Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 24

I rushed to the door with the feverish hope that Aidan had come to whisk me away to a romantic breakfast or something. As I approached the front door, I suddenly became very aware that I had just woke up, which meant he would have seen me with no makeup, my hair messy, and not in the cutest pajamas I owned. I felt tempted to use my magic to make myself appear more appealing, but I worried that if I made him wait too long, he’d lose interest and leave. Ideally, if he ever saw me in the morning, I wanted it to have followed a night of passion, but I decided to take what I could get. I figured that he must have guessed I wouldn’t look my finest at this hour, and I did wish he had given me more warning, but then again, I thought, maybe he didn’t have my number and couldn’t relay any notice. My heart soared just savoring the concept that he couldn’t wait another minute without contacting me, and with that in mind, I took a deep breath and gladly swung the door open…

It was Travis. As quickly as my hopes went up, they deflated even quicker. I felt foolish for making the assumption that I would have the luck of receiving such a sweet gesture! I reminded myself that he got a nighttime text from another woman and that he probably orchestrated the chain of murders in a grim effort to express his anti-human tendencies, and even though it disappointed me, I assured myself that I was better off not hearing from him. Once I pushed that notion aside, I wondered why Travis had come, and it irritated me that he woke me up for a, most likely, nonsensical reason. “What do you want?”

“Have you seen my bike?” he queried.

“Why do you keep asking me that?” I shot back. “Don’t you think if I had found it that I would tell you?”

He shrugged. “Probably not. Mom said police don’t care about bike cases. She says you probably stooped looking a long time ago.” A twinge of guilt surged through me because his accusation had a grain of truth to it. Bicycle theft tended not to get put on a high priority list, but not from disinterest in looking for them. We usually put our resources into higher crimes, so minor cases like that mostly got permanently shelved if we didn’t solve them immediately. That didn’t happen with Travis’s bike though! Obviously, he lost a possession that had significant value to him, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that a hooker stole it so a serial killer could use it to display an ominous message! Someday, I’d have to tell him, but I couldn’t think of how to break the news to him in a gentle way. He went on, “I figured if I kept asking, maybe you-.”

From the vicinity of her truck, Travis’s mother hollered, “Travis! Quit bugging the neighbors! You’re gonna be late for school! Now, come on!”

“Yes, Mom!” He turned to leave, but we both heard a small crunch from something that he had apparently stepped on. He glanced down and then apologized, “Oh, sorry! I stepped on your flowers!”

“Flowers?” As he ran off, his words confused me a bit. The only plants we had were on the side of the house, and yet he clearly had stepped on something! When I checked out the small set of stairs leading up to the porch, I gasped. Enveloped in a pink, plastic wrap and slightly damaged from Travis’s footprints were a dozen long-stemmed roses! My pulse raced as I reached down for them, and I crossed my fingers that they came from Aidan and not some hillbilly neighbor who developed a crush on me! I found a little, white card with a purple trim, and my anticipation mounted at its peak to see who left these flowers. To my relief and my delight, Aidan had left them for me! The note just read: “Call me sometime,” but it had a heart next to his phone number, so I got the gist of what he meant to say. He really liked me! I almost cried as I stood there holding them like a beauty pageant queen, and I counted my blessings that he had taken the time to do this!

At first, I wanted to text him right away, but then I realized that I had left my phone on my nightstand. It actually surprised me that I didn’t check my phone already since usually I did that as my first act of the day when I woke up, and I now grew curious if my work had called me in for a case. Aidan had obviously been out and about sometime between last night and early in the morning, and the suspect in my case tended to strike in those hours, so my stomach soured at the idea that maybe Aidan wanted to play with my emotions so I wouldn’t suspect him when I discovered whatever he had done last night. I began to wonder if I should bring the bouquet inside or if I should save them as evidence. I dropped them on the porch and decided to make that decision later.

My job hadn’t messaged me at all, but you know who did? Ben! I answered so many of his questions yesterday, and I kept telling him that we could discuss it when we met up at our house. He still insisted on planning it out before we got there, and I don’t think he understood that this rendez-vous didn’t excite me whatsoever. I ignored him as I got ready for the day. I knew he would whine about it later, but I didn’t care. He needed to comprehend that we weren’t taking this task on as a married couple who had to make new living arrangements after getting evicted, this was the first phase of our impending divorce!

I waited until the last minute to head out the door, which I didn’t have a practical reason for except that I didn’t want to run the risk of arriving early and having to spend even more time with Ben! As I ran outside, I almost tripped and fell off the porch! When I examined the cause of the near accident, I saw that the perpetrator had been Aidan’s flowers! In my dread of the unpleasantness ahead of me, I had forgotten about them! I still hadn’t decided how I should have felt about them, but I didn’t want anyone else to trip on them, so I brought them into the car. As I tossed them into the backseat, I thought perhaps after I had a day to mull it over, I’d know whether or not they belonged in the trash or in a vase.

I pulled up to our old address, and I almost didn’t recognize it! I mean, nothing physically

had changed, but it somehow looked different. Perhaps the overcast clouds colored an unfriendly shadow on it, or it could have felt unfamiliar after staying away from it for so long. It had only been days, really, but so much had happened in that small span of time that it seemed as though I had been away longer than that! It may also have stemmed from the bankers waiting on the front yard so they could conduct their business after we finished up. Regardless of the case, I walked up to it as though I were approaching a stranger’s home! I expected Ben to have already situated himself inside to ascertain what valuables he could get his paws on to redeem for the cash that fed his prostitution habit, but to my rotten surprise, he popped out of his car in the driveway and merrily greeted me, “Hello, beautiful!”

He tried to kiss me, but I turned my head away and reminded him, “We’re not together anymore!”

“But we’re still married!” he argued.

“in name only,” I countered. “If you touch me again, I’ll have you arrested for harassment!”

Ben’s face squirmed as though I had just slapped it. “Okay, you’re still mad! Fine, I’ll give you more time!”

I gritted my teeth at the idiocy of his statement, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to perform a melodrama for the bankers camped out on the lawn, but mainly, I didn’t want to prolong this tedium any longer than I had to, so I held my tongue as we went inside.

I drew out my wand and sent back the items that meant the most to me while he packed his favorite belongings into a box. It surprised me that he wouldn’t even use his magic for something important to him! “Might as well be a Fay!” I muttered to myself.

“What’d you say, Babe?” He paused his project to gaze up at me with hopeful eyes.

“Don’t call me babe!” I snapped. “And never mind what I said!”

He returned to his activities with a doleful expression, and I returned to retrieving my keepsakes. I had no idea where I would store all of the photo albums and the like, but I did feel grateful to get some of my treasures back. After I sent all I could to my mom’s house, I headed to the living room to work on the next phase of this expedition. Before I could get there, Ben called after me, “Hey! You forgot our wedding pictures!”

I coolly told him, “No, I didn’t!” as I exited the room.

He followed me, and after he observed me taking snapshots of our old furniture, he questioned, “What are you doing?”

“Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed. “We went over this all day yesterday! We agreed that I could take the furniture if you got to keep all the crap in the garage! How could you forget?”

“I thought you wanted to actually keep it. I didn’t know you were gonna make money off it!” he pouted.

As I listed the items on a selling app, I informed him, “If you feel wronged, go ahead and add it to the divorce suit! But just so you know, even if the judge decided you were entitled to half of what I earn from this, it’ll be nothing compared to what you owe me after draining our bank accounts!”

He denied that allegation, “I didn’t drain our bank accounts!”

“Uh, yeah, you did!” one of the bankers outside put in.

“He would know!” I remarked. Other than giving me a defeated look, he didn’t say anything else to me as he went to the garage. I paid him no mind as I went back to listing all I could and inwardly praying that I could get it sold before we had to leave.

To my relief, I actually did get a decent amount of buyers. I felt grateful that I had enough magical skills to move it into people’s homes instantly! If I had waited for them to come here and move it by hand, I probably wouldn’t have gotten rid of much! I didn’t make a whole lot of money, but I did lift a weight off my shoulders to have a little bit more more money in my account! And with Ben not being in the room with me, it didn’t feel quite as cumbersome to do this chore! I had no idea how Ben expected to get the lawn mower and all of his tools into his compact car without magic, but I could care less! If he left anything behind today, it would become property of the bank, and it didn’t bother me if he couldn’t bring what he wanted to his parents’ house or wherever he resurfaced nowadays! Towards the end, it did make me feel a little sad to leave some of my stuff behind, but I didn’t need constant reminders of what transpired between Ben and me, so the nostalgia didn’t last long! When it came time to leave, I felt more than ready to go!

Before I could get out, Ben stood in the doorway with his eyes blazing from anger. He seethed, “Shannon, would you mind telling me what the hell that is?” He pointed outside, and I peered in that direction curiously…

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 23

“Oh hi, Mom!” I remembered how awkward I felt as a teenager when I had a parent stumble across me with one of my dates, and I may as well have been sixteen years old all over again at that moment! I know my mother didn’t have a chance to raise me, but the sentiments of the situation hadn’t changed! I mean, I know that adults are allowed to do whatever they want, well, romantically anyways, but that doesn’t stop family from judging a younger relative’s relationship choices! I felt some comfort that I DEFINITELY made the right move in fighting the urge to sleep with him, but as I watched him pull away, a part of me still longed for that opportunity! I pushed that thought out of my head since my mom was right behind me, and as I turned back around, I had no idea how I’d explain this to her! It surprised me when, “Work assignment!” came out of my mouth!

“Looks like a fun assignment!” My mother grinned as she used a trowel to get the weeds from a small garden on the side of the porch. I didn’t know where to begin on explaining what happened that night, but before I formulated even a wisp of a plan on how to tell her, my mom regarded me, “You don’t gotta lie! You and Ben are separated now, so it’s okay to start dating again!”

I sat down on the porch steps as I revealed to her, “Well, it wasn’t a real date! You see, he’s the top suspect in my serial murder case, but the department cleared him of all charges! I still think he’s hiding something, so when he asked me out, I said yes so I could look for more clues.”

My mother continued working as she inquired, “Did you find anything?”

“No!” I lamented. “I gues ’cause I’m so tired, I lost my focus! Now that jerk just thinks I like him!”

“Do you?” my mom probed.

I begrudgingly admitted, “Well… kinda! He’s handsome and charming, but I can’t trust him. I saw a text from another woman asking if he’s still up. That’s suspicious enough, but then he hides his phone from me! He’s up to something, I just know it!”

My mother queried, “You mean besides possibly seeing another girl?”

“That girl was a Fay! And you know how much trouble they’ve causing lately! I haven’t heard of many who are actually nice to humans, but he employees them!” I ranted. “You see why I still wanted to investigate him?”

“If he’s doing all that, why did they clear him?” my mom questioned.

I sighed, “Legally, they had to. It’s not against the law to hire Fay Folks, and it’s not our problem if he’s hiding some of his shady business activities. We haven’t found any evidence at the last crime scene implicating him in any wrong doing, so if we kept pursuing him, we’d get sued. The law is on his side, unfortunately!”

My mother shook her head. “Sometimes the law is just dumb!”

“I wouldn’t go that far!” I disagreed with her premise. “The law is designed to protect us, and most of the time it does. It didn’t work this time, but I wouldn’t totally disregard the law!”

“I did say sometimes,” my mom pointed out. “Just sometimes a law does more harm than help! Sometimes, the law just doesn’t make sense and a few rebels have to disobey it to serve the greater good.” She saw the look of skepticism on my face, so she iterated, “Well, look at what you did tonight! You didn’t have any legal right to investigate this guy, but you did anyways!”

I defended my actions, “Hey, I’m not rebelling! I just had to do what I had to do in order to protect innocent lives!”

