KARMA





“911. What is your emergency?”

“Please…please send help…an ambulance.”

“Ma’am, are you hurt?” Amy Cochrane kept her voice calm even as the address of the caller flashed onto her screen.

“Yes.” The response was so soft Amy barely heard it. “But…I shot my husband.” The caller began sobbing almost hysterically.

Amy’s fingers flashed over the computer keys sending officers and EMTs to the location. “Ma’am, what’s your name?”

The caller finally answered, “Gabi…Gabrielle. He wouldn’t stop…God he just wouldn’t stop….”

Amy heard the phone land on the floor and the woman’s anguished sobbing. When she didn’t give a reply, he contacted the patrol unit in route to the call. “Be advised caller claims to have shot her husband because he wouldn’t stop. I’m not getting anything else from her except hysterical crying.”

“10-4.” Officer Tyrone Lewis groaned. “Another damned domestic.”

His partner grimaced and silently agreed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Detective James Ellison sighed when the ringing telephone interrupted his breakfast. Giving his plate of bacon and eggs a regretful look, he ignored his partner’s snickering as he got up to answer the phone.

“Ellison.”

“Ellison!”

“I’ve no idea, sir,” Jim finally answered. “I haven’t talked to either of them in weeks.”

Simon grunted. “Call came in last night on a domestic abuse. Husband killed by his wife who, quite frankly, looks like she was beaten by a professional. She confessed to the 911 Dispatcher that she’d shot him but was calling to get him help. Both she and the deceased were taken to Cascade General. She was released this morning and brought in for questioning by Homicide. They’d barely gotten here when your father and brother along with some high-powered attorney got here demanding she be released. Damn thing is the deceased is David Jordan of THE Jordans.” Simon sighed. “I sent the lawyer down to Homicide with his client and have been fending off your relations. Get down here and settle them down.”

“Sir – “ Jim stared at the phone, hearing nothing more than a dial tone.

“Jim?”

Jim turned towards his partner, Det. Blair Sandburg, who was looking at him with concern. Taking a deep breath, he walked back to the table and shoved two forkful bites of the eggs into his mouth and grabbed a slice of bacon. “Dad and Steven are raising hell at the station and Simon wants me to settle them down. I’ll explain more on the way. We’re leaving in 5, Chief.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jim ignored his fellow detective, Henri Brown, when he hummed “The Death March” as they neared Simon’s door. Despite himself, Blair tossed Henri a quick grin then followed his partner into Simon’s office.

“Dad. Steven. What the hell’s going on?”

Behind Jim, Blair could have kicked his partner for the aggrieved tone of his voice. He saw the narrowing of William Ellison’s blue eyes and quickly interrupted. “What my partner means, Mr. Ellison, it’s good to see you. And how are you involved with this incident?”

Steven’s eyes twinkled as he answered Blair. “Gabi & David Jordan live two doors down from Dad. It’s been pretty evident that he’s been beating her for a while. But she never pressed charges so…” Steven shrugged.

“How obvious?” Jim asked. “If other people could see the bruises…”

“The usual story,” William snapped. “She’d say she fell down or tripped or fainted due to low blood sugar or some other bullshit.” The older man was seething. “Most times you couldn’t see the bruises, but she’d be moving stiffer than an arthritic ninety-year-old.” He was interrupted by the ringing of Simon’s phone.

“Banks.” Simon glanced at Jim then replied, “They’re on their way.” Hanging up the phone, he looked at Jim and Blair. “Mrs. Jordan’s ready to make a statement and be questioned with her attorney present. Homicide has kicked this up to our department so the two of you will question her. She’s in Room Six.” He looked at Steven and William. “I have a meeting in fifteen minutes so my assistant will show you both to a conference room. Jim and Blair will meet with you after the questioning is over.”

“Thank you, Captain Banks,” Steven smoothly answered. “My father and I appreciate your cooperation, and I apologize for the earlier disturbance.” He noticed that Jim left without commenting although Blair waved as he turned to follow his partner.

“Why did Homicide kick it to Major Crimes?” Blair questioned.

“Translation: Let Major Crimes deal with a scandal concerning the wealthy and powerful,” Jim grunted in response. He glanced at Blair. “David Jordan of Jordan Entertainment owns just about every movie theater complex in the city.”

Blair whistled under his breath.

“Hey, Ellison. You drew the short straw, huh?” Homicide Detective Alonzo Hernandez greeted with a smile. He saw Sandburg and nodded.

“Looks like,” Ellison nodded.

“My condolences,” Alonzo commented. He handed a folder to Jim. “Here’s what we’ve got so far. The lady called nine-one-one almost hysterical and admitted to the shooting. The officers on the scene saw her condition and sent her to the hospital. Husband was dead at the scene. Two bullets to the chest. One hit the lung and the other clipped his aorta. To be honest, I don’t think there’s a case for homicide or even manslaughter.”

“Why do you say that?” Jim asked.

“Wait until you see her face,” Alonzo grunted. “Good luck.”

Jim quickly scanned the file. “Not much here but forensics is still on the scene. Gabrielle Susan Jordan nee Grant.” He closed the folder. “Ready?”

Blair nodded.

In the interrogation room, Jim and Blair got their first look at Gabi Jordan. Both eyes were blackened, and her left eye was swollen completely shut. Dark purplish bruises were scattered across both cheeks, and her nose was badly swollen. Jim’s eyesight allowed him to see flecks of dried blood in her nostrils and a few streaks of blood in her ash blonde hair. Her right arm was cradled in a sling, and her left jaw looked to be painfully swollen. What surprised Jim was that she didn’t look to be older than her mid-20’s. He knew her deceased husband was close to his father’s age.

“I’m Detective Ellison and this is my partner, Detective Sandburg,” Jim began.

“I’m Diane Chambers, Mrs. Jordan’s attorney.” Diane Chambers was a middle-aged woman with short auburn hair and dark brown eyes. She shook their hands in a perfunctory manner then sat back down next to her client.

“Mrs. Jordan, would you like something to drink?” Blair quietly asked. “I realize eating would be painful but…”

“Thank you, no.” Gabi’s voice was soft. “I just want to go…” She closed her one good eye. “I don’t have a home, do I?”

“Yes, you do. I’m sure the police will be done with their forensic investigation very soon.” Gabi’s attorney, Diane Chambers, gave the two detectives a look that promised retribution if this were not the case.

“I think the best way to proceed is for you to just tell me what happened, Mrs. Jordan,” Jim gently suggested. “Then we’ll ask questions when you’re done.” He activated the tape recorder and identified the people in the room.

Gabi glanced at Diane who nodded.

“David…I know what people said. That he married me to have a trophy wife. So I must be a gold digger. But…” Gabi slowly shrugged. “But I really loved him. And he loved me although sometimes he treated me like a pampered child.” She tried to smile but winced. “But David…also has…had a temper. It got to the point if anything or anyone got him angry or upset, he’d take it out on me. At first, he just yelled or threw something. Then he’d say he was sorry.”

Diane’s dark eyes met Jim’s in an expression of having “heard that before”.

“Then he started hitting me.” Gabi’s voice got softer. “He just got so angry, and I couldn’t understand why. I tried so hard to be good and perfect for him. The house was immaculate, and we entertained a lot. People always complimented me on how well we entertained and how I looked. That was important to David…but…” She glanced away. “…hitting me seemed….to excite him.” She took a deep breath. “Then I found out he had a mistress. I realized everything I’d gone through was for nothing…he didn’t really love me.”

Diane put a hand on Gabi’s arm and gently squeezed it in warning.

“No,” Gabi gingerly shook her head. “Let me talk.”

Diane hesitated them removed her hand.

“I was waiting when David…came home and confronted him about his mistress. He didn’t deny it. He said it wasn’t any of my business.” Gabi took a deep breath. “I…. For the first time, I yelled back at him. Yelled that it was my business. That’s when I knew I’d made a horrible mistake. He was angrier than I’d ever seen him. He screamed that I was a damned nuisance and started hitting me in the face. He’d never done that before. I fell, and that’s when he started taking off his belt. I got up, but he was between me and the front door. I knew he had a gun in his dresser.” Her one open eye filled with tears. “I thought I could scare him into leaving or letting me leave if I had the gun.”

Diane gave her a handful of tissues and helped her with the tears. “My client needs a break,” she demanded.

Gabi crumpled the tissues in one fist. “No, please, let me finish this.”

