Fighting to be free, p.32
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.32

         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley
 

  As the guy patted down my body, checking for weapons, I looked in Brett’s direction, watching as a cop went over there. I saw him crouch down, I assumed to put the cuffs on Brett, but a few seconds later the cop stood back up and stepped out from behind the cabinet alone.

  I frowned, confused until he shook his head. “This one’s dead.”

  “What? No!” I cried, shocked. I immediately thrashed, catching the cop by surprise, causing his grip to loosen. I threw off his hold and my feet moved of their own accord, running six or so steps forward so I could see for myself if the guy I’d always had a fatherly respect for was dead.

  As I took the last step, I saw it was the truth. He lay facedown, a pool of blood seeping out under him; his eyes, which were so familiar to me, were wide and vacant. Grief washed over me. My mouth dropped open in shock as a strangled gargle sounded in the back of my throat. Dead? Brett was dead? It hit me harder than I ever would have thought it would. My chest tightened and my hands clenched into fists as I stared at him in disbelief.

  I barely had time to react before three guys crashed into me from behind, slamming me into the wall harshly. Air rushed out of my lungs quickly as they pinned me there heavily, securing me. A gun pressed into the back of my neck with bruising force as I felt the last of my hope run out of my system. I closed my eyes as one of them gave me the little speech about my rights. I’d heard it all before.

  CHAPTER 30

  NUMB. THAT WAS the only way to describe how I felt, like I was slipping into shock or something. I could still hear a faint ringing in my ears, and I had a feeling I’d be hearing it for a long time to come. I gulped, picturing Brett as he lay so still, a pool of blood rapidly growing under his lifeless body, staining the concrete floor. My mind was whirling, but no specific thoughts were forming; something would start to formulate and then immediately my brain would skip to something else. Thoughts of Brett, jail, blood, steel bars, and other horrifying things appeared every time I closed my eyes. The one thought that was the most prominent was of the little redhead cheerleader who I was totally in love with, and how disappointed she was going to be in me. How was I even going to begin to explain this to her?

  A cop took hold of my arm and pulled me from the van that I was sitting in. I frowned and looked up at the police station. An ominous feeling settled over me as I realized that there was a good chance I wouldn’t get out of here, but instead go straight back to jail. I was still on parole for Ralf’s murder; technically, I could be thrown back in jail immediately for another six months, as that’s how long the remainder of my sentence was before I was let out for good behavior.

  My whole life had just been flushed down the toilet in one night. One night had ruined everything for me, and I would have to deal with that forever. The guy holding my arm started walking so I let him lead me along toward the blue back door of the station. As we walked in, I kept my eyes straight ahead as we approached the check-in desk, where a bored-looking cop was waiting to book us all in to our holding cells. The other boys all filed in behind me and were handcuffed to the benches along the sides to wait for their turn to be processed. Six of us were arrested tonight, three had been injured and taken to the hospital with armed guards, and nine people, including Brett, had been killed at the scene.

  The cop at the desk flipped open a pad, pulling the cap off his pen. “Please state your name for the record.”

  “Jamie Cole,” I muttered, frowning. I tuned out as the guy who was holding me rattled off my charges and the desk clerk scribbled in his pad.

  “So, do you have a lawyer, Jamie Cole, or would you like us to provide you with one?” he asked, looking at me curiously.

  I sighed. “I don’t have one.”

  He nodded, ticking a box on a form before looking up at the guy behind me. “Right, let’s get his pockets emptied.”

  I groaned, closing my eyes when I thought about what was in there. The cop behind me shoved me roughly so that I slammed against the desk. One of his shoulders pressed against my back, pinning me there while he pulled at my wrist, unclasping my watch, before shoving his hands in my pockets one at a time, dumping the contents on the desk for the clerk to process.

