The Message Chapter 11
Author’s Note: Thank you to all of you who have been taking time to give me feedback about the story so far. Your thoughts have proved very helpful so please keep them coming. This story will eventually contain a “loving” relationship between two women. The characters, town and storyline are all products of my imagination. Although Tennessee is “really” a state!
March 2007 © J.A. Breeze
By J.A. Breeze
Casey was sitting at her desk early on Monday morning waiting for Sam to arrive. She had called him the day before to ask him to meet her. While she waited she couldn’t help but smile as she thought of Jennifer’s reaction to her insistence that she file a report about Tessa with the police.
You are one hardheaded woman and I believe I’m going to absolutely love getting to know you better.
It had taken some doing but she had finally convinced Jennifer to return to Wilmington early on Sunday to file a report with the police. Using her contacts, Casey was able to have an officer sent to Jennifer’s house to take her report and check for evidence of forced entry. She had stayed with Jennifer during the interview lending her moral support.
Based on Jennifer’s statement to the police, Casey had prepared an order of protection, which would prevent Tessa from coming near her or contacting her in anyway. If Tessa violated the order, which the judge had signed that morning when Casey presented it to him personally, then she could be arrested.
The officer who had interviewed Jennifer was going to serve Tessa with the order later that morning. He was due anytime to pick it up. The order was also the reason Casey had asked Sam to meet with her. She wanted him to accompany the officer to serve Tessa.
A knock sounded at Casey’s door and before she could say “come in” the door opened and Sam stuck his head in.
“You ready to see me?”
“Sure, Sam. Come on in and have a seat.”
Casey took the document from her desk and handed it to Sam. “There will be an officer coming here shortly to pick this up and serve it. I want you to accompany him.”
Sam took the paper and read it and then lifted an eyebrow as he turned his attention back to Casey.
“And just why does Jennifer Gibson need to be protected from this woman … a … Tessa MacCalister?” he asked as he checked the document one more time. “And even more importantly, what does it have to do with the case we’re working on?”
“That’s just it I’m not sure it does have anything to do with the case, but it’s a theory I want us to carefully consider before we rule it out.”
“It certainly makes sense to follow whatever leads we get and see where they take us.”
“To answer the first part of your question, Tessa has been harassing Jennifer and it appears that she’s been following her. And over the weekend she entered Jennifer’s house while she was sleeping.”
“Did she break in? Harm the woman?”
“Other than scaring her to death once she realized Tessa had been in her house, no. There was not any real physical damage.”
“So how did this all get started?”
“Sam, I promised Jennifer I would do all I can to protect her privacy. She’s dealt with this woman on her own for months because she didn’t want to involve the police and have her personal life scattered all over town.”
“Kind of an interesting idea for a newspaper woman, don’t you think? They sure don’t care about spreading someone else’s personal life all over town.”
“Now, Sam! Jennifer Gibson is a perfectly nice woman who made a mistake that came back to bite her rather hard right in the ass.”
“Are you going to tell me what that mistake was?”
“She met her at a gay bar and they began a sexual relationship. Jennifer ended it before Tessa was ready. Tessa has been trying to prolong the relationship by threatening to expose her as a lesbian. In my opinion, Tessa must be a very sick woman.”
“So you’re saying that the publisher of the newspaper went out playing with the dykes and it’s turned on her? Well, I say she got what she deserved.”
Casey felt like someone had just backhanded her in the face and immediately lashed out at Sam and his ignorance.
“Let me make something perfectly clear to you,” she started in a cold, calm tone as she stood to lean across her desk, palms flat on its surface. “I am one of those dykes, you ignorant ass and I have nothing to be ashamed of nor have I done anything wrong. Don’t you ever let me hear something like that from you, again. Or you will be out of here on your ass. Do you understand me?” Casey had to fight the urge to knock the man out of his chair. But she noticed he had gone deadly pale.
“Goddammit, Casey how was I supposed to know? I didn’t mean anything by it. I just don’t understand women who don’t think they need a man—man and a woman that is the way it was meant to be.”
“Sam, I am not going to sit here and debate homosexuality with you. But I am going to tell you that I will not tolerate any homophobic statements from you. This is your one and only warning. Do you understand?”
Still stunned by the assistant DA’s outburst and revelation, Sam couldn’t do anything more than nod his head.
“Good, now we’ve got a job to do. Let’s get to it.”
“Tell me what you want me to do.”
“I want you to accompany the officer to serve Ms MacCalister with the papers. Let him do his job but I want you to size her up. We need to find out if the threats she is making toward Jennifer have anything to do with our case.”
There she goes again referring to the newspaperwoman by her name. I’d be willing to bet there’s something going on between them that doesn’t have anything to do with this case, Sam thought even as he formed a response that he could share with his boss. “I’ll tag along and see what happens. Who knows maybe we’ll catch a break. I’ve also started doing a background check on Jennifer Gibson and her husband. I should have a report for you by Wednesday.”
“On her and her husband? I don’t remember asking you to include Michael Gibson.”