“Mrs. Jordan, we can take a break. That’s not a problem,” Blair softly assured her.

Gabi wearily shook her head.

Jim glanced at Diane who hesitated, then nodded.

“What happened then?” Blair quietly urged.

“David…jumped onto me on the stairs. He flipped me over and tore at my robe. I managed to knee him…where it hurts.” Gabi actually blushed. “He rolled away, and I got up. I managed to get to our bedroom and had my hand on the gun when he staggered in.” Shivering, Gabi barely noticed Diane’s comforting hug.

“He said I was going to really pay this time. I pulled out the gun and told him to just leave. Go back to his mistress. Just go away. He laughed. And snapped his belt in the air like a whip. And then I fired the gun.” Gabi was silent for a few seconds. “I remember dropping the gun and calling 911.”

After a few moments, it was apparent that Gabi was done speaking. Diane looked at the detectives. “Keep your questions brief,” she demanded.

“Mrs. Jordan, do you know the name of your husband’s mistress?” Jim’s voice was calm.

“Tabitha. I don’t know her last name.”

“How did you find out about her?”

Gabi half-laughed, half-sobbed. “She actually called me. She said I’d better stop delaying the divorce or else. Apparently David…had told her we were getting a divorce but that I kept throwing up roadblocks…wanting more money or whatever.” She sniffed and dabbed at her nose with the crumpled tissues. “I’m sorry. I didn’t get her last name.”

“We’ll find out,” Jim assured her. “You said you shot him. Where did you shoot him?”

“In the chest,” Gabi admitted. “I think. I just pointed and fired.”

“He was shot twice,” Jim carefully explained.

“Twice?” Gabi looked at Diane in confusion. “I shot him twice?” She turned her head towards Jim. “I…I only remember once…” Her voice trailed off.

“Why didn’t you leave him?” Blair quietly asked. “When he started beating you?”

Diane threw him a furious look. “That’s an insensitive question, Detective!”

Gabi sadly spoke. “Why DID I stay? Why not just leave? I didn’t so it must have been the money…the prestige of being David’s…wife. That’s what people will think.” She closed her good eye. “I thought he really loved me,” she whispered.

“We’re done, Detectives,” Diane firmly announced. “I’m taking my client out of here. I’ll advise you where she’ll be, but you’ll ONLY contact her through me. Let me know when her statement is ready to be signed, but she won’t be back today. And I expect your department to release her home as a crime scene in a very expeditious manner.”

“Of course, Counselor. We’ll let you know as soon as we’re done.” Jim rose to his feet. “Mrs. Jordan, I’m truly sorry for all you’ve been through.”

“Thank you,” Gabi whispered.

Jim waited in the bullpen for Blair to return from escorting the two women from the building. He’d glanced at Simon’s office only to see the blinds drawn. He checked for messages then walked to the desk of Simon’s assistant, Rhonda James.

“Any idea how long Simon’s going to be tied up?” he asked.

Rhonda grimaced. “Budget meeting. Simon’s loaded for bear and fighting for every penny.”

Jim winced. “Let him know Sandburg and I finished getting Mrs. Jordan’s statement. Can you transcribe it? No rush because the widow isn’t going to be available until tomorrow.”

Rhonda gave Jim an irritated look. “She looked like she could hardly make it out of the building on her own, Detective.”

Jim held up both hands in surrender before quickly backing away. Turning, he saw Blair exiting the elevator and met him. “Find out from Rhonda which room Dad and Steven are in.”

Blair gave him a curious look but walked over to Rhonda’s desk. In just a few seconds, he was laughing and gave Rhonda a ‘thumbs up’.

“Conference Room Two,” Blair said as he rejoined his partner. “I think I got you off the hook with Rhonda.”

“Good,” Jim grinned. “She’s the most dangerous person in that bullpen. She controls the paperwork.”

“What did you think of Mrs. Jordan’s statement?” Blair asked. “Did you sense anything?”

“Heart and respiration were all over the place. That could the result of her injuries…shock…any medication.” Jim shrugged. “We’ll see how the forensics match up to the story.”

When they opened the door, they found that someone, most likely Rhonda, had provided snacks and coffee for Jim’s father and brother.

“Well?” William demanded before the door had closed behind his son. “Has Gabi been released?”

“She wasn’t charged so yes, she’s left with her attorney,” Jim explained. “She’ll have to return to sign her statement, but that’s not going to be until tomorrow. Her attorney will let us know where she’s staying.”

“Probably at Diane’s house,” William nodded to himself. “That woman can be quite the Mother Hen.”

Jim exchanged a speculative look with his brother who looked faintly amused.

“Mr. Ellison, how are you involved?” Blair asked, pouring coffee for himself and his partner. “I understand you’re a neighbor?”

William nodded. “I’ve known David Jordan most of his life. His father owned some movie theaters which Jordan inherited and expanded into a very profitable and successful chain.”

“Are there any in town he doesn’t own?” Jim curiously asked.

William shrugged. “If so, they’re very small. Jordan thought big. The last two he opened are dinner/movie theaters. All very successful.”

Jim studied his father. “You don’t like him,” he stated.

“Couldn’t stand the little bastard,” William snarled. “He had the manners of a toad, the morals of a snake, and no conscience at all. I wouldn’t trust him with a cactus plant, may he burn in Hell.”

Blair glanced at Steven who was studying the table in front of him. “Do you remember Julie Turner?”

Jim frowned in remembrance. “Sorta?” he finally answered.

“She was your age. Three years ahead of me in school,” Steven recalled. “She was David Jordan’s first wife. Number one of three wives.”

“Her parents, Jeff and Carole Turner, were friends of mine. Jeff was a golfing buddy and Carole was a sweet gentle woman, very active in St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church. She and I served on the boards of a couple of charities,” William recalled. “Julie died of an accidental overdose of pain medication prescribed after a fall down the stairs.” He grimly nodded at the exchange of looks between Jim and Blair. “Her death destroyed her parents.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FIFTEEN YEARS EARLIER

“He murdered her! He murdered Julie!” Carole Turner’s accusing voice was easily heard in the cemetery adjacent to St. Elizabeth’s Episcopalian Church. Several people glanced in the direction of the accused, Carole’s son-in-law David Jordan.

David grimaced then sorrowfully turned back to The Reverend Edward Wilson. “Thank you, sir. The service was incredibly comforting. I appreciate that so much.”

The elderly cleric sadly smiled and patted David on his arm. “So tragic,” he mourned. “I’ve known Julie most of her life.”

“I feel responsible,” David admitted. “I should have monitored her pain medication better. But Julie was so careful, I never thought she would take too many pills.” He shook his head. “I don’t understand why she wasn’t getting better after that fall. But she wouldn’t hear of going back to the hospital for more tests.”

“It’s not your fault.” The Reverend Wilson again looked at the screaming woman. “Excuse me, son, but I need to go to her.”

“I understand. Thank you again for everything.” David watched as the elderly priest walked over to comfort the grieving mother. Her shrieks became quieter and quieter. People finally began walking to their own cars, some glancing back at David more than once. William Ellison, especially, was furiously glaring at him. ‘That old man hates me just for breathing. Just because Mother was a friend of his ex-wife, he’d believe anything about me.’

David slowly walked back to his car, having let his in-laws have the privacy of the limousine provided by the funeral home. He hadn’t wanted to hear his mother-in-law’s accusations or see the speculation in his father-in-law’s eyes.

Standing at his car, he waited while his mother spoke to the few people still at the church. ‘Nobody can do damage control like Mother,’ he silently admitted. Turning his head, he watched the priest help Carole Turner into the limousine followed by his father-in-law, Jeff Turner. The last person to enter the limousine was his deceased wife’s younger sister, Renee. The 7-year old was a surprise child of the middle-aged couple and always seemed to be an afterthought to her parents. Julie had tried to make time for her sister after their marriage, but hadn’t always succeeded.

The child looked up and stared at David before getting into the limousine. ‘Strange child. Never talks. Just stares at people with those weird eyes.’ Renee’s left eye was blue and the right eye was green.

“The nerve of that woman!” Irene Jordan seethed as she reached her son. “Accusing you of murder!” A tall brunette, her dark eyes were snapping with anger.

“She’s a grieving mother,” David pointed out as he helped his mother into the car. Closing the door, he walked around and got into the car on the driver’s side.

“That’s no excuse!” Irene continued. “If she continues, I’ll slap a slander lawsuit on her so fast she won’t know what hit her.”

