Monday, April 7, 2014

#FreeRead: Chapter 3 of the #Romantic #Suspense DANGEROUS MEDICINE by Author @StephRyanAuthor

Welcome back to Through Stephanie's Eyes. This week has been a bit of a whirlwind. Finally, I have Chapter 3 ready for you this week. For those of you who missed the first installments of Dangerous Medicine, you can find them here:

Now on to the next chapter. Enjoy!

Chapter 3

Jake slowly exhaled as the hot water washed over his taut, aching muscles. The rhythmic pulsing of the water pounded away at the tension in his neck, shoulders, and back. His mind wandered back to the night he offered Matthew Jacobs the opportunity to bust up the gangs of drug dealers that had invaded the local university campus and surrounding areas.
He remembered it as if it were yesterday instead of just over two years ago. He’d never forget the night Matthew had been arrested for possession of marijuana. The one time local football hero had appeared to be at an all-time low. The way he’d walked into the station and his overall demeanor simply oozed defeat. Jake knew that feeling all too well. His heart had gone out to Matthew then and he’d come up with a way he could redeem himself in his own eyes.

* * * *

Two years ago, Saginaw County Police Department

Jake rubbed his eyes. He’d spent the last three hours catching up on paperwork he’d let pile up. He had no one else to blame for it. He detested writing reports and filling out the endless forms that had always been a part of the job. If he could con another of his team to do it for him, he’d have done it in a heartbeat. 
Unfortunately, all of them hated it as much as he did so all of them tackled it on their own. Most kept up with it along the way—not Jake. He put it off until the absolute last minute every single time.

He looked up from the last form as one of the undercover city officers walked by with a perp in tow. Jake immediately recognized the handcuffed co-ed as the one time high school football phenom, Matt Jacobs. He’d followed the boy’s playing days through the papers and had even caught the last few games the kid had ever played—including the last that had ended his hopes of a future in football. There must be some kind of mistake. No way would this kid be into drugs now.

The officer waved him over. “Mr. Jacobs. This is Detective Martinelli with the Narcotics Division. He also works closely with the local DEA.”

“DEA? Seriously? Does this really have to go this far? I swear it wasn’t mine.” Matthew visibly paled.

“Give me a few moments with the detective and then we’ll go through your story one more time for the record.”

Matthew slumped in the chair and nodded. “Take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere.”

The officer pulled Jake aside and kept his voice low. “I believe him but since he’s on campus and in the athletic department—”

“You thought he’d be of some use to our drug ring investigation.”

The officer nodded. “I was going to call you when we got here, but I see you’re still elbow deep in paperwork.”

Jake laughed. “Just finished the last of it when you got here. Looks like I’m hanging out a bit longer. Shame to see Mr. Jacobs get a record for something like this. Let me see if I can convince him to join my team.”

“Go for it. I’ll get started on the paperwork in case he doesn’t take you up on your offer.”

“Don’t worry. He’ll go for it. If he doesn’t, I’ll finish up his booking myself.”

The officer laughed. “I’ll let you handle things from here on then.”

Jake returned to the desk and sat down opposite Matthew. “Mr. Jacobs, I have a proposition for you. I need eyes and ears on campus and you need for this charge to disappear.”

“What are you saying? You want me to be a snitch?”

Jake laughed. “When you put it that way, it doesn’t sound like a great idea. I need your help here. If you agree to do it, I can make it so no one will ever know about this possession charge.”

Matthew held up his cuffed hands and glared. “From where I’m sitting, it sounds like you’re blackmailing me.”

“I am.” Jake held Matthew’s gaze.

Matthew blinked a few times. “You’re kidding me right? Isn’t this sort of thing illegal?”

“I don’t know. It’s all in how you look at it. I do know that having over three ounces of weed in your possession is illegal and we can book you for it tonight.”

