Previously on Disorderly Conduct: Widower: Natalia and Emerson investigated the morgue, hoping to find more information on Jane Paxton, the dead woman who is their only lead in the case of Hunter Paxton, who was murdered in his apartment. Finding out that the file they required was missing, Natalia and Emerson went back to the precinct empty handed. After a long day, Natalia went home for the night and instead of having a relaxing, calm evening, she was faced with a request that pulls her away from the things she loves.
Does Natalia take the day off for the good of her family, or does she go to work for the good of the case?Click To Reveal Results
“Matt’s going to kill me, you better appreciate this,” Natalia scolded as she drove to the precinct with her phone pinned between her shoulder and her ear. “If I get divorced, it’s your fault.”
“What isn’t my fault these days?” Emerson teased over the phone. “Seriously, Nat, you’ll get your days off once the case is over. Were you really looking forward to spending the day with a kid that’s not actually yours?”
“Yes, I was. She’s my stepdaughter, Mackabe. And, I mean, if you haven’t already noticed, I do have another kid on the way. Least I can do is get some decent parenting practice before he arrives,” Natalia replied. “Besides, Matt was right. I don’t spend a lot of time with her and that should change.”
“Do my ears deceive me or did Natalia dos Santos just admit that someone besides her was right?” Emerson pestered. Natalia could practically see the smirk on his lips. “Also, why are you assuming it’s a boy? Maybe you’ve got Natalia Junior in there, God forbid, but still. She won’t appreciate being called a ‘he’ for all of her growth cycle.”
“Shut up, Mackabe,” Natalia replied, causing Emerson to laugh on the other end of the line. She managed a smile but didn’t laugh, “I’ll be at the precinct in five.”
“See you then, Nat,” Natalia heard before hanging up and tossing her phone onto the empty passenger seat.
She inhaled a couple deep breaths as if to convince herself that she had made the right decision in going to work. Getting the days off after the case would be simple, Captain Bridges would probably drive Natalia home herself when she filed for the days. But Natalia couldn’t shake the feeling that with no leads, and nowhere to go, the case could last a lot more than what they usually did. That could end up being detrimental to her family life. Then again, if she’d taken the day off, that would be a whole 12 hours that she couldn’t look for a killer; and that would hurt Sabrina and all of Hunter’s family, who Sabrina had surely contacted by then.
That made the choice easier.
In the life of a detective, others always came before herself, no questions asked.
Natalia pulled into the lot and walked into the precinct. Aroma of freshly brewed coffee met her nostrils as she passed the small kitchen area they had. Though she wasn’t a fan of coffee, she enjoyed that smell a lot more than the one of sweat permeating from the gym down one of the other hallways. She heard typing and followed the sound of it, leading herself straight to where Emerson sat at her desk.
“Locked out of your own computer again?” Natalia asked, sitting on the chair in front of her desk.
“Figured I’d muck up your search history instead of my own, seeing as you’re already on crappy terms with Cap,” Emerson replied, chuckling.
“Oh, whatever,” Natalia laughed as she leaned back in the chair slightly. She placed her hand on her belly as she felt a kick, she took in a deep breath. She’d gotten used to the majority of the kicks happening when she laughed. “Did you find anything about Jane?”
“Unfortunately, no,” Emerson said regretfully, his mouth pulling to the side as he typed. “I can’t find anything on her that you didn’t read yesterday-”
Natalia swore under her breath. “I hate this case,” she complained.
Natalia’s head shot up to look at him. “There’s a but?”
“There’s a but-” Emerson confirmed, nodding.
“Tell me the but!” Natalia said, leaning towards the desk and waving her hands.
This. This was the reason that she became a detective instead of a doctor. The rush of adrenaline on a chase was nothing compared to the feeling of intense euphoria she felt when they were even the smallest step closer to catching a killer.
“Well, I would if you’d quit cutting me off there, dos Santos,” Emerson quipped, a smile on his face. He knew Natalia was just getting excited. Catching criminals was her drug, and she was most definitely addicted.
“Right, sorry,” Natalia replied, a small smile on her face. “Go for it.”
“Well,” Emerson began, taking his time because he knew Natalia desperately wanted to hear what he’d found. Natalia almost broke. Almost. He knew as well as she did that she’d never give him the satisfaction of asking him to hurry up. “I was looking up our good friends Hunter Paxton and Christopher Greenway on the gorgeous invention known as the internet…”
The anticipation was killing Natalia. All she had to do was hold out a little longer…
“And I came across something rather interesting,” Emerson continued, barely holding on to the straight-faced composure he had.
