Chapter 25: Who Could Dawn Trust?

When she opened her eyes, it was daylight outside and Nisey was next to her bed. “Nisey, please get me some ice water,” she said and as she took sip after sip, she recalled Martin attacking her, raping her, and the gunshots.  Nisey saw the look of shock on Dawn’s face.

“What is wrong, sweetie?” Nisey asked.

“I remember. Call Amanda.” Dawn said calmly.

#

Kevin put his hand to his sweaty forehead.  He was feeling lightheaded as Dawn shared what she had recalled from the night Martin Peterson was murdered. He hated what this awful man did to her and he was glad Martin Peterson was dead.

Dawn had asked Nisey to tell Kevin that she wanted to talk to him privately. She knew that Amanda would not allow that so she asked Nisey pull Amanda aside after the interview.  Kevin came back into the room.

“Nisey said you wanted to talk to me.  You know this isn’t procedure since you are a witness to a crime.” Kevin said running his fingers through his thick black hair.

“I was on the phone yesterday when you showed up at Roger’s house to arrest him,” Dawn responded.

“I am sorry you had to hear that.”

“Kevin, Roger is not a killer. He couldn’t have.” Dawn insisted.

“I cannot discuss the investigation with you, Dawn.”

“Cut the crap, Kevin! Did you arrest Roger because of our history? Is it possible that your judgment is flawed?”

“No!” Kevin retorted. “You should know me better than that!”

“Why are you on this case anyway?”

“The chief wanted me on it.  Someone must have convinced him of your innocence and he wanted me to make sure it stayed that way.”

“It is not Roger,” Dawn insisted.

“Really, Dawn? His bastard father raped you and drugged you and you are defending the guy?” Kevin said furiously.

“Go to hell, Kevin Montello!” Dawn said pouting.

Kevin tried not to laugh recalling that was his favorite thing about her.  He used to call her a tiny ninja when she got all worked up.

“Dawnie,” He said compassionately.  “I would never do anything to hurt you.  I am trying my best to protect you.” He said affectionately touching her arm. “But you have to understand that you would be the main suspect in this crime if we didn’t figure out the bullets came from Roger’s gun.”

Dawn was taken aback. “Roger owns a gun?”

“Dawn,” Kevin started, “You don’t know Roger Fluerez as well as you think you do.”

“Screw you Kevin!” Dawn retorted. “I am right on this. Roger didn’t kill Martin!”

“Really?” Kevin exclaimed. “You have only been seeing the guy for a few weeks and suddenly, you think he’s not capable of killing a man!”

“Roger Fluerez is a kind man. He’s never given me any reason to doubt the person he is!”

“Did it ever occur to you that maybe your judgement is the one that is flawed?”

“Whatever Kevin Montello! You never change! It is always about you!”

“Dawn, are we talking about Roger or us now?”

Dawn frowned and tried to get away from Kevin’s question. “It is not Roger!”

“Really Dawn? Don’t change the subject! Let’s talk about the elephant in the room for a second here. You ended things with me because I wasn’t good enough for your parents. Why wasn’t I good enough for you?”

Dawn turned away because if she didn’t, he would have seen the tears in her eyes.  A part of her still loved Kevin but the other part of her had moved on and loved Roger.  Kevin was her past and Roger was her present. She took a deep breath because she was scared that Roger wouldn’t be her future.

“I can’t have this conversation with you right now.” She started.  “I love Roger. And you and I, that is the past.”
“Dawn, you have to listen to me! Trust no one.  Not Roger, not Jason, and not a single person at Warren Medical Research.” Kevin warned.

“And who am I supposed to trust?” Dawn asked angrily.

“Trust me,” Kevin said genuinely.

“You need to leave Kevin.” Dawn said not looking back at him. Kevin pulled her close with her back facing him and kissed the top of her head. Before walking out of the room, he said, “Call me if you need anything.”

Dawn closed her eyes and wondered if she was wrong. Maybe Roger killed Martin and maybe it was best she stayed away from him.

Kevin was good at his job and she knew that he would not be a lieutenant if he wasn’t. The doctors told her that she could go home today if she felt she was ready.  She had planned on taking some time off from work so that she could avoid Roger should he make bail.

Dawn closed to the door to her room and screamed, “Screw you, Martin Peterson! I hope you rot in hell!”  She then collapsed to the floor behind the door and cried until she had nothing left in her.

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CHAPTER 24:  Ken McDowell Needed a Haircut

Ken McDowell ran his hand through his dark, thick, straight hair. He needed a haircut – well at least that is what his wife, Maggie, had told him. And he did what his told, after all, a happy wife meant a happy life. He was a corporate lawyer with an office in Baltimore’s Charles Center, the core of downtown Baltimore.  His favorite barber shop just happened to be two blocks from his office, a short drive from his home in Arlington. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in late August and having parked at his office building, he was enjoying his walk.

Ken McDowell had a successful career, an amazing wife and a baby on the way. He felt guilty considering he had hurt his best friend.  It had been a number of years since he and Maggie had heard from Roger Fluerez.  When Roger found out about affair, he moved out of the home he shared with Maggie, changed his phone number, and even left his job. Roger had done everything to make sure that Ken and Maggie were no longer in his life and couldn’t find him.

Ken and Maggie McDowell had betrayed Roger and they did it when he was grieving the loss of his mother. The two of them had been at Theresa’s bedside with Roger when she shared who Roger’s biological father was. They were there when Theresa took her last breaths.  They were by his side while Roger made funeral arrangements.  They were there while he grieved his mother, all the while carrying on an affair behind a grieving Roger’s back.

It had been nearly six years since Ken and Maggie had heard from Roger, but today things were about to change.  On the front page of the Boston Globe, there was a photo of Martin Peterson, the most powerful man in Baltimore and he was murdered.  Ken did not know whether Roger ever sought out Martin but today, he wondered what had become of his old friend.

Roger and Ken had met when they were sixteen, attending the same high school in Baltimore’s Glen Oaks neighborhood in the North District.  Both teens came from struggling single mother households.  Ken’s mother, Helen, was an elementary school teacher while Theresa worked has a housekeeper for a number of wealthy families in the suburbs. The boys were inseparable for the next several years.  Roger went on to a trade school while Ken went to the University of Maryland, where he received a bachelor’s degree and then his law degree and a whole lot of student loans.

The two men remained friends until the day Roger came home early from a business trip. It was six months after he lost his mother and he had a bouquet of roses that for Maggie.  He walked in on them in his and Maggie’s bed.  There he was standing at the doorway with the roses and there they were, naked. They expected him to lose his cool but all he did was drop the roses, turn around and walk out. He picked up his belongings a few days later while Maggie was at work, leaving a note asking them not to look for him, and that was the last time the two had heard from him, until today.

#

Roger had asked to use the payphone in the hallway of the holding area.  After much procrastination from the holding officer, Roger was making his call.  He wasn’t sure if the number he was calling was still good but it was worth a try.

#

Ken McDowell was walking distance from the District 7 police station.

CHAPTER 23: Roger Danced with the Devil

Roger was on the bottom bunk of his holding cell at the District 7 police station. The mattress underneath him was a thin as a gymnasium floor mat. He had never been in a jail cell before and he wondered if the sleep would ever consume him.  His cellmate was snoring loudly in the top bunk, as if he didn’t have a single worry in the world. There were other inmates in the basement holding area of District 7 but it was past midnight and most of the inmates were either sleeping or keeping quiet.  Roger decided to stay in his bunk. What else could he do? Walk in circles?

The holding cell contained a metal sink and toilet but there was no soap or toilet paper.  The lights were out and the dim hallway light wasn’t going to allow him to look at the newspaper that John Baine dropped off. Besides, the last thing he wanted to see was Martin Peterson’s photo on the front page.

Roger was indeed behind bars and the bars and the brick walls of his prison cell were proof he wasn’t having a nightmare.  He would be spending the weekend in jail and his bail hearing wasn’t until Monday at 9 am. Lieutenant Montello, with his jealous rage, couldn’t have planned it better.

He closed his eyes and thought about running away with Dawn. Just getting away from Baltimore and moving to the middle of nowhere. Maybe to the country or somewhere in the mountains of Tennessee?