David smirked as he started the engine. “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Seven months after Julie died, both her parents were killed in an automobile accident. The driver was never found, and the car had been stolen.” William sighed. “Their younger daughter, Renee, was put into foster care. She was such a quiet child. Sometimes you barely knew she was in the room. She had unusual eyes, though. One was blue, and the other was green.”

Steven glanced at his father then wiped his hands on his napkin.

“This happened after I’d left?” Jim surmised.

Steven nodded. “Julie died the summer I turned nineteen. I was home from college when it happened.”

“You knew Julie?” Jim asked.

Steven shrugged. “We had a few classes together in high school. And we knew Dad and her parents were friends.”

“So, David Jordan’s a lot older than his current wife?” Blair guessed.

“Thirty years,” William grunted. “He was 55, and she’s 25.” His disapproval was obvious.

“How did they meet?” Blair asked.

“Gabi is an interior designer,” Steven explained. “She actually did the design work on one of my projects. Just before she got married to David. Apparently, she did some design work for him when he renovated the house.”

“How long have they been married?” Jim asked.

“Just a little over a year,” William answered.

“Was Jordan a suspect in his first wife’s death?” Jim asked.

William snorted. “I doubt there was much of an investigation. David’s mother had a lot of political ties. Powerful political ties. Nothing and no one was going to inconvenience HER little boy.”

“Do you think he beat his first wife?” Blair asked.

“I’m positive of it,” William flatly answered. “I never saw bruises, but she moved like someone who’d taken a beating.”

“What about wife number two?”

William smiled. “Jordan made a mistake with that one. Evie Stuart. They’d been married for two years and had a beautiful six-month old daughter. Suddenly, Evie moves out with her daughter, and there’s talk of a divorce. Now Jordan would have fought tooth and nail in any divorce proceedings. But he didn’t. It was all hushed up and quiet, but Evie got a very nice settlement along with child support. She moved to Portland with her daughter.”

“We’ll check it all out,” Jim promised. “I don’t suppose you’d heard any gossip about Jordan’s mistress?”

“Which one?” William snorted.

Blair saw the irritated look on his partner’s face and interjected, “Was he seeing someone regularly?”

“I saw him a couple of times with a very attractive brunette at La Rochelle’s,” Steven admitted. “Saw him there last night, as a matter of fact.”

“That’s a pretty expensive place,” Blair commented.

“Yeah, but the food’s great; and the atmosphere is very conducive to romance,” Steven grinned.

The two younger men grinned at each other, then turned to look at Jim and William when they almost identically snorted.

Steven got to his feet. “Thanks, Jim.” A smile played at the corners of his mouth. “And sorry if you’re in any trouble with Captain Banks over our involvement.”

Jim shrugged and also got to his feet. “It’ll get sorted out.” He hesitated then nodded to his father. “Thanks for coming in. It was a good thing to do.”

William grunted, obviously uncomfortable. “Yes, well…Gabi’s a sweet woman. She deserves better.”

Since Simon was still in his budget meeting, Jim checked with the Coroner, Dan Wolfe, who confirmed that David Jordan had died from gunshot wounds and that the knuckles on both hands were bruised consistent with being used to strike something or someone.

The next stop was the crime scene itself. Both detectives greeted the officer at the door then stepped inside the Jordan home.

With the exception of blood on the floor of the black-and-white tiled foyer, the surrounding area looked as though it was ready for a professional photo shoot. Tasteful artwork decorated the foyer walls and drew your eye to the formal living area. Greyish white floor tiles and the cream-colored wall paint had allowed the decorator to use splashes of bold colors to accent the room. A marble fireplace dominated one wall while the furniture looked more aesthetic than functional.

Blair shivered. “Cold,” he murmured. “There’s nothing to indicate anybody even lives here.”

Jim somberly nodded, trusting Blair’s instincts. “Doesn’t have a ‘lived-in’ look, does it?” He glanced around. “Still, this is the formal area. Might be different elsewhere.”

It wasn’t. Each room was impeccably decorated, and Blair would have bet his next paycheck that everything was cleaned, polished, and shined on a daily basis. Nothing was out of place, all decorated with the purpose of impressing visitors.

“This is giving me the creeps, man,” Blair shuddered.

Silently, Jim led the way to the stairs; and the two carefully avoided the bloodstains as they climbed to the second floor. At the top of the stairs, Jim stood for several minutes. His eyes darted from the steps to the front door, recalling Gabi’s statements as to what happened.

“It fits, Chief,” he finally acknowledged. “Her story seems to match what I’m seeing.”

“But?” Blair quietly prodded.

Jim shrugged. “We’ll see. Still need to check on some things.” He turned his head and saw a forensics crew in a room at the end of the hallway. “Let’s see if they’ve found anything.”

Serena Chang smiled when the two detectives paused in the doorway of the master bedroom. Rather, Jim paused and Blair peeked around his solid body. “We’re almost done and can release the house, Jim,” she advised.

Jim nodded in acknowledgement and looked around.

“We found the gun exactly where the responding officers said it would be.” Serena pointed at a taped outline on the dark hardwood floor near to where the two men stood. “Deceased fell over there, not far from the doorway. Dresser drawer half-open, but nothing else is out of place.”

“Nothing out of place in the whole damn house,” Blair muttered.

“We did a quick survey of the downstairs. Looks like everything happened in the foyer, on the stairs, and in here,” Jim mused.

Serena silently nodded. “I had teams in every room in the house. No signs of a struggle or fight anywhere else than where you just mentioned.”

“Any sign of a home office?” Jim asked.

Serena frowned. “Now that you mention it, no.”

“Maybe Jordan did all his business at the office?” Blair guessed.

Jim nodded. “Can you put a rush on this one, Serena?”

“I’ll do the best I can,” she promised.

Outside the house, Blair glanced down the street to the Ellison home. “Gonna talk more with your Dad?”

“Nope,” Jim answered as he reached his truck. “Gonna check out Jordan’s office first. Then see what it is that Stevie DIDN'T tell us.”

Blair’s eyes widened. He got in the truck and slammed the door. “Why would Steven hold out?”

Jim shrugged. “My guess is that he knows something Pops doesn’t realize Stevie knows. And Stevie wants to keep it that way.” He pulled out his cell phone and pressed the speed dial button for Steven’s cell number.

“Ellison.”

“Steven, it’s Jim. You got time later today to talk to me and Sandburg?” Jim smiled when Blair put his head close to Jim’s phone in an effort to hear both sides of the conversation.

“Uh…let me check. I had to reschedule some appointments because of this morning.” Jim heard the clicking of keys on a keyboard. “Well, if you don’t mind doing it at lunch. I was going to order in. Say 12:30? I’ll order for the two of you as well.”

“I want a salad!” Blair loudly spoke. He grinned when he heard Steven laugh.

“We’ll be there.” Jim shut the cell phone and started the truck.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jim kept an eye on his partner as the elevator smoothly took them up the Wilkinson Tower to the 27th floor. His senses told him that Blair was extremely nervous which was understandable for someone who’d been trapped on an elevator by a psychopath who enjoyed dropping it several floors at a time in order to convince people he was sincere in his demands.

Upon exiting the elevator, Blair took a deep breath and relaxed. He smiled when Jim casually put a hand on his back in support. “Thanks,” he murmured.

“No problem, Chief.”

The atmosphere in the offices of Jordan Entertainment were somber and subdued. An older woman intercepted them as they entered the office, her eyes reddened from crying. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, we’re not…”

“I’m Detective Ellison and this is my partner, Detective Sandburg. Cascade PD,” Jim quietly interrupted her. Both men showed her their identification.

“Oh…of course.” The woman hesitated, then pointed to her left. “Mr. Jordan’s office is this way.”

“Thank you, Ms ???” Blair prompted.

“I’m sorry, Marjorie Ross. I’m the office manager.” She took a deep breath and led the way to Jordan’s office. She opened the door and led the two men into the office, closing the door behind them.

Unlike Jordan’s home, his office reminded Jim of Blair’s old office at Rainier University. Stacks of files lay sprawled across the credenza. One drawer of the filing cabinet was open with two files halfway out of the drawer. The desk itself was cluttered with various files and papers.

“I know. It’s a mess.” Marjorie actually wrung her hands. “But he refused to allow anyone to do anything with it. He said he could always find what he needed when he needed it.”

Jim nodded, raising a sardonic eyebrow at his partner. “Yeah, I’ve heard there’s always a system.”

