Any Other Way - Chapter 1

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Any Other Way

by irish

Libraries: Action, Original Fiction, Romance

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Justin Taylor is a criminal, stealing software from big companies and giving the disks his hacker buddies for a share of the profits. He's living the good life, up high in a cozy appartment... but his whole life changes when he meets Adelyn. She's everything he wants... and everything he wants to be. The only thing is that Justin can't tell her about his line of work. She'd never be able to forgive him.

Any Other Way

Any Other Way

Chapter One

By: Lori Finnegan

2007

 

“I’m a little busy right now,” Justin Taylor told his younger sister, Nicki as he typed away on the main terminal of a computer that he, technically, didn’t exactly have access to be on. “Can we finish this conversation later?”

 

“Sure,” Nicki said, her voice laced with sarcasm. “I’m only trying to tell you about your little brother. It can wait. I’m sure it won’t make a difference if he’s missing a few more days.”

 

“Nicki!” Justin hissed. He finally got into the computer and all accesses opened up. “I really have to go! I’ll call you in a little bit, okay?”

 

“Okay,” she said. “I’ll just sit around and wait for your call.”

 

Justin snapped his cell phone shut and jammed it into his pocket. She didn’t realize what she was interrupting, and he wouldn’t blame her for that.

 

There was a rustle in a far corner of the room, and he snapped his flashlight on, pointing it to the crevices around the fake plants and chairs.

 

Nothing.

 

“Damn,” he muttered as he reached another block. He had tried to hack into the system from his own computer, but it was under such heavy lockdown that he had been forced to break into the main office and get the information that way. The system was so heavily guarded, that it was almost difficult for him.

 

Finally! Justin had broken into the main folder, and every file he wanted was exactly where it was meant to be; at his fingertips. He put his flash drive into the USB port and saved every single file onto it. After he had shut the computer down and it looked exactly how he had when he had found it, he stepped away and stared at the office’s exit.

 

Now he just had to get out. And it wouldn’t have been that difficult, if his cell phone wasn’t vibrating in his pocket.

 

He flipped open the phone angrily. “What is it now?” he demanded in a hushed tone. “Didn’t I tell you I was busy?”

 

“Mom says it can’t wait, Justin. She wants you to find Kyle!”

 

“Nicki, I swear—” He stopped himself. “I told you I was busy, and I would call you back in a few minutes. What part of that didn’t you understand?”

 

Nicki didn’t seem to care what he was doing. “It can’t wait, Justin! Get over here now!”

 

“I would,” he told her. “I honestly would if I could. Why would I lie about it? I have something that needs to be done, and I really can’t get out of it. I’ll be there as soon as I can, but I have to take care of this first.”

 

“What could be more important than your little brother?” she wanted to know.

 

“Nothing!” he agreed. “But like I said, I’m completely stuck here, and it’s going to be a few minutes before I can get out. There’s nothing I can do about it!”

 

A siren sounded outside and Justin instinctively ducked down. “Listen, Nicki,” he said. “I have to go. If you call again, I’m not picking up my phone until I can talk. Got it?”

 

“Justin—”

 

He snapped his phone shut again and put it back in his pocket. God, she was stubborn. But he had more pressing matters at the moment. As far as he knew, no alarms had gone off in the building, but with the high tech silent ones, they very well could have.

 

Quickly, he exited the door and began his way down the stairwell until he reached the ground floor and the back alley exit, slowly slipping out, stuffing the black hat that covered his blonde hair and black mittens into his pockets.

 

The rain was falling hard, and Justin was completely soaked by the time he reached his apartment. He changed into a dry set of clothes before calling his sister back.

 

“Justin!” her voice came over the line.

”Yeah, yeah, it’s me. Now, how can I help?”

 

________________________________________________________________________

Brady pulled the squad car in front of a tall Minneapolis building on 2nd Avenue. She kicked open the door and then looked over at her partner. Seeing him stuck in his seat and staring straight ahead, she poked him in the shoulder. “Get out.”

