TSP: Cold Case #1 “Everything Burns” Ch 3

“EVERYTHING BURNS”

 

Chapter 3.

Most of the time she had no difficulty focusing on the evidence, but Detective Butthead was right in her space, distracting her. He did it on purpose–the looming. Haldyn had never been overly comfortable with people in her space; let alone men like Jarrod Foster.

He was just so much more untamed than Daniel. Daniel really was an old-fashioned gentleman.

Jarrod Foster was a cranky wild man. He made her nervous.

And he’d made it very clear he did not like her.

She remembered the first time she’d met him. It had been her first week off of second shift, and she had been in the former conference room with Bennett Russell, Gabby and Brynna.

Detective Foster had come in, looking all wild-eyed and scruffy. He’d seen her in Brynna’s seat and demanded the evidence they hadn’t had a chance to even process yet.

When she’d informed him of that, he’d jumped all over her.

Gabby and Brynna had defended her, and he’d apologized.

That time.

The next forty-two times they’d disagreed about something he hadn’t bothered to apologize. But then again, that first time, he’d wanted Brynna and Gabby on his precious investigation. Not Haldyn.

He hadn’t even given her a chance that day.

She hadn’t given him one since Gabby and Brynna had quit. He didn’t get to come into her department–she didn’t just run Computer Forensics now, she supervised the entire department–and cherry pick his technicians. Not anymore.

She’d considered Gabby and Brynna her friends. But Jarrod Foster?

No.

He played by her rules in her lab. Whether he liked it or not.

“Can you hurry it up a little? I have things to do. Probably long before your date with Danny-boy this evening.”

“I follow procedure now, you get to keep this evidence at trial. And my reputation stays intact.”

“Your precious reputation. Pristine. Lilly-white.”

**

He liked to needle her, and since seeing her with Dan the urge was stronger than ever. Enough to distract him from the fragments of a case she was laying out before them. She wore latex gloves but they didn’t disguise how delicate and pretty Harris’s hands were.

He’d never thought of Harris as having pretty anything before. Except her mouth.

It was a pretty smart one. At least where he was concerned. Where Dan was concerned it was soft and smiling and inviting. Sexy as hell, too.

No wonder Dan was taking her out tonight. And probably on Saturday, too.

Damn it.

Jarrod needed to get his head back in the game. “So…what do we have?”

“It’s an almost twenty-year-old missing persons case.”

“I know that.” He fought back the impatience. Jarrod had never been an extremely patient man.

But he knew she was. Just like Brynna and Gabby had had their quirks, so did Haldyn. Everyone knew the obsessive-compulsive diagnosis was a real one.

She had her obsessions.

And evidence was one of them.

This job they were going to be doing together wasn’t going to be a short-term deal. He had to get himself under control.

Jarrod couldn’t do this job if he was suddenly lusting after the only real ally he and Daniel were going to have.

No matter that she did smell like the faintest hint of vanilla.

**

He was still in her space. She blew out a breath and bit back the irritation. The conference door opened and one of her evidence recovery techs came in, looking for her next assignment. Charlotte Fields, known around the department as Chuckie, was fast. And extremely efficient. She hadn’t been in the city long, but she was good. Damned good.

If Haldyn had her way, Chuckie would take one of her open assistant supervisor positions within the month.

The other she’d already earmarked for a deputy one county south. As soon as she convinced Bailey Moore that Forensics was where she truly belonged. After Bailey dealt with some of her own things going on right now.

Bailey had had a really rocky road lately.

Elliot Marshall had told her to pick the people she thought could do the job the best–and not consider seniority. Told her that he had something new in mind. Soon.

It was all happening soon.

But first she had to work with Detective Butthead.

“Hey Hal, do you have anything else for me?”

Chuckie had a way of calming everyone around her. Haldyn included. She made a split-second decision. “Yes. Take photos for me. Foster can take notes.”

“We pull a case?”

“A boy’s body was pulled from the flood waters just this side of the county line,” Foster said. “I don’t think we’ve met yet?”

Chuckie nodded at him, but didn’t hold out her hand. She had never seen Chuckie touch a male under the age of sixty or over the age of twelve. Haldyn had the impression that men scared the slightly younger woman for some reason. Foster just looked at Chuckie.

A lot of men did. Chuckie was beautiful, with dark brown hair, bright green eyes and a nice body.

And Foster was a pit of a player. Everyone knew that.

“Dr. Charlotte Fields. I handle evidence recovery on scene. So what about this body?”

“He’s been positively identified as Tomas Rodrigo. Thirteen. He’s been missing for twenty years.”

 “Well, it just turned into a murder investigation. His body was found in the flood waters down by McGareth Road just this side of the county.”

“And there was enough to identify him?’’ Haldyn asked. The condition of a twenty-year-old body in the pool of sludge that would be flood waters by McGareth Road would make identification exceedingly difficult. Except for DNA and dental records

 “And this is all we have to go on?” Chuckie asked, eyeing the few pieces of evidence skeptically.

Haldyn completely agreed.

They had a single sweatshirt.

Parts of a red and blue bicycle.

And that was it.

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