  “One silver watch. One black leather wallet containing”—the desk clerk flipped it open, looking in it curiously—“forty-seven bucks.” He threw it into a clear plastic bag and scribbled in the pad before picking up the next item. “One set of keys. One cell phone. One piece of paper containing what looks like a bank account number. We’d better get that checked out.” The other cop emptied my last pocket and laughed. I chewed on the inside of my cheek so hard that the metallic taste of blood filled my mouth. The other cop laughed too as he picked the contents up, smirking at me. “One blue lace thong. I’m thinking you have a slutty girlfriend,” he teased.

  “She’s not a slut!” I snapped. I threw my shoulder back harshly, making the guy tighten his hold on me as I struggled against him. I wanted to grab the panties and shove them back in my pocket to protect Ellie’s modesty, but with my hands tied behind my back, all I managed to achieve was a pain in my chest where the guy slammed me against the desk again.

  The desk clerk smiled teasingly as he toyed with the panties before putting them in the bag, too. I was battling against my anger; my jaw was aching, I clenched it so tightly. He picked up the last item—the black ring box. “Wow, nice. Is this a real diamond?” he asked as he lifted the lid.

  I nodded, not wanting to speak more than necessary.

  He raised an eyebrow. “My wife would love me forever if I gave her that,” he muttered, showing it to the cop who was holding me. Anger flared even more as he whistled appreciatively.

  “Maybe you should buy her one then,” I growled. “Put it in the fucking bag because I’m gonna need that when I get out of this shithole!”

  The desk clerk laughed and snapped the box closed, tossing it carelessly into the bag. “One silver diamond ring,” he announced, scribbling on the pad again.

  “It’s white gold,” I corrected, glaring at him. I had a strong feeling that the ring wouldn’t be in the bag by the time I got out of here and had to sign for my belongings.

  The guy shrugged, not bothering to change the form as he shoved it toward me. “Sign here,” he instructed. There was a fumbling at my back, and the cuffs sprang off my wrists. I grabbed the pen and wrote my name on the bottom before crossing out the word silver in the description and changing it to white gold. The desk clerk growled in frustration and ripped the pad and pen from my hand. “Take him to three,” he ordered.

  The cop behind me grabbed my arm, tugging me forward. My eyes flicked to the line of guys waiting for processing. Shaun’s defeated gaze met mine. He smiled sadly, as if he already knew that he was going back inside, too. I allowed the cop to lead me along and shove me into a small holding cell. As the door slammed closed behind me, I closed my eyes, not needing to look at my surroundings to know that the room would be painted gray, with just a bed jutting out of the wall and a blue mattress on it. I already knew this place too well from when I was kept in it before.

  I walked the couple of steps to the wall and leaned against it before slumping down and pulling my knees up to my chest. All I could think about was Ellie and how much she was going to hate me for screwing everything up. It was probably about four in the morning now, and I was supposed to pick her up in less than eight hours so that we could go to the airport and start our new lives. Instead, everything had changed because of one stupid night. Even though he was dead, the resentment started to build against Brett because I wasn’t even supposed to be there tonight; if he hadn’t forced me, then I wouldn’t be in this situation now, facing jail and a life without the girl I loved. But I couldn’t hate him, though; I actually really liked the guy, and although he’d done bad things in his life, he deserved better than to die in a dusty old workshop. I was truly going to miss him.

  * * *

  A click of the door lock made me look up and stop fiddling with
the zipper of my hoodie. I’d been here forever already; it felt like hours that I’d been pacing around the room like a caged animal. The gray walls of the eight-foot cell were driving me crazy as I struggled to remain composed and not smash everything up in frustration.

  The door opened to reveal a cop I hadn’t seen before. “Jamie Cole, your turn for questioning,” he uttered, motioning with his hand for me to walk out.

  I sighed with relief that I would get to step outside the cell and see something other than the gray walls. I even welcomed the questioning because that would give me something else to think about. “What time is it?” I questioned.

  “Just before six,” he replied as I walked to his side. Wow, have I seriously only been here for two hours? It felt like an eternity since my life fell to pieces. His hand clamped on my arm tightly. “Am I going to have to put cuffs on you, or are you going to behave?”

