Title Page

Chapter One

After I hung up the phone, I walked into Mike’s office. I needed to let him know that Van Buren had called; they were interrogating a suspect for a recent murder and thought they were ready for us to pursue.

While in the doorway, I watched Mike thumb through the files in front of him, totally absorbed. He was double checking the financial statements of HP Records. We were due to finalize plea negotiations with their CEO, and knowing Mike, he was making sure there was nothing we had missed. As I walked towards him, his eyes never wavered off the numbers before him. After working with him for three years, I was used to how intense he got when focusing on a single subject. It would take more than clearing my throat to get his attention.


His head popped up, and the briefest smile flashed before it disappeared. He tried so hard to suppress his crush on me.

“Van Buren ,called; they want me to green light the arrest of their prime suspect on that college girl case…”

“So you’re leaving?” The obvious question made me suspicious.

Putting my coat on, I nodded, “Yes, Mike, I am.”

Clicking his teeth, he picked up his nearby coffee cup, now empty. “Um, which way are you going? That is, if you happen to go by…”

Pretending to be annoyed, I took the hint, “I’ll stop and get your usual.”

As I walked away, he yelled after me, “Only if you get something for yourself!” I turned back to him, shooting him a look. Before working for him, I drank coffee occasionally but now, Mike had turned me into an addict. He met my look with his grin. I made sure to turn away so he wouldn’t see my own grin.


Walking outside, I decided to take the subway. I preferred to walk, but I knew it was best to get to the station as quickly as possible. I liked the exercise, plus it was easier to keep my mind on the upcoming case. I found that while on the subway or taking a cab, my mind would wander to inappropriate subjects, such as Mike Cutter.

Sure enough, as soon as I grabbed a subway strap to remain steady, my mind flashed to my boss. Not that Mike was a typical boss. He allowed a lot of freedom when it came to how I wanted to pursue a case. Of course, that could be because of that obvious crush. At first it was easy to ignore, he would get flustered if the topic of my looks came up or my dating life and usual lack thereof.

Now it’s getting closer to becoming a problem. Not that he had overstepped his bounds. But since putting Woll away, when Mike’s feelings became embarrassingly clear, I’ve had to pay attention and make sure he doesn’t get the wrong idea. In the past we would usually grab a bite to eat together, or after working late, we’d wind up getting off subject into an enjoyable personable conversation. However when we tried out the same routines, inevitably Mike would wind up giving me a look that was unmistakable. When it became awkward, I’d always try to cut things short, if possible, say goodnight or push the topic back to the case, but that wasn’t so easy now. I didn’t know why Mike was getting to me personally. It’s not the feelings were mutual. While he can be charming and even occasionally fun, you can learn a lot about a man by the way he does his job…and Mike’s questionable decisions along with moralistic excuses for that behavior reminds me all the time he’s the last man I’d want to get involved with. But that doesn’t mean I want to hurt him either. He’s doing his best to be as professional as possible with me, and I don’t need Jack telling me what a good team we make professionally. Well, not anymore anyway.

At my subway stop, I got to the police station just a few minutes later and met Van Buren outside the interrogation room. The police were working hard and the guy they were speaking to was practically in tears. “So what do we have?” I asked, sounding so nonchalant about having a man’s future in my hands. Cutter was such a bad influence on me.

“His name is Max Brooks. He’s 24 years old, but only a college sophomore.”

Mike would ask if he’s an underachiever. “I guess he hasn’t confessed, has he?”

Van Buren shook her head but smiled. That joke never got old, mainly because we wanted it to happen every time. “No, Counselor, but we’ve got her restraining order against him. We have a very public fight on school grounds, witnessed by students and a professor, about her having an affair with Mr. Floyd and how furious he was.”

I nodded as I flipped through the file she had handed me. “So Floyd wasn’t a suspect.”

“He was at first but he’s got a rock solid alibi; seeing his doctor. Of course, a man his age dating a girl her age needs to be checked out mentally, not just physically…”

I had to smile. Van Buren had a wry sense of humor when she cared to use it. I’m sure she had a lot to say about a forty something year old man seeing a young girl like Melanie Layton. I did too but I kept it to myself.

The lieutenant went on. “Anyway, we looked at Floyd’s wife next, Mrs. Daniel Floyd, as she’s so proud to be called. She is the one who spotted Brooks down the street, moments before the murder.”

“Which is what got the police looking into the kid initially. I don’t like that and Cutter really won’t. Mrs. Floyd has way too much motive and the opportunity to kill the girl herself.”

“Yes, but Bernard remembered the kid from the crime scene the day before. He was hanging around with the rest of the onlookers. If he was there before the crime that certainly places him at the scene.”

Glancing through the window, I watched the police keep working on him. We could hear their questions, but so far he wasn’t giving much up. He insisted he loved her and Daniel Floyd couldn’t make her happy in the long run.

When he broke down into a new round of sobbing, Van Buren continued. “From there we have jewelry and items from her purse found in his dorm room, not to mention a very thorough shrine of pictures, discarded trash, and other things dedicated to her.”

That did sound air tight, but I was still worried about the search. “The roommate gave his permission for the police to come in.”

“Yes counselor, he can’t have an expectation of privacy when his roommate has full access. It adds weight that they weren’t even friends.”

I nodded, everything looked in order. The only weak link was using Mrs. Floyd as a witness against the kid, given her own reasons for wanting the victim dead. However with so much strong physical evidence, we could possibly get a plea bargain.

“Okay, book him.” I watched as the lieutenant banged the window for Bernard and Lupo’s cue to make it official.


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