A/N: Disclaimer - I do not own the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Sometimes I wish I did. In any case, I do not make any money from my efforts here. By the way, in my universe the characters are older. Frank and Nancy are 32, Joe is 31, and Vanessa is 27. You can check my profile page for more information. The 'friend' in this story is one that was introduced in "Vengeance." It is my intention for this to be a short story. Ideally, that means around 10 chapters. We'll see if I manage that. Also, this is strictly a crime/mystery story and the spotlight is on Frank and Joe. Nancy and Vanessa (and some others) make brief appearances. This is my way of easing back into writing. Hope everyone has been well and safe!

Chapter One

He sat on a metal bench in a ratty jail cell, head in his hands. He'd been in town less than twenty-four hours and had managed to wind up in jail. Pretty remarkable. Even more remarkable? He was charged with murdering a young woman. Just for the record, in case anyone was interested, he hadn't killed her. He knew the woman and liked her. Okay, he'd only known her a few hours. They'd met yesterday at his cousin's wedding. You know how it is at weddings. Single women … single guys … people looking to hook-up. Well, that's what had happened to them, they had hooked up. One night. Now, if he was being honest with himself, and in this dire moment of his life he was being brutally honest, he liked to think it was a lot more than a hook-up.

So, how had he wound up in jail? A good question. It all started at the wedding reception. The toasts were over, the meals were finished, and the plates had been cleared away. People were milling around, laughing, joking, and hitting the bar. It looked like the entire town had turned out for this wedding. It was a small town and probably not much to do around there.

The reception was held at a local restaurant and the place was packed. Jam packed. The room was hot, stuffy, and noisy. He was ready to call it a night when he spied the young lady across the room, standing at the bar, two friends on either side of her, hovering like they were guardian angels. Well, he could see why she might need the protection. She was what he thought of as a quiet beauty. She had big brown eyes that, if he wasn't mistaken, were playing peek-a-boo with him. I see you. Do you see me?

Wheat colored hair skimmed her shoulders and a sea-green dress hugged her waist and hips showing off her best assets. Their eyes met and held. Two attractive people finding each other in a crowded room. For a long, simmering moment they just stared at each other, sending a private message. It was clear they liked each other, or at least, liked what they saw.

She tipped her head and said something to the two girlfriends. They turned and scanned him from head to toe, looking for flaws. Apparently, they didn't find any and smiled their tacit approval to their friend. Go for it, girl. He's cute.

The young lady took a last gulp of her wine, placed the empty glass on the bar counter, and started strolling across the room, heading for him. He set his empty beer glass on the tray of a passing waiter and started his own journey across the room, weaving past guests, bumping into a few and issuing apologies. He was a guided missile on a trajectory that could not be disturbed.

At last, she bumped into his broad chest and giggled. He thought the giggle was cute as hell.

"I'm sorry," she said, acting all coy and innocent like she hadn't meant to bump into him. He knew differently. "Don't think I've seen you around here before," she said in a soft, breathless voice that made his heart skip a couple of beats.

A wily grin slid onto his face. "I'm the groom's cousin," he explained. Other than the cousin's father and mother he was the only family member who had shown up for the wedding. It wasn't because he was close to the cousin either. It was because he just happened to live only an hour away in River Heights. He'd recently bought a new car and wanted to take it on a long drive. An hour's drive seemed the perfect way to do that. And he had thought of the possibility of meeting somebody at the wedding. Well, that just might be happening.

The young lady pushed silky, wheat colored hair behind an ear and batted long dark lashes. "Nora, the bride, is a friend of mine," she said. "We teach second grade at the same elementary school. Actually, it's the only elementary school in town. This is a small town."

His grin widened to a smile. "Yeah, I'd noticed the small part."

She licked her pink lips. "So, cousin of the groom, you have a name?"

This was going to be interesting. "Yeah, it's BamBam."

Her expression soured a bit at the unusual name. Wrinkling her nose, she tilted her head to the side. "BamBam? Like the cartoon character? The one from .. from the Flintstones?"

If he had a dime for every time someone had asked him that question. "Yep, that's the one."

