"The investigation into Roger Thayer's sex trafficking network continues and last night the FBI arrested Sergeant Jason Kavalus of the New York Police Department on charges of conspiring and aiding and abetting in the scheme. As of now, details of the case have not been released to the public, but sources tell us that Kavalus may have worked for one of Thayer's accomplices, helping to conceal evidence related to the investigation. Police Commissioner Gideon Nelson held a press conference earlier this morning, denouncing Kavalus's conduct and promising to launch an internal investigation into..."
"He's just gonna walk away," Andy said dispassionately as she and Miranda stood cross-armed in front of the screen in the TV room, watching the morning news' coverage of Jason's arrest. "He's not the only dirty cop. Whoever activated him is gonna make it go away like they did with Amanda's case and when they scared Monroe off of mine."
"But that's no longer any of our concern," Miranda said, an edge of warning in her tone, her gaze rising pointedly to the bandaged sutures on Andy's cheek.
"I'm done." Andy raised her hands in surrender. "Okay? Promise."
"Good. I don't want to hear anything related to this story in this house again," Miranda said resolutely and picked up the remote, switching off the television.
"Ouch. That's gonna leave a scar, all right," Miles said up close, inspecting the sewn wound beneath Andy's butterfly enclosures with a grimace.
"Not if Miranda has anything to do with it." Andy smirked and sat back down at her desk. "She said I look like Frankenstein with the stitches. She's already had her assistant schedule an appointment with the best plastic surgeon she could find."
"Are you kidding?" Miles balked. "It's a battle scar, you should wear it proudly!"
"I fell on a dresser, it's not exactly the proudest moment of my life."
"So tell me what went down there. I wanna hear all about your badassery," he urged like an enthusiastic child, throwing punches in the air. "Did you punch him in the face? Did you give him the throatchop? The mayweather? The Liam Neeson?"
"I don't know what any of those things are. But I did kick him in the balls."
"That's my girl," he praised and shared with her a high five. When his hand had lowered back down, so had his voice. "Seriously, though, you okay?"
"I will be." Andy forced a smile. She didn't tell him that she hadn't slept most of the night, tossing and turning with the mental image of the dark, hollow barrel of Jason's gun. And every time she closed her eyes, the gun had discharged, shooting a deadly bullet straight into her head. The knowledge that it had been Jason holding the gun, she supposed, was harder to stomach than the obvious trauma of standing on the precipice of death. The feeling of betrayal by someone she'd considered a close friend, had gone to for help when he was the one she should have been wary of, hurt worse than any bullet wound or dresser cut.
"What did he even want?" Miles frowned.
"What everyone does: the list."
"Did he say who sent him?"
"Honestly?" Andy's face sombered. "I'm leaving it for the police to figure out. I'm done. It's gone too far."
"Good." Miles nodded, just as solemn. "I don't want any more cuts on that million dollar face. You know how much a plastic surgen costs? And on a journalist salary?"
"Shut up," Andy laughed after his retreating form.
She waited until she was alone at her desk, surrounded by co-workers too busy with their own jobs to care about her, to pick up her cell phone and dial.
"Hey, it's Andy," she said quietly.
"What do you need, Andy?" Monroe inquired briskly, evidently as busy and unavailable for small talk as the people around Andy.
"I'm calling about Jason."
There was an audible sigh on the other end of the line before Monroe's voice came back on, slightly more patient. "You know I can't talk to you about that."
"I just wanna know what's gonna happen to him," Andy implored, "so I can put this whole thing behind me."
"I get that, I do, but this is an ongoing investigation and you're a civilian."
"Then treat this like a call from a journalist," Andy proposed and used a businesslike tone to match. She would, after all, need a new source in the police. "Give me your statement."
