Read Teresa Watson Online

Authors: Death Stalks the Law

Teresa Watson (5 page)

“Official paperwork in an envelope?”

She shrugged. “Maybe they were Rangers tickets. What does it matter?”

“If it was paperwork for the case, then why didn’t Hopkins come down here?”

“He’s a federal agent. They do whatever they want, wherever they want. What’s the big deal?”

“Suppose that whatever was in that envelope is what got him tied to a tree?”

“Then that would really suck. But it has nothing to do with you.”

“Oh, so what am I, collateral damage? Debra targeted him specifically. That means whatever Hopkins has she wants, and she wants it bad.”

“Unfortunately, he’s unavailable for questioning at the moment,” Trixie pointed out.

“There’s something else bothering me. Jake said he thought he recognized T.J.”

“Really?”

I nodded. “He said something about a press conference in D.C. As far as I know, T.J. has never been there.”

“How much do you really know about him?”

“Just what he’s told me.”

“In this day and age of technology, you didn’t bother to do any online searches for information?”

“Owen must have done a background check on him.”

“Have you talked to him?”

I shook my head. “I’ve never had a reason to ask before. I’m not sure I do now. I don’t want to cause trouble for him at work.”

“Ok, so Owen is out. Hopkins is out of commission at the moment, so we can’t ask him. I doubt he would tell us anything even if he knew something.”

“Good point.”

“That leaves us with one option.”

I looked at her. “No way.”

“Do you really have much of a choice? Who else are we going to ask?”

“How do we even know he has those kinds of resources?”

She looked at me. “Are you kidding? A man who drives a Porsche has the resources, trust me.”

“I don’t know how to get a hold of him.”

Trixie pulled out her cell phone. “He gave me his number.”

“Why?”

“In case you needed anything, he told me to call. I think he still has the hots for you.”

“Just call him.”

She dialed a number and waited. “Hello, Jake? This is Trixie Greene. Lizzie needs a favor.”

I have totally lost control of my life.

 

 

Chapter Ten

Thankfully, Jake said it would take him until the next day to get the information I wanted, which meant I would have some peace and quiet for the evening.

I was wrong.

Trixie left around seven p.m. I was on the couch, and Babe was on the floor nearby when the doorbell rang thirty minutes later. Sighing, I slowly got up and shuffled to the door. “What are you doing here? Don’t you have an investigation to run or something?” I said to Owen when I opened the door.

“Technically, you are part of the investigation. Again. Is this going to become a habit for you?”

“Hey, I’m an innocent bystander this time! I was trying to help Hopkins. How’s he doing, by the way?”

“Surgery went well. It will be a few days before they know if he will regain full function of his arm.”

“Well, come in and have a seat. Would you like some pecan pie?”

“You made pie this afternoon?”

“Are you serious? I’m on heavy duty pain meds. I can’t even operate a can opener. Maddie sent one over with Trixie.”

“Nah, I’m good,” he said, sitting in my recliner. “I have just a few questions for you, and then I’ll leave you alone.”

I sat down on the couch. “I have something I want to ask you as well.”

“You first.”

“You’re the guest, go ahead.”

“When you pulled up behind Hopkins’ truck, did you see any other people or cars around the area?”

I shook my head. “Just the truck. He was gagged and tied to the tree. I got the gag off and moved around the backside of the tree to undo the knots. He started to say something, but the truck exploded before he could finish.”

“Did you notice anything unusual about the rope?”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you think he could have tied himself to the tree?”

“Are you kidding? No way. The knots were on the other side. There is no way he could have done it himself. “

“I don’t think so, either, but I am just covering my bases. Did he say anything after the truck exploded?”

I shook my head again. “He was unconscious at that point. I’m guessing flying debris hit him in the head and knocked him out. My phone was in the car, that’s why I used his to call you.”

“I’m afraid there isn’t much left of the car, and whatever was inside,” Owen said. “If you need help replacing things, let me know.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that.”

“You want to tell me about the guy who showed up at my crime scene?”

