AN: I just wanted to thank all my readers who have been waiting patiently for this story to get updated. I hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Easter and that the Easter Bunny was generous ;-) Many thanks goes to my devoted beta, as always.
Here's a short re-cap to save you from re-reading chunks of my story because if your memory is anything like mine, I would've forgotten where I was up to if I were the reader and not the writer of this story LOL.
Jeannie is home alone at Mike's place on Halloween when she answers a knock at the front door, only to be attacked by two young me dressed as a werewolf and Frankenstein. She gets knocked after falling on the floor and striking her head. Before any more harm comes to her, Mike arrives home and the intruders make a run for it. After crossing the line during the interrogation of a possible suspect, Mike is taken off the case and Steve is given a new temporary partner, Jeff Hartman, who happens to be the father of one of the creeps, Troy - a rising football star playing for a local college team. Jeannie begins to remember certain distinguishing details of one of her attackers which leads to Hartman senior attempting to discredit her. Angered by Hartman's distortion of Jeannie's statement, Steve punches him. Steve later sees a photograph of Hartman's son which shows a tattoo on his arm that matches the one Jeannie described in her report. Following his suspicions, Steve sets out to question the young man and brings in his friend, Zach Evans who tried to run from Steve after a training session at the college. And now...
Act 4 Part 2
Closing the door behind him, Steve studied the youth who sat slouched in the chair behind the desk in the middle of the interview room. He leafed through the file in his hand, formally introduced himself to the boy, and then took a seat facing Zach Evans who had not looked up since he entered the room.
"I want a lawyer before I answer any questions," Zach mumbled.
"You're not under arrest, Zach. In fact, you're free to walk out that door right now. It's your choice." Steve spoke in a level tone, waiting for Evans to make his move.
Confused and unsure if the cop had set up some kind of trap, Evans raised his head and looked at the detective who continued to casually peruse several pages of documents, seemingly disinterested in him. With a shrug, he pushed his chair back and got up. Passing the Inspector, he got as far as the door before a voice stopped him from reaching out for the door handle.
"Ever been to prison, Zach?" Steve asked out loud without so much as turning in his seat or looking up from his paperwork. He chose his next words, carefully and calmly voiced them, "If you walk out that door, the next time we meet you'll be making that one phone call to your lawyer and he'd better be the best your daddy's money can buy because you'll be facing felony charges."
Evans closed his eyes and sighed heavily, "What do you want?"
"Sit down, make yourself comfortable and let's talk about your future."
Mike watched through the one-way mirror separating him from the interview room where his protégé questioned young Zach Evans.
"You think he'll break?" Tanner asked.
"Yeah, kid's already sweating," Mike answered anxiously.
The door opened, interrupting the conversation and heralded Rudy Olsen's arrival. "Mike, I thought I told you, you were not to get involved with the case!"
"I'm not. I'm just a casual observer," Mike defended.
Olsen shook his head with a sigh. "Anyway, I came to tell you that IA has all they need and you can take Jeannie home."
"Thanks, Rudy. I'll be out in a minute."
Steve waited until Evans was seated then he closed the file. "Let's start with, October, 31st. Wanna tell me where you were that night?"
"I can't remember, sorry," the youth replied with a hint of sarcasm.
"You play for the Crows, right? With your buddy, Troy?" Steve decided to see just how good a liar Evans was.
The youth nodded.
"I heard it was a close game, you know, between the Crows and the Wolves."
"Yeah, if Troy hadn't gotten that pass off, we'd have lost the game and our chances of getting into the finals. Of course it was a tough blow that we lost Parker for the last two games but we always bounce back," Evans recalled smugly.
As Steve had expected, the youth couldn't pass up on the opportunity to brag about his team and his passion for football. It also told him that if could remember the results of the game from three weeks ago, then the kid's memory couldn't be as bad as he tried to make it out to be.
"You can remember what happened three weeks ago, but you can't tell me where you were on Halloween?"
Realizing he had just put his foot in it, Evans shifted uncomfortably in his seat and cast his eyes down on the table.
"Are you covering for Troy?" Steve pressed.
"Really? Because I have a witness that puts him at the scene of a crime and the fact that you can't tell me where you were that same evening tells me you are trying to hide something."
"Then why are you interrogating me? Why don't you ask Troy yourself?" Evans shot back agitatedly.
Steve leaned forward across the desk and said levelly, "Because I don't know where he is but what I do know is, is that Troy wasn't on his own that night when he forced his way into a house and attacked a girl. Now, unless his accomplice cooperates with us, he'll be facing the same charges that he will. Do you think for one minute that Troy will want to take the fall on his own? Come on, Zach, be straight with me. It's not too late to come clean but it may be if we find Troy first."