Those big brown eyes studied him for a full ten seconds, looking him over real good. "Well, you got the blonde hair and yeah, you are really fit." A tour in the Army had that effect on people not to mention he took martial arts classes once a week at a local gym in River Heights.

"Is that how you got the name," she asked, "because you look like the character? I'm assuming it's a nickname."

This woman was direct and honest. Something he found immensely refreshing. "You're right. It's a nickname. Comes from my initials. My parents named me Beauregard Alois Madison."

She let the full weight of the name sink before saying, "Not exactly a name that rolls off the tongue, is it? Um, but your initials spell Bam not BamBam." No beating around the bush for her. She got straight to the point.

"You're right again. I'm Beauregard Alois Madison the second. Get it? That makes me a double Bam."

Her face said she wasn't sure about the logic or the math, but wasn't going to challenge it. "Ahem, so, your folks didn't consider going with something simple like Beau?"

"Already taken by my dad. Mom said she didn't want two Beaus in the family. Said it'd be too hard for us to tell who she was yelling at." BamBam gave a little chuckle. His mother had done a fair amount of yelling at him when he was younger. His father had gotten his fair share of yelling, too.

One manicured eyebrow lifted in amusement. "Hmm, so your parents never considered Al? You know, from your middle name Alois?"

She wasn't the first person to suggest this. "Well, you see," he said slow and easy, no need to rush the conversation, not now that he had her on the hook, "when I was little I had white-blond hair and liked to destroy things." He held up his hands to ward off her fears. "Not in a bad way. Seems my favorite pastime was building towers with my blocks and knocking them over. Er, let me clarify, not just knocking them over. Ya see, I'd go at them with a toy hammer or a plastic baseball bat. Yeah, I pretty much destroyed them. My mother liked to say, boys will be boys and my dad liked to say, mom had the patience of Job. Bless her heart."

A wary glint crept into the young woman's eye. "Uh-huh. Well, BamBam, do you still like to destroy things?"

He shook his head and flashed a roguish smile. "No, now I'm a lover not a fighter. So, friend of the bride, care to share your name?"

She lifted her chin slightly, exposing an elegant neck. "Louisa Sue Crandall, but everyone calls me Lou."

He extended a large hand. "Pleased to meet you, Lou." Her hand was small, soft, and warm and he wanted to pull her right in for a kiss. A long, slow kiss.

"Pleased to meet you, BamBam."

Things moved quickly from there. He suggested they find a quiet place for a drink so they could talk and get to know one another. She said she knew just the place and that it would probably be mostly empty tonight given the fact it looked like everyone in town was here at the wedding reception.

They cruised Main Street in his new, metallic blue Ford Mustang. He was looking to impress her. The Mustang had all the bells and whistles – leather seats and a state of the art stereo system. She oohed and aahed and smiled a smile he'd already grown to like and had a desire to see more of.

The place she suggested was an old-timey dive bar with dim lighting, wood paneling, and a jukebox in the corner that featured oldies, but goodies. A trio of regulars sat at the bar nursing whatever they were drinking. No other customers were in sight. Seemed everyone really was at the wedding.

BamBam and Lou sat in a back corner, ordered drinks, and lost their selves in the night and each other. They talked a bit and danced a bit to the songs on the jukebox. She laid her head on his shoulder and he wrapped his arms around her, feeling like she belonged there, in his arms. He had the fleeting thought she might be the woman he'd been looking his whole life for. Not that his life had been all that long. He was twenty-eight, a former soldier turned security guard, and had lived a lot of life in those twenty-eight years.

One thing led to another and they ended up at his hotel room. She spent the night, something she said she'd never done before. He wished he could have said the same, but didn't want to lie, not to this woman.

River Heights, Illinois

Laura Hardy stared out the kitchen window of Vanessa and Joe's second floor apartment and watched Joe's truck move swiftly down the back alley and onto the main thoroughfare. Both of her sons were in that truck. She shook her head in astonishment, at the way Joe and Frank had grabbed their 'to go' kits, at how they had kissed their wives good-bye, had even spared a second to plant a kiss on each of her cheeks, and then had departed in a flash. They were good sons. Well-mannered and thoughtful.

