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Lane stood to greet the Riley’s as they entered the room (and what a horrible room it was). He supposed it cost a fortune and he knew enough to know it was professionally decorated. Professional or not the couch was damn uncomfortable and so was he.
The two older Riley’s were exactly as he’d expected. Joe Riley looked every bit the polished lawyer and Edith Riley was, well a very well preserved socialite. Bridget, however, was a surprise. A BIG surprise! She wasn’t too big, it’s just that he’d seen her mother, and he had a whole different Bridget Riley living in his imagination. Damn, those were really pink boots, and a very red jacket! His previous partner had been a red head and he was pretty sure she’d told him red heads didn’t wear red. “Well if Bridget Riley is a target, she won’t be hard to spot”, he said to himself silently.
“Detective Johnson, I’m Joe Riley”, Lane grasped Mr. Riley’s hand with a firm grip as the older man came forward to introduce himself. “I believe you’ve met, my wife and this of course is my daughter Bridget.”
“Sir, it’s a pleasure”, he gave a nod to Mrs. Riley and then turned to Bridget. “Miss Riley”.
Bridget stepped forward to offer the Detective her hand, “Detective Riley. I hope we didn’t keep you waiting very long. I was just trying to explain to my father how unnecessary this all is, and well it must be a mistake.”
Lane paused and gave her a hard stare, “Well Miss Riley, the powers that be, disagree and I’d have to say the powers that be get my vote”. Lane really wanted to ask her what made her so sure it was a mistake, but his gut told him that grilling her here and now with her parents was a mistake.
“As I’ve told Bridget, the mistake is going back to that … that place, that house. She’d be much safer here”, Edie supplied looking to Lane for confirmation.
“You also get my vote Mrs. Riley”, Lane smiled at the older woman and then glanced toward Bridget just in time to receive the full effect of the ‘stink-eye’ she was sending his way. Whoa, if looks could kill, he’d be a dead man. He had a sneaking suspicion that he’d just landed himself on the wrong side of Miss Bridget Riley.
Bridget was seething, just who in the hell did Mr. Big Shot Detective think he was? The last thing her mother needed was an ally. She’d done nothing wrong. She was a grown woman and she was damn well getting out of here while the getting was good. “It’s a good thing I’m not a democracy then Mr. Johnson, and even better that you don’t get a vote. Now, if you don’t mind I’d like to get home.”
Lane Johnson was handsome she’d give him that. Handsome enough that she’d felt a little shiver of anticipation when they’d shaken hands, but if he thought he could lock her up indefinitely over a break-in and the hear-say of an octogenarian , well he had another thing coming.
Bridget turned to her father, “good-night Dad, Mother. Please don’t worry. It will all work out just fine. I’ve done nothing wrong. Plus I have Detective Johnson on my side.” She hesitated a moment and then said, “sort of!” She gave each of her parents a quick hug and headed toward the front door.
Lane shook the older Riley’s hands and excused himself. He followed Bridget to the front door. “Ouch”, he whispered, and then grinned as he opened the front door to let her out. “That was a low blow!”
“Hardly Detective”, she shot him another menacing look. He laughed again.
He has a great smile too, she thought as she squeezed past him and out the front door. Then she chided herself silently, “STOP IT Bridget!” She reminded herself again that, men like Lane Johnson weren’t interested in women like her! Not to mention he was an ass. She strode purposefully to Lanes truck. Well okay, ass was a bit harsh, but this was all becoming extremely annoying. She had no connection what so ever Max Giovanni and she was sick and bloody tired of repeating it. She felt like strangling Mrs. Dupleski. A privacy fence was starting to sound like an extremely good idea.
Lane chuckled to himself as he followed Bridget to the truck. This wasn’t his typical assignment, but he thought he might enjoy getting Bridget Riley a little bit riled up, and it didn’t have a thing to do with the spark he’d felt shaking her hand or the little ‘rise’ she’d gotten out of him as she squeezed past him at the door. Not a thing! He was going to ride Bridget Riley until he figured out what she had going with Max Giovanni. Then he reminded himself that you get more flies with honey than vinegar and opened the passenger side door for her.
Bridget climbed easily into Lane’s truck, and stowed her overnight bag on the seat in the back. She kept her favourite big pink bag with her laptop and camera in her lap. She didn’t want to take a chance of it bouncing off of the back seat.
Lane noticed she was rather fond of the massive pink bag. It was even louder than her boots, which he hadn’t thought possible. “Are you sure you don’t want me to set that in the back for you”, he said tilting his head from her purse to the backseat.
“No thanks, I’d rather keep it with me”, she answered and readjusted the bag on her lap and held it a wee bit tighter.
