Major crimes, p.10

Major Crimes, page 10


Major Crimes

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  An unknown lawyer asked to take Hayley’s case before she was even arrested? An arraignment hearing in record time? Lost court orders and a judge suddenly on vacation?

  Something definitely wasn’t right.

  Cain turned and went back into the building. He was about to cross some lines that might end up costing him his career, but he didn’t care. His gut was telling him that Hayley was in danger and he damn well wasn’t going to ignore that.

  It took him an hour to find the circumstances he needed, as he waited for the assistant to Judge Nicolaides, who had held the arraignment hearing, to leave her desk.

  Hoping this wouldn’t cost him everything, but willing to pay the price if it did, Cain slid inside the judge’s inner chambers without permission.

  The older man looked up from what he was reading, saw Cain and raised an eyebrow.

  “You lost, son?”

  “I need to talk to you, Your Honor.”

  “You are aware that you’re not supposed to be in here, correct, Agent Bennett?”

  Cain was surprised the judge remembered his name. “Yes, sir.”

  “I will give you five minutes. Only because I was there when you led the Spartans to the state championship.”

  Whatever the reason the judge was listening to him, even high school football, Cain would take it.

  “I was telling the truth today about having the court order for Hayley Green to assist Omega Sector on a case.”

  “Then you’ll want to be sure to share that information when they review her parole proceedings.”

  Cain gritted his teeth. He was afraid Hayley might not make it to the parole hearing. “Something’s not right about this entire situation.”

  Judge Nicolaides leaned back in his seat. “Now see, normally I would hear something like that and think that it was based off of desperation and emotion rather than actual fact. But today, it just so happens, I might agree with you.”

  “Can you tell me why?”

  “Ends up my early-afternoon hearings were cleared off my schedule, and I was given just one. Ms. Green’s case. I’m not one to complain about a lesser workload, but I must admit it did catch my attention.”

  “Hayley was arrested just this morning. About two hours before her hearing.”

  Judge Nicolaides’s eyebrows seem to have found a new home in his hairline. “Two hours between arrest and her hearing? Again, normally I would say that Ms. Green had friends in high places to get before a judge that quickly.”

  “She doesn’t.”

  “What also strikes me as peculiar about the situation is the fact that I was told that the case I would be hearing involved a criminal with, wait, let me find it”—the judge riffled through some papers and found the ones he wanted to read—“significant potential for violence and destruction if not returned to incarceration immediately, until more details could be produced to reevaluate her parole proceedings.”

  Cain could hardly keep himself from gawking. “Someone said that about Hayley Green? She was arrested for cybercrimes, has no violent history and did her time in a minimum-security prison.”

  “Son, you either don’t know your friend very well, or someone very high up in the government has some pretty incorrect information. I’m sorry I don’t have a name to give you.”

  “How high up?”

  “Pretty damn high. Washington, DC.”

  “I don’t understand.”

  “Neither do I. And I hope you can get this worked out when they reevaluate her parole. All I know is, today someone wanted to make sure your Hayley Green ended up back in prison.”

  Chapter Twelve

  Cain couldn’t go back home, not knowing that Hayley was sitting in a cell. He’d tried to see her, but had been told that she was being processed for relocation. Could not be seen until after she was transferred to Georgia Women’s Correctional.

  Was she scared? She would have to be. This had to be her worst nightmare.

  He still hadn’t heard back from Ren but knew the other man would get to him as soon as he had information. Meanwhile, Cain decided to do what he had promised Hayley. He would watch over Mason.

  Cain parked his car outside Hayley and Ariel’s small apartment complex with no intention of going inside. Not without Hayley, not until she was ready for him to meet Mason. That was the least he could do after everything that had happened. But he would keep watch over their building from here. He wasn’t going to be getting any sleep anyway.

  Tomorrow would involve finding the judge who was on vacation, the one who had given the initial court order for Hayley’s assistance. Cain had no intention of waiting until she had an actual parole hearing to take in proof of the court order. He’d do it as early as possible.

  She’d be transferred back to Georgia Women’s Correctional tomorrow afternoon. At least once she was there Cain would be able to use his law enforcement credentials to see her.

  It was not quite getting dark when the door of the apartment complex opened and Ariel and Mason walked out. They were holding each other’s hands as they crossed to the small park half a block away. Cain got out of the car and followed them, careful to keep his distance.

  Ariel sat on a bench while Mason ran around the wooden play area with a couple of other children. He ran full steam back and forth over a bridge, across monkey bars, and up and down slides. Cain couldn’t help but be enthralled with him.

  “You’re going to make the other parents nervous if you keep standing there like a stalker,” Ariel called out.

  He crossed over to her but didn’t sit on the bench beside her. “How did you know I was there?”

  “I saw your car before we even left the apartment. Plus, Hayley gave me a heads-up that you might be around.”

  “Did she tell you what happened?”

  “Briefly, in a very short phone call from her holding cell, not that she knew exactly what was going on. I resisted the urge to tell her that bad things happen to her whenever you’re around. She’s got enough to worry about.”

