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The Hidden Crime - Chapter 6
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sagittaeri



Joined: 05 May 2012
Posts: 367

Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:32 pm    Post subject: The Hidden Crime - Chapter 6  


by Sagittaeri
WARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE.

The entire story (to date) in beautiful, readable HTML, courtesy of the wonderful Dropbox. Great for catching up, too. Link: The Hidden Crime

Chapter 6: Start of a beautiful relationship.

The nicely formatted version: In HTML



"So, what does this mean for us? Dr McDean? Umm, Dr McDean? Sebastian!"

Snapping out of it, I cursed softly when I realised I had somehow zoned out in the middle of my presentation. "I, ah, it means we'll be able to completely map out the black hole by the end of the year," I answered, frantically collecting my thoughts. "By measuring its space-time geometry, I mean," I added quickly.

The chairperson of the meeting thanked me and a light applause echoed around the conference room. Composing myself, I grabbed my laptop and left the stage. The presentation shouldn't had been a big deal considering I had presented these findings countless of times. I could see the unspoken question in my colleagues' eyes---wondering why I was off my game---as we were returning to our office desks.

"Heya Seb. You sure you're, like, ready, to be back?" Carl scooted over to my desk and asked. At first I wasn't sure what he was talking about. "I've never, like, seen you mess up a presentation, like, ever!"

Right. I called in sick yesterday. "I'm good, Carl, I can work."

He nodded enthusiastically. "I know you can, I just didn't want you to, like, push yourself too hard, you know?"

"I know---"

"Well since you're already here, maybe you can, like, give me hand with this equation?" he asked expectantly before I could say anything else. "I spent, like, all day and night trying to get around the singularity problem for, like, a week now!"

I chuckled at him. "Yes, yes of course." It was true Carl can sometimes be annoying, but it was strangely endearing at the same time.

"Oh, uh, also, you might want to, like, avoid Peggy for awhile. You...might have forgotten to mention her contribution in your presentation. Again."

I stared at Carl horrifically. "I didn't."

My colleague gave me the 'oh-yes-you-did' nod before going back to his desk. I buried my face in my hands and groaned in disbelief. Not this again. Peggy already thought I was trying to steal her work. This would only make her believe that even more!



The alarm in my cellphone rang at 4:30pm, and just like that, my perfect little bubble melted away. I shut my eyes and rubbed my temples. My appointment with the detectives was only an hour away, so I had to leave work now. Sighing a little, I packed up my laptop and went over the cover story in my head again. I had to believe it, if I was going to make it through the interview.

"What, now you think you're too good for a full day's work?"

Turning to the venomous voice, I prepared myself for her wrath. "Peggy, how are you doing?" I forced myself to smile. I didn't understand how these toxic exchanges started. I've never hated her. I've never even disliked her.

"Oh, I dunno. Pretty well, considering my lab partner hates women."

I cringed at her cutting remark. "I don't hate---that presentation, it was an accident." If anything, I respected her as a scientist. She was a very intelligent woman.

She snickered in incredulousness with a look that said she wasn't buying it. "Just like the last time?"

"Okay, I know it looks bad, but...no. No, I'm not defending myself from you, again. Everyone else understood, why can't you?"

Peggy blinked, and then laughed. "Oh my god, you really have no idea, do you?"

I grind my teeth in frustration. I glanced behind me impatiently to check if the elevator had arrived. I didn't like her 'the-joke-is-on-you' tone. "What is it? What don't I get?" I allowed a little irritation seep into my voice.

The small woman walked up to my face and looked at me pitifully. "Everyone. Here. Hates. You."

I scoffed at her. "That's just crazy --- I'm friends with everyone here. Carl---"

"Carl hates you even more than I do, and he'll tell you himself if you bother turning up to any of our after-work drinks! You come in here acting all high-and-mighty and take all of our best projects from us. Then you work overtime so frequently, setting the bar so high that the rest of us have to do the same. We all know you don't have a life, but the rest of us do! All we talk about at after-work drinks now is how we hate you even more than yesterday!"

