IF I FAIL: A Jake Carrington Mystery, page 1
If I Fail
A Jake Carrington Mystery
If I Fail, A Jake Carrington Mystery © 2012 by Marian Lanouette
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, or events, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Edited by Julie Lynn Hayes
Copyedited by Les Tucker
About the Book
A Mystery Novel by Marian Lanouette
Are rules really meant to be broken? Jake Carrington finds out the hard way the answer is no! Dating Chloe Wagner was a huge mistake, and Jake should have known better—he’s investigating the murder of Chloe’s sister. Now Chloe is the number one suspect in that murder. If she’s convicted, Jake could lose not only his rank, but his job. If that’s not bad enough, he’s got a stalker on his hands, someone who’s threatening his fledgling relationship with the lovely Mia. Things are getting just a little too personal for comfort!
This book is dedicated to my husband Alan for his continued love, support, and encouragement.
I couldn’t have done it without you.
Table of Contents
About the Book
Other works from the Author
About the Author
If I Fail, A Jake Carrington Mystery Book One in the Jake Carrington Mystery
Other works by Marian Lanouette
Burn In Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery Book Two
As the World Ends
Coming in 2016
Mated for Life, A Jake Carrington Mystery Book Three
Written as Merry Holly
Season of Magic
Season of Love
Season of Surprises
Season of Thrills
I would like to thank my critique partners for their valuable input, authors Kimberly K. Fox, Gail Chianese and Mandi Casey. To my mentor, Thea Devine for all your great advice, friendship, and guidance.
Thanks to Ralph Russo, Ret. Officer WPD for his patience in answering all my questions. And to Candace Majewski who always knew what word I had in my mind but couldn’t pull out.
Thanks also to my beta readers Joanne Ryan, Esq., Brenda Piel, Gail Latka and Nancy Peterson.
To Savvyauthors.com a meeting and learning place to assist authors in their quest for publication.
And last but not least, the members of the CTRWA, especially Kristan Higgins and Toni Andrews, who gave their time and advice freely. I have learned so much from each of you, thank you.
On days like this, Jake questioned if there was a God. He held the broken, lifeless body of the infant girl in his arms, tears running down his face. He didn’t try to hide them. Jake’s emotions reflected in the eyes of everyone. His partner Louie turned away and kicked the chair. Jake knew this horror would live with each of them for the rest of their lives.
Keith Amara, the morgue assistant, tapped Jake on the shoulder. “I’ll take her.”
“She didn’t have a chance.” Jake handed her to Keith.
“No, she didn’t.”
He lay the child on the stretcher with such care that Jake’s respect for Keith increased immensely. Jake reached down and pulled the sheet up over the baby to conceal her from the morbid crowd that waited in the street below. He never understood the fascination of the onlookers at each crime scene. He believed they hoped to view the body so they could talk about the gruesome details, get their fifteen minutes of fame. Some would offer up a silent prayer of thanks to God for the safety of their children. Tragedy, even the tragedy of a stranger, affected people—it reaffirmed their zest for life, even here in the slums.
Jake composed himself. Turning to face the suspect, he fisted his hands at his side to contain his fury. The line of the law could be blurred here, Jake understood. Each officer wanted a piece of the bastard. Knowing he had to keep a tight rein over the situation, Jake held his voice level when he spoke to Washington. He saw no humanity in the suspect; his act alone proved Washington had none. Looking into Washington’s eyes he observed they were dead, like the child he’d killed. He wore a dirty, wrinkled cotton T-shirt with stained jeans. The front of the jeans showed a large, wet patch where Washington pissed himself. The only thing this creep cared about was his next fix.
Jake walked to the body, reached down and uncovered it, and forced himself to look at the baby again. Her head, crushed in on the left side, reminded Jake of a broken hardboiled egg. He could estimate the amount of force that was required to cause such a wound, yet the baby didn’t die immediately. She had lain there suffering until one of the older children snuck out of the apartment and got a neighbor to call the police.
Now the child stood in the doorway of the living room watching the police process the room. A child who knew how to stay out of an adult’s way. Jake guessed his age at nine, though his eyes were those of an old man. They reflected life on the street. No child’s eyes should hold such darkness. He understood the pain on the boy’s face, because every day of his life he dealt with the violent death of his own sister at the age of fifteen. It haunted him, invading his thoughts and dreams at unexpected times. Could he have done something to prevent it?
“Man, you don’t understand. I couldn’t think with all the noise from the bitch. She never stopped crying. She cried all day, all night long, she cried all the damned time. I couldn’t take it no more. Her mama shouldn’t have left her here,” Washington rambled, turning to Jake.