The silence that ensued stretched on for almost too long, but when Monroe spoke again, it was clear she wasn't talking to Andy as a journalist and that the information she was supplying was off the record. "Look, I don't know much since the FBI took the case from us," she began in a whisper and Andy could just imagine her swiveling her chair away from the ears of the other cops in the station, speaking directly into the receiver. "But the talk is that he cut a plea deal: he'll give them the name of his employer and they'll let him go. My guess is they're gonna put him in witness protection."
"And what's gonna happen to the employer?" Andy asked curiously. "You think someone else is gonna sweep it under the carpet?"
"I don't know, but Andy, my advice stands. You don't want anything to do with this story, it's bigger than the both of us. You're okay now, Jason is gone--go, live your life."
Andy took her advice to heart. She was tired; she wanted to go back to being a journalist who got satisfaction from her investigative work instead of threats, she wanted to come home every day to a sarcastic woman and her two bratty offspring, have dinner with them, watch television, crack jokes, and live her simple, boring life.
As she gathered her things on her way out of the office a few hours later, she called Miranda, who answered on the first ring. "Yes?"
"So, Jason made a plea deal," Andy said in lieu of "hello." "He's gonna name his employer and avoid prison."
"How do you know that?"
"I'm an investigative journalist." She grinned.
"You called Detective Monroe, didn't you?"
"Yes." She deflated. "The point is it's over. I'm done with the story, Greg won't publish the last part, and I'm ready to put it all behind us."
"I'm glad to hear that," Miranda replied cautiously.
"So, I was thinking," Andy changed the subject and the tone of her voice, lightening up the mood as she left her chair and grabbed her satchel. "What do you say we take advantage of having the house to ourselves one more night for some adult activity?"
In the pause before Miranda's response, she could clearly picture her turning her chair away from the exposed setting of her office and toward the windows behind her. Her voice dropped to a husk when she said, "What did you have in mind?"
"I guess you'll have to come home and find out," teased Andy. "When do you leave?"
"Soon," Miranda's voice returned to normal. "I have a few more things to wrap up and I'll be on my way."
"I'm gonna swing by Come Prima and bring us dinner, get that amazing tiramisu for dessert." Andy smiled, already salivating.
"I'll be looking forward to that," Miranda said approvingly.
"Race you home."
"I'll see you soon."
"Hey, Miranda," said Andy before the call disconnected.
"I love you," she said softly, felt it incredibly imperative to say out loud. She could never say it enough, never wanted to leave any doubt in the minds of the people closest to her.
In the silent beat that followed her statement, a shred of a doubt crept into her consciousness, accompanying the knowledge that a long road lay ahead in rectifying everything she'd inadvertently put her loved ones through. But when Miranda's voice came back on the line, it had softened as well. "I love you, too."
The Man rocked in his office chair, playing with the large, golden ring on his finger, turning it this way and that. Outside the open windows, the sky was growing dark, mesmerizing sunset hues of pink and purple being chased into the ocean by a screen of dark blue. In the darkness, the city lights glinted and sparkled, casting their brightness on the horizon. On The Man's desk, his phone sat, speaker mode allowing him to hear and be heard from a distance.
"So Jason is going to run his mouth to the FBI," he said serenely. "What a shame."
"Do you think he's gonna rat you out?" a voice asked through the phone's speaker.
"He won't," The Man replied confidently.
"How do you know?"
"Let's just say"--he leaned back against the leather upholstery of his chair--"that our officer friend is about to have an accident in his cell tonight."
Through the phone, a knowing chuckle sounded.
"We have another problem, however."
"The journalist," the voice guessed.
"I don't know what he revealed to her before they took him away and unfortunately, he didn't get to finish the job," said The Man. "She is our one loose end. I want that problem solved once and for all."
"Don't worry," the voice assured him, looking out of the driver's side window in a blue, dusty Buick. Out on the street, the Priestly townhouse stood in wait, its windows dark and empty in-between the illuminated neighboring houses. "It's taken care of."
"That's what I like to hear."
As he hung up the call, Miles grabbed his full magazine, securing it into a gun he pointed out of the open window, finger on the trigger ready to take care of the first person to walk up to the door.