“You’re asking me to spy on my friends and classmates and share that information with you in exchange for not having this go on my record? Unless I’m mistaken, this state considers possession of any amount of weed to be a misdemeanor at best. I could just take my chances with the courts and see if a judge will believe the truth. The pot isn’t mine. I don’t know who it belongs to. I was the designated driver for and took thirty or more people home tonight. It could belong to anyone.”

“Then you won’t mind writing down their names and addresses.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. You know damn well the program doesn’t work that way. If the students need a ride home, we provide it. No questions asked. I don’t know the names of over half of the people who were in my car tonight.”

Jake held back a smile. He’s good. He knows I can’t force him into this deal. Better come up with a better angle. “A drug charge—even a misdemeanor won’t look good to your employer. You’re an assistant coach for the SVSU football team right?”

Matthew closed his eyes and hung his head. “Yeah.”

“I’m not asking you to spy on people, Matt. All I ask is you keep your eyes and ears open. If you see or hear anything suspicious, I’d appreciate the head’s up. It’s our job to investigate every tip and lead, no matter how insignificant it may seem. You’re in a position of authority. Students already come to you for help. Some may be afraid to come to us directly with information. You could help with that.”

Matthew sighed. “I understand what you’re saying, Detective. It still feels like I have no other choice here. If I don’t agree to help you, I’ll be charged. Before Monday, word of my arrest will be all over campus and in the local papers. I can see the headlines now. Local Football Hero Turns to Drugs to Get Over Loss of Future NFL Career.”

Jake winced. The kid is too hard on himself. Just like I was at his age. Nothing has to leave this station. We come up with a cover story. You’re studying criminal justice, right?” He stood to remove the cuffs from Matthew’s wrists.

“Yeah. Thought about being a cop—” He rubbed his wrists where the cuffs had chaffed.

“This experience could help you figure out if you really want to be one or not. You could tell people you’re doing research. What do you say? Is it a deal?”

Matthew nodded. “Okay. I’ll accept your blackmail terms on one condition.”

Jake chuckled. “And what’s the condition?”

“You’ll be the one to explain to my folks why I didn’t call to let them know I’d be out late. By now my mother has called all of my brothers and sisters as well as all of my friends to be sure I’m not lying in a ditch dead somewhere.”

“That bad, huh?” That clinches it. He is a younger version of me, right down to worrying the shit out of his mother.

Oh you don’t know the half of it. She has all the hospitals on speed dial and I’m sure she’ll call the station any time now.”

The officer who had brought Matthew into the station, strode across the room. “There’s a Madeline Jacobs on the line wishing to report a missing person. Says her son would never be out this late without calling her.”

Jake laughed. “It’s all good. I’ll talk to her and apologize for keeping her son so late. The research for his class project got a bit more detailed than we had planned.” He winked and handed the phone over to 

Matthew. “Go ahead and prove you’re alive. I’ll talk to her when you’re done and promise to get you home in one piece.”

Matthew grinned and picked up the phone. “Ma? Yes, it’s me. I’m sorry I didn’t call earlier…”

* * * *

That had been the beginning of a friendship that Jake had come to cherish. To him, Matthew was the little brother he’d always wished he had. They shared many of the same interests and Jake recognized much of himself in Matthew, albeit a much younger and more naive self than he’d cared to admit. Even his choice of a career in law enforcement had mirrored his own. The more time the two of them spent together, the easier it was to see Matthew as a friend and colleague.

Jake had allowed their friendship to cloud his better judgment when Matthew had asked him to let him in on a case involving the date rape of a college student six months ago. She’d been one of the assistant caches for the girls’ basketball team. Jake knew Matthew was too close to the case and should have kept him as far from the files as possible. Instead he allowed him access to the police reports, and the officers in charge of the case had included Matthew in some of their brainstorming sessions on how to proceed with the case. They had treated him as the campus liaison he’d become, but forgot he was also human and a good friend to the girl who had been attacked.

Much of the evidence against the fraternity boys accused of the crime had been circumstantial at best. She’d been brought into the emergency room unconscious. The toxicology report of her blood revealed she’d been given a nearly fatal dose of ketamine. Luckily, the person who had found her new CPR and had been able to give her mouth to mouth breathing until the EMTs had arrived.

