You asked for more, so here it is! The second chapter from my novel Devils Among Us. How will Devin deal with the death of her partner and getting back to work? See the March 8th post The Unveiling if you missed chapter one.
Devin stood outside the imposing brick church, staring at its massive red door. She didn’t want to be here in her best black suit with a band across her badge. It wasn’t a choice, though. Greg wasn’t just her partner; he and Marcy were like family. Maybe by slipping in at the last possible moment and sitting in the darkest back corner, she could cope with the funeral. Letting out her breath in a whoosh, Devin sprinted up the stairs, ignoring the burn of the stitches across her stomach and arm. Perhaps if she propelled herself through the door with enough speed, she wouldn’t have time to talk herself out of taking a seat inside. Unfortunately when she hit the dark interior of the foyer, she hesitated while her eyes adjusted.
“Devin, thank goodness you’re here! I need you to sit with me.” Marcy broke away from a group that Devin recognized as Greg’s family as they were preparing to file into the chapel and clung on to Devin like a drowning child.
His mother stepped forward, her mouth drawn into a tight, straight line, her disapproval evident. “Marcy, dear, I really don’t think the Detective would be comfortable sitting up front. It’s really just for fam—”
Marcy didn’t allow her to finish. “Devin is family to me, and she was family to Greg. She belongs with us.” Tiny little Marcy lifted her chin and set her shoulders as if a force of nature couldn’t move her.
Mrs. Lumas turned on her heel and walked back toward the group, whispering fierce objections to her sons. She was the matriarch of a large Irish family that had been sending its sons into the police force for generations. Sons. Never daughters. Mrs. Lumas had never liked Devin; she felt it wasn't safe for Greg to be partnered with a woman, and she clearly held Devin responsible for her son’s death.
And she’s probably right, Devin thought grimly, but she pushed that thought away. Now was not the time.
Marcy tucked her arm through Devin’s and turned her huge eyes upward to look her in the eye. Her severe black dress made her eyes an even more vivid purple than normal. “You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.” she whispered.
Devin knew that was the truth, but it didn’t mean she was where she wanted to be. Especially when she felt the pitying eyes of the mourners upon her as she and Marcy made their way up the aisle. Instead of being tucked away in the darkest back corner, Devin was up front and center. She could have reached out and touched Greg’s casket if she wanted to. She didn’t want to. Instead she concentrated on maintaining a peaceful, bereaved expression while taking her mind as far away as possible.
As the mass droned on, she flipped through mental images of her childhood in inner-city
Devin thought about her family’s numerous moves to new apartments, which had
also meant new schools in hopes of finding “something a little better.” Buying
red, white and blue sno cones at the park by the river on the 4th of July for a
quarter, but not buying too many, so they’d have enough money to buy sparklers
off the older kids. Studying martial arts with Master Chan in the rickety room
above his granddaughter’s Asian grocery story until the plaster dust started
falling on the customers and they had to move to the Y. Those were benign
pieces of her past she could stand to examine. She didn’t think of her father,
and she certainly didn’t think about Greg. Richmond
After the services at the cemetery, there was a reception in the back room of Luigi’s, Greg’s favorite Italian restaurant. It was where he proposed to Marcy and where all the detectives normally celebrated when they broke a big case. Devin was leaning against the wall with her arms crossed. Few mourners approached her, which suited her fine. She didn’t want their condolences; they should reserve those sentiments for Marcy. Greg’s mother held court in the center of the room, shooting haughty glares at Devin whenever should could. All of Greg’s coworkers and friends swarmed around Marcy, providing a protective barrier against any of Mrs. Lumas’ unpleasantness.
“Devin, don’t you want a whiskey? We’re about to do a round of toasts to Greg’s memory.” Alex Denton said. He was another detective in their precinct. He and his partner, Leon, had frequently worked with Devin and Greg, and they’d played a major part in this last operation.
Devin sighed and pushed off the wall “I’ll take a soda.”
He frowned and leaned in to whisper, “Can’t you make an exception? Everyone is having Irish whiskey. Mrs. Lumas is insisting on the tradition.”
Devin cocked an eyebrow at him and smirked. “As if drinking whiskey of any origin would make that woman like me. I’m not making an exception, and Greg wouldn’t have wanted me to.”
Alex gave up and went to find her a soda. Devin very rarely drank. Her father had spent the last thirty-five years drowning in a bottle, and from the time she was very small Devin had witnessed the devastation alcohol could cause. It was obvious the potential was in her DNA, and she didn’t want to tempt fate by indulging in liquor. So on rare occasions she made an exception, one which had ended her up in a casino wedding chapel, but mixing whiskey and grief did not seem like a smart combination. After many rounds of toasts, the group began to break up. They’d toasted to Greg’s joy for life, his dedication to his family, and his loyal friendship. Devin had toasted to his protection of the innocent, his unfailing search for truth and justice, and always having her back—which drew an angry huff from Mrs. Lumas. It was then that Captain Morris pulled her aside.