  “I’m going to get this fixed.”

  “You do that.” Ariel didn’t seem to have much more to say to him.

  “She told me about Mason. That I’m his father.”

  “Being a sperm donor does not make you his father.” Ariel’s voice was tight.

  “I plan to be his father in every way that Hayley will let me.”

  Ariel turned and glared at him. “You know, you’re lucky that Hayley is a lot more forgiving than I am. Because I would’ve told you to go die in a hole.”

  Cain nodded curtly. “I get it, you’re mad at me because I arrested her. And it sucked, I agree. But she did do it, Ariel, you know that, right? Hayley was guilty.”

  “Yeah, I know. But I also know that Hayley paid a much higher price than for any crime she’d actually committed.”

  Cain sighed. “Four years was a long time. I never dreamed she’d be sentenced for that long.”

  “You should’ve checked on her, Cain. What happened to her in that prison, nobody should have to bear that. Least of all someone like Hayley. Good. Gentle.”

  Cain wasn’t sure what Ariel was talking about. He had checked up on her. Made sure she hadn’t been hurt. There didn’t tend to be many instances of violence in minimum security, but Ariel’s words made him realize he must’ve missed something.

  “What happened? Was she hurt?”

  “Was she hurt? She gave birth in a prison hospital handcuffed to a bed. They didn’t even let her hold Mason, did you know that? Not even one time.”

  “My God.” He sank onto the bench next to her. He’d had no idea, hadn’t even thought to ask her about the situation surrounding Mason’s birth. Not that she would’ve told him if he had.

  Ariel shook her head slowly. “It broke something in her. Not just that, but losing all that time in Maso
n’s life.”

  “Believe me, if I could go back and change it, I would.” Cain didn’t know exactly what he would do, but everything would be different. “All I can do is try to make things right going forward.”

  “You’re doing a fine job there, Ace, considering Hayley is back in jail.”

  “I’ll make sure she’s released. I’ll make sure she’s safe.”

  “Safe? Why do you say that? There’s something else going on, isn’t there?”

  “Why do you say that?” he asked, throwing her words right back at her.

  Ariel shrugged. “Something Hayley said the other day. About why she had to be working all the time. About why she had agreed to work for you, of all people.”

  “I was worried about her working so hard from the beginning. She shouldn’t need money that badly.”

  Ariel kept her eyes on Mason. “Part of it is so she won’t have to work so much once I leave to study in Oxford.”

  That made sense. “But you think there’s something else?”

  “I know there is. And believe it or not I actually told her to tell you, but I guess she didn’t. She’s been saving up money in case she has to run with Mason.”

  “Did she say why?”

  Ariel shook her head. “No. She said the less I knew about it the better. But I know it has to do with her hacking stuff.”

  That didn’t tell Cain anything concrete. It could be trouble that she might have to get away from, in which case he could help her. Or it might be trouble that she was running toward, and she wanted a safety net as she got out from underneath the law.

  Cain looked over at the playground and saw that the kids seemed to be winding down. He stood up. “I’m going to go.”

  “Don’t you want to meet Mason?”

  He did. Wanted to hug him or shake his hand and ruffle his hair, whatever the kid felt comfortable with. He wanted to show him his own birthmark and how it was twins with what Mason had.

  “Not without Hayley.”

  For the first time Ariel looked at him without utter contempt schooling her features. “Then go get our girl, Bennett. She’s lost enough time with her son, she shouldn’t have to lose any more.”

  He stood up and walked away as Mason headed toward them.

  “I’ll bring her home.”

  * * *

  BY THE NEXT morning Cain was convinced Ariel was right. From his laptop in the car outside Hayley’s apartment, he’d spent the night researching the CET hacking scandal. There was something much deeper going on than what appeared on the surface.

  Eleven people had been arrested along with Hayley four and a half years ago for their hacker work. The judge had made an example of the hackers, largely due to Senator Nelligar’s involvement; although 90 percent of them had been first-time offenders, he had given them all, including Hayley, jail time.

  They’d all been getting out of jail over the last few months.

  Two of the twelve hackers had died in prison. One from injuries sustained in a fight, and another who had been thought to be mentally unstable the entire time and killed himself.

  Things like that happened even in minimum-security prisons.

  Three more had died in the last year since they’d been released from prison. Heart attack, car accident and drug overdose.

  Five out of the twelve hackers arrested in the CET scandal were dead. That was way more than coincidence.

  Coupled with what had happened to Hayley yesterday, Cain knew she was in trouble. Life-and-death trouble.

  That was confirmed a couple hours later when he finally heard from Ren.

  “I’m on my way to you right now,” Ren said by way of greeting.

  That wasn’t good. If Ren wanted to be here, then things were even worse than Cain had thought.

  “Then I guess you know we’ve got problems.”

  “Funny,” Ren said. “I was about to say the same thing to you.”

  Cain told him about the deaths of so many of the hackers who had been arrested with Hayley.

  “Add another heart attack to your list,” Ren responded.

  “One of the hackers? Did I miss something?”

