Convinced that he had learned everything he could from Corinne's former friend, Mal thanked her and made his way back to his car. On the way, he mulled over this most recent development. Corinne was on the run, convinced that she was in trouble. This didn't really come as a surprise if it had been her who had tried to kill Jake at the hospital with an overdose of Barbital. But why only now? The attempt on Jake's life had taken place days ago. It was possible that Leslie, in her own investigation, was closing in on Corinne. That was, if Leslie was still on the case. Jake's kidnapping was being handled by two other detectives and he doubted that Leslie had let go of it willingly. But he also knew that the higher ups on the police force generally didn't allow detective investigate when they were as close to the victim as Leslie was to Jake, so she might not have had a choice in the matter. Now that he thought about it, he hadn't heard from Leslie in a while, so it was likely that she had been pulled off the case. Still, she hadn't called or dropped by to express her condolences in the wake of Jake's 'death' either. At the time, he had been too distracted to really notice, but it was highly odd. Jake could be an idiot and Leslie more than once been a victim of his reckless actions, but this wasn't like her at all. The only explanation Mal could conceive of was that Leslie knew that Jake was still alive and had stayed away to maintain the ruse. Mal considered calling Leslie, but thought better of it almost immediately. He would have to lie to her and he didn't have the heart to do that. Jake had put her through enough lately.
Calling Sergeant Hood seemed like a better idea. Not only could he follow up on the investigation into Ellen's murder, but Mal could also slip in a question or two about Leslie. By now Mal had reached his car. He got in and was about to give Hood a call, when his cell phone rang. Dan had to be developing ESP, as it was him who was calling.
Mal answered the call. "Dan, I was wondering if you could do me a favour? It's about Corinne Dawson. I think it was her who tried to poison Jake and now she's on the run."
There was a pause before Hood replied. "No, she isn't. Her body was found less than half an hour ago in a hazardous waste bin at a local vet's."
Now it was Mal who was struck speechless. Before he could reply, Hood went on:
"That's not why I'm calling though. I'm afraid I have some bad news for you, Mal."
"What happened?" Mal managed to ask, his thoughts immediately flying to Rose. Paul Meyers worked at a veterinarian's and Rose had been headed there.
"I don't know the details," Dan continued, "All I know is that there was a shooting at the vet’s where they found the body and that Rose is involved. I heard they were taking her to hospital, but that's all I know."
Mal hung up without comment, not losing an instant before he dialed Rose's number. He was still waiting for her to pick up when he drove off in direction of the hospital.
"It's not as bad as it looks." Those were the first words out of Rose's mouth when Mal finally was allowed to see his wife after what had seemed like an eternity of waiting.
"Not as bad as it looks?!" Mal echoed incredulously. "You were shot!"
Rose winced in pain at the loudness of his voice. She was sitting on the edge of a bed in the hospital's emergency department. The sheer amount of blood on her clothes seemed to belie her earlier statement. "I wasn't shot, I was grazed. There is a difference, you know."
"You could have been killed!" The hour that had elapsed between Hood's phone call and a doctor telling him that Rose was going to be all right had been among the worst in his life.
"Yes, but I wasn't," Rose replied calmly. "That's what matters."
Mal took a deep breath, trying to reign in his nerves. "What the hell happened?"
"I'll tell you everything, as soon as we get out of here," Rose said and got to her feet. For a moment, she swayed slightly, before steadying herself on the wall.
"Are you sure you're good to leave?" Mal asked. The doctor he'd spoken to had already told him that Rose was refusing to stay overnight. He doubted he could convince her otherwise, but he was still going to try.
"Still a bit dizzy," Rose admitted weakly.
"Mrs Doyle?" a voice from somewhere behind Mal asked. He turned around to find a balding middle aged man in a cheap coat peaking around the privacy curtain surrounding the bed. "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt," he apologized when he spotted Mal. "I'm Detective Constable Rendell and I was wondering if you felt up to giving a preliminary statement about what happened."
"Okay," Rose agreed, not sounding too enthusiastic to Mal's ears.
