I am lying on my side watching him breathe slowly. His eyes are closed and I find my eyes resting on the scar. As his chest rises I can barely see it; only his dark nipple amidst the pale flesh. When he exhales, the dark scar will appear on the horizon. Slowly I study him. His tough, sinewy neck twists gently and his profile points just left of center. Perfectly aligned with his jaw, his nose angles slightly toward me so that I can see just a little more than his silhouette. His perfect lips close around his wonderful teeth and his dark hair falls back against the pillow.
While I lie here thinking about his perfection or, at least his perfection to me, I am overcome with the feeling of betrayal. I know the feeling of love in my heart is a lie.
Several days ago, he got a phone call at three in the morning. I know we sleep in my bed so it seems the call would have been for me, however that Meg – because he has begged me to stop calling her Dragon Lady – has started forcing him to carry around a cell phone so that she can beckon him anytime. The thing is, she would never call him in the middle of the night. Never.
Of course, I'm not one to believe in never so it's not like I trusted my instinct on that. No. Instead, as soon as he was in the shower the next morning, I snatched the cell phone and looked at the incoming phone calls. He asked me once if there was some way to delete his list of calls. It's a good thing I said I didn't know how to do it on his phone and he didn't ask anyone else. The phone number was unfamiliar. Okay, she could have been calling from another number. I wrote the number down, then when he was at work that afternoon I looked up the number in the reverse directory. Why did he get a call from Canary, a well known transgender club?
I thought perhaps it was just some odd fetish. I mean, I did find that dress hidden in the back of his file cabinet that one time. I still couldn't figure out why the call would come from the club and at such an hour, but I played along. First I told him I wanted to see a drag show, just for fun. Then I told him I thought it might be a little fun. Eventually I got to the point of telling him that I thought he'd make a sexy woman and would he try dressing up for me? Interestingly, he said he would do it if it was what I really wanted, but when I told him I thought we should go to the Canary Club, he declined.
Well, last night we made love, but it was distant. I'm not sure if he was distant or I was, but when he fell asleep I got up to pee. I tripped over his jacket and as I picked it up, something fell out. I shouldn't have been nosey, but after the odd phone call, the odd behaviour, and the disconnected sex I couldn't help myself. I picked up the note and I even unfolded it. I watched him from the corner of my eye as I opened it. All it said was CBA and 4:00am. That meant he had a date tonight. I folded it back up and slipped it into an inside pocket.
I notice his eyes beginning to flutter so I close mine. I feel him getting out of bed. While he is moving around the room I roll over, sighing sleepily a little. Without overplaying it, I snuggle back into my pillow. A moment later a kiss my touches forehead lightly. I have been debating whether or not to confront him and opt for the bait and corner route. Opening my eyes, I squint and try to look as sleepy as possible.
"What time is it?" I ask.
"It's early, Ray," he says. "Go back to sleep."
I hesitate a moment before sitting up. "Where are you going?"
Though keeping my eyes partly closed to look as though I just woke, I focus so that I can read his expression. His face drops. What did that mean? "I need to get in early today," he says smoothly, though I can tell he is lying.
He frowns. "I have a lot to do."
Shifting, he pulls on his jacket and buttons it halfway. "I'm sorry, Ray. I'm late. I really should go."
"Is something wrong?"
"No. Of course not." Again with the lying, but now is not the time to call him on it. I need proof before I can justify cutting off his dick.
"Are you sure?" I press.
"What could be wrong?"
I purse my lips before responding. "It's just that things have been sort of queer between us. Is there anything you want to tell me?"
He is standing there for too long before finally stepping up to the bed. He sits beside me and kisses my lips. Still it is distant. "There's nothing to tell you," he persists. "I love you." The last remark he says as though he's forced to say it.
I look away. That lie would cost him. Now all I want is to wave his castrated dick in the air. He loves me, but he's fucking someone else. Mr. Honesty is even lying to me about there being a problem. He knows there's a problem and he knows there is something to tell me, yet he lies. I want to be hurt, but instead I'm angry. I plaster a grin on my face. "It's only 3:30. Are you sure you have to leave so early?"
"It's 3:45, actually."
"It's still early. Most people would call this the middle of the night."