“Is there something special in the bag?” Lane asked casually.
“You could say that”, Bridget supplied. She knew she should just tell him that her laptop and camera were in her bag, and that she relied on them to make a living. That she didn’t want them damaged. More importantly, she couldn’t afford for them to be damaged. She didn’t though, because Lane Johnson rubbed her the wrong way. He was detective after all, she’d let him work for it.
Lane started the truck and started to pull around the circular driveway in front of the Riley’s home. He looked casual and relaxed. “Does Max Giovanni want what’s in that bag Miss Riley?” Lane said evenly, looking up into the rear-view mirror to catch her reaction. “Because, I can promise you this, nothing you can have in that bag could possibly be important enough to … “
“STOP right there Detective,” Bridget leaned towards Lane and poked his upper arm with her index finger. “Let’s get something straight right now.” Poke. “I do not know Max Giovanni. I know nothing about him.” Poke. “Nothing! Nada! Zilch!” Poke. “Is. That. Clear?” Poke. “Is it?”
“Crystal,” Lane replied.
“Good,” Bridget said as she pulled her finger back and then went in for a final poke.
“Hey lady, keep your hands to yourself!” Lane barked. “Sheesh! Give a guy a break. None of this makes sense! I can’t help you, if I can’t figure out why those two were in your house. To do that I have to ask questions. You won’t like some of the questions, but I can’t help that. I have to cover all of the bases.” Lane took his right hand from the steering wheel and ran it through his wavy, dark hair and took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. “Put it this way,” he continued, “the sooner I can rule you out, the sooner I can focus on someone or something else. Understand?”
“Yes, however, have you considered that this was just a random break in? That Mrs. Dupleski is, was wrong?” Bridget turned in her seat to get a really good look at Lane; she needed to see his reaction, read his expression. “I mean she is eighty-something …”
Lane glanced at her quickly before turning his eyes back to the road. He could see she was eager for him to believe her. His gut told her she was sincere, but nothing in the case added up to a random burglary. “Of course I have. Do you really think I’d be here otherwise?”
“Well the Chief and my Dad go way back, and …,” Bridget suggested. “Maybe …”
“Maybe nothing, Chief Daniels is a straight arrow,” Lane supplied. “He wouldn’t go to all this trouble and expense just to satisfy your father.” Lane stopped to choose his words carefully; he still didn’t trust her one-hundred percent. “Mrs. Dupleski identified the two men separately on our photo-database. She chose them independently of each other, with a significant time lapse between the identifications. Both men are known associates of Giovanni. Coincidence? I don’t think so. We’ve canvased your neighbourhood. Another neighbour several houses down noticed two men who match the description of the suspects getting into a burgundy Oldsmobile near the time of the break-in. One of the suspect’s sisters has a burgundy Oldsmobile registered to her. Mrs. Dupleski was able to provide us with a very accurate time frame and we know they headed west towards 97th street. There is a speed camera at that intersection. We have footage of them going through the intersection and we now have a plate number to match up with the sister’s registration. All in part thanks to Mrs. Dupleski, the anything but senile Octogenarian.”
Lane gave her a few minutes to process all of the information and then continued, “Mrs. Dupleski may be eight-something, but she’s been a credible witness. She also keeps referring to the men as your friends. Why is that?” Lane held up his right, palm toward Bridget and said, “I’d really like it if you could answer me without the poking.”
Bridget was definitely perplexed, “She thinks they’re friends because they knew my name, but I don’t know them. I don’t.” Bridget bit her bottom lip and frowned drawing her eyebrows together in concentration. “What if there is another Bridget Riley? Wouldn’t that explain it?”
“It could and we’re looking into it now, but if those two goons don’t know you’re the wrong Bridget, then you are not safe,” Lane answered. “That’s where I come in.”
He hesitated before asking her the next question. She wasn’t going to like it. “How can you be so sure you don’t know the two men? We haven’t told you who they are yet. You might have met one of them in club, or …”
“Whoa, hold it right there. I am selective about my friends Detective. I don’t meet men in clubs. I can count my close men friends on two hands, and that includes my brothers. Not one of them would kick my door down, let alone two. I am sure of it.” Bridget gave him a ‘so there’ tilt of her head.
“Okay, so we’ll keep working on it. Do you want to get a burger on the way to your place?” Lane decided she needed a change of topic.
“No, I have a seafood casserole to post for tomorrow. We’ll have that, as soon as I can clear some space in the kitchen,” Bridget responded. “Well, you can get a burger if you want, but I’ll wait for the seafood casserole. It’s my favourite.”
Lane was lost, “You’re going to post a seafood casserole? Where?”
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