Captain Jameson Collins was more than just barrel-chested. He was built like one of those boxers from the 1920s, only twice as mean. I’d met a few police captains in my time. Having a former cop as a dad, I’d met quite a few of his superiors over the years. Not all of them were nice, not all of them were personable, but all of them wouldn’t be caught dead looking at an assault victim like this man was looking at me. Granted, there were a ton of cops who thought private investigators were trash – and some in this line of work were – but I had yet to speak to the man, and already I was getting the death stare.
“A hell of a disruption you’ve caused,” Collins barked, the gold of his cufflinks winking in the overhead fluorescent lights.
I wanted to spit blood on his shiny loafers, but I didn’t.
“I was unaware that getting hit in the face was considered ‘me’ causing a disruption, but if that’s what you’re going with…” I trailed off shrugging. I wasn’t going to give this asshole the satisfaction of seeing me cower.
“You pressing charges?”
Considering this wasn’t the first time my mother had hit me, it really wasn’t a question. “Of course, I am. Even if I didn’t want to, she committed the crime in front of three officers. It’s kind of out of my hands at this point.”
“Her daughter just died,” he countered, and I gave him a slow blink.
Did this motherfucker just say that to me?
“And my sister just died, but you don’t see me drunk in a police station smacking people around, now do you? She did the crime, now she has to do the time.”
What I didn’t say was I would be sure to speak to the DA, too. If those charges weren’t filed post haste, I was going to make it my personal mission to inspect every facet of Collins’ life. I could almost guarantee a man like him wouldn’t appreciate my digging, either. I had a feeling his skeletons weren’t buried deep enough.
Collins harrumphed at me – either in concession or contempt, I couldn’t figure out which.
“Well, you wanted to see me, let’s get to it,” he said gesturing to the door that likely led to his office. The contempt in his voice was palpable.
I stood with Noah gripping my elbow, steadying me even though I didn’t need it.
Noah let go of my elbow but gave me a look that told me to back off. “Sir, I also have information regarding the Clareborne case. May I tag along?”
The Captain gave Noah a look filled with enough heat to sear the paint off the walls. “No, Graves. Get back to work. Don’t you have some cases to close?”
That asshole had better not be talking about my sister’s case, but I had the distinct feeling he was.
When I first got here, I’d at least had hope that Collins would be a decent enough man to hear me out, but with the dread yawning wide in my belly, I seriously misjudged the situation. While his back was turned, I sneaked my phone out of my down jacket pocket, found the voice recording app, hit record, and slipped it back in my pocket. I wished I had some better gear, but I hadn’t planned on Collins being this big of an asshole.
That only became more clear as soon as I sat down in his office.
“I want to know what you’re doing in my town, Perry,” he demanded, not even bothering to skirt around the ostentatious piece of furniture taking up the majority of his office. Instead, he planted his suit-covered ass on the edge of his desk, looming over me as I sat.
Oh, goodie. He was one of those.
“I’m here to get to the bottom of my sister’s death, sir. And once that’s done, I plan to attend her funeral. After that, I plan to leave Connecticut and never return.” Yeah, my tone was snide, but honestly, what was with this guy?
“Your sister was driving too fast, and her car skidded on ice. She plowed into a tree and died. There, I solved your first problem.”
Rage tinted my sight red for a second, and I gritted my teeth to keep myself in my chair and not committing a felony.
My voice was as calm as I could make it. “But whose car was it? Why was she in her underwear? Was she drinking or on drugs? Whose necklace was that – you know, the one that looked to be worth several thousand dollars? I don’t have the answers to those questions. Do you?”
Collins’ face reddened. “You’re interfering in a police investigation.”
I couldn’t hold in my scoff. “What investigation? You’re the one trying to close a case without answering the most basic of questions. As the medical proxy and executor of Genevieve Clareborne’s estate, I have the right to order an autopsy and tox screen. As her immediate family, I have the right to request that you do your fucking job.”
Collins stood before leaning over my seat, his rank coffee breath in my face as he squeezed his words through gritted teeth. “I want you out of my town, Perry. You put your sister in the damn ground and get out of Harebrook. You don’t? I’ll make sure you never leave. Now, get the fuck out of my office and don’t come back.”
I said nothing, my sneer doing the work for me as I waited for him to back up and let me out of the chair. Intimidation. It wasn’t the first time I’d dealt with it, but it was the first time it had been someone with this much legal power.
“Let me guess, you’ll pin some bullshit trumped up charge on me, likely a felony. Get my PI license revoked. Shit like that?” I wanted him to admit it. Out loud. I also hoped the mic on my phone was strong enough to pick up his voice.
“That’s one way. The others are much less pleasant. But that’s your call.”
Bingo, you fucker.
“I guess I’d better start seeing things your way, then, huh?”
Collins shrugged and stood, backing away from my seat. “If you knew what was good for you.”
I decided I’d been threatened quite enough for one day. Standing, I managed not to launch myself at him and got the hell out of that office before I could think better of it.
Oh, I was digging into Jameson Collins’ life. I was going to find every single spec of dirt he had. But one better, I was going to figure out who in the hell was pulling his strings.
As soon as I breathed my first bit of icy yet free air, I checked my phone and stopped the recording. I’d need to listen to it later when I wasn’t worried the Captain would haul off and shoot me in the middle of the street like an old Western.
I nearly dropped the thing when my phone rang in my hand, scaring me half to death. But Dad was on the other end, and he probably had way more information than I did.
“What’s up, Dad?” I asked as I bleeped the locks on my rental and slipped inside, checking the backseat just in case. My hackles were up, and I didn’t trust anything in this damn town.
“Please tell me you did not decide to go meet with that piece of shit.” Dad was nothing if not direct.
“No can do. I just finished meeting with said piece of shit, and let me tell you, whatever you know, I want you to dig deeper. I just got warned off any investigating and got told to leave town. I recorded the whole thing, but I still need to review it. The way shit went down, I’m tempted to just send the damn thing to you first just in case I get thrown in prison for having a tail light out or something.”
“That’s it. I’m getting on a plane.”
“If you think I’m gonna stop you, you’re out of your mind. I need backup here.”
“No shit, you do. Jameson Collins shouldn’t even be a cop anymore, but because he golfs with the Chief of Police and the mayor, quite a few of his indiscretions got swept under the rug. On top of that, he’s in deep with a certain politically connected family. The name Westwood mean anything to you?”
I knew Carson had a few politicos in the family tree. “Yep. Come to think of it, isn’t Senator Westwood up for reelection this year?”
“Sure is. And Madison Westwood has exactly zero patience for anything that would get in the way of his political campaign. You need more than backup, Sport. You’re going to need some big guns. Luckily, that cop you had me look up? Well, he isn’t a cop.”
Noah. I’d given my dad Noah’s name in the hopes that he would bring up nothing. I didn’t know why I wanted Noah to be a good guy, but I did.
“If he’s not a cop, what is he?” He couldn’t be a civilian. What the hell else was there?
“I hope you’re sitting down for this one, Sport because I about fell out of my chair.”
“Quit stalling and spit it out.”
“You asked for it. Noah Graves is a Fed.”
Thank you for reading this chapter of Seek You Find Me! New episodes will release on the last Tuesday of each month. If you enjoy this story, you should check out the Shelter Me Series.