Before I get to the story, I must apologise that I’ve ignored the sentence starter again, and all the other prompts! I’ve spent the past couple of weeks with some of my favourite characters so when crime came up this week on Featured Fiction I jumped at the chance to spend time with them again. I haven’t broken all the rules – it is related to the genre at least 🙂
I hope you enjoy.
Given that the sauna had been out of action for near on twelve hours, the small room should have been free from the suffocating heat Detective Charles Macavoy associated with such facilities. But even with the door propped open by a wedge of drift-wood, the air clawed at him, and there was a good reason.
The bloated, greying body of a man lay naked on the top tier of the seating unit. Nothing about him looked peaceful or relaxed; even in eternal sleep he looked bitter and twisted.
Charlie looked away from the wide-eyed, vacant stare of his victim and focused on the words scrawled across the far wall. They were written in blood. He’d bet his badge on it being the victim’s.
He turned towards his partner, who stood at the entrance, covering his nose in the crook of his arm.
Bobby’s eyes shot to the words then. ‘This one’s for you,’ he read, brow creasing. “That’s a new kind of twisted,” he said, meeting Charlie’s eyes.
“At least this guy has all his body parts,” Charlie responded, thinking about their last case.
He gave the victim one final look and pushed out into the main spa. “I need some air,” he said, over his shoulder and walked past the pool towards the exit.
The forensics team swarmed inside on his brief nod and got to work processing the scene.
“Peter’s up at the main house,” Bobby told him a few moments later.
Charlie took a deep cleansing breath and scanned the area. Peter Green had inherited the land from his parents. After leaving the military he’d set up his own practice in self-defence coaching and extended the property for his purposes.
The building behind them was used as a spa, with a well-equipped gym tagged on at the far right. In front of them stood the training studio, where Peter ran his classes.
Charlie’s eyes ran up and over the single story building and paused on the flat roof. The tall, composed figure, dressed in combats and a black t-shirt should have looked out of place. He didn’t.
“He got here about five minutes ago,” Bobby said, following his gaze. “I played with him a little; made him show me his credentials,” he added, wiggling his brows.
Charlie smiled and forgot about his annoyance at finding him there. “Give me a minute. I’ll meet you up at the house,” he said, and walked across the path towards Jonathan Jukes.
“What are you doing here, JJ?” Charlie asked, waiting until green eyes swung in his direction.
JJ shrugged. “Just getting a feel for the land,” he said, in a calm, controlled voice. “It’s my first time in Pete’s sanctuary.”
In two fluid movements he was down on the ground and facing Charlie with a grin. “I’ve had the speech, so you can save it. I’m nowhere near your crime scene.”
“You shouldn’t even know there is a crime scene, so why don’t you try answering my question,” Charlie shot back.
JJ worked for Morgan and Fairchild, a security agency Charlie had worked with a time or two. The fact they were friends wouldn’t prevent him from asserting his authority if JJ stepped out of line.
“Pete called it in,” JJ said, shrugging again. “He’s a friend and as very little spooks the guy, I offered our services.” The grin widened. “Just a few security measures.”
“Why do I get the feeling you know more about this than we do?” Charlie asked.
“If you weren’t here shooting the breeze with me, Pete would be filling you in,” JJ said, glancing up towards the house.
“Cut the crap, JJ. What’s going on here?”
“The guy in there,” he answered, gesturing with his head towards the spa. “Is Stuart Warburton. He’s the reason Pete left the Marines, so you can imagine how it’s going to look.”
Charlie took a moment to process the information. “I’m going to need to speak to you later,” he said, resigned to the fact JJ wouldn’t let this go. “You can give me your report.”
JJ gave a brief salute. “I’m here to serve.”
“You got that right,” Charlie muttered and turned to walk towards the main house.
Saying that Peter Green was spooked, turned out to be an understatement. Charlie had never seen Peter look anything but composed. He usually had a quiet, unhurried manner and a serenity that put people at ease. None of that was evident in the man who met Charlie at the door.
His thick blonde hair was a mass of untidy grooves and plains, where his hands had journeyed in an unexpected nervous habit. His dark blue eyes were haunted, his athletic body buzzing with so much tension it made Charlie’s head spin.
“Mac, it’s good to see you,” he said, practically jumping to one side to let him in.
Only one other person called Charlie by that name, and he wasn’t surprised to see Justin hovering beside Bobby.
“Here, drink this,” Justin said, shoving a glass of dark coloured liquid in Peter’s hand.
Charlie took a moment to watch Justin’s features. He too looked tense, with a worried crease marring his features – his concern for a friend. It was just plain weird to see such a grave expression on the kid’s face. It was normally alight with his sense of mischief.
Peter knocked back the drink in his hand and then started into the empty glass for a few moments. When he looked up, his eyes were sad.
“I know who’s doing this,” he said. “And it’s all my fault.”
Charlie put a hand on his elbow and steered him towards the living room. “Why don’t we take this one step at a time?” He waited until Peter was seated on a high-backed chair. “How about you start from the beginning.”
“We used to joke about it,” Peter said, his voice faraway. “About what we would do to get back at our enemies. It was just talk, Mac, I swear. I’d never want this…never.”
Charlie walked to take a seat beside Bobby, who handed him his note-book wordlessly. It wasn’t hard to follow his short-hand, or get the gist of what he’d learnt so far.
“Peter,” Charlie began in a voice that held more patience than he felt. “I need you to talk me through what happened this morning, and we’ll fill the other pieces in from there.”
Peter nodded, gathering himself before launching into the events which had led to his call. As Charlie listened he also watched his reactions. He didn’t hear anything to prove Peter’s suspicions and he had an uncanny feeling that the case was about to get a hell of a lot more complicated before the morning was through.
Thanks for reading.