“You didn’t, kid … a … sorry. You didn’t but it seemed like a logical thing to do. It would be easy enough for someone to get to Jennifer Gibson through her family.”
“I see what you mean. Good thinking, Sam. Be sure to keep me apprised of your findings.”
Further discussion was interrupted when a knock sounded at the door.
“Sam, would you get that for me? I assume it’s the police officer.”
Sam turned to open the door and was greeted by a young man wearing a navy uniform that identified him as an officer with the Wilmington Police Department.
“Come on in young fellow. We were expecting you.” Sam said as he motioned the younger man inside.
“Officer Jacobson, I’d like you to meet Investigator Sam Hardin with my office. Sam this is Jake Jacobson. He’s the officer assigned to Jennifer Gibson’s complaint against Tessa MacCalister.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Hardin. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you,” the officer said as he offered his hand.
“Thank you young man. You can rest assured that they are all true,” Sam said with a chuckle.
“I never doubted that they were, sir.”
“And drop the sir. We’re going to be working together so just call me Sam.”
“Thank you, Sam and I’m Jake.”
“Ma’am do you have the papers ready that I’m to serve?”
“Yes, Jake. I have them right here. Now you understand that all I want you to do is serve the papers while Sam gets a look at this woman and her home?”
“Yes, ma’am. I understand and I also understand that I am not to discuss this case with anyone else at the department. The lieutenant told me this morning to follow your orders.”
“Good, Jake. That’s very good. Now, here are the papers and you have her address. I’ll expect a full report from you both once you’ve seen Ms MacCalister.”
“Come on kid. Let’s go get this job done. I have a lot of work to do this afternoon.”
The younger man immediately rose to his feet and moved toward the door. Sam followed close on his heels but as he reached the door, he paused, turning back to look at Casey. Her head was bowed while she read from a file on her desk. He opened his mouth as if to speak but realized he didn’t know what he wanted to say so he clamped his mouth shut and walked out the door.
Casey had noticed his pause and considered letting him off the hook but he had made her angrier than she had been in quite some time. It’ll do you good to stew awhile, you old fart.
After dropping Courtney and Brandon at school, Jennifer went on to work. She decided it would be best to keep her days as normal as possible while Casey tried to find out more about what Tessa was up to. But no matter how hard she tried she found it almost impossible to concentrate on the business at hand. And, yet, she knew that some things absolutely had to be done and couldn’t be put off any longer.
You can’t let your responsibilities here slide just because your personal life is a mess. You have got to get it together and do your job. She lectured herself as she went over yet another set of financial reports.
“What the hell? Bill McCarty, you are going to have a lot of explaining to do,” Jennifer said as she reached for her phone to dial the sales manager’s office.
“Oh great,” she said as his voicemail picked up. “Bill, it’s Jennifer and I need to see you—the sooner the better. Get back to me, today!”
Turning back to the financial report, she continued to read and make notes. An hour later she was still poring over the reports and the more she read, the angrier she became. Just as she was reaching her boiling point, her cell phone rang.
“Hello, Jennifer. It’s Casey.”
“Casey. Hi. How are you?” Jennifer’s tone automatically warmed when she heard the other woman’s voice.
“I’m good. How about you?”
“It’s proving to be a trying day, but nothing I’m not used to handling.”
“Sorry to hear that. I hope your day improves.”
“Thanks. I’m not counting on it but I do intend to take care of the problem by day’s end.”
“Why is it I have a feeling someone there is not going to be very happy by the time you are finished with them?”
“Casey, you’re reading my mind. But I’m sure you didn’t call to ask how things are going. What’s up?”
“I just wanted to keep you informed. Tessa should be served with the order of protection within the hour. I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“Already? You do move quickly, don’t you?”
“It wasn’t all that fast. I just had to get a judge’s signature and I happen to know where all the judges are.”
“I just bet you do,” Jennifer said as she laughed.
When Jennifer’s laugh reached her, Casey realized she had helped get Jennifer’s focus off the problem at work. “It’s part of the job to know where the judges are. You just never know when you might need one.”
“And do you need one very often?” Jennifer teased.
“Not personally but I do seem to speak to one just about every day.”
“Is there a story in this? Should I be taking notes?”
This time Casey laughed. “I assure you everything is on the up and up. Most of my contact with the judges is just like this morning—getting them to sign warrants or orders.”
“Do you think I should prepare myself for word getting out about Tessa?”
“I spoke to the lieutenant at the police department and he assigned Officer Jacobson to follow through on things. He seems like a good guy and promised to keep the details to himself. He will also submit his written report directly to the lieutenant. But you should know that at some point it’s going to become public record and people will find out.”
“I know it’s bound to happen. Hell, usually it’s my business to make it happen but I have a few things I need to do first so I’m hoping to have a few days.”
“I’ll do what I can to give you some time but ….”
“But it may not be possible. I understand that, Casey, and just so you know, I appreciate what you’ve done already.”
“Just keep in mind that I’m here if you need someone to talk to so please don’t hesitate to call me.”
