“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!