Fatal Justice (Chapter 28)

Gasping for air, Freddie used his good arm to reach up to see if the top of his head had blown off. Everything was still where it belonged, but nothing would ever be the same. He'd had no idea it was possible to come that hard and live through it.

"So," Elin said, peppering his chest and neck with kisses, "did you like it?"

He tried to form the words, but there were none.

She laughed. "I'll take that as a yes." Her hand traveled from his chest to his waist, heading south.

Freddie stopped her.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing." It took every ounce of energy he could muster to sit up and look for his clothes. If he stayed, he had no doubt they'd be going at it again in no time. He was more than a little appalled by how ferociously he wanted her – he wanted her in every way it was possible to want a woman. Would he ever get enough? Probably not and that was the problem. It hadn't occurred to him that once he did this for the first time, he'd discover an insatiable appetite for more. He was in danger of becoming someone he barely recognized.

"Where're you going?" she asked.

"I need to go home. I'm working tomorrow."

"You're still on medical leave."

"I feel good enough to work." He didn't add that he was anxious to follow up on the people who used to live in Clarence Reese's house. If he couldn't do anything else to help Sam right now, he could do that.

Struggling into his shirt, he attempted to close a few buttons over the bulky sling that held his injured arm.

"Why don't you just stay?" Elin asked, her voice full of petulance.

"I need clothes for the morning, and I've got some stuff I have to do at home."

"Did I do something wrong again?"

"Of course not," he said, but his protest fell flat even to him. "It was amazing." And that, he thought, was the problem. It was just too damned good.

Freddie pushed his second leg into his jeans and tugged up the zipper. Doing things with one hand definitely sucked.

"I wish you wouldn't go," Elin said softly.

He glanced over and was stunned and unnerved to find her big eyes swimming with tears. Reaching for her hand, he brought it to his lips. "I had a good time tonight."

She took back her hand and started to get up. "I'll drive you home."

"No need. I'll grab a cab."

"Oh. Okay. Whatever."

"Elin…"

"Don't. Don't bother giving me the whole 'it's been fun, but it's over' speech."

"Who said anything's over?"

"The handwriting's on the wall."

"Well, it's not my handwriting. I'm going home because I have bills I need to pay and laundry to do. On top of that, my pain pills are there, and my shoulder's killing me." Making sure he had her full attention, he added, "I'm  going home because you rocked my world."

A hint of a smile graced her pretty pink mouth. "I did?"

He bit his lip and nodded. "Totally."

"So you might want to do it again sometime?" she asked, her smile now coy.

Leaning in to kiss her, he captured her bottom lip between his teeth. "Definitely. I'll call you."

Her smile faded.

"What?"

"Guys always say they'll call when they have no intention of calling."

"They do?" Freddie asked, genuinely surprised.

She nodded. "Universal code for a blow off."

Clearly, he still had a lot to learn about such things. "Well, that's not how I intended it. I will call you." He pulled the covers up over her and kissed her once more. "Get some sleep."

"You, too."

Freddie moved through the dark apartment, collected his coat and locked the door behind him. Once outside, he took several long deep breaths of cold air before glancing up at her window. He'd wanted exactly what he'd gotten from Elin. So why was it that he couldn't shake the feeling that he was in way over his head with her?

Sam left Harry's office and went straight to the trauma unit at George Washington University Hospital where she learned that Devon Sinclair was in surgery, and the outlook was grim. Of course it would've been too simple for him to be awake and alert and able to tell her who'd shot him and his lover. That kind of luck was apparently restricted to TV cops.

In the waiting room, Devon's brother Austin tried to comfort his inconsolable mother while weeping bitterly himself. "How could this have happened?" Austin asked. "Who would shoot Dev? Or Tucker?" He looked up at Sam. "God, I can't believe Tucker's dead."

Diandra's shoulders shook with sobs.

"You have no idea who might want to harm either of them?" Sam asked Austin.

"No. No one. They both had tons of friends. Everyone liked them."

"We can't…" Diandra couldn't seem to form the words she needed. "We can't find Preston."

Sam straightened, her spine tingling. "What do you mean?"

Diandra wiped her face with a tissue Austin handed her. "He's not answering his cell, his colleagues haven't seen him all day. I can't imagine where he could be. He needs to know about his son."

"I'll see what I can do to locate him."

"We'd appreciate that," Austin said.

Sam handed him her card. "When your brother wakes up, will you please call me?"

He nodded.

"I'll, um, hope for the best for Devon," she said, hating the way she sounded. She never knew what to say in these situations.

"Thank you," Austin said.

As Sam walked to the car, her sister Angela called. "Hey, Ang. What's up?"

"Are you anywhere close to heading home?"

"Getting there."