 

He looked over at her. “Do I have to? Is this really a two person job?”

 

“For Christ’s sake, Pertel,” she said, stepping out of the car and watching as he came out on the passenger side. “Our guy could still be in there.”

 

Pertel sighed as they made their way around the back of the building. They had been chasing this elusive software thief for months, and hadn’t been able to catch one lead. In the technology department, down at the station, they had someone trying to track IPs, as this criminal didn’t always do inside jobs. Many times, upon arriving at the scene of the suspected break in, no one was to be found. Brady wasn’t sure if he was working from the outside, or if he was just a little too fast for them and had escaped the scene before they arrived.

 

“As if you can’t take care of yourself,” Pertel muttered.

 

Brady rolled her eyes at him. As if it wasn’t enough to have to deal with her old partner, who had constantly sexually harassed her, she now had to deal with the number one rookie in the apartment… who of course, was assigned to be her partner after her old one was fired. She was trying to convince him that to be a little more brave, but so far, it wasn’t quite working. Plus, he seemed to have some sort of weird crush on her.

 

They entered the back alley door by force and walked out through the office and into the main lobby. The whole place seemed secure, and there didn’t seem to be anything out of order. After a more thorough inspection, Brady concluded that whoever had broken in, was long gone.

 

Damn it.

 

________________________________________________________________________

Justin Taylor was not an average man. He was not only the main editorialist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but he also had a side job… which led him to lead a secret double life… but he didn’t like referring to it as that. He liked to call it a hobby. It didn’t sound as illegal that way.

 

The truth was, Justin was paid by big shot Colby Wyman to obtain valuable information in a way that wasn’t exactly legal. And Justin was very good at what he did. He was the best Colby had, and he knew it, which was why Colby paid him the most. And everyone else knew it, too. Justin didn’t have very many hacking friends because of it.

 

In fact, Justin didn’t have very many friends at all. It was very hard to make friends at the office when he could be called at any moment to work a job for Colby. People would start to get suspicious… and it was just easier if he kept them at arm’s length.

 

The guys at the office had tried to get him to go out to the bar after work, but Justin always declined. He was usually busy, and besides, he never touched alcohol. Justin was the sort of guy who liked to remain in control, so drinking was not a hobby of his.

 

He was just pulling up in front of Nicki’s house in his shiny black BMW when his sister opened the door and peered out at him through the rain. Her house wasn’t that far from his apartment. Justin lived in a two bedroom apartment in downtown Minneapolis, a very nice two bedroom apartment… while Nicki lived right across the river in St Paul. It only took him about 15 minutes to make the drive. And Justin didn’t speed.

 

He shook off his umbrella and stepped into the entry way, while she moved aside to avoid getting wet.

 

“Mom is calling me every five minutes,” Nicki said as he walked past her and into the pristine white living room.

 

“Oh? Kinda like how you keep calling me?” Justin said with a raised eyebrow.

 

“You have to do something,” Nicki said, ignoring him. “Kyle went out with some friends on Sunday night, and he hasn’t been back since. Mom is worried sick about him.”

 

Justin thought about it for a second. His eighteen year old brother had been gone for three days, and had last been seen with friends. The truth was, Justin had drifted from his family in the past few years. He didn’t know Kyle’s new friends from college, but if he had disappeared with them without telling Mom where he was going, or for how long, he doubted they were the kind of kids he’d like his brother to hang out with.

 

“I don’t know where I can look for him Nicki,” Justin admitted as he sat down on her couch.

 

“You better not be wet,” she told him.

 

“Don’t worry. I’m not.” As if he’d sit down on a white couch if he were wet. Did she even know him? “Besides,” he went on about Kyle. “I don’t know his hangouts… I don’t know his friends. I have no idea where he’d be. Maybe he went out of town even. How in the hell am I supposed to find an eighteen year old kid?”

 

Nicki flopped down beside him. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I guess Mom thought you’d have some sort of clue. She thinks you two are very similar, you know.”

 

“Similar, maybe,” Justin admitted. Kyle, after all, did look very similar to him. They both had blonde curly hair, and blue eyes. In fact, if they had been closer in age, they might have passed as twins. “But I’m not psychic. That kid has a mind of his own.”

 

“I know,” Nicki groaned, pressing her fingers into her temples. “This is just really doing a number on Mom. I wish Kyle would think before he does things.”

 

“He’s a teenager,” Justin explained, patting her on the back. “Kids are stupid. They do stupid things. In fact, I think both of us did our share of dumb things when we were his age.”

 

Nicki shot a glare at him. “And just tell me, Mr Big Shot… what exactly did you do that was stupid?”

 

Justin thought about it for a second and then withdrew his hand. “Okay, so maybe you did stupid things. I guess I’m just above that shit.”

 

“Yeah,” Nicki said. They both knew that Justin was the valedictorian of his high school class and had gotten into the University of Minnesota Journalism program on a full scholarship. He was also the star pitcher of the University of Minnesota baseball team and maintained a 4.0 average all the while. “Right.”

 

“This isn’t helping,” Justin admitted. “Here, I’ll tell you what. I’ll drive around the cities and ask around. I know some guys in different areas who might be able to look out for him, too. He’ll turn up. You can call Mom and tell her that.”

 

______________________________________________________________________

Justin had spent the next few hours calling some of his acquaintances and asking them to keep their eyes out for his little brother. He drove around the cities a bit, and looked in all the suspicious areas, but didn’t find anything that would have tipped him off that Kyle had been there.

 

Finally, he went back to his Minneapolis apartment and took the elevator all the way up to the twentieth floor. He had just moved in last week and was still working on unpacking. He would have been unpacked a lot sooner, but for some reason, he was a busier than usual. The Star Tribune was overloading him with projects, and so was Colby. Colby always saved the hardest and most dangerous jobs for him… and there seemed to be quite a bit of them lately.

 

He was putting away his books, in alphabetical order, of course, when his cell phone rang. Justin stood up and walked over to the counter, where he had set it when he walked into the door, and picked it up. He expected it to be Nicki, and was just a little surprised when he saw Colby’s name on the caller ID.

 

“Colby,” he said after he had flipped it open. “What's up?”

 

“You need to come over here with that information immediately,” Colby's voice said, and then the line went dead.

 

Justin pulled back the phone and stared at it. He should have been used to Colby's phone calls, but never really got over the fact that Colby always hung up on him. Shrugging, he pocketed the phone grabbed his keys from the counter. He hoped Colby would give him some gas money or something. He was sick of driving back and forth.

 

______________________________________________________________________

Justin pulled into Colby Wyman's driveway and into the garage, which sloped down into a miniature underground parking lot. Colby didn't exactly like people driving by to know how many guests he had a time. He also didn't like suspecting cops writing down license plates. Not that anyone had ever been suspicious of Colby, but Colby wasn't the sort of guy to take chances.

 

Justin parked his car and walked towards the back door. It opened before he started up the steps and a man in a black suit appeared, stepping aside for him.

 

“Thanks, Channing,” he said, stepping past and tapping the bottoms of his shoes on the rug.

 

“No problem, Mr. Taylor,” Channing replied, closing the door behind him and securing all four locks. “You'll find Mr. Wyman in his office.”

 

Justin nodded and walked around the kitchen and down not only one set of stairs, but two. The underground garage wasn't the only secret of Colby's St Paul, Summit Avenue mansion. He also had a system of underground tunnels just below the basement. Everyone involved in Colby's business were sworn to secrecy. And Justin was sure there were even parts of the tunnels that only Colby knew about, just in case word did get out, for whatever reason.

 

He knocked on the door that he knew to be Colby's main office.

 

“Come in,” Colby's voice came from the other side of the stone door.

 

Justin opened the door and stepped inside. Colby motioned that he should have a seat, and Justin took one in a cozy chair in front of his desk. He plucked the flash drive from his pocket and set it in front of Colby on the desk. “They didn't suspect a thing. It was a clean deal,” he said.

 

Colby picked up the flash drive and held it between his fingers, but his gaze was on Justin. “As usual,” he said. “Look, you did a stand up job getting this information, and I'm sure it'll be quite useful in my plight. However, the reason I called you here tonight is to speak to you about another job.”

 

Justin raised his eyebrows. He usually didn't have two jobs this close together. And Colby must have guessed his thoughts, because a wad of bills were placed upon the desk. “I understand that this is inconvenient,” he said. “But this is a very important job, and I want my number one guy on it.”

 

Justin took the money. “I'll do it,” he said. “Just tell me when and where.”

 

______________________________________________________________________

“Brady, the chief wanted me to give you this.”

 

A pile of papers plopped down on Brady's desk. She looked up to see Pertel standing in front of her with a crooked smile on his face. “Oh, yay... more paperwork,” she said as she flipped through the stack. “Where's your paperwork, Pertel?”

 

He shrugged. “I'm still working on some from yesterday.” He pointed to his desk, which was in the very corner of the room next to the restrooms where a much larger stack of papers sat.

 

“Well, what are you doing standing over here chatting with me? Get going!”

 

Pertel gave her another smile, and then went over to his desk.

 

Brady, with a sigh, looked down at her own papers. The chief had given her several cases about corporate break ins in the downtown area. Apparently, he suspected they were all connected. She flipped through the cases, and noticed that at every one, there wasn't a single piece of evidence left behind. It was as though the information was taken and no one had even been there. It was hard to catch someone so elusive.

 

The whole thing pissed her off. Usually, criminals were taken down for the scum that they were, but this guy... had been eluding them for months, and what did they have to show for it? More break ins, more vital information stolen, and lots of angry business men and women.

 

“Can I ask you a question?”

 

Brady pulled her eyes off of the case files and looked up at Pertel, who was once again standing in front of her desk. “Sure,” she said and pushed her things aside.

 

Pertel plopped down in the wooden chair on the other side of her desk, and slid a paper across to her. “What do you think about this?”

 

Brady looked down at the sheet of paper and read it over. It detailed a case where a black glove was left behind in a building on 9th Street after the computer systems were hacked into. It seemed very similar to the cases she was looking at, except for the one obvious difference; this time something was left behind.

 

She looked up from the paper and at her rookie partner. Perhaps he would be some use to this case, after all.

 

_______________________________________________________________________

Early the next morning, Justin was on his way out the door to his day job, and exhausted from the night before, when he almost crashed into a girl with long brown hair tied into a messy pony tail. She was wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans, he noticed when he bent down to pick up the mail that she had dropped.

 

“Sorry, about that,” he said. “I guess I was in a hurry.” The truth was, he had been rubbing his tired eyes and wasn't exactly paying attention to where he was going... which was, in itself, very un-Justin-like.

 

When he went to hand the letters back to her, their eyes met, and he noticed that her eyes were a very pretty shade of blue... the kind he couldn't quite look away from.

 

“It's okay,” she said. “I wasn't really watching either.”

 

He leaned against the mailboxes and tried to put on his winning smile. “My name's Justin, by the way. I just moved in last week and haven't met many of my neighbors.”

 

“Oh?” she smiled back at him. “Nice to meet you. I kinda have... well, different hours than most people here, so I haven't really met many neighbors either. Most people are sleeping when I'm up.” She closed her mailbox and then looked back at him. “My name is Adelyn, by the way.”

 

Justin wondered what she did for a living, but decided not to pry. “It's nice to meet you, too, Adelyn,” he said, pushing away from the mailboxes and walking around her slightly. “Well, I'm headed off to work... I hope to see you around?”

 

“Sure,” she said as she turned and followed him with her eyes. “Same time, same place tomorrow.”

 

Justin winked at her and then went through the revolving doors that led to the busy Minneapolis streets. He couldn't wait till tomorrow morning.

 

_______________________________________________________________________

“Justin.”

 

Justin's head snapped up from where he had been staring at his notes. “Yes?”

 

“It's due at five,” his coworker, Nate, told him. “And... you look a little out of it. Rough night?”

 

Justin looked back at his computer screen and typed a few words. “I guess you could say that,” he said.

 

“Anyway, if you need some help, let me know. I've already finished my articles for the next two days.”

 

“Sure,” Justin agreed. “I can still make it, but if not, I know where to find you.”

 

Nate smiled at him and then left his office. Justin sighed as he adjusted the screen and deleted the last two paragraphs that he had written. He had his mind on other things, and it was really hard to write an editorial about prescription drugs. He just wished that his coworker hadn't noticed it. Justin had done a good job of keeping up with his two lives so far, and he didn't want any stupid mistake to cause suspicion.

 

He jumped when his phone rang.

“Mr Taylor,” the receptionist's voice came through the ear piece. “Your sister is on the phone.”

 

Justin sighed. “Send her through...”

 

“Justin!” Nicki's voice rang out.

 

“Yes, Nicki? How can I help you?”

 

“Mom wants to know if you got any leads on where Kyle could be. She hasn't slept in days, you know. You could have called her when you got home last night.”

 

Yeah, he could have called her. And then he wouldn't have slept at all because she would have kept him on the phone all night. “No, leads,” he said instead. “I dropped the word around town with a few guys I know, but no one has seen him.”

 

“Mom is literally going nuts,” Nicki went on. “I don't know what I'm going to do with her. She's calling me every ten minutes!”

 

Justin was glad that Mom wasn't calling him every ten minutes. He didn't have the time for it. “I'm sorry, Nick... I wish I could help, I really do... but I can't think of what else I could do. Maybe you should call the cops and see if they could help.”

 

Now, the last thing that Justin wanted was to get the cops involved in anything of his. They tended to be a little too nosy for his liking, but this was his baby brother... and if there was one thing Justin was good at, it was eluding the cops. He could deal with it until his brother was found. He had to.

 

“Yeah, you're right,” Nicki agreed. “Mom thought that he was just mad at her and staying at a friend's house or something, but this is getting out of hand. I think I'll call Mom and tell her now. Thanks, Justin.”

 

“You're welcome, Nicki. Keep me posted.” He hung up the phone and took a deep breath. He just hoped that the shit didn't hit the fan.

 

_______________________________________________________________________

When Justin returned home that evening, after completing and turning in his editorial, he took out his key and unlocked the main door to his apartment building... only to see the pretty girl he had met that morning by the mailboxes with her car keys in her hand.

 

“Hey,” he said, giving her a smile. “Adelyn, right?”

 

“That's right,” she said, trying to get past him, but he put his arm on the door frame so she couldn't get by. “How are you, Justin?”

 

“Perfect, now that I'm seeing you sooner than expected.”

 

Adelyn gave a small laugh and tried to squeeze by him. “I really have to get to work,” she said, but got caught between Justin and the door frame. “Really,” she said.

 

“How about I take you out?” he said, noticing that she was wearing another pair of jeans and a plain t-shirt. “What if I were to pick you up from work sometime?”

 

“Ah,” she averted her eyes away from his. “That's probably not such a good idea...”

 

“And why not?”

 

“Excuse me!” An old lady was swinging her purse at Justin, trying to get into the building. “Do your schmoozing elsewhere!” she said once they had stepped outside. “Honestly!”

 

Justin looked after her with his mouth open, and when he turned back to Adelyn, she was several steps away from him. “I'm sorry, but I have to get work. Talk to you later, okay?”

 

“Yeah, later...” he called after her as she headed for the underground parking ramp.

 

_______________________________________________________________________

Adelyn Brady pushed open the doors to the Minneapolis Police department and made her way through the office, saying hi to her coworkers the entire way. She was just a few feet from her desk, when Chief Donaldson appeared out of nowhere and stepped in front of her.

 

“Brady,” he said. “I was wondering if you and Pertel could handle a little matter this evening before going out on patrol.”

 

Adelyn slapped her folders down on her desk and looked back up at the chief. “Sure, what is it?”

 

“Oh, missing kid.” Donaldson gave her another folder, this one very thin. “Shouldn't take too long. Probably just a runaway.”

 

Adelyn watched as he walked away. She felt as though someone was staring at her, so she turned to find Pertel, sitting at his corner desk. He looked away when she looked at him. Smiling, Adelyn walked over to his desk and placed the folder in front of him.

 

“I have a job for you,” she said. “The chief just gave us an assignment... I want you to read the case over and then come back to me. We'll suit up and drive out after that.”

 

She didn't give him a chance to respond. She just walked away from him and towards the women's locker room... which was almost always quiet considering that men outnumbered women in their department. Today, was not the case.

 

Two officers that Adelyn knew as Kasper and Reid were buttoning up their uniforms and turned to look at her when she entered. Adelyn couldn't remember their first names for the life of her as she didn't exactly get along with the female population at the station...

 

“Hey, Brady,” Reid said as she fluffed her hair in the mirror. “I got a look at your new partner yesterday. He's quite the catch, huh?”

 

Adelyn didn't know if she was referring to Pertel's looks or skills, but since he lacked in the skills department, she assumed that they meant his looks. She opened her locker and decided to ignore the comment. Conversing with these women about their male counterparts was beyond useless.

 

“He's got a little learning to do,” she said, pretending she didn't realize what exactly Reid was referring to. “But he seems to be catching on fast.”

 

Out of the corner of her eye, Adelyn saw the two women exchange glances.

 

“Yeah,” Reid said slowly. “So, what's been going on, anyway?”

 

“Oh, same ol', same ol',” Adelyn said as she pulled her uniform top on over her t-shirt and then began unbuttoning her jeans. “Work, sleep, work, sleep. You know how it is.”

 

“No boyfriends?” Kasper wanted to know.

 

Adelyn rolled her eyes to the little mirror on the inside of her locker. What was it with these women? As if her personal life was any of their business. “No time for that,” she said. “I'm surprised you guys can squeeze it in between your shifts.”

 

“It's not so hard,” Kasper commented as Adelyn pulled on her uniform pants and slammed her locker door shut.

 

She kicked the loose corner closed and then turned to the other women. “See you later,” she said, and left promptly. And the guys wondered why she didn't care to become close friends with the other women in the department.

 

______________________________________________________________________

“Hmm,” Pertel said as he flipped through the case file while Adelyn drove the squad car onto some residential streets close to the river. “Sounds like a runaway to me.”

 

“That's what the chief said,” Adelyn told him. “There's nothing we can do about an eighteen year old who runs away... so basically we just need to determine whether it's that or some sort of foul play, and go from there.”

 

“Right,” Pertel agreed as they pulled up to a small white house on the corner of the block. Adelyn grabbed her notebook from the back seat, and they both exited the car. The front door of the house opened before they could knock, and an older, distraught looking woman stepped aside so they could come in.

 

“Thank you so much for coming, officers. I've just been in tears with my son missing!” she said as they walked in.

 

“It's not a problem, Ms Taylor,” Adelyn told her as she looked around the small living room, just checking to see if anything looked obviously out of place. However, the living room looked cozy and clean... nothing suspicious at all. “My name is Officer Brady, and this is my partner, Officer Pertel,” she pointed her pen at Pertel, who gave the woman a smile. “We just need to ask a few questions so we can decide how to proceed with the investigation,” she continued. “Why don't you have a seat?”

