A good detective needs a third eye.

More chapters from ToxiCity

A VG Serial: ToxiCity

Episode 62

Julie Romano had been the bookkeeper for SGF Development. It was her first job out of school.

“Would anyone still remember her? “Stone asked when they regrouped in Ricki’s office.

“My father,” Ricki said. “But he’s not here.”

“Who are these people?” Stone held up the Meadow City photograph.

She shrugged. “Construction workers, contractors, staffers. Daddy liked to take pictures of everyone who worked on his projects. Made it seem more like family. See, here’s Paul.” She pointed to a young Landon with thick dark hair and a broad smile in the back row.

Stone took the file and the photograph and started to put on his coat. “Where are you going?”

“To Lake Forest.”

“You can’t talk to my father. He’s pretty broken up about Paul. And he’s not well.”

Stone turned a cold eye on her. “I’m sorry. But this is a murder investigation, and he might have material information about one of the victims. We need to talk.”

Her eyes were equally cold. “What about those CEASE people? Or the monster that left the dog at the site? Why are you so anxious to zero in on my father?”

“Why are you so anxious to keep us away from him?”

She looked at the floor. It occurred to Stone that she knew something– something she didn’t want to reveal. He shifted. What was she covering up? He glanced over at Matt, but he hadn’t seemed to pick up on it. Stone felt his temper spike. He was losing patience with them both.

The phone rang. Ricki jumped and went behind the desk to answer it. “What is it?” A pause. “No!” Another pause. “I’ll be right there.” She dropped the phone. “They’re taking my father to the hospital. They think he had a stroke.

 ***

Stone threw the Mars light on top of the unmarked, turned on the siren, and drove Ricki up north. Traffic had thinned and the reversible lanes were open. They pulled up to Lake Forest Hospital thirty minutes later. The morning sun had dimmed, and the temperature had plummeted. Ricki jumped out and ran in to see her father. Stone got out of the car and blew on his hands.

“You think we should call Lake Forest PD?” Matt’s expression was grim.

“Let’s hold off,” Stone said, “until we know what’s what.”

“Do you think—?”

“I’m trying not to.”

With landscaped grounds, a bricked driveway, and graceful columns, the hospital looked more like an ante-bellum mansion than a hospital. They strode past concrete urns of yellow mums and pushed through a door with brass ornaments. Inside a receptionist directed them to the ER. They went down the hall, Matt a few steps in front.

“Hold on.” Stone trotted to catch up. Matt slowed. “That bodyguard—Dorman—is for shit, you know.”

“Is that why you told her to call me?”

“Huh?”

“Didn’t you suggest I should moonlight as her bodyguard?”

“Why the hell would I do that? You’re already working two homicides.”

Matt slowed more. “So you didn’t?”

“No way. Why?”

He looked puzzled. “Nothing.”

A sliding door ahead opened into the ER. Before they went through, Stone stepped in front of Matt, barring the way. “Singer, I gotta say something.”

Matt tensed.

Stone leaned against the door. “To be a good Detective, you need your ‘Third Eye.’ To pick through all the details, and not get distracted. That’s how tough cases get solved. It isn’t something you just develop. It’s gotta be there. I’ve worked with you long enough to know you’ve got it, Matt. In spades.”

Matt cocked his head.

“But here’s the thing. You’re having problems. What they are aren’t my business. But you’re my partner, and you’re not using your eye like you should. That’s a problem. For both of us.”

Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.

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