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Part 9 of ? in the IKWYDLS series
Distribution: A-Ok! Just let me know at email@example.com
Rating: Probably back to PG-13 for this one. Nothing too bad.
Thanks to: Laur, for her endless encouragement and for always being there to let me spill all the juicy gossip I collect over the day and Kilby, for being the best proofreader I could ever hope to find.
Thereís another winner in here! Keep your eyes peeled for Rachel Elizabeth, the coronerís assistant and potential love interest of Steve (that is, if she stays aliveÖ) Congratulations to Rachel and keep looking for more winners of the IKWYDLS Unmask The Murderer Sweepstakes!
* * *
The Coronerís Office
"Nice of you to show up, Steve," T.C. grumbled. "I paged you twenty minutes ago."
"I was finishing my coffee," he apologized insincerely, shrugging his shoulders. T.C. narrowed her eyes at him; unlike most women Steve knew, she realized that he didnít care in the least that he had made her wait.
"So, what did the coroner say?" he inquired, stamping his feet to keep warm in the early evening chill. T.C. had been wise enough to change into a warmer outfit before coming out, but Steve had been so preoccupied with who knows what that he was still dressed in the lightweight polo shirt and slacks he had been wearing that afternoon.
She smirked slightly at his discomfort, then remembered the reason that they were there.
"I didnít go in yet. I was waiting for you to get here, remember?"
"So what are we waiting for? Letís get this over with," he said, pushing open the door. I canít believe Iím stuck working on this case with this moron. Whereís the justice?! she lamented as she followed him inside.
"Can I help you?" a pretty young woman at the desk asked as she saw the two of them enter.
"I hope so, Rachel Elizabeth," Steve replied, flashing a toothy grin at her while reading the name tag on her blouse. "Iím Steve Griffen and this is T.C. McGonigle. Weíre from the 24th precinct up in Boston and looking for the coroner." Rachel, who appeared to be in her late teens, blushed slightly under his intense gaze. She tucked a piece of blond hair behind her left ear as she returned Steveís smile.
"Iíll take you to him," she said. The two of them stared at each other for a few seconds until T.C. cleared her throat. The two of them glared at her.
"Can you two resume your flirting after we get to talk to the coroner?" she begged. Steve sighed and smiled apologetically at Rachel as if he was terribly sorry that she had to endure T.C.ís wrath.
"Come along," Rachel said, signaling at the two of them over her shoulder. She lead them through a set of double doors and handed Steve a lab coat identical to the one that T.C. was still wearing from her visit to Joeyís hospital room. He looked at it and handed it back to Rachel.
"Iím not going to need that," he laughed. T.C. glared at him.
"Yes you will," she said. "Youíre going in there with me."
"Now, T.C., thereís really no point in the two of us going in there. Why donít I just stay out here with Rachel?"
"Not a chance. You already pulled that when we went to interview that Potter girl. You arenít doing it again. Put on the coat, Steve," she ordered.
"Sheís a feisty one," he said to Rachel as he put on the coat. "Are you going to come in, too?"
"Well, Iím not really supposed to," Rachel said apologetically. "Just in case someone else needs to come in here." Steve took another coat of the wall and handed it to her.
"How many people in this town really come to the coronerís?" he asked.
"Iím sure they wonít need you anytime soon. Come on." T.C. rolled her eyes. Typical Steve. Even a dead body doesnít suppress his hormones.
* * *
Leery Living Room
"Karen? How are you holding up?" Dawson asked as he approached the couch that Karen was sprawled out on. She was wearing sweats and was covered by a wool blanket, yet she was still shivering. She stared mindlessly at the sitcom on the television screen and didnít even acknowledge Dawsonís presence. He flicked off the television and sat gingerly on the couch next to her. "Karen?" he repeated. She glanced briefly at him, then back at the wall.
"Iím not hungry, thirsty, cold, tired, or anything else you might be wondering about," she said sullenly, in reference to his previous trips into the living room. "Iíd just like to be left alone."
"Do you want to talk about what happened today?" he asked gently. She shook her head violently. "Karen, please. What can I do to help you out?"
"Leave me alone."
"Are you sure?" She sighed and turned her head to face him. "Dawson, I appreciate your concern, but I donít really want to talk what happened this afternoon. Not right now. Iíd really just like to go to bed. Itís been a long day."
"If you change your mind-"
"-I know where to find you." They smiled at each other. Dawson leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the forehead.
* * *
"Dr. Wilson? Steve Griffen and T.C. McGonigle are here to see you," Rachel said as they finally entered the morgue.
