Thank you to ehbates and her BumblesBooks blog for this week’s writing prompt. I jotted down this short scene that may find its way into one of my books.
A crime scene tech balled up the yellow police tape from the scene, and then scooped up the last of the plastic tent markers. Kieran Donovan crouched again, imagining the body as they’d found it in the dark hours of the morning. The disadvantage of trying to find evidence in a park was the grass; it was a buffer between the ground and the feet on it.
“Nothing has changed, Donovan. Ella is good; she and her team went over this area with micro-goggles and tweezers. If she didn’t fing anything, there wasn’t anything to find.” His partner, Alexandra Drake, paced like a tiger in a cage, fiddling with her black teardrop pendant. She did that whenever something was bothering her. “Whoever put our victim here had to carry her and should have left footprints.”
“Except it hasn’t rained for over a week.” Kieran straightened. The body had been staged before one that morning. No one was in the park at that time except an over-dedicated pet owner walking his insomniac dog.
A screech had both him and his partner scanning past the statue of Buddha. Before Kieran could zero in on the disturbance, Alex darted toward a pair of women, one of whom was on the ground, holding an ankle. The other woman pointed, and Alex veered in that direction. Now he saw the cause of the disturbance. A young male raced toward Stow Lake, weaving through benches and around bushes. Alex raced after him, gaining ground by heading on an intercept course. Kieran wouldn’t be able to catch up. Hell, his partner was wicked fast for short distances.
The runner took the low ground, jumping down a slope to another path through a bed of flowers. Mistake, Kieran thought. Sure enough, Alex added a burst of speed and launched into a flying tackle. She hit the man’s shoulders and slammed him to the ground. Kieran winced. He’d been on the receiving end of her flying tackle once, and was still alive because of it. When his partner straightened and pulled out her cuffs, he knew she was okay. He continued toward the women to get their statement.
Minutes later, Alex yanked the young man to a stop in front of the women Kieran was interviewing. She handed a Blackberry back to the woman favoring her ankle, then shook the runner. “Okay, apologize and maybe she won’t press charges.” She still sounded winded from the chase.
“Watch your mouth, punk,” Alex said. Her hand went to her neck. “Shit.” She started scanning the ground back the way she came. “Sonofabitch.” Then, “I’ll call for a couple uniforms to take over. Can you babysit?”
Kieran nodded. Alex shoved the man to the ground, where he landed with a grunt. “Sit. And if you try to run, I’ll kick your ass, and then he’ll,” she pointed to Kieran, “kick your ass.” She started backtracking to the flowerbed.
After the uniformed officers arrived five minutes later, Kieran headed to the lower path where Alex had taken the runner down. “What’s up?”
Her hand went to her neck again. Now he noticed her pendant was missing. “Help me find it. I lost my necklace.” Her voice was strained. “I have to find it. I must’ve lost it when I hit that guy.”
He obliged, though he wondered how she expected to find a black pendant in a flower bed. He swept his hands through the flower bed she’d cleared when she launched into her tackle. “You know we might not be able to find it.” He pointed along the route she’d taken from the crime scene. “You could have lost it anywhere between here and there.”
“I have to find it, Donovan.” She brushed fingers through grass due to be mowed. “Just help me look.”
Another pass through the flowerbed yielded nothing. “Look, I know Noelani gave that pendant to you in Hawaii, but if we can’t find it, maybe she can send you another one.”
Alex straightened. “You don’t get it. After six months of working together, after I’ve told you things that will get you killed if anyone found out, you still don’t get it.”
Kieran shook his head and started back toward the crime scene. “Maybe I don’t, but I’ve known enough women to know when to quit.”
“Donovan, stop.” She approached, still scanning the grass. “It’s Pele’s Tear.”
“I get it, Alex. Noelani called you ‘Daughter of Pele’, and she gave you a piece of solidified lava she christened Pele’s Tear, because it looks like a teardrop. I get the Pele connection.” Kieran continued, pausing once to retie his shoe. Something caught his eye.
“Do you? I don’t think you do. The Tear is my anchor.”
“It’s a rock.” As soon as he said it, he chastised himself. He knew he’d just lit her temper, confirmed by the sudden set to her jaw and the lethal look in her eyes. “Shit, I didn’t mean it that way.”
“Too late.” Her voice was so cold he could almost hear ice crack even though it was short-sleeve weather. “You have no idea how much that ‘rock’ helps me. You help me by drowning out the masses. The Tear helps ground me.”
Kieran rolled his shoulders, trying to shrug off the shivers running down his spine at her arctic tone. “I’m sorry I said that. I know you fiddle with it when you get anxious. What’s making you anxious about this case?”
Her hand was on her way to her neck before she stopped. He figured she remembered the pendant was absent. “I won’t know for sure until Rennie finishes the autopsy on this victim. Dammit, where did it go?”
“Tell me why you can’t just ask Noelani to send you another one. Why this one in particular?”
She brushed past him still focused on the ground. “Because this is the one she gave me when she helped me find the courage to open myself to the possibility of having real friends without compromising my sanity.”
He knew how hard it was for her to socialize, but he suspected it’d been harder before she was transferred to San Francisco. She never referred to any of her old colleagues in Honolulu as friends even after her three-year stint there. Here, she’d already made a handful of friends. Maybe the pendant was her “security blanket”, not that he’d ever thought she was someone who needed one.
“What would happen if you didn’t find it?”
For a moment, she looked like a woman in the middle of a desert, without any inkling of direction. Lost, he thought. She’d be lost, even though she had friends to help her find her way. He was there to help her find her way. She either didn’t see that, or refused to see it. “I guess I’d have to ask Noelani to send me another. But it wouldn’t be the same. Even if I went back to get it in person, it still wouldn’t be the same. Noelani helped me find stability, and the Tear was part of that.”
“You have friends now. That’s what we’re for. Lean on me more, Alex. Me and the rest of your friends. Okay? Promise me.”
She shook her head, eyes glistening in a way he’d never seen. He suspected it was more than the loss of the necklace that was bothering her. “I’m not quite there yet, Donovan. Just help me look for it. Please?”
That was probably the best he’d get from her at this point. He held up the chain. “Found it.”