She didn’t appear deterred by my objection. “Exactly! Listen, I’m not an anarchist, but not all laws are good. We can’t just blindly obey the rules or we’ll never make progress in society! Rules and laws have to get re-examined, otherwise nothing would ever progress!”

“I guess so.” I hadn’t really thought about it like that, but while she had a valid argument, I still hated the concept of breaking the law. My insides squirmed just thinking about the fact that I did defy the rules for this opportunity, and I did it for my own selfish purposes! I really shouldn’t have gone along with that hare-brained plan, and I sincerely hoped that my colleagues never found out about it! I’d never work as a detective again if I got fired for doing a thing like this! “Ugh, I shouldn’t have done it! What a dumb idea!”

“What’s a dumb idea?” Wade suddenly came up to us, and his abruptness made me jump! I could see that his truck had, indeed, pulled up to the house, and it shocked me that I hadn’t noticed it! Normally, I was much more vigilant, and it bothered me that I lapsed like that!

I didn’t want to go over that whole story again, especially not to Wade! He didn’t seem intelligent enough to grasp onto new information so readily, and if I didn’t want to explain it twice, I definitely didn’t want to repeat myself several times! So, I airily brushed my concern off, “Oh, nothing! Just a problem I’m having with one of my suspects!”

Wade commented, “Oh, I bet you is dealing with one of them bohunks! Ain’t you?”

“He is not…” I paused when I thought about it a little. “Well, actually, I don’t know…”

“I bet you he is!” Wade chuckled before he asked, “Where’s your mom?” I gazed at him particularly and pointed to her next to the porch. I couldn’t understand how he didn’t see her when she was practically right in front of him! “Why are you gardening? It’s nighttime!”

My mother responded, “We have to keep this place clean or the park manager will tan our hides! I couldn’t do it earlier ’cause I had to help you at the restaurant, so-.”

Wade roared, “Oh, it’s my fault? Well, excuse me for giving you a job! Did you at least get dinner ready?”

“I didn’t have time yet!” My mom stared at the ground shamefully. “Sorry!”

“Don’t apologize!” Wade scolded her, “Don’t just sit there either! Get your butt in the house and make my dinner!” My mother scrambled inside, and Wade gruffly stomped in after her. It stunned me to have witnessed that spectacle! I wish I could have stood up for my mom, but with his short temper, I worried that Wade would kick me out. I made a promise to myself that I’d tell him off as soon as I could move out! I knew then that I really needed to find a way to make that happen soon!

Brigid’s Garden manifested another night filled with unbridled noise, and it greatly confused me as to why they would carry on like that so late like this until I remembered that it was still Saturday. This day felt like a week to me, so it didn’t occur to me that others just had a normal weekend. I couldn’t fall asleep like normal anyways, so I just laid in bed mulling things over. I partly pitied my mother for the way Wade made her miserable, but mostly, I couldn’t stop thinking about Aidan. I wondered if Jasmine’s text signified a romantic exploit or a signal for another night of deviousness. I dreaded the possibility of getting called into work again the next day only to investigate something that he did! I would have beat myself up for not doing something to prevent it when I had the chance, but I worried more about proving myself right about him. No matter how much I suspected him of the most heinous crimes possible, and despite the fact that I believed that he had been playing with my feelings all along, I couldn’t hate him! Quite the contrary, I actually found myself missing his touch and dearly desired for him to lay beside me right then! Not necessarily in a sexual way, but I longed for even a conversation with him! I really hoped that he wasn’t guilty because I knew it would really sting if I never got to see him again!

Apparently, I had fallen asleep around dawn! When the cacophony of the mobile home park had stopped, I remembered thinking it did feel nice to hear all those sounds that offended my eardrums, but I didn’t think I was tired enough to actually fall asleep! I woke up around noon, and it really disoriented me to have my day halfway gone already! It bugged me to have lost so much time, but then I realized that I really had nothing going on during my time off. I fully expected to get called into work at any time, and I didn’t think to schedule anything to do in case I didn’t get summoned to study a new clue or crime scene! I immediately checked my phone, and when I saw a dozen missed calls and unread text messages, I fully expected at least one of them to be someone from the department. To my dismay, they were all from Ben! It irritated me that he still tried so hard to win me back after I made my intentions perfectly clear, but then I saw that he did, indeed, have a good reason to contact me! The bank was foreclosing on our house and allowed us a day to retrieve our belongings. I really didn’t want to see his face ever again, but I did leave behind some sentimental stuff, so I agreed to go there tomorrow. I didn’t like it, but I had something to kill time with now!

I spent the rest of the day helping my mom clean the house. It sort of astonished me that she had gotten trained into toiling so much for a man who showed so much indifference to her good deeds! He parked himself in front of the television, which made him continuously within earshot of our conversations. It disappointed me at first because I wanted to talk to my mother about her situation, but I consoled myself with the fact that I could constantly bash Ben! I didn’t realize I had so much to say about him, but every time he texted me (which was a lot!), I thought about something new that bugged me about him. Like, I complained about how he never took the time to do anything particularly special for me. His idea of a romantic night out involved a drive through and a picnic in our own backyard. That venture was only cute once! He always listened to my problems, but he never really responded to them. Whenever a chore had to get done, he always fell ill or became too weary to use his magic, but if I were ill or weary, I still had to summon the energy to do a complicated spell! He had never thought about what my needs were, just his! During our decade together, I never griped about him, I never had any motive to until recently, and it didn’t make sense to me as to why, all of a sudden, it came out like that…

He kept bugging me about dividing our belongings, and I grew more and more annoyed each time he did. I couldn’t figure out why it incensed me more than it usually would, but then my mom observed my face light up and quickly deflate each time a message came in. I found that strange at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I deemed her correct. I kept getting let down that Ben contacted me as if I were expecting to hear from someone else. At first, I theorized that I wanted to go back to my job, but it seemed deeper than that somehow. Suddenly, it came to me- my heart was aching to hear from Aidan! I put a special tone on my phone to distinguish between Ben’s texts and everyone else’s to stop getting false hope, and as I unwillingly prepared myself to meet up with my soon-to-be ex husband the next day, I told myself it’d be better if I never heard from Aidan again. I needed to focus on my case, and I didn’t want to keep getting distracted by feelings that wouldn’t refrain from growing stronger. I laid in bed with a surge of sorrow that I didn’t get to communicate with Aidan at all that day, and I wondered whether or not I actually gave him my phone number. I truly didn’t believe I’d fall asleep that night, but then I found myself abruptly waking up to the sound of a knock on the front door…

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 22

“So, did you grow up out here?” I finally figured out what to say to him to get the ball rolling! In my training for my role as detective, we got taught advanced conversation skills so that we could put witnesses at ease or lull a suspect into a false sense of security. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner except who thinks about work on a date? Well, I went out with him to help out my case, but still, I needed to hone my dating skills to make this operation successful. I hadn’t gone on a first date in over a decade, and Ben met me when I had a little too much to drink, so I didn’t really worry about what to talk about! The source of my newly found confidence may have been unconventional, but hey, it worked! Plus, I felt glad that I had prompted him to recount his past first. I didn’t feel comfortable explaining my past yet, but I figured after the wine kicked in, I’d feel more compelled to do so! The question did just roll off my tongue naturally, but now I truly felt curious about his answer. It would have been so strange if we were once schoolmates!

“No, I came out here about twenty years ago,” he replied. “Before that, I lived in Kentucky.”

I raised my eyebrows in surprise to hear that. “Kentucky, huh? Where’d your accent go?”

He laughed, “I get that a lot. I purposely lost my accent so I could persuade people that I was intelligent. All of our best and brightest had thick accents, but you couldn’t convince anyone in Maryland that!”

“What made you move out here?” I conversed before I took another sip of wine.

“I grew up in a small town,” he explained. “Nothing wrong with it, it’s a great place to raise a family, but it didn’t have a lot of high paying jobs. So, after I graduated, I looked for jobs in the big cities within driving distance of Tarahill, and I ended up getting some low-level sales job here in Anaknock. I mastered sales pretty quickly, and when I realized I could run things more smoothly than my mentors did, I started my own company. Anaknock has been pretty good to me, so I kept my main headquarters here.”

I queried, “Did I hear you say Tarahill?”

He confirmed, “Yup! That’s where I got the name of my company from! I wanted to pay homage to where I came from to show I still cared about my hometown, but I made sure the gesture had enough meaning to make up for rarely visiting. I love my family, but they’re a bit… overwhelming. Especially my sister and her five kids! I like being an uncle, don’t get me wrong, but…”

“Five kids is a lot to handle!” I remarked.

“Yes!” He looked pleased that I understood his point. “They’re so hyper too! I swear, my sister only feeds them sugar and caffeine!”

I chuckled at his quip as the elderly lady that co-owned this joint brought us menus. “I’ll give you guys a few minutes to look at the choices.”

We both thanked her as she left, and then I studied what they had to offer. It all sounded like delicious, homespun food, but I frowned after seeing the prices! I still wouldn’t get a paycheck until next week, and the cheapest meal they had would still take most of the scant amount that I had left! I considered getting a loan, but that would end up costing me more money in the long run, and I needed to save as much as I could for my upcoming divorce. Even if my split with my soon-to-be ex didn’t cost as much as I feared, I still needed to save up to have my own place again. I was glad I had a place to go during this ordeal, but Brigid’s Garden had too much to worry about- the criminal activities, Travis badgering me, eight cats in the house, and Wade’s constant yelling! Not to mention his foul odor! It’s not like spending twenty bucks on dinner would have prevented me from getting divorced or finding a new home, but the idea of draining my bank account really scared me! I realized that I’d have nothing left for emergencies, and I’d have to completely rely on the food my mom snuck me to survive. On the other hand, I absolutely had to solve this case, and I supposed I had to pay the price for this sort of off-the-books caper!

“Order whatever you like! Dinner’s on me tonight!” he offered.

“Thanks!” I smiled to show my gratitude, but I could tell my cheeks were burning red too. I worried that I didn’t do enough to hide my thoughts, but I supposed that he could have mentioned that coincidentally. I hated to think of myself as a charity project, but I reasoned that I’d get a free meal along with possible clues for my investigation, so I decided to let it go and just enjoy the evening.

Actually, I hadn’t planned on enjoying the evening as much as I did! Aidan and I ended up chatting about everything! Even the subjects that were usually hard for me to discuss with anyone were quite easy to share with him! He divulged some deeply personal issues from his past, even his mother’s early death, and I couldn’t believe the ease that I found telling him my darkest moments! We talked about a lot of fun things also, and I’ve never laughed so much! As our food disappeared, I actually felt disappointed that our date was coming to a close, but then the music changed…

The soothing, ambient tune that played softly in the background shifted to an eighties’ classic, and a few people went out to the dance floor. Aidan invited me, “You wanna jam?”

I giggled at the idea until I realized that he meant that seriously. “Oh, I dunno… It’s been so long…”

Aidan insisted, “Hey, don’t worry about being good! Let’s just have fun!” He got up and did a couple of goofy, outdated moves, which made me laugh. He extended his hand to me, and I decided to join him. Why not? He did make it look enjoyable, and as soon as I hit the floor, I did actually get a huge kick out of it! It felt liberating to dance like an idiot without judgment! I’m quite sure we got strange looks from the other patrons there, but I didn’t pay them any mind! I was having the time of my life!

A romantic ballad came on, and all of the couples came together to slow dance. I drew my body close to Aidan, and after he put his arms around me, I could hear his heart beating. At first, I thought that its rapidness stemmed from the exertion of our dancing, but the tender stare he gave me made me think it came from something more. I really hoped that he wasn’t faking the affection that he appeared to exude, and I needed to know if he had superior acting skills or if he really liked me, so I asked him, “Why on Earth did you go out with me? I mean, I’m glad you did, but I treated you like a criminal!”