He was trying to forget where he was and the situation he was in but all he could her in his head was Martin blaring, “Mark my words, Roger! It is never the devil you know. It is the one you don’t that should scare you.” He knew the monster that Martin Peterson was.  He knew what a womanizing pig he was.  But mostly, he knew never to trust him.  But yet he failed to warn Dawn or keep her safe from the devil he did know.

Then, there others at Warren Medical Center that he didn’t know well – friends of his father, that perhaps were no different.  John Baine was good at covering up everything Martin did and was often responsible for paying people off.  Essie Meyer was as vindictive as they came and she was out to get him from the day he set foot in Martin’s life. Jason Tompkins – Martin hired him simply because he was “from the wrong side of the tracks.”  Any one of Martin’s ex-wives, they could be just as responsible for Martin’s death.  But he was the main suspect in Martin’s murder.  And he was relying on John Baine, his father’s long-time friend to prove his innocence.  What a predicament he was in.

Who could he trust? He was pretty sure that Dawn, Nisey and Rafe were done with him.  He had no other family in Baltimore he could reach out to.  Even though Maggie cheated on him, he lost most of their friends in the divorce.  Once he found love again, he thought all his worries were behind him but he was so very wrong. Roger was alone in this and there was a chance he was not getting out unscathed.

He closed his eyes and thought about his mother, Theresa. He was taken back to the last Mother’s Day they had together.  He had a surprise for her – a hot air balloon ride.  She was wearing a lovely blue sundress with her favorite blue sweater.  He had never seen his mother as happy and beautiful as she was looking down at the city from that hot air balloon. He took her to brunch afterwards and she kept telling him over and over how proud she was of him. That was the last time he heard his mother’s beautiful laugh. The next morning, the two of them went to her doctor’s appointment and found out that Theresa had Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma‎.

Theresa didn’t tell Roger how that she had been feeling sick because she didn’t want to worry him, especially because she didn’t have health insurance. Roger had finally convinced her to see a doctor but by that point, his mother was only given a few months to live. Next month, it would be six years since he lost his amazing and kind mother.

Mama, you would be so disappointed.  Theresa didn’t want him to seek out his father because she had his best interests at heart but Roger was stubborn.  And all for what? To be the main suspect in Martin Peterson’s murder? For Martin to have hurt the woman he loved? What in the heck did he need Martin Peterson for anyway? Right now, he was wishing he had never met Martin Peterson.

Roger didn’t want a father. His intentions in seeking out Martin were purely about entitlement and maybe Roger was getting what he deserved. You can’t dance with the devil and wonder why you are in hell. Roger thought, shaking his head.

Roger didn’t miss out on having a father.  In fact, he had a wonderful father. Javier Flurez gave him a last name and loved him as if he were his own flesh and blood. Javier always introduced Roger as his son, never his stepson.   He taught him how to love a woman and how to be loyal and faithful. He taught him a man’s actions were stronger than his words. He took him camping and went to all his softball games.  It was Javier who helped him grieve his inability to pitch softball when he tore his wrist up.  It was Javier who got him though his first broken heart. Yes, Javier Fluerez was his Papá.

Roger had a father for 12 years of his life and Javier Fluerez was the best father a boy could ask for. And if Roger ever had a child, he would want his child to know a father like Javier and he or she would, because Javier was a great teacher. Javier’s death was devastating for both he and his mother but having Javier in their lives made their lives a whole lot better and neither of them would have changed a thing.

Roger wiped a tear that had rolled down his cheek.  It was going to be a long weekend.

CHAPTER 22: Dawn’s Memories

Dawn could not believe what she had heard. Roger was getting arrested for murder! How was this possible? Roger could never hurt anyone but Martin did an awful thing to her. Did Roger kill Martin for her? She sure hoped not. But he could have and it was all her fault.

Dawn closed her eyes and realized she was crying. Then, her crying got louder and then, she was uncontrollably crying. Her police guard summoned her nurse but Dawn was inconsolable. Her doctor eventually came in and told the nurses to sedate her. Dawn felt everything go black and before long, she was asleep.

She dreamt that she was on a beautiful sandy white beach laying side by side with Roger on a white blanket and looking into his beautiful brown eyes. She felt Roger’s lips on hers, his harms reaching around her pulling her into an embrace, and then, his hands gently stroking her back. Dawn pulled back so she was laying on her back and then, she felt Roger’s weight on her. He was kissing her face gently and stroking her cheek softy. Starting into his eyes once more, she felt so loved.

Abruptly, she found herself in a dimly lit room and it was Martin that was staring that at back her. He was the one on top of her and she was screaming and begging him to stop. She couldn’t move and she felt too weak to fight back. She started to cry and Martin told her to “hush,” and that everything would be okay and that this all was for the best.

“Hush. That Roger is a loser, baby. I can give you anything your heart desires.” He told her. She closed her eyes and thought about how much Roger loved her and forced herself to forget about what was happening. Roger loves me and this is just a bad dream. She tried to convinced herself.

Dawn suddenly heard a loud bang and her eyes flung open. Martin had pulled away from her. She heard him groaning next to her and then another bang. She closed her eyes and everything went dark.

CHAPTER 21: A Murder Suspect

Lieutenant Montello had gone past the bubbly assistant without saying a word and headed to Roger Fluerez’s office. Roger had some explaining and he was tired of getting the run around about how Mr. Fluerez was unavailable. Martin Peterson had been dead for well over 40 hours. The assistant followed Kevin as he pushed the door open to a bewildered and startled Roger.

“I am sorry,” Chelsea said to her boss, clearly upset.

“It is fine, Chelsea.” Roger responded “Just close the door and no interruptions until the detective is gone.” He knew the conversation with Kevin Montello was going to get loud pretty quickly.

“What do you want?” Roger said pointing to a seat in front of his desk for Kevin to sit down.

Kevin threw a sheet of paper in front of Roger.

“What is this?” Roger asked, glaring as Kevin sat down.

“You tell me?” Kevin responded quizzically. “That is the toxicology report for Ms. Dyne’s blood work.”

Roger looked at the report and as he read it, he started to feel nauseous.

“The main ingredient is ketamine,” Kevin said to a clearly bewildered Roger. “As you know, ketamine is used as both an anesthetic and a sedative. The amount of the drug in Ms. Dyne’s blood was sufficient to cause deep sedation and significant memory loss. It is like someone was covering his tracks.” Roger couldn’t speak so Kevin went on. “But the type of ketamine in Ms. Dyne’s is was one my guys had never seen.” Roger gave Kevin an angry look, clearly knowing where he was going.

Kevin continued, “Here were are at WMR, the biggest surplus of drugs not yet approved by the FDA. And I am pretty sure you will be able to tell me what this drug was, Mr. President and CEO.” Kevin said crossing his arms across this chest.

“I need to call John Baine in here.” Roger mustered, picking up his phone.

Kevin stood up and banged his fist into Roger’s desk. “Listen, Mr. Hotshot CEO! Your father put a woman you claim to love in the hospital. It is possible he drugged and raped her and all you can think about is covering your ass!”

Roger put the phone receiver down. “Fine!” Roger exclaimed. “You win A-hole!” Kevin sat down, proud and feeling in control of the situation.

Roger fumbled, trying to gather his words. “Well?” Kevin remarked to a confused Roger.

“Listen,” Roger started. “It was an axed project. I gave the stop order nine months ago.”

“What is a stop order?” Kevin asked.

“No further testing. Project shut down for good.” Roger responded.

“And how did it end up in Ms. Dyne’s blood?” Kevin blared.

“That is not possible…” Roger said, in a shaky tone.

“It is possible alright.” Kevin responded matter-a-factly.

“All the samples were destroyed. Project 2847 belonged to Dawn.” Roger said. “It was designed as a sleep aid but the participants of the study were knocked out within five minutes time. And then, they would have hallucinating dreams once they slept. There was no REM sleep achieved and the participants awoke more tired than when they went to bed. Plus, the potential of abuse of a drug of this type was high and we couldn’t take the risk.”

“That doesn’t answer my question!” Kevin angrily explained. “How does a shelved drug get in someone’s bloodstream?”

Roger glared at Kevin. “All the samples were destroyed.”

“Who was responsible for destroying the samples?” Kevin inquired.

“Dawn,” Roger responded, sighing deeply. “And I supervised. Everything was destroyed.”

