Cold Case “Everything Burns” Chapter 2

“Everything Burns”

Chapter 2.

Haldyn kept her opinion completely to herself as she and her new partner walked out of the chief’s office and grabbed the elevator to the new annex where she spent most of her day. Her feet were killing her. She wasn’t used to wearing heels like this, but the DA had wanted her to appear a little taller. She hadn’t asked why. She would be the first to admit she didn’t often understand the sociological and psychological aspects of law enforcement. She was the scientist, not the sociologist.

Foster walked at her side, a big hulky man-brute who thought the sun rose and set in his own quick wits.

He wasn’t as quick witted as he thought.

The elevator stopped on the fourth floor and a friendly face stepped in. Daniel McKellen smiled when he saw her. “Haldyn.”

“Hi, Dan.”

“I’ve not seen you in a few days. Feeling better?”

“Hmmm. Fully recovered.” They’d been on a date–just friends, of course–down by the actual creekside and she’d gotten stung by a bee. Mildly allergic, she’d had to end the date early. They’d both been disappointed. Daniel was one of the few friends she’d made on the force who wasn’t a direct member of her department.

He’d gone out of his way after the bombing to stop off in her department every day and see how she was doing running things.

Haldyn had always been painfully shy; leading a group of fifteen people was not easy for her. And it probably never would be. Daniel had understood that.

“Good.” Daniel looked at the man who hadn’t said anything. Haldyn thought he and Daniel were on friendly terms. Both had been good friends of Brynna’s before she’d almost been killed. “Foster. Almost didn’t see you there.”

“Sure you didn’t.”

Daniel looked back at her and smiled.

He really was a beautiful man. He was taller than Foster and far more classically handsome. More importantly, Daniel was a geniunely kind man. He was also very busy running the Major Crimes division–which meant their dates had to be on an infrequent basis. “I have a quick question for you.”

“Go ahead.” She’d expected it to be about evidence. Daniel was good about keeping conversations professional when they were on the clock.

“My cousin’s wedding is coming up. Two Saturdays from now. Would you be free that day?” He leaned closer as he asked, one hand on her back. It surprised her. Until she met his eyes and realized he was doing it on purpose.

He knew of the acrimony between her and Detective Foster.

Everyone in the post knew of their history.

And Daniel was an extremely protective man.

Tenderness rushed her and she shifted a little closer. Her smile was real and just for him when she answered. “Of course. I’d love to.”

“Great. The wedding is at three. I’ll pick you up around one? We’ll do an early lunch at the Barratt again.”

“I’d like that very much.”

The elevator dinged and he smiled again. “Call me when you leave tonight. We can catch a movie or dinner.”

“Perfect.”

And then she was alone with Detective Foster. Again.

***

Was she sleeping with McKellen? She didn’t seem the type to get involved with a man she worked with but McKellen technically wasn’t anywhere near her department. Yes, he was the head of Major Crimes and she the head of Forensics, but the two were easily separated, if needed.

She would seem McKellen’s type.

Dan had had a real thing for Brynna Beck months ago. And Brynna and Harris were a lot alike. Both were tall and thin, redheaded, and reserved. Rigid and set in their routines. He’d known Brynna since she was a child and understood it was the autism that caused her need for order.

Haldyn Harris was just…persnickety.

Blue eyes met his and the challenge was there.

He had to rise to the bait, didn’t he? “You and McKellen been together long?”

“My relationship with Daniel is no one’s business but ours.”

What could Daniel possibly see in her? Jarrod had watched as Daniel had touched her.

She’d let him, silently telling Jarrod that Daniel had touched her before. Easily. And she hadn’t acted like his touch burned her skin like she had Jarrod’s the one time he’d accidentally brushed against her on a crime scene. She’d leaned into the other guy, like she’d wanted him to touch her.

Interesting.

“He certainly gets around.”

“What do you mean by that? Daniel is something you will never understand. He’s a gentleman.”

“How archaic.”

“Says the anachronism. What does who I date have anything to do with you? It has no bearing on this new position.”

The elevator opened on their floor. He motioned her in front of him. She stalked out. Jarrod watched for a quick second. The heels and shorter skirt than he was used to seeing her in showed off a very nice pair of legs to perfect advantage.

Maybe it was the legs and the hair. The eyes and the sweet mouth. It definitely wasn’t the attitude.

She was as prickly as a cactus with men.

At least she was with Jarrod.

Apparently she was soft and warm and welcoming with Daniel McKellen.

She entered the code into the keypad to let them into the new evidence locker.

After the previous storage room had been destroyed in the bombing, all remaining evidence had been secured as best as possible. It was gradually being audited–by Haldyn’s team–and chain of command double-checked and preserved. He did not envy her that task, at all.

But every cold case that had remained unsolved over the last fifty years was now his task. Because the corruption in the TSP had been that pervasive. What Elliot Marshall hadn’t told her was that they weren’t just doing cold cases.

They were checking for corruption.

That was Jarrod’s true purpose now. His.

And Daniel McKellen’s.

Hopefully, Dr. Harris wouldn’t prove to be too much of a distraction for the other man to focus on the job they had to do.

***

The box of evidence they were looking for had been misplaced. Haldyn hated to admit it, but a lot of the cases she’d looked for in the remains of the vault had been misplaced. She suspected a lot had been lost on purpose. It was a slow process to find anything in here.

And it was dusty and dirty and she wasn’t entirely certain it was fully safe.

They’d installed strong filters to clean the dust and debris out of the air, but she was super-sensitive to smells and chemicals and she wasn’t fully convinced the filters had worked the way they were supposed to have.

Another part of her was certain someone with the code was sneaking in and moving things on purpose.

She’d checked the security cameras herself four times already. Nothing.

She was probably just being ridiculous.

It took two hours, with Foster breathing down her neck the whole time, for her to find the box. On the highest shelf, furthest corner possible. If she hadn’t been so determined, she never would have found it.

Haldyn never gave up when evidence was involved. “I have it!”

She turned and looked at the man standing at the bottom of the ladder. She’d slipped her shoes off before climbing, but she’d had to arch to reach the box. Her skirt had ridden up higher than she wanted to think about.

She should have put on coveralls. But the skirt made that very uncomfortable. With her hands occupied, she couldn’t pull the skirt back to where it was supposed to be.

And Foster was enjoying the show.

She almost dropped the box of evidence on his head.

It would serve him right.

“Pervert.”

“What? I’m just making certain you don’t fall. Honest.” He shot her a look. “You’d be the last woman in the entire building I’d sneak a peek at, babe. You can bet on that.”

***

Jarrod was lying through his teeth. Now he understood why McKellen had seemed so interested in sniffing around Harris. Maybe she grated on Jarrod’s nerves, but the woman was built in a way he had never noticed before.

Not that it mattered to him that she was. A smart man avoided rattlers.

Haldyn bit when a man got too close.

She handed down the evidence box. He took it, forcing his eyes back on the task at hand and away from his new partner’s awesome legs. Besides, he wasn’t a pervert or a dog like half the rest of the men who worked in the post.

Some of them had been there for thirty years and had attitudes stuck thirty years in the past. Especially where women in law enforcement–any branch of it–were concerned. Jarrod considered himself to be better than that. He had no problem with women in law enforcement. His best partner had been a woman, after all.

He had a problem with the Queen of Evidencia, who snipped and snapped at him every time he ever questioned her precious “science”.

One small mistake and she had mistrusted him ever since. “Well, let’s open it up.”

“There’s a bit more to it than that, and you know it.” She went through the painstakingly tedious process.

Then everything was laid out on her table.