For a moment, Des and Rose were left staring after Mal. Rose was the first to recover her wits. If Mal wasn't going to let them help, then she had no choice but to call in the reinforcements. Paul Meyers had looked her in the eye and pulled the trigger. There was no doubt in her mind that he was a very dangerous man, capable of killing without compunction. She wasn't about to let Mal go off on a dangerous confrontation, especially when she suspected that he wasn't thinking too clearly.
But first things first, she needed to be absolutely sure that Meyers was the guy who had shot at her.
"Des?" Rose called.
"What?" Des whirled around to face her, clearly having been lost in thought.
"I promise I will explain everything, but right now, I need you to concentrate. Can you do that?"
Des nodded emphatically. "Of course. What do you need me to do?"
"I need to you to find a photograph of Paul Meyers asap."
"Is that like...all?" Des asked, already turning back to his laptop.
"For now, yes," Rose confirmed darkly. She couldn't help but wonder what would happen if Mal confronted Meyers. One dire outcome after the other materialized in front of her mind's eye. If she had been in better shape, she wouldn't have let Mal go off by himself in the first place, but she doubted she would have made it to the car in her present condition.
Without Rose there to distract him, the anger that had been simmering in the back of Mal's mind had reached boiling point. The threatening letters he might have been able to overlook but when it came to his family, Mal wasn't nearly as forgiving. It was sheer luck that the bullet had only grazed the side of Rose's head and that Jake had been found in time after he'd been poisoned at the hospital. As far as he was concerned, Paul Meyers had a lot of answer for, not just to the police, but to him personally. No one tried to kill his wife and son and got away with it.
Thoughts of rage and revenge circled mercilessly in Mal's mind as he drove toward Paul Meyer's home. The address had been procured by Rose's friend at the Canada Revenue Agency and while it hadn't rung a bell with Mal at the time, by the time the small cottage-style house come into view, he had the distinct impression that he had been there before. Mal had parked his car around a bend further down the road, effectively concealing it from view. The cover provided by the trees was not too thick, but he hoped that it was still sufficient to prevent Meyers, or anyone else for that matter, from spotting him.
Although Mal was in a mood to just kick down the door and confront the man, a little bit of caution was in order. After all, Meyers was armed and, as previous events had shown, he was not one to hesitate before using his weapon.
A quick check of the vicinity of Meyer's property had revealed no cars other than Mal's own vehicle and no sign of any movement inside the house either. It didn't look like there was anyone home. Mal wasn't sure whether he should be glad that Meyers was in the wind or not. That way Mal was avoiding a confrontation that might just end badly, but if Meyers was on the run, then he might never pay for what he'd done. At any rate, it wouldn't hurt to have a look inside Meyers' place, if only to satisfy the persistent sense of déjà-vu Mal was experiencing.
The front door was well visible from the road and while the access road didn't appear to get a lot of traffic, Mal decided that the back door would be a better place if he was going to break in. While the front of the property provided a reasonably well maintained facade, the back was the exact opposite. There was no evidence of any attempt to reign weeds and wild plants growing in abundance, an effort to lay tiles for a patio appeared to have been abandoned part way through and the space was now littered with rusting lawn chairs, a mismatched table and moss-covered parcels of unused floor tiles and other building materials. Whatever home improvement efforts had gone on here, they had clearly been abandoned for many years.
Given the state of the property as a whole, Mal was surprised to find the lock of the back door unusually challenging. It took him several minutes before the lock finally gave with a click and he was able to enter.
"Do you mind not looking over my shoulder while I break the law?" Des asked, fidgeting nervously even while he frantically tapped keys on his laptop.
"Sorry," Rose apologized without really meaning it. Right now, she couldn't have cared less about Des' nervous sensibilities. All she knew was that this was all taking far too long. She sighed and went back to pacing the office. Her head still ached furiously, but staying still seemed like an impossible feat right now. Far worse then the headache were the thoughts coursing through her mind. It felt like they were whirling off in a thousand directions all the once, each more frightening than the last. Adding to that the self-recrimination that she should have done more to stop Mal from going after Meyers on his own, Rose felt like her head was about to explode.
After Des had found a picture of Paul Meyers from a local news article, she had immediately tried to reach Mal on his cell but he hadn't answered. Much as she had feared, Meyers was the man who had shot at her at the vet's that morning. Sergeant Hood hadn't answered either so she had left a message asking him to call her back. Not knowing what else to do, Rose couldn't help the feeling that they were headed straight for disaster and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
"Anything?" Rose asked, circling back to Des.
"Not really," Des shrugged. "It looked like Paul Meyers changed his name at some point, but it's not like that's illegal. He probably had..."
"What did he change his name from?" Rose interrupted Des.
"Give me a sec," Des asked.
The second turned out to be more like a minute, but eventually, Des found what Rose had been looking for.
"Paul Richter?" Des said, as if trying out the name. "That's not too bad."
"Search under that name," Rose told him. "I wonder what he was trying to get away from."
