Bo watched as Jeffrey King entered the squad room with Oliver Fish. “Thank you for coming, Jeffrey. Would you mind waiting in my office? Fish, perhaps you could show him there. Excuse me, but I need to have a quick word with Mr. McBain. I’ll be there shortly.”
Jeffrey looked around at the man who had come with Fish. He was curious. He had thought the guy was another of the commissioner’s men, but he must have been wrong. He looked at the Commissioner, “Whatever you want, Sir. I’m here to help you any way I can.” He turned and followed Fish.
Bo turned back to John. “Well, I take it you didn’t tell him the real reason for bringing him here. What’s your take on the guy, John?”
“He’s smooth. I can see why Matthew likes him. He comes across very sincere, but he sent that basket to Viki and I saw something at his apartment I think you would find very interesting.” John paused and watched as King entered the Commissioner’s office.
Bo watched too and waited until Fish exited the room and turned back to John. “Hey, don’t leave me in suspense, what did you see?”
“I only caught a glimpse. It appears, our young friend has a tattoo on the bottom of his foot.“
Bo looked sharply at John. “That’s a hell of a place for a tattoo. Let me guess. It looked something like the one we’re investigating.” He looked toward his office. Was it possible King belonged to the organization that had put the tattoo on Victor Lord?
“I think so. I’d like a chance to get a good look at that tattoo to make sure, but if is the same, we’ve finally got someone who might answer a lot of questions. Listen, I’ve got a plan. You go talk to him about the basket. I’m betting, he’ll act totally surprised that the basket contents were tainted. See if he’d be willing to fill in a line-up. When he’s finished there, I think I know of a way to get him to remove his shoes.”
“Okay, I’ll go talk to him. I’m sure he’ll say he touched the basket after the delivery service dropped it at the Banner. I think I know a way to talk him into a lineup. The witness showed up a few minutes before you got back here.” Bo left John and headed back to his office where Jeffrey waited. He entered, taking his seat behind the desk opposite the young man. “Jeffrey, I’m sorry for the delay. I asked for you to come in because I need your help. You were there the night Dani overdosed. As a reporter, I’m sure you’re aware, the girl she got the drugs from overdosed and died shortly thereafter.”
“Yes, sir. It was tragic and we’re lucky Dani made it. I know that Dani never meant to take so much. I guess with the drinking and all she didn’t realize what she was doing.” He had been trained well and his voice dripped with sympathy for his friend. Jeffrey sat in his chair waiting to hear what else the commissioner had to say. There was no evidence the organization had been involved in the girl’s death and Jeffrey had been instructed to keep it that way. If the police had uncovered something, it was his job to make it disappear.
Bo looked at Jeffrey. The young man seemed genuinely concerned for Dani, but he had just sent a drugged gift basket to Viki. “Yes. We’ve been keeping this under wraps and it is strictly off the record. Can I trust you to respect that and not reveal what I’m about to tell you? This is still an active investigation.”
“Certainly sir, I do know what off the record means.”
“Good. Dani was given a pill that was four times stronger than she thought. Someone wanted her to overdose. The reason I brought you in is that someone made an attempt on someone else in her family today and I’m hoping you’ll be able to help us catch him. This morning a gift basket was delivered to Victoria Banks.” He was surprised as Jeffrey interrupted him.
“Is Viki alright?” Jeffrey moved forward in his chair and put his hands on the desk in front of him. He liked Viki and had been assured that her basket was just a token of Carl’s respect, but now he was worried. Had he made a mistake? Did he send the wrong basket to her?
“Viki is fine.” Bo watched as Jeffrey visibly relaxed upon hearing Viki was okay, but it was obvious now he had known about the baskets.
“Oh, thank God. When you said someone else in Dani’s family was targeted and then said something about Viki’s basket, I assumed she was the one targeted.”
“So you know about her basket. Would you mind telling me if you saw it being delivered? We’re trying to locate the delivery man.” Bo waited to hear Jeffrey’s reply.
“I saw it being delivered when I posted my story this morning. Wait are you saying Viki was targeted and the gift had something to do with it?”