Laura turned from the window and studied her two daugthers-in-law who were setting up a nice lunch. Laura was in town for a week. Frank and Nancy had picked her up at the airport yesterday. Laura was staying with Vanessa and Joe because they had a two bedroom apartment. Nancy and Frank had only a one bedroom. Vanessa and Joe were expecting their first child. Vanessa was five months along and had the beginnings of a baby bump to prove it.

Laura was sleeping in the upcoming baby's room on a sleeper sofa. She was in town to help decorate the room. She'd brought a beautiful, gender neutral baby comforter and matching curtains for the room. Hannah Gruen, the longtime housekeeper for the Drew family, was also coming to lunch and due to arrive shortly.

This would be Laura and Fenton Hardy's first grandchild and Laura was over the moon excited about the pending birth. At thirty-one, Joe wasn't young. Not old, either, but he and Vanessa had said two children was all they wanted. That was fine by Laura. She planned on doting on any grandchildren granted her especially, since Frank and Nancy had not expressed a desire in becoming parents. Laura suspected the reason might have more to do with Nancy and the fact she had lost her mother when she was three years old. There might be abandonment issues there, Laura mused. She let the thought fade and focused on the here and now.

"And just like that, they're gone," she said to her daugthers-in-law, referring to her sons' rapid departure.

Vanessa, at the stove, stirred a pot of clam chowder and smiled softly at Laura. "Yes, and just like that they're gone. After a year and a half of marriage, I'm finally getting used to it." Vanessa's tone indicated she was, indeed, adjusting to these spur of the moment transitions. One minute Joe and Frank were home relaxing and the next they were off on a case. A call from a friend was all it took this time, a call from someone named BamBam.

Nancy was at the kitchen counter, slicing fresh baked bread, and laying the pieces on a crystal platter. She stopped what she was doing and turned to Laura. "BamBam is a good friend. He takes martial arts classes from Frank at the gym and, a few months ago, he helped Frank and Joe on a case." A case that had proven to be a harrowing ordeal for Nancy (for all of them) and although she was tough, Nancy still found it difficult to discuss the case with anyone other than Frank, Joe, and Vanessa.

Laura picked up a stack of bowls and napkins and placed them on the table. "Still, didn't this BamBam say he's charged with murdering someone?" Laura kept her voice neutral as she reached for the plates and silverware and set them on the table. Laura wasn't one to rush judgment upon anyone.

Vanessa put the lid on the soup pot and angled her head toward Laura. "There has to be a mistake. We all know BamBam. He's a sweet guy. There's no way he would kill a young woman."

Nancy said, "Frank and Joe will get to the bottom of things." She flashed a hopeful smile. "With any luck, they might even make it home by tomorrow night." No one really thought that was a possibility, but no one argued the point.

Vanessa looked out the kitchen window. It was mid-February and the weather could be unpredictable. Sleet had begun to fall. "I don't know think we should get our hoped up about the guys coming home tomorrow, Nan. The weatherman said a storm is coming and I'd say it has arrived."

Laura finished setting the table and peered at the window, saw the sleet hitting the glass. "Didn't the weatherman say you could get up to six inches of snow by tomorrow morning?"

"He did," Nancy agreed. She and Frank had watched the ten o'clock news last night and the weather report had been the most newsworthy part. A big storm was coming late today. Prepare for the worse, the weatherman had warned. Stay off the roads. Stay home and stay safe.

Well, Frank and Joe had left in spite of the weather report. The logic being, a friend was in trouble and it was only an hour's drive to the small town where BamBam was incarcerated. Nancy felt confident that Frank and Joe would get there safely. After all, they had taken Joe's truck. Joe had proudly boasted that it had snow tires and chains. His vehicle, unlike Frank's, was prepared for whatever Mother Nature threw at them, he'd said. That had won him the argument with Frank about who's vehicle they were going to take. Frank couldn't counter the fact that snow tires and chains were an absolute necessity.

And now, they were gone. The three women watched sleet hit the window, melt, and slide down in watery rivulets.

"Joe's a good driver," Vanessa said, perhaps more to reassure herself than the others. "I'm sure he'll drive cautiously."