"Yes?" the middle-aged man answered, not lifting his head up from the folder he was examining intensely.
"Weíre here about the body found in the bathroom at the Capeside Funeral Parlor this afternoon," T.C. explained. His head snapped up in recognition and he smiled at T.C.
"Iím sorry," he apologized. "Your names just didnít click. From Boston, right?" T.C. nodded. "Pleased to meet you," he said, extending a hand.
"Likewise," she smiled. "That guy over thereís Steve," she said, gesturing to Steve and Rachel, who were engaged in deep conversation and were standing awfully close.
"Rachel!" Dr. Wilson snapped. "What are you doing in here?" he demanded.
"Iím helping Steve," she said.
"With what? Making his pants tighter?" Dr. Wilson asked cynically. Rachel blushed deep red. "Rachel, you know youíre supposed to stay up front."
"Sorry, Doctor," she said meekly. He sighed.
"You can stay as long as you donít get in the way," he conceded. She smiled slightly. Dr. Wilson looked at T.C. "Are you ready to look over the body now?" he asked. She nodded. Dr. Wilson led T.C., Steve, and Rachel towards the freezer. He pulled out the drawer that the girlís body was in and took the white sheet off of her head. T.C. inhaled sharply at the site of the girlís mangled face. Rachel gasped and hid her face against Steveís shoulder. He didnít seem to mind. Dr. Wilson smiled grimly at their reaction. "She actually looks a lot better now; we cleaned off most of the blood already," he said.
"I wasnít expecting it to be quite so messy," T.C. admitted. "I mean, it was only a toilet seat, right?" Dr. Wilson nodded.
"Toilet seat, all right."
"How could a plastic toilet seat cause that much damage?" Steve interrupted. "I mean, toilet seats arenít all that durable. I think it wouldíve broken long before she was hurt badly." Dr. Wilson shook his head.
"If this was your normal toilet seat, yes. However, the funeral parlor is an older building and it still has the original toilets made of porcelain. They never switched them over to plastic and it appears the murderer took advantage of that. I mean, take a look her skull. Fractured in two places. Broken nose. Shattered cheekbones. Bruises galore," he said, rattling off her injuries and pointing to each one.
"Whoever gave it to her gave it to her good. There's no question that a mere beating was not the attacker's intention. And if we go down farther, it gets worse. Lacerations along inner arms and along the neck, plus heavy bruising on her upper arms and her wrists. There are also a few minor scratches on the lower legs. It's probably a result of the attacker pinning her down so she couldn't fight back. See these dark abrasions on her neck?" T.C. nodded, moving closer to the dark red imprints on the corpse's neck.
"They look like burns," she observed.
"You could say that. Theyíre quite similar to rug burns, actually. My guess is that the attacker grabbed her by the neck, most likely with polyester or wool gloves. He or she probably strangled her and then beat her over the head with the toilet seat, although I havenít gotten a chance to confirm that yet."
"Is there any evidence that the victim fought back?" Dr. Wilson shook his head.
"Look at her, she canít weigh more than a hundred and five pounds. Sheís barely five two. Even if she wanted to, there wouldnít be much that she could do without any sort of weapon. She was probably unconscious through most of the beating as well, which is probably a good thing from her perspective." T.C. nodded in agreement.
"Are any of her injuries similar to those of the other murdered girl?"
"You mean Kristen McGill?" Dr. Wilson shook his head. "She was stabbed with some sort of kitchen knife, as far as we can tell. Even if it was the same person that killed them both, there wouldnít be any corroborating evidence just yet. The forensics teams you came down with hasnít analyzed any of the evidence like fibers or hairs. Ms. Covington said the preliminary tests should be done by tomorrow evening, however, so it wonít be that long of a wait."
"Thank you, Doctor. Will you please give me a call when you finish the autopsy?" she inquired, handing him the number to her pager. He glanced at it, then placed it in his pocket.
"Certainly, T.C., Iíd be glad to. It should be done by tomorrow afternoon at the latest."
"Excellent. Steve, you ready to go yet?" she asked, turning to face her partner. "Steve!" Rachel and Steve guiltily broke apart from their kiss while T.C. groaned inwardly at her partnerís blatant lack of self-control.
"All set if you are," Steve said cheerfully while Rachel blushed.
"Iím ready," T.C. replied. "Thanks again, Doctor."
"Would you like to keep a copy of the Rosenberg file overnight?" he asked as the four of them were leaving the morgue.
"Rosenberg? Whoís that?" T.C. asked in confusion.
