#Governor Andrea Marleton crossed her shapely legs and rested her long, elegant fingers in her lap. She cocked her head to one side and her long, auburn hair swung over her shoulder, framing one side of her oval face. Large, expressive dark eyes studied Lieutenant Michael Williams as he sat on the spindly-legged, antique chair. The only thing in the expensively decorated governor’s library that looked congruent with Mike’s rugged face was the books crowded together on the bookshelves behind him. She glanced at her wristwatch. 8 PM. Her choice of the library in the governor’s mansion was not be accident. The room radiated serious purpose. Mike was a serious man. In her opinion, too serious since his wife Emily died of cancer eight years ago and his police daughter was killed while saving a young girl’s life.
“Mike, let’s be reasonable. You are the logical person to head my Special Crimes Team. You’re a lieutenant and you have maintained the best clearance rate of any homicide #detective in the state of Washington, bar none.”
He carefully shifted in the chair as if afraid that any sudden movement might cause it to shatter. “I am being reasonable, Andrea. I’ve put in my years in law enforcement and it’s time to quit. I’m tired of butting heads with my superiors.”
She chuckled. “As I’m sure they are tired of butting heads with you since you have a knack for doing exactly what you planned to in the first place.” She uncrossed her legs, clasped her hands between her knees and leaned forward. “That’s why this is perfect for you. You answer to no one, except me.” She sat up straight and put her hands out, palms up. “What could be more perfect?”
“Time at home with my son.”
All joviality faded from her face, leaving only the look of determination that her political opponents so dreaded. “I need you to head the team, Mike. Harvey Realto was not only the wealthiest landowner in #Washington State, he was also a big contributor to my last campaign.” She held up a delicate hand when he started to interrupt. “That isn’t the real problem.” She bit her lip, a habit she’d been trying to break. “It’s come out that several months ago he beat a young man who worked on his ranch so badly that the boy will carry several facial scars for the rest of his life. The boy was gay. I didn’t know he was like that, Mike. You know I don’t hold with that kind of bigotry.”
Mike grunted and glared at her. “Told you that you needed to vet your contributors, Andrea.”
“Gregory Whitehall is an incompetent ass.”
“Yes, well.” She sighed and settled against the uncomfortable back of the settee. “He’s a necessary evil. Mike, I’ve gone to bat for you….”
“That was because you owed Eleanor Hastings, big time.”
She threw her hands up in the air. “What will it take to get you to accept? Yes, so far this monster has only murdered two men, both who arguably deserved what they got and worse, both wealthy men who used their positions, power and money to sidestep justice for crimes we all know they committed. But, Mike, what happens when this vigilante doesn’t get the full story before he strikes; what happens when he goes after someone who was perhaps falsely accused? Do you really want an innocent man’s death on your conscience when we both know the best hope we have is for you to head a team whose only goal is to stop this maniac?”
She knew she’d scored when he began rubbing one hand over his hair. Like her lip chewing, it was a telling gesture.
He stood and paced over to the bookshelves, ran a thick finger along the books’ spines. When he turned back to face her, his heavy features were set and she knew whatever he demanded she would have to concede or he would walk away.
“I’ll head your Special Crimes Team, Andrea, but there are conditions. It’s my team. I don’t care who you pick, but they answer to me; not you. No jurisdictional boundaries to stall my investigations. When a case meets the criteria for my team, the other jurisdictions hand over the case; I head it and let them know how they can assist. One crime scene unit on-call for us. If they’re at another scene, too bad. Put it on hold for a different unit. Lab work we need goes to the head of the queue. No special considerations for politicians or wealthy people. Even if I decide I want to investigate you, no one will try to strait-jacket me, got it?”
She nodded, sensing that he wasn’t quite finished.
“Top of the line equipment. Computers, cell phones, digital cameras, whatever we need in technology. You can scrimp on the office furniture.”
When he jammed his hands in his front pockets, she knew he’d finished with his list of demands, nothing she didn’t expect. “I can agree to all of that, Mike. The only thing I want in my control is the media. Let Gregory handle the media. The man is an ass, but he’s the best PR person I’ve ever seen. I swear he could make people believe it’s the dead of night at high noon.”
Mike narrowed his eyes, and for a moment she thought he might balk. “Whitehall can have the media,” he held up one blunt-nailed finger, “unless I feel that it interferes with my investigation. At that point, I will do whatever I feel is necessary, understood?’’
A smile slowly spread across her lips as she stood. He met her in the center of the conversation area and they shook hands over the antique rosewood table. “Understood.”
As he put his hand on the doorknob, he twisted his head and peered over his shoulder. “Andrea, I don’t doubt that you’re sincere about wanting to catch this killer before someone dies who shouldn’t, but I also know if he can’t be caught in a timely fashion that you won’t hesitate to throw me, and my team, to the media wolves.”
She didn’t respond as he stepped out and quietly closed the door. Above everything, she was a political animal, and sometimes that called for distasteful sacrifices. He understood her too well, and sometimes, she hated him for it.
To learn more about the SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM read: SKETCH OF A MURDER, NOW AVAILABLE at http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ
or visit Author AYA WALKSFAR at:
The above photos of the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia, Washington and the Library in the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia, Washington are from the Washington Governor’s Mansion Foundation at http://www.wagovmansion.org/photogallery/ Many thanks to this great non-profit, non-political organization for all of its efforts toward preservation of Washington State’s heritage.