This time when he glanced away, I see something strange. It seems like pain. I knew it would only be a matter of time before he felt remorse for lying to me. He's really just the mountie version of Jiminy Cricket. I watch him take his hat in his hands before he responds with a change of subject. "I'll meet you at lunch time as I promised," he says.
I nod slowly and he watches me. After a few seconds have passed, I lie down again and pull the covers over my shoulder. He approaches me, touches my arm, then leaves.
The instant I hear the door close, I jump from the bed. I throw on my clothes as fast as I can, barely pushing my feet into black boots before I run to the door and open it.
I watch him stand on the corner for almost fifteen minutes before a cab pulls up and he gets inside. A cab? He doesn't take cabs. I know there must be a fishy reason for the cab so I tuck it into the file in my brain with the rest of the facts I have. I make sure to get the number off it before I run full speed to the GTO and tear out of the parking lot. I notice it turning down Fifth Street so of course I start that direction. I've got my cell phone handy so that I can call the cab company for a location if I need it, but I don't. I spot a yellow car turning onto Lois Lane. I take a moment to think about what the city was thinking when they permitted that name for the street. I bet every town has a Lois Lane.
I speed around other cars to catch up. Once I'm sure I'm behind the correct cab, I back off.
It crosses town before driving into a dark alley behind a gas station. I park across the street under a burned out street lamp. He gets out and walks up to a back entrance. I watch him wait there for about five minutes before the door opens. It blocks my view of the person holding it, but Fraser disappears inside the building and the cab drives away.
I wait outside for almost an hour. A new cab pulls into the alley and I sit up, glancing at my watch. It's nearly 5 am as he comes out and gets into the taxi. The figure who watches him get in and closes the door for him is so dimly lit, I can't make him out. The taxi begins to move again and I debate for a moment if I should follow it, but instead I decide the figure is more interesting. He watches the cab until it is gone from the alley, then he reaches just inside the door and comes out with a big purple bag. He carries it down the street. I wait until he's nearly out of sight before I start the car again and follow him around the corner. He passes Canary and goes down a side alley, then into a door from the alley. I know it's the back entrance to the club.
I have to decide what to do. I know this is the man he's having the affair with and I'm desperate to meet him. I wait a long time before I take out my cell phone and call the Consulate. I ask for Fraser. He answers. I confirm our lunch date now that I know where he is and he hesitates before responding.
Once I hang up, I get out of my car and cross the street. The sign on the door says it doesn't open until 8 pm, but I try opening it. Finding it securely locked, I lean against the window and look inside. All I see is a counter and a hallway. I walk around the side of the building and pull on the heavy metal door. When it opens, I move inside tentatively.
A heavy man with low eyebrows sees me and approaches. "Can I help you?" he asks gruffly.
I straighten. "I'm just looking for someone," I say.
He folds his arm. "I don't think so," he says.
"Because the only people here are queens rehearsing for tonight's show. If someone was expecting you, they would have told me."
He steps closer, trying to threaten me, but I'm not intimidated. I show my badge. "I just had a couple questions for one of them," I say.
Without missing a beat, he steps even closer. "Well, unless you got a warrant."
I put up a hand. "All right, all right," I say and turn to leave.
Tonight I'll come see the show, I decide. I think I may have had enough of a look at the guy to recognize him even in costume, but I'm not sure. I figure I'll take my chances because I just have to know. I get back in my car and drive to the station.
I'm sitting in the club drinking a beer with music going on all around me. A majority of the patrons are, of course, drag queens. I'm in the minority of those not dressed up tonight. The show starts with two of them in matching black sequin dresses lip syncing to Whitney Houston.
I have five beers in me by the time hour two rolls around and I see him. At least, I think it's him. His dazzling purple gown flashes against the light and a fluffy blonde wig covers his eyes a little, but I'm sure it's him. Make that her, I suppose. She calls herself Violet and sings to Billie Holiday. Somehow this surprises me. When she's finished, she goes backstage. I think about the way she moved. The face seemed familiar, but she moved a certain way, in some ways the same as she had when dressed as a man. Fifteen minutes later she comes out carrying the purple bag which she sets near a bouncer. A moment later she's out on the floor flirting with men.
I casually bump into her and excuse myself. She smiles and says "No problem," in a sweet voice. I find myself smiling back despite myself.