Ding!

The elevator door slid open behind me. Swallowing my overwhelming emotions, I turned around and entered the elevator without saying a word. I waited until the door was closed before turning back and slid down with my back against the wall. On some level, I always knew it was true. My colleagues resented me for being an over-achiever. Except, I always thought they only resented me a little. Not like this. I pushed myself off the floor just before the doors opened again. I bit my lip. At least Peggy had the guts to be honest about it. Unlike Carl, who pretended to be my friend, when all he had really wanted was my help with his damn equations.

As I made my way to the train station, I tried to repeat the cover story to myself. Why did everyone had to be so petty? I was very good at what I do. More than that, I worked damn hard for it. So I got assigned to all the most challenging projects, but that was because of my uncanny instincts. If they felt that to keep up with my pace they had to sacrifice pieces of their personal lives, so what? I meant, it sucked, but at least they had choices. They had no right to blame me for their work troubles if they had chosen their personal lives over their careers. They can't expect to have it all for themselves.

No, what was I doing? Stop getting distracted---I needed to practise my cover story. Maybe I should've tried to connect with my colleagues a bit more. They had consistently tried to invite me out for drinks ever since I started working there six months ago. They didn't know me because I had never given them the chance. Maybe if they knew what I had been through, and if they knew my parents lived in England and my best friend was a neurosurgical resident, they would understand why my career seemed to be the only thing I had.

"Can I help you, sir?"

I froze momentarily. Then I blinked. The realisation that I had already arrived at the police station finally sunk in. Damn, you're a quick one, aren't you? I cleared my throat. "I have an appointment with, uh," I pulled out the card she had left me. "Detective Jessica Thompson."

The young cop in blue uniform turned around and yelled at the top of his lungs. "Oii, Jessie! Your date's here! And he's a pretty one!"

Whack!

The red-head detective appeared out of nowhere and smacked her colleague's head with a folder in her arms. "That's a person of interest, you moron. Mr McDean, come with me."

The young cop lowered his head in embarrassment and mumbled a word of apology, although I wasn't sure if it was for me or his colleague. I gave him a sympathetic smile and followed the attractive detective into the inner areas of the station. Along the way, I noticed an emergency stairwell next to 'Interview Room 3', and I had an involuntary thought. No, I shouldn't think about that. We continued down the hall, past 'Viewing Room 2'. Finally, the detective stopped and opened the door to 'Interview Room 2'.

I walked in and was immediately ushered into a chair. The large mirror on my left didn't escape my attention --- was her partner, the balding detective, watching us from in there? The red-head took her seat across the table and set her folder down. It looked like it contained enough documents to fill one of Dan's medical textbooks.

When she opened the folder to pull out a file, I couldn't help but to peek at its contents as subtly as I could muster. I caught a few names at the top of a printout:

Wesley & Sons
Griffin Lending Group Inc
Joe's Guns & Jewelry

"Is everything fine at home, Mr McDean?" she started in a casual tone, as if making small talk.

I looked up at her. "I'm sorry?"

She leaned forward with her elbows on the table. "Why weren't you home? Had a falling out with your fiancé?"

I frowned, slightly confounded by the question. "I'm not engaged."

"Girlfriend?"

Every warning signal in my body fired at that point. I didn't know what my subconscious was trying to tell me, but I knew something was wrong. Her questions were too...specific. "No, no girlfriend."

Immediately after I said that, I knew I shouldn't have said anything. The detective kept a very collected expression from the very beginning, but in that instant, I swore I noticed a twitch. Feeling my heart rate speed up, I went through all the information I had collected thus far. What was I missing? Why was my relationship status so important? Did they know about Theresa, and my connection to Kyle?

The detective pulled out a different file from her folder and scanned it. "Really?" She looked into my eyes carefully. "So, what did you do with the ring?"

