The Captain’s favorite detective had just staggered out of his office, demanded to speak to Organized Crime’s second most wanted, and declared his last name was Hawthorn, at least today wouldn’t be boring. Well, it was probably going to get her fired as there was no way she could keep her nose away from this delightful little drama, but… wow. The currently declared Hawthorn was bundled into one of the interview rooms while someone got the captain and Piper took advantage of the hubbub to slip into her superior’s office. He was the only damn detective with an office. And thankfully, upset enough to leave his computer on. There had to be fifteen tabs open. Most of them were news sites dealing with the recent arrest of J. Westwood. Except… Piper clicked through a couple tabs. The articles spanned the last five years of public information on her.
You would think that he would be happy about the second most wanted organized criminal getting arrested. Well, perhaps he was. Maybe he was harboring some form of old vendetta and wanted to confront the woman about it. The last tab left her blinking.
Then she let out a low whistle, flipped the tabs back to their original order and left the office. No wonder he had such strong feelings about procedure and source rights.
It used up most of her favors to get a spot, but Piper managed to get into the viewing room for the Detective… Hawthorn and J. Westwood interview. Westwood possessed striking features. A strong face, not beautiful or pretty. It left an impression. She was all ease and confidence. A person who knew what was coming and had accepted the consequences of police hospitality. Piper made a face. The woman would probably be getting book and movie offers by the end of the week. The detective was hesitating in the hallway. He wasn’t going to help the media blitz, tall, dark, handsome, and broody did a leading man make. Piper took a few notes, just for future thought. Finally, the interview room door opened. Westwood looked at the door and remained seated as the detective sat down across from her.
“Hullo, Jess,” he said.
Westwood froze, reexamining the detective’s face, before letting out a long slow breath. Piper was impressed at the lack of swearing. Then again, maybe she hadn’t figured out the history between the two as cleverly as she’d thought.
“This is unexpected,” Westwood said with pointed blandness. She maintained her casual posture, maybe it fooled someone, but it didn’t fool her, and evidently didn’t fool the detective.
“Is it?” The detective’s tone was mild. “Did you really think I’d let you take the fall for them?”
“We’ve all made our choices.” Her arm rested on the table and her gaze was level with a bit of warning.
The detective leaned forward slightly, then clearly thought better of what he was about to say. He ran a hand over his face. “Fine, let’s at least be idiots together.”
Westwood rolled her eyes and glared at him. “No.”
“I’ve already told my captain. Already crossed that bridge.” The detective was relaxing. Clearly he’d made some decision. In contrast, Westwood was finally swearing.
“-damn it, too many people would die, E-” She cut herself off, and rested her head on her hands for a moment. “Caught between two Hawthorns is my least favorite place to be.”
“Worse than prison?” He asked it half as a joke.
“Yes,” Westwood replied seriously. “Prison has easy to identify rules that I could follow and break because I know the consequences. This… this is a leap of faith between realities. Yours, mine, and his, and you know the difficulty I have when my heart’s involved. Especially when it’s involved on both sides.”
The detective let out a short, pithy swear. Westwood chuckled a little. “That the first time the people behind the glass have heard you swear?”
“Not the first.”
“I want a lawyer. I need more time.”
“We’ll see what we can do.” He started to rise, she watched him. He hesitated and a whole conversation passed in looks. Then he left.
Piper upgraded the threat to her future posed by her curiosity from ‘probably fired’ to ‘probably dead in the river at midnight’. She watched Westwood for a moment longer, the woman was recovering her composure at a remarkable speed. But Westwood wasn’t her main concern any more. She had a call to make.
Stepping outside, she leaned against the wall so she had a good view of any eavesdropping locations. She dialed the number she’d only memorized for emergencies, and tapped the back of her heel against the wall.
“Able,” was the terse answer.
“You are a sneaky, underhanded bastard, and you dropped me into an untenable war between at least four strong willed, implacable … well, I would call you all criminals, but considering what I’m doing, maybe we’ll just go with, nope. I don’t have a word for this.”
“Piper,” the voice acknowledged her. “You have eyes on our mess.”
“Yep, very close eyes. Clever of you not to mention who I was watching. It also meant I know they’ve spoken and it was odd. What do you need me to look into, specifically?”
“Lass, if you want out before this gets-”
“You can pay me back by telling me every bloody thing that happened then, and now, and in between. If I end up a casualty, you can put, ‘The damn cat wouldn’t listen’ on my tombstone. Now, what did you need?”
He told her.
“That is a damn odd shopping list. I’ll get it. You owe me a case of Amber Keyes Root Beer and so many explanations. Later, of course. I’m going back to keeping an eye on your boy.”
“Thank you, Piper.”
She blew a loud kiss at the phone and hung up. Life was complicated, deadly, and grand. She skipped a few steps as she headed back into the precinct.
Stole this first line from Kid’s “The First Switch“. I may have stolen one of her characters too….. see if you can spot which one.