“There is,” Blair cheerfully replied. He sat behind the desk and studied his surroundings.

“Eventually, of course, he couldn’t find anything so I’d come in and spend most of the day sorting and filing.” Marjorie sighed. “Within a week, it would be back to being a mess.”

“Did Mr. Jordan do any work at home?” Jim asked.

“Oh, no!” She shook her head. “He did all his business here. He said he wasn’t going to be one of those men who took work home with him.”

“Ms. Ross, who was his assistant here in the office?” Blair asked.

“I was.” She sadly smiled. “He said he hated it when I went on vacation because no one else could keep track of everything for him.”

“You mean business appointments?” Jim asked.

“Those and others,” Marjorie nodded. “Doctor’s appointments, dentist, reminders about birthdays and anniversaries…”

“And dinner reservations?” Blair gently added.

Marjorie slowly sat down and covered her mouth. Lowering her hand after a few moments, she quietly spoke,” You know about the other women.”

“Yes.” Blair’s voice was soft and regretful. “I know it seems like you’re betraying a confidence, but it’s important that we know.”

Marjorie deeply sighed. “I started working for him before he was married. To his second wife, that is.” She stared down at her clasped hands resting in her lap. “He cheated on her, and he cheated on his current wife. The other women never lasted very long…maybe a couple of months.”

“Was he seeing someone now?”

Marjorie nodded. “All I know is Tabitha. I arranged for flowers to be delivered for her birthday last week. I can get you the address. I also made dinner reservations at La Rochelle for him several times including one for last night.” She grimaced. “I don’t think he took his wife there.”

“I didn’t see too many people in the office,” Jim remarked.

Marjorie shook her head. “I sent most of them home. The shock of what happened…I planned on closing the office as soon as I could.”

“We’ll be as quick as we can,” Jim promised. “If you could get us a list of employees and their contact information in case we need to speak with someone and that address for the flower delivery, it would greatly help. Oh, and the name of Mr. Jordan’s attorney.”

“Of course!” Marjorie quickly got to her feet as if glad to be given something to do.

“Ms. Ross, do you know the login credentials for Mr. Jordan’s computer?” Blair asked.

“It’s DJordan1. And Wlkjn4#.”

As soon as she’d left the office, Blair turned to the computer and began logging in. Jim phoned the precinct and politely asked Rhonda to begin the paperwork to get a subpoena for Jordan’s business and personal bank and phone records. He glared at his partner who was making no effort not to snicker.

“Something funny, Sandburg?” Jim asked when he’d closed his cell phone.

“Rhonda’s got your number,” Blair cheerfully replied. He was spared Jim’s reply by Marjorie returning with the information Jim had requested.

“One more question, Ms. Ross,” Jim said. “Were there any business deals that had gone bad lately or weren’t going as expected?”

Marjorie frowned in thought. “No, none that I know of. Why? I thought…”

“Just a routine question, Ms. Ross,” Jim assured her with a smile. “We’ll be done shortly.”

Marjorie hesitantly nodded, then left the office closing the door behind her.

“Tabitha Young.” Blair leaned back in the chair. “She’s all over his personal calendar. Dinner once or twice a week for the past two months. Reminder of her birthday. Lunch a couple of times.” He glanced at his partner. “LONG lunches.” He closed the calendar and turned to look at the desk.

“You make anything of that mess, Sandburg?”

Blair snorted. “What you’re working on at the moment is the closest at hand,” he pointed out. He picked up the closest folders to him. “Renovation budget review for the Mid-Town Cinema. Plans to convert the Westside Mall Cinema to a dinner/cinema. And…” Blair gave a low whistle. “You know those rides at the amusement park where you watch a video of a race car and you’re the driver and the seats actually move?” Blair waved a file in the air. “Plans to convert the old Rialto Theater to a 3D theater and providing seating that moves.” He grinned at Jim. “Think about it! You’re watching a movie with a rocket blasting off into space. and your seat tips back to give you the illusion you’re actually blasting off!”

“How thrilling,” Jim sourly commented. “With an equally expensive ticket price, I presume?”

Blair put the folders back on the desk. “And?”

“Nothing, Chief,” Jim sighed. “Just remembering when it didn’t cost an arm, a leg, and half your paycheck to go to a movie. Stevie and I used to go to the Rialto on weekends a lot.”

“I get it, Jim. I do.” Blair quietly spoke. “You don’t expect any business deals to play a part, do you?”

Jim shook his head. “Just covering the bases, Chief. To be honest, the widow’s got my sympathy.” He pointed to the computer. “Log off. We’ll let the tech guys do their thing with that. Let’s see if we can speak with Jordan’s attorney before meeting Stevie for lunch.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jeffrey K. Finch, Esq. was David Jordan’s attorney. He graciously made time to speak with Jim and Blair while at the same time letting them know he was doing them a favor. Sitting behind his desk, Blair was struck by the difference between Jordan’s messy habits and Finch’s immaculate polished surface.

“We’re interested in who benefits by Mr. Jordan’s death.” Jim came straight to the point and inwardly smiled at Finch’s grimace.

“The current Mrs. Jordan signed a pre-nuptual agreement prior to their wedding,” Finch recalled. “If there was a divorce, she would receive a lump sum payment of $10,000 for each month of the marriage up to a maximum of $1,000,000 plus $10,000 per month in child support for any child born of the marriage. In the case of David’s death, she would receive a lump sum payment of $1,000.000. She would have no other claim to his estate.”

“Who inherits his estate?” Jim asked. “I understand he has a daughter from his second marriage.”

Finch nodded. “She’s his primary beneficiary. Unless, of course, the current Mrs. Jordan is pregnant. In that case and if she successfully gave birth, both children would inherit equally. There are, of course, minor beneficiaries and some charitable donations in his will.”

“Have you notified Mr. Jordan’s daughter?” Blair quietly asked.

“Not yet.” Mr. Finch regretfully shook his head. “Her mother took back her maiden name, Eve Stuart, and lives in Portland. We’ve been advised she’s been officially notified of David’s death and will contact her tomorrow.”

“What can you tell us about his divorce from his second wife, Evie? Did she have the same prenup?”

Finch hesitated. “There’s not much I CAN tell you about the divorce. The court records were sealed at David’s request and with the concurrence of Evie Jordan. David agreed to give her full and complete custody of their daughter, Marie. And, yes, the pre-nuptual agreement was the same.”

“We could get a subpoena for those records,” Jim pointed out.

“You’ll have to do just that,” Finch advised. “Ethically, I can’t tell you anything else.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Hey, Jim! Blair! Don’t stand on ceremony. Dig in.” Steven swallowed the food in his mouth and indicated the food on the conference table. “Salad for you, Blair. Turkey and ham sandwiches for both of you. Coffee and water on the table along the wall.” Steven stood and moved papers out of the way so the other two men could sit and eat comfortably. “So what did you need to talk about?”

Jim took two quick bites of a turkey sandwich and snatched a slice of cucumber from Sandburg’s salad before swallowing and then answering. “Whatever it was you didn’t want to talk about in front of Pops.”

“Damn.” Steven’s ham sandwich landed on his plate. “Of course you picked up on that,” he muttered.

“It could be important to the case,” Jim prodded. He was rewarded with a sharp look from his younger brother.

Blair snorted. When the other two looked at him, he shrugged. “It’s just that I’ve seen that look directed at me from Jim more than once, Steven.” He waved a fork laden with lettuce and a cherry tomato in the air. “Just saw the family resemblance.”

Jim shook his head and faintly smiled.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the case,” Steven answered. “But it MAY explain Dad’s…intense interest.” Shoving his plate aside, he leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk. “Dad and Carole Turner had an affair. For a while, Dad thought he was the father of her younger daughter, Renee.”

Clearly shocked, Jim slowly lowered his own sandwich to the plate. “Pops? An affair?”

“Yeah, it’s hard to think of your parent having sex, but…” Steven shrugged.

“Not MY parent,” Blair snorted.

“Naomi’s a law unto herself,” Jim explained to his puzzled brother. “How do you know this? The girl was a lot younger, right?”

“Remember the summer you turned 16?” Steven asked. When Jim shrugged, he continued, “You’d gotten that job at the old Denner’s Mart? You were out of the house a lot. Me? That was the summer I broke my arm so I was at home a lot.”

“And you spied on Pops?”

“Don’t get on your high horse with me,” Steven snapped. “Half the time, Dad forgot I was even in the house.”