The ring. Everything fell into place at that moment. The engagement ring I bought for Terri two years ago. "I, ah," I swallowed quietly. "The ring?" It must had been at the crime scene!

"The engagement ring you bought two years ago from Prestige Jewelry on Colorado Boulevard. Lose it somewhere?"

The cover story I had practised had not anticipated any of this. I felt my throat drying up. I had to make up something. I had to make up something, fast. "I---how did you know I bought an engagement ring?" I tried to buy myself some time to think.

The red-head pulled a picture from her folder and put it in front of me. It was a photograph of the antique ring box I had picked with the ring. "An interesting design, this one," she taps on the picture. "Turns out, not that popular at all. Most men chose a more modern design."

Most men didn't have Theresa as their girlfriend. She loved antiques, especially Victorian ones. The heart-shaped wooden ring box had tiny little cupids carved all over the surface and blue velvet cushion lining on the inside. Of course, it wasn't actually a real antique, just designed to look like one.

"Mr McDean?"

"Yeah, I had one like it, two years ago," I allowed. My mind was in full speed, struggling to grasp onto the crumbling situation. The list. The people who had the antique-design ring box---that was 'The List'!

"Once again, if you aren't engaged, married, or even partnered, what did you do with it? Did you keep it?"

Another alarm bell went off in my head. There was a missing piece in this puzzle. Then, I remembered something. Fuck! The ring had an inscription addressed to 'Theresa', signed by 'Sebastian'! Dammit, that alone should be more than enough to link me to Kyle---especially if they had his conviction records---and more than that, provide a motivation for his murder! However, the questions she was asking, and the way she was asking them...

"Mr McDean, answer the question!"

"It was two years ago, give me some time!" I replied quickly. I considered claiming I had returned the ring to the shop, but then they would be able to verify that quickly, if they hadn't already. Also, there was still the matter of the missing puzzle piece. I had to know. "I...my ex-fiancé has the ring, and the ring box," I decided to gamble.

She leaned forward slowly. "What's the name of this ex?"

Holy... I was right. They didn't have the ring! They had the box, but not the ring. If they did, they would've known her name. Not only that, they would've went straight for my alibi! Unless, they were fishing for Terri's last name? No. Too many coincidences. If they had the ring, then I would be their primary suspect, not just another 'person of interest' in their list.

"What, you need time to remember her name, too?"

Promise me you’ll never let anything change this part of you. Ever. "No, of course not. It's just...it's a painful memory. Her name's Lily. Lily Greene. She moved to Cambodia last year." It wasn't all a lie. Lily Greene was a real person. We did our PhD together, and at the end of it, she decided to join a humanitarian project in Cambodia. Ever since then, it was impossible to get in touch with her.

"Cambodia, huh? How convenient," the detective commented. The tone of her voice had changed some time ago. She was now openly suspicious. "What were you doing two nights ago, at around 1AM?"

"Two nights ago?" I had made up a cover story for this during work. Could it still be used? I had even texted it to my best friend, just in case he was questioned before I had the chance to speak with him. "I was at my neighbour's, having a Star Wars marathon," I told her, deciding to go ahead with it. "We were up late."

"The same neighbour you were at this morning?"

"It was a two-day marathon."

"Name?"

"Daniel Reece."

The detective nodded and stood up. "Wait here," she simply said and left room, leaving me by myself.

Hold your nerve, I told myself, acutely aware of the large mirror beside me. They were now verifying my alibi with Dan, and possibly trying to reach Lily in Cambodia, only they wouldn't be able to. Not right away, anyway. Soon enough, once Dan corroborates my story, they would have to release me. So, I needed to think about what I was going to do after I leave.

Where the hell is that engagement ring? Why wasn't it in the box? It was then I understood what the names in the detective's folder were---Wesley & Sons, Griffin Lending Group Inc, and Joe's Guns & Jewelry---they were pawnshops! The detectives must believe the ring had been stolen from the crime scene before it was reported! I inhaled deeply. I had to get to the ring before the detectives do, but how? They had a head start, and there must be a large number of pawnshops around the area.