Evans ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath before letting it out again. "Okay, I was with Troy that night. On Halloween."
Steve sat back and pulled out his notebook. "Tell me what happened."
"Troy and I had been drinking a little and we were out to get some kicks. You know, scare a few people, especially girls." Evans paused and looked up nervously, unsure of whether he should continue.
"Go on. Was there a particular girl that you two had in mind of scaring?" Steve prompted, taking down notes.
"No, but Troy did. He'd been eyeing this one girl we sort of met after a game about a week ago. We met lots of girls but Troy was ticked off when he was going to ask her out for a drink and somebody else beat him to it. He tried to get her attention but she and her friends got lost in the crowd and it was noisy. A couple of the guys noticed and started cracking jokes. You see, ever since Troy's girl, Candice broke up with him and started spreading rumors…"
"What kind of rumors?" Steve cut in when he saw the boy hesitate.
"You know, sex ones. Like how Troy couldn't keep a girl satisfied. She told everyone that she had dumped him but I was there when he ditched her. She was just sore that she was the one who got dumped. Anyway, on Halloween, we were at his place and his ol' man wasn't home as usual. We had a few beers and started trash talkin'. We dressed up in these costumes and headed out to fool around. Troy said that he knew where this girl he was trying to hit on at the game lived and he thought that maybe he could get her attention now and give her a little scare. When we got there, we pushed our way in. I swear I thought we were just gonna scare her and leave. I mean, sure, Troy had said some things that he wanted to do to her but I thought it was just all talk you know. But Troy he, er…he.."
"What did he do?" Steve said calmly but firmly.
Evans licked his parched lips and swallowed the bile rising up his throat. "The girl, she started to struggle and she fell to the floor. Then Troy took his belt off and unzipped his jeans. I told him that she was hurt and that we should split. I told him to leave her alone and that I didn't think he was seriously going to do something to her. He got mad and told me to shut my mouth and to keep a look out if I wasn't going to join him."
"And did you?"
"No! I freaked out. I heard a car pull up into the driveway and saw the headlights. We both took off. I swear I wasn't going to hurt her! You gotta believe me!" Evans pleaded his innocence.
"Where can we find Troy?"
"There's a youth center on Brannan Street. He said that he was going to lay low and hang out there tonight."
As if on cue, the door opened and Tanner walked in placing a tape recording device on the table. "Thanks, Bill," Keller said. "Can you read him his rights and get his statement then take him into booking."
"Will do, Steve." The African-American detective nodded as Steve got up to leave the room. .
"Wait! What's gonna happen to me? Am I arrested? But I didn't do anything!" Evans cried out frantically.
"What happens to you will be up to the judge to decide. I'll put in a good word with the DA that you were cooperative and assisted with the investigation." Steve left the room, ignoring the youth's protests.
Mike was waiting outside the interview room when his partner walked out and greeted him proudly. "Buddy boy, you did well in there!"
"It's not over yet." Steve shrugged off the compliment. Despite his cool demeanor in the interview room, he was a bundle of coiled nerves and now that he was out in the office, adrenaline pumped through him.
"I know. Rudy's getting a warrant as we speak," Mike replied, keeping a steady eye on the younger man.
"Good. Where's Jeff now?"
"On his way home."
Steve started to walk away when Mike's hand caught his shoulder. "Steve, I think it best if you let a couple of the boys bring him in."
"Oh come on, Mike! You're not serious?" Steve almost whined. He shrugged away from Mike's grip and kept walking briskly toward his desk.
"I am serious!" Mike hurried to keep up. "If Rudy saw you now, he would say the same thing! You're too wired up and this thing with Hartman is getting personal."
Steve grabbed his coat then faced his mentor. "The only person who should be worried about things getting too personal with Hartman is you. With all due respect, I'm not the one sitting on the sidelines." The words left him before he could stop them and he instantly regretted saying them but there was no taking them back. He saw the hurt in Mike's eyes but he knew now was not the time to try to fix things. "Please, Mike. Let me handle this my way, okay?"
Mike nodded reluctantly. It wasn't like him to give in to Steve's arguments but this whole case had driven a wedge within them and he felt at a complete loss as to how to reconnect with his protégé. "At least, get some back-up."
Steve nodded then called out for Haseejian. "Norm, get the boys together and pick up Troy Hartman from that youth centre on Brannan. He's wanted for assault and attempted rape. Captain's getting a warrant drawn up." Without glancing back, he left the building, leaving a speechless Mike behind.
With a sigh, Mike made his way to his office where he could see through the glass partition, his daughter sitting in front of his desk, with a mug of coffee in her hand, waiting for her father.
Be careful, buddy boy. Be careful.