She has really nice eyes and for an instant I can see why Fraser fell for her, but just as suddenly, I come back to reality. Unfortunately, I hadn't taken time to plan out what I wanted to say. As usual, I let my emotions rule. "Can I buy you a drink?" I ask.
Her heels are so high that she is looking down at me. She cocks her head. "Sure, baby," she says. She orders a cosmopolitan and as she lifts the glimmering glass, I notice her dainty purple nails with diamond rhinestones.
She takes a sip and I watch her until she meets my gaze. "Got a boyfriend?" I ask.
She lowers her chin and looks through her long lashes. "Why? Would you like to be him?" She manages to have a very feminine voice, though it's a little deep. It blends into the perfect sexy-vixen sound.
My lips are taught and I know I look serious. "Do you?"
She stares at me a moment. "Not exactly."
"What does that mean?"
"It's not serious. He and I are just fooling around." She leans toward me a little. "Does that scare you off?"
"I was just curious." She touches my shoulder with her free hand and sips her cosmo again.
The anger is swelling in me. I'm not sure what to say so I just turn. She grabs for me, but I walk away. Out in the parking lot I sit in the car my hands on the steering wheel, and I stare. I stare at nothing, though what I see is not that. It's Fraser. He's laughing at me, lying to me, hurting me without a care. He's turning into a demon before my eyes that I cannot trust. He is not what I believed him to be. I've never been so angry. I think his entire persona is bullshit.
When I get home, I can't even look at him. I tell him I think I got food poisoning at lunch. In reality what I am thinking is how I'm going to follow him like a fly. I'm going to keep checking his pockets and his cell phone. I'll be one step ahead of him until I catch him in the act. He'll never see it coming and then I'll make him pay.
But nothing happens.
For a week, he's perfect. I'm waiting and watching and making myself crazy, but nothing happens.
Just when I think I may have been crazy all along, I see his phone flashing. I didn't even notice he had left it on my desk until I saw it flash. If there is a message, it flashes and vibrates every thirty minutes to remind him to answer it. I pick it up and contemplate, but only for a second before I call the voice mail.
I hear her voice, only deeper today. "Meet me at Canary Sunday morning at 5. It's the only time. Just be careful. I don't want to get caught." I hang up and stare at it a moment. I set it back on my desk, then call it, touching the button to silence the ring as I do. I leave a short message so that it will start flashing and vibrating again. Once I've done it, I call the Consulate and ask for him.
"Hi, Ray. Is there a problem?"
I'm grabbing my jacket and leaving the squad room. "I just called your cell, but you didn't answer."
He pauses. "Oh dear. I think I may have left it in the detective's division."
"Ah. Well, I'll pick it up when I go back there. I just wondered what you were doing this weekend."
"I thought we could get away. I'm thinking we could drive out of town tonight and stay in a hotel. It could be nice."
"That would be lovely, Ray. Why don't you make reservations somewhere and I'll let the Inspector know that I'd like to leave early."
"Fantastic. Listen, if you go by the bull pen before I do, don't forget to grab your phone. I'll want to get hold of you later."
"Yes, of course," he says.
Now I've planted the seed. I carefully avoid the squad room all day. When I finally go, his phone is gone. I smile a little. Welsh stops at my desk and I tell him I'm leaving town since I've got some time off. He says he thinks it's a good idea and tells me to leave early.
I drive to the Consulate and find Fraser in his office. He's hovering over paperwork. "Are you going to be done soon?" I ask.
He nods. "Inspector Thatcher just asked me to finish these reports before I go. Did you find someplace for us to stay?"
I shrug. "Yeah, it's a little place called Village Park. I hear it's nice."
"I'm sure it will be."
"They said we have to check out by noon on Sunday. I figure..."
"Sunday?" he asked.
"Yeah. The weekend we said."
"I think we should come back tomorrow night. I might be needed."
"On Saturday night?"
"Or Sunday. If we leave now, we'll have plenty of time to..."
"Why do you need to be back, Fraser," I ask, the firmness in my voice surprising myself as much as him.
"I just do, Ray," he says firmly. "I've got responsibilities."
I fold my arms. "You can't even give me an entire weekend?"
"Is there someone else?" I ask flatly.
"Come on, Ray. Stop this. You're being ridiculous."
"Am I?" I ask. He says nothing, just stares at me. "Maybe this weekend was a bad idea," I snap.
He looks down. "I'm sorry you feel that way," he says.
