed to be assessing her like juicy grade-A meat. "Well, come on in," he invited her, somewhat voraciously.
Greg Van Horn set his briefcase down by his desk and gestured for Abbie to take a seat.
"I'd rather not, thank you," Abbie responded, angrily.
"So what can I do for you, Miss -?" He waved his hand in the air, as though finding out her name was of no importance to him.
"Carmichael. Professor Carmichael," Abbie corrected.
Now his eyes flashed recognition. They reflected surprise. So this was the legendary Abbie Carmichael. Much nicer than he'd expected. Much, much nicer. Were dykes supposed to look like this? Regardless, he obviously did not feel the need to show her the respect her title required. "So, what's up?"
His lackadaisical attitude set her teeth on edge. "What's up?" she repeated, not too nicely. "Sometime during the night, my office and my classroom were destroyed. And someone spray-painted inverted pentagrams all over everything!!"
"And?" he asked in anticipation, as though that weren't enough. He sat behind his desk and powered up his computer.
"And...??" Abbie literally laughed out of frustration, looking heavenward, as if guidance (or at least, restraint) could be found there. "And...everything in my office and my classroom was destroyed! Ruined. All my books, my notes, my computer, anything personal I had in my office...!"
Punching a couple of keys on his keyboard to get his screen where he wanted it, he looked up at her, in what appeared to be a cross between a leer and a sneer. He waved her off. "These things happen."
Blinking in disbelief at his dismissal of her situation, she found herself speechless. Counting to ten and taking a deep breath, she glared at him. A look that seared him to the bone. Her eyes narrowed, infuriated. "My office and classroom were vandalized, ransacked, graffitied...I've lost years and semesters of work, of research, of lesson plans, of...of..." she was so rabid, she could barely concentrate, "and all you can say is 'these things happen'?"
He studied something on his computer monitor and then sat back in his chair. "What would you like me to do?"
Abbie wanted to crawl over his desk and throttle him. "Your job!!"
"And what would you know about my job?"
Not being able to comprehend the total patronizing tone to his voice, Abbie squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. "You are campus security, aren't you?"
"That would be correct."
"Don't you think, then, if not even out of a sense of duty, just maybe out of courtesy, that someone from your department should take a report? Take photographs? Create a folder? Contact the local PD? Was anyone from your department even out patrolling last night??"
"I'm sure my staff was doing their job." He appeared to be much more interested and concerned with what was happening on his computer screen than anything Abbie had to say. "Look, honey, it's just some college kids having a little fun with you. You're too used to living in a big city. Made you paranoid. This is a small town...these kids are just trying to rankle you."
Abbie lost him at the word, 'honey' and was reeling from trying to control herself and maintain some semblance of professionalism. "So, what you're telling me is that because this is a small town, kids here don't have the same criminal tendencies as big city kids?"
Van Horn leaned back in his chair, pointed a finger at her like a gun and said, "You got it."
Abbie looked around his office, looking for the hidden camera. No one who held a position this high could possibly be this moronic. She was sure she was being Punk'd.
If this guy was real, he was a lawsuit waiting to happen. And at a law school! Whose insipid relative must he have been to get this position? "What are your qualifications for this job?" she asked, her smile hiding sudden homicidal urges.
"Fifteen years as a patrol cop, ten years in security management."
"All here, in this town?"
"Why go anywhere else?"
"Gee, I don't know," Abbie made sure he knew her tone was overly sarcastic, "maybe if you had served as a cop in Paducah, Kentucky or Littleton, Colorado, you'd think a little differently about what small town kids are capable of."
Van Horn shook his head, chuckling. "Just like a woman..."
"You've got to relax, honey. Tell you what ... you get another one of them scary devil signs in your office or your classroom, you come and see me, all right?" He had actually fluttered his hands on the word 'scary.'
Abbie had reached her breaking point. "Are you patronizing me, you lazy, insufferable..."
Van Horn held his hand up to her. "Okay, now let's not get personal here, honey ..."
Abbie leaned on his desk, inches from his face, her look unmistakably hostile, her voice low and lethal. "You call me honey one more time and I will kick you in the balls so hard, they'll be hanging out your nostrils ... with room to spare, I'm sure."
Swallowing hard, Van Horn leaned back, away from her. "Is that a threat, Ms. Carmichael?"
"No, it's just some dumb woman, having a little fun with you. And it's Professor Carmichael, you incompetent, misogynist piece of shit!"
"Nice language," he responded, no longer feeling he had the upper hand. "I'll make sure I document this little meeting and pass it on to the president of the college."
Standing up, Abbie regained her posture and bearing. "Please do." She turned and started to walk out of his office.
"You know, hon- Ms. Car- Professor Carmichael, maybe if you were more of a...well...a lady, you wouldn't be targeted for these kind of pranks."
Spinning on her heel, she faced him again, the look on her face even more incredulous than any previous moment in his office. "What?! More of a what??!!"
Van Horn's expression was cold now. Defensive. Accusing. "You know what I'm talking about. Your...lifestyle. You're relationship...with that woman, Benson."
"That's Chief Benson to you. So you're saying I deserve to be harassed and threatened and targeted because I'm a lesbian?"
He visibly flinched at that word. "You figure it out."
Immediately following her run-in with Van Horn, Abbie checked on Sierra in the campus daycare center to make sure she was okay. From a picture window, at the lobby desk, she watched her daughter, sitting on the carpeted floor with a little boy who looked as though he wasn't much older than a year, and offer him a toy, a small stuffed mouse. Abbie smiled proudly at the fact that Sierra was trying to share. When the little boy paid no attention to her, she reached out again, holding out the animal toward him. When he didn't acknowledge her this time, she hit him with the stuffed toy, startling him and making him cry. Abbie's hand automatically covered her mouth in dismay. She knew Sierra hadn't hurt him because the toy was extremely soft and plush but Abbie was a little startled, herself, by the aggressive action. Yup. Just like a true Carmichael, Sierra was not about to be ignored.
