Written in 57 minutes.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason immediately reached for his pants, yanking them back up as Elizabeth went straight for the phone. He heard her greet Alexis by name as the pounding on the door continued. He just shook his head, tugging his shirt on. She kept surprising him with her instincts—he hadn’t even had to say anything about calling his lawyer.
“She’ll be right up,” Elizabeth told him, cradling the phone on her shoulder. Jason nodded, then flipped the lock and pulled the door open, forcing his face into a blank expression even though he wanted to growl at the detectives on his doorstep.
“Took you long enough,” Taggert sneered as he sauntered past Jason, slapping a piece of a paper against him. He held out a second piece to Elizabeth. “I brought a second copy for the wife,” he drawled, his tone setting Jason on edge. “I know how you want to make sure everything is legal.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes but accepted the warrant, scanning the opening lines. Her eyes widened slightly, but that was the only change in her expression. Jason dropped his gaze to the copy in his hands—
They were looking for evidence that Jason had been shot a month earlier—blood-stained, bullet holes — he gritted his teeth. There was nothing to find of course. He’d never stepped foot in the penthouse until he’d nearly recovered, and there was nothing at the studio either. He’d made sure of that after Carly had made her threats—
But they knew he’d been shot which meant Carly had called their bluff.
“We’ll get started down here,” Taggert told the officers who came in after him. He nodded to Capelli. “You take a few uniforms upstairs.”
“I want to go,” Elizabeth said immediately. “I’m allowed,” she added when Capelli just glared at her. “I’m setting up my studio and there are chemicals, okay?”
“Fine,” Taggert retorted before Capelli could protest. Jason wasn’t wild about Elizabeth going upstairs alone to supervise. He had confidence in her, but he knew Capelli was the wild card. New to the PCPD, he was hot-headed and wouldn’t have even the basic respect Taggert did for Elizabeth.
“I don’t know what the hell you did to convince her to do this,” Taggert told Jason, “but you should be god damned ashamed yourself. She’s a kid—”
Jason said nothing. He knew Elizabeth was only eighteen, but why didn’t anyone ever stop to remember that he had no memories older than three years? Why didn’t that count for anything?
“Where’s the warrant?” Alexis demanded, appearing in the doorway, her cheeks flushed. Sonny was just over her shoulder. “What the hell is the basis for this search?” Jason handed her the paperwork. “Where’s Elizabeth?”
“Supervising the search upstairs—” Jason turned when he heard something rip—then saw one of the officers slicing down the cushion of the sofa. “What the—”
“Hey!” Alexis strode forward only to be waylaid by Taggert. “They’re looking for clothing,” she spat. “How the hell—”
“We can do a reasonable—” Taggert began but then there was a cry from the upstairs.
“Stop! Don’t—” Then Elizabeth’s voice went quiet. Even before her voice had faded, Jason had lunged towards the stairs.
Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom
Alexis and Sonny had followed Taggert and Jason, but by the time they caught up with them, Alexis thought she might be defending Jason on an assault charge.
Capelli had Elizabeth shoved up against the wall—one hand on her head, the other holding her hands together behind her back. On the ground, between the closet and the bed was a pile of white fabric and nearby, a painting neatly wrapped in brown packaging — with a foot-shaped hole through the middle of it.
Jason lunged forward but Sonny grabbed his partner’s arm at the same time Taggert hauled Capelli away from Elizabeth who was crying, her cheeks flushed.
“What the hell is going on?” he demanded of the other cop. “What the—”
“She interfered with my search,” Capelli snarled, “and was resisting arrest—”
“Interfered—” Elizabeth’s words were choppy as she forced herself to take a breath. Jason shoved off Sonny’s hand and went to her, framing her face with his hands. “I didn’t—I wasn’t—”
Alexis took another sweep of the room and her stomach pitched. They were searching for clothing, but the only clothing she could see was Elizabeth’s. The dresser drawers that had been dumped out onto the floor were hers, based on the feminine undergarments strewn in front of the dresser. Dresses and shirts and other pieces clothing had been ripped from hangers—
And the pile of white fabric, Alexis realized now, was Elizabeth’s wedding dress.
“I came in and he was throwing my clothes around,” Elizabeth tried to say. She cleared her throat, looked at Jason. “I tried to tell him where your things were because he was in the closet—and—”
“I can search everything in the damn room,” Capelli retorted, lifting his chin, but even Taggert was glaring at him. “What if he’d hidden evidence—”
“How did the dress get on the floor?” Taggert asked quietly. He went over to the garment bag that had, until the search, been neatly zipped and hanging outside the closet. The zipper was broken off as if it had been forcibly ripped open.
“He tore—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, it’s stupid. It’s just a dress. He’s right. He tore my dress, and I got upset. I grabbed his arm—”
Wordlessly, Sonny went to the dress and lifted it up by the bodice. One of the straps was ripped and there was a tear in the delicate bodice. He held it up by the one intact strap, then arched a brow at Capelli. “You think some bloodstained clothing was hiding inside this scrap of lace and tulle?”