"I'm sorry that you feel I'm not important."
"I never said that."
"Don't call me," I snarl as I storm from his office, slamming the door.
I know that on Sunday morning the only people at the club will be performers. I spend Saturday at the stores picking out the perfect blue dress to bring out my eyes and a glittering blue wig. Before 5, I have to do my makeup four times before I think I look good enough and as soon as I put on the shoes I realize I'll have to work on walking. I drive to the club, arriving early. I meet the same bear. I tell him I'm new and he lets me pass. I start down the hall, then duck into a maintenance closet. I wait until I hear Fraser, then I peek my head out. The bear tells him that Violet was expecting him. As Fraser passes the closet, I close the door, then open it again when he is gone. Standing beside the dressing room curtain, I hear Violet tell him that there is something in the office. She then says that the manager came unexpectedly, but would leave soon so Fraser would have to wait.
I go around the back rooms until I find a little office. No one is in it, so I start to look around. I hope to find something that belongs to Fraser, something solid enough to confront him.
As I finger through a drawer, I hear the door start to open. Panicked, I duck into the large wardrobe-cabinet with metal doors and tiny vents. In it I find myself among a few props and costumes. Someone enters and makes a phone call. I hear him say that he is about to leave, then he hangs up.
I hear the door close and tentatively make my way out, but just as I open the door, I spot the knob turning again so I jump back in. I hear rustling, the sounds of searching, so I carefully open the door a crack. I see Fraser's back as he leans over the desk, searching for something.
The door opens again and he straightens. Violet steps in and quickly closes the door behind herself. "You've got to hide. He came back."
"What about you?" Fraser asks.
"Never mind," she says. "In there," she snaps, pointing at me so I fall back into the shadows.
Fraser opens the other door and steps inside. He looks at me and I can see that he definitely wants to say something, but the door opens again and he is listening.
"Violet. What are you doing here?" asks the man I heard on the phone a few moments before.
"I was hoping to catch you before you left. I thought I'd missed you," she says.
"Did you need something?"
She sighs. "Well, I'm thinking of changing the act and I wanted your permission."
He lets out a breath. "I'm very late. Can we talk about it later?"
"Sure," she says. "Sorry to bother you."
"No, it's okay. Just catch me before the weekend," he says, grabbing something from the desk. "I've really got to go," he adds, pushing her out before he closes the door.
Fraser looks at me a moment, up and down. "That colour is lovely on you," he says.
I furrow my brow. "Has it escaped your attention that I'm wearing a dress and standing in a closet?" I ask.
He smiles. "No. I just think you've chosen a lovely colour."
"What the fuck, Fraser?"
He straightens. "Pardon me?"
"You're cheating on me, aren't you?"
"Violet?" he asks, startled. "Of course not!"
"Then what's with all the secret meetings? What's this all about? Did you leave something in this office that would get the two of you caught?"
"I told you, Ray, I'm not having an affair."
"I know you lied."
He looks upset. "I tried not to lie, Ray, but I had to," he admits.
"Because you didn't want to get caught?" I press.
"Well, yes," he says, then leans forward. "But not for what you think."
"Then what?" I demand to know. "Tell me now or I'm leaving and this is over."
Fraser nods slowly. "Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I only did what I did because I knew that your knowledge would unleash a great number of events that could cause me to lose you."
As he tells me the tale of his last few weeks I feel the anger building, but not in the way I had expected. I fold my arms and I listen as he speaks, holding my reaction in a very tight grip. I fear what I'll do if even the slightest bit of the anger slips loose. It is me he has to protect and I realize that what he had said to begin was true.
As he finishes, I feel the tearing of my personality. Part of me wants to fuck him; to push him up against the side of the wardrobe and thank him for considering the consequences of my actions. I want to prove to him that I can control my emotions. Maybe I just don't want him to worry.
I stand still for several seconds, watching him watch me for a reaction of some kind. I remain there as if the closet keeps the story fiction. I keep the back of my mind focused on what he has said. I know I want to get out, to run, to start the journey Fraser fears I'll make. He touches my face. "Let me handle it, Ray," he whispers softly. "I don't want to lose you."
I push the angered desire aside and lean forward to kiss him, hard, taking his lips into my mouth and grabbing at his clothes. My libido decides that it has to remain fiction just a little longer. It decides we will stay in the cabinet.
