Chapter Eight

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I need you.
The text was vague, especially after all that had happened. Andrew was still concerned. The heart-to-heart with Desiree gave him all the insight he needed. He wanted to make it work with his wife. He began his own message when another blue bubble appeared.

At the station.
His U-turn was sharp and wide as he flipped on his siren and barrelled down the street in the direction of his job. He felt his heart skip a beat when he pulled in 8 minutes later. He asked a few officers about his wife as he sped through the building, leading him to the homicide squad room. Alice sat next to Detective Foreman’s desk, shaken with tears falling down her face. “Babe, hey, what happened?” he said, kneeling in front of her. She wrapped her arms around him and sobbed uncontrollably.


“A fucking woman?!” Andrew said, jumping to his feet. The movement flung his seat sharply into the wall. “Sit down, Detective,” Sergeant Long instructed. Andrew ignored him and began pacing toward the gated window. This situation can’t get any worse, he thought. He was wrong. “She’s dead.” Andrew froze and looked up at the man. “And you think I did it?!”
“We don’t know what to think. Only lead we have is your wife and their affair. Naturally, you can see how we came to that conclusion.” A pain went through Andrew’s head. He picked up the chair and leaned against the back; he needed to calm down. “Tom…I didn’t do this. I just…Alice just told me about the affair three days ago. I didn’t ask for details. I haven’t even been home.”
“Where have you been?” Tom asked, folding his hands. Andrew sighed and returned to his seat. “I spent the first two days drunk at the Marriott. Last night I stayed with a friend.”
“Did you leave the hotel at all?”
“No. Pull the cameras.”
“What about this friend?”
Andrew clammed up, unsure how to describe his relationship with Desiree. Sgt. Long understood his lull. “Look, Jordan, what goes on in your marriage is your business. But I got a body on my hands. The Mayor is already breathing down the department’s neck with our solve rates…”
“I didn’t kill anyone,” Andrew said, plainly.
“Where were you on the 18th, around 7pm?”
Yeah, sure. I was stuffing my pockets with drug money with my missing partner. “I was on duty that day. Pulled an 11 hour shift.” Sgt. Long made a note of Andrew’s alibi before closing the file folder. He leaned forward in his seat and sighed. “Look, I believe you. But until this blows over, IA wants your badge.” Andrew resisted the urge to flip over the table. Causing a scene wouldn’t help either of his dilemmas. He removed his badge and his holster from his hip and slammed them on the table.

Alice rocked back and forth in the car, her hand holding her stomach in a pointless attempt to dull the pain. It was a constant reminder of her inescapable past, reaching up and waving hello. The sun had begun to set when Andrew emerged, large and fuming from the police station. She knew that he was in trouble, because of her. She jumped out of the car and walked briskly in his direction. “Andrew…” she said, with no acknowledgement. “Baby, I’m sorry,” she said, grabbing his arm. He spun around and snatched himself away from her. “I can’t even look at you,” he said, before attempting to walk on. Alice skipped around him to stop him. “I wanted to tell you. I tried to tell you but when you left…”
“Tried to tell me what? That you were fucking someone else and, by the way, it’s a woman? What, you’re a lesbian now?”
“No! But you needed to…”
“I’m about to lose my job because of you! I might go to prison, because of you!”
“You know I wouldn’t let that happen!”
“Like you have a say?!”
“I know you didn’t kill her. I believe that, I KNOW that,” Alice said, reaching out for her husband. There was no doubt in her mind about her husband’s innocence. “Please, let’s just go home. I promise, I will tell you EVERYTHING. No more secrets. Then I’ll get the best lawyer I can find on your case.” Alice reached for his hand. Andrew had no energy to fight her; he had a bigger problem on the horizon.

Desiree washed the last of the paint down the drain when the bell rang out front. She sighed to herself: the farmer’s market down the street had brought in a lot of street traffic, almost all of them leaving without purchases. “Hi, be right out!” she yelled from behind the partition, separating her kitchen and her work space. She dried her hands on her pants before pasting a faux smile on.
He stopped her in her tracks. He was well-dressed: starched khakis and a crispy blue button down, all clinging to his muscular body well. She could only see his profile as he gazed at one of the larger paintings on the wall, but she knew he was attractive. He turned toward her when he saw her and smiled a brillantly perfect smile. Suddenly, she was aware of how mussed she was. “H-hi,” she managed, drying her hands on her pants again and sticking it out for him to shake. He accepted it and kissed it lightly, his lips soft against her skin. “Hello,” he said, pushing the black glasses back up on his nose. He didn’t need them, but he had read somewhere that they made you look more trustworthy. Desiree mostly ignored them; behind them were the most beautiful gray eyes she’d ever seen. “Hi,” she said again, grinning widely like an amorous schoolgirl. “You got quite the collection. Did you paint all these?” he said, gesturing around the room. “Yeah,” she said, before shaking herself mentally. “That’s amazing,” he said, smiling again. “Are they commissioned or…?”
“No, not anymore.  I find people too literal when it comes to art. I like to do my own thing.”
“Well, I think your thing is…something,” he said, his eyes scanning over her. His sultry looks made her face burn red hot. “Thank you. Were you looking for something specific? Maybe, for a wife or…girlfriend?” she said, failing at subtlety. He chuckled at the remark. “No, no special woman to shop for. I was in the market and a friend of mine told me there was a gallery nearby. Thought I’d check you out,” he said, putting his hands into his pockets. So he is flirting, Desiree thought. “Ok, cool. Is your friend a frequent customer? I tend to remember my loyalists.”
“Uhm, I think so. Andrew Jordan?” Desiree froze at his name. Why would Andrew send another guy here, especially a guy who looked like this? Was he trying to get her off his scent? Desiree thought. It felt strange to her, given (what she thought was) their connection. “Well, that’s nice of him. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name. I’m Desiree.”
“I’m Roman,” he said, extending his hand again.

 

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