“Viki received an anonymous call warning her about the basket, so she brought it in here to be tested. We found out the bottles of Sparkling Cider had been tampered with. So you didn’t actually have any contact with the basket, but you did see it delivered.”
Jeffrey nodded, “That’s right. The man delivered it to Viki’s secretary and then left. Do you suspect him of having something to do with the tampering?”
“At first we did but now a new suspect has come to light.” Bo leaned forward in his chair. “Tell me, Jeffrey. If you didn’t handle the basket. How do you explain your fingerprints found on the wrapper?”
Jeffrey was stunned. He knew he had handled the basket, but they shouldn’t have been able to prove his prints were on it. “You must be mistaken. I assure you I didn’t touch it this morning. Forgive me for asking but what makes you think they are my prints?”
“I know they are your prints because Viki gave us something this morning that had your prints on it.” Bo shuffled through some papers on his desk and pulled the bag containing the article. He lifted it to show Jeffrey.
Jeffrey felt a chill run down his back as he stared at the first copy of his article that morning. He had taken it to Viki to get a final approval for printing. His brain scrambled to find a logical reason for his prints on the basket. “Wait a minute, I remember, I happened to touch the basket as it sat on Viki’s desk this morning when I gave her that article. I don’t understand. Why did Viki suspect me?”
Bo ignored the question. “So you say you touched the basket after all. Where did you touch?” Bo continued to press.
Jeffrey pictured the basket and knew his fingerprints would have been near the card so he went with that. “I’m not sure but I think I might have touched up near the handle, maybe close to the card. You’ve got to believe me, I’d never do anything to hurt Viki.”
Bo nodded. “Okay, I believe you wouldn’t hurt Viki. But I had to find out why your prints were on the basket when you originally told me you didn’t handle it. Viki is close to me and I don’t take kindly to those wanting to hurt her. Listen I want to thank you for coming in and answering my questions. I was wondering if you could do me a favor. We’re a little short-handed here this morning. Some of my officers are out sick and we’ve got a lineup I need to fill. Would you be interested in seeing how we do things and help us out by standing in the lineup? It will only take a few minutes of your time.”
Jeffrey breathed a sigh of relief. The commissioner seemed satisfied with his explanation. It would probably help his standing with Matthew’s father to help out. “I’d be happy to help. I’ve always wanted to see how a lineup works.”
“Great. Thanks again for coming in.” Bo opened the door and called to Fish. “Fish take Mr. King down to the lineup room and instruct him on what he needs to do.” Bo watched them head for the room and a few minutes later he joined Fish, and John and the witness behind the two-way mirror.
John stepped out of the room the minute Jeffrey was identified. It was now time for the second part of their plan. As Jeffrey exited the lineup room he heard a curse and a crash behind him and suddenly found his shoes and pants covered in water. The police officer behind the bucket looked up and apologized profusely. John and Bo came up behind the custodian to see what the crash was about.
Bo quickly spoke up. “Damn it, Clark, what are you doing?”
“Sorry Boss, We had a drunk throw up in holding and all the rest of the men are complaining about the smell. Since we’re short-handed I was trying to help.”
Bo went to Jeffrey. “Come in here,” he led Jeffrey into an interrogation room. “The least we can do is give you some dry shoes to wear home, Clark, get the man a towel.”
Jeffrey laughed as he sat down in a chair. “It’s all right Bo. I don’t need another pair of shoes, A towel would be nice though. It will sop up the excess water in my slacks.” Clark showed up with a towel and Jeffrey proceed to take off his shoes and began to try and dry his slacks somewhat. John and Bo watched as he lifted his foot and rested it on his knee so he could work on the pant leg
Bo nodded at John. The tattoo was as big as life on the sole of Jeffrey’s foot. An exact match to the one on Victor’s arm and the dead man that had surfaced in the river months before. “Wow, that’s a pretty sensitive place for a Tattoo. It’s rather distinctive. What is it?”