“Jim’s not accusing you of anything,” Blair firmly interrupted. He looked from on one brother to the next. “He’s not.” He waited until both men relaxed then got his partner’s attention. “It’s real easy for a kid to overhear stuff.”

Jim took a deep breath, remembering things he’d accidentally overheard during his childhood and nodded. “I’m sorry. That didn’t come out right.”

Steven waved a hand. “Understood.” He took a deep breath. “Anyway, I was coming downstairs to see if I could get a snack from Sallie when I heard Mrs. Turner and Dad in the living room.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

TWENTY-ONE YEARS EARLIER

“It’s true, Carole. The blood tests were done by a good friend of mine in Chicago. I took the vials there myself.” William patted the sobbing woman’s arm. “That beautiful little one year old child isn’t mine.”

“Oh, God, William, I’ve been so scared ever since I found out I was pregnant with Renee.” Carole Turner wiped her eyes. “Thank you. Thank you.”

“It wouldn’t have mattered, Carole,” William gently consoled her. “I wouldn’t have said a word to Jeff….unless that’s what you would have wanted. But I would have always been there for you and the child and helped in any way you needed.”

“I feel so guilty,” Carole admitted. “Jeff’s a good man, a good father, and a good husband. I shouldn’t have…”

“Enough.” William firmly interrupted her. “We’re both adults. We’re BOTH responsible for the choice we made.” He gently touched her wet cheek. “You’re a beautiful woman, Carole. Any man would be tempted.”

“It can’t…we can’t ever…”

“I know.” William hesitated then hugged her. “I know, Carole.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Wow.” Blair had totally forgotten about eating while Steven was speaking. “No wonder your Dad sorta took a personal interest.” He glanced at Jim. “It explains your Dad’s really intense dislike of David Jordan, too.”

“Why didn’t Pops do anything about the younger girl when her parents died?” Jim asked.

“Are you kidding?” Steven leaned back in his chair and stared at his older brother. “I’m off at college. You’ve left to see the world. Who would give him custody of a little girl…6 or 7 years old or something like that?”

Steven sadly sighed. “Because he figured you’d listen to me even if you didn’t listen to him. And that I could run interference between the two of you.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Okay, Rhonda. Thanks for letting us know.” Jim closed his cell phone with a sigh. “I think I’m getting back into her good graces. After this, we’re heading for Portland to visit wife number two. She was notified earlier this morning and has agreed to meet with us.” He opened the door to the Tradewinds Building.

Blair groaned. “Let me guess. Tabitha Young’s got a penthouse suite on the top floor.”

Jim chuckled under his breath as the crossed the marbled lobby floor. “You’re in luck, Sandburg. She’s only on the 15th floor.”

David Jordan’s current mistress, Tabitha Young, was living in the Tradewinds Building, the newest trendiest living space for the young and wealthy. Overlooking the bay with picturesque mountain views to the north, this was "THE” place to be…or so the brightly colored brochures at the reception desk proclaimed.

Jim identified them and said they were there to see Tabitha Young in unit 15C. The security guard checked their identifications closely while the young lady at the desk discretely phoned Tabitha to announce them. The security guard gave them a key card. “This is keyed for the 15th floor, gentlemen. The guest elevators are to your left. Please return the key card when you leave.”

“Thanks,” Blair smiled as he followed Jim to the elevator. “Want to bet every emergency alarm on that woman’s console would go off if someone used the stairs to get to another floor?” he muttered.

“That’s a sucker’s bet, Chief,” Jim smirked as he used the key card to gain admittance to the elevator. Inside, he slid the keycard into the slot then removed it, sliding it into his shirt pocket. The elevator silently began its upward movement. Even Jim could barely detect the motion. A soft bell signaled their arrival on the 15th floor.

Stepping out into a 3-way corridor, they saw that Units C and D were straight ahead. Stopping in front of Unit C, they made sure their badges were visible then Jim firmly knocked on the door. Seconds later, the door opened to reveal a tall, beautiful brunette with long wavy hair and grey-green eyes, one of which was lightly bruised.

“Ms. Young? I’m Detective Ellison and this is Detective Sandburg.” Jim announced.

Tabitha looked at each of them then opened the door wider to let them enter. “I’ve been expecting someone from the police ever since I heard about David earlier this morning.” Closing the door behind them, she indicated for them to follow. In her late 20’s, Tabitha’s body was tanned and toned as benefitted someone who had the time and money to devote many hours a day to maintaining that physique.

Blair openly admired that shapely form clad in dark blue silk lounging pajamas leading them to the open living space.

Wall to ceiling windows giving them an incredible view of the bay caught Jim’s attention. “Great view,” he commented.

Tabitha casually glanced out the window then motioned them to nearby chairs. “I suppose,” she admitted, sitting on the couch facing them.

“Was that an accident?” Jim motioned towards her eye.

“Not exactly.” Tabitha leaned back in the couch. “You’re here because you know about David and me.”

“You’re his mistress,” Jim confirmed.

Tabitha glanced out the window, then back at Jim. “That’s one way of putting it. David and I had a…financial arrangement.”

“Did he hit you?” Blair bluntly asked.

Tabitha studied him for a few seconds then returned her attention to Jim, deciding he was the more worldly. “David had certain…needs, shall we say? I supplied those needs.”

“In return for…” Jim prodded.

Tabitha’s lips twitched with amusement. “In gratitude, David paid for a years’ rent on this condo for me. And provided other…gifts.”

“Are you saying that he got turned on by hitting you?” Blair tried to keep his voice level.

“What I’m saying is that David enjoyed more than a slight walk on the wild side.” Tabitha leaned forward towards Blair. “So do I,” she admitted in a throaty voice.

“When was the last time you saw Mr. Jordan?” Jim briskly asked.

“Last night,” Tabitha answered, leaning back into the couch. “We had seven PM reservations at La Rochelle’s then returned here for…a nightcap.” She mockingly smiled. “He left a little after 11pm.”

“Have you ever had contact with Mrs. Jordan?”

“I called her after David left last night,” Tabitha admitted. “He kept saying he was going to divorce her because she was such a disappointment to him. But nothing seemed to be happening, so I thought I’d give her a little push. I was pretty sure she didn’t know anything about me.”

“Better to be a wife than a mistress?” Jim bluntly asked.

Tabitha shrugged. “If he gave me all of this for providing him with his needs a couple of times a week, how generous would he be to have his needs met anytime and anyplace?”

“It must have been a deep disappointment to hear of Jordan’s death,” Jim drily commented.

Tabitha looked around the condo. “The condo rent is paid for another nine or ten months. I have money in the bank to support myself for a while. If that runs out, I can always sell some of the jewelry David bought me.” She openly smiled. “But there are many men with needs they want met. I don’t think I’ll go…hungry.” She looked from one to the other. “Any more questions?”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Jeez, those two were made for each other,” Blair grunted as Jim drove them out of the parking garage of the Tradewinds Building, heading for the Interstate.

“Wouldn’t have lasted.” Jim shook his head. “Jordan would’ve gotten jaded and bored fairly soon and gone looking for something else.”

“Guess you’re right,” Blair reluctantly agreed. “Weird, though. His wife put up with his beating her because she thought he loved her, and his mistress put up with his beating her because he paid her to do it.”

“One of his women apparently didn’t,” Jim pointed out. “His second wife divorced him pretty quickly.”

“Took her maiden name and didn’t have to fight for custody,” Blair recalled. “Sounds like she had something on him.”

“Let’s just hope that she’s willing to talk about it.”

“Better gas up before we hit the Interstate. I’ll get some drinks and snacks for the road while you’re doing that. We’ll get hungry before we get to Portland,” Blair advised.

“You better get some decent snacks, Sandburg,” Jim warned as he pulled onto One-Stop Convenience Store’s lot and up to a fuel pump. “None of that granola crap.” He caught a glimpse of Blair’s grin as the younger man exited the truck. “I mean it, Sandburg!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Unlike the widow and mistress of David Jordan, his second wife lived in a modest ranch style home in a well-settled neighborhood on the outskirts of Portland. Looking around the neighborhood, Blair shook his head. “From what your Dad said, I expected something a little more upscale.”

Jim shrugged as he parked the truck in front of Eve Stuart’s home. “Dad seemed to approve of her, so maybe she had better use for her money.”

The two men walked up the sidewalk to the house. They noticed the well maintained yards of the neighborhood but without any elaborate landscaping. It was close to dusk and several cars were making their way along the street, turning into various driveways as people returned home from work.