  I smiled weakly. “I’ll behave.” I’d always respected authority. I’d done wrong, I’d been caught, that was all there was to it, really. These guys were just doing their jobs. He nodded, looking a little weary as he guided me out of the cell and down the narrow hallway. I could hear people shouting inside the other holding cells as we passed them.

  My surroundings didn’t really register as we weaved through the station. Finally we got to a wooden door with a strip stuck on it labeled INTERROGATION ROOM 6. The cop opened it and motioned for me to go in.

  Inside the room was a table with four chairs around it, a tape recording system, and nothing else. My eyes landed on the wall of what appeared to be mirrored glass. The cop I was with pointed to one of the chairs, instructing me to sit and saying that my appointed lawyer would be here shortly. I slumped down into the chair, unable to resist sending a little wave in the direction of the glass wall, knowing there would probably be people in there watching me.

  The door opened seconds later, and a young, scrawny-looking guy in a cheap crinkled suit came in, shuffling papers as he walked, dropping most of them on the floor. I sighed. Defense attorneys really were a pile of shit, and this guy was my only chance out of here? I was screwed already.

  “Mr. Cole, I’m Darren Sanders, your court-appointed attorney. I’ll be representing you,” he said as he bumbled his way into the room, extending his hand toward me.

  I nodded, shaking his hand. “Great. This should be an open-and-shut case then. I imagine I’ll be home in time for breakfast,” I replied sarcastically.

  He frowned, pushing his glasses up his beaky nose. “I don’t think so. You have a lot of charges against you; I think the breakfast target is overly optimistic,” he replied, obviously not getting my humor.

  I blew out a big breath and sat back in my chair, closing my eyes. “Right, I’ll let my hopes fall back down then. For a second I was confident that you’d get me off on all charges, and I would be free to go on my merry way.”

  The chair scraped next to me, and more papers shuffled. “Let’s get started going through everything. We only have half an hour before they come in to start their questioning. I need you to tell me in your own words what happened tonight.”

  I sighed, deciding what I could let this guy in on and what I would keep back. Usually in this situation I would just answer everything with “no comment” so that I didn’t drop anyone else in anything, but to be honest, with Brett dead there was no one to really protect anymore. Everyone would be facing the same charges as me, and we were all going down for it.

  I opened my mouth to speak, but a knock at the door interrupted us. A cop poked his head in, smiling apologetically. “Mr. Sanders, sorry to interrupt, but Mr. Cole’s private appointed attorney has just arrived to take over the case.”

  My appointed attorney? I didn’t have an appointed attorney, which was why I was stuck with this little imbecile.

  “Oh, really? I was called to represent Mr. Cole. Why was I called if he already had representation?” my guy asked, standing up and looking confused and more than a little put out.

  The cop shrugged. “We weren’t aware that he had one. Mr. Barrington has just arrived at the station and is demanding counsel with his client.”

  Mr. Barrington? As in Brett’s attorney, the hardass? My heart leaped into my throat. Maybe there was a chance I’d be home in time for breakfast after all.

  The guy who had just settled himself down at my table started grumbling under his breath about time wasters and overpriced hotshot attorneys thinking they were above everyone else. He picked up his papers and marched out of the room without so much as even looking at me again. As he stepped out, in stepped a guy I’d never met. His black suit looked tailored and expensive. His blond hair was styled perfectly, even though he’d probably been woken up to come down here this morning. He stood with a confidence and self-assuredness that came only from knowing you were better than everyone else around you.

  He turned back to the police officer who had interrupted. “I expect that”—he waved his hand to the mirrored wall—“to be empty. Ensure you turn on the light in there so I can be confident that my private meeting with my client isn’t being viewed,” he instructed.

