Char is called back to work.
She thought that he would still support her on wanting to get her goal of Captain. He’d been so supportive of her these past years. Sure, he mentioned that their “someday” would be totally amazing, however, she did not like that fact that it seemed as if he was pushing it on her more and more.
Steven was a firefighter in the city, serving the Station house 3. He was forced retirement when he lost his left leg in a fire accident just the beginning of this year. And since then, he’d been talking to Char about leaving the force so they could have their “someday”. But she never wanted to leave the force. They both decided to tuck that away for another day.
And now she was returning to work. The work that nearly got her killed a month ago. But she needed to finish strongly. Her personal goal was to finish on her terms. Not Charles Poleski’s terms. Even though she had no proof he was the one who shot her, she still believed it was him.
Plus, she knew that fire that took Steven’s leg still needed to be solved. The Arson Division in the SPD involved a squad of four people. Heading up that division was a longtime friend of Char’s. Fire Marshal, Jamie Mitchel. She had been working closely with Jamie to get this solved.
If anyone else in the department knew she was involved, it could be not only her badge, but it could also lead to obstruction of justice charges. It was a conflict of interest for sure. But it still infuriated her. The fire happened in an abandoned warehouse back in January. Even when she was off for the month. She worked tirelessly on her own time with Jamie, whenever they could. Her thoughts stopped as she came upon the scene.
When she arrived at the scene, she saw the police tape crossing the home’s lawn and many from her department. As she walked up, Chuck was there with Mitch. Mitch, damn really?
“Miss, this is a crime scene,” a patrol officer stated to her.
Char didn’t recognize this woman. She inspected her and realized she was a rookie as she read her name tag, Thompson.
“First day on the job?” Char asked.
“Um, no. I’ve been here two weeks,” the woman replied.
“Ah, I see. Well, I’m Sergeant Charlotte Rinning and this is Neo.”
“Oh, oh, oh, I, oh…”
“It’s okay. It’s not like I’m the First Lady or anything. Just another cop returning for duty.”
“Oh, I um, yeah…”
“Cat got your tongue?” Char chuckled.
“I just, I’ve heard so much about you. You’re the reason I became a cop. I’m… I’m a big fan.”
“Oh, um, thanks,” Char said. She handed her, her business card with a smile. “In case you need anything, just call, any time.”
“What, oh my gosh! Thank you, thank you so much!”
“I understand what it’s like coming up as a woman in a male dominated field such as the police force. We women need to stick together!”
“Right, thank you. I’ve only been here two weeks, but I hope to get to where you’re at some day! Thanks again, so, so, much!” the younger woman squealed.
The woman smiled again at Char as she lifted the tape line for her and Neo. Char smiled back to her. She heard Mitch mumble her name as she got closer to the scene. When she glanced around, she saw the Medical Examiner’s van and sighed heavily.
“Charlotte Rinning, really?” Mitch mumbled.
“Yes, really. Mitch Harding is that really you?” she laughed.
He grumbled. “Seriously?”
“I know, I have to work on my quips. You seem to have them down, care to meet me for a vodka later?” she snarled.
He grinned and shook his head as he turned his attention to Chuck.
“Don’t say it, Mitch. I know how you feel about working together, but we need her and Neo,” Chuck said.
“Why? You know I’m up for a promotion.” Mitch turned his focus back on Charlotte. “AJ and I will soon have her job. I will become Sergeant! Maybe even Lieutenant, then I can boss her around,” Mitch chuckled.
Charlotte laughed with them. “Dude, really, I’m standing right here. And I know how badly you want my job. Don’t get too comfy. It’s gonna take a lot to get me to move.”
“I can blow you down right now with a single breath, toothpick,” Mitch laughed.
“You can try.”
“You two remind me of my son and daughter who are ten and twelve,” Chuck said.
She snarled to him and Mitch. Mitch walked to her and put his shoulder into hers to get by. She moved a little and glared at him. Mitch always brought out the worst in her. Or maybe she brought out the worst in him. Not really sure but Chuck was right.
“Okay, okay, okay, let’s get inside and investigate,” Chuck ordered.
They entered the home. The photographer, Ella Mussing was photographing the body that lay twisted on the floor by the couch. A single pool of blood sat on the floor and appeared to have come from the victims stomach on the left side.
When she bent down, she noticed a knife. “Knife stabbing?” Char asked.
“Nope,” Ella said.
“But what about the knife?”
“I already checked the knife.” She pulled Charlotte aside and whispered to her “Dude, did you know this man?”
“Well, I don’t know. I just got here and haven’t had a chance to look him over. Do you ask everyone that question when they get to a crime scene?” she laughed.
“No, it’s just… the knife has your prints on it.”
She grinned. What? “um what?”
“Yeah. That’s why I asked,” Ella said.
“Have you told anybody else about this?”