“Who else had access to the project?” Kevin asked.

“Dawn’s assistant, Jason.” Roger responded. “But all the samples were accounted for before we destroyed. Nothing left the lab.”

“I guess you are not listening,” Kevin glared at Roger. “Something left the lab. It ended up in your girlfriend’s blood.”

Roger felt defeated and at loss. He didn’t know how the drug ended up in Dawn’s blood.

“Did your father have access to the study?” Kevin asked. Roger cringed at the word “father.” Martin Peterson was no father. Martin was about appearances. Roger was just another noteworthy accomplishment for Martin to show off – an heir to his fortunate, a successor, but not a son.

“I suppose he did. This is – was- his company. He would have access to any study he wanted but given the samples were destroyed nine months ago, I don’t know what to tell you.” Roger responded.

“You are going to tell me how that drug made it out of the lab to your father’s penthouse and into Ms. Dyne’s blood?” Kevin questioned.

“I don’t know,” Roger said genuinely and apologetically.

The two sat in silence for about thirty seconds, until Roger stood, pointed to the door, and finally said, “You need to leave. I can’t help you anymore. Call John Baine if you have any additional questions.”

Kevin stood up and started to walk to the door. He then turned around and said angrily, “I don’t believe you love her.”

“What’s it to you anyway?” Roger retorted.

“Because I loved her!” Kevin exclaimed, surprised by his response.

Roger was taken aback. He suspected that Dawn and the lieutenant had history but this he didn’t expect this. “Then where have you been?”

“We were supposed to get married!”

“Well, there is a reason she didn’t marry you! She clearly didn’t love you.”

“And you think she loves you?” Kevin blared!

“Yes!” Roger snapped back.

“You have been her boyfriend for like an hour and your first act of love is to allow daddy dearest to drug and rape the woman you love!” Kevin shot back. “For all I know, you were probably in on it! Who were you working with? Her assistant? Another board member? His friend, John Biane? That crazy nut Essie Meyer? You had the most to gain from Martin’s death!”

Roger could not believe what he was hearing. He didn’t expect this from Martin. The man was a monster but…he should have protected Dawn. And what kind of man did people perceive him to be? Was he just like Martin Peterson?

“Am I suspect?” Roger questioned. “Yes,” Kevin responded angrily.

“Then, get the hell out my office before I call security!” Roger blasted back and watched a ragging Kevin leave his office.

#

Early Friday, Kevin received a call from the coroner. The coroner informed that Martin Peterson died as a result of two gunshot wounds. One of the bullets entered from his back, missing any internal organs and his spine. The second was shot at close range to his left temple leaving the coroner to believe that this was the bullet that killed Martin. He also did not believe that Martin was asleep. When he was shot. The coroner believed he was in a sitting position when he was shot in the back. The bullets were 2-1/2 inch .410 shotgun shells often used in double action revolvers and a Smith & Wesson Governor was a double action revolver.

Kevin called Chief Simmons asked him to find Judge Patterson and ask for two emergency search warrants, one for the search of Roger Fluerz’ home and the other for his arrest. As he waited to hear back from the chief, he wondered if Roger had thought Martin and Dawn were having an affair and that is why he killed his father.

But why not Dawn? Why did he spare her? Was she asleep at the time or was she so drugged he knew she would not remember what happened? And maybe he did in fact love her and he did this as a result of Martin’s actions. But murder was not the answer even for a man who drugged and raped the woman you love. Kevin shook his head because he wondered if he would have responded as Roger did.

#

Dawn asked her parents, Rafe and Nisey to go home. She wanted to be alone and there was an officer at the door so they had nothing to worry about. She was furious at Kevin for the questions he asked but she was more furious at herself for not predicting Martin’s actions. She wondered what Roger was thinking and feeling right now. She located her cell phone and dialed his number.

Roger picked up at the first ring. “Dawn!” He exclaimed. “Are you okay?”

“I am fine,” She said weakly. “I am sorry I went to see Martin the other night. I didn’t know…” Her voice trailed off.

“You have nothing to be sorry about,” Roger said. “I am the one that should be sorry. I am sorry that I didn’t protect you and I am sorry about our fight.”

“Roger, I need you but I can’t see you. I feel like I have done something wrong,” She cried.

“You have done nothing wrong. You are perfect and what happened, we will get through it together.”

“Okay…” Dawn said, calming down.

“Listen, there is someone at my door,” Roger started, “Hold on, okay?”

“Okay.” Dawn responded.

#

Roger looked at his watch. It was 9:15 pm. Who would possibly be at his door? He opened his front door to find Kevin and a small group of police officers. Kevin pulled out a document and said, “This is a search warrant,” Then he pulled out a second document, “And this is a warrant for your arrest.”

“My arrest?” Roger questioned.

“For the murder of Martin Peterson,” Kevin responded.

Roger put his phone back to his ear, “Dawn, I have to call you back.”

Roger hung up on Dawn and called John Baine who told him that he and a member of his criminal defense team would be meet Roger at the police station. “Don’t say anything, Roger.” John warned.

CHAPTER 20: Amanda Baine

Amanda Baine was the daughter of John Baine and the head of the criminal defense division at her father’s firm, Baine and Associates. Amanda stood at 5 feet 8 inches. She had long black straight hair and dark brown eyes. Her skin was olive colored due to her mother’s Turkish heritage. Amanda barely remembered her mother losing her at age 5 and her father never remarried so she had no siblings. John Baine did an amazing job being both Dad and Mom to Amanda. Both her grandmothers were also an important part of her life growing up but both were now deceased and she missed them both terribly.

Amanda was not a fan of Martin Peterson but he and her father had been friends for years so she was more than happy to help Martin’s son. Martin and her father had tried to set the two of them together on several occasions but Amanda was more into pretty boys and Roger was built like a linebacker. But, she liked Roger and he needed her help so she was going to be there. Besides, Amanda had her secret.

About two years ago, while her father was out of town, Amanda prepared and dropped off contracts to Martin at his townhouse. He offered her a drink. The next morning, she awoke in Martin’s bed with no recollection of the previous night. She convinced herself that she had too much to drink but now, she wondered if Martin had drugged her too. Amanda shivered and reminded herself the bastard was dead and that was all that mattered. His reign of terror had ended but like her father, she feared that Roger was Martin’s killer.

It was Friday morning when Nisey met Amanda in the waiting area of Mercy Medical Center. Nisey explained to her what had transpired the prior evening and that the police wanted to question Dawn about Martin’s murder. Amanda assured Nisey that Dawn was be alright.

“It sounds like he really loves her?” Amanda said quizzically. “What?” Nisey responded.

“Roger Fluerez. He made me promise that she would not be charged with murder. You could hear the concern in his voice. He said he was dying inside because he could not be here for her.”

Nisey smiled, “Yes, he does.” Nisey knew that all along but she was so angry at Martin’s actions that she had forgotten. But Dawn couldn’t face him Roger.

#

Dawn had asked Rafe to dim the lights in her hospital room. He had tried telling her several jokes to get her to laugh but he gave in and left her alone. How could she not laugh at the Juan on Juan joke? He thought. Maybe he said it wrong. “What do you call two Mexicans playing basketball?”   He asked and Dawn shrugged her shoulders. “Juan on Juan!” He told her excitedly but all Dawn did was turn away, leaving Rafe to feel as helpless as Nisey, Kevin and Roger.

After Rafe had left the room, Dawn sat in the dark and ponder what had happened in the last day and a half. She had left her office at 5 pm on Wednesday and headed to Martin’s penthouse. She probably arrived there between 5:15 and 5:30. She arrived at the hospital sometime before midnight. Everything in between was a blur. The last thing she remembered was being in Martin’s office and him offering her a glass of wine. It was a $500 bottle of wine. She recalled and he was wearing those ugly grey sweats. The police – Kevin wanted to question her. Was she a suspect?

Nisey came in her room and introduced her to Amanda Baine, now Dawn’s attorney.

“Why do I need an attorney, Nisey?” Dawn said weakly.

“We don’t know what the police want to ask you,” Amanda said, “And we also want to make sure that they don’t consider you a suspect.”

“I didn’t kill him,” Dawn said, ready to cry.

“We know, Dawnie,” Nisey said, sitting down on the bed next to Dawn, and putting her arm around her friend.