Aidan answered me, “You were just doing your job! If you hadn’t, we wouldn’t have met! I liked that you treated me like a normal person. I’m so used to everyone worshiping me like a celebrity, but you were different! You seem like someone that’d force me to behave, and I need that sometimes!” I tittered a bit, and then he went on, “You just seemed like a genuinely nice person, and it’s so rare to find a woman like you! I honestly didn’t think I had a shot, but then I saw how sad you were, and I thought while I may not be as good of a guy as you deserve, but I can make you happy! I can do that for you!” I beamed at how sweet his words were, and I thought we would just savor in the sentiments that this music created, but then he inquired, “What about you? What made you say yes?”

I didn’t know how to answer that! I couldn’t ruin the moment by admitting the truth! But I had to say something, he expected it! “I just…” I almost concocted a fictional narrative for why I wanted to date him, but I couldn’t lie! I took too long to reply, and if I didn’t do something drastic, I would have lost him, so I pulled his face close to mine and kissed him! The softness of his lips were pleasing to the palate, and yet they were strong enough to really lock mine in enough so I could feel its effects deep down! Electricity flowed through my whole body, giving me a tingly feeling all over! I never had a kiss turn me on like that, not even after a decade of knowing Ben! I did it to appease him, but I hadn’t expected to enjoy it so much!

I didn’t want to let go, but after the song ended, the upbeat melody that came on called our attention back to reality. Neither of us seemed to have anymore desire to continue dancing, so he held my hand as we returned to our table. He paid the bill for our meal, and we both said goodbye to the lovely, old couple that owned the lodge. We held hands on the way back to the car, and the warmth it generated had a very comforting effect on me! When I got inside his car and he rounded the corner to get to the driver’s side, I found myself flooded with relaxation. After he entered the vehicle, he wanted to know my address. I gave it to him as I rested my head on his shoulders, and my eyes started to grow very heavy…

The next thing I knew, Aidan was gently shaking me to wake up. “Shannon! Shannon! You’re home!”

“Huh?” For a second, I thought I had dreamt that whole date! I had forgotten how exhausted I had felt from such a long day, but it shocked me that I had gotten tired enough to fall asleep in Aidan’s car! As I opened my eyes, I saw his cellphone right in front of me! Clearly, he had it propped there for navigational purposes, but then I saw a text from Jasmine that read: “You up?” No woman likes to see her man receive a text from an attractive, young lady, but it roused my suspicions that it came from a Fay! With all of the illegal activity surrounding them lately, I couldn’t help but speculate about the possible motives she could have had when she sent that message! He grabbed his phone, took a quick glance at it, and stuffed it in his pocket. My heart sank! After such an amazing evening, I lost sight of my original intentions! I grew to trust him, and now I felt like a fool for doing so!

“I hope our date didn’t bore you too much!” When he saw my confused expression, he clarified, “It was a joke! ‘Cause you fell asleep.”

I forced myself to laugh, and then I told him, “No, no! I had a great time!” It wasn’t untrue. I thoroughly enjoyed myself until right then. Seeing that text just made me berate myself for wasting the evening having fun instead of looking for clues! My stomach twisted just knowing I had the key piece of evidence that I was after right in front of me and I missed it!

He kissed me again, and it sickened me to know how much pleasure I got from it despite everything! “We should do this again soon!”

“Definitely!” I hoped that he meant that. If he took me on another date, I vowed not to waste another opportunity again! Next time, I wanted to decide where we were going so he couldn’t parade me to people who naively liked him and made him appear to be a decent guy! Plus, I’d make sure I’d find a way to get that phone! “Bye!”

“Bye!” He kissed me again, and I tore myself away before he had a chance to seduce me further! I got out of the car, and I could tell he was watching me. I didn’t know if he just wanted to make sure I go to the house okay or if he had something else planned! I wanted to hurry inside to emote over the situation, but to my astonishment, I saw someone standing there watching me!

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 21

“Oh, we’re taking your car?” I got so swept up in celebrating my new plan that I hadn’t paid close attention to where we were going! It made me nervous to get into a suspect’s vehicle! A decision like that always comes with the risk of getting trapped inside; it was an easy way to corner someone, and I had no idea what he had planned with me!

“Oh, I’m sorry!” he apologized. “I should have asked your preference. We can take your car if you want.”

I almost accepted his offer, but then my curiosity got the better of me. He could have held some clues inside of his car, and the only way I thought I’d get a chance to get access to it would have been to go on our date in his vehicle. “Oh, no! Your car is much nicer! I’m just gonna let my supervisor know that I’m leaving mine here so no one worries about me.”

He gave me a warm smile as he opened the passenger door for me. As he went around to the other side, I scoped it out a bit. It looked showroom new, no hints of trash or debris, so I assumed that he must have cleaned it before he led me on that chase because he knew it’d get searched. I wouldn’t have put it past him to have some kind of secret compartment to store things in, but with just a cursory glance, I couldn’t tell if that was the case. When he got into the car, I had hoped that he would put his cellphone down where I could read it. I remembered his reluctance to show it to me when we searched his office, and I desperately wanted to see what he tried to keep hidden from me! Unfortunately, he didn’t bring it out from his pocket. I could see him wondering why I hadn’t texted Sandra yet, so I fibbed, “Sorry! I got distracted just admiring your car! It’s gorgeous!”

“Thanks!” He grinned as he started the car. The engine revved up like a tiger’s roar, and I genuinely got impressed this time! I really did need to message Sandra though, so I didn’t comment on it yet. I almost told her the truth, but I knew she’d have a TON of follow up questions, so I decided to keep it brief with: “I got a ride home. I’ll pick up my car tomorrow.” She didn’t write back right away, so I surmised that she was still talking to Chief Mazarine about our conversation with our witness. That irked me a little since I was the lead detective on that case, but I understood why he decided that. Obviously, Chief Mazarine thought my outburst made me emotionally incapable of having a collected conversation, and while I didn’t believe he had the right judgment about my state of mind, I felt kind of grateful he sent me home when he did. I didn’t know how long Aidan would have waited for me, and this was too good of an opportunity to pass up!

“Where are we going?” After I craned my head up, I saw that we had gotten onto the highway. Most people in Anaknock went downtown for date nights, and I tried not to show my nerves as I deduced that we were going in the exact opposite direction! I began to wonder if I had made the right call in going in his car…

He genially responded, “Oh, I was gonna surprise you, but maybe you’ve had enough surprises today…” I nodded and tittered a bit in agreement. “Well, there’s a really nice, little, mom and pop resort up in the mountains. I sell stuff for the owners sometimes; they’re a really sweet, old couple, so I like to visit them from time to time too. Have you ever been to Berengaria?”

My heart started thumping wildly! I had no idea he planned on taking me out of town! Conveniently, it was outside of Slygow county, so we were heading out of my district! I suddenly felt completely reckless for landing myself in such a potentially dangerous situation! “No, I don’t do a lot of traveling, so…”

“Oh, that’s right!” His expression grew remorseful upon hearing that. “I just thought you would enjoy its beautiful scenery. I can’t believe I forgot about how you feel about traveling! We can go somewhere else if you want.”

“No, that’s okay. I should face my fears some time!” I hadn’t truly meant that. I know some people like to conquer their fears, but I really didn’t have any desire to do that. Again, he gave me another out, and again, I declined it out of curiosity. If I wanted to glean more insight about his motives and plans, I needed to go to his turf! It still terrified me to go out of the city, but I remembered that Dahlia mentioned working in Virginia sometimes, so I decided that since I had a reasonable excuse to search in another district without worrying about procedures, I needed to convince myself to sotomach this road trip!

At that moment, Sandra texted me back, and I frowned as I read: “Oh no, you are not coming to pick up your car! I’m picking you up on Tuesday, and you’re telling me EVERYTHING on the way to work!” I groaned slightly. I knew I’d have to tell her eventually, but I dreaded her fervent reaction to the gossip I’d bring!

Aidan noticed my distracted attention and inquired, “Something wrong?”

“Oh no! It’s just work stuff I gotta deal with later.” I deemed this as a good time to casually bring up, “Do you happen to know anything about the Ploutonion?”

“I’ve heard of it,” Aidan replied. “I know it can be dangerous since there’s no law enforcement there, it’s like the wild west! Jasmine refuses to set foot in it!” He paused and added, “You’re not going in there, are you?”

I explained, “Maybe. I mean, I hope not, but a witness mentioned something about it, so we may have to go there eventually.” I hadn’t considered going in there before, but now I privately wondered if I should. It didn’t sound like he wanted me to, and it was yet another thing he wanted to keep hidden from me!

He advised me, “If you do have to go, please bring someone with you! People get attacked from behind in there, so please don’t go there alone!”

I hadn’t expected him to say that! I wanted to ask him more about the stories he heard (or the incidents he incited) from there, but I didn’t think it would have made great date talk. I had to maintain the ruse that I had a romantic interest in him! Well, I actually did have an attraction to him that grew and grew despite all of the evidence I found against him! Some of it was physical, his looks became more and more becoming each time I saw him, but a part of me wanted to believe in his sincerity. Anyways, my main motive for going out with him was to gather evidence, and as we grew closer and closer to to the hills, I had to remind myself of the importance of putting a close to my case as fast as possible- lives were at stake! Trying to stay as nonchalant as possible, I promised him, “Oh yeah, I wouldn’t go into something like that without backup! Don’t worry, I won’t go there alone, I swear!”

As he turned onto a curvy, uphill road, he looked pleased at my affirmation. I’m glad that he had to concentrate on driving through a difficult terrain so that I could hide how scared all of this made me! I didn’t buy his claim that he forgot my fear of travel, and I theorized that he purposely took me here to torture me! It appeared as though we only had one way to get to this place, which meant I didn’t have a lot of escape routes! It gave me some comfort when I saw were were approaching our destination, but I grew increasingly anxious about what other torment he had in store for me now that we were isolated!

Once we parked, I composed myself to continue my charade. If I let him see my vulnerability, he’d gain an edge on me, and I couldn’t let that happen! When I stepped out of the car, I froze on the spot just seeing my surroundings! I stood among tall, leafy trees, and the ground still had a light dusting of snow on it that gave the area an aura of purity! The lodge itself had an antiquated, wooden log style, and I found its old-fashioned charm very inviting! The stunning view made me forget my trepidation, something that Aidan delightfully observed. “I knew you’d like it!” he said with a smile. He offered his arm, and after I took it, and as we headed up there, I dared to consider that maybe, just maybe, he hadn’t taken me here it invoke my anguish after all!

After we entered through the heavy, wooden doors, a little bell rang. We stood by an empty host’s podium, and it surprised me to see posh, linen on timbered tables that sat under cozy lighting. A few people were eating happily as some soft music played in the background, all of which convinced me that he had taken me here to impress me. I now thought that perhaps he wanted to get on my good side so that he could get information out of me that I would never normally give up willingly! If that was the case, I thought that perhaps this date wouldn’t become as horrifying as assumed it would!

“Hey, hey!” An old couple came out of the kitchen with an excited look after seeing Aidan. The elderly gentleman gave him a hug and chirped, “Nice to see you again!”

“How have you been, Aidan?” the man’s wife queried as she hugged him. “Staying out of trouble?”

She had meant that as a joke, but I found it ironic enough that I involuntarily uttered, “Psh!”

They noticed me for the first time, and I smiled as though I were just kidding. The old man asked Aidan, “Well, well! Who’s this lovely, young lady?”

“This is Shannon!” he answered proudly.

I blushed a little as they looked at me in admiration. I extended my hand to them and politely greeted them, “Nice to meet you!”