Engrossed in what he was doing Jeffrey answered. “It’s a Triskele, an ancient Celtic symbol.” He reached for his shoes and after a few wipes of the towel put them back on his feet. “Well if you’ll excuse me I probably should get back home, I was right in the middle of something when your officer came to get me.” He started to walk to the door.
“Jeffrey, I’m afraid that’s not going to be possible. Jeffrey King, you’re under arrest for attempting to harm Viki Banks and now that we’ve seen your tattoo, we have even more questions for you pertaining to an ongoing murder case. Clark read him his rights and take him to booking.” He waited as Clark handcuffed a shocked and silent King out of the room. “It's obvious he answers to someone else. I want to know who. I think we can get a warrant for his computer. I want to know what he’s been up to all these months.”
Carl relaxed back in his chair in Dorian’s living room. Dorian had been a very gracious and excellent hostess at dinner. She had explained her absence, apologizing for leaving without a word. He had let her ramble on about Blair’s new conquest Tony Butler and how she had gone to New Orleans to check on him when he was ill because Blair was too far along in her pregnancy to travel. At the mention of Butler, he remembered reading the info his organization had come up with on the man. Although he was an up and coming entrepreneur, the man lacked the background needed to join Carl’s organization. Victor Lord’s sons, on the other hand, had been just what the organization had looked for. In fact, Victor Jr. had been an ideal asset at one time, but like his brother Todd, he had begun to test the organization. Before his disappearance in 2003, Todd Manning also rebelled against them. In order to bring Manning to his knees when he escaped his mother, they had faked Victor’s Death. Irene Manning had been very helpful making Todd believe he had killed his own brother. It was a shame Alison failed to capture Manning and he died. Still, Ms. Cramer was a lovely woman and maybe down the line her child would be offered the chance to join what his or her father had so foolishly turned away from. Carl was so deep in his thoughts that he never saw Dorian approach him until she nudged him and handed him a glass of wine.
“I should be annoyed with you. Just before my trip, I overheard you talking to another woman on the phone. Should I be worried Carl?”
“My dear Dorian, I would never put another woman ahead of you. The woman you heard me talking to was merely my assistant. We encountered a problem at one of my philanthropy projects and I was trying to get it under control. I’m sorry if you heard the conversation and it bothered you.” Carl looked around the room. “Is that why my gift to you isn’t on display? Were you so angry with me you threw it away?”
“Gift? Oh, Carl, I never received it. Pray, tell me. What did you send me?”
“It was a gift basket. I know how you like the finer things in life so I sent you some gourmet chocolates and some very fine wine. I deeply sorry you didn’t receive it.”
Dorian waved her in a grand gesture. “C’est la vie. Delivery services are so incompetent these days. Now don’t be upset. Drink, I found this lovely wine in a small shop in Paris. I think you’ll agree it’s quite good.” She took a sip and waited as Carl drank some of his.
Carl tried to control his anger at the foul up. He had hoped to begin training Dorian for the role he wished her to play with that wine. Now he would have to wait until another evening. He took another sip of the wine and looked at Dorian. “This is indeed delightful.” He paused to sniff the aroma and swirled the wine in the cup before taking another taste. “The bouquet is familiar. Can you tell me the name of the wine?”
“Of course,” Dorian rose and went to the bar and picked up the untainted bottle Blair had purchased earlier. “It’s called Domaine du Pegau, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee da Capo Imperial. It was a wee bit pricey, but it’s only money. Or as they say in Paris. 'il est seulement de l’argent.'” She laughed and poured herself another glass.
Carl chuckled to himself. Of course, she would choose that one. That’s why it was familiar, it was the same wine he had sent to her. She truly was a remarkable woman with refined taste and someone who would grace his arm as he made his play for the Presidency. He finished his glass and looked back at her.
Dorian had slipped the untainted bottle under the bar while Carl wasn’t looking and now brought the doctored bottle back to the settee. “Here, have some more. I wish to celebrate this evening and it is my hope that we will finally take the next step in our relationship.”