Jim knocked on the door as Blair rang the doorbell.

Blair shrugged, but grinned when Jim gave him an exasperated look.

When the door opened slightly, Jim produced his badge. “Ms. Stuart. I’m Detective Ellison and this is Detective Sandburg from the Cascade PD. We’re here about your ex-husband, David Jordan.”

Eve Stuart studied his identification and Blair’s then opened the door. “The Portland detective who notified me this morning said you’d want to speak with me. Go on into the living room,” she directed.

“Warm,” Blair muttered to his partner as he studied the living room. It wasn’t very large, but the furnishings were comfortably worn. A multi-colored throw lay half on the couch and half across the armrest. A recliner sat in front of a television set and a small bookcase resided in one corner of the room.

“I’m sorry, Detective Sandburg?” Eve asked from behind them.

Blair turned with a smile. “You can tell someone lives in this room,” he answered.

Humor shone in Eve’s dark brown eyes. “From that I would guess you’ve seen my ex-husband’s home. It always had about as much warmth as a soulless golem.” She indicated the couch. “Please sit.”

Jim studied her for a moment while he settled onto the couch. In her mid-forties, Eve Stuart was a little overweight with short-cropped dark hair. However, she exuded a sense of peace about herself that even Jim recognized. He glanced at Blair and found his Shaman partner smiling at the older woman.

“Would condolences be in order?” Jim asked with a wry smile.

Eve paused, then shrugged. “I wouldn’t want anyone to be murdered, but I can’t honestly say I’m going to grieve over David.” She hesitated. “I haven’t told my daughter. She has no idea David Jordan is her father. When I obtained full custody, I legally changed her name. She was born Marie Jordan. She became Katrina Stuart, and the father’s name was left blank on the amended birth certificate. Fortunately, she’s never had a need to see that certificate so I did need to explain the ‘amended’.”

“Where is your daughter?” Blair asked.

“My sister’s,” Eve answered. “Her daughter, Belle, is getting married in two weeks. She and Katrina have always been close to it wasn’t unusual for Belle to ask her to come for a sleepover. I don’t know what my sister told Belle, but for now Katrina’s in the dark.” She gave them both a long considering look. “Did his wife really shoot him?”

“Yes,” Jim nodded. “It appears to be a case of self-defense. She was beaten pretty badly.”

Eve grimaced. “He beat me one time,” she recalled. “Katrina was just a baby and had been sick. When David came home, he picked her up and began bouncing her. I warned him, but Katrina threw up all over him. He dropped her on the bed and then started beating me when I tried to go to her. The next day, I packed our clothes and came back to Portland. My sister took pictures of my injuries and helped pay for a divorce attorney.”

“We spoke with your ex-husband’s attorney, Jeffrey Finch. He said the divorce records were sealed,” Jim stated.

Eve chuckled. “Poor Jeffrey. Inheritor of the Jordan family’s legal affairs. David’s mother paid him so well he could manage to keep his distaste hidden for most of David’s shenanigans.” She sighed. “Yes, David insisted that the divorce records be sealed. I agreed for Katrina’s sake in case she ever found out he was her father. If that ever happened, I would tell her myself. I threatened to make the divorce very messy and very public if he didn’t give me what I wanted. Full and complete custody of our daughter and everything promised in the pre-nuptual agreement plus a large lump sum payment to ensure I could buy a home and stay at home with Katrina. Had his mother, Irene, still been alive, she would have fought me for everything. But David didn’t want the publicity so he agreed. Frugal living and wise investing of David’s money has allowed me to set enough money aside for Katrina’s college education and enough for me to live on.” She stared at Jim. “You could have gotten all this over the phone or had the Portland police interview me. Why make the drive from Cascade?”

Jim hesitated, then explained. “My father is William Ellison. I believe you knew him when you were married to David Jordan. He expressed an interest in the case and mentioned you.”

Eve’s dark eyes brightened. “Will Ellison! My God, I’ve not thought of him in years!” She grinned, both in fondness of her memories and at Jim’s surprise. “God bless him. He once told me that if I needed to run away from David, I didn’t have to run any farther than to his house. I got the idea he’d take great pleasure in kicking David to the curb.” She chuckled. “Fortunately, I didn’t need to put it to the test.” She leaned forward to stare into Jim’s eyes. “Please give him my warm regards. I have fond thoughts of that man.” She settled back in the recliner. “You know, he hated David with an absolute passion,” she recalled. “Almost more than I did.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Blair checked in with Simon while on the drive back to Cascade from Portland. Jim split his focus between the highway and the phone conversation.

“The forensics and coroner’s reports are back. Both appear to support Gabi Jordan’s statement.” Simon’s voice sounded relieved. “The Jordan house has been released as a crime scene. I called Mrs. Jordan’s attorney to let her know and that we would appreciate Mrs. Jordan’s presence to sign her statement. Did you get anything from the ex-wife?”

Blair glanced at Jim who shook his head. “Nothing that contradicts what we already know,” Blair reported. “She wasn’t as docile as his other wives and apparently threatened a messy divorce. Jordan backed off.”

Simon grunted. “Jim ready to sign off on this?”

Jim shook his head and leaned closer to the phone. “I got a couple more things to check out tomorrow.”

“You think there’s something we don’t know?” Simon asked.

Jim hesitated then shrugged.

“Just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s,” Blair answered. “See you tomorrow, Simon.” He closed his cell phone and stared at his partner. “What’s wrong?”

“I just have the feeling I’m too sympathetic to Gabi Jordan,” Jim slowly answered. “Maybe not as objective as I need to be.”

“So what do we need to check out?” Blair asked.

“I want to go to La Rochelle’s,” Jim answered. “See what the wait staff has to say. Maybe Tabitha and Jordan weren’t as friendly as she claims. While I do that, you can do some research on the family of the first wife, Julie Turner. David Jordan gets blamed for her death then Julie’s parents die in an auto accident a few months later. Seems a little too coincidental.”

Blair grunted but nodded. “Yeah, especially since the driver of the other car was never found.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The next morning found Jim in court testifying on another case. Released from court close to noon, he headed to La Rochelle’s hoping to find someone who remembered seeing Jordan and Tabitha. The young lady working the hostess kiosk gave him to one of the wait staff who led him to the back offices.

Jim knocked on the door and when told to enter, opened the door. A middle-aged man sat behind a desk, scanning invoices into a computer.

“Mr. Devane? I’m Detective Ellison, Cascade PD.”

Allan Devane’s eyes widened. “Sit down, please. Is there anything wrong?”

Jim closed the door behind him and sat down. “I don’t think so. I’m just trying to find out if anyone can confirm two specific people who were here two evenings ago. The reservation would have been in the name of either David Jordan or Tabitha Young.”

Devane leaned back in his chair. “Yes, Mr. Jordan was here two evenings ago with a very lovely young lady. But I didn’t catch her name. Tall, brunette, incredibly attractive, killer body.”

“How are you so sure?” Jim asked.

“I’m on the floor every night,” Devane explained. “I greet guests, make the rounds, try to head off any problems the guests may have…or think they have. I keep an eye on the reservation list so when I see a regular customer, I try to be sure to greet them.”

“Did you notice any problems between the two of them?”

“Not unless you consider it a problem for a beautiful young woman half your age to pay you flattering attention,” Devane chuckled.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On impulse, Jim drove to St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church. His father had mentioned that Carole Turner, mother of Jordan’s first wife, had been active there while alive. He found the church open and being decorated for a wedding. One of the women doing the decorating took him to the back of the church to the office of The Reverend Edward Wilson who’d “been here forever” according to the woman who’d introduced them.

“Please, sit down, Detective.” The elderly priest motioned to a chair. “Are they still decorating?”

“Looks like,” Jim nodded as he sat down.

Rev. Wilson chuckled. “Then we won’t be interrupted for a while. What can I do for you?”

Jim hesitated then leaned forward. “I’m investigating the death of David Jordan. I understand you knew the parents of his first wife, Julie Turner?”

Rev. Wilson slowly nodded. “I did. Such a horrible tragedy. Julie’s funeral was in this church, you know. I presided over it.” He sighed, thinking back to that day. “I think Julie’s father was in shock, but her mother was hysterical. She even accused David of murdering Julie. I know that angered David’s mother, but he excused Carole saying she was a grieving mother. He blamed himself for not keeping a better watch over Julie’s medication. That’s how she died, you know. She overdosed on pain medication.”