Unbelievable. The suspect wanted sympathy. It took all of Jake’s control not to ram his fist in the bastard’s face. Instead, he asked, “Where’s her mother, Washington?”
“She went to work,” he slurred. “I gotta sit down, man.” The first officer on scene had thrown him up against the wall, where he remained.
“I told you not to move a muscle. You move, every cop in the room will be on you like flies on shit. They’d like nothing better than to take you down. So stand still and start talking. What’s the mother’s name?”
“Her name’s Sheila Johnson.”
Jake pushed him hard into the wall. Washington let out a groan.
Jake whispered in his ear. “Don’t you dare move or speak, unless you’re spoken to, understand?” Jake waited for him to nod before he spoke again.
“Now apologize to…” Jake jammed the suspect into the wall again, this time digging his elbow into the small of his back.
He was mad at himself because he didn’t bother to get the boy’s name. He’d never asked. Jake looked at the boy. “What’s your name, son?”
“It’s Aaron. Please…” He trembled.
“There’s nothing for you to fear, Aaron, I won’t let this man near you. He’ll be going away for a long time.”
“My…my mom works at the 7-Eleven. She won’t be home before midnight.”
Jake looked at his watch. Seven o’clock. His next visit would change lives. He hated this part of the job: the sadness, the denial, eventually the grief that washed over them and then eased off when a survivor started to accept the news. It’s bad enough when the notification’s for an adult—how do you tell a mother her infant was dead? Murdered by the hand of the child’s father? He motioned the uniform closest to him to take Aaron back to the bedroom with the other kids.
Before he left the room, Aaron turned and spoke to Jake. “Her name’s Keisha.”
“The baby. Her name’s Keisha.” Aaron cried for the first time since Jake arrived on the scene.
“We’ll make sure Keisha’s taken care of, Aaron.”
He nodded and left the room.
“Tough kid,” Louie said.
“He’ll need to be,” Jake responded.
“He seems much older than my kids. I don’t understand how anyone could hurt a child.” Louis’ voice was choked with emotion, his eyes glistened. “I’ll tell you…when I get home tonight, I’m gonna hug and kiss each one of my children until they scream.”
Jake watched Louie try to compose himself. “I might come home with you, Louie, and do the same thing. Each time we run into something like this, I think there can’t be anything worse. Then there is.”
“I…” The door burst open and in flew a screaming, crying, woman, interrupting Louie’s response.
They’d run out of time. In this neighborhood, nothing remained a secret. The news of the baby’s death had circulated around the neighborhood, including the store where the mother worked.
“Where’s my baby girl?” she screamed, pushing her way past the uniforms.
Jake noticed Keith tried to block her path. He impatiently radioed crowd control for the okay to remove the baby from the scene. The woman—five feet four inches tall, weighing in around two hundred pounds—tried to reach for the stretcher. The officers recovered, blocked her path; turning, she charged the suspect before anyone could react. The woman was fast, Jake thought. Sheila pounded her fists into Washington’s face.
“You piece of shit, what did you do to my baby girl?” she cried, screaming at him while punching, kicking, and scratching him.
It took two uniforms and Louie to pull her off the suspect, while Jake held him in place.
“Is she badly hurt?” she whispered.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Johnson.” Useless words. Jake didn’t have any others to offer.
“No. No,” she cried. “Not my baby girl!”
Sheila started to swoon. Jake reached for her, though not in time. She hit the carpeted floor hard, rattling everything in the room not nailed down, including Jake. The vibration reminded him of a small aftershock from an earthquake. Every time one of the officers tried to help her up, she fought them off.
Louie handed her a glass of water. “I don’t want no water. I want my baby girl.” Sheila pushed the cup away.
Aaron came slowly back into the room, approaching his mother with caution.
“Mama?” He placed his shaking arms around her, crying.
Jake motioned to two uniforms to hold Washington, while he went on alert in case she blamed Aaron. Poised to act, Jake tensed, but Sheila only hugged her son, cried along with him.
“I couldn’t do anything, Mama.”
After awhile she looked up, confused. “Where are the other children? The bastard didn’t hurt them too? I’ll kill him. I swear to God, I’ll kill him.”
“No. He didn’t hurt them. We have them in the bedroom, out of view of Keisha. We didn’t want them traumatized anymore today.” Jake squatted down beside Sheila.
She spoke to Aaron, not Jake. “What did you see?”
With one word, Jake noticed, Aaron relayed the whole story.