"Can you stop by on your way?"

"What's going on?"

"I just want to see you and so does Jack," Angela said, referring to her son.

"Sure, okay. I'll be there as soon as I can." Wondering what was going on with her sister, Sam spent the next hour looking for Preston Sinclair at his office and home. She confirmed Diandra's assertion that no one had seen him all day. When she ran out of places to look, she called in an APB to dispatch, ensuring that every cop in the city would be looking for him with orders to contact her the moment he turned up. Before she could chicken out, she also made the horrible, unimaginable call to Tucker Farrell's parents.

Afterward, her hands were sweaty, her stomach growled and her caffeine level had plummeted. Under normal circumstances, she'd be stopping for a diet cola right now. Her stomach might be benefiting from the soda famine, but her blood pressure was soaring. When she got her hands on Nick…

The cell rang again. Sam took her eyes off the road to glance at the caller ID. "Speak of the devil." She flipped the cell phone to speaker mode. "What?"

"Hello to you, too."

"I'm working here."

"You're in a fine mood. What time will you be home?" Home?

Where was that these days? "An hour or so. I have to stop at Angela's on the way."

"How's Devon?"

"In surgery. Doesn't look good and now his father has gone missing. I'll need to go back to work tonight."

"No problem. I'll feed you and send you on your way."

"Fine."

"Are you going to tell me what Harry said?"

"Nope."

"I'll get it out of you."

"Give it your best shot."

"Oh, I will. You can count on that."

Closing the phone, she tossed it into the passenger seat and headed for Angela's house where she was greeted by five-year-old Spider-Man.

"Spidey!" Sam scooped him up and swung him around.

Jack squealed with delight.

"Where's your mama?"

"In the house." Jack kissed her noisily on the mouth. "Where ya been, Sam?"

"Oh here, there, everywhere."

"Did you shoot anyone?"

Sam poked his ribs as she carried him inside. "No, silly."

He touched the bandage on her chin. "Didja get beat up?"

Laughing, Sam said, "Not this week."

"Boring."

" boring." She put him down and kissed her sister's cheek, noting that Angela looked pale and drawn.

"Jack, go get changed for dinner and  your hands with real soap, not just water."

"But, Mom! Sam just got here."

Angela narrowed her eyes and pointed to the stairs. "Go."

Jack stomped off, grumbling under his breath.

"He's killing me." Angela sagged into a kitchen chair. "He never runs out of gas."

"You look like you have."

"I'm exhausted."

"What's wrong, Ang? You're scaring me."

After a long pause, Angela said, "I'm pregnant."

Sam took a moment to absorb the instantaneous burst of jealousy. "Really? How far along?"

"Almost three months."

"And you haven't told me?"

"It's hard, Sam. With all you've been through and everything."

"That doesn't mean I can't be happy for you. Who loves Jack more than me?"

"Only me and Spence."

Sam hugged her. "And I'll love this one just as much. I promise."

Angela's eyes went bright with tears. "Fucking out-of-control hormones."

Sam laughed and reached for her sister's hand. "Are you going to find out what you're having this time?"

"I want to, but Spence doesn't."

"Well, find out and tell me!"

Angela's pretty face softened into a smile. "You're sure you're okay?"

"I'm happy for you. You know that." Sam pushed around a toy car Jack had left on the table. "I saw a doctor friend of Nick's today. He told me about some new laser treatment that's working wonders for women who've had endometriosis. But I don't know."

Angela gasped. "What don't you know? You have to do it!"

"It's not that simple. I don't think I could go through that again."

"You have to! You have to at least try!"

"I shouldn't have told you."

"What did Nick say?"

"I haven't talked to him about it. I don't want to get his hopes up."

"Or yours."

"Or mine."

"Sam, if there's a chance, even the  chance, how can you  try?"

"I just heard about it a couple of hours ago. I haven't had time to even process it yet."

"Will you tell Nick?"

Sam shrugged. "I'm mad at him right now."

"Why?" Angela asked, alarmed. "What'd he do?"

"He made me go see his doctor friend Harry who poked and prodded me in ways and places I've never been poked or prodded before."

Angela howled with laughter. "Oh the nerve of him! You have to dump him. Immediately!"

Sam shot her a dirty look. "Harry says I have to give up soda. Entirely. Because of my stomach."

Angela stared at her sister. "Shut up. No way."

"Yes way. I'm already going through withdrawal. And it's all Nick's fault."

"Seriously. He must be punished."

Sam stood up. "I'm glad you agree. I've got to get on that. Tell Jack I'll see him this weekend."

"I predict you'll be horizontal under Nick in…" She consulted her watch. "Twenty minutes."

Rolling her eyes, Sam headed for the front door. "Whatever," she called over her shoulder. "I'm not the one who's knocked up."