Just seeing her daughter calmed her down to the point where she felt she was able to teach her nine o' clock class. Thankfully, this classroom had been left alone and she wondered if the reason for that may have been that Amber Barclay didn't take this class.
As the students filed in, they all seemed unusually subdued. She knew that an official announcement had not yet been made regarding the identity of the victim but as life went on in this town, rumors were rampant. Added to that, they would have had to have been living in a cave not to have heard about the vandalism of Abbie's office and other classroom. She wondered if she should address the events of the morning and get it out of the way and then decided not to. It would be way too disruptive for everyone.
"Okay," Abbie began after everyone was seated, "Burger vs. U.S., 1935. Why did I ask you to read over this case? What would it have to do with today's topic?"
The class appeared to be a little surprised that Professor Carmichael seemed so calm and collected after everything they heard about that had gone on that morning. Glances were exchanged everywhere and finally one student raised his hand.
"Yes, Mr. Wenner?"
"Professor Carmichael...are you okay? We heard about ..."
Abbie curtly cut him off. "Yes, I am fine. Come on, people, we have a lot of ground to cover this morning, let's stay focused. Burger vs. U.S.?" She scanned the room and selected the student who seemed as though he was trying to not be noticed. She smiled. She was just in the right mood for someone who wasn't prepared. "Mr. McGregor?"
He looked at her with an 'oh, shit' expression. "I'm...I...uh...am not sure..."
"See me after class. Ms. Summers?"
"Because it states that, 'A prosecutor's proper interest is not that he shall win a case but that justice shall be done'," she responded, confidently.
"Correct. And what body of law was responsible for that statement?"
"The U.S. Supreme Court," Amelia Summers answered again.
Another hand raised toward the back of the class. "Professor Carmichael?"
"Yes, Ms. Morales?"
"Is it true that you tore Van Horn a new one in the security office?"
That hadn't taken long to get around campus. "What occurred between Mr. Van Horn and me has nothing to do with this class," she tried not to sound dismissive, she just didn't see any point in getting into this discussion with her students.
"Professor Carmichael?" another student spoke up.
"Yes, Mr. Tedore?"
"We heard a rumor that the body found at the church was a student at this school. Is that true?"
"Even if I did know that, I would not be at liberty to answer that question. Now, can we move on, please?"
Kevin Tedore persisted. "Professor, are the people who murdered this girl at the church after you now?"
"Do you understand that this is not a discussion we are having?" There was a tightness and hint of exasperation in her voice.
"Professor?" It was Anna Morales again.
"What?!" Abbie snapped, not meaning to.
"We're just concerned. We don't want anything happening to you. You're one of the best instructors on campus..."
Now she felt bad. She drew a deep breath. "I apologize. I didn't mean to sound so surly. It has been an ...interesting... morning. I appreciate your concern. But I am not in any danger."
"Is that because you have personal state police protection?" A handsome male student toward the front asked. A collective gasp went up in the classroom and when Abbie looked into this young man's eyes, she instinctively knew it had been said without malice, he had an impish grin on his face, which made her break into a smile in response. She bowed her head, amused. Now the students really exchanged looks. Was Professor Carmichael actually blushing?
When she looked up, the class was staring at her, stunned. She broke into another smile, shaking her head. "Burger vs. U.S. Let's discuss this case."
It had been a dead end day for Olivia and her staff. They had been in and out of meetings all day with every different law enforcement organization and affiliate in the county. Comparing notes and past cases, no one had dealt with this type of modus operandi before. They entered the meetings stumped and left them at the end of the day, just as stumped, if not more.
John Hollenberger finally made contact with Wade Barclay, drove to his house, showed him photographs of the body and Barclay confirmed that the girl in the pictures was his daughter, Amber. He showed no emotion when viewing the photos, seeming almost cold and detached when making the identification. John related his meeting with Wade to Olivia before she left work for the day. It was just one more strange event to culminate the end of an even stranger work day.
Olivia reached the deck of her house to find the door unlocked. Before she entered, she cautiously moved to the kitchen window, looking through it for anything out of the ordinary. She saw Abbie, seated at the computer in the living room. Relieved, Olivia walked inside, closing and locking the door behind her. She placed her bag of take-out on the counter and turned to see Abbie concentrated on the monitor, burning up the keyboard with her typing. "Hey...I'm home."
"Hi," Abbie responded as though she were distracted and angry.
Taking the cartons of food out of the bag, she looked around. "Where's the baby?"
She wandered into the living room and kissed Abbie on the top of the head.
"She's down for a nap," Abbie told Olivia, her words coming out short.
"What's going on? You seem ..."
"Furious? Frustrated? Homicidal?"
"Well, I was going to say a little out of sorts but I guess those three words give me a much clearer picture. Who are you writing to?"
"I'm drafting a detailed account of my meeting this morning with the supervisor of campus security and I am taking it to Bill Hoefflich."
"The President? Wow. What'd this guy do?"
"Everything but his job. You got my voice mail about my office and classroom?"
"Yeah, Sweetie, I did. I'm sorry I couldn't get back to you. I sent Heifflefinger over to document everything."
"Which was the proper thing to do. This guy couldn't be bothered! He was condescending, arrogant, insulting...he called me honey...!"
Olivia immediately put her hand to her mouth to stifle her amusement. She knew Abbie was livid and did not want to escalate her partner's mood any more than it already was. Too late. Abbie saw her.
"You find this funny, Olivia?"
"No...no...I don't find it funny that you have to deal with such an ignorant, chauvinistic asshole. I'm...um...just wondering if he left his office still in possession of his manhood. I have seen you emasculate the best of them."