“Captain, I know you need my report,” Devin said. “I’ll be in tomorrow to get everything wrapped up.”
He looked at the floor, not wanting to make eye contact. “I’m not worried about your report. Tomorrow will be fine. I just wanted to discuss your leave.”
“My leave? I know I’ll need to work a desk until my stitches come out, but I wasn’t planning on taking any more days off.” She hadn’t been in to the precinct since she had been stabbed but knew she had to face Greg’s empty desk and clean his locker out for Marcy.
“You know for this type of incident the department requires a one month leave and a psych evaluation, and there are extenuating circumstances here.” Not only was Captain Morris not meeting her eyes, but he looked like the collar of his shirt was suddenly two sizes too small. Devin knew he wasn’t giving her the whole story, but she couldn’t tell what he was holding back.
“The ‘extenuating circumstances’ are exactly why I can’t take a month off. You’re already down a detective. Alex and Leon won’t be able to cover the whole case load, and I need to get back in there. I didn’t really think you’d enforce the leave. Surely you can bend the rules just a little and overlook the one-month requirement. The press is writing our department up as heroes.” In truth, she was the one the press was calling a hero, but she didn’t like that kind of attention.
Captain Morris was beet red by this point, and his eyes were wild. Delicate conversations had never been his forte. He knew Devin would react badly, so he pulled the band-aid off quickly and burst out the news. “Devin, it’s not a month. It’s a mandatory three-month leave, and my hands are absolutely tied, so there’s no sense in getting worked up here.” His words were laughable, considering he was the one that looked like he was going to drop dead of a heart attack any moment.
“Three months! Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind? What the hell am I supposed to do for that long? I was stabbed, not run over by a Mack truck!” Devin looked the exact opposite of the Captain—when she was angry, her sun-kissed skin paled to its natural porcelain coloring, and her chocolate eyes turned black and ice cold with her fury.
Several officers from their precinct were eyeing the two speculatively, as if they all knew what the conversation was about and they had wagers on just how ballistic Devin would go. She wondered briefly what kind of show they were expecting.
probably expects something showy like
throwing a chair through the window and he wouldn’t think I would carry a weapon
at a funeral. That’s where Alex knows me better, she could just hear him now.
“Are you kidding? This is Devin, church or not, she’s carrying a gun.” He'd be right. Leon
Now that everything was out in the open, Captain Morris let the details pour forth. “One-month is required leave for an injury like yours sustained in the line of duty. There’s another required for losing your partner in this manner, and the psych evaluations that go along with it . . .” He lost his momentum and faltered before telling her the rest.
Like her demeanor, Devin’s voice was icy and hard when she spoke. “What about the third month?” She could already sense she was not going to like his answer.
The captain sighed in defeat and met her eyes once again. “Internal Affairs needs the extra month to complete their investigation.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Investigation of what exactly?” she hissed out.
“They’re investigating you for alleged excessive force in the death of Ronald Turnsby and reckless endangerment of your fellow officers.”
The James River Killer had turned out to be named Ronald Turnsby, a mild-mannered software developer who’d spent his days quietly designing foreign language educational software in his cubicle that overlooked the
James River and the meandering jogging
trail that accompanied it.
“Use . . . of . . . excessive . . . force?” Her voice was tight as she tried to control her fury, but with each word, her voice climbed higher in both pitch and volume. “I was severely wounded and unarmed. What did they want me to do, tap him on the shoulder and ask him politely to stop shooting the nice policemen? This is crap, and you know it!” She punctuated her tirade by hurling her empty drink glass at the back wall. If anyone hadn’t heard the shouting, they surely heard the explosion of glass.
“Yes, Devin, I do know it’s crap, but that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t interfere with an IAB investigation. You’re not exactly on their Christmas card list as it is, so you’re just going to have to suck it up and wait this thing out.” It was no secret that Internal Affairs considered her volatile and a risk to the department. They were looking for any opportunity to bounce her into civilian life.
“It’ll be unpaid leave until IAB finishes their investigation. I’m so sorry, kid.” He left the rest unsaid—that it would a permanent unpaid leave if they found her guilty.
She dropped her voice and spoke under her breath. “I don’t care about the money. This is just their opportunity to vilify me more than the killer and convince everyone in the department that I’m responsible for Greg’s death.”
“The Mayor’s office loves the positive press right now. They’ll be on your side, and that carries a lot of power. You just need to sit tight and ride it out. Rest, take a vacation. Lord knows it’s been years since you’ve taken time off.”