Previously on Disorderly Conduct: Widower: Natalia and Emerson were hot on the trail of Liam “Lee” Paxton, the receptionist from the morgue who had claimed he’d never heard of Jane, when they get the call that another homicide had taken place. Investigating the crime scene of Christopher Greenway’s murder, the two detectives split up. Emerson interviewed the victim’s wife, and Natalia investigated the scene. Uncovered was a book unlike the other’s in the case, and the file the two had been searching for.
Will the “book of Jane” turn out to be useful or was it just a ploy to rile up Natalia?Click To Reveal Results
Natalia strode back into her office and shut the door, tossing the book at Emerson. He jumped slightly but caught it easily, looking up at her. Natalia sat down at her desk, knitting her fingers together. Emerson flipped his hand to read the back and view the front again when he was done.
“I can’t believe you stole a book from a dead guy’s shelf,” Emerson commented, looking up at her pointedly.
“I’m telling you, Mackabe, it was turned backwards. I knew there was no way in hell it was a coincidence that it was like that-” Natalia began to reply as she crossed her arms.
Emerson flipped through the pages, pausing at a random one, and cutting her off. “As I gazed into his wintery blue eyes, I knew for the first time in a long while, I was most definitely in love. True, undeniable, irrevocable love. Nothing could save me from falling for the man who stole my heart from the moment our gaze had met one another.” He made a face of disgust and looked at Natalia, “Barf. You seriously grabbed some cheesy modern romance novel? Unbelievable, you disturbed a crime scene for this.”
“Mackabe, I promise you, this book was turned backwards. It’s not the writing we’re looking at, it’s what’s in the first couple chapters, the middle doesn’t matter. Just look at it,” Natalia explained, trying not to lose her temper. She’d looked at it briefly, but she knew that she was right. She just wanted Emerson to find it for himself.
With a small bit of her guidance, of course.
Emerson began reading again, in his head that time. “This is still cheesy, horrible romance, Nat,” he scolded, raising his eyebrows as he continued reading. “I don’t understand your hype behind this, I’m sorry. Is it a woman thing? Or a pregnancy thing? Just let me know and I’ll pretend to understand.”
Natalia rolled her eyes, “Next page, Mackabe. And don’t let me catch you ever saying that this book is for women and women only again, got it?”
“Loud and clear,” Emerson replied and cleared his throat as he turned the page. His eyes widened and he raised an eyebrow. “Maybe you were onto something here…”
“Ah, what was that? Say it again for the people in the back,” Natalia said with a grin.
“You were right, Natalia,” Emerson repeated louder with a chuckle. “Though this is some next level stuff.”
“I still haven’t laid it all out, care to read while I write?” Natalia asked, pulling out a pen and paper.
“Let’s do it.”
Emerson read the book aloud. Not the romance he despised in every sense of the word, but what was contained within those horribly written lines speaking of passion and pain, of love and lust. Someone had gone through and meticulously highlighted certain letters in the text, hopefully spelling something out. Emerson was not good with anagrams (he had found that out the hard way during another case of his and Natalia’s.) Natalia wrote down the letters in all capitals, holding up the piece of paper once Emerson had ceased his reading.
“Well, now isn’t that interesting?” Natalia asked, quirking an eyebrow.
“Who in the hell is Franklin Theodore Davis?” Emerson questioned, tossing the book onto Natalia’s desk as he read Natalia’s neat handwriting.
“Not sure, but if this is somehow Jane and she’s leaving the same clues, we better find out soon. I’m willing to bet money there was a book at Hunter Paxton’s that we missed with Christopher’s name in it. And if we were wrong, that’s another victim’s blood on our hands,” Natalia replied, standing up. “We can’t keep this from the public for much longer, Mackabe.”
“You’re right about that, detective,” the familiar voice of Captain Bridges sounded as she walked into the office and slammed the door behind her, causing Emerson to jump.