"He said he's going to report me."
"He thinks I threatened him."
Not answering, Abbie returned her attention to the computer monitor.
"I didn't threaten him, per se...I just advised him that I was capable of relocating dick and the boys to a northern most region."
Olivia couldn't help but laugh. "Oh, Abbie..." She leaned over and planted a loving kiss on her partner's lips. Instantly, Abbie calmed down. Breaking the contact, Olivia said, "I brought home some manicotti for us and some spaghettios for Sierra."
"Thanks. I'm starving."
Olivia slid out of her jacket and laid it over the back of the love seat. She then walked quietly into Sierra's room and watched her beautiful baby daughter sleep. She did not hear Abbie come up behind her but only reacted slightly when Abbie slid her arms around Olivia's waist. "God, she is so precious. So beautiful," Olivia stated with quiet pride.
"Isn't she?" Abbie agreed, her voice soft. "She's fourteen months now, Liv...what do you think about having one more?"
Olivia turned in Abbie's arms, studying her. "You mean it?"
"Yeah. I've been thinking about it a lot. I don't want her to be an only child and I know you don't, either. If we're going to have one more, let's do it before there's too much of an age gap."
Looking deeply into Abbie's eyes, seeing only affection, admiration and want, Olivia became emotional. "I love you so much, Abbie."
"I love you, too, Liv. More than you'll ever know."
"If we're going to do it, then let's make the appointment."
"Wow. That was easier than I thought," Abbie commented, surprised.
"Did you think it was going to be an issue?" Olivia asked, gently, tracing the contours of Abbie's face with her finger.
"I wasn't sure. We've been dancing around the subject now for the last couple of months and we always push it forward to a future time."
"That's because I've been being selfish and I haven't wanted to think about how I'll have to adjust my work life and schedule with being pregnant and all."
Abbie smiled. She hugged Olivia fiercely. "I know I've always said that you have to carry the next one, but...if it's okay with you, I'd really like to do it again. I loved being pregnant."
"I know you did. And damn, if you weren't insatiable in your second trimester. Nearly wore me out."
"I remember," Abbie grinned.
"Sweetie, if you want that responsibility again, it's yours. But I am ready to keep my end of the bargain."
"I know you are and I love you even more for that."
Olivia held Abbie close and kissed her tenderly, yet passionately. "I would love to have another baby with you."
Abbie leaned in for another kiss when they heard Sierra starting to stir. Looking over at their daughter, they saw that she woke up, immediately alert and looked around her crib. Spotting her mommies, she rolled over and pulled herself up to a standing position. She bounced up and down, smiling.
"Hi, Sunshine," Olivia beamed at her. She stepped closer and picked Sierra up out of the crib, giving her daughter a hug and a kiss. Sierra immediately clung to her. "Let's change that diaper and then get some food into you so you can fill it up again."
"I'll change her," Abbie offered.
"No, I don't mind." Olivia looked at her daughter, who was patting Olivia's face. "Mama's had you all to herself for a couple of hours. It's my turn."
Observing Olivia interact with Sierra almost brought tears to Abbie's eyes. How did she get so lucky to end up with such a strong, capable, beautiful, loving woman? Olivia obviously worshipped the ground that little girl crawled on. As she watched her partner clean Sierra up and change her, Abbie marveled at Olivia's loving interaction with their daughter. Even something as disgusting as changing a dirty diaper and Olivia was glad, almost grateful, to do it.
Sierra jabbered while Olivia kissed her little feet and tickled her bare belly, which caused excessive giggling between both mother and daughter. Continuously amazed at what a natural parent Olivia was, Abbie could not help but become instantly flushed with love for her partner.
Looking up, Olivia saw Abbie leaning against the doorframe, staring at them, grinning.
"What?" Olivia inquired, as she fastened Sierra's diaper and picked her up.
"Nothing. I'm just glad we're together."
Olivia looked at her puzzled, wondering where that came from, then looked at Sierra. "Tell Mama you're happy we're all together, too."
Sierra reached for Abbie. "Mama!"
Taking her from Olivia, she kissed their daughter and headed out to the kitchen for dinner. "Wait until Mommy hears about you in daycare this morning..."
After settling into bed, Abbie lay in Olivia's embrace, resting her head on her partner's strong shoulder, her legs entangled in Olivia's. Sighing contentedly, Abbie kissed the dip in Olivia's collarbone. "What did you find out about the flowers?"
"Just as we figured, the flowers were ordered over the phone and paid for on a stolen credit card. Our tracking hit a dead end. Our resources are so limited compared to what I'm used to."
"What's you gut, Liv?"
"My gut? My gut keeps bringing me back to dear old daddy but right now, the only thing we have on him is that he's teetering on the edge of fanatically insane. But we're going to bring him in tomorrow and feel him out. Have you ever met him?"
"No. And from everything Amber told me about him, that's a good thing."
"Can you think of anything Amber told you that might give us any reason, other than my gut, to tie him to this?"
"Just that he's a very angry person and radically religious."
"Which describes more than half the people in this valley." Smiling, Olivia felt the featherlike touch of the tips of Abbie's fingers making little circles on her ribcage, lower abdomen... "Looking for anything in particular, or just browsing?" she asked, kissing the top of Abbie's head.
As Abbie's fingers dipped into the moist heat, continuing to make little circles, she said, "found it."
Chapter V. Us From Evil
Escorting Wade Barclay into the conference room of the trooper barracks, MacEvoy shut the door behind him. He gestured to a seat that Barclay plopped down in and then waited.
Olivia entered the room, closing the door behind her, carrying a folder in her hand. "Mr. Barclay, my name is ..."
"I know who you are," he spit out, unpleasantly. He looked at MacEvoy. "Can I be questioned by someone else?"
