“What’s going on?” I asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Mike has something to tell you,” Jack announced, like he was having two witnesses meet for the first time.
Shifting my attention to Mike, I tried to keep my face a mask, as if I hadn’t already pieced together Rose’s earlier phone call with Mike’s current presence in Jack’s office. “Connie, after speaking to you last night, I realize that you were right. The jury could easily have enough reasonable doubt about Rose’s innocence, and so she had to come forward whether she wanted to or not.”
“Yes,” I said. “So it’s not a coincidence she called and is willing to admit where she was?”
Mike shared a glance with Jack, and then turned right back to me. “It isn’t.”
That’s all he said thus irritation surged through me. Glancing at Jack, I asked, “What’s going on?”
Jack shrugged, “It seems Mike approached your star witness and got her to see how important it was to put Brooks behind bars.”
Did they really think I couldn’t have put that together myself? “Just how did he do that?”
“I had lunch with her.” Seeing my reaction, Mike continued quickly. “And she now realizes that it’s more important to put a murderer away than to try to protect her reputation.”
“Her reputation?” I repeated.
“Yes, it seems she was…engaging in recreational physical activities with multiple partners.”
My eyebrows shot up. “So, just like that…she’s willing to admit where she was, and embarrass herself?”
“Yes.” I couldn’t believe how Jack was taking all of this.
“You’ve got to be kidding, Mike!” I said. “You can’t just meet with a…a possible murder suspect and believe just any story she tells…”
“I told you, she didn’t kill Melanie.”
“I know, you said so!” I walked over to Jack, “Are you seriously telling me that this doesn’t sound suspicious to you?”
Jack had a hint of a grin as he said, “I have no problem with this. Mike is not on the case anymore. She’s not being prosecuted. You needed her to come forward about where she really was, and now she has.”
“Did she give you names? We are going to have to verify…”
Mike interrupted, “She will give them to Faraday.”
“Well, I guess that just ties things up, doesn’t it? She stonewalls me for weeks, but you simply sit down in front of her and suddenly she’s all about the truth.”
Mike grimaced, “It wasn’t like that. It took some work to convince her.”
I bet it did. “Jack, I can’t believe you’re fine with this. Surely you can see Rose coming forward after Mike interrogated her alone could be seen…”
“I know what it looks like, Connie,” Jack said flatly. “But it does give us peace of mind that we are prosecuting the right person.”
I laughed at that. “Presuming she’s telling the truth.”
“She’s telling the truth,” Mike said quickly.
I faced Mike with a scowl. “Maybe. Even if these people verify her story, I still don’t like how Mike got…”
Mike walked over to me. “Why don’t you come right out and say it?”
I paused, making sure we kept eye contact. “Fine, I think she’s tricking you. She’s got some kind of hold on you, Mike, and it’s clouding your judgment…”
Mike stopped my tirade when he pulled something out of his pocket, placing it on the table before him. “If you don’t believe me, then listen to the conversation. I taped it.”
“You…you taped it?” I asked incredulous.
“Yes,” came his firm reply.
I stared at the tape on Jack’s coffee table. I didn’t even know if I wanted to touch it. “Did she know about it?”
Mike snorted, “Of course not. She wouldn’t have been so…herself if she knew I was taping the conversation.”
I cringed at Mike’s admission. “So an illegal tap. Wonderful. This just gets better and better.”
Jack, who had been uncharacteristically quiet, finally spoke up. “Connie, relax. The tape is only considered a problem if we wanted to prosecute Rose Floyd. The only connecting detail to Melanie is about Rose’s alibi and apparently the state of their marriage.”
For the second time, I felt flustered at what they were telling me. “So you’ve listened to it?”
“Yes, and I’m satisfied with Rose’s alibi, assuming it checks out,” he said while glancing over to Mike with an unreadable expression. “I’ve also learned far too much about Mike’s personal life and it will take an entire bottle of scotch to forget forever, which I hope to start tonight. ”
Mike cleared his throat the way he did when he was nervous. “Yes, well, there’s the tape. I do ask if you believe Jack’s take on it, you don’t listen to it yourself. It’s…well it’s as he says. It’s personal and a little humiliating. I’d rather you…”
He didn’t finish. He was giving me a look that made me feel uncomfortable, while the tape’s obvious presence continued to vex me. Jack had listened to it and stated everything was fine. That should be good enough for me. Should.
“Fine, great. If Jack says it’s clean then I’ll accept that and get on with working the actual case, and not Mike’s past dating history.” I recoiled when I heard myself squeak at the end.
Mike didn’t seem to notice. He grabbed his overcoat which was thrown over the couch’s arm, and put it on. “Good. Glad I could help. I’m going to go now.”
I didn’t even say goodbye as he walked away. The tape was still sitting on the coffee table. Jack’s face at the moment appeared bemused which didn’t irritate me half as much until he said, “He’s gone now, you can go listen to it.”
“I don’t need to, and I told him I wouldn’t.”
Jack didn’t look convinced. “Doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.”
I had a sudden thought, “Would…do you think if our positions were reversed, would he listen to it?”
Jack outright smiled. “Knowing how Mike feels about you? I’d say he would scream bloody murder about it and then be miserable the whole time as he listened.”
That was enough for me. “Fine, you keep it then. I don’t need it.”
With that, I left before I could change my mind.