They each shook my hand, and the elderly lady told Aidan excitedly, “Well, let’s get you kids a table!”

The two of them took us to a table next to what appeared to have been a dance floor. The man took out my chair for me and offered, “Can I get you some wine?”

“That sounds great!” I responded very truthfully. “Thank you!”

“Our pleasure!” he remarked before dashing back into the kitchen.

Aidan and I grinned in a somewhat awkwardly manner. I couldn’t think of a way to break the ice, but luckily, the old fellow came back with the wine pretty quickly. He poured us each a glass, and we both gave him our thanks as he left the bottle on the table before he departed. Aidan held up his glass and toasted, “To first dates!”

I held up my glass and echoed, “To first dates!” We clinked our glasses together and took a sip of the wine, which was absolutely delicious! The date formally began, and I could sense something big happening on the horizon. Either I had gotten myself much closer to solving my case, one step closer to danger, or perhaps, I thought, I had garnered something deeper than I could have ever imagined!

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 20

“No! That’s impossible! That can’t be right!” My entire body froze upon hearing that, and my brain just didn’t want to accept it. I had convinced myself of Aidan’s complete and total guilt, and I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could think otherwise! It just didn’t make sense to me that suddenly everyone believed in his innocence! It seemed completely unfathomable that anything he said or did would convince our finest investigators and legal team to let him just walk out free! If I didn’t know that Chief Mazarine had no sense of humor, I would have thought he had fabricated that story as some kind of joke ! A part of me still waited for him to deliver the punchline as I anticipated the explanation on how Aidan got cleared of all charges- it just didn’t seem sane enough to be true!

“We found ties to him in Reed Radley and Dion Cielo’s murders, but we didn’t find any links to him on this one,” Chief Mazarine relayed to me. “His DNA doesn’t match the killer’s profile, and we have zero evidence that this killer worked for anyone but themselves. We had no choice, we had to let him go.”

His logic made perfectly reasonable sense, but I just could not make peace with this as everyone else did! Aidan was now a free man, and with no one monitoring him, I could only imagine the mayhem that he would unleash! This gave him the knowledge that he could get away with anything, and I shuddered to think of what he would do since he had immunity to the law! I tried to reason with Chief Mazarine, “He had large gaps of unaccounted for time! We’re just supposed to ignore his shady business dealings?”

Chief Mazarine affirmed, “Yes! Shady business practices have nothing to do with our department! If you want to file a federal case against him, be my guest, but otherwise-.”

“What about his frequent interactions with the Fays?” I brought up. “And his habit of honing his magical abilities? He’s a charismatic and powerful, he has all of the profile traits of this serial murderer! How can we just-?”

“He didn’t get tried for this crime, so if you find any new evidence showing his guilt, we’ll bring him back, but as of right now, we have no legal justification to keep him included in this investigation!” Chief Mazarine noticed my sour expression, so he added, “Being a sleazy person isn’t a crime! You know that! Just let it go and move on to the next person of interest!.”

Every fiber of my being held on to the notion that he was hiding something, and I just couldn’t let it go like he suggested! I expected Sandra to rally by my side and renew the case against Aidan, but to my astonishment, she seemed to have sided with Chief Mazarine! “In our witness’s account of last night’s attack, she didn’t mention anything about the killer working for someone. She told us this guy was working to destroy the world, so I think he’s in charge. I think Aidan’s done some fishy stuff, but I don’t think he had anything to do with these murders.”

As Chief Mazarine agreed with Sandra’s viewpoint, I felt like I just got betrayed. Sandra had stood by me more than once and vouched for me when my instincts prompted me to go a certain direction, but at a crucial moment like this, she abandoned me! I decided quickly that I’d have to get used to fighting for this stance on my own, but I still gave it one more try to sway them to my side, “He could have altered his DNA! It hasn’t been done before, but I think it’s entirely possible that he-.”

“Go home, Shannon!” Chief Mazarine directed me. When I reacted as if he had fired me, he expanded on his idea, “You haven’t had a day off in a while, and clearly you haven’t gotten a lot of rest lately. Take a couple of days off to relax, and come back with a fresh mind for the case.” I must have still looked hurt because he elaborated, “Technically, you’re due for time off anyways. I know stuff keeps happening that calls you back on your time off, but HR will have my head if I overwork you on purpose!” He turned to Sandra and told her, “You too, but I want to hear more about Giada’s story before you go.” He turned back to me and reported, “Go home, Shannon. We’ll see you on Tuesday!”

I still wanted to argue my stance on Aidan, but I certainly couldn’t disobey a direct order! Instead, I just sighed and unwillingly went back to my cubicle to gather up my belongings. As I grabbed my purse out my desk, I cheered myself up a little by reminding myself that I had at least bought some time before I had to tell Sandra what happened between Aidan and me last night. I didn’t make eye contact with any of my colleagues as I headed out, I really didn’t feel like explaining myself to anyone else that day, so I just left as fast as possible. As I neared the exit, I lost the small hope that a more veteran detective would stop me and say how they agreed with my conclusions. I gave up on anyone joining my cause and started wondering how on Earth I’d fill in all this free time that I’d apparently have. All I could think of was dealing with the uphill battle to finally rid myself of Ben, and the premise of dealing with that made me really dread my weekend!

As I went outside the station, my focus on all of the recent and upcoming unpleasantness made me miss who was standing by the exit. All of a sudden, a familiar voice rang out, “Oh, you’re off earlier than I thought!” I nearly had a heart attack from getting snuck up on like that! I whipped out my wand in a defensive mode, thinking that with this amount of surprise had to include some kind of ambush, and I got a jolt of shock to see Aidan standing there! He didn’t seem to have any aggressive inclinations, but I didn’t lower my wand. I had absolutely no intention to trust him right then! He didn’t seem offended though. He held up his hands and apologized, “Sorry! I should have known better than to startle a cop like that!”

“Boy, I’ll say!” I concurred with my wand still drawn. He gave me a sheepish glance, and so I asked him, “What do you want?” I expected him to demand an apology in the best case scenario. I doubted that he would confess to any wrongdoing, and I really hoped that he hadn’t planned on any sort of attack- I was in no mood for that!

“Actually, I just wanted to know… Would you like to have dinner together tonight?” he requested.

I uttered, “You… Did you just.. What?” He completely threw me off by asking me that! That man had women fawning over him left and right, he could have had anyone he wanted, and he picked me! Not that I thought so little of myself, I just always figured a guy like that wouldn’t go for an imperfect woman. Men of that caliber had their pick of the litter, and they usually pursued girls in top physical form, young, loose… I had an hourglass figure, but I had a lot more sand than a lot of ladies did! I liked my shape, but I didn’t think that perfectly fit people were interested in anyone overweight. Plus, I was in my thirties, not young, and I still hadn’t technically divorced my husband, so I didn’t have any temptation of going to bed with anyone for a while. He knew that, and yet he still asked me out! I grew highly skeptical of his motives for doing that!

He kicked his feet bashfully, and I could see his cheeks redden. “I guess I shouldn’t have bothered. I figured you’d say no, but I thought I felt a spark between us, and I didn’t wanna pass up the chance to go out with a woman like you! Sorry!”

“What do you mean, a woman like me?” I could have let him leave, but he really struck me with that last statement!

“Well, I …” He seemed a little embarrassed to admit it, but eventually, he confessed, “You’re classy, and you don’t deal with low lives like me. You’re a boss, so you’re very selective in who you associate with. You probably go for CEO’s and college professors, not some sales person like me! I mean, I make decent money, but you’re probably looking for someone more prestigious. You’re so pretty too, and now that you’re single again, you can have any guy you want! Why would you want me?”

It felt eerie for him to echo something similar to what I had just been thinking! He came across as very authentic, and it definitely flattered me! I just didn’t know how much of that I actually believed. I could concede his impression of my class and career ambitions, but I really doubted that my level of beauty really had the prowess to sway men like he alleged! I considered the luxurious sports car he drove and the amount of swank he maintained for his office, and it didn’t make sense to me for a guy like that to show such humility! I couldn’t figure out what he wanted from me, and as I caught a glimpse of the station out of the corner of my eye, it dawned on me- he probably wanted to keep tabs on me so he could glean how much I knew about his involvement in the case! I felt a little foolish for daring to consider feeling flattered from his advances! I didn’t think he had any other interest in me, which hurt a little, of course, but I steeled myself up so that I could reject him out of sheer prudence. It wouldn’t make sense to risk my case and my safety just to pretend a man like that took interest in me! Before I could tell him no, he surmised my response from my silence. “Sorry to bother you!”

He started to leave, and I resumed thinking about my weekend ahead again. I would have had a pretty mundane time at home dealing with my split from my soon-to-be ex as well as potential drama from Wade’s odd behavior unless I got called in for another murder. I wondered if my refusal would prompt Aidan to kill someone else, and then I suddenly got inspired for a new weekend plan! I called after him, “Hey, Aidan!” He halted in his tracks and gazed at me curiously. “I’d love to have dinner with you tonight!”

“Great!” He beamed at me, and I smiled broadly too, but not for the reason he thought! As we walked to his car (which I assumed got released after the charges were dropped), I smugly relished in the concept that I had just flipped his game on him! He wanted to date me to get information, and I decided to do the same to him. I could watch him and get clues about his plans. I thought that maybe I could gain his trust and he’d let something slip out to me! Something verbal, I mean. I hadn’t planned on sleeping with him, although I would have had a hard time saying no since he was so hot! I didn’t think it’d go that far though. Anyways, I also reasoned that he couldn’t do anything precarious in my presence, so I thought one life would get saved as I spent time with him that night! If he did anything in front of me, I could stop him right away! I almost laughed picturing the jealousy I’d cause if my colleagues found out I went on a date with someone they were drooling over! I inwardly celebrated in the fact that Chief Mazarine may have pulled him out of the scope of the case, but that didn’t deter me from finding a way to investigate Aidan after all!

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 19

“He’s a stinking human!” Giada thought about it for a second and then amended her statement, “Well, I don’t know if he’s actually stinking, I lost my sense of smell after I… you know…”

“Lucky you!” I remarked thinking about the state of that bathroom we found her in. “I’m in not interested in hearing why you switched from snorting drugs to injecting them. I just wanna know who killed you. Who is he?”

She shrugged. “I dunno. I never saw him before! Actually, I didn’t really see him at all. He had his hood over his face, and I didn’t recognize his voice either.”

I prompted her, “What can you tell us about him then? Tall? Short? Fat? Skinny?”

“He was just medium,” she recalled. “He had a green hoodie and blue jeans that covered his shoes. He had a real old, jagged wand too. Nothing special ’bout him. I wouldn’t have thought anything of him except he came into the ladies’ room.”

“Alright, so what happened between you two?” I asked. “A drug deal went bad?”

She answered, “Oh, hell no! I quit getting my stuff from humans a long time ago! Humans lie and cheat, they screw you over and they don’t even care! Fays got no other way to make money, so they work harder to get your business, you know?”

She reminded me of Aidan’s unusual custom of hiring Fays. He also had huge gaps of his company’s activities that weren’t accounted for, which made me wonder if his efforts in selling random odds and ends was just a front for a less legal skill. A part of me hate to think it, but this drew me to the conclusion that Aidan set up both the drug deal and the assassination! I couldn’t prove any of that, so I didn’t voice those thoughts. Instead, I picked up on another aspect she had raised. “We found a wad of cash and empty needles on your human body, so we know that you were there for a purchase. You don’t buy your drugs from humans, so your killer isn’t your dealer. Did this Fay you buy from leave before the murder?”

“Yeah.” She nodded. “She left when…”

“When what?” I probed. “Look, whatever illegal activity you were involved in, I don’t care! If you want those charges dropped, I need to tell the DA a reasonable story of what happened. I can’t do much with a creepy guy showing up to the women’s bathroom.”