"Lesley Rosenberg. The dead body we were looking at," Dr. Wilson explained. "The victim."
"Sorry, I guess her name slipped my mind," T.C. apologized. "Yes, Iíd love to borrow a copy of it."
* * *
Capeside Memorial Hospital
"Jo?" Pacey called softly from the doorway to her crowded room. She had been in a private room when T.C. had come to interview her, but a minor traffic incident in which a bus had broadsided a minivan caused an influx of patients into the hospital. Joey had been moved from her single room to a double room filled with four other people. Her eyelids fluttered open and she gave a faint smile when she saw him standing there. "Youíve been discharged. Ready to go home?"
"Iíve never been more ready for anything. Letís get moving," she yawned, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. She placed her feet on the floor and was about to stand up when Pacey placed a firm hand on her shoulder.
"Slow down, Jo. Theyíve got to wheel you out of here." She stared hard at him.
"You have got to be kidding me. They donít let you walk out?" Pacey shook his head. Joey groaned. "Well, grab a wheelchair, then. I donít want to spend one more moment than necessary in this hospital."
"Iíll go get a nurse."
* * *
Capeside Memorial Hospital
"Dad? Itís Pacey."
"Where are you?"
"Iím at the hospital with Joey. They just discharged her fifteen minutes ago, so Iím going to drive her home." Pacey rapped his fingers along the top of the pay phone in the nearly deserted corridor near the nursesí station. Under the guise of keeping his family informed of where he was, he had called his house hoping to receive some more information on the murders. If the Capeside Police Force found this case important enough to call Boston, there was definitely something big going on and he wanted to know what it was.
"Okay," Mr. Witter replied, distracted. Pacey could hear the faint sound of a television in the background; his father was most likely watching a boxing match.
"Iím going to spend the night at the Potterís house, too," he continued.
"Bessie isnít capable of taking care of Joey?"
"Iím worried about her, Dad. I donít want anything to happen to her."
"And you being there tonight will prevent that?"
"Itíll make me feel better," Pacey said with a tone of finality. Mr. Witter inhaled sharply.
"Anything else?" he prompted, eager to hang up.
"Any news on the McGill murder?" Pacey pressed, glad to be able to get to the real point of the call after all that small talk.
"Umm..yeah, hang on a second. No! You shouldíve blocked that, you idiot!" he yelled at the television. "Morons!ÖWhat did you want again? Oh, news on the murder. Well, they identified the girl in the bathroom at the funeral. Want her name?" Pacey unconsciously crossed his fingers before speaking in the affirmative. "Give me a second. Itís on the tip of my tongue," Mr. Witter muttered, obviously engrossed in the fight on the T.V. and trying his best to do two things at once. "It begins with an L. Lucy? Laura? Lesley? Thatís it! Lesley Rosenberg. Does that ring a bell?"
"Yeah," he said in a strangled voice. "She worked at the marina."
Pacey glanced around, then decided to hang up rather than press for more negative information. "Thanks, Dad. Iíve got to get back to Joey." He heard an immediate click on the other end of the line and hung up sadly, still thinking of Lesley.
* * *
The Capeside Motel
T.C. McGonigleís Room
T.C. sighed and took another gulp of the bitter coffee she had gotten from the small restaurant in the motel. She made a face and poured another heaping spoonful of sugar into the mug. What wouldnít I give for a Starbucks right now, she muttered as she poured over the file on Lesley Rosenberg. Shin and calf lacerations on the right leg. Two and a half inch gash above the left ankle on the inside, she murmured to herself as she made several notes on the yellow legal pad next to her. After reaching the final page of the file, she rubbed her eyes wearily, then picked up the phone.
"Answer, Steve," she sighed, exasperated. "Pick up the phone." After the ninth ring, she slammed the receiver down. She put her jacket over her striped pajamas and walked across the hallway to Steveís room, file in hand. She knocked loudly on the door three times and, several minutes later, Steve stumbled to the door.
"What, T.C.?" he slurred. He had evidently been sleeping, but T.C. had no sympathy for the guy. While she had been busting her butt over the file on Lesley, he had probably been wining and dining Rachel ElizabethÖor worse. She pushed past him into the room. "Is there a point to you coming into my room this late?"
"Yes, Steve, there is. I need to know something. Are you going to start pulling your weight on this case?" she demanded. He rubbed his eyes.
"Do we need to talk about this now? I mean, I was sleeping, T.C. Canít we discuss this in the morning?" he whined, hoping to extract some sympathy. "Iím really, really tired."
