“Mike, I’m sorry to surprise you. Can I come in?” I held my breath while I waited for him to answer. He paused because clearly he wasn’t sure what to do; I’d never been in his apartment before.
“Sure, Connie,” he stepped aside to let me pass. I brushed past him as I entered; only realizing after I did it wasn’t necessary as his hallway wasn’t as narrow as I thought.
He shut the door behind me while clearing his throat. “Um, is everything okay?”
“Yes,” I answered way too fast. I still hadn’t moved very far into the apartment, suddenly feeling very shy and unsure around Mike.
“Connie,” he said, “you wouldn’t have stopped by this late at night if there wasn’t something wrong.”
I walked into the room, past his kitchen and into the living room. It was neat though he clearly had been sitting on the couch having a beer before I arrived. There was a book on the coffee table which was open to a specific place. I wondered what he was reading.
“Connie,” he said again.
Turning to him, I decided to just spill everything. “The case has taken a turn. The defense did some checking into Daniel Floyd’s alibi and realized he saw a fertility doctor.”
Mike’s eyebrows shot up. He placed his hands his hips to give them something to do. I had to look away. I was used to seeing Mike in suits and occasionally in jeans when we worked on the weekends. I wasn’t prepared to be so distracted by his attire tonight, the informality made him look more attractive than ever.
I continued, “So that gives Rose Floyd a much bigger motive to kill Melanie than we thought.”
“Yeah, it sure looks that way,” he said while indicating I should sit down. His couch was comfortable, a typical guy’s couch; he sat in the chair across from me. He then suddenly popped back up again. “I’m sorry; do you want something to drink? Have you had anything tonight?”
I smiled. I missed Mike far more than I wanted to admit. Most of the time he was so confident and in control in the courtroom, but occasionally he let his vulnerable side show through, like now. “You know, I could use a beer.”
He went and got one, handing me the bottle. I drank some, postponing what I needed to say.
Mike made things easier by focusing on the obvious. “So Jack probably isn’t happy, huh?”
“You can say that, he was pretty angry. I never really appreciated you taking the full brunt of everything until now.”
“Jack likes to make noise, but he still remembers what it’s like to deal with the heavy case loads we experience in this job. You taught me to trust him to trust us, remember?” Mike grinned again which coincided with my heart thumping harder. I wondered if maybe I should take it easy on the beer.
“Well, he doesn’t like it when we might be changing suspects in the middle of the trial.” There, it was out now.
Mike’s face fell. “What do you mean?”
I took another sip of beer, then said, “Mike, after court I went to see Rose. She still will not give me an alibi to where she was.”
He didn’t say anything nor did his expression give anything away, so I went on. “Upon talking to her more, it’s pretty obvious, she wanted Melanie dead. You add that with opportunity and…”
“No,” Mike said too intently. “She didn’t do it.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I know her, and I know she didn’t do this.” He talked like he and Rose had never lost touch years ago. My face burned at his naivety over this woman.
Picking the beer up, I shook my head, “You knew her a long time ago. People change, Mike.”
He stood up and looked out the window. “Actually, I know Rose is incapable of changing, and I know she didn’t do this.”
Was he being wistful? I had to keep my voice even so Mike wouldn’t be aware at how angry I was that he was letting this woman play him. “Mike, you’ve got some rose tinted glasses on with this woman, and I don’t think you see her clearly…”
Now he turned around, facing me, a scowl on his face. “I see Rose much clearer than you think. When we…stopped seeing each other, I did keep up with her through friends, gossip, rumors. You hear enough rumors and you realize…”
He got quiet then, obviously thinking of the past. Was he remembering being her lover? I had a sudden urge to throw my beer at him. But then he finished what he was saying, “I know what she’s like, trust me. She is capable of many things, but looking at this case, I can tell she didn’t do it.”
“That’s just great,” I said, standing up, no longer concerned with how my voice sounded. “She seems to wrap everyone around her little finger. I thought you were young, stupid, and immature when you got involved with her the first time. Looks like it had nothing to do with your age, as you clearly…”
“What’s the matter with you?” He interrupted. I hated how rational he seemed in contrast to my own actions. “Connie, why are you making this personal? Did you forget I was in on this case early on? I have no doubt that it was Brooks who killed Melanie. Remember he had her things? Her purse, her jewelry…”
“He could have taken that stuff off the body afterwards. He’s a sick bastard but he might not have killed her…”
Mike shook his head, again interrupting me. “He’s a sick bastard who killed her! He was right there. We know he was! You can’t tell me he would have ignored the shock of seeing this girl before him dead and just immediately started stealing from the corpse! He would have wanted to try to play hero, he would…”
I went looking for my purse, angry that Mike was trying to let Rose off the hook. “He and she had a fight. And he’s a stalker. And he was mad about her older boyfriend.”
