Aiden snorted. “You act like I’ve never been in a fight before.”
“A man like Troy….”
“Is a pussy. You think I haven’t tangled with him before? Please.”
She paused, looking him over admiringly. “There are a lot of layers to you, Aiden Partridge.” Starting the car, she called in their intended destination, assured her lieutenant would contact the Port Orange police on her behalf.
Aiden called his mother. He didn’t tell her about the letter, or the picture, which he had given to Vanessa.
I have a daughter. There is a little person who is a part of me….
“How did Wendy die?” he asked Vanessa after he talked to his mother.
“Are you sure you want to know?”
“I’m not a child.”
“She was strangled.”
“Before that, she was beaten and raped, right?”
“Corin got some pictures. I took his phone and cleared them before he looked carefully. I saw how her pants were. I saw the bruises and blood. How can someone do that to another person?”
“I ask myself that every day.”
“Did she suffer?”
“Yes. I’m sorry.” More than I’m willing to tell you.
Pressing his lips in a tight light, Aiden nodded. “Thank you for not lying to me.” Tears glittered in the corners of his eyes.
They found the auto mechanic shop where Troy worked. Vanessa knew where it was, having passed it on more than one occasion. It seemed an odd location, so it had stuck in her mind. They pulled up in front of the office and parked.
“You have to promise me that you won’t do anything stupid. If I bring you home broken, your mama will kill me twice.”
“After she rips me apart. While she does that, you run. I’ll sacrifice myself to save you.” He chuckled. “Been in a few fights, Detective. I promise I won’t start it, but I can’t promise not to provoke.”
“Be careful. I mean it.” She took his arm as he opened his door. “Stay at least three feet away. Let him rush you, and then dodge.”
They walked into the office. No one was there except a big, red dog. It was a nice enough place, not too shabby, nor too chic. It had a solid, hometown look to it. A stocky, blonde woman of middle years, walked out of the back office.
“Help you folks?”
Vanessa took out her badge, showing it to the woman. “Detective Weinstein. Does Troy Intriago work here?”
“Maybe. Why?” Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“I have some questions to ask him about an investigation. I’m hoping he’ll have some information for me.”
“He’s not in trouble?”
“No. Just questions.”
“Lemme get him. You’re sure? Cause I don’t need trouble here. I know he’s got problems, but he behaves on the job.”
That may change, Vanessa thought. “Just questions. Thank you.”
The woman walked into the back, calling for Troy.
“When he runs, you want me to take him down?” Aiden stood with his hands in his pockets, rocking on his toes.
“You think he’s going to?”
Aiden rolled his eyes at her. There was a shout and commotion outside. A car screeched to a halt. Cursing of two men followed.
“Deputize me,” Aiden said.
“Go for it, Deputy Dawg.”
Aiden took off after Troy. The older man was slowed by a near collision with an angry driver. Not only that, his pants were so tight, he could hardly get a good stride. Aiden, who was taller, caught up with him quickly, tackling him as the other man reached the grassy verge. Rolling, he kept them both from slamming their faces into the ground. Glad he was wearing a jacket, he felt Troy’s mouth smack against his arm.
Vanessa hurried over, weapon drawn. Aiden knelt on Troy’s back, pulling his arms up behind him. Vanessa put the cuffs on and yanked Troy to his feet.
“I just had some questions, but now you’re going in.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes