Caliente (Dina) – 7.4: Next of kin

They found Penelope Belgen in the hospital, she was in the middle of her shift. Sara and officer Kerry came alone, she had left officer Mayor to go through the notes she had compiled about the murder victim, Mr Belgen. She didn’t think it would be good if they all came here, she didn’t want to corner the young woman. The news they had were bad enough, yet she wanted to be here, she thought a familiar face might provide some comfort to her in a time like this.

She wanted Mikha’il to do the talking, he needed to do this one time or another, sadly notifying the next of kin would be common procedure during his work in the SVPD yet when they came here, and Penelope lead them to the empty staff room where they could talk in private she couldn’t stand by and watch the young officer do this himself. There would be another time for a lesson, this was personal, she knew Penelope, she saved her life, she needed to hear this from her.

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There was a moment of long pause and Penelope staring into space. Sara noticed Mikha’il squirm uncomfortably in the corner and she just gave him a stern look. It was hard, all this, for all of them, but mostly for Penelope, she was the one who just heard her father had been murdered.

“I assume you will catch the person who did this?” She said finally turning to Sara her dark eyes shining with anger.

“We will do our best. The whole force…”

“That is not enough for me Sara.” She interrupted her. “I need to know you will get them, this people killed my father.” Their eyes locked again and in that moment Sara knew it was all true. The whole kidnapping story was true. Penelope tried to hide it, she tried to protect him but now her father was dead and she felt responsible. And now Sara felt responsible too. Stay impersonal. Do not let guilt take you over. But she couldn’t listen to the voice inside her head.

“I will. I will catch them.” Penelope nodded looking away but a pact was made between them and more than ever Sara just wanted to catch this person who ever it was. Even if it was Bradley. She tried not to dwell on that. It was just so improbable, unfathomable that her sister’s husband, father of her only nephew was a kidnapper and possibly a killer. Yet the case Mikha’il Kerry present to her seemed so realistic… There will be time to deal with this. She told herself and went back to Penelope.

“Officer Kerry will come back tomorrow, he would need to take an official statement, talk to you about your father’s life but if you need anything, anything at all Penelope, I am here for you…” She tried to extend a hand, give the woman a hug even but she pulled away and there was that anger still in her eyes.

“Do not pretend we are friends Sara. You were my patient, we went to school together. That is all. I have people in my life that I can count for support, even in times like this… And if you have no questions for me now I will go and call them.” Sara backed away after this sudden outburst, she didn’t want to offend Penelope but yet somehow she managed to, again. She just gave her a silent nod and signaled to Mikha’il it was time to leave.

 

They had the same talk with Luther Prentiss next. Jerod’s brother was much less cold with them. “Thanks for coming down to tell me in person Sara. I appreciate it. What can I say, I am sorry the man is dead but he abandoned us when I was three… We had no relationship since… I guess I am an orphan now… What a strange thought…”

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He got up and turned around to flip a pancake left on the stove. “I make pancakes all the time now. Earl loves them.” He smiled but his smile was absent, detached.

“We will leave you to it.” Sara said getting up from the table. “If you need anything call us.” She added softly touching his arm. “We will keep you posted if anything comes up.” Luther nodded and they left his house.

“A strange man this Clyde Belgen.” Mikha’il told her in the car. “A good dad to his daughter and a deadbeat to his son.”

“People change. They get second chances and sometimes they take them to make things better.” Sara said turning on the engine. She was tired and hungry. It was a long day. Too long. “I will drive you home.” She told the young man, when she saw he was about to protest she cut him off. “You need to rest and so do I. We will speak again in the morning once we are fresh and rested.”

“We didn’t talk about Bradley Frail at all.” He said and she sighed. It was hard to turn around and look at him but yet she needed to face it, this growing suspicion that was gnawing at her mind.

“That is one of the things I need to process… That is just… He is family.” She finished clumsily thinking of Brad standing over her hospital bed, thinking of Bradley holding her nephew in his big strong arms, the first time she saw the little boy, thinking of him kissing her sister at their wedding…

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“Maybe you should give this case up.” Mikha’il said suddenly as if he could read her mind. “You are too involved.”

Sara looked away at the empty road, wondering if he was right. In a way, maybe he was but it was just something she couldn’t do. Something she could never do, not after what happened just hours ago with Penelope. She would bring her father’s killer to justice. Who ever it was, even if it was Bradley. She repeated to herself the words. Every time they sounded less ludicrous. She turned back to the man sitting in the car with her.

“You are threading dangerous ground Mikha’il, you are not even one bit aware how dangerous… You are talking about accusing Dina Caliente’s son in law for kidnapping, for murder, who knows what else we might drag up… My mother may not be the Leader of the Free World anymore but she is a dangerous foe, especially when it comes to her family, and her name. You would need an ally in this and it can only be me, it has to be me…”

“Officer Hoves is on my side, he lead the investigation…” The young man started before Sara cut him off again.

“The old man? Seriously? He is retired. His time is done. Everyone in town knows he has been drinking. His involvement will not help you. Not against the Caliente’s.” He didn’t say a word and for the first time she saw something akin to fear in those dark eyes of his. Good. She thought. He was beginning to grasp the seriousness of the situation. He ought to be scared, they both ought to: “Welcome to the family.” She added with a smile but her cousin’s fiancee just stared ahead unable to return the gesture.

 

Everyone was a sleep when she came home. Her whole body ached and she wanted nothing more than to climb up and curl next to Jerod, touch his warm skin and just hold him close until morning came and in the morning she would get up and just pain like she did when she was young, just paint and be free and not have a murder to solve…

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It was this thought that brought her back from her fantasy. A man was dead. A father, an ex firefighter, somebody who lived, and laughed and loved and had hobbies of his own. And all that was taken from him, and he was taken from the world and Sara had to find out how and by whom. She sighed as she got up to the kitchen, she found the leftovers in the fridge, she made herself a cup of coffee, turned on the fire in the fireplace and went through the notes Mikha’il and Junior Hoves had been compiling about her brother-in-law.

It was the younger officer who approached him advertising a fitness device that was to improve Bradley’s running experience. Beforehand they set up fake web pages and materials that were supposed to convince anyone who didn’t look deep enough and it seemed her brother-in-law didn’t look deep enough. The device was actually a tracking device they used to get his location at all moments, both through the actual device and through an app they installed on her phone.

The reason they selected Bradley in the first place was because although the official family story Sara herself had heard was that he was employed by a private security company out of Bridgeport the truth was that worked directly for Susannah Ramsay who was according to Junior Hoves’ investigation up to no good, she had ties to the criminal world all over. Their initial plan was to try and use Bradley, as a potential witness or an informant, to turn him against his boss but with Clyde Belgen’s story Mikha’il connected some dots and according to Bradley’s app activity the night Penelope Belgen was allegedly kidnapped in front of the hospital he had driven out from the outskirts of Bridgeport right to the hospital, than to an abandoned warehouse and then hours later back home. To her sister and nephew. It made Sara sick, especially the thought that Junior Hoves had that it was Susannah Ramsay and her gang who had been behind the shooting in the warehouse and the death of officer Jesse Hoves…

Sara sighed. She would go trough it all again, their notes, the whole case, all of it. She would make up her own mind given the evidence and if Bradley is the killer she would bring him down, whatever it took…

 

/* This is been sitting as a draft since September… Why it was unpublished I am not sure, I probably wanted to change or add something… Well unfortunately I don’t remember 😦 I am sorry to say it but I don’t think I will be continuing with this story so I’ll just go a head and publish this as it is… In a few days I will go into more details and future plans… Once again I am sorry and thank you all for reading this 😀 */

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