She began to lose a lot of her bravado at this point, and even though Verne urged her to give an account of what happened, she seemed extremely reluctant. Eventually, she told me, “My dealer showed up, and as I went up to her, she started coughing. Then when we saw the light, she left.”

I queried, “The light? Did he teleport into the bathroom?”

“No, he…” She caught herself as she she almost revealed something she hadn’t intended to, and she tried to cover her tracks with, “… Uh, yeah, he teleported.”

“I can’t make any deals with you if you lie to me,” I warned her.

She snapped back, “Why does it matter how he got there? He just came in, okay?”

I let her know, “The way the killer came in and out of the scene is crucial in solving a murder case! We have to present all the facts at trial. If we leave anything out, the defense will call for a mistrial and the whole thing will have been a waste of time! How they entered and exited shows intent, it tells us how much planning they put into it. It could say a lot about their motives too. Why did they enter the room? Did they hear something that triggered them? Or did they know exactly who they were going after all along? We have to know that detail, and, quite frankly, I don’t see what the big deal is. Why would you want to hide this fact from us?”

“I’ve said too much already!” she bemoaned. “He’s gonna kill me again, and I’m going to Hell for sure!”

“Well, I guess it’s your choice then. You can let your last view of Earth be a prison cell, or you can have a small shot of going to Heaven by helping us out. It’s up to you.” Her behavior reminded me of Dahlia’s, and Dahlia chose to take her chances in prison rather than risk the wrath of this sociopath, so I sort of expected Giada to take that route too. I could see the gears in her brain heading towards that same direction, and I had to quickly think of something to sway Giada from doing that. I compared the two Fay women, and I did make one notable exception. Suddenly, it became clear of what might convince her to tell us what she knew. “I bet there’s lots of humans in Hell! What a shame it’d be to get stuck with them for all of eternity!”

I had no idea how many humans would actually land themselves there, and I sort of hated myself for using that vile, anti-human rhetoric like that, but I’m glad I did because clearly the concept I presented scared her into going the other direction. “He opened up the Ploutonion! There, happy?” We stared blankly at her, and she reacted irritably, “Seriously? You’ve never heard of the Ploutonion?”

Sandra inquired, “Are they, like, a band or something?” Giada gave her a judgmental stare, so Sandra scolded her, “Don’t give me that look! My daughter’s kid always does that to me! I kept up with the trends as a kid, and I tried to keep up with what my daughter was into; I give up with this generation!”

“Your daughter’s kid?” I responded in slight shock. “You’re a-?”

“Call me Nana!” she requested. “I had a kid young, and so did she.”

Verne piped in, “No one would have ever guessed you were old enough to be a… nana!”

Giada interjected, “Is this an afternoon tea or a murder investigation? Can we get on with this?”

“Sorry!” I blushed a little since a witness called me out on my lack of professionalism, and I snapped myself back into a proper composure. “So, a Ploutonion is a way to travel then?”

“No!” She obviously had no interest in educating us, but she knew she didn’t really have a choice right then. “When people turn into Fays, they’re stripped of all their Earthly powers. The one and only ability we get is the power to go into the Other World. It’s, like, a dimension between Heaven and Hell, and we can go there to plead our case about where we belong. Most people don’t bother ’cause it’s like talking to the wall, but it’s always there for people to try. Well, that’s the theory anyways. Most Fay just sleep there or whatever.”

After jotting this new information down as fast as I could, I queried, “Are humans allowed into this realm?”

She replied, “Yeah. They’re allowed to go in to help make the case for a Fay, but I doubt that this dude who killed me was doing that!”

“There’s something we can agree on!” I commended her, and I think it surprised her to have us get on the same page about something. “Okay, so you go to the particular spot for a drug deal, and the killer pops out and kills you. Can they see what’s happening on Earth from the Ploutonion?”

“No. I think my dealer set me up!” Giada lamented. “I’m never using her again!”

I recommended to her, “Yeah, I wouldn’t either!” Once again, I could tell I surprised her by agreeing with her. I then questioned her, “Did this dealer hop into the Ploutonion after the killer came?” She nodded in confirmation. “Alright, so what happened next? Did he kill you right away?”

She reported, “No. He told me I got chosen to survive, and then he took out his wand and tried to kill me! It didn’t make any sense, but I had to fight back. We were shooting spells at each other, and then he started saying how he’s working on ending the world ’cause humans were just too sinful and didn’t deserve to live on this planet anymore. He said, in the end, Fays would be the only ones left on Earth, so it stopped making sense for me to stay human. I figured if I turned into a Fay, I’d have a chance of making it out of the apocalypse. I’d have more time to make sure I didn’t get sent to Hell!”

It took us a minute to absorb all this. Throughout my childhood, I heard tales of Fay Folks relishing in the mischief and harm that they did to humans, but I had no idea that they had a much darker purpose! Then again, the idea didn’t really come from them, the murderer devised that plot! It saddened me to think that somewhere out there, a magian detested humans so much that he actively sought to destroy them all, and the idea that Aidan could have been that guy made my stomach churn! I couldn’t wrap my head around that, and, for a moment, I forgot about the investigation entirely, so Sandra filled the void by asking, “So, the pipes got destroyed during the battle? Did you see him write that message on the wall?”

“Yeah, a couple things broke when we were fighting. I didn’t see anyone write any message. What’d it say?”

“It just had some very anti-human sentiment to it.” I wanted to appease her a bit so she could tell us more, but I didn’t want to divulge too many details to her. She might have run into the killer again, and I had no intentions of letting him know how much we knew.

Verne took a look at his files and denoted, “Ah, yes! That was part of her charges too, defacing public property by using bio-hazardous materials. I’m assuming blood?”

“That would have been nice!” Sandra mumbled. Verne and Giada glanced at her in disconcertion, and I didn’t blame them! I don’t think most people could envision a scenario more appalling than a message written in blood, and prior to the previous day, I couldn’t have imagined anything worse, but I learned that a message written in excrement is far more disturbing!

“Anyways…” I could see Sandra showing signs of wanting to declassify that tidbit to them, so I cut her off before she could even start. “Can you give us your drug dealer’s contact info before you go?”

Giada gave me a peculiar stare. “You don’t have my cellphone?” I shook my head. “That sucks! How am I supposed to get a new one now?”

I assured her, “Since it’s part of our investigation, we’ll look for it and give it back to you when we’re done processing it for evidence.”

“You’d do that for me even thought I’m just a druggie and a Fay?” she pondered.

“It’s the right thing to do,” I stated firmly. “Just let us know if she contacts you.”

Her expression softened a bit after hearing that. “Alright.” She wouldn’t make eye contact with me at this point, and I guessed that she wasn’t used to having a human act kindly towards her. I kind of felt sorry for her, and as Verne escorted her out, I watched her walk down the hall and sincerely wished her well. I hoped that she would find a way to turn her life around so she could get into Heaven, and I hoped that my suspect wouldn’t murder her before she got the chance!

Just as I thought about the bad guy of my case, I watched Aidan walk out the door of his interrogation room! It utterly bewildered me to see him moving in Giada’s direction, and a part of me wanted to run after him and stop him from doing whatever sinister action that he had planned. I suppressed that notion when I saw Chief Mazarine walk out of the room, and then I just felt confused. I knew that Chief Mazarine had a rather cold attitude towards me, but I thought he had too much integrity to let a guilty person walk free! I couldn’t envision a solid reason why anyone would willingly let a potentially dangerous man loose on the streets either, and yet there he was, so I felt really confused now! Chief Mazarine spotted us, and as he approached us, he observed, “Ah, you finished your questioning too.”

“What’s going on?” I watched Aidan walk out the door, and my heart started to race! Giada didn’t mention anything about the killer having someone that he worked for, but I still believed that Aidan played a hand in orchestrating that event, so I just couldn’t fathom why nobody prevented Aidan from leaving the building! For a second there, I thought maybe Aidan had tricked them into letting him go free, and I wondered if I should do something about it…

“Aidan lawyered up,” Chief Mazarine filled me in. “We couldn’t find any evidence of his guilt, so we decided to clear him as a suspect.”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 18

I had to use my magic to get back to Anaknock quickly, and coupling that with the flurry of different emotions I went through that day, I felt incredibly wiped out! As I drove to the coordinates that Sandra gave me, I struggled to keep my eyes open. I wouldn’t have the ability to sleep after all that, my body just wanted to curl up on the floor and do nothing for the rest of the night. Working overtime after dealing with an ex would have been draining enough, but getting my emotions played with bothered me the most! He managed to take a very deep and personal conflict of mine and made me believe that someone actually cared what I went through! I knew that there was a chance that they’d find Aidan totally innocent, but I didn’t have high hopes of that happening. The fact that Aidan skipped town right after another murder occurred seemed really fishy. It could have been just a coincidence, but until I heard evidence proving otherwise, I wouldn’t accept notions of his innocence! His DNA didn’t match the profile of the killer’s, but he certainly had the money and influence to persuade someone else to do it. As I pulled up to a spot in the woods by the Virginia border, I tried to collect myself in order to process this scene properly. I had so much anger built up about this whole situation, and what made me the most steamed was the fact that no amount of logic or reasoning seemed to dispel the romantic sentiments I now realized that I had for Aidan!

Sandra came up to my vehicle and gently knocked on my window. I hastily tried to disguise my feelings, but I guess Sandra had already seen what I was doing in there because she asked me, “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” I answered untruthfully. Sandra knew I had lied and gave me a disbelieving look, so I rectified my statement, “Okay, I’m not fine. Can we talk about this later?”

“Oh, you better believe we’re talking about this later!” Sandra responded as we walked into the woods towards the crime scene. “Aidan is at the station right now, and he’s probably telling us his side of the story, so, of course, we we wanna find out yours!”

I outwardly groaned upon that realization. I hadn’t considered it until right then, but naturally, they’d grill him about why he led me on a chase like that. That realization made me dread what he would tell everyone! We hadn’t done anything, really, but for a moment there, I thought I might! I didn’t want the whole world to know the story of what I went through with my family (Not at that time anyways! Obviously, this book shows I changed my mind later!), and I definitely didn’t want him to imply that the leading detective on this case developed an amorous interest in her top suspect! The possibility of that happening made me fret that Chief Mazarine would demote me back to petty crimes again! That would have been a nightmare! The more I thought about it, the more reckless I felt for doing what I did! As I wondered when the feelings for him would go away, I could tell that Sandra was dying to inquire more about the incident. Luckily, we stumbled across the crime scene pretty fast, and I felt so grateful to have a distraction in that instance!

We approached the public restrooms for the hiking grounds in the area, and a forensic investigator led us towards the women’s side of it. She advised us, “Hold your noses for this one, guys!” That’s never a good thing to hear before you go into a bathroom, but it sounded particularly stunning coming from someone who has had to deal with all kinds of odors from various crimes! When we got close, the the smell of sewage overwhelmed our senses! I didn’t think it was possible for something to wreak worse than Wade, but this proved me wrong! After she gave us a few seconds to regroup, the forensic investigator remarked, “It gets worse!”

She pointed her wand down to clear a path for us since the entire women’s room got flooded. Usually, my eyes got drawn right to the body, but the most eye-catching part of the scene was the message written on the wall: “The Earth is destined to get destroyed. Save yourselves and become a Fay!” The assertion’s creepiness would have scared anyone on its own, but instead of getting inked with blood, these words appeared to have gotten etched on by feces! “Holy crap!” Sandra exclaimed.

“I don’t know about holy, but it is, indeed, crap,” the forensic investigator confirmed. “The DNA from it matches your suspect.”