“Let’s stick to what you remember and everything should be fine,” Amanda reassured. “The lead detective is here. I am going to talk to him before he comes in to question you.” Amanda said, stepping out of the room.

Nisey got up from the bed and pulled a brush from her purse and started to brush Dawn’s soft black curls. “There is something you should know,” She told Dawn.

“What’s that?” Dawn asked.

“Roger sent Amanda. He was here yesterday–“

“Nisey!” Dawn exclaimed. “I don’t want Roger here. I cannot see him. I just can’t.” Dawn cried.

“I know, sweetie.” Nisey said kissing Dawn’s forehead and then putting the brush away. “He wanted you to know that he was here and that he loves you. He has also been texting Rafe every five minutes asking about you.”

“I love him too but Martin was his father. I just can’t face him.” Dawn said weakly.

Nisey handled Dawn a tissue. “Kevin will be in here shortly to question you. Wipe those tears. Remember, you never let a man see you cry especially one you once loved.”

Dawn nodded and did as she was told.

“How did you know Martin Peterson?” Kevin questioned.

“He is- was – my boss.” Dawn answered weakly.

Dawn explained that she was there to drop off the 2951 contracts and that the last thing she remembered was the $500 bottle of wine. She recalled waking up several times unable to move.   She recalled the blood, and the hot shower, and making the 9-1-1 call but vaguely. She remembered Kevin showing up, the ambulance ride and Nurse Kelly.

“Why did you shower first instead of calling 9-1-1?”Kevin asked.

Dawn looked at Amanda, who nodded and said, “Go ahead. Tell the detective what you told me.”

“I was disorientated. I thought I was having a nightmare. When I came out of the shower and got dressed, Martin was still dead. That is what it hit me that I had to call the police.”

“Did you call anyone else?” Kevin asked, looking towards Nisey’s direction.

Dawn shook her head, “No.”

“Did you talk to anyone at the crime scene?”

“A female officer.”

“What did you tell her?”

“Just that I woke up and he was dead.”

Kevin paused and looked down at his notepad.

“Is your questioning of the victim complete, detective?” Amanda inquired. “She is a victim, isn’t she?” Amanda added.

“She is not a suspect,” Kevin responded. “But I have a few more questions.”

“Had you ever been to Martin’s penthouse before?” Kevin looked at Dawn.

“Yes, Martin hosted holiday parties and other business events there.”

“When was the last time you were there?”

“Holiday party, few days before last Christmas.”

“Were you romantically involved with Martin Peterson?”

Dawn looked at Amanda who responded. “Detective, you know perfectly well that Ms. Dyne is involved with Martin’s son, Roger Fluerez. Therefore, she was not romantically involved with Martin.”

Kevin nodded. “I need Ms. Dyne to answer. Were you ever romantically involved with Martin Peterson?”

“No!” Nisey exclaimed. “The man was a sick, womanizing bastard!”

“I am asking Ms. Dyne,” Kevin responded, looking in Dawn’s direction.

“No,” Dawn said, shaking her head.

“That is all my questions for now.” Kevin said, looking towards Amanda. “If your client remembers anything else about that night, I need to know.” Kevin looked towards Dawn and offered her a look of sympathy. He mouthed, “I am so sorry,” and headed towards the door.

“Is my client a suspect?” Amanda Baine said before Kevin walked out.

Kevin wasn’t sure how to respond and simply said, “Not at this time. I will know more when I have the toxicology report later today.”

Kevin started to walk out again and Amanda questioned him once more. “So, you are telling me, my client, a rape victim, could be charged with murder?” Dawn shuddered at Amanda’s question.

“I cannot answer that at this time,” Kevin responded.

But Amanda persisted, “But do you consider her a suspect?” Kevin looked at Dawn with little expression. What was he to say? Yes, she was a suspect but he figured if he didn’t say it out loud, it wouldn’t sting as much. “She is a person of interest at this time.” Kevin said, trying to avoid this question.

“She has told you what she knows,” Amanda pushed. “Why is she still a person of interest?”

Kevin didn’t know how to respond. Usually, by this point, he had left an investigation by simply stating “no comment.” He had to get himself out of there because he compromised the investigation.

But this was Dawn Dyne, the love his life and also, the woman who broke his heart. Seeing her like this, all he wanted to do was hold her and never let her go. He wanted to go back in time and perhaps, stop her from making the biggest mistake of her life. Or maybe, he still had a chance if he could clear her name. But Dawn Dyne was indeed suspect. “I don’t have any further information at this time, Ms. Baine.” He said, quickly leaving the room.

CHAPTER 19: The Rest of Roger’s Thursday

Could this day get any worse? Roger thought as he opened his front door to find Essie Meyer standing on his front porch. She was dressed as if she had been standing at a street corner on Halloween, waiting for customers in her orange halter top, black miniskirt, and seven inch orange-black heels.  You can take the girl out of the trailer park but you cannot take trailer park out of her. Roger thought trying not to laugh.

Roger was holding an icepack to his swollen lip, the causality of his fight with Kevin.

“Did you kill him?” Essie asked.

“I should be asking you that question.” Roger retorted.

“Two weeks ago, he made you his successor and how he is dead.  Doesn’t that sound fishy?” Essie put her left hand on her hip.

“Essie, no one knew what Martin was up to. His lawyer made that clear.”

“He must have told you or else he wouldn’t be dead.”

“Essie, do you even care who killed Martin?” Roger inquired.

“I loved him!” She exclaimed.

“Essie, you loved his money!”

“We were to going get married,” Essie lied.

“You and I both know that know that is a bunch of crap, Essie! You were using him and he was using you.”

“Whatever! You had no right to take away what I worked for the past ten years?  I am going to sue you for every dime.”

“HR has a generous severance package lined up for you. You won’t be suing anyone.” Roger said.

“I was supposed to be his successor and I was supposed to become majority shareholder!” Essie whined.

“Well it didn’t happened! Stop acting like a toddler throwing a fit!”

“I don’t get it. Okay, fine Martin made you his successor but why take away everything I worked for?”

Roger laughed.

“What is so funny?” Essie exclaimed.

Are you talking about your bedroom skills or business skills, the latter of which you don’t have?”

“What do you know Roger? You have never been with a woman like me?”

“You mean a money hungry whore? You are not my type.” Roger chuckled.

Essie let out an exasperated grunt. Then she softened, “Let me in and I will show what I used to do for Martin,” She said.

“I told you money hungry whores are not my type!” Roger said slamming the door.

#

Essie was fuming outside but she knew how to get back at Roger.  She would talk to the lead detective leading the investigation into Martin’s death.  What was his name? Craig?  It did not matter because she knew where to find him; The District 7 office.

#

Kevin had just finished interviewing John Baine when he got a call that there was someone with information about Martin’s murder at the police station. When he got to there, he was shocked to find out the person was Essie Meyer, WMR’s VP and Assistant CEO – the former VP and Assistant CEO. It was the big media story, following Martin’s murder.  Roger Fluerez fired her shortly after finding out he was Martin’s successor.

Kevin met with Essie in his office. She was VP? Kevin thought as he saw made note of the trashy outfit she was wearing.

“What can I do for you, Ms. Meyer?” Kevin asked.

“Lieutenant, I have reason to believe that Roger Fluerez may have killed his father.” Essie said smugly.

“What makes you think that?” Kevin asked. “And you are not here because Roger ousted you from the company?”

“No sir,” She responded, “Yes, I was supposed to be Martin’s successor but two weeks ago, Martin changed his succession plan. Martin told me that he made this change and that he would be sharing this information with Roger. Now Martin is dead and Roger has taken over as his successor.”

“Ms. Meyer, I have to talked WMR’s lawyers and the information they provided contradicts what you are saying.” Kevin responded.

“Martin and I were involved. He shared all his secrets with me.” Essie lied.

“How involved were you?” Kevin asked.

“We were in love. We were talking about marriage.” Essie lied once more.

“Is that all?” Kevin asked.  “What you are saying not sufficient evidence that Roger killed his father.”

“It is motive,” Essie countered. “Plus, Roger hated his father and that many at WMR can attest to that. Martin tried to reach out to Roger.  He sent him to school and hired him at WMR.  Despite everything Martin did for him, Roger just had a sense of entitlement and he never reciprocated his father’s gesture.”