Nancy grinned. "Frank will be correcting him from the passenger's seat if he doesn't."

The three women giggled. Nervous giggles. Giggles fraught with a touch of apprehension.

# # # #

Frank and Joe arrived in the small town at 10:30am. They found the police station located on Main Street wedged between the Post Office and a flower shop. The brothers got out of Joe's truck and hustled through freezing rain to the building. Inside, a surly woman in a police uniform manned the front desk. She eyed Frank and Joe with disdain. They were intruding on her work day and she didn't appreciate it.

Frank noted the nameplate on the woman's desk then introduced himself and his brother. They showed their PI badges and Frank said, "Officer Timmons we're here about Beauregard Madison. I believe you're holding him on suspicion of murder."

Some interest sparked in Timmons' dark eyes. "Yeah, that's right. He's in cell three. Shot a woman in cold blood this morning."

"That remains to be seen," Joe said harshly.

Timmons bristled. "By who? You?"

"Yes, by us." There was no mistaking the irritation in Joe's voice this time.

Frank went for a placating tone. "He's our client. We'd like to ask him a few questions."

Timmons snorted. "Yeah, well, I don't just drop everything because two PIs walk in. In case you hadn't noticed we have a snowstorm bearing down on us. The chief and Officer Naylor are out getting the town prepared."

"Yes, we understand completely," Frank said calmly, "this storm should be a major concern for you. However, we would like to speak to Mr. Madison."

Frank's calm demeanor worked. Timmons gave in and heaved herself out of her chair. "Follow me."

Frank and Joe followed Timmons' stout figure down a short hall to a row of four cells. BamBam was in the next to last one. It was cold in the hall like the heat didn't flow back here.

"He's all yours, boys," Timmons said and returned to her desk.

Frank and Joe stood outside BamBam's jail cell bundled in heavy jackets and thick boots.

Joe looked at BamBam who was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. "You must be cold," Joe said.

"Freezing," BamBam said, but flashed the brothers a grateful smile. "I'm happy to see you. Both of you."

"I hope you have warmer clothes," Joe said. "A snowstorm's on the way."

BamBam didn't care about the storm, didn't give it a second thought. He was, however, very happy to see the Hardys. His saviors were here, standing right outside his cell.

The men wasted no further time in small talk. BamBam told Frank and Joe his story, about Louisa Sue Crandall and how they had met at his cousin's wedding, about how they had spent the night together. Joe grinned at that part and wagged a blond brow. Frank, the dark haired brother, took notes on a small notepad. Frank brought intensity and a sense of purpose to every job. There was no joking around for him.

"When I woke this morning," BamBam said, "I could hear the water running in the bathroom. I figured Lou was in the shower. I told myself she'll be in there for a while and fell back asleep. Next time I woke she was in the room, getting dressed in a hurry. She mumbled something I didn't catch as she was putting on her shoes. I have to be honest, I wasn't really paying attention. I had to pee and just wanted to get to the bathroom."

Frank and Joe nodded and BamBam continued. He said he was washing his hands when he heard the door to the hotel room open and close.

"I'm asking myself, has she left? I was going to take her to breakfast, make a day of it for the two of us. Take her to a nice dinner tonight."

"Had she left?" Frank asked.

"Yeah, and this is where it gets weird."

"Weird? How so?" Joe asked. He was the shorter brother by an inch. The height difference was only noticeable when the brothers stood side by side as they did now.

"When I came out of the bathroom I was a little upset. I thought I'd gotten to know this woman. We'd talked half the night and slept together. A first for her, she'd said. I thought we were getting along great. So, I was asking myself, why the hell had she left like that? In such a hurry? It felt weird and kinda disrespectful."

"After a one night stand?" Joe eyed BamBam with a measure of disbelief. One night stands were the epitome of weird and awkward.

"Yes," BamBam insisted, "and it wasn't just a one night stand. Well, not for me. I thought we had a .. a connection, you know. You know how it is." He looked from Joe to Frank, hoping for some nods and an acknowledgment of agreement. He got the nods, but not the agreement.