I wanted to show my appreciation for the fact that he knew that if I knew what he knew (follow me?) that I would never think about the consequences and would simply act. I have my hand down his pants and though I can sense he is reluctant to fuck right here, right now, I don't give him the chance to state it. I am ripping at his shirt when he gives in and gathers the bottom of the dress up to my waist so that he can grasp me. The wardrobe shakes in a rhythm as I fuck him hard enough to make him moan and come all down his front. I laugh a little as soon as I have come and start to straighten the hem of the awful dress.
He licks his lower lip and looks at me. Lowering his head slightly, his tone becomes humble. "What are you going to do now, Ray?" he asks. His voice is slightly gruff, barely breathless, and sexy. I touch his groin and kiss him again. He lets me for a minute before he pulls away and forces me to meet his gaze. "Don't do anything you'll later regret," he says.
"You're worried about what I'll regret?" I say, pushing a kind tone from my voice box for effect, then gritting my teeth. "I will make him regret..."
"I just wanted to protect you."
I shrug away from him and throw the door to the wardrobe open. "Fuck you!" I snap as I bound from the room. If Fraser is going to try to protect the man from me, then I'll take matters into my own hands – right between my fingers as I squeeze the life from him.
I hear Fraser call out after me. I ignore it and imagine his eyes rolling back into his head, blood pouring from his mouth, bruises covering his body.
Fraser is running after me when I get to the dressing room. Six queens jump back, clutching their costumes and watching me. I spot Violet. My feet thud in her direction. Fraser grabs my arm fiercely. He has never hurt me before, but his fingers dig painfully into my bicep. "What do you expect to do?" he snaps.
I flip my body, both hands contacting his chest. I use the force of my entire body to push him away and he falls back. Two more thuds from my feet and I've got my hands around Violet's neck. I'm over her and her ass is smashed to the vanity table, her head pressing against the mirror as she grabs for leverage. "Where is he?" I yell, my nose an inch from hers, my cock rubbing against cock.
"I don't know!" she screeches.
I jerk her head and slam it against the glass of the mirror. Her eyes close a second. "Where the hell do I find him?" I scream.
Fraser has recovered and has his arms wrapped around my torso, pulling me away. "I told you she doesn't know!" he shouts into my ear.
"You trust too much. She's lying," I growl, keeping my vision focused on her. I'm convinced she knows more than she has told. In fact, I'm convinced she knows everything. Paranoia tells me she was part of the entire plan. My mind is certain that Violet is the key.
Then I see a welling in her eye, a gathering of moisture. I'm bracing myself so that Fraser can't pull me off and I shake her neck. Her wig which has been askew falls away completely and I see a young man staring at me, trying not to cry but failing. Something inside of me connects to him or perhaps I see him connecting to my pain in that instant as I relax just enough for Fraser to pull me away. Violet sits up, holding her neck and feeling her short-shaved head for the lack of disguise, of cover. I see a story in Violet's eyes as the tear falls down her cheek and she grasps desperately for the wig to pull over her head.
Violet swallows hard and the drag queens in the room relax a little. "I told you she doesn't know anything," Fraser breathes into my ear, reminding me.
I look down, nodding, then look at her again. "Just tell me where to find your boss, then," I say.
She glances over my shoulder at Fraser, then looks at me again. "If you try this with him, he'll warn Russell before you ever have a chance to get at him. He'll be gone in a flash."
I grit my teeth. She's right. I rub my head and can no longer look at her.
Fraser loosens his grip. "It's simply more logical to handle this my way," he says.
I sniff and pull away from him. I have to sidestep in order to move around him, but I leave without a word. I hear him make an apology just before he follows me into the hall. I storm toward the GTO, swinging the driver's side door open.
"There's a file in his office. We should go back in and find it." Fraser acts as though it makes a difference. He has told me what the file contains. It simply leads us to the next piece of string which, he hopes gives us an address for Russell, though he has believed many pieces of string would give the address. He has spent the last few weeks trying to get a precise location and still he comes up short.
I sit down and close the door, leaning out the window then I shake my head. "Doesn't matter, Fraser."
"What are you planning to do, Ray?' he asks, apparently desperate to know what I intend to do.