She poured more into Carl’s glass and slowly drank some of hers. She had seen how quickly David had fallen under the drug. Would Carl be just as susceptible to it? “I believe we would make a good pair Carl. We both have a number of good contacts and I know I would be an asset to you. Don’t you agree?” As she talked she saw his eyes glazing over. “Finish your drink Carl, so we can get down to business.”
Carl drank his wine as he listened to her talking. He nodded when she suggested they would be a good pair. That was what he wanted too. He drank down the wine unaware she had just ordered him to. Carl leaned forward to give her a kiss but suddenly felt off-balance. He stopped what he was doing, and tried to focus on Dorian. This isn’t right. Something’s wrong.
Dorian looked at him, he had been about to kiss her. Why did he stop? The drug was in his system. “Carl, don’t stop. Kiss me,” she commanded.
Carl again leaned forward and took her lips under his but then jerked back. “No!” What was he doing? He tried to gather his thoughts. Then he looked at the bottle on the table next to the settee and there in the bottom right-hand corner of the label was the triskele symbol. Now he realized what was happening to him. He was drugged. Dorian had lied. The bottle on the table was from the gift basket. The drug in his system was a minor inconvenience, he knew by now his body would soon dispel the effects. He had built up a good tolerance to it. But now Dorian needed to be taught a lesson. He turned his wrath on her. “You Witch! Did you think you could use my own drug against me?”
Dorian moved off the couch to put some space between her and Carl. The moment he had said “No!", she had realized there was a problem, but she had thought two full glasses of the wine would have been sufficient to keep him in line. “Carl, what do you mean? Why have you gotten so angry?” She backed away and tried to make her way around him towards the front door.
Carl moved swiftly to intercept her. “We’re not finished, Dorian.” He grabbed her wrist so she couldn’t leave him and again shook his head.
Dorian attempted to get him back under control. “Carl, listen to me. You don’t want to hurt me. You need to let my wrist go.”
He looked at her for a moment. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he glanced at her wrist and let it go but the minute she tried to move away he snatched it back. “It’s not going to work. I’ve mastered this drug. I know how to combat its effects. What were you going to do Dorian? Were you going to turn me into your plaything? Is that why you drugged me? Did you want me to be your puppy dog following you everywhere?” He pulled her back to the settee and threw her down on the couch.
“Carl, stop!.” Once again Carl hesitated. Dorian tried to get off the couch, but Carl stopped her and pushed her back. Before she realized what he was doing he held her down straddling her with his lower body and leg.
Carl paused to stroke Dorian’s cheek, “I was going to make you my First Lady. But you ruined it. How did you know the wine was drugged?” His hand moved to her neck and went around it. He put a small amount of pressure on it to let her know he was serious “Answer me. Who told you about the wine?”
Dorian was scared but she had survived Victor Lord and Carl Peterson was going to know just who he had messed with. “You want to know how I found out about the drug? Your messenger neglected to make sure the basket got to me. David found it and he helped himself to one of your bottles. Blair found out the wine was drugged because of him. You were so confident I’d fall at your feet because of such a generous gift. You even went so far as to leave a card letting us know who sent the basket. Tsk tsk. Carl, big mistake. In fact, it wasn’t even that, it was a rookie mistake. I would have thought a man like you would have known better than to leave evidence around.”
Carl closed his fingers just a little bit. “Don’t gloat Dorian. You’re not in the position to do that right now. So Blair knows, too? That’s a problem. I really didn’t want to hurt her since she’s carrying Victor Lord’s grandchild, but you’ve left me no choice. You told me the boys were gone for the night. I’ll just dispose of you and wait until Blair returns from the club to take her out.”
Dorian reacted instantly to the threat on Blair. The change in Carl was alarming. Gone was the charming philanthropist. Instead, she faced a man full of rage and by the pressure, he was beginning to put on her neck, he was a dangerous one. She reached up and scratched at Carl’s face raking his cheek with her nails determined to not show any fear. “You keep your filthy paws off Blair. You’re not a gentleman, you’re nothing but a thug pretending to be above reproach.”