Whoops, didn’t see that one coming. “His name is Jacob Mathias. He is the guy Dale hired to help me with the newspaper.”

“I see,” Owen replied. “Can you explain to me why T.J. wants to arrest him?”

“Arrest him for what?”

“At this point, for anything he can think of, but I’m pretty sure it’s a jealousy thing.”

“I knew Jake when I was in college.”

“Jake?”

“He prefers to go by Jake. His father’s name is also Jacob, but they are total opposites. His father is very intense; Jake is more laid back, although he can be intense at times, especially when he knows what he wants.”

“And you think he wants you back?”

“He wants answers. His best friend let it slip that Jake was going to propose the night of our college graduation. I didn’t like the picture of ‘our’ future he was painting, so I left town as soon as I walked the stage.”

“He never tried to get in touch with you?”

“He called Mother, but she didn’t tell him anything.”

“Do you still have feelings for him?”

“What business is it of yours?” I said as I thought about my reaction to seeing him again. As much as I hated to admit it, there might be a spark or two still there.

“You better figure it out,” Owen advised me. “Someone just tried to kill a federal agent in my jurisdiction, and I have Feds crawling all over the place. I don’t need T.J. distracted because he’s worried about you and some old boyfriend. Do you love T.J.?”

“I think so.”

“Then tell this Jake character to leave town. Get in touch with Dale and tell him to find someone else to work with you.” He looked at his watch. “I’ve got to go. I’m taking a shift standing guard outside Hopkins’ room tonight. Do I need to put someone out here for the night?”

“I’m alright. I’ve got Babe and a baseball bat.”

“Which you can’t swing with one arm,” Owen pointed out. “What about your crazy aunt?”

“I don’t think I’m her target.”

“You think she did this to Hopkins?”

“I don’t know.”

“If you know something, you’d better tell me, Lizzie. Attempted murder of a federal agent is a serious charge. If you think she is involved, then we need to utilize all the resources the Feds can give us to find her.”

I hated to lie to him, but I felt like I didn’t have a choice. “I don’t know a thing, Owen. I guess I’m a little paranoid right now.”

He stared at me for a minute. “You’re holding something back, but I can’t make you talk. I’m not always going to be around to save your butt. Keep that in mind.” He got up and walked to the door. “What did you want to ask me?”

“It’s not important. It’ll wait.”

“Make sure you lock up after I leave. Check all the windows and doors.”

“I will,” I assured him. He looked at me, shook his head and left. I locked and bolted the door, then checked the rest of the house to make sure everything was locked up tight.

As I turned off the kitchen light, the phone rang. “Hello?”

“Lying to the police is a crime, you know,” Debra said. “He’s not going to be happy when he finds out you’re holding out on him.”

“Do you have my house bugged or something?”

“Or something,” she laughed. “Don’t worry, it’s only for your protection.”

“From what?You?”

“I don’t have a beef with you, Lizzie. We’re family.”

“Amos was your father, and you killed him.”

“That was different.”

“I don’t even want to try and understand your twisted logic on that one. Why do you think I need protection?”

“People are using you to get to me. You need to be careful who you trust.”

“What people?”

“We’ll talk later. Your phone is tapped. Be careful who you talk to and what you say.” She hung up.

I had officially reached the limit of my patience and sanity. I took a pain pill, turned off the lights and went to bed. But tomorrow, someone was going to have to answer some serious questions.

I just hoped that I wouldn’t lose my heart in the process.

 

 

Chapter Eleven

 An incessant buzzing sound woke me up the next morning. I started to reach over with my right arm to turn the alarm off, but a wave of pain stopped me. When Babe started barking, I realized someone was leaning on the doorbell. I grabbed the baseball bat with my left hand and went to the front door. “Knock it off,” I yelled as I unlocked the door. “What are you doing here at this ungodly hour?”

“Ungodly hour?” Jake said as he carried in two bags and a briefcase. “It’s almost eleven a.m., woman. I’ve been calling you for three hours.”

I looked over at the answering machine and noticed the light blinking furiously. “I was asleep.”

“Must be really good pain meds they gave you to knock you out this long.”