“Oh my God, Mackabe! Spit it out!” Natalia demanded, literally sitting on the edge of her seat as she slammed her hands on the desk with anticipation.
“I actually never really found anything out about Christopher, in case that interests you. His record is as clean as laundry fresh out of the dryer,” Emerson laughed when he saw Natalia’s expression drop.
“I swear, Mackabe…” She murmured, her eyes narrowing.
“Okay, okay. Fine,” Emerson said, admitting defeat as he chuckled, but soon became serious again. “So, Hunter Paxton, seems like a decent dude, right? And his wife Sabrina is a fine lady. But, and you know there’s always a but, Hunter happens to be related to, drum roll please-” Emerson hit his hands on the desk as a smile crept onto his face, “-Liam Paxton, formally known to most as ‘Lee.’”
“And how does Lee have anything to do with our case?” Natalia quirked an eyebrow, trying her hardest to keep an open mind about Emerson’s seemingly pointless babbling.
“See, I had no idea either, but I thought what the hell, run him through the police scanner. And, lo and behold, I got a hit,” Emerson announced, “Lee was released from prison a week ago from his DUI charge.”
“Emerson, what does a DUI have to do with anything? So what, Hunter’s brother drove under the influence, I don’t understand the connection,” Natalia said impatiently. She needed to know, get her fix, so to say.
“I’m getting there, Nat, don’t worry. I’m almost done,” Emerson replied, holding his hands out in front of him. “Anyways, I didn’t know why I was researching so deeply into this dude who’d made one mistake in his life, paid his dues and all that jazz. But,” he pointed his finger towards Natalia, “then I saw his picture. And we’ve got a problem on our hands.”
Mackabe, you’re killing me! Natalia wanted to scream, but he turned the monitor in her direction and her eyes widened. “Is that…?”
“Yup,” Emerson said with a nod, “And I think you were onto something when you threatened the arrest of the man for withholding information, because what kind of brother doesn’t know about his own sister-in-law?”
“What do you mean he’s not working today?” Natalia asked curtly, pressing both hands into the counter and standing on her toes slightly. She and Emerson had sat outside the morgue for a good hour before it was officially “open.” Needless to say, that made Natalia grumpier than she’d been before, and that wasn’t good no matter what the situation was.
“Look lady, I don’t know who y’are, and I quite frankly don’t care. Lee ain’t working today and unless you got a damn good reason for wantin’ to see him, I ain’t telling you squat as to where he is,” the receptionist replied nastily.
Natalia had a stone-cold glare on her face, which equally matched his narrowed eyes and tight jaw. Their faces were inches apart, the receptionist had stood up when Natalia started going off on him. She craned her neck to look up at him, but nothing would break her gaze. People were usually intimidated by that very look, but not this guy. Natalia looked dangerously close to punching him, so Emerson stepped in between the two to once again play peacekeeper.
It was a terrible cycle, really. The whole good cop, bad cop thing they had going. Most people probably thought it was a facade put on by a very pregnant woman who didn’t want to be messed with. Emerson wanted to tell them that she was dead serious, and could very well break their nose if they didn’t give her the information she wanted. As a believer in nonviolence, Emerson found it a lot easier to send her out of the room and deal with it himself.
Because, as cliche as good cop, bad cop was, it worked every time.
“Nat, take a walk,” Emerson ordered, facing her.
“Macka-” Natalia started to protest. Emerson knew that at that point, her anger was clouding her judgement to a point where she couldn’t think clearly or logically about the things that she did.
“Nope, go. Now,” Emerson demanded, cutting her off before she could go off on him too.
Natalia narrowed her eyes at him, but she walked away grudgingly. Out the front doors and probably to the squad car, but Emerson was glad she was gone and could cool off in the company of herself. He just hoped that she didn’t leave without him. The last thing he wanted was to be left at the morgue by himself. Detective or not, that place was creepy.
Emerson turned towards the receptionist, who had backed off once Natalia had left. The rise in his shoulders dropped, and the veins that had been bulging in his neck had since dissipated.
“That wife of yours better watch it,” the receptionist said, crossing his arms as a way to obviously try and make his biceps look larger and thus more intimidating. “Got a mouth on ‘er, she does. Could find herself in here if she ain’t careful.”
Emerson pulled his police badge off of his belt, holding it up so that the receptionist could read it. “That woman is one, not my wife, and two, a police detective. That was a direct threat to the safety of an officer, a pregnant one, no less, so I suggest you tell me everything you know about the whereabouts of Lee Paxton, or else you could find yourself in jail for a year and having to pay a hefty fine,” Emerson raised his eyebrows as he saw the man gulp nervously. He dropped his hands at his sides, no longer crossing his arms. “Now, do I need to get my handcuffs out and escort you to the car, or are you going to comply and give us the information we need?”
