Shards of Life - Chapter 3

An hour on the dot later the four of them were joined by their Captain and Luke Connor, the newest Detective at the precinct, a computer prodigy with the knack of uncovering everything about anyone, and an incredible capacity for keeping his mouth shut when he needed to.

“Okay,” she started. “We know who the victim is, all the pertinent information about her. Anything to add to what we know, gentlemen?”

Her five companions were silent.

“Fine.” She pulled a sheet of paper from the file in front of her. “Doc O’Halloran is still fishing for a bullet, so we’ll work with what we got. This is the list of the people closest to her that we need to interview. I’ll go inform her next-of-kin and will call you all when I’m done.” She looked at the man on her left. “Captain, could you give us a hand in this?”

“You can count on it.”

“Well, your choice is obvious. Do you guys have any preferences?”

“Do we really have to do it like this?”

She looked at Luke. “It’s better this way. We get them unprepared. They can’t call each other with warnings.”

“You’re considering them all suspects?”

“Guilty until proven innocent.”

The captain smiled a little. “Isn’t it the other way around?”

She shrugged. “I prefer my version.” She looked around. “No one wants to go first? Fine. I’ll take him.” She pointed to a name on her short list, stood, and grabbed her jacket. “Wait until you hear from me.”

When she left, Luke muttered, “You’d think this is war.”

Rick followed her progress toward the elevators. “It appears that for her it is.”




She slammed the door of her car and rubbed the back of her neck. She could feel a headache coming. Visiting a victim’s family always had that effect on her, but this one had been especially brutal. She didn’t look forward to her next interview.

She pulled on her jacket and was about to step onto the sidewalk, when the doorman exited the building, a protest forming on his lips.

She flashed her badge and went past him and into the high-end building without another word. She’d do plenty of talking in a few minutes. She heard him return to his post as she waited for the elevator in the lobby, but ignored him.

In the elevator she pulled her sunglasses off her nose and pushed them up to the crown of her head. She needed a clear view of the interviewee if she wanted to do this right. She quickly checked her appearance in the reflecting surface of the elevator door. She was dressed all in black, quite appropriate for the occasion. Her feet were nicely cradled in four-inch heeled ankle boots, tight leggings hugged her legs, and her short black leather jacket completed the black ensemble. The only relief from all the black was the tiny pink rose motif on the hem of her tunic blouse peeking from under her jacket, her pale skin, and her brown hair pulled back in a tight ponytail.

She alighted on the top floor. Her heels sunk into the plush carpet as she moved toward the door, checking her small notebook for good measure. This was it.

She took a deep breath, felt her features rearrange into an unreadable mask, ran her left hand along her ponytail to smooth any wayward hair, and pressed the buzzer.

The door opened and she encountered the light-blue gaze of a redheaded teenager in front of her who greeted her with a simple “Hi”.

“Good afternoon,” she replied, “is—”

A male voice interrupted her question. “Who is it, Alexis?” The man she was looking for appeared behind his daughter, arching an eyebrow as he saw her in the hall.

“Richard Castle?” she asked, although she didn’t need to. Everybody in New York knew who the guy was.

“Yes?”

She flashed her badge. “Detective Samantha Cole, NYPD. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

His forehead crinkled into a surprised frown, but he moved to the side, motioning her to enter.

“Thank you.” She quickly scanned the loft, before turning to see him close the door behind her. As he met her eyes, the frown still on his face, she looked pointedly at his daughter. “I need to talk to you in private, Mr. Castle.”

Alexis Castle flashed a small smile. “I’ll be in my room, dad.”

As the girl disappeared up the stairs, Richard Castle indicated the couch. “Please, sit down. Would you like something to drink?”

“No, thank you.”

He sat beside her and she angled her body toward him. His gaze travelled from her head to the points of her boots and back. “I’ve never met you before, have I?”

“No, you haven’t, Mr. Castle.” She opened her notebook and untucked the pen from the cover.

“You don’t work at the 12th then?”

“34th. Mr. Castle—”

“You’re a long way from home. Do you know Detective Beckett? Kate Beckett?”

She shook her head, cleared her throat. “I haven’t had the pleasure.” When she saw he was about to interrupt her again, she beat him to it. “Listen, Mr. Castle, I only have a few questions to ask and then I’ll be out of your hair.”

He nodded. “Okay. What’s this about?”

“Murder.”

His eyes widened. “Murder, huh. Can I help?”

“Yes, you can.” She nodded slightly. “By answering a couple of questions.”

“Fire away—Wait! Am I a suspect?”

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “A body was discovered in Washington Heights this morning. A preliminary investigation revealed you and the victim had a special relationship. I was hoping you could shed some light on your whereabouts earlier in the day.”

If he noticed she didn’t need any light shed on his special relationship with the victim, he didn’t let it show. “Ask your questions, Detective.”

“Where were you between 3.30 and 5.30 this morning?”

He didn’t even think. “In bed.” He elaborated on that. “Sleeping.”

She made a note. “Can anybody vouch for that?”

He smiled, the skin in the corner of his eyes crinkling charmingly. “My, my, Detective. Is this your subtle way of learning if I’m single? Because it isn’t subtle at all.”

Her expression never changed. “No, Mr. Castle, this is my non-subtle way of discovering whether you’re a murderer.”

All signs of mirth and charm were wiped off his face. “There really was a murder?”

“No, I flash my badge and bring up fictitious murder to get a date. It’s tough being a single woman in this city.”

She could tell he was clenching his teeth by the way his jaw squared, so she cocked her head slightly. “Let’s do this again, shall we? Can anybody vouch that you were in bed—sleeping—between 3.30 and 5.30 this morning?”

“No, Detective. I was alone.”

She scribbled in her notebook. “Pretty flimsy alibi, Mr. Castle.”

He ran out of patience. “I didn’t know I needed one, Detective. Since I didn’t kill anyone.”

“So you say.”

He threw his hands up in exasperation. “If this is your way of conducting a murder investigation, you have a long way to go. Because let me tell you something, lady. You suck at it.”

“If you say so.” Maybe she should back off a little, but she needed him riled. People usually told the truth when their emotions were running hot.

Richard Castle shot to his feet and grabbed his phone. “That’s it!”

She slowly rose. If he was calling his lawyer he was guilty. She couldn’t imagine him being guilty. It didn’t fit.

“I want to know who I supposedly killed.” He glared at her. “And since you so obviously won’t tell me, I’ll call my source at the PD.”

“Who might that be?” she asked.

“Detective Beckett.”

“Don’t bother, Mr. Castle,” she said softly. “She can’t tell you anything.”

“Why the hell not?!”

“Because it’s her killer I need to find.”

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