Houdini’s Box

Part 6

By: Girl Bard


Please see Part 1 for disclaimer.

Many thanks to everyone who mailed me feedback! Keep it coming!



June 26, 2000

Wow, unpacking is way more fun than packing. I unfold my clothes from the various bags and boxes I brought with me. Bean sniffs the inside of the cartons with excitement, her little tail wagging frantically.

"I know, I know." I tell her, scratching her black and white ears. "Your toys are in here somewhere." She pants and continues her investigation of the cartons.

Jaden helped me unload my car last night. We had such a fun weekend, after our trail ride we went for ice cream and then yesterday we had a lazy Sunday in bed.

And a pleasurable Sunday in bed, I smile to myself as I think back to Jaden's amorous mood of yesterday.

My smile turns to a slight pout as I continue to unfold my clothes and other personal items. Jaden had to go to stupid work today; she said that she had some time off this week. I was really looking forward to spending some time with her, and I know how much this time off meant to her.

Before she left this morning, she showed me where I could put my stuff in her spare bedroom. It is mostly empty and she's using it for storage, but there is an extra dresser and a closet for my clothes.

I finish with my clothes and start trying to find a place for various things I brought. I give a grateful Bean the rest of her toys and she carries each one off to a different hiding place. We've discovered that when we're not home she likes to sleep in Jaden's dirty laundry basket. I'm sure she's hiding a few in there.

I take my unicorn that Jaden gave me for Valentine's out of the box. Smoothing his rumpled mane, I kiss his furry nose and head into the next room, placing him on Jaden's bed. He looks like he belongs there, sitting regally on top of the unmade sheets.

I have a few pictures in frames that I brought, and I leave them in the box. I don't know how many of my personal items Jaden wants around. She keeps her apartment so tidy, and has so few of her own personal things.

I leave most everything else in their boxes. Propping my guitar against the wall, I leave the room and head for the kitchen. I'm starving, and I need to eat breakfast before I head out.

Since Jaden had to go to the station this morning, I want to use this time to drive around and learn my way around here. Now that my car is unloaded, I should really take her for a spin.

I make myself a bagel and spread it lavishly with cream cheese. Popping open a can of coke, I walk over to the bay window overlooking the ocean. It's a dreary day, the sun hasn't come out of hiding yet.

It looks windy, if the ocean is any indication. The gray water carries each whitecap crashing towards the shore and I involuntarily shiver, remembering the last time I saw the Atlantic like that.

Too up-close and personal. As much as I love the water, I don't want to be back out on it anytime soon.

I set my Coke down on the mantle of Jaden's huge stone fireplace. I can't wait for winter, to start a fire and have picnic lunches on a blanket on the floor.

If I'm still living here by then.

Since I moved here, Jaden and I have kept things superficial. We haven't talked about how long I'll be here, and what my plans are. We haven't talked about Jaden's history of drug abuse, or any more about her family.

And I still don't know who that damned guy in the picture is. I study the picture again, the one on Jaden's mantle of the dark-haired man with his arm around her. She looks younger in the picture, probably just out of high school and almost sickly thin. Her hair is dull compared to it's usual healthy shine, yet she still regains her regal beauty.

I know we need to talk and clarify things. But right now I think the both of us are just trying to relax and become accustomed to each other.

Shower, get dressed, and make it to my car before the rain hits. That's my goal for this morning.

I finish my breakfast and head for the bathroom.



Later that morning:


Tap. Tapity-tap tap tapity-tap. I tensely strike the edge of my insulated travel mug with my pen. Eyes peer at me from around the large conference table, and I return their gaze with a level, even stare of my own. As expected, their eyes dart nervously back down to the surface of the shiny wooden table and I smile.

This sucks. I hate new assignment day and I know that something bad is going to happen. Grace and I had a great weekend and I was really looking forward to some time off. I asked for a few days this week to have free so I could show Grace around and get her orientated with the area.

Last night when I received a call asking me to report for a new assignment this morning, I almost ripped the phone out of the wall. It has to be something shitty, or else it could have waited.

Whatever. I snort softly under my breath, continuing my assault on my defenseless mug. I can handle just about anything, but I really will not be able to deal if I have to work with these losers. Sitting at the table surrounding me are the most pathetic bunch of cops I've ever worked with. They are the ones on the force that make you wonder if monkeys could do this job. I'm sure the monkeys would do better.

The captain struts in, his large chest proudly puffed up. What a complete asshole to call me in here for some bullshit. He sits and slams his hand down on the table, causing everyone else to jump. Heh. I love it that he can't scare me.