"Yet," her sister shot back.

Sam headed for her car, refusing to even entertain the possibility. She couldn't go through that again. She just couldn't.

Sam parked behind Nick's car on Ninth Street and headed for her dad's.

"Lieutenant!"

She spun around and groaned when she saw Darren Tabor from the Washington Star rushing down the sidewalk. "What do you want, Darren?"

"A few minutes of your time."

She kept her back to him. "I'm busy."

"How close are you to an arrest on Sinclair?"

"Which one?"

"Both."

"Not as close as I'd like to be."

"Any suspects?"

Sam stopped and turned to him. "If I was giving out exclusives, what makes you think you'd get one?"

He flashed a smarmy smile. "In other words, you got dick, right?"

"In other words, I'm not telling you."

"How's the senator?"

She rolled her eyes. "Go home, Darren, and get a life."

"Rumor has it you've got some interesting skeletons in your closet, Lieutenant. But that doesn't surprise me."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

He shrugged. "Just rumors."

"I work in facts, not rumors. I'm going home. I'd suggest you do the same."

"Have a nice evening, Lieutenant."

Anxious to get away from the pesky reporter, she dashed up the ramp to her father's house and opened the door to a dark, empty house. Unaccustomed to her father being out when she wanted to see him sent her even further out of sorts.

So many details and thoughts and ideas were bouncing around in her mind that she couldn't make sense of or process any of them. And what the hell had Tabor been spewing about? Rumors? What did he have on her? She probably didn't want to know.

The case was stalled, her body craved caffeine and despite what she'd told Angela, all she could think about was the possibility of being pregnant again. Now she also had to ponder what Tabor had been talking about. He'd been particularly harsh in his reporting about her after a child had been killed in a crack house during a raid she'd supervised. He was the last reporter in town she wanted poking into her business.

Sam decided she needed some time to herself before she saw Nick. Upstairs in her room, she unclipped her hair, stretched out on the bed and stared up at the ceiling, hoping to quiet the chaos in her mind so she could think. Beginning with the discovery of Julian Sinclair's body, she worked her way through each aspect of the case. The shooting of his nephew had to be related. How could it not be? But why? What possible connection existed between the two men that would generate a motive for shooting both of them? Both were attorneys, both were gay, both were successful men. Where was the motive?

Going on the assumption that the two shootings were related, her most promising suspect had vaporized that afternoon when Devon Sinclair had been shot while his mother was being interviewed.

Sam combed her fingers through her hair and wondered where Preston Sinclair had gone. Could there be a third Sinclair victim waiting to be discovered dead or injured? Sam's gut told her it was all related to Diandra and the rift that had festered for years in their family. But how? Where was the connection? As far as Sam could tell, Diandra hadn't seen her brother-in-law in more than thirteen years. How would she know his schedule or his whereabouts?

If she had wanted him dead, wouldn't she have killed him years ago when she discovered his closet homosexuality after her sons had spent time alone with him? Her sons had confirmed her rage at learning that their uncle was gay.

Sam sighed, her head aching from the strain and the caffeine withdrawal. She dug her cell phone out of her pocket and called Jeannie McBride.

"Hi, Lieutenant. What's up?"

"Are you at HQ?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Do me a favor and re-run the financials of Preston and Diandra Sinclair, only this time go back more than a year."

"Sure thing."

"While you're at it, get me both their sons, too. Devon and Austin Sinclair."

"Will do. Am I looking for anything in particular?"

"A large payment or transfer. Anything that stands out." Sam knew Diandra hadn't pulled the trigger on her son but couldn't rule out her hiring someone else to do it. But why would she have done that?

"I'll get right on it," Jeannie said.

Sam checked her watch and winced when she realized Jeannie's shift was long over. "Thanks. I hope I'm not screwing with your plans."

"No worries. My boyfriend's working late tonight, too."

Sam knew she should ask, that she should show some interest. "What, ah, what does he do?"

"Finance stuff. Investments, portfolio management. Nothing I really understand and nothing quite as exciting as dating a United States senator."

"That's funny, Jeannie. Really. Very funny."

Jeannie laughed. "Just speaking the truth, Lieutenant."

"Call me if you get any hits on the financials."

"Will do."

Sam hung up and continued to stare at the ceiling. Her thoughts wandered to what Harry had said about the endometriosis treatment. Half of her wished she'd never been told it was even possible. She knew herself well enough to accept that she would obsess about it endlessly until she decided whether or not to pursue it.

"There you are."

Startled out of her thoughts, Sam looked up to find Nick leaning against the doorframe. As her eyes met his, she was overcome by a sense of rightness and absolute truth. He would make one hell of a father.