“I promise I’ll call if I need you. I won’t ever make the mistake of shrugging off your offer again. I feel like you’ve lifted the weight of the world off my shoulders.”
“I’m glad I could help. You hang in there and I promise you we’ll get this all straightened out so you can get on with your life.”
“You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to that.”
“I should let you go and I need to get back to work as well.”
“Thanks for calling, Casey. I’ll talk to you later.”
Officer Jacobson and Sam arrived at Worington Place in the officer’s cruiser. They parked in a lot adjacent to the trendy apartment building and made their way inside. The security guard on duty in the lobby met them.
“Gentlemen. This is a secure building. How may I help you?”
“We’re here on police business and need a little time with one of your tenants,” the officer explained.
“Tell me which tenant and I’ll call and ask if it’s okay to let you in.”
“That won’t be necessary. We’ll announce ourselves but thank you anyway,” the officer responded as he made his way toward the elevator located directly behind the security guard.
“Excuse, me son, but you can’t get into that elevator unless a tenant invites you. Those are the rules.”
Sam watched the exchange between the two men wondering how the young officer would take the obvious lack of respect for his badge. His answer came very quickly when Jacobson responded.
“Listen, pal. I’d hate like crazy to have to charge you with interfering with a police office in the line of duty. Now, I’ve got a job to do and I am going to do it. Are we clear?”
Much to Sam’s surprise the security guard backed down and stepped out of the way. Once they were inside the elevator Sam pushed the button for the tenth floor before speaking to the younger man. “You’re a rather tough cookie aren’t you Jake?”
“Not really. But I have a job to do and I take that seriously.”
“I can see that you do,” Sam replied as his respect for the young police officer grew.
When the elevator reached the tenth floor the men stepped off and started along the hallway. Sam noted the expensive décor that spoke of wealth and position. “I bet it would take a year’s salary to pay three months rent in this place.”
“I don’t doubt it,” the younger man responded.
When they reached Tessa’s door, the officer pushed the button to ring the bell. It took less than a minute for the door to be opened. A strikingly beautiful dark haired woman greeted them.
“How may I help you officer?”
“Are you Tessa MacCalister, ma’am?” Jacobson asked.
“Yes, I am. Now why don’t you step inside and tell me why you’re looking for me?”
She stepped aside to allow the men to enter and then led them along a corridor to a living room. Sam looked around the room while Jacobson handed Tessa the papers demanding she stay away from Jennifer. Everything in the room spoke of wealth. No way is this woman after money from Jennifer Gibson. She has plenty of her own.
Tessa noted the man’s interest in her home with a raised eyebrow. “Like what you see officer …?”
“Hardin. Sam Hardin.”
“Just what is this about?”
“What you have there, ma’am is an order of protection that has been issued against you.”
“And just what does that mean, officer?”
“Do you know Jennifer Gibson?”
“Yes, Jennifer and I are … a … very close friends.”
“Well, according to Ms Gibson you are not. This order of protection requires that you stay away from her at home, at work or anywhere else you may encounter her. That includes calling her by the way. If you violate the order, you can be arrested.”
How dare she do this to me? This is that bitch DA’s doing. She is going to be so very, very sorry that she messed with me. “I understand officer. Will there be anything else?” Tessa asked in tight, clipped tone.
Although she did an admirable job of hiding her emotions, Sam picked up on her clinched jaw and the pulse that was working in her neck. This is one pissed off broad.
“No, ma’am. We just need you to abide by the order of protection so there won’t be anymore trouble.”
“In that case, I’m sure you can find your way out, gentlemen.”
“I’m sure we can, ma’am. Thank you for your time. Have a nice day.”
Tessa held her rage in until she heard the door close behind the men. But the agonizing groan she released was heard by the men outside the apartment door.
“Somebody didn’t take that as well as she wanted us to think. Now did she?”
“She sure is one cold woman. I could have sworn the temperature dropped twenty degrees once she knew what we were here for.”
“I’ll tell you, Jake, there’s something just not right about that woman. She worries me.”
“She sure doesn’t give much away, does she?”
“That depends on what you look for. Did you notice her clinching and releasing her jaw and fists? She was upset all right, but she knows how to control her voice and hide her anger from most people.”
“But the anger is there?”
“Yes, Jake. It’s there right below the surface ready to boil over,” Sam responded as he clapped the younger man on the back. “Well, let’s get out of here. We did what we came to do.”
Agent Matt England had spent the day going through data bases and making telephone calls looking for anything that would tie the bids awarded in other parts of the state to one company or individual.
He had been right Heartland Construction was just a cover. It was when he began to look for the subcontractors the company used for the actual work that things got interesting.
“Could it possibly be that this whole thing has been operating from right here in Wilmington all this time? Casey is not going to believe this.” The agent flipped open his cell and began to dial Casey’s number. He rechecked the papers in front of him while he waited for the connection.
“Casey, it’s Matt. I think I’ve found something and you aren’t going to believe it. I can head straight over if you have time.”
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