Home > Fatal Reckoning (Fatal #14)(17)

Fatal Reckoning (Fatal #14)(17)
Author: Marie Force

“Thank you.”

“We’re inundated with media wanting interviews with you.”

Sam shook her head. “I don’t have anything more to say.”

“They want to know how you are, Sam. People care. Can you give them five minutes?”

Though it was the last thing she wanted to do, she sighed in defeat. “Fine. Whatever.”

“I checked out your father’s files from Records and everything is in my office.”

“I’ll send someone over to get it.”

“You’re sure about this?”

“Never been surer about anything in my life.”

He continued to stare at her for a long time before he nodded. “Okay. We’ll do it your way, but I want to be involved as the official lead on this so there can never be any claims of conflict of interest or anything else that messes up the case.”

“I can live with that.”

Freddie came to the door. “Morning.”

Malone seemed surprised to see him. “What’re you doing here? You’re off until Monday.”

“I cut my vacation short. We’ve got things to do.”

Freddie’s fierceness matched Sam’s. He’d loved her father and would do anything he could to support her in this next phase of the journey to find the shooter.

He glanced at her. “What can I do?”

“Bring my father’s files from the captain’s office to the conference room?”

“On it.”

After Freddie had walked away, the captain seemed reluctant to leave. “I’m worried about you. We all are.”

“I’m okay.”

“That’s what worries me.”

“You’re worried because I’m okay?”

“I’m worried because I’m well aware that losing Skip is a big fucking deal to you, and you’ve been all calm, cool composure when I’d expect you to be a hot mess.”

Sam considered his words for a moment. “Maybe I’ll be a hot mess at some point in the future, but for right now, I’m trying to stay focused on justice for my dad and our family. That’s getting me through, as well as the thought of him being free from the difficulties of the last four years.”

Malone sagged against the door frame. “I give you credit. You’re handling this a lot better than I am. I’m just so fucking enraged.”

“As am I, Captain, despite how it might appear. We need to ride that rage straight to a suspect. If we can find the person who did this, then maybe we can find some peace for ourselves at the same time.”

He stood to his full, imposing height. “I’ll get you the info from the tip line.”

“Thank you for everything. You were a great friend to him.”

“He was a great friend to me, and we’re going to get this motherfucker if it’s the last thing we ever do.”

With a lump lodged firmly in her throat, Sam offered a small nod.

“Will you do one thing for me? Will you check in with Trulo?”

She rolled her eyes. “If I must.”

“The situation with Gonzales has me realizing we need to do better when it comes to PTSD and the other mental health concerns that go along with this job.”

“I’ll talk to him.”

“All right, then. Carry on and keep me posted.”

“Will do.”

She decided to get the press briefing out of the way first so she could get on with the rest of her day. Though it went against everything she believed in to willingly address the media, she’d agreed to give them five minutes, and she would keep her promise. Steeling herself and buttoning down her emotions, she walked from the pit to the lobby, where she encountered the chief conferring with Malone.

What were the odds they were talking about her? High.

Seeing her coming, Chief Farnsworth waved her over. “The captain tells me you’re going to give the media a few minutes. I’ll go out with you.”

“Appreciate that, sir.”

“Shut it down if you need to. That’s an order.”

“I will. Let’s get this over with.”


SAM LED THE way through the double doors to the courtyard, where the media set up shop on a regular basis. As she approached the podium, the reporters began shouting questions at her.

How are you?

How is your family?

How did the vice president learn of your father’s death?

Have you received new leads?

Why were you suspended last week?

Are the Armstrong children still living with you and the vice president?

Sam waited for them to shut the fuck up before she spoke. “On behalf of myself and my family, I’d like to thank the people of the District, the Capitol region and across the country for the outpouring of sympathy and condolences on the passing of my father. I’d also like to thank my colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Department for their support over the last few days, as well as the men and women in blue who came from all over the country to pay tribute to my father and his service. I’m not going to lie to you. This is a tough loss for all of us, but we’re continuing to do what he’d expect of us, and for me that includes getting back to work. I’ll take a few questions and then I’ve got to get to it.”