Glancing at MacEvoy, a little taken aback, Olivia returned her attention to Barclay. The hateful look in his eyes was very unsettling, to say the least. "Do you have a problem with me, Sir?" Olivia asked, addressing him respectfully, a courtesy he didn't deserve.
"Have we met before?"
"No. But I know who you are and what you are."
Olivia would have laughed in his face if the reason they were all there had not been so tragically serious. "And what would that be, Mr. Barclay?"
"An abomination. A sin. I would actually prefer not to be in the same room as you."
Olivia shrugged. "Well, that's unfortunate but you don't have a choice."
Barclay looked up at MacEvoy, disgusted. "What kind of man are you, Mike? You not only let a woman give you orders but a woman of this caliber, to boot?" He shook his head.
MacEvoy was more annoyed than provoked. "Shut up, Wade. You either cooperate and answer the Chief's questions or I'll hook you up right now for the nine unpaid traffic tickets you have."
Olivia suppressed a smile. MacEvoy could be a real jerk sometimes but when it came down to it, he always had her back.
"Fine, I'll cooperate," he conceded, sourly, "but you ask the questions, not her."
"You are not in charge here, Mr. Barclay," Olivia advised him, still keeping her tone agreeable and courteous.
Barclay stubbornly folded his arms across his chest. "Well, then, I'm not talking to you."
MacEvoy took a menacing step toward him. "What are you, ten years old!? Sit up in that friggin' chair and act right or I'm going to start smacking you around like a redheaded step-child! What ails you, Wade??"
Even Olivia was a little astonished at her trooper's outburst but she tried not to react as such. She glanced at Barclay, who was now looking up at her.
"Did you hear that? He just threatened me with bodily harm!"
"Who me?" Olivia pointed to herself. "I didn't hear a thing. You're not talking to me, remember?"
Looking back and forth between Olivia and MacEvoy, Barclay let out a big, disgusted sigh. "All right. Fine. Ask me your stupid questions."
Both Olivia and MacEvoy remained standing as Barclay sat, giving them a psychological advantage over him. She placed a pre-autopsy photo of Amber Barclay from the shoulders up in front of Wade, carefully gauging his reaction. Just as John had told her, there was none. "You have identified the person in this photograph as Amber Lorena Barclay, is that correct?"
"Yep. That's her, all right."
"And Amber is your daughter?"
"Was. Was my daughter. But she was dead to me a long time before she...well...died."
"And why is that, Mr. Barclay?"
His expression and tone became defiant again. "Because she betrayed me, betrayed her upbringing, her commitment to our Lord, Jesus Christ. First she gets a tattoo. Then she tells me ... not asks me, tells me that she's going to get a job and put herself through college and then she gets recruited by one of your kind."
"My kind? You mean a cop?" Olivia asked, knowing exactly what he meant.
"A New Yorker? A brunette? Tall?" Olivia prodded, knowing she was pushing his buttons.
"NO!" He slammed his hand down on the table. "A LEZ-BEE-YAN!!! Is that better?"
God, this guy is an asshole, Olivia thought. "Yes, I think it is. Especially if you're the alternative," she replied with a straight face. It took Barclay a few minutes to comprehend she was insulting him. If it wouldn't have provoked the situation any further, MacEvoy would have given her a high five.
"Maybe I should ask for an attorney," Barclay smirked.
"Maybe you should," Olivia shrugged. "It is your right to stop talking whenever you wish and request the presence of an attorney...except you haven't been arrested for anything, Mr. Barclay. All we are doing here is trying to get some background on your daughter so that we can hopefully find her killer. The community is just a little upset about this whole situation and we would like to catch this person and get on with life here."
Barclay stubbornly folded his arms again, shaking his head. That wasn't quite the reaction he expected from her.
"What do you mean 'recruited,' Mr. Barclay? Was someone handing out flyers on campus? Did someone go around to the classrooms, making a speech about inducting women into our little circle?"
Barclay looked at her, surprised. Is that what they really did? His eyes got big. "That's probably exactly what happened."
Olivia looked up at MacEvoy too stunned to laugh at the idiot sitting in the chair.
Shaking his head, MacEvoy said, "Wade, you're overactive gullibility gland is working overtime. Stop being a damned knucklehead and give her your warped version of how you think Amber was recruited!"
Her most troublesome trooper was surprising her today every time he opened his mouth. Here was a man who she thought felt exactly the same way about gays as Wade Barclay obviously did and yet, he not only seemed to be defending her, he was treating Wade like an ignorant, uneducated child. She knew MacEvoy didn't like her so the only thing that made sense to her was that he liked Barclay even less.
Barclay looked at MacEvoy. "You know how those people do...she was seduced."
"Seduced how?" Olivia prodded. To her knowledge, Amber had not sought out anyone else following Abbie's professional (which unfortunately also turned out to be personal) rejection.
"She was seduced into thinking she was born that way. No one in my house, in my family was born that way. The devil was living inside her to make her believe and act like that. Thought she was in love. All because of your...your..."
"My what?" Olivia asked, in as civil a tone as she could muster. Call her anything you want but don't ever, ever talk about Abbie or their daughter. Olivia's hackles rose immediately.
"That woman you live in sin with!"
"Whatever you people call each other. She filled my daughter's head with disgusting, blasphemous things. She disobeyed me, stopped going to my church, openly defied me. The devil got into her so I'm not surprised she ended up like that." He pushed the photograph back toward Olivia. "If anyone is responsible for her death, it's you and your...woman friend."
Taking a deep breath, Olivia looked at him directly in the eyes. "I am not going to justify myself or my partner to you. This is not about us."
"It's everything about you! She only started behaving this way after you two moved to town."
"Which is also, I believe, not too long after your wife died?" Olivia asked him.