 

“Yes, yes, thank you,” Ms Taylor agreed, and sat down in the recliner while Adelyn and Pertel sat on the couch.

 

Adelyn poked Pertel in the knee.

 

“Oh, yes...” he said, glancing over at her, and then looking back to Ms Taylor. “A few questions... let's see...” He fumbled with his papers until he found the right sheet and then held it closer to his face. “When did you last see your son?”

 

As Ms Taylor answered the questions, Adelyn took a closer look around the living room. On the mantle was a line of framed photographs, and she waited for the opportunity to get up to look at them. One of them had to be her missing son.

 

“Do you have a picture of Kyle?” Pertel asked, and Ms Taylor held a small photograph out in her hands. Adelyn took it from her.

 

“This is his senior picture... from last year,” Ms Taylor explained. “He's supposed to be attending classes at the University of Minnesota, but I called over there and they tell me he's been missing all of his classes since Monday.”

 

Adelyn stared at the picture... the boy in the photograph looked very familiar, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.

 

“He's made some new friends this year... and I met them once or twice. They didn't seem to come from the right side of the tracks, if you know what I mean.”

 

Pertel nodded as he glanced over Adelyn's shoulder at the picture.

 

“May I look at your other pictures?” Adelyn asked, motioning towards the fireplace.

 

“Of course,” Ms Taylor said and then stood to accompany her. “I have other children, too, but they're all grown. Three boys and one girl. One of my sons lives in downtown Minneapolis, and I'm having him ask around to see if anyone's seen Kyle.”

 

Adelyn looked at the photos. Many of them were old and from when her children were small, but one photo, in particular, in the middle of the fireplace showed a more recent photo of Kyle with his three siblings... and Adelyn's eyes were drawn to one face in particular.

 

Justin! It was the man who had been hitting her that afternoon in front of her building. He was Kyle's older brother! No wonder Kyle had looked familiar to her... he was the spitting image of Justin.

 

“Is something wrong?” Ms Taylor asked, a look of concern on her face.

 

“No, no, nothing,” Adelyn said, and placed the picture back down on the mantle. “Your older son... Justin... he lives in my apartment building. I was just a little shocked to see his face, that's all.”

 

Ms Taylor's face lit up. “Oh, so you know Justin? I hope he's behaving himself.”

 

“Heh,” Adelyn chuckled. “Of course.”

 

“Okay,” Pertel said, interrupting their awkward conversation. “I think we've asked all of the questions. Is there anything else, Brady?”

 

“No, I think we're pretty much done here,” Adelyn said, still looking at Ms Taylor. “I just want you to know that we're going to review the case and see if there's been any leads turned in at the station. We'll keep in touch, okay?”

 

“Thank you, officers,” Ms Taylor said as she walked them back to the door. “I really appreciate you coming all the way out here to speak with me. Please call me if anything turns up, anything at all!”

 

“You're welcome, Ms Taylor,” Pertel said, shaking her hand as Adelyn stepped over the threshold. “Talk to you soon.”

 

“Oh, and Officer Brady?”

 

Adelyn turned around to look at her. “Yes?”

 

Ms Taylor gave her a sincere smile. “Please say hi to Justin for me. He rarely calls.”

 

Adelyn smiled back at her. “Will do,” she said, and watched as Ms Taylor closed the door.

 

“That was weird,” Adelyn muttered as she and Pertel walked back to the car.

 

“What?”

 

“Her son was trying to hit on me earlier today. And I've only seen him twice,” she explained. “I wouldn't have even said anything about it if she hadn't caught the look on my face when I saw the picture. How awkward.”

 

“You're not actually going to date the guy, are you?” Pertel wanted to know.

 

Adelyn turned around and looked at him. “No,” she said. “Though that's none of your business if I were.”

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