“Why was it prescribed?” Jim asked.

“She fell down the stairs in her home. David said she never fully healed after the fall but refused to go back to the doctors.”

“What about the younger daughter, Renee?”

“Oh my, I’d forgotten all about her. Poor thing. Losing her sister and then her parents months later. She was always such a quiet child.” Rev. Wilson shook his head. “Such a tragedy for everyone.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Blair looked up from the files spread across the conference room table when the door opened. Jim entered with a tray of drinks and a bag from the local deli. “How was court?” he asked, making a place on the table for Jim to sit their food and drinks.

Jim shrugged. “The case is weak. I’m not sure the DA should have given the green light to take it to trial. Could go either way.”

Blair shrugged. “Election year, man. The DA rolled the dice.”

“Yeah, well, that’s not how it’s supposed to work,” Jim muttered, pulling out sandwiches from the bag. “I stopped by La Rochelle’s. The manager there confirmed seeing Jordan and Tabitha there the night Jordan was killed and didn’t see any problems between them. Then I stopped by St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church.”

Blair frowned and gave him a questioning look before taking a bite of his sandwich.

“Remember Dad said Carole Turner was pretty involved there?” When Blair nodded in remembrance, Jim continued. “I talked with the priest who’d actually conducted Julie’s funeral. Said Carole openly accused Jordan of murdering her daughter.”

“If she thought David had been beating her daughter, that wouldn’t be unusual,” Blair slowly pointed out.

“Rev. Wilson put it down to being a grieving mother,” Jim nodded. “In fact, that’s what Jordan said at the time.” He motioned to the files. “Find anything?”

Blair sighed. “Well, your Dad was right about there not being much of an investigation into Julie Jordan’s death. The autopsy showed she died of an overdose of pain medication. In their official statements, both Jordan and his mother claimed Jordan had expressed concern over Julie abusing her pain medication and refusal to seek further medical help. The medical records regarding her fall down the stairs didn’t show any reason to believe that not to be the case. It was chalked up to being an unfortunate accidental death.”

Jim waited while Blair took a couple more bites of his sandwich.

“Then we have the DUI car crash of Jeff and Carole Turner.” Blair tapped a folder on his right. “The Turners were returning from an evening service at St. Elizabeth’s. There’d been thunderstorms all day, and the weather at the time of the accident was horrible. Foggy, misty conditions with low visibility. A lot of water on the roads. The car that hit the Turners had been reported stolen from the Riverside Shopping Center about an hour before the accident. The driver fled the scene, and was never apprehended. Carole Turner died at the scene, and Jeff Turner died at Cascade General a few hours later, never regaining consciousness. The investigating officers speculated the car that hit the Turners hydroplaned both cars into a tree. Apparently neither of them were wearing seatbelts.”

“What about Renee? She wasn’t involved in the accident?” Jim puzzled.

“She was recovering from the flu and stayed at home.”

“Alone? They left a sick little kid home alone?” Jim exploded.

“From what the files showed, yes.” Blair calmly nodded. When his partner threw his sandwich down onto the table, he leaned over and grabbed Jim’s wrist. “It was years ago, Jim! No, it wasn’t a smart thing to do. Or even the right thing to do. But they did it!” He squeezed Jim’s wrist. “And because of that, she didn’t die in that car crash.”

Jim struggled with his anger towards parents who left a sick child at home alone. He heard Blair softly urging him to take deep breaths…calming breaths…let the anger flow out of his body with each exhalation. Finally, he relaxed and nodded silent thanks at Blair.

“Gabi Jordan came in this morning with her attorney and signed her statement,” Blair quietly spoke after releasing Jim’s wrist.

“Then it’s done,” Jim dully spoke.

“Is it?”

Jim stared at the younger man. “You’re saying it’s not?”

Blair hesitated. “From our investigation, I don’t see any reason to question that Jordan’s death was self-defense. Even if you discount the allegations concerning his first wife, his second wife confirmed physical abuse. His mistress confirmed it as well even if she says it was consensual.” He leaned towards Jim. “So why are YOU having a problem? What am I missing?”

Jim blew out a long breath and folded his arms across his chest. “I don’t know that you’re missing anything, Chief. Maybe it’s because of Dad’s past history with the Turners. Maybe it’s that I sympathize with Gabi Jordan. Maybe I’m pissed off that David Jordan got away with abusing his wives when his ass should have been in a jail cell!” He irritably shook his head. “My objectivity is out the window on this one.”

“And?” Blair softly asked after a few seconds of silence.

“And I can’t help but wonder why Dad let a little girl that he thought could have been his go into the foster care system,” Jim muttered.

“What right did he have to prevent it?” Blair reasonably asked. “The blood tests showed he wasn’t the father. That’s all they had to go on that that time. DNA testing wasn’t possible. He was a divorced man with grown children and had no legal or family standing to seek custody.” He sat back in his chair and resumed eating his sandwich while Jim sat lost in thought.

“You’re right,” Jim finally admitted. “About all of it. Let’s sign off on this and move on.”

“If it’ll make you feel better, we can visit CPS and see if we can find out what happened to Renee Turner,” Blair suggested.

Jim slowly nodded. “Maybe.”

“Good.” Blair began stacking the files to return them to Records. “We have an appointment with them at 2:30.” He listened to Jim’s half-hearted protest and remembered the gratitude on Gabi Jordan’s half-opened eye when she thanked Blair for his consideration…an eye the color of blue that nearly matched the color of his partner’s blue eyes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The director of the Child Protective Service unit was a sixtyish woman named Frances Burke. Blair’s research on her had told him she was a veteran of the CPS unit having worked her way up from caseworker to director. One look at her no-nonsense visage convinced Blair that telling her the truth, or as much as was possible, was the only way to go.

“Ms. Burke, we’re not here on a case,” Blair began, ignoring the glance from his partner. “This is strictly a personal issue that arose out of a case.”

Frances leaned back in her chair and studied both me. “Well, at least you’re not spinning me some story about how vital the information you want is to the successful resolution of a case,” she remarked. “Go on.”

“We’ve been investigating the death of David Jordan,” Blair explained. “It turns out that the parents of his first wife, Julie Turner Jordan, were close friends of Jim’s father.”

Frances’ dark eyes flickered to Jim.

“I sorta knew Julie in high school, but we didn’t run with the same crowd,” Jim explained. “During the investigation of David Jordan’s death, my father mentioned he’d been very close to the Turner family and that their younger daughter, Renee, had gone into the foster care system after the death of her parents.”

“It seemed Mr. Ellison regretted not following up on what happened to Renee,” Blair continued. “So we were hoping any information you could provide could give him some peace of mind.” He reached into his pocket and slid a sheet of paper across the desk. “Here’s the information we have on her. If you need more information, we’ll try to find it.”

Frances started at the paper for a few seconds then picked it up. “Why hasn’t your father asked about this himself?” She quickly looked up at Jim.

“Without betraying any confidences, hypothetically’ Mr. Ellison at one time had a personal interest in the child,” Blair answered.

“Hypothetically,” Frances repeated.

“And speaking of hypotheticals, what would have happened to her parents’ estate?” Blair questioned.

“Hypothetically, it would have been probated according to the existing will or wills,” Frances shrugged. “Distributions would have been made, and the balance would have been put into a trust for the child.” She sat quietly for nearly a minute. “It would take some time to pull those files. We haven’t had the funding to scan old records into the electronic filing system. And I need to think on this, gentlemen.”

“Thank you, Ms. Burke. We understand your position.” Blair rose and held out his hand.

Frances shook both his hand and Jim’s. “I won’t keep you hanging for very long,” she promised. “It’s the best I can do.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Three weeks later, Simon’s bellow was the first thing Jim and Blair heard when the entered the bullpen. “Ellison! Sandburg! Get your paperwork caught up today!”

Jim balefully glared at the stack of files in his inbox and whirled around to go looking for more coffee.

Blair sighed and sat down at his desk, staring at the paperwork in HIS inbox. Minutes later, a cup of coffee was placed on his desk. “Thanks, man.”

“Da nada.” Jim replied. He sighed almost in unison with his partner as they each reached for a file in their respective inbox.

By late afternoon, Blair gleefully took the opportunity of Simon’s absence to dump all the completed files into his inbox. Returning to the bullpen, he grabbed his jacket. “C’mon,” he urged. “I don’t want to be here when Simon gets back and sees all those files.” He saw Jim staring at one open file. “Sign it and dump it in Simon’s inbox,” he hissed. “Even I’m fed up with paperwork!” He looked closer at the file. “Why do you still have the Jordan file?”

