Reid Merritt grit his teeth and tossed the file on his desk. He watched with an amused smirk as it slid across and off, landing in the trash basket. Leaning back in his creaky chair he flipped his scuffed boots up onto the edge of the desk. Close to a month now, he’d been digging through that folder, its content growing, but no solid leads found.
The six others that had been assigned to help him and his partner were starting to get on his nerves. There were only so many follow-ups and errands they could be sent on, before they were back here, standing in his office, looking at him.
Running his fingers through his shaggy brown hair he pursed his lips together. How many hours had he been sitting here cross-referencing? Sighing he crossed his arms and stared at the folder teetering half in the garbage.
The body found yesterday put the count at four. Four dead women, with not one thing in common except the fact that they were dead. The immaculately clean and neatly dressed bodies proved to be the only thing that told him it was the same killer.
He didn’t even have an identity for number four. How could someone not have anyone missing them? He laughed quietly at himself. Do you have someone that would miss you? Nope. Not unless his annoying neighbor missed having someone to bore. It had been at least two years since he’d had anyone in his life that would notice if he was late home or never returned.
Shaking his head to clear the maudlin thoughts, he grit his teeth again. Drowning yourself in your own past wasn’t going to help anything. Life happens. You pick up your sad ass and move on.
He looked across the room at the redheaded man leaning into the room. His friend and partner, Brent Jordan. “Yeah?”
Brent raised his eyebrows and looked at the folder. He smirked. “Captain Reely wants us in his office, pronto.”
Letting out a breath, he kicked his feet back onto the floor. “On my way.” He straightened his tall lanky frame and stretched. He was tired; the last month of chasing dead end leads was weighing him down. He should really take a few days off. To do what, he didn’t know, all he had was work.
The only thing that appealed would be to spend a few days sleeping. When was the last time he’d really slept? He couldn’t remember. If it wasn’t his own mind waking him up, it was Brent phoning him with a crime scene address at every hour of the night.
Criminals should think about a union and sticking to office hours. Yeah. Definitely needed a day off thinking stupid shit like that.
He walked halfway across the room then turned and looked at the folder still sitting in the trash. “Should leave the damn thing there and let the janitor look at it, maybe he’d find a lead.” Sighing, he strolled back over and picked up it. Without straightening the papers, he tossed it onto his desk and turned to head out into the hallway.
Reid walked into the office without knocking or greeting.
The balding man sitting at the desk smirked at him. “Good of you to join us.”
Reid folded himself down into one of the chairs sitting across from the desk. “Anytime.” He glanced over at his friend shaking his head. “So…”
The Captain sighed. “Do you have anything solid yet?”
Reid looked at his partner and shook his head. “No. We’re just waiting on dental to see if we can give the fourth a name.”
The Captain sat back and studied him. “It’s definitely the same perp?”
He shook his head and looked at them. “I’ve never seen you have this much trouble finding a connection.” He sat back and studied him. “The Mayor is hounding me. The press is getting harder to avoid, in case you didn’t notice the reporters lurking at every door this morning.
“I noticed.” Reid looked at Brent. He’d thank him later for no help. “Hopefully the identity of the fourth will open some doors.”
The Captain nodded. “On that note, I have a few calls for you two, maybe it will open something.”
Reid resisted the urge to moan. “Calls?” Where were the others that dealt with the dead-end calls?
The Captain sat back and studied him. The expression on his face reminded Reid of a parent assessing one of their children. “One call is from one of the families, a relative says they have something to tell us about victim number two.” He handed a piece of paper to Brent, and then grinned at Reid. “The other is some type of investigator looking for a missing woman. From the brief description it could be your number four.”
Reid’s head popped up. “An investigator?” The Captain shrugged. “Aw hell. Give me that one. That’s just what we need is some private investigator wanting to profit from this.”
The Captain grinned and handed the paper over. “Your investigator has a photo of the missing woman.”
Reid didn’t even glance at the paper, just stuffed it into his pocket as he stood up. He nodded over to Brent as he headed towards the door. “Fill you in later.”
Both men watched the door close. Brent smirked at the Captain. “Do you have any idea how tiring it is to keep up with those long legs?”
The Captain laughed. “Just keep thinking they’re an asset when he needs to get to you fast.”
Brent rubbed a hand through his short hair and grinned. “Very true.” He pushed away from the wall he’d been leaning against. “We’ll keep you posted, Cap.”
Reid looked at the address. Jac Brown. He shook his head at the error in the message. Mistakes like that could cost in his profession. He stopped at the stop light and waited, impatiently. He pictured this Brown character as a short round man, in glasses and last year’s suit. He didn’t have anything against private investigators; he had worked with a few that knew what was what, and more importantly knew when to let the cops handle things.
Although saying you are an investigative researcher was a new twist. He had to give the guy points for not following the norm. Checking the intersection briefly he accelerated when the light went green. Let’s hope Mr. Brown was one of those that knew when to bow out and let the trained professionals deal with things.
Of course, he was way ahead of himself. He didn’t even know yet if they were both dealing with the same woman. At this point though, he hoped they were. Then at least he’d know something he hadn’t already known about this case this morning.
His phone rang. He answered it before it rang a second time. “Yeah.”
“Most people say hello when accepting a call.”
Reid grinned at his partner’s voice. “Since when do I fit into that category?”
Brent laughed. “Okay, you got me there. Anyways, I was calling to see if you wanted to grab a beer after this never-ending day ends.”
Brent sighed. “Well, I just thought seeing as yesterday was your birthday and we were too busy working…”
“Oh yeah. Huh. Forgot all about it”
Brent chuckled. “You’re the only person I know of that could forget their own birthday. Especially since you haven’t even hit thirty yet.”
“Biologically I haven’t. In real time I’m in my fifties at least.” He spotted the street he was looking for. “I’ll call you when I’m done here, and we’ll meet at Rusty’s.”
Reid pulled up in front of the building and turned off his car. He wasn’t sure if he should be shocked or humored that he’d forgotten his own birthday. Twenty-nine. In some ways it seemed like he had been nineteen a few days ago, in others he was sure he’d never been young.
He sat and watched a group of boys messing around as they went around the corner. Enjoy it boys, soon enough real life’s going to begin and the fun is over. Well, maybe not all the fun, being all grown up had a few pleasant advantages. He watched them a few more moments and wondered how they even walked with the way their pants fit. Times kept changing and he didn’t want to understand most of them.
Picking up the note he stuffed it in his pocket and climbed out of the car. He walked into the building with long strides, the smile gone, emotions turned off and headed straight for the stairs, not even giving the elevator a second’s thought.