Natalia, though nervous, flashed a winning smile in the direction of the captain. “A visit just for little ol’ me, Sir? I’m truly honored,” Natalia peeped conversationally. She knew a visit from the captain was bad news. Especially when it was in her office and not Bridges’s. “What can I do ya for? I’ve got dill pickles and vanilla frosting in the fridge in the kitchen if you’d like some.”
Emerson made a disgusted face once again, his nose wrinkling and his bottom lip jutting out slightly. He gagged slightly before speaking, “Pickles and frosting?”
Natalia looked at him pointedly, “I’m pregnant, I have cravings. Bite me, Mackabe.”
Captain Bridges cleared her throat to break up their conversation. She strode in, her heels clacking menacingly against the tiles. Snapping her fingers, she pointed to Emerson’s seat and jutted her thumb upwards. In other words: the seat’s mine, get out.
Emerson jumped up and stepped away from the chair, Captain Bridges sat down. She folded her hands on her lap after crossing one leg over the other. Emerson stood behind Bridges, his eyes widening. Natalia managed to remain collected while she was being stared at, but Emerson was starting to lose it. Captain Bridges scared him a whole lot more than he was willing to admit out loud to most, the exception being Natalia, who knew everything else about him anyways.
Captain Bridges looked at Natalia expectantly, raising her eyebrows. “Well?”
Natalia looked side to side before meeting the eyes of Bridges once again as she frowned, “I’m sorry, Sir, was there a question that I missed?”
“You promised me a discussion about an injury report you filed and today is a new day. I even came to you,” Bridges replied smoothly, “Now talk, dos Santos. What were you doing away from your desk?”
“This seems like a private conversation, and I’d hate to intrude… so I’m just gonna go-” Emerson began, starting on his way towards the office door.
“Halt, detective. You’re a part of this too,” Bridges demanded, cutting him off. “I want to know what was really happening, dos Santos. And it’s in your best interest to tell me the truth.”
“Captain-” Natalia started, crafting a believable story in her mind as quickly as she could muster. They needed to find out who Franklin Davis was, otherwise, they were hooped. And Natalia still had yet to look at that file…
“It was my fault, Sir,” Emerson announced. He looked between Natalia and Bridges. “I-I was the reason she was out and got hurt.”
“Detective?” Captain Bridges asked quizzically.
“Well, I was driving Detective dos Santos home the other day in one of the squad cars, and I guess the lock on the passenger side is buggered. So I had to try and open in from the inside, and when I finally got the door to open, I accidentally hit her in the head with it. When we saw a purse snatcher on the way to her house, I stopped driving to stop and arrest him. That’s the guy who went to court today,” Emerson explained. “I asked her to lie on the injury report because I didn’t want to get into anything about my inability to open a door properly. The purse snatcher seemed like a more plausible reason.”
Bridges sighed, “Detective, is this true?” She looked to Natalia, who was practically rendered speechless. “Detective?”
Natalia swallowed hard as she looked at Emerson, who nodded encouragingly and trying to get her to answer. “Y-Yes, it’s true, Captain,” she managed.
Captain Bridges eyed the two suspiciously, her eyes dark and narrowed.
“That complicates things, indeed,” Captain Bridges informed them, Natalia could see her cheeks pulse as she ground her teeth together. She leaned her chin on her fist as she processed the new information. “Tell you what,” she announced, sitting up straight and addressing both detectives at the same time, “I will allow this one to slide by without punishment since this is Detective Mackabe’s first infraction. But-”
“There’s always a but…” Emerson muttered under his breath.
“If either of you lie to me again,” She looked at Natalia pointedly, “You will be suspended without pay, indefinitely. Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes sir,” Natalia and Emerson mumbled simultaneously.
“I said, have I made myself clear, detectives?” Captain Bridges barked, standing from her chair and crossing her arms. Natalia and Emerson both immediately repeated what they had said, this time in clear, strong voices. Bridges smiled, “Good. Now, let’s get Mackabe’s case finished, shall we?” Natalia nodded as the Captain walked out of the room. “Oh, and dos Santos?” She poked her head back into the doorway.