“Lives at the corner’a East Meeres Crescent and Boltwood Lane. House is yella, ya can’t miss it,” he replied, his accent thick but not indistinguishable. Emerson knew what he meant, though he still wanted to make sure, even with the walking, talking guidebook sitting in the squad car at that very moment.
“Can you write down the exact address down for me? Just in case,” Emerson assured, nodding slightly. “Wouldn’t want to get lost and have to come back here, of course.”
The man quickly wrote down the address on a small piece of orange note paper with a purple pen. He handed it to Emerson who smiled as he took it. “Thanks for your help, have a terrific day.”
The receptionist nodded and Emerson walked out of the morgue, chuckling to himself once the doors had closed behind him. Not to his surprise, when he’d reached the car, Natalia was sitting in the driver’s seat. She looked calmed down though, so Emerson willingly went in the passenger’s side.
“Where are we headed?” Natalia asked, sticking the key into the ignition. She turned the engine on and looked to Emerson.
“How do you know I have a location?” Emerson asked, smiling.
“That stupid grin on your face,” Natalia replied, laughing. “Plus, you’re doing a crappy job of hiding that paper.”
“East Meeres and Boltwood,” Emerson answered, laughing along with her as he put his seatbelt on. “I assume you know where you’re going.”
“Course,” Natalia confirmed, peeling out of the parking lot.
Frankly, Emerson had no idea where East Meeres was or Boltwood for that matter. But with Navigator Natalia beside him, he was sure that they’d find it in no time. Especially with the way that she drove. He knew that they would get there, because Natalia knew it like the back of her hand, but whether they’d get there in one piece was always the question taunting him each time he let Natalia take the wheel. Which was most of the time. So far, they’d never been in an accident, so that gave Emerson no reason to disbelieve in her driving abilities… right?
Emerson grabbed the roof handle… for security reasons. He knew well enough that a handle wouldn’t save him in the slightest, but he liked to believe it could because it made him feel safer.
“So how did you get the address?” Natalia asked. Emerson was caught off guard, her breaking the silence was a rarity. For the most part, they just drove in slightly uncomfortable, awkward silence. Weird, since they’d been friends for quite a while, but it was normal for them.
“Um, I just talked to him,” Emerson managed, shrugging slightly.
“Uh-huh, sure,” Natalia said in disbelief. “What did you really do?”
“Threatened to arrest him because he threatened you once you had left,” Emerson muttered under his breath, looking down.
“What was that?” Natalia had a huge smile on her face, evidence she knew exactly what he’d just said. She just wanted to hear it again.
“I threatened to arrest him,” Emerson repeated, louder than before.
Natalia laughed, “Yes! Atta boy! I’m so proud!” She raised her hand for a high-five.
Emerson laughed with her, high-fiving her. “Apparently you’ve rubbed off on me. I’m kinda scared now.”
“Oh, it’s the best, trust me,” Natalia teased, laughing. “I’m pretty awesome if you haven’t noticed.”
Emerson just shook his head and laughed, there was no good comeback to that. They laughed for a while and after not too long, the two arrived at the house. Bright and yellow, just as the receptionist had described. Emerson had to admit, it was hard to miss. The lot was huge, and it was all well kept considering he’d got released only a week before.
“Is the first thing you would do once getting out of jail mow your lawn and trim your shrubs?” Emerson asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Not exactly what I’d do but hey, to each their own. We’re not here to judge, Mackabe, we’re here to get things straight,” Natalia reasoned.
Emerson nodded, shrugging. “You’re right, but still, it’s a little weird.” He pinched his fingers, leaving a small gap to indicate how weird it was.
“Yes, it’s a little weird. Is this really all you’re going to focus on? We’re investigating a murder here, do you need to stay in here with your opinions of what Liam does in his free time?” Natalia had undone her seat belt already and was getting ready to step out of the car.
“No, let’s go-” Emerson was cut off as Natalia’s phone rang in her pocket. She frowned and pulled it out to answer it.
“Natalia here, what is it?” Natalia answered, pressing her other hand to her ear out of force of habit from living in a noisier part of the city.
“Wow, real professional, dos Santos. And you were scolding me,” Emerson scoffed teasingly, crossing his arms in a mock fashion.
“Shut up,” Natalia ordered, looking at him pointedly and holding her hand up to silence him. Her forehead creased slightly. “No, not you, sorry, Gabe. 620 Volante Place? Yup, got it. We’ll be over right away.”