Capelli pressed his lips together. “I have every right—”
Taggert knelt down and turned over the painting. He looked at the foot-shaped hole, then at Capelli’s feet. “What happened to the painting?”
“It was on the floor—”
“When I grabbed his arm, he shoved me back,” Elizabeth interrupted. “And then he grabbed that—it was leaning against the wall—” she looked at Jason. “I brought it upstairs yesterday, remember? Before I—”
“I remember,” Jason said flatly. “It was leaning against the wall by the closet. And it was in one piece.”
“He did it on purpose—and then he shoved me against the wall—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I’m sorry. I should have just let him—”
“Don’t be sorry,” Jason cut in sharply, and she flinched. “You did nothing wrong.” He fisted his hands at his side. “Or do you want to arrest her for interfering?” he demanded of Taggert who slowly got to his feet.
“You could try it,” Alexis said with a dangerous smile. “But then I’ll explain that Capelli clearly targeted Elizabeth’s possessions in this rooms. Jason’s dresser—untouched. His clothing? Not on the floor. And you went for a wedding dress knowing she only got married yesterday—and this—” She took the painting from Taggert. “This tips it over into destruction.”
“I have every right—”
“Shut your goddamned mouth,” Taggert threw at Capelli who growled. “She’s right. You’ve been pissed ever since you found out about the wedding—”
“He married a witness—”
“And if you think that’s true,” Alexis said pleasantly, “what you’ve done today is nothing more than witness intimidation. You destroyed my client’s possessions and did irrefutable damage to her wedding dress and her painting — these are irreplaceable and I will be filing suit against the department.”
“Get down stairs.” Taggert grabbed Capelli and shoved him towards the door. “And get out of here. We’ll talk back at the station—”
“I can do whatever I want—”
“Like hell you can. Not on my cases.” Taggert swept his eyes over the room, over the other uniforms. “This search is over. We’re leaving.” When they hesitated, he narrowed his eyes. “Now—”
He turned back to Elizabeth who refused to look at him. Regret was etched into his expression, but Taggert said nothing, then left.
“I’ll make sure they all get out,” Sonny said, shoving his hands in his pockets and shaking his head. “And they call us the criminals.” He gently laid the damaged wedding dress on the bed. “I’ll be downstairs if you need anything.”
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said again as she was left alone with Jason and Alexis. “I didn’t mean—”
“Actually,” Alexis said with a half smile. “You might have done us a favor. Capelli has just tainted this entire search warrant. I can make a good case that he was engaging in witness intimidation—he was angry that you were supervising the search,” she added, “and that you’d removed yourself from being interrogated through marriage.” She looked around the room, then at the painting she held. “So he decided to punish you.”
“And that helps us?” Jason asked skeptically.
“They clearly got this warrant based on Carly’s statement,” Alexis said. “The only way to give her statement any corroboration was to find some evidence backing it up. They can’t search now, and I assume even if they searched the studio, there’d be nothing to find.” She shrugged. “They can’t question Elizabeth now because of the intimidation. I won’t let you answer questions under any circumstances,” she said. “No lawyer would. Their case is dead in the water. Without any other evidence.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth rubbed her arms restlessly. “I guess that’s good, then. I wasn’t—”
“Capelli did this to himself,” Alexis assured her. “No one is going to say you were wrong to react when he went after your personal possessions. There’s not a woman in the world who wouldn’t have been upset to have their wedding dress destroyed in front of them—”
She shrugged, and set the painting down. “You reacted naturally, Elizabeth. I’ll put in a call to Mac and put together paperwork. We won’t actually file, but it’ll be enough to hold it over his head.”
She left them alone then, and Jason didn’t know what to say. Carly had followed through with her threats, and Elizabeth had been the one hurt. The painting—
Elizabeth went over to it, tearing away the last of the brown packaging, sighing as she ran her hands over the familiar jumble of colors he remembered from a few weeks earlier. The canvas had been framed with a light wood and looked like it was ready to be hung—
Except for the Capelli-shaped foot in the middle of the ferris wheel.
“I thought it might be nice to hang it in here,” Elizabeth said, numbly, running her fingers over the rips in the canvas.
“Can it be fixed?” Jason asked, his chest squeezing. She’d painted the wind and then she’d made him see it. Because of him, it had been ruined—
“Probably not, but I’ll try, I guess.” Elizabeth set it back down and looked at him. “It’s okay. I’ll put everything back. You should go talk to Sonny and Alexis.”
He shoved his hands in his pockets, feeling uncomfortable. “Okay. If you’re sure.”
“I am.” She forced a smile and it made him feel worse. “I’ll be down in a little bit. We’ll get something to eat.”
“Okay.” He went to the door, looked over his shoulder, still unsure, but then left her to clean up the mess the PCPD had left behind.