“Did Martin ever say that he feared his son or feared his life from his son?”

Essie bit her lip and hesitated, “Yes, Martin was worried that Roger was after his fortunate but he thought that making Roger his successor would make Roger trust him.  Unfortunately, it cost Martin his life.”

“Do you have anything else for me, Ms. Meyer?”

“No, Lieutenant.” Essie got up and started to leave me.

“One more thing, Ms. Meyer,” Kevin said.

“Yes,” Essie responded.

“Where were you on yesterday evening between 5 pm and midnight?”

“I was at home. I had a friend over.”  She dropped a card on Kevin’s desk. “Here is my business card. My cellphone is on it. Call me if you need anything else.”

Kevin shook his head after Essie Meyer left.  That woman was one heck of a character.  It did not mean she was wrong about Roger Fluerez.  He didn’t trust the guy and he didn’t want him anymore near Dawn.  It was time to go talk to Mr. Flurez but it probably wasn’t wise for him to go alone. He would take Jenkins and Paris with him.

#

Roger was on his laptop looking through Martin’s WMR electronic files.  He figured he should be on top of Martin’s projects since he was now doing his job.  Well that and the fact he was not allowed near Dawn.  Today was the longest day of his life and it was only 4:30 in the afternoon.  Maybe he could call Nisey and check on Dawn.  No, Nisey was not going to take his call.  He could call the nurses’ station but he did not think they would give that information with him.  Maybe he should call Kevin but his swollen lip was a reminder that Kevin was not on his side.  How about Rafe?

“Listen, my wife isn’t going to be thrilled that I am talking to you,” Rafe said when he answered the phone.

“I just need to know if Dawn is okay … if she is awake.” Roger inquired.

“They will be waking her shortly. Dawn’s parents are here.”

“Thanks Rafe.” Roger said, “One more thing?”

“Yea man?” Rafe responded.

“Maybe you can send me a text when she wakes up and tell me how sure is doing?” Roger pleaded.

“Yes, of course.” Rafe responded. “Listen, Nisey knows you love Dawn but Nisey loves Dawn like a sister.  She is just trying to protect her.”

“I understand,” Roger said. “Thanks again.”

Roger put the phone down and headed towards his kitchen for a drink when the doorbell rang. Now what?

“Not you again!” Roger said seeing Kevin with officers Jenkins and Paris at his front door.

“It is Lieutenant Kevin Montello to you,” Kevin responded handing Roger his card.  “I am the lead investigator on the Martin Peterson murder.  I have some questions for you.”

“Fine, come in.” Roger said leading them to his living room.

One everyone was seated, Kevin asked, “Where you on last night between 5 pm and midnight?”

“I was in D.C. meeting with some Pfizer representatives about a diabetes drug we have been testing. We met for an early dinner and I was back in my hotel room about 6:30 pm.”

“When did you leave your hotel room after that?”

“I checked out at around 5 am.”

“If your meeting ended at 6:30 in the evening, why did you spend the night in D.C.? You were only an hour away.”

“I was supposed to meet with the representatives the following morning for breakfast.  Martin really likes – liked – to wine and dine our drug company representatives.  After all, they pay for our research.”

“Why did you cancel?” Kevin inquired.

“Before I left for my trip on Wednesday evening, I got into a fight with my girlfriend and I left without saying goodbye or telling her I loved her,” Roger said looking down.

“What was the fight about?”

“It was just a lover’s quarrel,” Roger said giving Kevin a look of distrust.  “I decided I would cut my trip short and do something nice to make it up to her.”

“When did you find out that your father was murdered?”

“My assistant, Chelsea, called me to tell me that Warren Medical’s board scheduled an emergency meeting. She thought I knew.”

“What was your relationship with your father like?”

“What?” Roger blinked. “Do I need a lawyer?”

“You are not a suspect,” Kevin said. “And you don’t have to answer any of these questions if you don’t want to.”

“No, it is fine. It is no secret that Martin and I were like oil and water.  He didn’t raise me. I only found out six years ago he was my father. He took me into his company and sent me to school but I don’t think he ever really trusted me.”

“Did you know that he had planned on making you his successor?”

“I was as shocked as everyone else this morning.”

“What was his relationship with Essie Meyer like?”

“Essie was sleeping with Martin and that is all I know.” Roger responded.

“What was your relationship with her?”

“Truth be told, I cannot stand the woman.”

“Is that why your ousted her from the company?”

“That was a business decision. Essie Meyer and I don’t work well together and I wanted someone by my side that I could trust and work successfully with.” Roger retorted. “Are we done here?”

“One more thing,” Kevin responded. “Do you own a gun?

“Yes,” Roger replied. “I own a Smith & Wesson Governor. It was a gift from Martin.  When I first found out he was my father, he took me to the shooting range.  It was a father-son bonding thing – not something I was interested in but Martin was. He gave it to me six months after I met him for the first time.”

Kevin nodded. Roger continued, “He has – had – one too – although I am not sure where he kept it. Essie might know.”

“That’s all the questions I have for now,” Kevin said getting up and heading towards the front door with the two officers. “I will be in touch, Mr. Fluerez.”

Jenkins and Paris went ahead and were already outside.  “You probably want to talk to that lawyer,” Kevin said as he walked out.

Roger took a deep breath as he closed the front door.  Kevin was just trying to scare him because he didn’t like him but he probably should put a call into John Baine’s law firm.

When he got back to his laptop, he saw that he had received a text message. It was from Rafe. “Dawn’s awake.  The police want to question her. Nisey is trying to get a hold of a lawyer. We don’t want her to talk to the police without one.”

“And the hits just keep coming!” Roger said aloud. “Tell Nisey, I am sending someone. Don’t let Dawn talk until the lawyer gets there.” Roger responded to Rafe’s text.

It was time to put in that call to John Baine and ask him to send someone from his firm’s criminal defense team.  Dawn was a victim and her ex-boyfriend, or whatever he was, was about to treat her like a criminal.  Apparently, I also need a lawyer.  He thought as he walked out his front door to go back to WMR to meet with John Baine.

CHAPTER 18: Nisey is a Badass

Rafe was taking Nisey to the home of John and Deborah Dyne. Nisey felt it was more appropriate to talk to them in person rather than by phone. Rafe turned on the radio and Nisey was shocked by what she heard.

“Warren Medical Research just wrapped up a press conference wherein they discussed the murder of their President and CEO, Martin Peterson,” the radio announcer said. “The company also announced Peterson’s successor, his son Roger Fluerez. Fluerez was serving as WMR’s Director of Projects. This announcement came as a shock to many including WMR’s top officers who had anticipated that Vice President and Assistant CEO, Essie Meyer, would succeed Peterson. As Fluerez’ first act of business, he fired Meyer and assigned her position to Dr. Stephen Cameo, WMR’s current Director of Medical and Research Affairs.”

Rafe and Nisey looked at each other as Nisey turned off the radio. Neither said a word but Nisey was sure that they were thinking the same thing.

#

Kevin watched Dawn as she slept. Nisey decided it she needed to inform Dawn’s parents what had happened and asked Kevin to stay and keep an eye on Dawn. Nisey also specifically told him that Dawn was not to have any visitors regardless of who it was. Kevin wondered if was anyone specific that Nisey had in mind but he knew better than to ask.

Kevin had spoken to a couple of his officers earlier who informed him that Martin Peterson’s next of kin had been notified. He explicitly told the officers not to discuss the case with the family until he had information to report. He wanted to make sure that no one knew that Dawn was a there at night Martin Peterson was murdered and that he may have drugged and raped her.

The media may have leaked out Martin’s death but nothing about Dawn being there had come out. He was able to get Dawn out of there before anyone knew who she was and what had happened to her. All anyone knew was that a female witness made the 9-1-1 call.

Kevin was fairly certain that Chief Simmons had something to do with the secrecy of the investigation due to the chief’s relationship with Dawn’s parents although he was not quite sure how Chief Simmons quickly knew what transpired. Dawn was not in any capacity to contact him and the only person that she would have contacted would be Nisey and he was pretty sure Nisey had no connection to the Chief of Police. But would explain why Nisey was not surprised to hear from him?

Dawn looked so fragile and he was glad that Martin Peterson was dead after what he did to her. If Martin was not dead, he would have killed the bastard with his bare hands.