“What’s going on?” Emerson asked after she’d pressed the button to hang up.
Natalia looked at him, her eyes wide, “There’s been another homicide.”
“What do we have?” Natalia asked as she stepped under the yellow police line that Emerson had lifted up for her. He ducked under after her and looked up at Gabriel.
“Not looking good,” Gabriel said with a sigh, looking at his clipboard. He led them into the bedroom, about to debrief them when Natalia looked at Emerson after seeing the body.
Blonde hair, green eyes. Just like Hunter, but Natalia had seen him before. In news articles trying to pin him to the murder of the woman who happened to be the main lead in the Paxton case, Jane. His photo was plastered everywhere even though he’d never been convicted of the murder.
“Mackabe, that’s-” Natalia started, walking over to the corpse.
“Christopher Greenway,” Emerson completed, nodding slightly, his eyes wide.
“Yeah, um, it is. How’d you guys know that?” Gabriel questioned, knitting his eyebrows together.
“Never mind, what else do you have?” Natalia asked, her mind was buzzing as she examined the corpse once she’d slid a latex glove on.
“Looks along the same lines as Hunter Paxton, unfortunately,” Gabriel replied, looking through his notes. “Male, early thirties, multiple stab wounds. He’s got scratches and bite marks as well. Again, my best guess would be that he died between midnight and two last night. The two bodies are practically identical in every way. Guys, this looks really bad.”
“No crap, Gabe, someone died,” Natalia muttered under her breath. “Let me guess, wife is in the living room waiting for us?”
Gabriel pressed his lips together and nodded. “Newlyweds.”
Natalia ran her hand through her hair, sighing as her hand found her chin and tapped on it. She shook her head, “Okay, let’s get this over with.” Natalia began to head out of the room when Emerson stopped her.
“Nat, about that. Do you want me to interview her and you can see if you can, I dunno, find something that maybe they couldn’t find? That really helped with the Regallson case,” Emerson attempted to compromise.
“You don’t want me there for the interview, do you?” Natalia asked calmly.
“You’re a little edgy today and I don’t think it would be a good mixture. So no, I don’t,” Emerson answered truthfully. He prayed she would understand where he was coming from and not be upset. It was for the good of the case, after all.
“Okay,” Natalia agreed, shrugging.
Emerson had braced himself for yelling, and his face dropped slightly when she’d spoken. “Wait, seriously?”
Natalia nodded, “Yeah.”
Emerson nodded slightly, “Thank you.” He said carefully, trying to make sure she wasn’t just messing with him.
“You’re welcome, now go before I change my mind. I’ll meet you back in the car, okay?” Natalia replied, calmer than she’d been all day.
Emerson nodded and walked out of the room, leaving Natalia and Gabriel alone. Natalia ignored him for the most part, and began looking around. Gabriel muttered a quiet goodbye so that he could go and begin looking at the DNA samples from the scene. Natalia nodded in his direction and continued looking. There had to be something that had been overlooked.
She continued looking around, scouring every corner and crevice for anything that could be evidence that was dismissed by those who had first investigated the scene. Natalia had made her way to the bookshelf, which looked as if it hadn’t been touched in decades. She narrowed her eyes when she noticed something obscure. The bookshelf was neatly organized, each book standing straight up with bindings facing outwards.
One was turned backwards.
Natalia pulled it from the shelf, praying for something cool like a secret passage. No such luck. The book was a well known classic, Natalia had read it in grade school for fun. She couldn’t help but notice that the author was named Jane. She took in a breath. Something was there, she just hadn’t found it yet.
“Come on, Natalia, think,” she muttered to herself, looking around the room. “Where would you hide something if you wanted it to be found?” She closed her eyes for a brief second before realization dawned on her, “In plain sight…”
She looked around, and something caught the corner of her eye. Behind the headboard of the bed, a corner of something was sticking out. Natalia frowned and walked over to it, crouching down and prying it from between the wall and the headboard. It was a beige folder, a tab sticking out of the side, messy penmanship written on a label.
“Oh my god…” she breathed, standing up with the folder clutched tightly in her hand.
She practically ran through the house, looking for the living room. Her footsteps pounded against the hardwood flooring. Hazel eyes scanned everywhere for her partner. Hearing Emerson, she followed his voice.
“Mackabe, I need you,” Natalia said as she stuck her head into the room.
“I’m in the middle of something, Nat, come back later,” Emerson replied through gritted teeth. He looked at her, questioning what the hell she was doing. He was obviously getting information they could use and did not want to be interrupted.
“Emerson. I found the file.”
Will the “book of Jane” turn out to be useful or was it just a ploy to rile up Natalia?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.