Frank motioned him to continue and he did. "I scanned the room, looking for her. I called her name, 'Lou, you here?' Nothing. She was gone. Everything of hers was gone. Purse, clothes, shoes." BamBam shook his head, still in shock at the vanishing act. "I decided to go after her, try and see what went wrong. I grabbed my jeans and shirt and as I'm putting them on I'm looking for the room key. That's when I see that my wallet and car keys aren't on the nightstand anymore. They're gone, too. And then I go, oh hell no, she can't be stealing my car, can she? Is that why she left in a hurry?"

Frank quirked an eyebrow at BamBam. "She didn't drive her own vehicle to the hotel?"

"No, she went to the wedding with her roommate. May .. Meg .. Meghan, I think her name is. Anyway, Meghan was supposed to give Lou a ride home, but then .. well, you know, me and Lou got together and I said I'd give her a ride home. At least, that was the plan."

"But now," Joe said, "you're thinking she gave herself a ride home in your brand new car."

"Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking." BamBam felt low for saying it, for even thinking it. Sometimes the truth hurt.

Frank traded glances with Joe then said to BamBam, "Tell me, did Lou seem like the kind of girl who would steal a guy's car?"

"No, and that's why I said it got weird. I thought I knew her. She seemed nice. She's a second grade teacher." BamBam knew he sounded pathetic and desperate. He was trying too hard to sell Lou's good qualities. He'd known her less than a day. What did he really know about her? Next to nothing. Now that he thought about it, wasn't she the one who had come on to him at the reception?

Before he could get too deep in those thoughts, Frank said, "So, your wallet and car keys were gone and so was the woman. What did you do next?"

"I went after her." Logical thing to do, right? "I slipped on flip-flops and took off. High-tailed it out of the room. Lou had a few minutes head start on me. I was already behind the eight ball." He looked at the brothers earnestly. "Either of you ever try to run in flip-flops? You can't. Damn things kept trying to come off my feet." BamBam took a breath to settle himself. He was getting wound up and knew no good would come from being hot-headed. "I heard the elevator ping, figured she'd gone down in it. Thought to myself, I'll use the stairs. Maybe if I'm fast enough I'll catch her in the lobby getting off the elevator."

"Not a bad plan," Joe said with a nod.

"Yeah, well it didn't work." A defeated sneer lifted the corner of BamBam's mouth. "I got to the lobby and the elevator was empty. Lou was nowhere in sight. Damn, I'm thinking, she beat me. But I'm not giving up. I headed to the entrance, figured I'd search the parking lot. You know, check on my car. I was hoping the car would be there and I'd jumped to the wrong conclusion about Lou.

"I exited through the main entrance and discovered it's freaking cold outside. Hadn't been that cold last night. I see a white Ford Fusion pulling away from the curb. I'm pissed because it's blocking my view of the parking lot. I turn to the right and head towards where I parked my car last night. Then here it comes, my car, speeding around the corner of the building. Whips right past me. It's being driven by a woman with wheat colored hair. It's Lou. Damn, I cannot believe this.

"Like an idiot, I start chasing my car, like I'm going to catch it in my gawddamn flip-flops. I'm running down the sidewalk, knowing full well there's no chance in hell I'll ever catch my car. I see a red light a few yards away and pray Lou gets stopped at it."

She didn't. Instead, she surprised him by turning left into the neighboring hotel's parking lot. BamBam ran harder. Lou had to drive slowly through the parking lot. He now felt he had a chance of catching her. He ran faster, arms and legs pumping, feet freezing under the gray glum of a cold-ass morning. His flip-flops pounded the pavement and his toes gripped onto them for dear life.

The metallic blue Mustang turned into a back alley that ran behind BamBam's hotel and this hotel. BamBam slowed to a trot, huffing and puffing as he approached the alley. A brick wall about five and a half feet tall separated the parking lots from the alley. He stopped at an opening in the wall and leaned against the bricks, panting, trying to catch his breath. He drew in great gulps of icy air and listened for the sound of a car's engine. His entire body shuddered from the cold. He wasn't dressed for this weather. Certainly didn't have the proper footwear for it.