“Yes, Captain?” Natalia asked, inhaling a deep breath.
“One step out of line, and you’ll find yourself on maternity, got it?” Captain Bridges questioned, that sickeningly sweet smile never leaving her lips. “One. Single. Step.”
“Got it,” Natalia answered, nodded her head as she pressed her lips together. She stayed quiet until she could no longer hear the click-clack of what normally sounded like her inevitable demise (also known as Captain Bridges’s high heels). She looked at Emerson, “You didn’t have to do that, Mackabe.”
“Spare me the speech, Nat,” Emerson replied, holding his hand up to silence her. “Consider it payment for catching that guy the other night when I couldn’t keep up with him. Now we’re even, so don’t worry about it.”
“You could’ve been partnerless if you hadn’t stepped in, you know that right? She would’ve sent me on maternity faster than you jumped out of that chair,” Natalia teased.
“And she’s back,” Emerson announced, laughing. He looked at Natalia, whose eyes read all the ‘thank you’ he required for sticking his neck out for her. “Now let’s figure out who Franklin Davis is, and I know that you’ve been dying to read that file ever since you got your mitts on it.”
“Seriously, Mackabe, you should really be praising me for holding myself back from that thing. I didn’t even ask once,” Natalia replied with a smile.
“Sure, I’m proud of you, Nat,” Emerson laughed, “Now let’s figure this thing out.”
Natalia opened her desk drawer where she’d stored the file. Emerson had told her multiple times that she was going to bend the contents if she held on much tighter, so she’d put it there for safekeeping. She didn’t want anyone taking that file, so it was nothing short of a death grip she had on it the whole time they were in the Greenway household. She’d almost argued about giving it to Emerson to hold while she drove back to the precinct. For safety reasons and safety reasons alone, Natalia had willingly handed it over.
She placed the file onto her desk as Emerson rolled the other chair behind the desk to sit next to her. Taking a deep breath, she opened it, Emerson, close by as he sat down. Natalia swallowed hard as she picked up the top photo on the file.
Jane wore a white bedsheet as she laid on the metal table, her eyes were closed and her face was pale: it was her autopsy images. Though Natalia could hardly tell that through the streaks of purple permanent marker scrawled across the photo. Natalia looked at Emerson, who stared at the reports in the file with the same confused frown.
“Always the bride, never the widow,” Natalia mumbled as she read the marker. “What the…?”
Emerson picked up one of the autopsy photos. “Nat, this can’t be the real file.”
“It has the stamp across the front, though, Mackabe. You can’t replicate that stamp anywhere,” Natalia replied, picking up a report from the folder. “It’s gotta be the real deal.”
She skimmed it quickly, reading the basics of how Jane had been murdered. Blunt force trauma to the head, killing her instantly from what doctors could tell. And Natalia knew for a fact the killer had never been found, though most signs pointed to their newest victim, Christopher Greenway.
“Nat, check this out,” Emerson said, picking up another photo. It was of Jane’s body from the side, her pale arm the focal point of the photo. Again, the purple writing was scrawled across the picture.
“Down came the Jane to wash the Hunter out,” Natalia read. The line brought a shiver to her spine, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up as a chill ran through her body.
Emerson swallowed hard, “We really need to find out who Franklin Davis is.”
“We really need to find out who Jane is,” Natalia replied, sighing as she gazed at the closed eyes of the corpse in the picture. “This case is going nowhere without knowing her part in all of this.”
“We could always pay a little visit to Mr. Lee Paxton of Boltwood and East Meeres,” Emerson suggested, “I mean, he was the one that said the file was lost, not stolen.”
Natalia raised her eyebrows, nodding. “I’m sure he’s been dying to see us again.”