Barclay looked up at her sharply with an expression that made the little hairs on the back of her neck stand up. "You leave Lorena out of this!" he seethed. "What's that got to do with anything?"
Olivia knew she had made her point. She smiled at him. "Maybe nothing. I'm just throwing it into the mix. So, Mr. Barclay, where were you on Monday night between the hours of eleven P.M. and three A.M.?"
"Thought you said I wasn't a suspect?"
MacEvoy and Olivia exchanged glances before she returned her attention back to Barclay. "I never said that. I told you that you weren't under arrest."
"Family members are almost always questioned first, Wade," MacEvoy advised, "unless we have a suspect in custody or someone specific in mind."
"I was home where every good Christian man should be at those hours."
"Anyway to corroborate that?" Olivia asked.
"No. I never thought I would need corroboration. Besides, I heard it was an occult murder, devil worshippers."
"That's just a rumor. We have no evidence to support that," Olivia told him.
"No evidence? I heard she had been murdered and put into the shape of that...inverted pentagram."
"Anyone could have posed her like that," Olivia advised, wishing that little tidbit of information had not gotten leaked.
"Yeah, but I also heard there was no blood and isn't that what those Satanists do? Sacrifice humans and drink their blood?"
Olivia and MacEvoy immediately looked at each other, startled. That wasn't information that was leaked. To her knowledge, the only people who knew there had been no blood at all at the scene were Mike, Andy, John, Olivia and the killer. "How did you know about that?" MacEvoy inquired, suspiciously, thinking the only way Barclay could have known that was if he had been there.
Barclay's eyes lowered and quickly darted back and forth, as though he had been caught. But a complacent smirk crossed his lips and he looked up at the two people standing before him. "Eddie Mitchell told me."
"How the fuck did Eddie Mitchell get in possession of that information??!!"
MacEvoy knew his boss was livid because she rarely swore in front of her staff. He was just as angry. That had been their ace in the hole, thinking only the murderer would know that detail. "I don't know, Chief, I don't know how he could have. Grier and I never left the crime scene unattended and I know he never got downstairs to the basement."
"Could he have gotten access to the report?" Olivia was pacing in the conference room after Barclay had left.
"It's possible but I don't know how."
"Get him in here immediately," Olivia demanded through clenched teeth.
Eddie Mitchell closed the door behind him and stood self-consciously before Olivia. He looked like a little boy who'd been sent to the principal's office.
"God damn it, Eddie, did I not ask you specifically to keep your mouth shut on this case?"
"But, Chief...I never said nothing to nobody. I swear."
"Oh, really?" Olivia asked him, knowing he couldn't be trusted with keeping any kind of a secret. "Then how did Wade Barclay know that there was no blood at the crime scene? Actually...how did you know that there was no blood at the crime scene?"
Mitchell was gaping at her, totally befuddled. "What are you talking about?"
"How did you find out that there was no blood at the crime scene?"
"I...I didn't know there wasn't any blood. How is that possible? Her throat was slit."
"You're telling me that you had no idea about that detail of the crime scene?"
"Honest to God, Chief, I swear on my mother's eyes, I did not know that." Mitchell started dancing around nervously, as though he were ready to piss his pants any minute.
There was a look in his expression, his demeanor, which compelled Olivia to want to believe him. "Wade Barclay told us you told him that there was no blood at the crime scene."
"That's impossible. I have not seen Wade to talk to in over a month and even if I had seen him, I couldn't have told him that because I had no idea, myself."
After securing a search warrant, Barclay's mobile home and been torn apart, looking for anything that would tie him into the crime scene. In the backyard, just beyond the fringe of where the woods began, underneath the decaying, stinking carcass of a dead deer, was a knife that could have been the murder weapon. In the large shed that sat on the side of the house, fox pelts were found hanging, drying on a line, a result from Wade's trapping practices. In the tool box beside the cutting table, were two knives with dried blood on them. They could have been the murder weapon. But after careful analysis, it was a knife found in the utensil drawer in the filthy kitchen that turned out to be the murder weapon. Wade thought he had wiped that clean. A few sprays of Luminol proved he hadn't.
They found Wade Barclay at his church, praying. His pastor was with him. Olivia, MacEvoy, Grier, Heifflefinger and a barrage of other law enforcement personnel had entered the sacred structure.
MacEvoy placed Wade under arrest, took him into custody and transported him to the state police barracks for processing. Asked if he wanted a lawyer, Barclay shook his head and stated he just wanted his minister there with him. Even when Reverend Smith advised him to seek legal counsel before answering any questions, Barclay declined. He told him the Lord was the only counsel he needed. That statement even made Reverend Smith roll his eyes.
"Mr. Barclay," Olivia began, seated across the conference room table from him, "did you also send flowers to my house with a card that said, 'you won'?"
"And was it also you that destroyed Professor Carmichael's office and classroom that following evening, spray painting inverted pentagrams and the words, 'you won'?"
"What was the purpose of those particular acts?"
"I felt the devil influenced my daughter. I felt your...Professor Carmichael...had the devil living inside her because of what she seduced my daughter into thinking. My precious sweet baby. Defying me, betraying me. Telling me what she was going to do, who and what she was becoming...throwing it in my face like...like a vat of acid. Defying God's law, breaking Jesus' rules. She became the devil. The devil started living inside her. I couldn't have that. Not my child. So, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I disowned her. And then I exorcised the devil's blood out of her."
"How did you do that, Mr. Barclay?" Olivia's voice was calm and professional which completely contradicted her internal emotions. Her insides were shaking with rage that this man did what he did to his own flesh and blood just because she no longer agreed with his overbearing, unreasonable and archaically unrealistic religious convictions.
"I was driving through town Friday night ..."
"Friday, the 17th?" Olivia interrupted, verifying the date.