“Oh, baby, I’m so sorry,” she said, rocking him. “This is my fault. I should’ve left the bastard before Keisha arrived. He’s no good.”
“Hey woman, you watch your mouth, if you know what’s good for you,” Washington shouted.
The two uniforms pressed him into the wall, whispered something into his ear Jake didn’t hear. Washington shut up immediately. Jake offered up a little prayer of thanks for seasoned officers.
“You and what gang, you piece of shit? If these cops weren’t here, I’d kill you.” She started to get up—Jake put a hand on her shoulder, held her down.
“The kids need you now, Sheila. Ignore him.” A fist fight on top of everything else would round out this horrible day, Jake thought.
Washington, oblivious to everyone, started singing that stupid song about being high. Jake heard it on the lips of kids around town. Washington tried to dance around; the uniforms never gave an inch. Glad he’d ordered shackles, in addition to the handcuffs. Drugs made gods, with herculean strength, out of ordinary men—they knew no fear. It always amazed Jake. He could recite incident after incident where a cop dropped his guard and got injured by a drugged-out suspect.
“He killed my baby,” Shelia started screaming again.
“Sergeant, you want us to take him down?” one of the uniforms asked.
Jake needed to shut down the noise level. The screaming, the kids, the suspect’s singing, all echoed through his head. Though you’re taught not to bring your emotions to a crime scene, it’s not always possible. Jake’s had reached pinnacle heights. He needed to push them down, get back control of the scene. He blanked his mind until his full cop mode took over. With the shock of the scene wearing off, Jake gave orders to direct the chaos.
“Officer Jewett, you and Officer Barber take the suspect down the back; there’s a car waiting to transport him. Let’s hope crowd control did their jobs.”
Jake walked away from Sheila. Whispered into Louie’s ear. “Louie, call for the department psychiatrist; request her presence at the station to deal with the family. See how the uniforms did on the door to door.”
“I’ll check to see if they finished up yet and get a verbal report from them, after I call the shrink.”
He watched Louie go into the kitchen to make the call.
Jake turned, walked back over to Sheila. “Ms. Johnson, I’ll need you and the children to come to the station. I’ve arranged for a doctor to meet you there. She’s a psychiatrist. She’ll help you and the kids start to deal with your grief.”
“I don’t need no shrink.” Sheila glared at him.
“Ms. Johnson…Sheila…the shock of what happened today will come crashing down on you later, especially Aaron, after what he saw. Trust me, she can help. Please give her a chance. If not for yourself, for Aaron.”
“Do I have to?”
“No. It’s your choice, but I’ve been through this kind of trauma myself…it helps.”
“Someone killed your baby?” she said angrily.
“No, my younger sister.”
Shelia looked into Jake’s eyes, backed off, nodding at him.
Louie walked back into the room. Jake understood the surprised look on his face. Shaking his head, Jake turned from Louie. Normally able to blank out his emotions
If he let him, Louie would rehash everything trying to get Jake to open up. Talking never solved anything in Jake’s opinion, nor would it bring Eva back. Every few years Jake testified at the killer’s parole hearing, to keep him locked up. Beyond belief—in Jake’s opinion—a killer would even be considered or eligible for parole after the viciousness of the crime. His thoughts were interrupted when one of the officers tapped him on the shoulder.
Jake turned, the officer pointed. He smiled inwardly. A reporter; just what he needed. The jerk somehow snuck past the uniforms out front. Jake would need to dress them down.
“You should know better than to invade my scene, Hayes.”
“I’m hearing conflicting reports. I wanted to get the facts. My deadline’s a half hour away.”
“I don’t give a fuck about your deadline. The department media liaisons have the information, call them.”
“Come on, Jake. We go way back. This’ll give my career a boost.”
“I’m going to have you arrested if you don’t leave the scene now.” Jake nodded to a uniform.
“Bastard,” Hayes muttered. The uniform grabbed the reporter’s arm, escorted him from the scene.
It took hours to process the crime scene. Exhausted, Jake drove slowly back to the station, trying to clear his head on the way. They still needed to question Ms. Johnson and the kid. Hopefully the shrink had calmed them down by now.
“Don’t forget the party Saturday, Jake. You know…barring another bizarre killing.”
“I won’t forget. You’ve only reminded me about fifty times. Is this another set-up?”
Louie and his wife ambushed him, time and time again, forcing blind dates on him. They meant well, but the ‘my clock’s ticking’ women were tedious.
“No, it’s not another set-up, God forbid. It’s your goddaughter’s birthday. Not everything’s about you, Jake.”
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