Jim closed the file and picked it and another small file up. “Conference room, Sandburg. Now.”

Blair threw his jacket down on the seat of his chair. Muttering under his breath, he followed his partner. When he closed the door to the conference room behind him, he started to speak. But Jim held up his hand. “Just…just give me a chance, okay?”

Blair took a deep breath and sat down. “Okay.” He nodded.

Jim slid the small file over to Blair. “This was sent over by Ms. Burke from CPS.”

Blair glanced at Jim then opened the file. “Renee Turner?” He saw a picture of a small child that he knew to be seven years old. Two blonde braids fell to her shoulders and freckles were scattered across her nose and cheeks. The solemn faced child stared into the camera. Blair remembered William’s comment about her unusual eyes. One was blue, and the other was green.

“Renee spent two years in the foster care system going from one home to another,” Jim quietly spoke. He heard Blair’s grunt of annoyance and nodded. “Then she was placed with a family who kept her for a couple of years then eventually adopted her. Just about the time Jordan’s second marriage headed for divorce court.” He tapped his finger on the table to get Blair’s attention. “Do you remember Gabi Jordan’s eye color?”

“Blue,” Blair answered. “Only one of her eyes was swollen shut.”

Jim opened the Jordan folder and pulled out the medical report on Gabi Jordan’s injuries. “The report says they removed contact lenses. Non-prescription contact lenses. One of the nurses noted she was surprised that they were blue contact lenses since they could see Gabi’s open eye was blue. It was when they managed to remove the contact lens from the other eye, the nurse saw the right eye was green.”

Blair grabbed the medical report and began reading as Jim continued.

“Renee Turner was adopted by Ross and Mary Grant. Upon her adoption, they legally changed her name. Just like Eve Stuart did with her daughter.”

“Grant is Gabi Jordan’s maiden name.” Blair looked up at his partner.

“Mary Grant had a daughter by her first marriage to an Edward Young. The daughter’s name is Tabitha. Tabitha Young.”

“Are you freakin’ kidding me?” Blair groaned. He started reading the files, eyes flickering back and forth between papers. Finally, he leaned back in his chair. “And it changes nothing. We can’t prove a thing, can we?”

“So what if Gabrielle Grant married her sister’s husband? That’s not illegal. So what if her step-sister became her husband’s mistress? Also not illegal and not the first time that’s happened. We’ve established that he had a history of beating his wives. Given Gabi’s injuries the night she shot Jordan, it’s hard to doubt self-defense.” Jim’s voice was mocking and bitter.

“And if it WAS a setup, want to bet Tabitha really jerked Jordan around that last night about getting a divorce? Getting him angry before he got home? Remember what Jordan’s office manager said? That his ‘other women’ weren’t around for more than a couple of months?” Blair stood and began pacing. “And the phone call from the mistress taunting the neglected wife was actually to let Gabi know Jordan was coming home angry.” He spun around. “That means Gabi deliberately pushed him into attacking her! That’s not self-defense!”

“Prove it.”

Blair glared at his partner for several seconds then his shoulders slumped. “Unless either Tabitha or Gabi rolls over on the other, we can’t.”

“I don’t see that happening, Chief. We don’t have any leverage to encourage one of them to roll.”

Blair sat down in his chair and groaned. He watched as his partner put the papers back in their files and stacked them on the table. “Are you going to tell your dad about Renee being adopted?”

“No.” Jim stood. “Let’s see if we can find where Gabi and Tabitha are now.”

A quick search revealed that both Gabrielle Jordan and Tabitha Young had boarded a plane bound for London two weeks earlier, the day after the DA had agreed David Jordan’s death was self-defense. From London both women had disappeared, most likely using different passports.

“Facial recognition software could probably find them getting on another airplane,” Blair softly suggested.

“We’ve got no probable cause,” Jim pointed out. “Besides, they could have caught a cruise ship out of England. Taken the Chunnel. Driven to Scotland and flown out of there.”

Blair lowered his voice to a whisper. “Do you think your Dad knew Gabi was Renee?” He waited for an answer. “Jim?”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“You’ve got ten minutes, and then I’m coming in.” Blair irritably huffed.

“Give me twenty. He can be pretty stubborn.”

Blair turned and glared at his partner.

Jim put a hand on Blair’s arm. “Please, Chief. Twenty minutes.”

Blair took a deep calming breath. “Okay. Twenty minutes.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Jim! Come on in. Uh, where’s Blair?”

“It’s just me, Steven.” Jim entered Steven’s condo smiling despite himself at smelling Steven’s excellent coffee.

“I was just finishing an early dinner.” Steven closed the door and led the way to the kitchen. “I’ve got a conference call with Melbourne in a few hours so I thought I’d come home, eat, and take it here. Then I can go straight to bed.” He motioned to the coffee maker. “Help yourself.”

Jim sat on one of the stools at the kitchen island. “It’s not exactly a social visit.”

Steven looked over his shoulder. “Did something happen to Dad? Sally? Blair?”

Jim held up a hand. “No, they’re fine. It’s about the Jordan case.”

Steven frowned. “I thought that was over and done.”

“Officially, yes. Self-defense.” Jim nodded, his eyes never leaving Steven’s face. “You said Gabi Jordan did some decorating for you just before she married Jordan.”

Steven nodded, a puzzled look on his face. “It was for the Bayside Gallery. She was the interior decorator for the reception and conference rooms. My company handled the overall renovations.”

“Did you get to know her well, Steven?”

Steven frowned. “It was a business relationship. We met a few times. I was part of the team that approved her final designs and signed off on the financial end.” He poured a cup of coffee and set it on the island. “What’s this all about?”

“I kept remembering what you’d said about Pops thinking Renee Turner could have been his daughter. At the time, blood tests were all they had to determine paternity. Now there’s DNA,” Jim explained. “So I tracked Renee Turner down and thought I’d give Pops the opportunity to find out for sure if he wanted.”

“You found her?” Steven asked in surprise.

“Renee Turner was adopted by a family named Grant,” Jim expressionlessly answered. “They changed her name to Gabrielle. Gabrielle Grant.”

Steven’s eyes widened in shock. He blindly reached for the nearest stool and sat down. “What?” he whispered.

“Gabrielle Grant was Renee Turner. Her adopted step-sister was Tabitha Young.”

“Who?”

“Tabitha Young was Jordan’s last mistress.” Jim watched his brother closely.

“What?” Steven shook his head like a boxer who’d taken one too many hits to the head. “Wait…wait…you’re saying that Gabi…Renee…married her dead sister’s husband? Why? Why the hell would she do that?”

Jim sat quietly.

“Oh my God, you think it was a setup all along,” Steven half-whispered in shock.

Jim patiently waited.

“But…Gabi’s eyes were blue. I remember Renee’s eyes were different colors. Dad even remembered that,” Steven protested.

“Contact lenses, little brother.”

“Oh my God.” Steven put his face into his hands then sat up. “Can you arrest them?”

“They’re gone,” Jim casually answered. “We tracked them to London but lost them. We’ve no probable cause to arrest them anyway.”

Steven got to his feet and slowly walked towards the living room then turned back around and walked back to the kitchen island. “Now what?” He finally looked at his older brother. “You think Dad knew?”

“I’m not talking with Pops.”

Steven’s eyes widened. “You think I knew? That I’m involved? Seriously?!” He angrily glared at Jim. “Why?! Why do you think that?”

“I’m not talking with Pops because there’s no need to talk with him. We both know him. Once he was sure in his own mind that Renee wasn’t his daughter, he didn’t think of her again until Jordan got killed.” Jim explained. He slowly got to his feet. “And I never said you were involved.”

“Then why did you come here? To tell me all this?” Steven faced his brother, hands on his hips.

Jim paused, then slowly replied. “Because I don’t think you ever forgot Julie Turner.”

Steven watched in silence as his brother quietly left the condo. After a few moments, he walked to the door and locked it. Getting a bottle of water from the refrigerator, he walked into the living room and stared out the windows and down to the street below.

Minutes later, he saw his brother’s truck leave the parking garage and watched it until it disappeared into the early night traffic.

Silently, he raised the bottle in his hand in a silent salute to his brother. ‘You’re right, Jim. I never did forget Julie Turner.’



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