“Nope. We just got here.”
“So, Chuck has no clue about this? And how do you know they are my prints?”
“No. Well, I was able to dust the knife and get it to Cindy, our forensics specialist. And you know how fast she can be,” Ella said.
“Well, shit…” She paused for a moment to absorb the info Ella just gave her. Then she thought, “I do find it odd he called me and Neo here.”
“Why is that odd? You are our best K9 Sergeant. No matter what Mitch says.”
“But Mitch and AJ are here. Why does Chuck need me and Neo then?” Char asked.
“Right, well maybe he just thinks you’re ready to fully return. I know your leave was sudden and probably hard. We’ve missed you. Well, I missed you.”
“Don’t remind me. I guess you’re right. Who’s the victim?”
“John Louis Silverman the third.”
Charlotte gasped. Shit. She did know him. They were roommates in college. She rubbed her mouth. Many things went through her mind. Number one. How the hell did her prints get on his knife? Number two, who wanted him dead? And number three, who would dare try to frame her? If this was a frame up.
“Don’t worry. He didn’t die from the knife,” Ella assured me.
“Okay, what did he die from?”
“Strangulation. See the marks on his neck?”
“Oh yeah. Any sign of a struggle, forced entry?”
“Nope. But there are some other things. I need Neo to sniff around. Look here, at the end of his nose.”
Ella pointed out to the end of the button nose of John’s rounded face that there was some white residue. Char bent down and inspected further. Neo sniffed as well. He barked loudly and patted his paws to the flour.
“Neo suspects… cocaine?” Char said.
Ella took a sample and put it in a small plastic bag to confirm that assumption. When the sample turned orange, they both knew then, it was a match for cocaine.
“Damn Ella, that new invention of yours is so awesome.”
Chuck, Mitch, and his dog AJ came over and Ella filled them in. Charlotte tried to get her to stop before she told them about the knife, but they had to know.
“Wow, seriously, Charlotte?” Chuck turned to her.
“I have no clue. I haven’t seen or spoken to John in like four months.”
“What’s your relationship with him?” Mitch asked.
“We were roommates in college. He came to my dorm, my last year.”
“And you became friends?” Chuck asked.
“Yeah. He was pretty cool.”
“Did Steven know about this?” Mitch asked.
“Well, I guess you can go home now. But don’t go anywhere,” Chuck said.
“What?” she asked.
“You can’t work on this case.”
“Don’t push it.”
Ella walked to her and hugged her warmly. She whispered in her ear. “Don’t worry, I know you’re innocent,” she said.
Charlotte smiled as Ella let her go. She saw Mitch grinning from ear to ear. After storming out of the home, her and Neo began to walk to her SUV. When she clicked the key fob to unlock it, the car exploded. The force tossed her and Neo back many feet, slamming her body into the lower part of the brick wall of the ranch home just over the porch. Neo was tossed toward the front door. A few other first responders and other officers from the Starling Metro Police Department were also thrown a few feet away.
Everyone came out of the home. Char’s ears rang instantly with a sharp intense ring. She covered them. Burning shrapnel continued to fall around her. Some fell to her legs. Ella, Chuck, and Mitch rushed to her. It took all three of them to help her pound out the flames.
“You all, right?” Ella asked.
“Huh?” Charlotte replied.
“You, okay?” she yelled.
“Yeah. Check the others. Neo, where’s Neo?” she cried. She finally heard her partner howl.
They all went to the front door of the home and Char dropped to her knees. Neo was covered in glass.
“9-1-1, STAT! Now!” Char cried.
She stayed with Neo as the paramedics arrived shortly after Mitch made the call for her. She continued to stay with Neo while two young male paramedics worked on trying to pick the dog up from the surrounding glass.
“Damn man, if I didn’t know better, I’d say someone has it out for you,” Mitch said.
Her eyes widened. “Steven! Bosco!”
She grabbed her phone from the case attached to her white roped belt she always wore. When she saw the screen, it was smashed.
“Damn Char. I’ll call Steven for you,” Chuck said. He called him and handed her his phone.
“Come on! Answer!” she screamed.
She heard that smokey, groggy voice of his. “Hello, Chuck, why are you calling me at one am?”
“Oh, thank god! Steven, it’s me, you and Bosco, okay?”
“Yeah, just trying to sleep. What’s wrong?”
“I need you to meet me at the hospital. Bring Bosco too.”
“Just meet me, please!”
“Okay. What hospital?”
“Henry Ford. Our usual place.”
“Okay, see you there.”
She sighed in relief. Char rode in the ambulance as the paramedics finally got Neo onto a gurney.
“Thank you, guys. I know you don’t take care of animals, but, but he’s, my partner!” Char cried.
“We understand. It’s no problem. I’m Brian and this is Melony, and up there driving is Samuel.”
“Nice to meet you all.”