“They used their own poop?” I cried out in aghast and disgust. “Why didn’t they use the victim’s blood like usual?”

She pointed to a woman’s body lying on the floor. “I’m guessing it got diluted by all of the toilet water on the ground. It looks like the victim put up a fight, there’s several pipes that appear to have been burst open magically. Her pockets had some used needles and a wad of cash in it, but no ID or any other personal belongings.”

I noted, “So, she came for a drug transaction. That’s another deviation from the killer’s profile!” I remembered that Aidan mentioned working with former prostitutes and drug dealers, which I bitterly theorized didn’t bode well for him. “With all of this water, I’m guessing you didn’t find any footprints.”

Before the forensic investigator could reply, we saw the woman’s body suddenly convulse! It trembled as it slowly changed forms. It decreased in mass, and it shifted to a hue of green that reminded me of a crayon I had as a kid that the manufacturers dubbed “Electric Lime.” After her ears and nails elongated and grew more pointy, the woman abruptly bolted up! Sandra and I both raised our wands, and Sandra told her, “Don’t bother running! You’ve got no way out!” She looked around, and when she saw no other doors or accessible windows, she begrudgingly surrendered.

The woman now turned Fay refused to speak about her attack, she wouldn’t even admit that anyone went after her! Since we didn’t spot any other person there, we had no choice but to charge her with destruction of public property. We were hoping that she’d open up more after spending some time in jail, but we weren’t counting on it. You know who else spent the evening in jail? Aidan! They charged him with violating his conditional release and fleeing from an officer, and since he now had a history of escaping, he wasn’t even given the option of bail! I felt a little better since I knew it’d be a while before anyone questioned him, but I still worried about what he would say once our department questioned him. I wanted to be the one to do it, but I’d have to question my new witness instead, so the task would get handed over to another one of my colleagues. The one silver lining from all this woe was that I wouldn’t have been able to sleep that night even if I wanted to! Some of my new neighbors got drunk and rowdy, and I could hear a lot of hooting and hollering accompanied by loud bangs that lasted until sunup! The police officer in me wanted to have them all punished for all of the laws I knew they were breaking and all the ones that I probably didn’t know about, but I really didn’t want to deal with my peers again that day! If I had any desire to slumber that night, I would have felt furious about the constant disturbances, but if it had to happen any evening, I was glad it happened at that time! At least it temporarily distracted me from my nerves that got jangled just thinking about what the next day would bring!

The next day, I walked into the interrogation area, and I could tell what room Aidan got placed in because, once again, he had a large audience! It sort of amazed me that so many people found an excuse to come in on a Saturday, but I was sort of glad that they did because it made it easier for me to avoid Aidan’s section! I got another surprise when I saw that Sandra hadn’t participated in his fan club activities! She had been waiting for me outside of another interrogation room, and when she saw me and studied my appearance, she instantly concluded, “You look terrible!”

“Thanks! I feel terrible,” I rang out sardonically. “So, did-?”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Sandra interrupted me as we went into the observation room. “Before we talk about this witness, I wanna know what happened between you and Aidan that night! And don’t say nothing! You lost sleep over the matter, something happened!”

Sometimes it annoyed me to work with people who were good at reading other people’s behaviors! Nothing stayed private, it seemed! I really wanted to save my last remaining brain cells on getting as much information as I could out of this witness, and when I glanced into the interrogation room (looking for an excuse not to do it), I noticed that this Fay had a lawyer with her. So, I suggested to Sandra, “Let’s talk about that later. We don’t wanna keep her attorney waiting too long!”

Sandra saw the accuracy of my rationale, so she reluctantly relented, “Okay. But whatever happened clearly had an impact on you, which impacts the entire case, so when we’re done here, you’re definitely telling me what happened last night!” I didn’t say anything, and Sandra sighed as she was forced to move on. “This is Giada Midori. She was twenty-two years old when she got killed, and she has numerous arrests related to drug activity. That’s all we know so far.”

“Let’s go find out more!” As I walked out of the room, my curiosity boosted my mood. I didn’t want to rest all of my hopes on solving this case based on a witness who only cooperated out of her preference to not get incarcerated, but I had a feeling that we’d gather some clues that would propel us in the right direction!

As Sandra and I entered the interrogation room, the lawyer stood up and introduced himself, “Good morning, ladies! I’m Verne Bradshaw, and I’m representing Miss Midori.” He shook our hands and took a seat after we sat down. He then continued, “My client has some information for you on the condition that you drop the charges in her case upon receiving her statement.”

“As long as we can verify the information as accurate, then of course we will,” I assured them. “Okay, Miss Midori, if you didn’t destroy that bathroom, who did?”

With a sour face, Giada retorted, “What does it matter? Soon, your entire race will get exterminated! What does it matter if this scumbag gets arrested or not?”

“Well, I guess you’d rather spend your last remaining days in a federal prison then!” I shot back.

Her displeasure got heightened by my quip, and as Verne urged her to cooperate, I pulled out my notebook and pen, ready to write. She unwillingly revealed, “Fine! You really wanna know who destroyed that bathroom? I’ll tell ya! The guy who killed me did it, and he is…”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 17

I don’t know what I expected to happen. I guess since I had such a profound new perspective enhancing my case that I’d get significant communication that confirmed my theory about the killer’s anti-human mindset. To discover something so deep and meaningful only to have it followed by a trivial matter seemed unimaginable unimaginable until I saw the caller ID. Logically, I should have known it was just Ben returning my call, but it still disappointed me to lose that momentum that I had just built up! I begrudgingly answered the phone, “Hello, asshole! Taking a break from your whores to talk to me?”

He hesitated slightly before he told me, “Uh… I’m having dinner with my parents. They can hear you…”

“Oh!” At first, I regretted my choice of words, but then I realized that I didn’t care about sparing his feelings anymore. “Did you guys know that your son is a man slut?”

“Okay… I’m gonna take this call in another room…” As I heard him making his way to an area out of his parents’ earshot, one of my mother’s cats went onto my lap. I stroked its fur, but I really wasn’t thinking about the kitty much. The longer it took for him to get back on the phone, the more irritated I got! Finally, he got back on and chided me, “That was rude!”

I laughed derisively at him. “I’m being rude? You cheated on me and stole all my money, and you wanna lecture me on manners?”

He pointed out to me, “We’re married, so it was both of our money!”

“BOTH OF OUR MONEY!” I roared. I stood up so fat that I sent the poor cat flying across the room! Don’t worry, it didn’t get hurt, but it did give me a dirty look as I berated him, “Look, I didn’t like bringing this up when we were still married ’cause it didn’t matter to me, but I make a lot more money than you! You put me in a situation where I had to go out on my own, so I should have access to all the money I worked my ass off to earn! But fine, for argument’s sake, let’s say it’s both of our money. You didn’t split it evenly and blow your half, you spent almost all of it! I spent forty plus hours a week making most of that money, and all that effort got blown by your prostitution addiction! You didn’t even leave me enough to survive on! So, no, you don’t get to claim ownership of that money! You stole from me!”

“Woah, woah, woah! What do you mean, ‘when we were still married?’ We’re still married,” Ben brought up.

I let out a noise of disgust because I definitely mentioned divorce to him before, and he obviously still didn’t get it. I thought perhaps that I didn’t make myself clear before, but after that response, I truly believed that he was still in denial. It bothered me that I had to tell it to him again, and just as I prepared myself to let him have it, Wade unceremoniously burst into the house. “Whew! What a night! WE had this group of people come in from-!”

I indicated to my phone and informed him, “Um, I’m on the…”

“Oh, okay!” He plopped down onto his favorite chair, and I always forgot how badly he smelled until I got close to him. I stood up and headed towards my room to take the call, but then he blasted the TV and bellowed, “Hey, hon! Our favorite show is on!”

“Who’s that? Your new boyfriend?” Ben probed.

I tried to reply back to him, but Wade kept shouting to my mom about what was happening on the random show he turned on, and my mom only heard portions of it as she prepared dinner. He realized that I wouldn’t heard the call in any part of the house, so I stepped outside.

As I got onto the front stoop, I remarked, “That was my mom’s husband. Listen, you need to get it through your-!”

It started pouring down rain, and I knew that I couldn’t complete this conversation in the house, so I decided to run to my car. I wasn’t about to hang up, I wanted to get this over with! Before I could get to my car, I heard Travis’s voice call out, “Where’s my bike?”

“I don’t know!” I barked. I didn’t let him ask me anything else before I got into the car. It felt like such a relief to get out of the rain! I turned on the speaker phone as I pulled out my wand to dry everything off, and as I worked, I finally revealed to Ben, “I’ve already left you! I don’t wanna be married to you anymore! I want a divorce!”

“A divorce? Please, baby, I can change!” he moaned.

I hardly listened to his sniveling. The rainwater prompted my cellphone to open up several apps, and after I dried it off and started closing everything, I noticed the map from Aidan’s tracker showed him moving. I watched it as he headed eastbound. He had already gone out of Anaknock, but if he moved out of Slygow county, I’d have to go get him! From the way he was moving, I got the sense that he would go out of bounds, so I conjured my car keys and waited for the moment he crossed the line. He got closer and closer, and just when he neared the edge, Ben got my attention, “Babe? Babe! Are you listening?”

I bluntly said to him, “No. I gotta go! See you in court!” He tried to argue with that last tidbit, but I wouldn’t let him. I saw Aidan land on the border, and I used all my concentration to magick myself there. A flash of light enveloped the car, and then, poof! I disappeared from the lot.

As I tailed his bright yellow, luxury sports car, I paged dispatch, “This is Detective Shannon Vidette. I’m in pursuit of a suspect who’s under surveillance, he’s heading out of our jurisdiction. Requesting permission to proceed.”

“Detective Vidette, what is your location?” the dispatch operator responded.

“I’m in…” I saw a flash of light surrounding his vehicle, and I felt determined not to let him get away, so I stepped on the gas to propel myself forward enough to get included in his spell. It worked, and once again, I disappeared into the night air!

I landed directly behind on an unfamiliar road, and we were going too fast for me to check my navigation so I could determine my location. Dispatch repeated its request, but I didn’t know what to tell them. “I’m… I went to…” All of a sudden, Aidan hopped out of the car and began running. I ran after him and continued my conversation with dispatch on my cellphone, “I’m in a foot pursuit.”

The dispatch operator queried, “A foot pursuit where?” When I couldn’t come up with an answer, dispatch inquired, “Are you in danger?” Aidan unexpectedly stopped, and as I raised my wand in preparation of a possible combat, dispatch concluded, “It sounds like we have an officer down. I’m using your GPS to send back up immediately! Stay calm, Officer Vidette, help is on the way!”

I ignored my phone as I continued to hold my wand up towards Aidan. He just stood there gazing out into the distance. I didn’t think he planned to harm me, but I had no idea what his intentions were, so I commanded, “Don’t move!”

“I’m not moving,” he reacted with unexpected calmness.

“I know, I meant don’t move from this point further.” It irked me that had a snarky attitude after he led me on a chase!

He challenged me, “Why? You have no authority here.” I’d never admit it to him, but he had a valid argument! Despite that, I kept my wand raised in case he decided to attack. He turned to me with a slightly remorseful expression and put his hands behind his back. “You can cuff me anyways if it makes you feel better.”

I approached him with caution. It had to be some kind of trick, I thought. It didn’t make sense to me that he would take such a great effort to escape only to surrender so easily like that! I pulled out my cuffs, and my nerves were through the roof as I inched towards his hands. I fully expected him to suddenly lunge out and carry out his nefarious objective, and it truly shocked me when I put the cuffs on without trouble! I actually stood still for a second, waiting for some kind of catch, and when nothing happened, I couldn’t help but cry out, “What the hell! Why? Why would you-?”

