Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake-Chapter Nine

Max Drake woke up by the irritating beeping sound of his alarm clock. He reached over and hit the snooze button shutting off the noisy alarm. He flopped back down on his pillow and rolled over on his side.
His fleeting thought was to try to go back to sleep. It would be easy to call into the job and make the excuse he overslept. After all, how many times did he get a call in the middle of the night for some emergency?
He closed his eyes and did his best to think of nothing, hoping that would do it, and he would fall back asleep.
The alarm went off a second time and that was enough. He decided to get up and not live through a third noisy alarm sound.
Twenty minutes later, standing in front of the mirror, Max tied his tie. He watched in the mirror as the tie pulled tight around his collar. Today hopefully would be a quiet day and everyone would behave. He could catch up on paperwork and his partner would use her time effectively, not sharing her personal drama or digging into his life. He smiled while thinking, ‘yeah she’s good at that.’
Max thought about his chance meeting with Hallie. Twice in the same day, that was unusual. She had given him her phone number on the back of his business card. When he got home, he sat the card on the nightstand where he could see it. They met on Tuesday and now it was Thursday. He sat on the edge of the bed and picked up the card. He figured maybe he could call her tonight and see if she would go out to dinner sometime. Just thinking of calling Hallie to ask her to go to dinner made him feel guilty. He sat the card down on the stand and got up off the bed. Opening the stand drawer he picked up the holster with his Glock 17 issued handgun and clipped on his belt. He picked up his detective badge and put the chain around his neck. He adjusted it to the center of his chest and over the tie. He was ready for the day.

                                                                              *****
Walking into the office at 7:45 a.m. the only one in the detective room was his partner who had no life either, Sarah McFadden. She never looked up when he entered the room. She had a stack of case files she had been going through.
“Good morning Sarah. How long have you been here?” Max stood there with two cups of coffee.
“I saw David leave. He is stuck on the night shift.”
“Better David on night shift then us.”
“Yeah I agree with that,” Sarah said.
“I brought you a coffee from that hole in the wall place down the street.” He sat it on the edge of her desk.
“Thanks, Max, you are the best ever.”
Sarah has been a cop for eighteen years. She made detective eleven years ago and Max’s partner for the last four years. Sarah was straight up six feet tall. Her dishwater brown hair cut to just above her shoulders. Learning the hard way, Sarah never wore jewelry, after the first tussle with a perp and an earring torn out of her ear. She still had the scar. Her green eyes could be piercing when staring into someone’s face while interrogating them. Max liked that about her. She was tough and a great partner.
“How were your two days off?” Sarah asked without looking up.
Max sat down in his chair. His desk butted up to Sarah’s. Department policy dictated that partners had to face each other. Max always thought the dumbass police chief went to a seminar or saw it on television. Then one day the entire detective staff moved furniture around so partners could face each other in the hopes of better creative communication. Max never bought into that new age bullshit.
“Well, I went to see my daughter on Monday night.”
“How is Michelle doing?”
“She is going great, we had dinner together.”
“Is Michelle still with that asshole boyfriend of hers?” Sarah asked.
“Yes, I’ve given her a dozen reasons to kick him out, but he is still there,” Max added.
“Has he found a job yet?” Sarah asked.
“No, he is in no hurry as long as Michelle is paying the bills.”
“At least, the guy doesn’t beat on her and he doesn’t drink.”
“I suppose that is a good thing.” Max sipped his coffee.
“So what else did you do?” Sarah asked.
“I met a lovely young lady Tuesday morning,” Max said.
Sarah looked up and stopped flipping through the files. “A woman?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay don’t make we quiz you, just spit it out, partner.” Sarah picked up her coffee and took a sip not taking her eyes off Max.
Max adjusted his position in his chair, “It is kind of by chance. I got a call for a case on Monday night or early Tuesday morning I don’t really remember exactly what time, anyway after I had handled the case, I stopped for a coffee at Starbucks. I met this woman there. Later in the afternoon, I got off work and decided to go to Donte’s place and low and behold, she was working there. It was a quiet night and we got to visit back and forth, sorta.”
“So what’s her name?” Sarah asked.
“Hallie Cook-Knowles.”
“She married?”
“Yeah but I think she said in a week or so she has a final on her divorce.” Max sipped at his coffee.
“You are attracted aren’t you?” Sarah smiled for the first time.
“It’s nothing, Sarah. She is probably fifteen years younger than me.”
“Did you take her home?” Sarah was fully into the conversation and now Max just wanted out.
“No.”
“Why not? It might have done you a lot of good to get laid.” Sarah laughed.
“We will see. I am not really looking for anybody. I mean it’s only been fourteen months since Susan passed away.”
Sarah cocked her head to the left and let out a breath that Max recognized, as her saying ‘really,’ “Max don’t do this again. You deserve a life moving forward. Susan would be pissed if she could see you moping around like a lost puppy. If this feels right, pursue her.” Sarah said.
Max wanted to end the conversation so he asked, “Anything new come up over the past two days while I was off?”
“No it has been quiet; I hate to even say anything to jinx it.”
Max leaned forward and reached across the desk. “Do you have the file on that dog catcher that got shot?”
“Yeah, right here.” Sarah flipped the file folder onto Max’s desk.
“I think we should re-interview his neighbor, sniff test still tells me there is something not right about the way the guy handled our questions.”
“You want to do that today?” Sarah asked.
“Yeah, let’s see if the guy is home. If not we can go by where he works. That might surprise him. When we show up unannounced, most people have no time to think. We hit them with the hard questions and bang, they slip up.” Max sipped his coffee as the phone rang. Sarah and Max looked at each other, and Sarah mouthed the words, “This is too early for a social call.”
She picked up the receiver, “Homicide, McFadden.”
She looked at Max her expression said everything he needed to know.
“Yeah,” Sarah searched on her messy desk for a pen. Max picked a pen off his desk and tossed it to her.
Sarah propped the phone receiver between her shoulder and ear. She reached for a piece of paper with her right hand and began to write. “Okay got it.”
She hung up the receiver. “Well, we got a possible 10-54 out past Deets Dairy off of Columbia Road.”
“I was hoping for a quiet day, looks like that isn’t going to happen,” Max said.
Sarah reached in the drawer of her desk and pulled out the keys to their car. “You want to drive or me?”

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