Kevin still loved her but he hated that he let her walk away. He didn’t fight for her and he told himself he respected her decision but he had spent the past few years hoping that she would run back into his arms.   Once this was all over, he would tell her how he felt, and pray for that happily ever after the two of them should have had.

#

Rafe pulled the Dodge Durango in front of 21354 Old Dobbin Lane in Columbia shortly before 1 pm. The Dynes owned a four bedroom ranch a half hour’s drive from downtown Baltimore. It was a home that Nisey often visited and she considered the Dynes family. When John answered the door, he was shocked to see Nisey and Rafe without Dawn and he immediately panicked.

“Nisey, what’s wrong. Where’s Dawn?” He said, sweat coming from his forehead.

“That’s why I am here. Can I come in?” Nisey asked.

“Of course you can, Nisey. This is your home as much as it is Dawn’s.” She heard Deborah say from somewhere inside.

Rafe and Nisey followed John to the living room. They sat down and Nisey started to explain what had transpired overnight.

John did not say a word but Deborah sprang up from her seat. “This has got to be a joke. Roger’s father did these awful things to my daughter and now the man is a dead?”

“I assure you, ma’am,” Rafe said, his accent more pronounced due to his nervousness, “This is no joke.”

“How could Roger have allowed this to happen?” Deborah raised her voice.

“This has nothing to do with Roger,” Nisey said. “Roger and his father barely talked and Roger loves Dawn. He is just as distraught as we are.”

“Really? He loves my daughter and he allowed his father to do this to her? And who killed Martin? Because I am sure it was not Dawn? It was probably Roger and now my daughter could go to jail!” Deborah exclaimed.

“Dawn sure knows how to pick them,” John started. “First that low life cop and now the son of Martin Peterson. Martin, the biggest womanizer in the city,” John said, shaking his head.

“You know it is your fault, John,” Deborah started. “You need to stop being more accepting of the men she picks. I didn’t like Roger from the start but you wanted to give him a chance.”

Nisey could not believe what she was hearing. No one was thinking about what Dawn was feeling or what she had been through. The Dynes were playing the blame game.

Rafe shook his head and looked at Nisey, hoping that she would intervene because he was at loss for words.

“Shut up! Shut up!” Nisey explained. “I am so sick of you and your outrageous expectations of Dawn! She is your daughter for God’s sake!”

“Nisey…” John tried to interrupt.

“Let me finish!” Nisey exploded. “Dawn has always done what you asked of her and even then, it was never good enough. No wonder Kyle moved to Florida to get away from you. Your expectations are impossible. Kevin is a great guy and he loved your daughter more than words can express but you guys kept insisting he wasn’t good enough and Dawn spent the last three years throwing herself in her work trying to forget him. She is brilliant and she changed the treatment of autoimmune diseases forever and she still cannot live up to your expectations. She finally found love again and Roger may be Martin’s son but he is nothing like Martin. He loves her – let him love her! She needs the people that love her around her right now more than ever so maybe you could stop your bickering and outrageous expectations and love your daughter regardless of her imperfections.” Nisey was out of breath.

The looks on John and Deborah Dyne’s faces were priceless. Rafe thought, as turned his face and smiled. My wife is one bad ass.

“Let’s go, Rafe!” Nisey said storming out of the living room. Rafe nodded to the Dynes and followed Nisey out.

#

Kevin started to nod off in the chair. He should have assigned an officer at Dawn’s door and work on his investigation but he could not fathom leaving her side. He heard a sound come from Dawn’s room. He walked in and she saw her twisting and turning and moaning. He went and sat down in the car next to her bed with her back facing him. He pulled the bed rail down and started to rub her back. He remembered how it always made her feel better when they were together. Kevin wanted to hold her, kiss her, and just help her to feel safe. At least, she was calm and quiet for now.

#

Roger was going to see Dawn in the hospital and he was not going to take no for an answer. He understood that Nisey loved her but he loved Dawn, too. He hated what Martin had done to her but he was nothing like Martin and Dawn knew that. He wanted to take her in his arms and show her how loved she was.

Roger was standing at the door of Dawn’s hospital room. Who is that man in the chair next to her bed rubbing her back? “Who the hell are you?” Roger shouted. “None of your business!” Kevin retorted. “Who the hell are you?”

“I am her boyfriend,” Roger exclaimed. Kevin was taken aback by the man’s response. Kevin looked at Dawn and said, “Not here.”

When they were in the waiting area, Roger said, “Who are you? Why were your hands all over Dawn?”

“I am a family friend,” Kevin lied.

“A family friend who I have never met!” Roger retorted.

“How long have you been seeing Dawn anyway?” Kevin asked.

“Over a month!”

“And you consider her your girlfriend! I know more about her than you do buddy. I was rubbing her back because it calms her down when she is upset.”

“Did she tell you she was upset?” Roger shouted.

“She was twisting and turning and moaning in her sleep!”

“A family friend doesn’t put his hands on another man’s girlfriend!”

“So, boyfriend, do you have a name?” Kevin asked.

“Roger Fluerez!” Roger retorted. “Who the heck are you, family friend?”

“Kevin Montello!” Kevin responded with a raised voice.

“As in Lieutenant Kevin Montello?” Roger asked.

Kevin nodded. “You have got to be kidding me!” Roger exclaimed.

Then, it hit Kevin who he was arguing with. The son of Martin Peterson! “You are his son and you let him do this to her!” Kevin barked.

Nisey and Rafe walked in as Kevin turned his right hand into a fist and punched Roger in the mouth. Roger responded by shoving Kevin and knocking him into the waiting room chairs. Nisey watched as the two men continued to throw punches. It was Rafe that intervened and pulled Roger off of Kevin. At that point, Nisey grabbed Kevin before he could lunge back at Roger.

Nisey had had it. First, Dawn’s parents, now these two idiots! “My best friend is lying in a hospital bed, sedated because she cannot face what happened to her and you two are out here fighting!” She exclaimed and looked at Kevin. “If you loved her so much, why didn’t you fight for her? It took her three years to move on and now she finally has, be happy for her!” Then she turned to Roger, “Why didn’t you protect her from your awful, disgusting, womanizing father?”

Nisey turned to Kevin once again, “Go do your job and find out who killed Martin so that Dawn isn’t charged with his murder!”

As Kevin walked off, she looked to Roger, “I told you she doesn’t want you here. What are you doing here?”

“Nisey, come on. This isn’t fair.” Roger pleaded. “I had nothing to do with what Martin did. I am nothing like Martin.”

“You sure?” Nisey inquired. “You first act of business as WMR’s President and CEO was to fire the VP and Assistant CEO.”

“That was business,” Roger lied.

“Nope, that was personal!” Nisey interjected.

“What does that have to do with Dawn and me?” Roger asked. “We got into a fight on Wednesday and I left to my business trip without saying goodbye and telling her I loved her. Nisey, I feel guilty enough.”

“Fine,” Nisey crossed her arms on her chest. “You can see her but you cannot stay long. Her parents will be here soon and you are the last person they want here.”

#

Roger walked into Dawn’s hospital room. He stood next to her bed and kissed her on the cheek. “I love you so much,” He whispered in her ear. “I am so sorry I wasn’t here. I am so sorry I didn’t protect you.” Roger felt a tear roll down to his cheek. He sat back on the chair next to Dawn’s bed. He could not believe what was happening. He went from wanting to make up with Dawn after their fight to crying next to her hospital bed.

Everything was such a mess. Martin did this awful thing to her and now he was dead. Less than two weeks before he was murdered, he made Roger his successor and according to John Baine, Roger was now the majority shareholder at WMR. This had to be a dream, an awful nightmare and he just wanted to wake up from it.

Roger’s head was spinning. He was trying to understand all the events that had transpired in less than twelve hours. Who was Kevin? It sounded like he was involved with Dawn at some point and now he was investigating Martin’s murder. Was he really the right person for this? Perhaps, he was. After all, he managed to keep Dawn’s name out of the media reports and no one knew what happened to her.

He saw a police officer outside Dawn’s door. He sighed. Apparently, Kevin must have really loved Dawn some point. He was making sure she was safe at all costs even if it meant keeping Roger away. Maybe it best that he stayed away. After all, if had protected Dawn…if only he had protected her from his “awful, disgusting, womanizing father.” Nisey was right; he failed Dawn. He saw Nisey on his way out of the hospital. “Please tell Dawn I was here and that I love her,” He said as walked away.