The girl had regained consciousness a week later to discover she’d not only been drugged, but had been the victim of rape as well. The ER doctor on duty had ordered a rape kid performed when the girl had been admitted. The doctor’s hunch had been correct. Thankfully they’d collected enough samples to run DNA analysis on.

Lawyers for the accused had delayed the collection of samples from their clients as long as they could. Eventually all six of them showed up at the police station to donate under the watchful eyes of their parents, lawyers and several police officers. Just last week, the police and prosecutors got the break they’d been hoping for—conclusive evidence all six suspects had sex with the victim.

Unfortunately, the lawyers intervened yet again. They had all six out of jail on bond within hours of their arrest. So far each attempt at setting a trial date had been thwarted. Delay after delay had begun to take its toll on everyone, including Matthew.

“Why do these assholes get to walk around free when you’ve done everything by the book? The DNA matches. My friend nearly died because these animals thought it would be fun to spike her drink and screw her while she lay there unconscious and unable to defend herself. They took away her right to say no.”

Jake shook his head. “It’s not fair, but they will pay for what they did to your friend, Matt. I promise.”

“I can’t sit around here right now. If this is what it’s like to be a cop, I don’t know if I want to do it anymore. I need some time away from everything to think things through. School, work, the student-police liaison work—all of it is just too much for me right now.”

“Take all the time you need. Just so you know—you’re not alone. All of us go through these doubts all the time in our profession. What keeps us going are the cases where we do make a difference. You’ve made a difference since you’ve started working with us. Don’t forget that.”

Jake mentally kicked himself for not recognizing how angry and disappointed Matthew had become in the justice system. Three days after their last conversation, Matthew was in a coma, victim of the same drug that nearly killed the basketball coach. I should have known he’d take matters into his own hands. Hell, I’d do the same thing if roles were reversed.

He dressed quickly and grabbed his phone from the charger. He scrolled through the missed calls and let out the air from his lungs. No calls or texts from the Jacobs family. “No news is better than bad news. Time to head over to their house and convince a woman I’ve never met I’m there to drive her to the hospital.” He glanced at his reflection in the mirror in his entryway. “At least I won’t scare the shit out of her right off the bat. Let’s just hope she doesn’t kick me in the nuts and run off screaming.”

* * * *

Miranda pulled into her parents’ driveway just after six o’clock. An eerie feeling washed over her as she entered the front door. No noises reached her ears. Nothing. With all the children and grandchildren running in and out of the house all the time, the silence that overwhelmed her now gave her the chills.

She decided to take her father’s advice and raid the refrigerator after all. With very little effort, she found the fixings for a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, a banana and her favorite chocolate milk. She settled down at the breakfast bar to feed her now growling stomach. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted the light flashing on the ancient answering machine. She reached across the counter and pushed the play button.

“Hey, it’s me. Just called to tell you that I’ll be home late, so Pop, don’t wait up.” Matthew’s voice resonated throughout the room.

She nearly fainted. She clutched the counter top and listened to the rest of the message.

“Tomorrow, let’s see if we can get Randi to take a few days off to visit. I want her to meet Jake. I think she’d like him. Well, better go now. Love ya!”

Her hand shook as she rewound the message and played it again. Thank God my parents still love the old technology. She searched the cabinet for a blank tape and then placed it in the machine. She put the other with her brother’s voice on it in her purse. She’d give it to her mother at the hospital.

“Shit!” She glanced at the clock and berated herself for wasting time. She gulped down the last of her milk and put the dishes in the sink. She ran up the stairs to her parents’ room. She had less than two hours now before visiting hours were over and she needed to see her brother for herself before she’d believe anything more about his condition. Hang on, little brother. I’m coming!

* * * *

All Rights Reserved @Stephanie Ryan 2014

Thank you for stopping by this week. Let me know what you think of the story so far. Chapter 4 is up next within the next two weeks. Come back and visit again!

Until next time,

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