"If that's what last Friday was, yeah. I saw her in the college crosswalk on High Street, walking toward the arts building. I pulled over and honked my horn. At first, she pretended she didn't hear it but then she came over to the car. I asked her to get in, that we needed to talk. I told her I'd buy her supper. I knew she was struggling with finances, wasn't eating properly. I finally convinced her and she went with me to the diner up the road. All she had, though, was a cup of coffee." Wade lifted his cuffed hands to scratch an itch at his hairline. His eyes looked full.
"Then what happened?" Olivia prodded. She did not want to be in the room with this man any longer than she had to be.
Suddenly, his moist eyes seemed to steel over and the look in his eyes was unmistakably nefarious. He bored a hole through Olivia with his stare and then looked back down at the table. "Her response to my kindness, to my telling her to come home and let me take care of her again, to come to church with me and pray for her wicked, possessed soul, was to laugh in my face. Told me if I couldn't accept her the way she was, I didn't need to accept her at all." He then laughed, shaking his head. "She told me that I was the one who was sick, I was the one who would never get to heaven, I was the one the Lord would reject. She said I was the one who wasn't normal. She told me that you and your...girlfriend...managed just fine in today's world and that she's rather be like you two any day than like me."
"So, that was the meaning behind 'you won'?"
Wade nodded, then continued. "She got up and left the diner and I followed her outside. I slapped her several times for saying such blasphemous things to me and I grabbed her and threw her into the car. I told her if she wanted to live with the devil inside her than she was welcome to it but no child of mine was going to be that way... I drove her to Gabel's Stream and I released her soul back to the Lord."
"How? Exactly how did you do that, Mr. Barclay?" Olivia questioned, needing to get him to admit to the murder in the exact manner in which it happened.
"She looked up at me, desperately and cried in a whisper, 'Daddy, please...' Daddy. Now I was her daddy again?" He shook his head, disgusted. "She wasn't my little girl anymore. So I took my knife and drew it the width of her throat, cutting the carotid, knowing she would bleed out fast. Her blood washed downstream with the current."
"Why did you take her to the old church?"
"I heard that cults were practicing Satanism there. I figured if she wanted to behave like the devil possessed her, they could have her. Her soul went to Jesus Christ. Her body went to Lucifer."
"So you set it up to look like a ritual?"
He shrugged. "They might as well have done it. I thought they'd consider it a gift."
"Mr. Barclay...do you feel any remorse at all for your daughter's death?" Olivia asked him, wanting to do the same thing to him that he did to that innocent girl.
He looked at her again, his eyes casting an ominous glare. "Do you? It was your fault I had to do it. Your and you girlfriend's."
Olivia was done. She looked up at MacEvoy and shook her head. Standing up and pushing her chair in, she looked down at Wade, almost sympathetically and said, "Mr. Barclay, if you really want to see where the devil lives? I suggest you look in a mirror." With that, she walked out of the room, feeling sick to her stomach.
"I guess I'm really not surprised," Logan Jessup told Olivia, who was giving the teenager a ride to one of her other jobs. Both she and Abbie arrived home late, Abbie not feeling well at all, which resulted in Logan reporting to work twenty minutes after her scheduled start time. "He was always a creepy guy."
"How well did you know him?" Olivia inquired.
"As well as I ever wanted to. He and my father actually hung out a couple times when I was really young. I'd go over to his house and visit Amber. She was only two years older than me, you know."
"Yes, I know," Olivia turned on to the avenue where the diner was where Logan put in a few hours every week. She and Abbie were hoping they could entice her away from all the other jobs she worked by offering her a full-time position with them taking care of Sierra, the dogs, the horses and the property. Fortunately and unfortunately, the young woman was very loyal and responsible to her other employers. "What kind of memories do you have of Amber?"
"She was always very quiet. Both she and her Mom were. Like they were always afraid to say anything without checking with him first. They had a lot of animals, too."
"Dogs and cats?"
"And ducks and chickens and geese and emus."
"Yeah. I hated those things. They let them run around free in the woods. It was like visiting Jurassic Park. They were so fast and the way they would dart around the woods from tree to tree? It was like you were being stalked by velociraptors."
The vision in her head made Olivia laugh out loud.
"I'm serious," Logan insisted. "They'd sneak up behind you, too. One day, I was standing there talking to Amber and one came out of nowhere and plucked the scrunchy right out of my ponytail and then ran away."
They pulled up to the diner, Olivia putting the car in park. "Are you sure you don't want me to come in and explain?"
Exiting the car, holding the door ajar, Logan smiled. "Nah. He knows if I'm late, it's legit. Hey, tell Abbie I hope she feels better."
"Will do, sweetie, thanks. And thanks for staying over. If there are any problems, you let me know."
Logan smiled wider and shook her head. "Don't worry. Ain't no way my boss is ever going to mess with you."
Chapter VI. Forever, Amen.
One month later.
After Olivia put Sierra to bed, she walked back out into the living room, noticing that the only source of light was from three tri-wicked, fat candles, one being on the coffee table and the other two on the end tables surrounding the couch. Also on the coffee table, sat an open champagne bottle, sitting in an ice bucket, and one glass already poured.
Smiling, curiously, looking around, she turned just in time to see Abbie descending the loft stairs, wearing, obviously, a brand new and very sexy piece of lingerie. The sight made the detective immediately, if not unconsciously, catch her breath. In her eyes, there was nothing more exquisite than Abbie Carmichael by candlelight. The way the shadows played against her perfect features was more than breathtaking, it was almost paralyzing.
Electrified by this vision moving toward her, Olivia's eyes gravitated to Abbie's smile, which was filled with allure and promise. Finally regaining the use of her voice, Olivia asked, "What's all this?"