“I knew you’d follow me,” he explained. “I could also tell you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, so I thought you could use the break.” Before I could scream that putting me through a pursuit like that was hardly a break, he added, “This is the beach town I go to when I wanna relax. You told me your work never brought you to places like this, well, now it has!”

“You did all this just as an act of kindness to me?” I stared at him with the utmost skepticism.

He asserted, “Well, I kinda got the impression that not a lot of people have been very nice to you recently, which I don’t think is at all fair! You seem like such a good person, and you deserve that kind of treatment!”

It really bewildered me to hear such an accurate assessment of my situation! I wanted to feel touched by the gesture, but I reminded myself of his adept ability to read and manipulate people. I didn’t want to fall for his ruse, and my apprehension still clutched to the notion that he had ulterior motives for doing this. I worried that accepting his attempt to cheer me up would put my guard down, which would cause me to leak vital information or get blindsided by an attacker lurking in the shadows. Either of those scenarios playing out would have made much more sense to me than what appeared to have been absolute honesty! I didn’t understand why he’d behave so compassionately towards me, but I also didn’t detect an ounce of deception, which just left me totally confused. “I… You… We’re really by the beach?” I know it sounds a little silly that, out of all the questions swirling in my head, I chose to ask about that, but I really wondered if we had actually traveled to the coast. I wouldn’t have put it past him to fool me into thinking that we did that so he could stir up my emotions and really expose my vulnerability.

“The ocean is right in front of us! Take a look,” he invited.

“No!” I fixed my focus purposefully to the ground. When my father planned out that seaside vacation twenty-seven years ago, I built up tremendous anticipation for the opportunity to travel, but once we caught my mom committing infidelity and their marriage fell apart, the idea of going anywhere outside of Anaknock scared me. That incident felt like a bad omen, and I lost any inkling to venture outside the city I resided in. The very concept that I had just done it didn’t feel real! Catching a glimpse of the coast would just confirm that I did, indeed, journey somewhere, and I didn’t know what would happen if I accepted this fact, but it frightened me to risk everything I had left just to see some water! I knew that lots of people traveled everyday, but if I did it, I believed that something bad would occur. I didn’t want to tempt fate, so I wanted to avoid the reality of my current circumstance if I could help it!

Aidan appeared to have inferred what I was going through because he correctly assessed, “You were scared to travel.” I didn’t say anything so I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of being right, but I think my lack of a response confirmed his theory. “We don’t have much time before they get here. You’re gonna have to face your fears eventually, so why not get it over with?” I didn’t want him to continue to bug me about it, but, once again, he was completely right. I’d obviously have to look up sometime, especially when my colleagues got here, and I didn’t want to risk freaking out in front of a large group of my peers. I mean, I saw pictures of the beach prior to that, so I reasoned that I wouldn’t see anything drastically new. I decided that I may as well relent to his wishes, and when I finally saw it, my jaw dropped!

Pictures didn’t do the beach justice! The water glittered like a jewel, and it stretched further than I could imagine! The colors of the sunset made it look like a painting, and I could feel a coolness in the air that I’d never felt before! I could hear the waves crashing gently against the shore, and even the aroma it emitted invigorated my senses! I could understand why Aidan frequented this place now, and it made me ponder what its effect on my family would have been if we had visited here all those years ago. Just the very thought of its inherent healing abilities brought tears to my eyes! Thinking about what could have been if we had come here was too much for me, and I couldn’t help but weep!

Aidan gently commented, “I’d hug you right now, but… you know…” He gestured his head towards his back where his cuffs were.

With the heavy weight of the tumultuous sentiments bearing down on me, I felt like I’d collapse if I didn’t brace something at that moment! Temporarily forgetting all of my previous prejudices against him in this instance, I threw my arms around him and just let myself sob into him! He leaned his head in so he could convey his support, and after the initial wave of this episode lessened a bit, I remembered my assignment. Through my crying, I stated, “This doesn’t change anything about the case!”

“I know!” he softly acknowledged while continuing to hold me. This comforted me in a way I had never experienced before! I began to feel a pleasant warmness in the pit of my stomach that radiated throughout my body. No one spoke a word, so all I could hear was the waves and my heart pounding. I picked my head up, and as my eyesight met his, I could see genuine care exuding from deep inside of him. It just heightened the beauty of his eyes! His lips curled into a tender smile, and a part of me thought they were so inviting… All of a sudden, it dawned on me- Sandra was right, I did feel attracted to him!

I heard sirens blaring, and I instinctively jumped away from Aidan. As I saw police from this town arrive, I could feel myself flushing. I hoped that no one noticed my brief temptation of impropriety, and I regretted letting myself succumb to any rudimentary desires that I unknowingly harbored. “Sorry for the confusion! My suspect used magic to transport us, and I lost my orientation.”

“Don’t worry about it!” an officer reassured me. “We’re glad you’re alright!” She turned to Aidan and warned him, “Don’t try any funny stuff with us! One way or the other, we’ll make sure you get back to Slygow county!”

As they escorted him to a squad car, I got reminded of his criminal nature, and I felt very irresponsible about what just played out! He found a weakness, and I wondered how he might use it against me! It hurt me to think he had faked his affection to get something out of me, and I considered that perhaps I had made incorrect assumptions about him. Just when I contemplated giving him an apology for my misconceptions, my cellphone rang. It was Sandra, and I could imagine this event made her worry about me, so I picked up the call and assured her, “It’s okay, I’m fine!”

“I know you are! I’m not calling about that! They just found another body with your killer’s DNA on the scene!” she revealed. As I watched the vehicle carrying Aidan drive off, I got angry again. Maybe he didn’t want to console me at all, I thought. Maybe he was trying to create an illusion of innocence so that I wouldn’t catch on that he had just fled from a murder scene!

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 16

Before either of us could address him, a purple Fay popped into his office. “Hey, Aidan, I…” She noticed the police officer, Sandra, and me standing in there and became a bit flustered. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you had guests still…”

Aidan inquired, “Is everything okay, Jasmine?”

“Oh, fine!” Jasmine replied. “I was just gonna say I sold a wedding dress.”

“Oh, you made a sale? That’s great!” Aidan reacted joyfully. “We’ll do a bell ceremony in a minute.”

Jasmine seemed happy to have an excuse to leave the room and dashed out as soon as she could! Just as I was about to ask Aidan what in the world they did during a bell ceremony, the escorting police officer made a noise of disgust. “What?” I probed.

He looked alarmed by my question. “Oh, did I make that noise out loud?” Sandra and I both nodded. “Sorry, I meant to only think it.” We stared at him for an explanation until he finally relented, “I just don’t understand how you can work with the Fay Folks! I’d never be able to trust them!”

“Officer Finnigan, that’s rude!” Sandra reprimanded him.

“Well, you asked!” Officer Finnigan defended himself. “There’s a reason I wasn’t gonna say it out loud!”

Sandra remarked, “The Fay Folks may look different, but they’re not actually different than any other person! They’re just as greedy, selfish, and maniacal as regular humans! Just now they can’t do magic.”

I got a jolt of shock to hear her have such a callous attitude towards human beings! I had the impression that she had a very kind and generous nature, so to hear her say such a grim assessment of humanity really threw me off! “That’s not true!”

“No, they really can’t do magic,” Officer Finnigan corrected me.

“That’s not what I meant,” I clarified, “I’m talking about what you said about human nature. Not everyone has those sociopathic tendencies! There are good people out there!”

Sandra rectified her previous statement, “Oh, of course! I didn’t mean you! You’re a really good person!”

I differed with her, “I know that. Humans in general aren’t bad! Not everyone has strong morals, but most people will do the right thing when it comes down to it!”

“Really?” Officer Finnigan responded. “You’ve done this job for half your life and you still believe that most people are basically good?”

“Yes!” I affirmed. “There’s so many stories of people doing a lot of good for the community and the world! You’ve done this job long enough to see truly heroic acts happening! How can you believe such horrible things about people?”

Sandra put in, “There are a lot of decent folks out there, but if people were all basically good, then you and I wouldn’t have this job right now!”

I countered with, “If we had more bad than good, then Reed Radley would have turned into a Fay! He didn’t, he’s just plain dead, and his killer is on the loose right now! We may not be able to rid all of the world of evil, but we can restore a little justice to people who deserve it! That alone is enough to convince me to keep faith in humanity! How about you?”

Officer Finnigan and Sandra looked a little ashamed of themselves, and no one spoke for a moment. Eventually, Aidan broke the tension by asking, “So, am I going to jail or can I go back to work?”

“We’re giving you a conditional release,” Sandra informed him. “You had a presence at two murder scenes, so your activities are suspicious enough for us to put you under surveillance for the next forty eight hours. If you go anywhere that’s non-essential, we’re going to follow you to see what you’re up to.”

“Oh, goody! What a fun weekend!” Aidan retorted sarcastically.

This prompted Sandra to remember something. “Oh right, it’s Friday! My husband and I have reservations at Oberon’s tonight! You don’t have any plans tonight, do you Shannon?”

I told her, “I was gonna deal with my ex-husband, so if Mister Maddox makes me miss that… I won’t be mad! I’d love an excuse to not deal with that prick!” I saw a twinkle in Aidan’s eye, so I added, “That’s not a green light for you to misbehave!”

“Well, I could just misbehave at my home then and you’ll never know!” Aidan kidded.

“Do you want more surveillance put on you?” I prodded.

He answered with a wry smile, “Obviously, I totally meant that. It’s been so much fun so far!”

I curtly expressed, “If you wouldn’t do illegal things, then we wouldn’t need to keep watching you.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong and yet here we are!” He gestured to everyone in the room. I folded my arms in disbelief, and he pointed out, “If you found any evidence of wrongdoing, I’d be heading to jail right now!”

“Ugh, that’s true!” I regretfully acknowledged. He grinned triumphantly, so I pulled out my wand and reminded him, “It’s not over yet!”

He commented, “I never said it was.”

I regarded him, “You were thinking it though.”

“You can read minds now?”

“If I could, then I’d already know your secrets and surveillance wouldn’t be necessary.”

He grinned and told me, “Touché!” He posed in a way so that nothing obstructed him, and after I concentrated a little, I released the spell. As soon as he saw that it had taken effect, Officer Finnigan removed the other cuff. “Excellent! Well, it’s been a pleasure, really! But my team does need me, so if you’ll excuse me…”

“We’ll talk soon, I’m sure,” I shot at him as we left.

He didn’t seemed fazed by that. He simply waved to us as we exited and bade us, “Have a good weekend!”

He gave us a little wink before we took off, and I just rolled my eyes and marched out. Sandra girlishly giggled and simpered, “Bye now!” I gave her a peculiar look, and as we went out of the building, she came back at me with, “What? You’re allowed to flirt with him, but I can’t?”

“I didn’t flirt with him!” I vehemently denied as we got into the car. “He’s a criminal! I would never!”

“Is that why you’re mean to him?” she wondered as she started the car. “You wanna oppress your feelings of attraction to him in case he’s guilty?”

I claimed, “I’m mean because he’s trying to run his game on me and I won’t let him!” She didn’t look like she believed that, but she didn’t say anything else about it, which I felt grateful for. I considered her a friend, so I didn’t want to keep arguing with her. Oh sure, I thought Aidan had good looks, but I really thought he had criminal tendencies, so I didn’t accept her claim… At least not yet…

When I came home, I saw that my mom and Wade weren’t home yet, which meant the Roadkill Diner actually had customers! I couldn’t imagine who on Earth would want to spend their Friday night there, but I didn’t want to ponder that point too much since their livelihood depended on it. My mother requested that if I got home before her that I feed the cats. I always wondered why she fed them all (I actually counted eight!) in separate rooms until I aimed my wand at only the bowl in the kitchen. Cats from all different directions swarmed in, and aside from the displeasure of getting knocked into, I noticed that the cats were all fighting over who got to get to the bowl first. After fully comprehending her reasoning for doing so, I also fed the cats in the other two rooms that their bowls were stored in! I offered to help my mom out with chores using my magic since she had a hard time with hers, but she insisted on doing it herself. I didn’t fully comprehend why, but she had a good reason for her feeding method, so I figured she had a good reason for doing that as well!