“Lieutenant,” a female reporter from one of the TV stations said, “in announcing your father’s death, you requested information on his unsolved shooting. Have you received new tips as a result of that request?”

“We have, and we’ll be pursuing each one of them. In light of his death, his case has been elevated to a homicide, and my father will receive the same attention all homicide victims in this city receive from my team. I’ll restate my earlier request that anyone with information pertaining to the shooting of Deputy Chief Holland call the department’s tip line.” She gave the number and then repeated it. “If you know something, now is the time to come forward to help us take a violent criminal off the streets.”

“Is it a conflict of interest for you to investigate your own father’s shooting?” another female reporter asked.

Sam wanted to punch her in the face. “I’m not the lead investigator on the case. Captain Malone is taking the lead, so no, it’s not a conflict. We all want to see the person who shot a decorated police officer brought to justice. My father’s life was cut short by decades as a result of that shooter. He or she needs to be brought to justice so no one else can be harmed.”

“You’ve been working this case for almost four years already,” Darren Tabor asked. “What’ll be different this time?”

“That’s a good question, and it’s hard to say. Hopefully, the requests for tips will generate new leads, and it never hurts to put fresh eyes on a cold case. We’ve added several new detectives to the Homicide squad in the last two years, and they’ll be seeing much of the information about the case for the first time. All we can do is try.”

“Can you confirm that the children of Jameson and Cleo Armstrong, also known as Beauclair, are residing with you and the vice president?” one of the male broadcast reporters asked. Their expensive suits and fastidious grooming set them apart from their newspaper colleagues.

“Per the wishes of their brother, Elijah, who is their legal guardian, they are currently under our care, where they’ll remain until Elijah finishes college in eighteen months.”

That announcement was met with stunned silence followed by more rapid-fire questions about the children, their extended family, Sam’s family and protection for the children in light of Nick’s job. So many questions were fired at her in the span of two seconds that she could barely process them all.

She held up her hands to quiet them. “Thank you for the compassionate coverage of my father’s life and death and for continuing to air our request for tips in his case. My family appreciates it. That’s all I have to say for now. We’ll provide updates as they become available.” They continued to shout questions at her as Sam turned and walked quickly toward the double doors.

The chief held the left side open and followed her inside. “You handled that well. Thank you for doing it.”

“Hopefully, it’ll keep the tips rolling in.” Sam dug her phone out of her pocket. “Since I just confirmed that the Armstrong children are living with us, I probably ought to let Nick know there could be a shitstorm coming his way.”

“Probably not a bad idea,” Malone said. “I’ve got a couple of things to do, and then I’ll be over to help.”

“Thanks, Cap.” Sam put through the call to Nick as she walked toward the pit.

“Are you already in trouble?”

She smiled at the question. “Not yet, but I may have caused some trouble for you by confirming our temporary guardianship of Aubrey and Alden to the media.”

“And you did this willingly?”

“I was compelled by my command to feed the beast hungry for info about how I’m handling my father’s death. They asked. I answered, because I figure we’ll have to eventually. Sorry I didn’t consult with you first.”

“No worries. I’ll let Terry and Trevor know. They’ll deal with it.”

“All right. I just wanted to give you a warning.”

“Appreciate it, babe. Are you doing all right?”

“I’ve got a lot to do. That helps.”

“I’ll let you get to it. Be careful with my wife. I love her very much.”

“She loves you too. See you later.”

“Call me if you need me.”

“I will.” Sam closed the phone and stashed it in her pocket, planning to put in her shift and go home to her family as soon as she could. Her father’s case had been lingering for four years. It wouldn’t be solved in a day of new effort. Hell, it still might never be solved, a thought that profoundly depressed her.

When her cell phone rang, she took the call from Gonzo. “Hey, what’s up?”

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