Then he heard a sound he knew all too well from his time in Afghanistan. A gunshot. One, quick crack. A handgun. Small caliber. The finely honed protect your ass instinct kicked in and he scrambled between two trucks parked in the hotel's parking lot. As he crouched between the trucks, he shivered while his mind raced, emotion and adrenaline running high. What the hell had happened in the alley?

Curiosity got the better of him. He rose, shoulders hunched and body low, he kept hidden behind vehicles as he crept toward the alley's entrance. He ducked behind a car when he saw a man come through the opening. The man was average height, dressed in a dark winter coat and knit cap. He wore black, leather gloves and walked toward the hotel like he was returning from a morning's stroll. Like he hadn't heard the gunshot. For a moment, BamBam doubted himself, doubted he'd heard a shot. No, he'd heard it. Hadn't he?

BamBam watched the man enter the hotel then dashed into the alley. His breathing was under control, but his feet were ice cubes and his hands were going numb from the cold. He froze in his tracks. There was the Mustang, exhaust pouring out of the tailpipe and fogging the air. He was staring at the back end of the vehicle. The driver's side door was flung open and on the ground below it lay a body. The body of a young woman with wheat colored hair.

Damn it all to hell. What had happened here? He ran to the vehicle, to the body, and saw a pool of blood forming around the woman's head.

Dead. She had to be dead. There was too much blood for her to still be alive.

"She may have stolen my car, but she didn't deserve that," BamBam told the Hardys, his voice breaking with raw emotion.

"Course not," Joe said, sympathetic, kind, and gentle.

"Did you check for a pulse," Frank asked.

"Didn't get a chance," BamBam said. "A police cruiser pulled into the alley as I was bending over the body to check."

Joe said, "How did the police get there that fast?"

"Someone must have heard the shot and called it in," Frank said.

Joe frowned at his brother. "Still, that's a damn fast response for the police."

Things were a bit of a blur for BamBam from this point on. He freely admitted he might have been in shock. He'd gone from chasing a would be thief to stumbling upon a murder.

BamBam said, "I heard an officer say, 'Don't move.' I turned and found myself staring down the barrel of a service revolver. The thing that spooked me was that the officer looked scared and unsure of what to do. It was like he was trying to decide if he should shoot me or cuff me."

"Are you sure about that?" Frank asked, lines creasing his brow.

"Gut instinct," BamBam admitted. "But the dude was scared. Of that, I'm sure. I lifted my hands and said, 'I didn't shoot her. I heard the gunshot and came to investigate. I found her like this. Just now.'

"The officer told me to hush. He kept his gun pointed at me while he unhooked the cuffs on his belt. I could see his hands shaking, shaking real bad, and that made me nervous. I was afraid he'd accidently shoot me."

Joe asked, "Was he young? New to the force?"

"Young-ish," BamBam said after a moment's reflection. "About my age. Late twenties. I kinda felt like I had to tell him his job. I said, 'Hey, she might still be alive. We need to check for a pulse.' 'I'm cuffing you first,' he said and I let him." Being cuffed was preferable to being accidently shot.

"Naylor, that was the officer's name. Naylor cuffed me, read me my rights, and put me in the back of his squad car. Then he checked Lou for a pulse and shook his head. He spoke on his radio for a minute or two, but I couldn't hear what he said because I was in the car with the engine running and he was outside. After that he drove me here and I've been locked up ever since."

Frank looked up from his notepad and frowned. "Have you been formally charged with a crime?"

"Nope. No one's talked to me. I've been here over two hours and they haven't even offered me food or water. This is a piss poor excuse for a police station."

Frank and Joe had drawn the same conclusions. Unfriendly and uncooperative were two adjectives they would use to describe Officer Timmons the lone law enforcement officer they had met so far.

Frank flipped his notepad closed, tucked it in a jacket pocket, and gave BamBam a curt nod. "I'm going to have a word with Officer Timmons."

"Okay." BamBam wasn't sure about this, about the determined line of Frank's shoulders and the steely set of his jaw. BamBam looked at Joe. "Should I be afraid?"

Joe smiled. "No, but Officer Timmons should be. Be right back. I don't want to miss this."

BamBam wrapped his fingers around the cold bars of his cell door and watched Joe head to the front office. BamBam wished he could go with his friend.

