"Good news," the detective who had been taking Des' statement at the station announced. Des raised his head. As the remnants of the drug had worn off during the ride to the station and the subsequent questioning by the detective, his worry and anxiety had increased to a state of near panic. Not only was he worried sick about Tinny and what this crazy Philip guy was going to do to her, but he was also worried about what Mal was going to do to him and Tinny when he found out what had happened. Adding to that the anger at himself for having been stupid enough to let himself be drugged not only once, but twice, by the same guy and his nerves were a mess. Even more so than usual.
"We found your girlfriend, Tinny. She is being checked out at the the hospital but it looks like she is going to be okay."
"Really, Tinny is going to be okay?" Des gasped. The rush of relief was almost dizzying.
"Looks like it," the detective said and smiled. "Philip Burgess has been arrested. He's admitted to everything, so you're free to go. I'll have someone give you a ride home."
"Thanks." Des meant it. Maybe Mal wouldn't kill him after all, if Tinny really was all right. Although Tinny still might.
Tinny and Des eventually managed to tell the story of their eventful day, after they were all back at the Doyle residence. Neither Mal nor Rose had asked any questioned or made any interruptions during the lengthy retelling of events, instead, both had listened silently but with expressions of increasing alarm on their faces. When they finished, there was a moment of tense silence in the living room. It was finally broken by Mal.
"Why didn't you tell me about any of this?" Mal asked addressing Tinny. His voice was calm and controlled, but she had no trouble detecting the undercurrent of anger in it.
"Because I knew how you'd react," Tinny replied with a sigh. "I really thought it was that guy from school who was sending me the flowers and the notes. Plus, I did tell Rose," she added defensively.
"Fair enough," Mal replied after a pause. "But in future, you are going to tell me about anyone giving you trouble."
Tinny opened her mouth to protest, but Mal silenced her with a gesture. "No arguing. You put both yourself and Des in danger. This could very easily have ended much worse, for both of you. I want you to think about that for a while."
Tinny nodded. She knew Mal was right in saying that she had put them both in danger. She shuddered, thinking of how the evening could have ended and of what Philip probably had planned on doing to her.
Mal must have picked up on what she was thinking, because he said: "It's late, I think you and Des better get to bed, you have had quite the day. Plus there's school tomorrow for you Tinny."
"Really?" Tinny said, making her best 'are you serious' face. "It's almost 2 a.m. already!"
"Then you better get to bed to get all the sleep you can," Mal replied in tone that tolerated no argument.
"Yes, Poppy" Tinny replied. The prospect of going to school the next morning was far from appealing, but at least it would give her something to take her mind off what had happened.
"Night everyone!" she said, smothering a sudden yawn.
"I think I should turn in as well," Des said.
Once Des and Tinny had left the living room, Rose turned to her husband.
"How are you holding up?" she asked gently, putting her hands on his shoulders. She didn't want to push Mal, but she also wanted to make it clear to him that he could share his worries with her. She didn't know exactly what he had been doing all day, only bow it had ended, but she could imagine that it had been a rough day for him as well.
"Better now that I know that Des and Tinny are safe and Jake's been found," Mal replied. Rose accepted the answer without comment, even though she knew very well that he was still holding something back from her. Maybe it was just his very understandable worry for Jake, but she got the impression that there was something more.
"I think we should close the office for a few days," she suggested instead. "Just until we all get back on our feet."
Mal shook his head. "I can't just drop everything."
"I wasn't aware we had anything on hand," Rose commented slyly. She was now sure that whatever Mal wasn't telling her had something to do with a case that he was working and that for some reason, he was reluctant to share with her.
"Then let Des and me handle it," she requested. "You should go see Jake tomorrow. Or today as it were."
"I will, I will, first thing in the morning" Mal agreed. He seemed on the verge of saying something else, bur appeared to change his mind.
"I think I should go to bed now," he said instead.
"You're right. It's been a long day," Rose agreed. She might not get her answers today,or the next day, but she would find out eventually. Of that she was certain.
Tinny couldn't sleep. Every time she tried, her mind went back to the previous day. Until now the horrible possibilities of what could have happened hadn't even really sunken in despite of Mal's words. It was as if she'd been numbed earlier, maybe because of the remnants of the drug in her system, or maybe because it had all been too much to take in at first. She had been busy reacting earlier but now that she was safe and that it was all over, it was all started to catch up to her. Tinny glanced at her alarm clock. The glowing digits read 4:47 a.m. She sighed and quietly got up. It was no use trying to sleep, so she might as well stop tossing and turning in vain and get up. When she quietly crept downstairs, she was surprised to find a faint blue light coming from the living room. Des was sitting there on the couch, laptop balanced on his knees, hunched over the screen.