"Bury him in the woods. Deep. That's the downfall of killers, Fraser. They bury their victims in shallow graves. I figure if I work at it long enough I can bury him at least six feet underground." I start the engine and he slaps his hand on the door, wrapping his fingers over the open window frame. I look up at him and smirk as I put the car in gear.
"Don't do something stupid Ray. If you kill him, you'll be arrested and I won't be able to see you – perhaps ever again. I can't lose you."
I glare. "You kept this a secret from me for weeks. He could have been dead weeks ago. Your feelings aren't really important here, Fraser. This grudge is older than you and you had no right, no right interfering." I thrust my foot against the gas pedal and watch in my rear view mirror as he jerks his hand away and I leave him in the proverbial dust.
There is another story here, you see. There is a story that happened before Fraser.
I have a brother. I had a brother. Fletcher Thomas Kowalski. We called him Tom, but Mom called him Fletcher. Not much of a surprise there.
I really don't like to talk about it because it hurts so much. Most of the time I pretend I don't even think about him anymore, but the truth is, I think about him all the time. I let him exist in the back of my mind. He hasn't grown there since his death. I have kept him as a stationary being.
It's been seven years since his death. I can't say it exactly hurts anymore. I've managed to fill the emptiness. I do miss him, though, and I think of him.
Along with his death, I carry guilt. That's the part which creates the drama, isn't it? Of course, many people feel guilt when a loved one dies. I don't feel only guilt, I feel responsibility. That's the focus. Responsibility.
My brother is younger than me. Was. Much younger. Seven years ago he was seventeen. He was getting ready to graduate high school with honors. I was still pretty new on the force, but had some experience under my belt.
The department had been keeping close tabs on an organization which dealt large amounts of cocaine, the drug of choice back then. Unfortunately they were just cautious enough to keep themselves from getting caught. Sure we caught a runner every now and then, but they were expendable. Because I was fairly new, no one knew me, not by appearance anyway. I ended up in many operations as backup; the homeless man hovering over a garbage can or a street cleaner in an orange vest.
More experienced officers were sent undercover in an attempt to infiltrate the organization. I knew few of them, but I knew not to draw attention to them in any way.
Back then I went to dinner at my parent's home every Sunday afternoon. One week, Tom brought a new friend. He looked about nineteen years old and had black hair slicked back. He dressed much like my brother and explained that they had met at a girl's party. I thought little of it at the time.
Tom seemed to spend more and more time with this kid who called himself Russell over the next four or five weeks.
Meanwhile, two officers had managed to get inside the system. One night they set up a sting and I got to pretend to be the guy working on a broken fire hydrant. All at once it went down. Some of the kids who followed the gang around had been caught in the chaos and were left on the asphalt bleeding or dead before we secured the scene. I had my gun pointed at one. As I approached, the blood on his face nearly made him unidentifiable. The closer I got, however, the more I could hear from him. He chuckled. He was chuckling harder and harder so that by the time I neared him, he laughed. I recognized Russell upon approaching him.
"What's so funny?" I had snapped at him.
He just laughed. Suddenly I thought of Tom. Had this punk asshole brought him here? Was he one of the kids lying dead in the street?
"Did you know I was a police officer?" I asked.
"Of course," he remarked, then found new amusement.
I frowned. "Did you bring Tom here?"
Russell's expression was of shock, then satisfaction. He had stopped laughing and just stared at the barrel of my gun.
An officer came by and touched my arm. "Kowalski, you've got a call."
I shook my head. "I'm kind of busy."
The hand seemed gentle. "I think you should take it. I've got this one," he said into my ear.
I paused a second, turning to the older man who put his other hand over my weapon. "Commander's got the radio in his car waiting for you."
I couldn't imagine why this officer seemed so insistent, but after making sure he had an eye on Russell, I walked across the to the commander's car. He handed me his radio, then turned away. I spoke into it. Words were said. I couldn't believe them. My hand began to shake and I dropped the radio.
Tom's body had just been found at the bottom of a ravine. It appeared he had jumped from an overpass.
I looked across to where the officer began to put handcuffs on Russell. I then had a new realization. While we were infiltrating their organization, he had been sent to penetrate ours. How many of them had figured out ways to get revenge on us before we even took them down?
I wiped my sweaty brow. Tom hadn't jumped. That I knew in my heart. Russell had pushed him.
And Tom wasn't the only one. Three other officer's lost people close to them, one other at Russell's hand. It had been carried out with precision, preparation, and pure evil.