Despite her desire to get out of the hospital, Rose couldn't deny that she felt pretty lousy. Her head was pounding, she was dizzy and growing increasingly nauseous. If she hadn't known better, she would have thought that she was having the worst migraine ever. Rehashing the events of the morning for Constable Rendell wasn't making her feel any better and neither was the look of increasing grimness on her husband's face. Rose had decided to keep things simple for the police. There was no need to fill them in on her real reasons for visiting the veterinarian's surgery as far as she was concerned. She was nearing the end of her abbreviated retelling of events, describing how she had been surprised by the gunman.
"That's really all I remember," Rose concluded.
"I understand you have already given a description of the shooter to the officers at the scene, so we won't need to go into that again."
Technically that was true. She had truthfully described the man who had shot at her. What she hadn't shared were her suspicions that the shooter might be one Paul Meyers, Corinne Dawson's on again off again boyfriend. It wasn't like she had anything to back up that particular suspicion, it was merely a hunch on her part - a hunch that she intended to follow up on, as soon as her headache let up enough for her to see straight again.
"That should be all for now," Rendell was saying. "You will need to come down to the station for a formal statement at some point, but that can wait until you're recovered."
"What about the others?" Rose asked referring to the other two victims who had attracted her attention in the first place "Did they survive?"
Rose had come to shortly after the first police officers had arrived at the scene, but between the pain and confusion stemming from her injury and the general chaos at the scene, she had completely forgotten about the two victims.
"I'm afraid not," Rendell told her. "You were very lucky indeed, Mrs Doyle."
Mal who had kept silent so far, cleared his throat and asked: "What about the shooter?"
"Rest assured, we are aggressively searching for him. He won't get far," Rendell replied in a tone that was clearly meant to placate.
Judging by the expression on Mal's face, Rose knew that he'd picked up on it as well. Constable Rendell obviously didn't know about Mal's past on the force or about his connection to another case currently being investigated by his colleagues. When he found out, Rose had no doubt that he would be back, asking very different questions - questions that neither Mal nor she were too eager to answer.
It wasn't so much lack of faith in the police that had made Rose hold back as it was the knowledge that Mal needed to see this one through himself. He might not be able to bring the people who had hurt Jake to justice, the detectives investigating the case were keeping them at arm's length, no doubt aware of Mal's penchant for interfering, but he could still get to the bottom of who had tried to poison Jake and why. Given the recent violent developments, Rose couldn't help but wonder if the attempt to kill Jake and the threatening letters to Mal weren't part of a much bigger picture, one that right now, they were failing to see.
Des was at the office, whiling the time away on his laptop. Rose had told him that she had something to take care off and would be by later. No clients, paying or otherwise, had presented themselves, something Des was secretly glad about that given how his last encounter with a prospective 'client' had ended.
Lunch time had come and gone and there was still no sign of Rose, or Mal for that matter. Des was starting to get hungry and was contemplating whether he should risk going for a quick bite when Mal.
"Oh, there you are! I was..." Des trailed off when he noticed Rose who had come in after her husband. "What happened?! Are you..."
"Not now," Mal interrupted without even so much as a glance at Des while he tried to help Rose to the couch.
"I'm telling you, I'm fine. It's just a headache. I've had worse," Rose protested as she sat down on the couch, clearly having none of her husband's efforts to help her.
Judging by the long-suffering look Mal gave in response, it wasn't the first time Rose had made that particular claim. Without knowing what had happened, Des wasn't really in a position to judge, but if he had to venture a guess, he would have to say that Rose was rather far from being all right. What was visible of her shirt was covered with maroon-colored stains and smears that looked suspiciously like dried blood. This impression was further underscored by the large white bandage cover her left temple and disappearing into her hair which was matted with drying blood on that side.
"Des, I need everything you can dig up about a Paul Meyers," Mal told Des. "Call me when you have something." Mal was half way to the door by the time Des had processed the request.
"Uhm, sure, I-" Once again he was interrupted, this time by Rose.
"What do you think you're doing?" she asked sharply. "You're not going to go after that guy on your own!"
Mal expression clearly said that this was exactly what he had been planning to do.
"At least take Des with you," Rose demanded.
"He's staying here with you," Mal replied in a tone that tolerated no argument. He was out the door before Rose or Des could say another word.