CHAPTER 17: Roger’s Morning

Roger was driving back to Baltimore at 6 am Saturday morning. He was going straight to Dawn’s townhouse so he could apologize after their argument on Wednesday. He missed her and he couldn’t wait to hold her in his arms. He wanted to make up with her and he couldn’t wait to take her in his arms. He had called her last night and she didn’t answer. He figured she must have gone to bed early and it just too early to call her now.

That is when his phone rang. It was his assistant, Chelsea Smyth. Why was she calling him this early? He did not bother saying, hello. “Chelsea, it is 6 am. What’s wrong?”

“You don’t know?” Chelsea was a short and chubby bubbly blonde from Brooklyn, New York. She had only recently moved to the Baltimore area.

“What’s wrong?” He repeated.

“It is Martin. He’s dead. He was murdered last night. I am sorry that I am the one telling you.”

“What? Is this a joke, Chelsea?”

“Roger, I would never joke about this.” Chelsea sighed. “I was calling because the board called an emergency meeting. They want you there. I told them that you probably had to deal with what is happened what apparently, you didn’t know…” Chelsea’s voice trailed off.

“What time is the board meeting?” Roger asked.

“Ten.”

“Tell them I will be there.” Roger said quickly hanging.

He dialed Dawn’s number but it went straight to voicemail. He called her home phone but no luck. It was early. Should he call Nisey?

#

Dawn was fast asleep. Nurse Kelly gave her a sedative sometime after 4 am. Nisey had nodded off but awoke to her phone vibrating in her pocket. She looked at the caller ID. Roger. She picked up, “Hold on,” She said then proceeded to walk out of Dawn’s hospital room. Kevin had pulled a chair outside Dawn’s room and didn’t flinch when Nisey quickly passed him.

When Nisey got into the waiting area, she put her phone next to her ear and said, “Sorry, Roger.”

“Nisey, I really hate to call you early this morning. Dawn is not picking up – on her cell or at home. We got into a fight before I left for my trip and …” His voice trailed off. “Sorry, I just talked to my assistant this morning and Martin is dead. Apparently, murdered…”

Nisey didn’t say a word. “Nisey, are you still there?” Roger asked.

“Yes,” Nisey signed. “Dawn is in the hospital. At Mercy.” She managed.

“What happened to her?” Roger exclaimed.

“Your son of a bitch father happened!” Nisey raised her voice.

Roger did not know what to say. He just found out that Martin was murdered and now Dawn was in the hospital. “Nisey, I love Dawn,” he said. That is all he could think to say. “Please tell me what happened.”

Nisey took a deep breath and calmed down. “Dawn didn’t kill him,” Nisey started.

“Of course not!” Roger retorted. “Dawn could not hurt a fly.”

“He drugged her, he raped her…” Nisey’s voice trailed off.

“I am on my way.” Roger said.

“No, you can’t.” Nisey replied. “She is sedated and she will be out for a while plus she doesn’t want to see you. I will talk to you later.” Nisey said rushing off the phone.

Roger pulled into the garage of his three-bedroom ranch. He had it purchased last year, with the intention of finding the right girl and starting family with her. Lately, he was thinking that Dawn was that girl but now, he was afraid he was about to lose her. Roger closed the garage door behind him. The last thing he wanted to do was deal with his neighbors. He took a shower and got ready to go to WMR. It was 8 am when he proceeded to the kitchen to make coffee.

He took his coffee to the living room when the doorbell rang. Roger did not want to get the door but after everything that already happened since he woke up, he knew it was a good idea to answer it. There were two police officers at this door, a male and a female. “Are you Roger Fluerez?” The male officer asked. Roger nodded. The male officer continued, “I am Officer Jenkins and this is Officer Paris.”

“Mr. Fluerez, are you related to Martin Peterson?” Officer Paris asked.

“Yes, he is my father.” Roger answered.

“You may have already heard since the media has already leaked the reports.”

Roger nodded. “I was out of town on business, driving back, when my assistant called. She thought I knew.” Roger took a deep breath. “Is that the reason you are here?” Roger asked.

“We need you to go downtown to the coroner’s office and identify the body.” Officer Jenkins told him.

“Can I take my car? My company has called an emergency meeting of the officers and directors. I need to be there by ten.”

“That’s fine.” Officer Paris said. “Please follow us to the coroner’s office.”

#

The coroner pulled the sheet off Martin’s face. He looked as if he was asleep expect for where he had been shot in left temple area. Roger shivered. Yesterday, Martin was one of the most powerful men in Baltimore and today, he was dead. He nodded to the coroner and walked out of the morgue where Officers Jenkins and Paris were waiting for him.

“Do you know who did this?” Roger asked.

“We can’t share any information about the investigation. The lead detective on the case is Lieutenant Kevin Montello, District 7 and I am sure he will be in contact with you soon.” Officer Paris told him.

#

Roger got into his Fiat and looked at his watch. He had less than ten minutes to get to WMR. He sat in his car and realized that there was a tear coming down his cheek. He hated Martin Peterson but he was still his father and the only family he had left and now, he had no one – no mother, no father, and no siblings. But because of Martin, he may have lost Dawn and he loved her. It took him a year to finally be with her and he was about to lose her. Not only that, Martin broke her and he wasn’t sure she could come back for this. Dawn was not that strong. What’s more, Martin was murdered and a small part of him feared that Dawn may have killed him. No, No! Not Dawn. Dawn was the kindest, gentlest person he knew. Dawn would not hurt a fly but Martin drugged her and raped her – between the drugs and what that evil bastard did. Dear God, no!

Ten minutes later, Roger was at the top floor boardroom of WMR. The board of directors, the company’s lawyers, and officers, including Essie Meyer were present once Roger arrived. Several people started extending their condolences to Roger and Roger just nodded. He did not anticipate this. “I can’t be here long,” Roger addressed the board. “I have personal matters to attend to. Please start.”

Roger had been in this very room when Dawn shared with the board of directors and company officers the results of Project 2951. Everyone in the room was shocked with the results but not as much Roger. He and Dawn fought in her lab after the meeting. He was furious with Dawn because he felt should have told him that she was the test subject and Dawn asked, “In your capacity as Director of Projects or as your girlfriend?” He responded by saying, “Both.” That was when Dawn threw him out of her lab. She had every right to be furious with him. While she could have shared her results with him as Director of Projects, she was not required to until the project’s end. If anything, he was wrong to assume that she should have because of their relationship. He said goodbye by text and didn’t tell her how much he loved her and the guilt ate away at him.

“Understood,” John Baine, the head of WMR’s legal team, said.   He stood at the podium by the door and started. “As many of you know, Martin Peterson was murdered last night and by 11 pm, the media had already blasted this information. As a result and as of this morning, WMR’s stock price has dropped by $2.12 per unit. What we need to do is control the chaos and ensure the public and our shareholders’ confidence that despite what has happened, WMR’s stock and projects are still protected. And the first thing we need to go is fill Martin’s position as President and CEO of WMR.”

Essie Meyer took a deep breath and looked at Roger across the boardroom conference room table. She didn’t care if Martin was dead. She loathed the man as he recently told her, she was serving her purpose. Now all her hard work with Martin was about to pay off. Today, she was Martin’s successor.

Roger saw Essie glaring at him. He had no idea what was going to happen today as he had no idea what Martin had planned for his corporation. He was fairly certain, however, that Essie Meyer was about to succeed Martin and it would not be long before Essie gave Roger the boot. Today was officially the worst day of Roger’s life.

“A couple weeks ago, Martin came to my office and made some changes to his will and to his exit plan as President and CEO,” John Baine continued. “One of the things he did was appoint a successor in the case of his untimely death. Martin could not have predicted what would happen last night but he swore me to secrecy and asked me to keep his succession plan under lock and key. I was saddened to have to take it out this morning.” John’s voice quivered, as John and Martin had been friends for many years in addition to their business relationship.

“Today, I announce Martin’s successor. Moreover, we will be announcing this in a press conference later today. We will also assure the public that our projects, earnings and stock shares are in no way affected by Martin’s untimely death. While I am saddened by Martin‘s death, I am happy with the individual he has picked to succeed him.”