Natalia knocked on the door rapidly, “Mr. Paxton? We’re with the police department. We’re just here to speak with you, we don’t want to cause any trouble.”
The sound of footsteps could be heard on the other side of the door. Once they had ceased, the distinct sound of the lock clicking was heard. The door opened, and a woman greeted them with a smile.
She had a sleek ponytail in her bleached blonde hair, her lips painted pink with a lipstick Natalia almost admitted she wanted the name of. There was something off about the woman… something Natalia couldn’t quite put her finger on. “Hello, how may I help you?”
“We’re looking for Liam Paxton, Miss. Does he still live at this address?” Emerson asked politely, he had strung his badge on a chain, hanging it from his neck. The woman saw the badge and nodded.
“Yes, he does. And please, call me Joan, I’m his wife. Pleasure to meet you,” Joan extended a hand their way, Natalia reluctantly shook it. “Lee is just in the shower right now, but I will let him know that he has guests. Would you like to come in and sit down while you wait for him?”
Natalia nodded, “That would be wonderful, thank you.”
As Joan led them through the house, Natalia looked at Emerson frantically.
‘Joan?’ She mouthed.
Emerson shrugged, his head tilting to the side in an ‘I don’t know what to tell you’ manner. He agreed with what Natalia was so obviously thinking, Joan and Jane were far too close for comfort.
The house looked a lot smaller on the outside than it did inside. High ceilings and huge rooms were only the beginning, Natalia gaped at the large leather sofa that Joan motioned for them to sit on. All around the room were styrofoam heads and canvases that held all sorts of prosthetic masks. Some were halfway sculpted, and some were finished completely, full paint job included.
“Don’t mind the heads,” Joan commented, obviously seeing Natalia’s uneasiness with the masks. “Prosthetics are Lee’s favourite pass time. Creating calms him down after long work days at the morgue. Since coming back from prison, especially. He’s just flooded with creativity for these things.”
“Charming,” Emerson commented, nodding slightly and plastering a fake smile onto his lips.
“Well, make yourselves at home, and I’ll be right back with Lee,” Joan said, holding her hands out.
Natalia made a face as soon as Joan had walked out. “This place is creepy.”
“Now you know how I feel at the morgue,” Emerson replied, tilting his head to the side slightly as he walked to the couch and sat down. “Did the report on him say anything about a wife?”
Natalia shook her head slightly and sat down beside him. “Didn’t mention her, no. But let’s see how this goes,” Natalia looked around, gazing at the masks and molds scattered around the room.
A few minutes later, Joan walked out with Lee. The two detectives rose from their seats to greet him. Joan’s plastic smile never left her lips, it was starting to make Natalia nervous, she had to admit. But there was something that both she and Emerson couldn’t put their finger on. Joan looked familiar, Natalia couldn’t shake that feeling.
“Hi, detectives, how may I help you?” Liam asked, his hand clutched the fluffy white towel around his waist, as that was all he’d decided to wear to greet them. He extended his other hand to shake Emerson and Natalia's.
Natalia cleared her throat uncomfortably as she shook his hand, “Mr. Paxton, we can wait longer if you’d like to go get dressed…”
“Oh, no, that’s alright. You two have busy lives, I understand. What do you need?” Liam pressed, padding over to the couch and sitting down.
“I’ll go get some drinks for everyone,” Joan announced and walked out of the room.
“Um, you don’t have t- okay, uh, yeah, you do that,” Emerson protested before quickly giving up. Joan had already scurried out of the room.
“Mr. Paxton-” Natalia started.
“Please, Lee,” he replied calmly. It took a very secure man to be practically butt naked in front of two police officers and be as tranquil as he seemed to be.
“Lee,” Natalia corrected herself, doing her best not to roll her eyes. “When we came to the morgue the other day, you didn’t seem to know who we had been talking about when we asked about Jane Paxton.”
“And?” Lee asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Well, we did some research,” Emerson answered, “Don’t you think it seems kind of, I don’t know, suspicious that you didn’t tell us about your own sister-in-law?”