"New assignment, starting this morning." He barks, and the heads of the other officers hang slightly. I just glare at him coolly, never ceasing my repeated tapping on my mug. He looks at me, frowning; his lined face set and hard. I smile brightly at him and continue my annoying drumming.

"Chaney, Williams, and Gillen." He growls, and the officers stand up. I chuckle, noticing that Chaney is at least twenty pounds heavier than the last time I saw him. The captain ignores me and continues informing the trio of their new assignment. Williams is a rookie whose partner is now retired. My guess is that the captain is sticking him with Chaney and Gillen to get more field experience.

"Understand?" He finishes, and the trio nod their heads. "Dismissed." The captain orders and the three men leave. Guess I was wrong. Chaney has desk duty until he slims down and Williams is now partnered with Gillen. If that isn't the blind leading the blind....

"Parson and Carr, we need men on the canine unit. Report to Jacobs for training." The two nod. "Dismissed." The captain orders and the two exit quickly, leaving me alone with him. Great, now not only will they be idiots, but they will be idiots with dogs.

"Phillips!" My boss demands and I sigh. I don't stand, but simply raise my eyebrows at him. Tap-tap-tap-tapity-tapity-tap. I love this job.

"You are officially removed from the mounted program." He begins, and before he can continue I stand, dwarfing his seated form with my height.

"What?" I snarl.

He puts his hands up defensively. "Don't be a hothead Phillips, let me explain." Regardless of my personal feelings for him or for what he is going to say, I have to respect him. I don't have to like it though. And I sure as hell don't have to make it easy for him.

I take my seat again, and pick up my pen. Resuming my drumming I struggle to retain my cool persona from before.

"Continue." I order him, regaining control of the conversation.

He pauses, looking briefly in his manila folder for the details of my new assignment. I recognize it as a stalling technique, as much as I love to antagonize him and call him an asshole, he isn't that bad of a guy once you get to know him. He's fully capable and intelligent in his role and it's not his fault that most of this squad are idiots.

"Well?" I ask again, meeting his gaze.

"I need you to go under." He begins slowly.

"Why?" I ask, determined to maintain the upper hand.

"We have a tip that a suspect involved with illegal drugs is in the area. I need you to help find and convict him."

I raise my eyebrows, absorbing this information. Probably something I shouldn't get involved with because of my history of drug abuse, but I can't exactly say to the captain, "Oh, sorry, I used to be an addict, this is too personal."

"Why me?" I answer instead, my voice even and calm. "I have no experience in this field."

"Because you're the best I've got." He answers, his eyes beseeching. Jesus Christ, the man is practically begging. "Jaden.." He starts, and I look at him, surprised at his use of my first name.

"Listen." He tries again. "This guy is good, and he's not stupid. He probably has contacts around this entire city and knows the face of every one of my detectives. I need a fresh face, someone who has never done this kind of work." He clenches his hands, and I realize how important this is to him.

"I don't want to have to get the feds involved anymore than I have too, Phillips."

Ah, now that makes sense. The captain wants to get this done quickly before the FBI or DEA moves in.

"Details." I order, resolved to understand the depth of this assignment before I commit to anything.

"I need you to get involved in the culture, do some exchanges and purchases, party a bit, and find out any information that you can. After we process the information as well as this suspect's other alleged crimes, we will move in to prosecute." He continues, his words coming out in a rush. "With your help of course." He finishes, and I smile.

That's what I was waiting to hear. I don't want to get involved with something only to have it taken out of my hands for some inept officer to finish.

"I always finish a project I start." I inform the captain, and he nods slowly.

"I know Phillips, that's why I need you."

"What's in it for me?" I inquire. He raises his heavy brow in question.

"What do you need?" He states, folding his large hands together.

"Time off." I respond flatly. "My friend from Ohio just moved in with me and I need some time off." I clear my throat. "I had requested some for this week, but that isn't going to happen, is it now?"

He pauses, thinking about my request. "No, if you agree to this assignment, it won't." He answers honestly. "But after this is over, you make your own terms. As much time as you need."

"A month will suffice." I answer and he almost chokes on his tongue. He was thinking a week, maybe two. But he doesn't protest, and instead just nods his head.

"This must be big." I tell him, sipping the rest of my lukewarm tea. Insulating my ass, I tell myself as I look disdainfully at my mug.

"It is." He answers simply, sliding over the manila folder.

I open it, and see the face of the man that killed my brother.

Part 7: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!

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