Walking past her, silently, Abbie picked up the glass of champagne and handed it to her partner of five years. Studying her, Olivia accepted the glass and took a sip. "Where's yours?" She wondered, after she saw Abbie make no move toward pouring herself a glass.
"I'm not drinking any tonight."
Olivia's eyes narrowed in suspicion. Abbie Carmichael not drinking one of their favorite champagnes, saved for celebrations and special occasions? "Abbie...? What's going on?"
She took Olivia's hand and gently pulled her to the couch, where they sat down. "I have something to tell you."
"Kiss me first?" Abbie asked, moving closer to Olivia, who put her arms around her.
Olivia tried to scrutinize Abbie's expression. "Why do I feel as though I should be preparing myself for something..."
"You should be," Abbie confirmed. She leaned in, touching her lips to Olivia's in a kiss that was so light, she almost didn't feel it. Although her body was certainly reacting as though it had. Not moving her head or position, Abbie kissed her again, this time, much more of a declaration of the love and desire she had for her lover.
Reaching her hand behind Abbie's neck, Olivia put just enough pressure there to hold their faces together. The kiss, alone, was an intimate ballet of love. Abbie had a way of moving her lips and tongue against Olivia's that could send the detective nearly out of her mind with want. Knowing where this was leading ... at least eventually ... Olivia's free hand moved down the V of Abbie's silky negligee top and glided inside to cup Abbie's breast.
Breaking the kiss, Abbie still smiling, said, "not yet."
"Then don't tease me like that," Olivia softly commented, nuzzling Abbie's neck, kissing her just below her ear. "What have you got up your sleeve, Counselor?"
"I do have something but it's not up my sleeve."
Nipping at Abbie's earlobe, she ran her tongue lightly down the attorney's neck to her collarbone ... a very sensitive area for Abbie, she knew. Hearing her partner moan slightly, Olivia smiled against her lover's throat. Five years together, with many more of dancing around being together, and Abbie Carmichael still excited her as much, if not more, than the first time they made love.
"Remember we talked about having another baby?"
"Mmmm hmmm, I said make the appointment." Olivia was still kissing and nuzzling Abbie's throat.
"What if I told you that the appointment had already been made and that I saw Dr. Fontana the next day?"
Olivia slowly pulled back, studying her lover. "How could you get in that quickly?"
"I told you. The appointment had already been made. A good two months in advance. If you agreed, I wanted to get in to see her as soon as possible before you changed your mind. If you had disagreed, I would have cancelled it."
"And when do we have to go back and do the insemination?"
Olivia looked and sounded lost. "We don't?"
Abbie shook her head, then broke out into a beaming smile. "I'm pregnant, Liv."
Stunned, Olivia opened her mouth to speak but no words came out.
"Remember when we were working on getting pregnant with Sierra, Dr. Fontana did that ultrasound-guided egg retrieval on both of us? We opted for the cryopreservation egg banking? Well, we were coming up close to the two year mark, which is why I made the appointment when I did. Dr. Fontana fertilized your eggs with the same sperm donor who fathered Sierra and then implanted them into me almost four weeks ago. Remember you came home from work one day and I wasn't feeling well? That's the day I went. I'm pregnant, Olivia. With your child."
Still not being able to articulate any words, Olivia's eyes filled with tears.
"I wanted it to be a surprise."
"It is..." Olivia barely whispered, "it's a wonderful surprise, Abbie."
"So I thought you'd want to celebrate..." Abbie couldn't get the words out before Olivia hugged her fiercely, leaning Abbie back to a supine position.
"I wish I could really explain to you how much I love you, Abbie. There are no words and even if there were, eternity is not enough time."
"You can show me how much," Abbie caressed Olivia's cheek, brushing away the wetness from her tears.
"You want to stay here on the couch?"
"Why not? It's not going to be too much longer that we can get away with doing it on the couch. When she starts walking? All bets for privacy are off."
Olivia could have looked into Abbie's eyes forever. They reflected such strength, intelligence, love, admiration and tonight, arousal. She began kissing Abbie again with a hunger that only she could satisfy.
"Don't you even want to finish your glass of champagne?"
"That can wait. I can't."
Abbie's smile was deep as she stared at Olivia's striking face, studying every inch of it, even though she had memorized it long, long ago.
Unbelting the scant piece of clothing Abbie had on, Olivia opened the garment, marveling at Abbie's nakedness underneath, a sight that always enhanced Olivia's desire. She softly and lovingly traced Abbie's now flat stomach, the touch alone causing Abbie's nipples to come alive, a reaction not lost on either woman. Bending down, Olivia gently took a nipple in her mouth, flicking it with her tongue, sucking tenderly, nibbling delicately ... all gestures she knew would drive Abbie to the brink. Releasing her left breast, Olivia gave equal time to her right one, Abbie clutching the back of Olivia's head to her, lost in the sensation. Again Olivia laid back and traced Abbie's abdomen.
"We have a baby in there," Olivia whispered, tapping her finger near Abbie's navel, eyes filling up once again.
"Your baby, Liv. Your child."
"No. Our baby. Our child. Just like Sierra."
"I know. But you need to know how sexy I feel carrying your baby inside me."
"God, I love you so much." Olivia dipped her head again, sealing her lips to Abbie's breast. Working her partner up again, Olivia's hand slowly moved down toward the heat between Abbie's thighs. She gently made circles in the triangle of dark curls she found there, then slid her fingers on the surface of Abbie's folds. "Mmmm," Olivia moaned, still lavishing attention on Abbie's breast.
"See what you do to me?" Abbie whispered, hoarsely, impossibly aroused.
Olivia began slowly stroking the wetness, picking up her pace only slightly when she felt Abbie get swollen and hard.