Roger looked in Essie’s direction again. She had a smirk on her face and she sat up straighter. What happened next turned her smirk upside down. John Baine made the announcement everyone was waiting for. “Martin’s successor and WMR’s new President and CEO is Roger Fluerez.” Roger nearly choked on his coffee and the look on his face was even more shocking then the look on Essie Meyer’s face.

“I am aware that this information may to be shocking to many,” John explained, “I assure you that Martin was precise about the choice he made and asked that no one appeal his decision.” He said, looking in Essie’s direction. “Moreover, it is my understanding that Martin did not discuss this with Roger or anyone else, besides myself, so Roger is finding out about this appointment for the first time with the rest of you. Roger, is there anything you would like to say before we adjourn this meeting and get ready for the press conference?”

Roger took a deep breath and looked at Essie who was scowling his direction. Roger wanted to laugh but he knew that was not professional. He stood up and took the podium. “Thank you everyone for being here and thank you for your condolences.” He then looked at John, who was standing next to him. “Thank you for your loyalty towards my father all these years and thank for your confidence and trust in me.

“Please understand that I will not be at the press conference today as I need to start dealing with my father’s personal affairs. However, one of the first orders of business I want to address is that I will be asking Dr. Stephen Cameo take over as Vice President and Assistant CEO. Stephen will take over after the Labor Day holiday.” Roger did not look in Essie’s direction but he knew the look on her face was priceless. “We will discuss Essie Meyer’s role at WMR at a later date. Thank you everyone for your support of my father but I need to cut this meeting short.” Roger then headed straight for the exit. He laughed once in the elevator. He knew Essie Meyer was fuming and just knowing that made his day better.

CHAPTER 16: Kevin’s Love

Kevin watched Dawn for at least two minutes. She didn’t even notice him there. He reached for the chapter in his mind where Dawn decided she wasn’t marrying him and that she was ending things.

It a beautiful May afternoon in 2012 and he had showed up at her job with flowers – tulips, her favorite. They had fought the night before but he couldn’t remember what they fought about. Her breaking his heart was the hardest thing he had ever been through. He wanted to be her husband. He wanted to make her happy. He wanted a family with her. But her parents kept insisting he wasn’t good enough. And Dawn, she always did what her parents wanted. Go medical school, Dawn? She did. Go work at Warren Medical Research? She did. Give up the love of a man? Of course, she did. She couldn’t stand up to her parents.

She threw the tulips on the floor of her lab and told him the wedding was off. He left that day and never turned back. He promised himself wouldn’t try to change her mind but he regretted not fighting for the woman he loved. And today, he regretted it even more. His weakness and her stubbornness cost them the future and the family they were supposed to have together. And here he was, watching the woman he still loved, falling apart and all he could do was feel helpless. Man up! Is that his father would say – well, that is what he had to do.

There was a female officer with her and Dawn was talking to her and crying. “I woke up and he was dead,” She said sobbing hysterically.

Kevin walked towards the two women. “Dawn,” He said. “Don’t say anything else.”

He took the female officer aside, “You know better than to question a victim at a crime scene. Especially one who has informed you a sexual assault took place.”

“She is a possible suspect,” The female officer whispered.

“What’s your name, Officer?” Kevin asked.

“Higgins, sir.”

“I am in the lead investigator and I don’t need officers who treat victims like suspects. You are relieved, Officer Higgins.” He raised his voice.

What was Kevin doing there? Dawn thought. Nisey…she had something to do with this. But what? How?

“Hi,” Kevin said, standing in front of her. “Are you okay?”

“I am not Kevin! I am not!” Dawn cried.

“The first thing we are going to do is get you to a hospital.” Kevin calmly reassured her.

“Kevin,” Dawn whispered. “I don’t remember anything that happened after I got here. A man is dead and I am afraid I may have killed him.”

“Dawn,” Kevin snapped. “Not a word. Stop talking.”

Dawn nodded. She understood.

“We will get you to the hospital and I will call Nisey. Everything will be okay.” He said taking her hand.

#

Nisey was sitting up in her bed in the dark room waiting for her phone to vibrate. She was fairly certain she would receive a call soon either from Kevin or Dawn. Rafe was fast asleep on the bed next to her, mumbling something in Spanish. He often talked in his sleep, and in Spanish, no less. Nisey shook her head trying to fathom what had just transpired. She wanted Rafe to hold her but she didn’t want to wake him. Her best friend, whom she loved, was hurting and all she could do was wait. She couldn’t just show up and she didn’t even where to show up.

Kevin called Nisey from his car as he followed the ambulance to the hospital. Nisey seemed calm as Kevin explained to her what may have happened. Her cool demander took Kevin by surprise because Nisey was generally not a calm person.

Nisey arrived at Mercy Medical Center shortly before midnight. She didn’t wake up Rafe but left him a note explaining that Dawn needed her. Rafe would understand and he wouldn’t ask any questions.

Nisey stayed in her car for a few minutes trying to grasp what had transpired that evening. Dawn was the sweetest, most gentle person she knew and she could never hurt a fly. But Martin Peterson drugged and raped her… Nisey started to cry. She wished she had woken Rafe to come with her to the hospital. She finished out her pity party, wiped her tears, checked her make-up and then got out of her car.

#

Kevin stood outside the Dawn’s room in the emergency ward of Mercy Medical Center. He knew Dawn and he knew that she could never hurt a soul. He also knew how trusting she was and she trusted Martin or else she would not have been there at his penthouse.

Kevin started to wonder. Was she involved with Martin Peterson? He knew he was her boss but no, not Dawn. Not his Dawn. Martin Peterson was a womanizer and tonight, his reign of terror ended but who killed him? Kevin had to believe it was not Dawn no matter what Martin had done to her.

Kevin closed his eyes and tried to remember a time when he and Dawn were in love. He never stopped loving her and right now, all he wanted to do was take her in his arms and tell her everything would be all right but he wasn’t sure if that was true. He didn’t know and he couldn’t ask Dawn what happened. He had to wait until she had a lawyer present.

Kevin was not the right person to be handling this case but the Chief insisted. Who got to him? No one knew what happened. Dawn’s parents weren’t aware yet and he just told Nisey. True, Dawn’s parents had connections but again, they didn’t know and they sure did not want him around Dawn. Did Dawn call the Chief? She couldn’t have. She was too shaken up. The only other explanation…he found himself face-to-face with Nisey.

“Where is she?” The redhead asked.

“They are checking her out. You can’t go in. They are doing a SAFE test on her.”

Nisey looked at him quizzically.

“Sorry,” Kevin said feeling the nausea consume him, “A sexual assault forensic evidence test.” Kevin sighed.

“What is wrong?” Nisey exclaimed.

“Her hair was wet…”Kevin’s voice trailed off.

“So?” Nisey inquired.

“I think she showered before she made the 9-1-1 call.”

Kevin and Nisey both got quiet and not a word was exchanged between the two of them for what felt like eternity.

#

Dawn could not look at Nurse Kelly. Kelly had told her she was a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and explained that she would be doing a SAFE test, short for a “sexual assault forensic evidence” test.

All Dawn wanted to do was go home and get under her covers. She wanted Nisey next to her so she could cry while Nisey held her. She remembered the day she ended things with Kevin. Nisey was there and she cried herself to sleep in Nisey’s arms. Nisey was her best friend, her sister and the most important person in the world to her and she needed her right now.

Dawn told Nurse Kelly that she showered because that was the only thing she could think of to do. “We should still be able to collect some evidence,” Kelly reassured her. Dawn closed her eyes and said silently to herself: Did it really matter? The man who drugged and raped me is dead. And there is a good chance I am going to jail.

Nurse Kelly told Dawn to get dressed and took her equipment and left. Dawn felt sick to her stomach and her head was still pounding. Nurse Kelly had taken some urine and blood samples for a toxicity screening in addition to her SAFE exam. Dawn saw Nisey at the door and Dawn’s eyes filled with tears. “I need you Nisey,” Dawn said softly to her friend.

Nisey walked to the hospital bed and pulled Dawn into her arms. Dawn cried softly in Nisey’s arms and Nisey did everything she could to hold her own tears back. Kevin stood at the door watching and feeling helpless