“I’m sorry, detectives. This is all just one big misunderstanding, you see, my brother and I are estranged. I’ve not heard from him since he left the family when he was 15,” Lee explained, “if he got married, I would definitely not be the first to be invited. I truly haven’t heard from him in forever. What’s so important about her?”
“Lee, your brother is dead,” Emerson replied, mournfully, “and the only lead we’ve got on who could have killed him is his ex-wife, Jane. We were hoping you’d be able to shed some light on the situation.”
Lee swallowed hard, “He’s dead?”
Emerson nodded, “I’m so sorry.”
“Ah, don’t be, it’s not your fault. Besides, it’s like a celebrity dying. You know their name, some pointless information about them, yet you hardly know them at all. You can be sad, but you’ll never mourn for too long, because you never truly knew who they were,” Lee replied, nodding his head slightly and pulling his lips to the side of his face.
“Drinks!” Joan announced as she returned to the room.
She placed a tray down on the coffee table, two mugs released puffs of steam from their dark black contents. Natalia could smell the coffee beans from where she sat. A small bowl of sugar and a tiny pitcher of cream sat in the middle, ready for sweetening the drink. Natalia couldn’t help but notice the tall, thin glass that held an algae green coloured liquid in it, the smell of that drink met her nostrils react. It took all her willpower not to gag at the smell.
She nearly wrinkled her nose at it, but Joan placed it in front of her.
Emerson pressed his lips together as he saw Natalia’s hidden disgust. Natalia looked up to Joan, “Um, thank you, but I don’t need a special drink. We were just finishing up, actually.”
“Oh, please, it’s my pleasure. It’s cooked kale, broccoli and sweet potatoes. I read in a magazine once that those vegetables are among the best for pregnant women. I’ve got to go to work, but you’re welcome to stay here until you’re finished. Enjoy,” she smiled once again. After giving Lee a kiss on the cheek, she waved to the two detectives. “Enjoy the rest of your day, detectives.”
“You too, Mrs. Paxton,” Emerson replied.
Joan walked away, Natalia’s eyes followed. She was trying desperately to figure out where she’d seen Joan before. Unfortunately, being a police officer, “just one of those faces” was something that she couldn’t believe in. Natalia needed to figure it out.
“Excuse me, detectives. I’ve got something I need to do,” Lee mumbled, standing up and walking up the creaky stairs Natalia could hear from where she sat.
“If you need anything, be sure to call the police department,” Natalia called after him, looking back to the drink and sneering at it.
“Alright, dos Santos, drink up. We’ve gotta go,” Emerson said, standing up with a smirk.
“I’m not drinking that, it looks like radioactive sewage sludge,” Natalia replied, looking up at Emerson with the same expression of disgust.
“Come on, Nat. You’ll eat pickles and frosting but not something healthy?” Emerson pressed, loving every moment of the little torment he could cause Natalia.
Natalia took the glass in her hand. Regrettably, she sniffed it and made a face. “I can’t. I can’t, it smells so bad.”
“Come on, tick tock,” Emerson looked down at his watch for dramatic effect.
Natalia shook her head, “If I puke, it’s all your fault, Mackabe.”
“I promise I’ll hold your hair,” Emerson teased. With that, Natalia plugged her nose and started to drink. He waited until the glass was half empty with Natalia’s chugging. “Doing okay, Nat?”
Natalia finished the drink and placed the cup back on the tray as if she’d just finished a pint in a rundown pub. Natalia gagged, standing up and wiping her mouth. She glared at Emerson, “You are so eating pickles and frosting when we make it back to the precinct.”
Emerson laughed, not bothering to give her a reply. As the two walked out of the house, his phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket, frowning as he answered.
Is it Gabriel, the medical examiner, with DNA information on the phone? Or is the call from Captain Bridges needing to speak to Emerson and Natalia immediately?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.