"Hi, Des," Tinny said quietly. Des startled mightily and nearly dropped his precious laptop. He whirled around, turning to face her. "Tinny, what are you doing here?"
"Ssh," Tinny said. "You'll wake up everyone. And if you haven't noticed, I live here."
"I meant what you are doing up?" Des asked, his voice lowered.
Tinny shrugged. She didn’t want to admit that the events of the previous twenty-four hours were haunting her.
"I couldn't sleep," she simply said and sat quietly next to Des on the couch.
"Listen," she began, breaking the uncomfortable silence between them. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry about what?" Des asked, sounding genuinely curious.
"About all of it," Tinny spread her arms in an expansive gesture. "I didn't mean for you to get hurt."
"I wasn't...Of course you didn't..." Des replied, clearly flustered and uncomfortable with the topic.
"Do we really have to talk about this?" he eventually asked, casting a pleading side look at Tinny.
Tinny shrugged. "No, we don't." She got up, slightly disappointed to find herself thus rebuffed. She started walking toward the kitchen.
"Wait, Tinny. Please wait," Des called after her. She turned around.
"I didn't mean it, not like that anyway," Des said, leaving Tinny to guess what exactly he meant. Nothing new there, she thought. Making sense of Des wasn't easy at the best of times, much less when they were both running on no sleep and fading adrenaline.
"I mean, you have nothing to apologize for," Des clarified after a moment.
"If it hadn't been for me, you wouldn't have been drugged and kidnapped." Tinny said rapidly, before she could change her mind.
"That's not true," Des argued. "Look, this Philip guy, he was crazy. You're not responsible for that."
"Then why does it feel that way?" Tinny asked, addressing more herself than Des.
Leslie was nervously pacing the small living room of her temporary lodgings. After a remarkably unrefreshing and short night of sleep, she was at a loss for ideas on what to do next. It was by no means certain that Mervin or his son would indeed offer her a job as her handler and Inspector Manners were hoping. And even if they did, it stood to reason that they would check her out first.
All she could really do at the moment was wait. She couldn't go to the station as she might be followed, nor could she go check up on Jake, for exactly the same reason. She could however go out and buy a newspaper. There was a good chance that the police was keeping the case under wraps, but some details were bound to have made the local paper. She knew it was desperate, but not knowing if Jake was even still alive drove her crazy. As there was no TV or internet in the small cover apartment, the paper was the only source of information safely available to her. Leslie grabbed her keys and went out.
Leslie hadn't dared to open the newspaper, not until she was back in the small flat. Casting aside the bag of groceries she had also acquired at the supermarket, Leslie opened the paper with shaking hands. It didn't take her long to find what she was looking for, the whole incident had made the third page. It was the very headline that made her blood run cold. "Private Investigator fatally wounded under mysterious circumstances." It was like a powerful punch to the stomach. For a moment, she thought she was going to faint as she struggled to draw air into her lungs and silvery spots started appearing on the edges of her rapidly blurring vision. Eventually, her body's survival drive won out over the emotional shock, and Leslie drew in a ragged breath. She sank down on the kitchen chair, numb in body and mind.
Time had no meaning for her as she sat there. It was only when her cell phone rang, that she was jolted from her trance-like state. With shaking fingers, she pulled her mobile from her jacket pocket and without even so much as glancing at the display, answered the cell.
"Yes?" she managed, her voice barely controlled.
"Leslie? It's Mervin Parker."
"Oh, hello, Mr Parker," Leslie managed.
"Is this a bad time?"
"Uh, no, no. It's fine." Leslie replied, struggling to steady her voice.
"Listen, Miss Baker. I just learned that one of our secretaries is ill and won't be back for several weeks. You mentioned that you were looking for a job here in town and, I know, it's only a temporary position, but it would be the least I can do after what you did for my daughter."
Leslie swallowed hard. She needed to get a grip on herself and she needed to do it fast. This was her chance to get closer to the people who'd killed Jake.
"That would be wonderful," Leslie replied. "Uhm, when do you want me to start?"
"If you could come in today, that would be ideal."
"That's fine by me. I'll be there in 45 minutes," Leslie answered and hung up. She pulled in a deep breath, trying to steady her nerves. She had no idea how she could face the man who might have given the orders to the men who'd killed Jake, in less than one hour.