"No, we canít discuss this in the morning. While you were sleeping, flirting, getting drunk, or God knows what else, I was pouring over the Rosenberg file. Iíve been looking at that file for two hours, Steve. I know every injury that girl had. Iíve memorized every vital detail of this case. What about you?"
"What about me?"
"You couldnít tell me her first name! You couldnít tell me her age! You couldnít tell me anything about this girl!"
"Is there a point to this?" he challenged.
"Yes! Iím not going to put up with this. I know what youíre trying to pull. Just because Iím young doesnít mean I havenít read up on the way you operate. I am not going to do everything on this case and let you get the credit like you normally do. Tomorrow, you are going to do what I tell you to do and you are not going to argue with me about it. If I tell you that weíre going to talk to someone, you will go. If I tell you to get something, you will get it. You will not, I repeat, will not weasel your way out of doing your fair share of work. Got that?"
"T.C., this couldíve waited," he protested. T.C. stood up and headed towards the door.
"No, it couldnít. You have not done anything on this case other than butter up the coronerís assistant. Here is the file on Lesley Rosenberg, the girl that was killed in the bathroom," she said, throwing the file on the small oak table next to the door. "You will read it tonight and memorize everything in there by nine a.m. tomorrow. And if you havenít, you will be sorry."
* * *
"Home sweet home, Jo," Pacey said as he gently pushed open the door to the Potter house. She sighed happily as she slowly walked straight toward the couch that doubled as her bed. She sat down wearily on the edge.
"Thank God. This has to be one of the longest days in recent memory."
"We went through a lot," he agreed. "Do you want anything to eat or drink?" She shook her head.
"Nah. I just want to get some sleep and forget about today."
"Sounds like a good plan. Why donít you go get changed in the bathroom while I get your bed ready." She readily agreed and headed straight for the bathroom, flannel pajamas in hand.
By the time she came back, he had already set up her pillows and covered the ratty cushions with faded flowered sheets and a blue blanket. She smiled warmly at the gesture, then promptly collapsed on the bed.
"Iíve never been so tired before," she muttered into the pillow. "I donít think I could keep my eyes open for another second." Pacey laughed lightly.
"I can take a hint."
"Oh, I didnít mean it like-"
"Itís okay, Jo. I know that youíre tired. Let me help," he offered. She rolled over onto her back and shut her eyes. Pacey gently put her legs underneath the flowered sheets and pulled them up to cover the length of her body. He tucked the edges of the blue cotton blanket into the cushions and delicately placed it under her chin. She sighed contentedly.
"Thanks, Pace," she whispered gratefully. She watched as he walked around the room, turning off all the lights. She was so glad that he was there to help her through this whole thing - the notes, the murders, and anything else that could happen.
"There you go. Anything else you want?" he inquired after he finished.
She shook her head.
"Okay, then," he said, not wanting to leave yet. He hesitated for a few moments, then turned and headed toward the Potter kitchen.
"Pacey?" she whispered, almost inaudibly. Pacey wouldnít have heard it, had he not been listening intently for any sound from Joey.
"Yeah?" he answered, returning to the couch. He kneeled beside her.
"Thanks for everything, Pacey. I really mean that," she smiled. "Thank you for being here."
"Thanks for letting me," he replied, kissing her softly on the cheek before tiptoeing into the kitchen. "Sleep well, Jo." He was answered by the deep, even breathing that indicated her almost instantaneous slumber.
He opened the refrigerator, being incredibly careful not to wake her, and grabbed a nearly empty container of orange juice before settling himself at the Potterís kitchen table. He flipped through the local newspaper with disinterest in between swigs of orange juice.
Underneath the final section of the paper, the classified ads, he noticed a plain white envelope addressed to Joey. There was no return address on the envelope, prompting his curiosity. He flipped it over and realized that it was not sealed, just simply had the flap tucked in.
Pacey glanced at the sleeping form of Joey and made a quick decision to open the note; he was curious about its origin. A friend? he mused, pondering the author. A professor? A boyfriend? This last possibility caused him to practically rip out whatever was inside the envelope. It was a single sheet of white paper, folded in fourths. He carefully unfolded it, all the while glancing over at Joey. When his glance returned to the note, the words on the paper caused his heart to leap into his throat, exactly like Joeyís had done several days before.
He read them twice, scarcely believing what he saw.
If youíd ever like to read the rest of this series, youíve got to email me! Try itÖ.just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Doesnít cost anything, makes me happy, makes me write, and then you get to read more! What a deal!
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