Written in 34 minutes.
Elizabeth stepped off the elevator, patient charts in her arms, and stopped short. Robin Scorpio stood at the nurse’s station, an arm around her younger cousin, Georgie Jones, whose cheeks were streaks with tears and her eyes red and puffy. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah,” Robin said, giving Georgie’s shoulders another squeeze. “Georgie’s just having a tough day.”
“Chelsea’s parents came to get—” Georgie’s voice broke and she squeezed her eyes shut. “Epiphany won’t care about me missing a few days?”
“Of course not, sweetie.” Robin kissed her forehead. “Let me take care of it. I’ll talk to her, and you head home and pack for New York, okay?”
“Okay.” Georgie hugged her again, then disappeared onto the elevator.
Robin sighed, and joined Elizabeth at the counter. “Georgie’s roommate at PCU was the girl who was killed a few days ago,” she told Elizabeth. She reached for a chart, opened it, then just stared down at blindly. “They roomed together last year, and Chelsea had just come up for the new fall semester.”
“Yeah, Chelsea was a sweet kid. And really good for Georgie. She needed someone to get her mind off everything that happened—with—” Robin flashed a weak smile. “With Maxie, the break up with Dillon, the hotel—anyway. Georgie’s going to head down to the city for the funeral.”
“The paper says the cops don’t have any leads.” Elizabeth shuddered. “That it might have been random.” It wasn’t safe to be alone after dark, she thought, her mind straying a bit as she remembered another night, long ago. Another girl.
“I hope not. I mean, it’s a tragedy either way,” Robin added, clicking the top on her pen. “But if it was random, what’s stopping it from happening again?”
“There’s a scary thought.”
“Yeah, well—I need to track Epiphany down and get Georgie off the volunteer schedule.” Robin forced a smile on her face. “We need a break from all this doom and gloom. Ever since the trial—”
“Even before that,” Elizabeth murmured.
“It’s been a long year, that’s for sure. You get a baby sister, and I’ll get Kelly and Lainey. We’ll do a Girls Night—”
“Not Lainey,” Elizabeth cut in sharply and Robin flinched. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make things awkward, but I’m just not ready to move on—”
“I was hoping with some time and space—”
“I’d forget?” Elizabeth shook her head. “No. All I’ll ever remember is precious time being wasted while Lainey and Lucky tried to convince me and the PCPD that I’d done something to hurt Jake.”
“There was no evidence of post-partum depression,” Elizabeth retorted. “Nothing except me being tired and distracted. And she never apologized. She just said she was doing her job—”
Robin exhaled slowly. “I know it felt like you were being attacked—”
“I was being attacked, and Lainey was supposed to be there as my friend. No one asked for her professional opinion—” Elizabeth closed her mouth. “I don’t want to put you in the middle, Robin. I really don’t. But I’m not ready to forgive or forget.”
“Fair enough. I don’t know if I would be in your position either,” Robin admitted. “And I certainly don’t want to make things harder for you. I know the last few weeks have been hard enough.”
“Exactly. I have to get back to work.”
Jason jogged down the steps at Elm Street Pier, then stopped abruptly when he realized that Lucky Spencer was coming from the opposite direction, turning the corner from Bannister’s Wharf. He thought of just ignoring the other man, turning around to avoid him but—
It was too late.
“Well, well, well.” Lucky sneered, hatred twisted his features. “I was wondering when I’d run into you—”
“Look, Lucky, I don’t want to get into anything—” Jason loathed this sorry excuse for a man for every piece of misery he’d brought into Elizabeth’s life, but the last thing he wanted to do was make anything worse for her and the custody hearing.
“If you think you’re going to waltz into my family and take over—” Lucky jabbed Jason’s chest with his index finger. “You better think again. I’m not letting her get away with what she’s done—”
Jason just remained silent, remembering Elizabeth’s anguished expression the other day. There was some truth to her words — she had lied to Lucky about Jake, and Jason had let the lie continue.
“She humiliated me in front of the whole damn town and now she thinks she’s going to take my boys away from me? Not a chance in hell, Morgan. She took everything from me, and I’m not going to rest until I’ve made her bleed—”
Jason clenched his jaw, but did nothing more than wrap his fingers around Lucky’s wrist and shove him back lightly. “Just remember,” Jason said quietly, “that you’re not innocent either, Lucky. I’m sure your attorney has informed you it’ll be an uphill battle to even get visitation with Cameron, much less Jake. It doesn’t have to be like this.”
“The minute that bitch lied to me about my son—”
“Was that before or after you nearly killed her on the docks by shooting at me?” Jason asked, his tone more pleasant than he felt. What he wouldn’t give to make this piece of shit disappear. “Or you drained the bank accounts to go into rehab for your drug problem? Or had an affair with a teenager who stole drugs for you—”
Lucky’s eyes burned. “Shut up—”
“Or when you accused her of hurting Jake and wasted time while some crazy woman got further away with him?” Jason cut in, and Lucky flinched. “And because you couldn’t stand being wrong, couldn’t stand that I’d brought him home, you made sure to violate my parole. I don’t know, Lucky. Do we really want to stand here and pretend that anything Elizabeth has done comes close to your crimes?”
“At least I’m not a killer,” Lucky growled, and Jason smirked.
“We both know that’s not true. You think you’re better than me because you have a badge?” Jason stepped back. “As far as the system is concerned, I’m a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, and you’re harassing me.” He fisted his hands at his side. “Now I’m done with this conversation.”
“You stay away from my boys—”
Jason was done with the conversation. He’d said what he wanted to, and maybe more than he should have. He turned towards Pier 52 and the warehouse, leaving Lucky seething.
Mac Scorpio dragged his hands through his hair and closed his eyes. “Nothing came back from the lab?”
“No DNA under the nails, no footprints on the scene.” Detective David Harper sat across from the commissioner and shoved the autopsy report across the table. “The most we have is that we think the suspect is taller than the victim.”
“Great, round up all the guys taller than five foot six, and we’ll have him by dinner.” Mac sighed, looked at the photo on his desk of Georgie on her graduation day the year before. She was a wreck over all of this, and he just wanted to give her—and Chelsea Ray’s family some closure.
“We’re still doing rounds at the campus, but no one is sticking out yet. She was well-liked, friendly, but hadn’t been dating. There was a guy—they were still in the flirting stage,” Harper continued, “but his alibi checks out. He was back at the party. I’m sorry, Mac. I don’t think it was personal. Or at least someone she knew.”
“Christ. We don’t need a random killer out there picking on coeds,” Mac muttered. He’d lock Georgie in her damn room if that was the case.
“I hear you. We’ll keep at it, but right now? We’re dead in the water.”