  “The judge from whom you got the original court order releasing Hayley?”

  “The guy on the fishing vacation?”

  “Yep,” Ren said. “Heart attack.”

  Damn it. “So the one man who could’ve very quickly corroborated our story just died.”

  “Cain, it gets worse from there.”

  “Worse than six people being dead?”

  “I was hitting dead ends in normal channels trying to figure out what was going on with Hayley,” Ren continued. “So I took to unofficial channels.”

  Like everyone in Omega Sector, Cain wasn’t sure exactly what Ren McClement’s actual job description was. The man’s name was mentioned with a sort of reverence. Rumors were that McClement’s specialty was undercover ops. Deep, long-term assignments. The ones no one with family or friends could take because the infiltrated groups wouldn’t hesitate to kill a loved one just to see what the person would do.

  McClement answered to very few people and always got his man, no matter what the cost.

  If Hayley was in as much trouble as Cain was afraid she was, he wanted someone like Ren at his back.

  “What did you find out from unofficial channels?”

  Ren let out a breath. “There’s a hit out on Hayley’s life.”

  Cain’s curse was low and foul. “Who? Why?”

  “That, I haven’t been able to find out. But it’s someone high, Cain, really high.”

  Cain thought of what Judge Nicolaides had said. Almost the exact same thing.

  “When? How?” Those were the questions Cain should’ve been asking first anyway. The who and why could wait.

  “Somebody is willing to pay top dollar to kill Hayley in what looks like an escape attempt as she’s transferred to the correctional facility today.”

  Cain knotted his fist against his kitchen counter. “Okay, I’ll get on the phone and stop the transfer. Unless they’ve got a bus already going out there, they probably meant to transfer her in a squad car.”

  “That’s just it. The channels I got this from contain some crooked cops. I’m not sure who we can trust.”

  “Then I’ll go get her out of holding right now. We won’t even let the transfer start.” This time he wouldn’t take no for an answer when it came to seeing her.

  “You’re not going to be able to get her out. Someone’s already been changing the electronic files surrounding her. Instead of cybercrimes, Hayley’s file now says that she was a violent criminal, brought in as a fugitive.”

  Cain was already bringing up the information on his laptop. Sure enough, after logging in to the Georgia law enforcement system, he saw everything Ren said was true. Instead of cybercrimes, she was listed as having done time for attempted murder and assault. She’d escaped from custody and had been on the run when she was caught.

  There was no way the police would release Hayley to Cain.

  “And even worse,” Ren said, “they’re not taking her back to the minimum-security prison. They’re taking her to maximum security. If for some reason she lives through the transfer, whoever put out this hit has made it open season on Hayley once she arrives.”

  Chapter Thirteen

  The hardest part about prison for Hayley had been the lack of privacy. Followed at a very close second by boredom.

  Books had helped a great deal with the boredom since she hadn’t been allowed near any computers while incarcerated. She’d read just about every title in the library. She’d used nonfiction books to learn about things directly related to her like child rearing, psychology, cooking and nutrition. She also learned about stuff not so related to her: climbing Mount Everest, cooking Thai food and the five-
hour workweek. She’d read all sorts of fiction. Action, horror, science fiction. The only thing she hadn’t been able to read was romance. Books with happily-ever-afters just didn’t seem to apply to her at all.

  She had no books now. And no privacy again. The county holding cell was like a twenty-four-hour diner, women coming in and out constantly. All night she’d been watching them, since sleep had been impossible.

  When she had been in prison, she had pretty much been ignored. Nothing about her four years at the Georgia Women’s Correctional facility had been traumatic. No one had hurt her, there hadn’t been fights or people shanking others, or anything that might happen at a maximum-security prison that held the more violent offenders.

  Minimum security hadn’t even had barbed wire fences surrounding the facility. It had been sort of like camp, except you couldn’t leave, and the counselors had guns. And they didn’t really pay attention to you unless you did something bad.

  None of the officers seemed to be ignoring her now. Every time one walked by, he or she glared at Hayley, anger clear in their expressions. She had no idea what she had done to warrant such hostility.

  But she just kept thinking about the guards and the books and anything else except for the fact that in a couple hours they would be taking her back to prison. Maybe for a long time.

  Because if she concentrated on that, the hysteria was going to bubble over. It was so close to the surface right now she could feel it.

  She wanted her son. Wanted to be with Mason. He was just getting used to her being in his life and now she was gone again.

  And much of this was resting in his hands. And he had so much reason to hate her.

  “Hayley Green?” An officer opened the cell door and Hayley walked over. “You’re being transferred to Georgia Women’s Max.”

  The maximum security? “No, I think there’s been a mistake. I’m supposed to be transferred, but it’s to the minimum-security prison.”

  Hayley could hear the other women in the cell snicker.

  The officer placed handcuffs around her wrists. “Look, I just get the people lined up for the transfer, I don’t decide who goes where.” He looked her over, evidently deciding maybe she didn’t look like a violent criminal. “But I’ll double-check your paperwork.”

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