I finally found my purse and I was getting ready to leave but Mike grabbed my arm, pulling me close. Too close. I could feel his breath on my face as he said, “Then why not say something now? He was arrested for it. His lawyer would have let him explain what he saw, possibly Rose leaving the scene and giving us a new suspect.”
“It would be his word against hers! Maybe his lawyer saw that, Mike.” I stared into his eyes. He was so close.
He leaned in and I held my breath. I was past all sane thought as the argument suddenly vanished from my mind.
At the last moment, he pulled away. He had desire in his eyes and I felt disappointment flow through me when I realized he wasn’t going to act on it. “Connie, Brooks is good for this. I’m not saying that to protect Rose, I’m saying that because I want a murderer behind bars. The right one.”
My anger returned. “You’re wrong, Mike. I think she did it, and I’m going to prove it.”
I made my way to the front door as Mike called after me. “You’re wasting time, Connie. You are letting your emotions…”
How dare he lecture me on emotions? I flung the door open and slammed it behind me. I couldn’t remember the last time I was so angry. Heading down the stairs, I fixated on the anger, on the case. Anything…not to remember what almost happened in Mike’s apartment.
The next day, without Mike around, I had to admit to myself that he was right and Brooks could still be the one that killed Melanie. I had actually wondered if Rose might have witnessed Brooks doing it, but wanted no part in admitting what she saw, either to protect the guy who got rid of her biggest problem or she really didn’t care her husband’s mistress was killed.
As for the other problem of nearly kissing Mike, I was very relieved nothing happened. Clearly the stress of the case, the fatigue I felt mixed in with the alcohol and my normal defenses, were not in place to keep such things from happening. It was best to just forget what happened. I knew Mike wouldn’t dare bring it up so why should I?
That day we had Bernard on the stand, and everything went according to plan. Of course, the defense couldn’t deny that a decorated detective was wrong in who he saw, they weren’t denying that Brooks was on the scene after the killing. They were still focusing on the whereabouts of Rose. Still, Bernard took the majority of the day so by the time we got out of the courtroom the sun was starting to set.
As we walked out of the courthouse, I pulled out my cell phone, to play the voicemails that had been left for me. I nearly tripped down the steps when I heard Rose Floyd’s voice.
“Hello, Ms. Rubirosa. It’s Rosalie Floyd and I’m ready to meet with you about where I really was. Could you or your assistant come to my apartment tonight at your convenience?”
Jeremy noticed my immediate reaction and asked what was wrong. I answered, “Rose Floyd is going to tell us the truth finally. She wants us to go over there.”
He was shocked as I was. “What? Well, I…can’t think of what to say to that, except why is she coming forward now?”
“I have no idea,” I answered. I also wondered what she would tell us. Would it really be the truth? I didn’t have time to reflect too much on it. My phone rang and it was Jack.
As soon as I answered, Jack started in. “Connie, I need you to get back to my office as soon as you can.”
Sighing, I shook my head, “Sorry, Jack. I’ve got to get to Rose Floyd’s home to take her statement on where she really was…”
“I know; that’s why I’m calling. Send Jeremy to her apartment. He can get it. I need to talk to you.”
I didn’t like this. “Jack, I’d rather find out as soon as possible myself what…”
“You will be talking to Rose this weekend, Connie. You’ll have plenty of time to listen to her explanation over and over. I need you to come here now. It’s about your case.”
I had no choice really. At least Jeremy could get over to her apartment and get things started before she changed her mind.
Getting back to the office, I stopped at my desk to put my things away, not sure what was so important Jack was having me drop everything to come see him. It wasn’t like him, unless it was really important.
As I walked into Jack’s office, my eyes fell on Mike and I got my answer. By the look on his face I could immediately tell, Rose’s turnabout about her alibi was no coincidence. I fixed on both men with an icy stare, waiting for the explanation. This ought to be good.