Joe was in time to see Frank leaning over Timmons' desk, hands firmly planted on the shiny surface, his voice sharp as a knife and just as deadly. "Our client has been here over two hours and has not been offered food or water. He has not been told what charges he is being held on. I have worked in law enforcement for more than ten years, officer, in the civilian world and the military world. I know the protocol and I know what borders on police abuse of prisoners. I also know a prominent lawyer in River Heights. His name is Carson Drew. I'm his son-in-law. He takes charges of police overreach very seriously. Need I say more?"

Timmons puffed up with righteous indignation. Her nostrils flared and her eyes flashed. Then Frank could see her thinking it over and her chest deflated a bit. She got up, went to a counter where a coffeepot sat on a burner. She bypassed it and reached above, to an upper cabinet, and retrieved a bottle of water. She held it up for Frank and Joe to see like, look at me, I'm doing a good deed.

She took the water to BamBam and handed it to him through the bars.

A stunned BamBam took the bottle. "Thanks."

Timmons hitched up her slacks by the heavy belt. "I'm going to order a burger and fries from Jimmy's down the street. They deliver. You want anything to eat, Mr. Madison?"

BamBam glanced at Frank and Joe before saying, "I'd like the same. Thank you, officer."

Timmons nodded. "It'll take about an hour for it to get here." She gave Frank and Joe one last look and walked back to her desk.

BamBam unscrewed the cap on the water bottle. "Thanks, guys. I don't know what you said, Frank, but it did the trick."

"Just reminded her of her duties and her responsibilities," Frank said, stepping closer to the cell. "I have a few more questions."

BamBam took a sip of water. "Sure, what are they?"

"Can you describe the man you saw leaving the alley?"

BamBam shook his head sadly. "No. Wish I could. You're thinking he's the gunman?"

"Yes," Frank said. "Unless you saw someone else in that alley."

"Didn't see anyone else. In hind sight, I wished I'd gotten a better look at the man, but I didn't want him to know I was there. If he was the gunman and he spotted me .."

"You'd be dead now," Joe said. "You did the right thing. You had to check on Lou. At that point you didn't know she'd been shot."

"At that point," BamBam said, "I wasn't one hundred percent sure I'd heard a gunshot. The way that guy strolled out of the alley like nothing had happened had me second guessing myself. I thought, maybe I'd head a car engine backfiring."

Frank had his notepad out. "Speaking of Lou, we need to know everything we can about her. Do you have her address?"

BamBam hung his head and shook it. "Nope." He lifted his chin and peered at the Hardy brothers. "If we'd gone to breakfast this morning I'd have gotten it. That and her phone number. I was supposed to drop her at her house. Hey, that's a clue. She told me she lived in a rental house with her roommate. Meghan."

"You don't happen to know Meghan's last name, do you?" Frank had his pen ready to write.

Another woeful shake of BamBam's head. "Sorry, no."

"It's okay," Joe said. "You've given us enough information to get started."

Frank slipped the notepad and pen back into his jacket pocket. "And we need to get started. Joe and I have a crime scene to checkout and a roommate to find and question."

Joe looked at his brother. "We should also check BamBam's hotel room."

Frank nodded agreement and Joe turned to BamBam. "You have your hotel key?"

BamBam dug through his jeans pockets and pulled out a keycard. "Yes." He handed it through the bars and into Joe's waiting hand. "What do you expect to find in my room?"

"Warmer clothes for you for one thing." Joe grinned then sobered. "But seriously, we need to search the room. Lou might have left something behind."

"You really think so?" BamBam did not appear hopeful.

"Never know unless we check," Joe said.

Two minutes later the brothers were seated in Joe's truck, the heater turned to the highest setting, and fat snowflakes falling on the windshield.

"Helluva day to be out in the cold," Frank said. "This snow is going to make it almost impossible to find clues at the crime scene."

Joe put the truck in gear and switched on the windshield wipers. "Yeah, but you never know. We might catch a lucky break."

"We're going to need one," Frank said as Joe backed out of his parking spot.

I don't mind readers pointing out typos and mistakes. I rather like it because I can go in and correct them. Thanks.