Saturday, July 18, 2009


He heard what she said, but it didn’t register until they were standing on the stoop waiting for her to answer the door. Chuck tried his best to appear uninterested, but when he saw her, his heart did a little dance. He had only seen her once in the last year, and wondered if their paths would ever cross again. She looked even better than he remembered.
“Dara Stevens?” Danica extended her hand. “I’m Detective Cruz and this is my partner Detective Thomas. Thank you for seeing us on such short notice.”
“It’s no problem at all.” She stood aside to allow them to enter the foyer. “Fancy seeing you here, Chuck. It’s been a while.”
Danica watched the two of them and wanted to ask about the history they obviously shared, but she decided it would be a good topic for the ride back to the station.
“Yes, it has.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “It seems like we’re picking up where we left off…you having information involving one of my cases. What do you have for us today?”
“Should I demand to see a warrant before I hand over this list?” she smiled as she walked over to a row of mahogany file cabinets.
“So,” Danica watched Chuck watching Dara. “What can you tell us about Tonya Somers? Your relationship with her.”
Dara didn’t know what to make of mood. She couldn’t say she was happy Tonya had been murdered, but she certainly wasn’t distraught. Unfortunately, her only thought had been that she couldn’t believe it had taken so long for someone to do it.
She looked up at the detectives and quickly decided she would leave her thoughts out of the conversation. Dara pulled several pages out of a large binder and made photocopies. “In the beginning, it was strictly a working relationship. But as time went on, it turned into…I wouldn’t call it a friendship. I’m not sure what to call it. Tonya could be a very unlikeable person. I got along with her, but she had a knack for treating other people like dirt.”
Dara slipped the papers into a folder and handed it to Danica. “The guest list is on the blue sheets. The pink sheets are the guests that actually attended. And the green sheets list the donors’ donation amount.”


She read and reread her copy. It was perfect. All she had to do was plug in the information Chuck had for her. Hope looked at her watch. If she didn’t hear from him soon, she’d have to call him. Breaking this story was what she needed; what she deserved. Chuck Thomas was her ticket out of the minor leagues. He just didn’t know it. At times she felt bad for using him, but he had to know that she would never be romantically interested in him. He was a very good looking man, but she had higher standards for herself. Dating, let alone marrying a cop, was not preparing herself for a life of comfort and prestige.
His phone buzzed and he reached down and snatched it from his belt. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“Thomas.” He barked, never taking his eyes from Dara. “Look, this isn’t a good time. I’ll call you when I can give you something.”
Suddenly Hope Freeman was just another pesky reporter. He could’ve given her something but that would’ve meant leaving the brownstone. And he wasn’t ready to do that yet. Chuck shoved the phone back in its clip.
“I must warn you that some of the guests on these lists will be difficult to talk to.” She put her hand on her hip. “Fortunately, I get to spent tomorrow night with quite a few of them. This is high volume season for these events. Maybe I can be of some assistance.”
“How about I escort you…that is, if you’re not going with someone already.” It didn’t come out as smoothly as he intended, and he wanted to take it back.
The car was warm, and Chuck turned the air on full-blast. He could feel Danica staring at him.
“I take it there was something between you two a while ago. Just a word of advice. If that was your idea of kickin’ game,” she chuckled. “Brother, you’ve got a lot, and I mean a lot of work to do.”

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