After dealing with a complicated task like that following an emotionally taxing day, all I wanted to do was relax! Unfortunately, I promised Ben I’d call him to clear my intentions, so I sighed really loud before dialing his number on my phone, which I now relabeled his contact ID as Future Ex. It rang on his end, and I dreaded the instance when he’d pick up the call. To my astonishment, that moment never came! I got sent to voicemail, which ticked me off, so I yelled, “Really? You spent all that time and effort to get me to talk to you and now you’re not answering the phone? What, are you out screwing another whore? Well, fine, asshole! You’re the one that wanted to talk, not me! I’m perfectly fine communicating through-!” The voicemail system cut me off before I could say “my attorney.” I felt thoroughly vexed until I realized that I didn’t really want to talk to him anyways, so I just exhaled to release my ire, plopped onto a couch in the living room, and turned on the television.

The TV had a local news station playing already. With the kind of day I had, I really needed to watch something more relaxing. I hadn’t familiarized myself with their cable channels yet, so I pulled up the menu and started scrolling through to find something more cheerful and uplifting. The news program still played in the background, but I didn’t pay any attention to it… That is until I heard the anchor say, “…an increased number of Fay Folks attacks…” That caught my attention, and I turned off the channel guide to listen to this information. “Breena Alfred has the story.”

“Thank you, Shay! A number of viewers have contacted us regarding hostile encounters with this group. What used to be a few harmless nuisances has turned into a series of aggressive agitators.” Breena shifted to a nearby screen that played the scene she described. “Earlier today, a bystander caught this footage of two Fays harassing this elderly woman…”

“The Fays shall inherit this land! The Fays shall inherit this land!” the two Fays in the video repeatedly shouted as they pushed and poked an old lady, who could hardly defend herself.

Breena went on, “A lot of people are claiming similar ambushes with the same anti human rhetoric. Our sources at the Slygow County police department have revealed that in the last couple of weeks, reports involving Fay Folks have tripled! It leaves us wondering… What the heck prompted this sudden shift in tactics for them, and what exactly is their end game? Everyone is hoping for a peaceful ending. Shay.”

As Shay started talking about another news item, I sat there totally perplexed. The increased attacks from the Fay Folks started around the time that Reed Radley got killed, and the evidence left on the scene proved that the killer adopted a similar attitude. My double homicide had nothing to do with these other crimes at the moment, but I couldn’t help but think that my suspect had a little more than just murder on his or her mind! Maybe their goal had much greater stakes…

Before I could continue contemplating this possible connection, my cellphone suddenly rang…

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 15

We had to let him go. He hadn’t uttered a single word about his attacker, which he had the right to do, I just seemed odd. If someone cut me off in traffic, I wouldn’t hesitate to report them to authorities, so it felt hard for me to imagine not feeling motivated to tell law enforcement about someone who actually killed me! I’ve seen that happen a few times in my career, and usually the victim got hurt during the commission of another crime that they wanted to cover up. I assured Mister Cielo that if that was the case with him, it didn’t matter to us, all we cared about was catching the perpetrator who did that to him, but he still refused to say a word. The only other time I ever came across a Fay who refused to speak about an atrocity committed against them was Dahlia. Their similar behavior did make me wonder if Dion had some kind of involvement in that event, but I couldn’t find anything that legally tied him to it, so we released him. As we watched him leave, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Fays really were banding together as the signs at each crime scene suggested!

I didn’t have the time to think about that much though. Despite Dion’s refusal to cooperate, we still had proof of a crime taking place, so we worked analyzing other evidence to solve his murder. We searched through his phone history and saw that he arranged to meet someone in that alleyway around the time of his attack! We tried to call that number, but it appeared to have been destroyed. Someone obviously learned from Reed Radley’s case and did more to cover their tracks. We did learn one thing from his cellphone though- his work number registered as Tarahill LLC! Not only did that make Aidan his boss, but it tied Aidan to the two crime scenes! It seemed like too much of a coincidence for him to not have played a role in this double homicide, so I felt sure that I had found our suspect! We just needed to find the proof we needed to get him convicted in court!

It didn’t take long for us to get a warrant to search Aidan’s business! Sandra and I arrived shortly after a police officer escorted Aidan out of his vehicle. As we approached the entrance, Aidan proudly told me, “Did you hear? My DNA didn’t match your suspect’s!”

I actually had gotten that notification prior to my arrival, but it still made me cringe to hear him remind me of this. I tried not to let it show to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he got to me, but I felt sure that he had seen my disappointed expression. To keep him from crowing about it, I quickly came back with, “That doesn’t let you off the hook, Mister Maddox! The only reason you’re not in jail right now is ’cause of all the security measures you got on the place! Don’t get too comfortable! Whatever you’re hiding, we’ll find it!” To my disappointment, he didn’t seem worried. As soon as the police officer who escorted him there uncuffed one of his hands, he took out his wand and waved it to release the protective spells around the area. Afterwards, he lowered his wand and patiently waited. It irked me slightly to see him display such a lax attitude, clearly he expected to get away with this just as he had everything else! I marched in determined to find the evidence we needed!

The front doors opened up to a giant warehouse full of desks with computers and telephones on them. A couple dozen people worked feverishly at their individual stations, and the place lit up with the sounds of typing keyboards and phone calls getting made. When we got closer to them, we caught glimpses of their screens, and we observed order forms as well as ads featuring a variety of things like antique jewelry, appliances, used wedding gowns, old movies, and a number of other random objects. I really expected to see some black market items, so it actually shocked me to not find anything illegal! As if he could read my mind, Aidan remarked, “Does it surprise you that we actually sell what I told you we sold?”

I inwardly grimaced, but I made sure to keep my face neutral because I knew he wanted to get a rise out of me. Instead, I simply directed him, “Just show me to Dion Cielo’s workspace.”

“Yes, ma’am!” he complied in a little too cordial manner. His escorting police officer closely followed him as he led us towards the other side of the building, and I glanced around at my surroundings. This place had the appearance of a factory still, so I found it strange to see such a prestigious hyped up sales company set in a less than glamorous facility! I had a sneaking suspicion that everything displayed at the moment was just a front for something more precarious that they used this space for! Before I could ask him about it though, he declared, “Here’s Dion’s area!”

“Really?” I reacted skeptically as I stared at a nearby and practically empty desk. Everyone else had office supplies arranged the way that functioned best for them as well as personalized pieces for decorative purposes, but Dion’s section looked nearly empty! “Did someone clean things up after Mister Cielo went missing?”

“No!” Aidan replied very casually. “We just hired him not that long ago. He was living on the streets when we found him, so he didn’t have much to bring here yet.”

I heard Sandra’s adoring sigh, and when I turned back to gaze reprovingly at her, she immediately excused herself, “I’m gonna look around, maybe talk to a few of his coworkers…” She then dashed off as soon as she could!

Aidan watched as I pulled out my wand and used it to cipher through Dion’s activity. As I searched, I asked him, “So, you recruit homeless people too?”

“Occasionally,” Aidan answered with a shrug. “A lot of the homeless men and women I recruit are very people savvy. Well, they kind of have to be for their own survival, and the drug dealers and prostitutes wouldn’t get any customers if they didn’t know how to work people. That’s actually how I found Dion. He had a very friendly banter that made buying his crack almost tempting! I convinced him to come down here to work.”

“What do you mean, come down here?” I inquired as I continued to study his browsing history. “Where did you recruit him from?”

He replied, “A little beach town on the other side of Maryland. I didn’t have any clients there, I just needed a day off to relax, and the ocean is so good at clearing your head, you know?”

The mention of the beach made me flashback to that awful day in my childhood, and it wasn’t easy for me to just toss it aside to concentrate on my investigation. I know that my mother had a reasonable explanation for her behavior, but I just remembered a lot of hurt feelings that day, so it still felt awful to have that memory resurface. I tried to sound as nonchalant as I could as I regarded him, “No! I don’t do that.”

“You don’t do what? Go to the beach or relax?” Aidan queried.

“Both,” I admitted truthfully. I could tell he wanted to find out more details about my assertion, so I cut him off by letting him know, “It does seem like he worked here a couple days prior to his murder, but it looks like he spent more time shopping for things instead of selling them. Were you aware of this?”

Aidan shrugged again. “Not really. When someone works on commission only, not working means not getting a paycheck. If a new person takes too long to make their first sale, I might coach them or give them additional training, but I wouldn’t freak out about it.”

I felt sure he figured out that I was fishing for a motive, so I assumed that any anger he may have harbored towards Dion stayed buried within him. It then occurred to me that perhaps he didn’t feel angry towards him. With the two signs that showed up at each crime scene, I started thinking that maybe his ire stemmed from a much greater hate! At that point, I knew that if I wanted to find out more about Aidan’s perspective, I needed to search through his things, not Dion’s! “Show me to your office.”

We walked over to a large, oak door on the wall just behind all of the sales people’s work stations. I expected it to contain a factory-like feel to it too, but instead, I walked into one of the most sophisticated rooms I had ever seen! Not only were the walls updated with a smooth paint, but it had expensive furniture and very posh knick-knacks placed in just the right spots. I felt like I had just walked up to the front desk of a luxurious hotel rather than the manager of an industrious sales force! “I did it for recruitment purposes,” Aidan stated as if he were just asked a question.

“Excuse me?” I puzzled.

“All of this is to impress the people I interview,” he explained. “I know it doesn’t match the rest of the business, but when we have potential new hires, I put a privacy curtain up for my current employees so that all they see is an empty hall space before they see my office. I tell them that this is the end goal! If they work hard, they’ll get to my level someday! I’ve opened up franchises in three different states now, and…!” I could tell he wanted to tout more of his success to me, but when he caught a glimpse of my unimpressed and increasingly impatient face, he somewhat bitterly invited me, “Feel free to search through it.”

I walked over to his desk and said sardonically, “Well, forgive me if I don’t take your word for it!” He seemed a little insulted by my quip, but he didn’t put up a fuss as he pulled out his wand and lifted some security measures on his computer. We stood in silence for a moment, which didn’t bother me at all. I preferred to have it quiet so I could process everything I found there. I didn’t see anything noteworthy until I happened to see the time of his activity. I discovered that large gaps of time hadn’t been accounted for! I felt sure he had deleted certain things knowing he’d get his computer searched through, so I tried to draw the truth from him, “Why are there so many gaps between your different work activities, Mister Maddox?”

He didn’t seem fazed by my attempt. “I was probably talking to people in person. I use my cellphone sometimes too.”

“Can I see it?” I requested.

“Do you have a warrant?” he probed. “It’s my personal cellphone, and I’d hate for you to get in trouble with your boss…”

His refusal told me that whatever he wanted to keep hidden from me was on that cellphone, but his rejoinder had a different effect on Sandra, who stood in the doorway and sighed dreamily. I walked over to her and whispered, “Did you find anything?”

She reported, “This establishment seems really professional, a little too professional, actually! No company is run that flawlessly! I don’t even see a break room! It’s weird, I’ll admit it, but there’s nothing we can arrest him for!”

“So, what do we do now?” I wondered.

“If he’s up to something, he’s too clever to have it hidden here,” she informed me in a low voice so that he couldn’t hear us. “We’ll need to meet him on his own turf…”