"God, Liv, you always make me feel so good," Abbie exhaled, as Olivia increased her tempo. Deciding not to enter her and stay where she was, Olivia could tell Abbie was getting close. Her breathing was ragged with quiet moans and she was rocking against Olivia's rhythm. Lifting her head, Olivia began kissing Abbie deeply, passionately, knowing she needed to pull her face away just as Abbie began to climax.
Clinging on to Olivia as though her life depended on it, Abbie rose up, arched her back, broke the kiss and, with her lips right next to Olivia's ear, she released quietly, her body tense with waves of pleasure, softly murmuring her affection and emotion to her lover.
Olivia lay on top of Abbie, caressing her, as Abbie's body calmed down.
"Are you going to get undressed, Liv?" Abbie asked.
Picking her head up, mesmerized by the glow emanating from her partner, Olivia smiled, shaking her head. "Not just yet." She leaned in and kissed Abbie very tenderly, with so much love behind it, Abbie thought she might actually start to cry herself. They stayed in that position for several minutes, just kissing. It didn't take much coaxing for Abbie to be ready again. "A little chilly, are we, Counselor?" Olivia smiled, feeling Abbie's taut nipples against her own chest.
"Oh, yeah," Abbie grinned. "Why don't you warm me up?"
Sliding her hands between Abbie's legs again, she sighed. "Don't need to. Obviously, you're already there." Olivia slowly, carefully, seductively began bestowing long lingering kisses down Abbie's body. When she reached her ultimate destination, she inhaled deeply, intoxicated by the rich scent of Abbie's obvious arousal. Olivia glanced up at her partner just as Abbie's head fell back, anticipating Olivia's next move.
After a few teasing swipes with her tongue, Abbie moaning at the contact, Olivia parted her, savoring the distinct taste of Abbie that got her excited every time. She could feel herself starting to soak through her panties and her own enthusiasm mixed with Abbie's encouraging groans urged her to work faster. Alternating between lapping and sucking, knowing the spot and action that made Abbie react the most favorably, Olivia's head began bobbing slightly, rhythmically. As Abbie reached down and touched her lover's hair, a sure sign she was close, then tightened her body in preparation, she became more vocal as her insides began to get that heightened tickling sensation that radiated from her toes to her brain. She unconsciously bucked against Olivia's mouth, propelling Olivia to work a little harder counteracting that movement. She could feel Abbie building to this one and Olivia knew it was going to be intense, which made her all the more determined to do it right.
Abbie lifted her hips off the couch as Olivia stayed right with her, now thrusting her tongue harder, faster, sucking, licking, licking, sucking, when Abbie finally exploded in orgasm, a reaction that lasted almost a full minute. Then, just as Olivia was slowing down, she felt Abbie brush her hand over Olivia's hair again and she held her breath and constricted her vaginal muscles. Olivia smiled, delighted to take Abbie there again and then eased away, climbing back up the tall Texan's body.
"That was a really good one," Abbie told her, still panting.
"I know. I was there," Olivia grinned at her, removing her slacks and underpants, and then unbuttoned her shirt.
Abbie slid Olivia's shirt off her shoulders, unhooked her bra and then crawled onto Olivia's lap, straddling her.
"Oh, you want more?" Olivia teased.
"No." Abbie had a twinkle in her eye. "I mean yes, but later."
"Tell me what you want, Counselor?" Olivia's voice was low and husky.
"I want you," Abbie tapped Olivia's breast with her index finger, "to do yourself."
"You do? And what will you be doing?"
"Watching," Abbie told her, grinning wickedly.
"Hmmm...we haven't done this is a while. It will be reciprocated, yes? Then I'll get to watch you?"
"Whatever you want, Olivia." Abbie raised up, slightly, her eyes following Olivia's hand as it slid down to her own wetness and began to stroke. There was a look Olivia got on her face when pleasuring herself in front of Abbie that made her irresistibly hot. It was a satisfied expression that settled in once Olivia found her spot, rhythm and the right pressure for that particular time.
Looking deeply into Abbie's eyes, Olivia sexually manipulated herself, rubbing a little harder, a little faster, closing her eyes slowly, her breathing quickening. Watching her lover stimulate herself made Abbie wet all over again. When Olivia began rocking against her own fingers, Abbie leaned in and began kissing her partner urgently, sensually and placed her hands on Olivia's sensitive breasts, circling, kneading, rolling. When Olivia climaxed, Abbie continued to play with Olivia's nipples, not releasing her mouth from their kiss.
Moving her body as close as she could to Olivia's, Abbie lowered herself onto Olivia's hand, still moving, still stroking herself, except now, Abbie felt the back of Olivia's fingers against her own soft, wet flesh. Olivia moaned loudly, rhythmically into Abbie's mouth, finally breaking the kiss when she could no longer breathe.
As Olivia's fingers slowed to a stop, Abbie sat back on Olivia's knees again, raised her torso slightly and took over touching herself where Olivia's knuckles had left off. Abbie was still so wet, so aroused from her previous sessions, mixed with what she was doing now, Olivia could not only see her fingers working, she could hear them, too.
Olivia held on to Abbie's hips but her concentration didn't stray from the movement of Abbie's fingers. Abbie came quickly and hard and then wasted no time pushing Olivia backward to a lying position on the couch and going down on her. She knew just where to put pressure that would get the most results from her partner. When she found her pace, she then inserted two fingers inside Olivia and curled them upward, stroking and thrusting.
Because Olivia was already extremely, extremely aroused from watching Abbie, she came twice in less than two minutes. First from the oral contact and then a powerful vaginal orgasm followed.
They laid on the couch, spent, wrapped up in each other. Olivia lazily reached over to the coffee table and took a couple sips of her champagne. A smirk curled her lips and then erupted into a full-fledged smile.
"What?" Abbie cocked her head, looking at her lover.
"We're going to have another baby," Olivia chuckled, very pleased with the situation.
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