"Family maybe?" Des mused darkly, typing as he spoke. Rose restlessly watched him work. Several times she had to bite her tongue as she had been on the point of telling Des to hurry, something which would only lead to a new interruption and further delay.
"Check out that article there," Rose pointed to link on the screen. For what seemed like an eternity to her but what had in reality only been about five minutes, Des had been browsing through the archives of local newspapers to see if he could pick up any trace of Meyers under his former name.
"Are you sure?" Des questioned. "That article is more than ten years old."
"Exactly" Rose said. Des turned his head and look at her doubtfully, but a glare from Rose silenced any potential protest.
"Okay, okay," he muttered. "Just...just don't look at me like that." Des turned back to the screen.
"I don't think this going to help us," he commented after a few moments. "It's about a suicide, but obviously not his, since he's still around and..."
Rose mentally tuned out Des' babbling and turned the laptop so that she could make out what was on screen. Des was right, the article was on the subject of a suicide, which had taken place some thirteen years ago.
A woman had killed herself. What was somewhat remarkable and newsworthy about it was that she had been the wife of a convicted killer who apparently had achieved quite a bit of notoriety when he had abducted and killed three girls a few years earlier. It seemed that the woman had kept on claiming that her husband was innocent, all the way through his trial and eventual conviction. What really interested Rose about the story was that the article mentioned a teenage son by the name of Paul. Rose did the math in her head. The age fit as did the rest of the story. She had just opened her mouth to tell Des what she thought when the pieces suddenly slid into place.
Of course! Mal had mentioned that the woman claiming to be psychic had hired him because she thought a child killer who was currently in prison was killing once again. Mal hadn't mentioned a name, but it would be too big a coincidence if he hadn't been talking about Paul's father, Douglas Richter. That also gave them the probable motive behind the attempt on Jake's life. Mal had mentioned that he had worked the case in question and that the anonymous letters had mentioned a possible old grudge, so it would make sense that Paul Richter, now Meyers blamed Mal in some way for what had happened all those years ago. The drug used to poison Jake was used in veterinary medicine and Paul worked as an orderly at a vet's. He had either tried to kill Jake himself with a drug stolen from work or had gotten his girlfriend to do it for him. It all lined up perfectly. The only question in Rose's mind why all this was happening only now. Something had to have triggered the whole series of events. There was still a piece missing from the puzzle, but she had enough of it to see that Mal was in serious danger.
The rest of Leslie's day at work passed without incident. Despite Sydney's words, he didn't return and by the time she left the office that night, she was fairly convinced that the whole thing had been a bluff. If Sydney really knew or suspected that she was anything but what she pretended to be, he would have done a lot worse than just grab her arm and make veiled threats. In a sick, twisted way, she had actually enjoyed the encounter. It had finally made her feel something. Something other than the deep, weary numbness that had gripped hold of her when she had learned that Jake was dead. She had tried filling the void with rage, clinging to her wish to bring the men responsible for Jake's death to justice.
It was enough to get her through the days, but she still felt dead inside. When Sydney had threatened her in the office, she had felt the frisson of danger running along her nerves and it had been exhilarating. It had reminded her of what it was like to really feel something. Leslie shook her head at the realization, smiling grimly to herself as she did so.
It was probably all over nothing as she was reasonably sure that her cover was still intact. Still, she paid close attention from the moment she left the office, keeping an eye out for anyone who might be following her. There was no one - not at the supermarket and not at the take-out place where she picked up some Thai food for the evening.
She was nearly back at her cover apartment, passing a bus stop as she walked down the street toward the apartment building. Something about the two men waiting at the stop caught her attention. It was nothing she could put a finger on, but the moment she set eyes on the two men, she was on the alert. Maybe it was paranoia, maybe it was instinct, honed by years spent on the force, she didn't know. However she kept walking, walking past the bus stop. Nothing happened and she didn't look back. Paranoia, she told herself as she looked to the side before crossing the road, she was getting paranoid.
She had barely finished the thought when she heard a faint click from coming from behind. She spun around, recognizing the sound instantly. A fist made contact with the side of her head before she finished turning around to face her attacker. The blow stunned her. She tried to fight back, but there were two of them who had had have at least a hundred and fifty pounds on her combined, and they knew what they were doing. Blows to the head had her ears ringing and her vision blurring, a kick to the stomach took the wind out of her. The blows just kept coming. Everything blurred together into an endless sequence of pain. Leslie was vaguely aware of hitting the ground on her hands and knees when they started kicking her in earnest. Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it all stopped.
Leslie couldn't tell how much time passed until she was finally able to get up. Spitting out a mouthful of blood, she reached into her coat pocket to get out her cell phone. It wasn't there anymore. She glanced at the ground around her, but between the darkness and her blurred vision, she couldn't find it. She needed to get to the apartment. Stumbling into the street on unsteady legs, Leslie's only thought was for reaching her apartment. She never saw the car that hit her a moment later.