Shards of Life - Chapter 4

Time seemed to slow down into a trickle. His knees gave out and he folded himself onto the couch. There was a roaring inside his head as a strange face filled his vision. A female face. That Detective, whatever her name was, that claimed Kate was dead.

Well, it couldn’t be. It must’ve been some kind of joke, because Kate couldn’t be dead. He’d feel it if she was gone. He didn’t feel any different. So she couldn’t be dead. Could she?

The woman’s mouth was moving, she was talking, but whatever came out of her mouth was garbled.

“Dad? Dad!”

Well, at least his hearing was returning. His daughter’s face appeared in his line of vision along with his mother.

“Richard! God, Richard! What’s wrong?!” Martha turned to the Detective. “What happened? What’s going on? Who are you?”

“I’m Detective Cole, ma’am,” the woman answered softly. Funny, she hadn’t sounded soft and gentle when she was interrogating him about Kate’s murder. Oh God, Kate. Murdered.

“Excuse me.” He barely heard her over the loud roar concerto in his head. In a haze he watched as she gently pushed his mother to the side, and moved to stand in front of him. “Mr. Castle? Are you okay?”

“Okay?! Of course he’s not okay,” a note of panic was seeping into his mother’s voice, but this time she was more than entitled.

“Dad! Dad, please, say something.”

He wanted to grab Alexis and hug her for all she was worth, beg her to hug him back. But he couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak. He just sat there, staring at them.

“Mr. Castle?” The Detective was gently shaking him. “Mr. Castle, can you hear me?”

“My God!” Martha’s voice was shrill. “Do something!”


A stinging slap brought him right back. “Ouch!”

She nodded as if happy with her accomplishment. “Welcome back, Mr. Castle. I’ll leave you in the tender care of your family. And I would appreciate if you didn’t share the news with anyone until you cleared it with me. If you’ll excuse me.” And she marched right to the door.

Castle jumped to his feet, gingerly touching his burning cheek. That had been quite a slap. “Wait! Wait!” He reached her, grabbed her elbow and turned to look at him. “Wait just a damn minute!”

She looked down at where he gripped her elbow and back up at him. Arched an eyebrow, but didn’t say a word. Waiting for him to release her.

He did, as if burned. “I want to see her.”

She sighed, her gray eyes soft. “I’m sorry for your loss, Mrs. Castle, but the answer is no.”

“No? What do you mean no?” He wanted to see Kate, to make sure it was her and no one would stop him.

“I mean no, you don’t want to see her.” Something flashed in her eyes, as if she was remembering something very unpleasant. “Trust me, you really don’t.”

And she was gone, leaving him there, staring at the door she softly closed behind her.

Sam arrived back to the precinct feeling slightly sick. It was never pleasant dealing with people who’ve recently suffered a loss, but today...Today just beat them all. And she’d thought Beckett’s father took it hard. Losing both his wife and daughter to murder. Yeah, delivering the news had been hard, but not as agonizing as watching Richard Castle, playboy writer, wilt in front of her at the news of his muse, and rumored love interest, being dead.

If she hadn’t known he was innocent before, those few, torturous moments would’ve confirmed it anyway. It made her feel so utterly guilty for baiting him, for her sarcasm, for her insensitive delivery of the news of Kate Beckett’s death.

The way he’d broken down was yet another proof that the rumors were true. No matter how Kate Beckett had felt about him, whether she had considered Richard Castle a nuisance, a true friend, or something more, there was no doubt in Sam’s mind that he truly cared for the deceased Detective.

And he had taken the news of her death hard.

Shaking her head to bring herself out of the completely irrelevant reverie, she exited the elevator at the 34th, nodded to a few officers on the way, and went directly to the conference room she’s commandeered for their little task force.

She hung her jacket across the back of her chair, sat down with a sigh, and opened her notebook. She hasn’t learned anything new today and she suspected her colleagues have come up empty as well. But maybe she would be lucky and something would pop out. She hoped.

Detective Rick Kovacz was the first to return. His face looked haggard, a clear sign his day had been as bad as hers.

“So?” she asked, though she could read it on his features his interview had been just a formality.

He didn’t bother looking at his notes. “Doctor Parrish doesn’t know anything. She was home, in bed with her boyfriend, this morning, and she was devastated at the news. You?”

“Let’s wait for the others, okay?”

He nodded and went to get some coffee. She didn’t know how he could drink that swill, but if he thought it would help, who was she to burst his bubble.

She started transferring her notes, along with what Rick just told her, into her PDA, when Captain Mark Arroyo returned, flanked by Detectives Nick Reid and Brad Jones. Their “reconnaissance” mission at the 12th hadn’t gone any better. Captain Roy Montgomery and Detectives Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito, Lanie Parrish’s boyfriend, didn’t know anything and were completely shocked at the news. They didn’t understand the need to keep the murder under wraps, and she didn’t want to tell them the reason for the secrecy. Not yet.

She did have a theory, but she really hoped she was wrong. She needed more data, some physical evidence, she needed to read the autopsy report...And she hoped that would blow her little theory straight to hell, so she wouldn’t have to share it with anybody, not even the close circle of detectives currently sitting at the table with her, drinking bad coffee.

She leaned back in her chair, pulled the elastic band out of her hair, rubbed her scalp, and was in the process of pulling her hair into another, a little messier and not so tight, ponytail, when the newbie, Luke Connor swept into the conference room. By the expression on his face it was clear he hadn’t had as much luck as the rest of them in finding his interviewee. Maybe she had been too hasty in coming to a solution to this murder.

“Okay, they’re all alibied out and no one knows anything.” She swiped her finger on the screen of her PDA. “Kate Beckett requested a few days off at work, to quote-unquote figure things out, and everybody assumed, when she didn’t contact anyone, that she was somewhere cozy with her boyfriend, who,” she looked up, met Luke’s eyes, “is conveniently missing.”

Luke nodded. “Josh Davidson wasn’t at his apartment and his bike is gone. I checked at the hospital but apparently it’s his day off. I put an APB on him, hopefully he’ll appear soon.”

“Good.” She was silent a moment. “We don’t have any big leads. Captain, maybe you could pull a few strings down at the 12th. We should look at her cases, both closed and open, maybe something will jump out.”

Captain Arroyo nodded. “They’ll want to help.”

“I don’t need extra hands on this.” At his narrowed stare, she added, “For now. I know they’ll want to be on board with this one, but let’s wait to see how it pans out first, before calling for reinforcements.” She cleared her throat. “I do have another theory, but until I see the autopsy report and clear Davidson, I’d rather not speculate. It’s possible he offed her in a jealous rage.”

“And shot her in the face?”

She shrugged. “You never know.” She lifted the picture of a smiling Detective Beckett. “She was a beautiful woman, what better way to get even than disfigure her in death.”

She looked around at the skeptic expressions on their faces. “Yeah, yeah, I know. Thin, but—”

Luke’s phone rang. He was quick. “They found Josh Davidson.”

“Bring him in.”

“Sam.” Rick shook his head. “Whatever you’re thinking, don’t.”

She sighed. “I have a headache. I’m not in the mood for traipsing around the city for this interview.”

“I’ll go,” Rick said.

Sam shook her head. “I’m primary. Bring him in.”

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