“It was just a really bad day yesterday, in every sense of the word.”

He looked down at the baseball bat leaning again the wall by the door. “And what were you planning to do with that?”

“I use it to smack people who ring the doorbell too much,” I said, closing the door. Babe was whining at the back door, so I let her out as Jake put the bags and briefcase on the kitchen table. “Why are you here?” I said, slowly sinking into a chair.

“Are you alright?”

“Besides hurting all over, and my arm throbbing like mad, oh sure, I feel just great.”

“Sarcasm does not become you, Lizzie.”

“Deal with it.”

“Keep it up. I’ll take the food and the information you wanted out of here.”

“Sorry. Now give me the food.”

“I have to cook it first,” he said taking chicken, rice and corn out of one of the bags.

“When did you learn to cook?”

“Just because I’m rich doesn’t mean I keep a cook on staff,” he said. “Where can I find a skillet?”

“Bottom cabinet on the left side of the stove. You’ll find some olive oil in the upper cabinet on the right by the fridge.”

I sat and watched him for a few minutes, wondering who this person was in my kitchen. It certainly wasn’t the same person I had left all those years ago. “Why are you here?”

 “Because you need to eat, and you can’t exactly grip a spatula, much less a skillet, with your arm in a cast.”

“I don’t mean that. I mean why did you come to Brookdale?”

“To see you.”

“You told me that you didn’t know I was involved until a few days ago. I have a feeling you’ve known ever since Dale called you.”

“I plead the fifth.”

I just looked at him.

He shrugged. “I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m sure you had your reasons for leaving like you did.” He turned to look at me. “We’re going to be working together, Lizzie. If we don’t clear the air, it is always going to be hanging there between us. Don’t you think it would be better to get it out in the open and over with so we can both move on?”

“I have moved on. I have a boyfriend…” He snorted and turned back to the cutting board. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. Just tell me why you left.”

“Fine. You had everything mapped out for our future, but you never stopped one time to ask me what I thought about it, or ask me what I wanted. When Greg accidentally let it slip that you were going to propose at the graduation party, in front of all our friends, I freaked out. I knew if I said yes, that I would never have any control over what happened to my life from that point on. I’m a small town girl; you’re this rich guy from the East Coast who is used to getting what he wants. I was starting to feel like I was just another conquest for you, another trophy for your shelf. That wasn’t the life I envisioned for myself.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me that?”

“I tried! Several times! But you just brushed me off. I couldn’t tell whether your feelings for me were real or not.”

“I’m sorry, Lizzie,” he said, kneeling in front of me. “I had no idea. You’re right, that is exactly the type of person I was back then. But I’m not like that anymore.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

“Actions speak louder than words, I know. Which reminds me,” he said, reaching into the other bag, “I got this for you this morning. I don’t know what your other one was like, but I hope this will be ok.” He handed me a new phone.

“Jake, I can’t take this.”

“People at the newspaper need to be able to get a hold of you when you aren’t there. After what happened yesterday, I don’t think it is a good idea to be without one.”

“I…thank you. It’s very kind of you.”

“We’ll consider it a business expense,” he smiled.

“About that favor we talked about last night, were you able to find anything out?”

He put olive oil in the skillet, and slid the chicken on top. “Let’s talk about that after we eat.”

“That bad, huh?”

He sighed. “There is a federal task force looking for your aunt. They’ve put some people undercover in some of her favorite haunts.”

“Is Hopkins part of that task force?”

“Yeah, he is. The man you knew as Oliver Coogan was an outside consultant.”

“Do you think he was Hopkins’ contact?”

“That I don’t know yet,” Jake said. “My sources are still working on it.”

“Suppose it wasn’t Coogan. Who else would Hopkins work with?”

“Local law enforcement, usually the sheriff or the police chief.”

“Owen.”

He shrugged. “It’s possible. I don’t know anything concrete yet. It’s possible he was working with T.J.”

“That doesn’t make much sense. T.J. hasn’t been here that long.”

“Hopkins has been here since last summer, according to my sources.”

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