Carl laughed and loosened his tie and used it to wipe his cheek, batting away Dorian’s hand as she tried to score another hit. Then he snagged her wrist and used it to bring her under control as he tightened his grip on her neck. “I knew you were a wildcat just like me. It’s too bad. I think we would have been good together, but now you know about the drug and so does Blair. That makes you both obstacles I can’t afford. I’m sorry Dorian. This won’t hurt for long. Call it Karma for trying to kill Victor all those years ago.” He began to squeeze as Dorian tried desperately to free herself.
Todd jumped out of Blair’s car and ran to the back of the house. He arrived at the terrace doors just in time to Carl on top of Dorian. She was clawing and hitting him with her one free arm and Todd suddenly had visions of a young Viki struggling under her father. Months of frustration and white-hot anger filled him.
“Peterson!” he roared and crashed through the doors determined to get the man off Dorian.
The sound of the breaking glass startled Carl and he loosened his grip on Dorian and turned to face what had made the sound. The next second he was bulldozed to the ground. Thinking it was David Vickers, Carl started trying to get his arms around the man with a bear hug. From the way the man evaded his hold, it soon became apparent the man was an experienced fighter.
Todd realized quickly that Peterson wasn’t just a man of leisure. He was built like a tank and he obviously was well versed in fighting. Todd had barely eluded Carl’s bear hug and he knew he needed to stay away from getting trapped in his arms. Thanks to the job on the road crew, he was in the best shape he had been in since his football days.
Carl attempted to trap his opponent under him but once again the younger man used his legs and arms to push him off and then Carl found himself face down as the younger man straddled him and slipped an arm around his neck.
Todd tightened his hold around Peterson’s neck and began squeezing. Unfortunately, he chose that moment to look towards Dorian and realized she was unconscious. “Peterson, you made a big mistake when you targeted my family.”
Carl continued struggling, slamming his elbow into Todd’s ribs. He felt them give and the hold around his neck loosened. He relaxed and collapsed to the ground, throwing Todd off balance. As Todd fell forward, Carl was freed again. Carl turned under his opponent and swiped his injured ribs with another heavy blow.
Todd grimaced and felt his breath rush out from the force of Peterson’s second blow to his injured ribs, falling to his side as Peterson rolled on top of him. The man sent another blow to his head. Todd barely managed to deflect the blow but felt the first scrape his cheek exposing his scar.
Peterson finally got a good look at his opposition as his hands closed around Todd’s neck. “You’re not Vickers. Who the hell?....My God, Manning. You’re supposed to be dead. Your brother was right, you do have more lives than a cat. Too bad this is the last one.”
Todd was beginning to see stars and he reached for anything he could find. His hand grasped a lamp that had fallen to the floor in their struggles and he swung it at Peterson’s head with a final surge of strength. Peterson dropped like a stone on top of him and Todd took some shallow breaths to clear his vision. For the third time in less than a year, he had almost been strangled to death.
He pushed Peterson’s body off of his and tore the cord from the now completely broken lamp. Rolling over, Todd gingerly got up on his knees and tied the unconscious man’s hands behind his back. Feeling for a pulse, he found it and patted the top of Peterson’s head. “Looks like I didn’t kill you. Too bad, I would have been within my rights. Still, I’m not going to go back to prison this time for anything. I’ll let Bo and the Feds take care of you.” Peterson started to stir and Todd hit him with his fist knocking him back out. Putting a hand against his ribs, Todd stood up and made his way to the couch.
Dorian was still alive. “Hey, Auntie Dorian, come on now. Wake up. It’s all over.” He gently patted her cheek. She was going to be sporting the bruises on her neck for a while, but her breathing seemed unimpeded. He patted her cheek a second time. Dorian’s eyes flew open, but still under the impression she was being attacked, she cried out and reached to claw the man above her. “Carl, stop!” she said gruffly.
Todd caught her hand. “Easy, Dorian. It’s me. Carl can’t hurt you.”
Dorian’s eyes focused on Todd. “How? I don’t understand?” Her voice was barely a whisper.
Before Todd could say anything, Blair burst through the front door followed by Bo and John McBain.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Your comments are 'payment' for the work of the authors. Our writers like to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment when you read.