While I knew Tom's death wasn't an suicide as fact, there was no proof; at least not right away. He jumped bail and disappeared before the witnesses came forward. I have spent the last 7 years imagining how Russell would pay.
And Fraser fits into this how? Well, apparently a young man had been arrested in Canada about five years ago. No one made the connections. Upon his release he was brought back to the United States. Fraser received paperwork about the criminal and when he ran it through the computers he found the warrant for Tom's death, but before telling me or anyone, he wanted to track Russell down. He didn't want Russell to have another chance to escape.
Of course he didn't tell me because he knew that Russell was the one person I honest to God would actually murder and not feel much remorse.
What Fraser learned eventually led him to the owner of Canary. This man, Forsythe, had known Russell's cousin, Kevin. Fraser felt that through those channels he could get to Russell.
Upon investigating Forsythe, Fraser met Violet. When he learned that Violet had once dated Kevin, he became very interested in any help she could provide. There was a kink in the works, however. Violet had, at the time, been known as Vlad, his given name. Vlad found Kevin to be extremely abusive. Vlad broke things off with Kevin, knowing Kevin would not accept his desire to be a woman. Kevin heard what his ex had been up to and found Vlad as Violet and became even more abusive. Violet worked hard to separate herself from that life in order to protect herself. That was how she came to work at The Canary. Forsythe knew Kevin and Russell were both very bad men. He kept tabs on them only so that he could act as a buffer between them and Violet. He felt it necessary to protect her ever since they had fallen in love.
Though Fraser's intentions were to get Russell out of the picture, he could do nothing to Kevin. Kevin seemed to have no involvement in illegal activities. Forsythe refused to give Fraser any information about the men for fear that once Russell was jailed, Kevin would find his way back to Violet. That was when Fraser got sneaky.
Over the course of the investigation, he had made friends with Violet and Violet had done what she could to help, fearful for her safety, but understanding of Fraser's cause. Violet had not only called to lead him in the right direction when possible, she also called him when she needed a friend.
I have to admit that I love him right now. I mean, for whom else would Fraser go against every value he upholds in order to protect? What he had made clear in the closet was that he feared telling me would lead me to Russell and that I would kill Russell. He's right. That's my intention. He feared I would then go to jail and he would lose me. His thought seemed to skip justice for once and focus on losing me. The consequences are drastic, but they will be worth it. Russell pushed my brother off an overpass and I will avenge that. I may go to jail. I might lose Fraser. Nothing, however, is worth giving that man a chance to escape justice again. Nothing on this earth.
So I will find Forsythe. I will kill him if I have to in order to get to Russell. I've been planning the appropriate torture for years. It is my turn to have justice.
As I'm changing out of the dress, hanging it carefully on a hanger I wonder why Fraser hasn't come to stop me. I put on black jeans, black boots and a dark grey shirt before strapping on my gun holster and sliding a weapon in its place under my arm. I leave the badge on my dresser thinking for a moment that I may never wear it again. Looking at myself in the mirror I realize how haggard I've become with sleepless nights thinking Fraser cheated on me. Part of me wishes that's all it had been.
While changing I think over all the things Fraser had told me. I don't know if he realized it at the time – I know I didn't – but he had told me where to find Forsythe. Thinking about it, I pieced together clues. Fraser is so observant, though. I think maybe he set me up to figure it out, that he predicted the entire event, but I get in the GTO anyway and start driving north. Following the cues, Fraser had said that Forsythe didn't do much when he wasn't at the club except work out. In actuality, I could only guess which of the hundreds of health clubs he would use. I based my assumption on location and clientele.
I pull into the parking lot of the health club and walk inside. Just inside is a lobby and a television turned to the news. A counter and turnstile blocks the entrance for those who aren't members. Without missing a beat I step up to the muscular man behind the desk and smile at him. He leans on his elbows and smiles back. "Hello," he says in a friendly tone.
"Hey," I say, trying to seem vaguely flirtatious. The gym has a reputation, you see, which isn't surprising as the apartment buildings nearby just happen to appeal to the gay population. "I wanted to see about getting a day pass," I explain.
He looks me up and down. "You need a sponsor," he says.
I move a little closer, look at his pecs, and lick my lips. "I heard this was a place I'd really like to join. Maybe you could just show me around," I suggest.