Then, another frightening realisation hit me. The inscription on the inside of the ring --- I had written the message on a form to get the inscription made! The detectives must not have seen it yet. Maybe it was still at the shop? Or was it among the other documents in that folder? Either way, I had to get to that form before they see it!

"Mr McDean," the red-head opened the door and called. She looked unsatisfied. "You're free to go."

For now.
to be continued...

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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:42 pm    Post subject:  

*face-palm* Way to go, lying to the detectives. You should have been a little more honest, at least with your fiance's name. Because now you trolling the pawnshops trying to find the ring is going to be more obvious than waving a sign saying 'hey look at me'.

Time to tap your old buddy. Maybe he's got a friend he can send pawnshop trolling for you. You need to go home and sit down because even if you are not guilty of murder, you're now guilty of obstruction of justice.
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:47 pm    Post subject:  

At this point, since they have that list, going to the jewelry store where he bought the ring or any pawn shops in the area is the same as frolicking to the crime scene (as was my previous horrible suggestion XD) and waving an "It was me!" sign.

Kalanna's right - see if Dan can call a friend to do some snooping around the shops and hightail it home for some good old thinky time.

Another fantastic chapter, Sagi! Keep up the great work! :D
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Tikanni Corazon



Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 1286
Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:07 pm    Post subject:  

Hey Sagi!


My liking for this SG has yet to be diminished! I LOVE this story, and each chapter just brings more intrigue and keeps one just wanting more. Even though he possibly may have done something really bad, one cannot help but find Seb rather endearing, I find. His panicking during the interview was very realistic and managed to portray all the tension and anxiety that one would expect a person in that position to feel. I felt bad for him throughout the chapter...and I really don't like Peggy, lol!

I found a couple of typos...

Quote: The presentation shouldn't had been a big deal considering I had presented these findings countless of times.

Have

Quote: I grind my teeth in frustration.

Ground

...Both minor though.


For the DP...hmmm...I'm in agreement with the others, but at the same time wondering how much of a watch will be assigned to Seb. And, if they still suspect him of murder, then they also might suspect Dan as well. So I don't think that running straight to him is a good idea, possibly, just in case. But yes, I don't think Seb can go there himself, and he needs to get the job done quickly before the cops get there first. Maybe find a quiet place to call Dan and talk to him about what could be done before just jumping into action.


Awesome chapter, Sagi, as always! Keep up the good work! :)
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sagittaeri



Joined: 05 May 2012
Posts: 367

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:57 am    Post subject:  

Thanks for all the comments! :D

Also special thanks to Tika for making the banner and pointing out the typos. ;)
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Tikanni Corazon



Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 1286
Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:40 am    Post subject:  

No problem, I'm happy to do it! :)
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sagittaeri



Joined: 05 May 2012
Posts: 367

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:00 am    Post subject:  

Polling this up soon!

If there are anymore DPs, put it forward now. :D
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sagittaeri



Joined: 05 May 2012
Posts: 367

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:23 am    Post subject:  

Poll is up! :D

Cast your votes quickly...I'm very excited about this, and really want to write the next part up quick!
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PopeAlessandrosXVIII



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 1858
Location: Surrounded by many beautiful naked men

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:29 am    Post subject: Voted  

Read, caught up, and voted! Broke the tie there :P A lovely little piece of work you have here. It's very interesting. I like the way he talks to himself. And the large collection of facepalms are quite entertaining. He seems to be a very smart guy, and I like that. I can't wait to see what happens next, so give us more. . . .SooN!
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sagittaeri



Joined: 05 May 2012
Posts: 367

Posted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:28 pm    Post subject:  

Broke a tie by cancelling out the random vote in the midst. :)

Poll is now closed and next chapter is in writing!
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