He smiles widely. "You still need a sponsor."
I purse my lips. "Does he have to be present?"
"He just has to be a member. Those are the rules. I'd like to break them, but I have to put a name in the computer."
I meet his gaze. "Forsythe," I say. "Forsythe Turner."
He nods. "Yeah, I know him. He's here today."
"Right now?" I ask, feigning surprise."
The man nods. "Should I get him for you? We could let him show you around."
I nod. "Sure."
The man disappears for only a minute or two as I stand in the lobby and pretend to be reading the pamphlets and flyers.
When he returns, I see the man who had been in the office at the club following. He turns the corner and sees me, but I feel safe that he would never recognize me. He looks confused, but also cautious as he steps back, yet I'm on him in a second. I pounce him and slam him to the ground, flipping him to his stomach and wrapping my arm around his neck. "Where do I find him?" I growl.
"It doesn't matter," he snarls, trying unsuccessfully to shove me off his back.
"Where is he?"
"You're too late!"
"What does that mean!?"
The big guy from behind the counter is trying to pull me off Forsythe. His burly strength makes him more successful at my removal than Forsythe's attempt had been. Forsythe stands, putting a hand over a nose I now realize is bleeding. The man is holding me back as I stare at Forsythe. "Your lover's already been here."
I freeze a moment. "What?"
"He knew I didn't want to tell him where to find Kevin or Russell, but he told me you'd be by and if you found him first, Kevin might be the least of our problems."
I relax and the big guy's hold on me softens a little. "Where?"
Forsythe points to the television above a plant and I turn. "Fuck!" I snap because I see Russell being led away in handcuffs. The sleeve of a Canadian uniform takes up a tiny corner of the screen. I jerk away from the man and run from the club.
I tear down the streets and slam on the brakes in front of the Consulate. Throwing the door closed behind me and whipping the door to the Consulate open, I bound past Turnbull and Thatcher toward Fraser's office.
I open the door and see him standing there. "I'm sorry, Ray," he says immediately.
I look at him with all the hurt I have in my body. "I don't know if I can ever trust you again," I say.
He sighs and sits down. "I did the right thing," he says simply.
I fold my arms and stare a moment, almost threatening. "Not by me. You didn't do right by me."
When he looked into my eyes, I saw no remorse, only sorrow for my pain. "He will serve time. He may even get life in prison. Your brother's was not the only death he caused."
For a moment I see clarity. I let out a breath. "Tell Violet I'm sorry," I say, defeated.
Fraser smiles a little. "I will."
"I'm going to quit the force."
"I figured I'd be giving it up when I took care of Russell anyway."
"But that hasn't happened."
I lean forward and look into his eyes. "I don't ever want to see you again."
"Ray, come on," he says.
I shake my head and stand in the doorway. "Every time I look at you, this is all I'm going to see." I frown and turn, walking down the hall. As I sit in the GTO, he rushes from the Consulate and grabs the door with both hands. I slowly roll down the window.
"Don't quit," he says. "You know that's not right."
I stare at the steering wheel.
"I'll give you space if you need it," he says, then reaches in and touches my arm. "But I'm more determined not to lose you than you think."
I want to keep staring ahead, but for some reason my head snaps to meet his eyes. I look at them and take a deep shaky breath.
"Killing Russell wouldn't have brought back Tom," he says. "And losing me will not make it easier to deal with."
I turn again and rub my neck thoughtfully. I feel his hand touch my hair so I turn my gaze to the passenger seat. I hear him lean further into the car. "You know I did this all so that I wouldn't lose you."
The reason I can't turn back is because I can't let him see what's in my eyes, but then I feel his lips on my neck and I turn. I press at my eye to rid it of the tear welling up in it. He's an inch or two from me and smiling. "You've got to deal with the idea of Russell going to prison. How about we deal with it together?"
I stare a moment, then nod. "It's just that..."
"You wanted to kill him," Fraser says plainly.
"I took that away from you."
I nod again.
"I'm sorry, but I did the right thing," he repeats now that I'm ready to hear it.
He's still leaning into the car, his hand still in my hair. I take a moment more to sort out my thoughts before I kiss him. "I'm still furious," I finally manage in a whisper.
Fraser cocks his head. "I promise to make it up to you," he breaths and kisses me again.