  The cop frowned, not looking too impressed. “Absolutely,” he agreed, his voice harsh and annoyed. He stepped out of the room, leaving us on our own. I stood and opened my mouth to speak, but Mr. Barrington held up one hand, signaling for me to wait. Seconds later the mirrored glass disappeared, and you could see through it like a window as someone switched on the light in there. An empty room was on the other side, chairs and recording equipment set up pointing in here. Mr. Barrington peered inside curiously before turning back to me and smiling sadly.

  “I expect that you’re confused as to why I’m here for you,” he said, walking around the table and sitting down.

  I nodded in confirmation, noticing that he wasn’t fumbling with papers like the previous guy. “Yeah, I didn’t call you.”

  He nodded. “I’ve heard a lot about you. Brett and I were old friends, he’d spoken of you a few times over the years. It’s nice to finally meet you,” he stated. I frowned, unsure what to say. Did he know that Brett had died tonight? As if sensing my question, he answered it. “I got a call from a good friend in the police department informing me that Brett had been killed. Naturally I asked about the situation, and as soon as they mentioned your name I rushed down here. Brett told me that I should look after you if you ever needed me, so here I am.”

  I gulped. “Oh” was all I could manage.

  He smiled sadly. “I know you and Brett had a good relationship; he thought a great deal of you. He’d be saddened to know you were here right now. I understood from him that you were getting out of this life, and leaving to do some traveling. With my son’s ex-girlfriend, no less.” He leaned forward in his seat and clasped his hands together tightly.

  I nodded. “Yeah, we’re supposed to go today. I don’t suppose you can wave a magic wand over all of this and get me out of here so I can still do that?” Even if he could just get me out of police custody, maybe I could try to leave the country or something if they let me out “pending investigation.” Well, if they didn’t seize my passport.

  He frowned and shook his head. “I wish I could, Jamie. I promised Brett that I’d always do my best for you, and I will, but this isn’t something that will just blow over.” He sighed and reached down, grabbing a leather briefcase, setting it on the desk, popping the latch, and opening it. He pulled out a case file and thumbed through it. “They’ve been watching Brett for a while because one of his staff got involved in a GTA, we knew that, but I had it from reliable sources that they weren’t making any moves on Brett at this time. It appears where I wasn’t informed was that there was a sting operation following the Lazlos tonight, and it just so happened that it involved Brett. I think the police were very happy to have stumbled upon him in that meeting, meaning that they took down two birds with one stone, so to speak.”

  I snorted. So this all came about because the police were trying to arrest the
Lazlos and we were all just in the way? A lucky convenience to take down a local organization at the same time? Well, aren’t their superiors going to be happy with them, I thought sarcastically. “Well, aren’t they all lucky,” I said with a snort.

  He smiled bitterly. “Quite,” he agreed. “So, I’ve been speaking to the officer in charge of the raid tonight; between you and me, he’s an old golfing buddy of mine, so I’m privy to a lot of things that I shouldn’t be,” he continued.

  “Okay, and that means what?” I asked, trying to stay positive, but his slumped shoulders told me that this wasn’t good news.

  “Well, they had hidden recording equipment at the meeting tonight. As far as your charges are concerned, they have you on tape talking about and planning auto thefts, being present and part of a drug deal, possession of a firearm, and resisting arrest. Now, you don’t need to worry about the car stuff too much, that’s all circumstantial; you mention no details about previous jobs, and you don’t brag about jobs undertaken in the past or mention conquests. The talk is just that, talk, so they can’t charge you with that,” he said confidently. “However, now that they know you’re into that kind of thing, they’ll start looking into other unsolved car crimes more closely to try and link them to you.”

  I groaned. So because I mentioned stealing cars, they’re now going to try to pin all unsolved car thefts on me? Great, just fucking great! “So, aside from them now investigating car stuff and me, I’m actually facing drug charges, possession of a firearm, and resisting arrest?” I asked, wincing.

  He nodded. “At this time, yes.”

  “So I’m screwed! I’m already on parole.”

  He reached over and patted my shoulder. “I’m going to do everything I can for you. I’m pretty confident that if I pull a few strings, make a couple of deals, I can get the drug charges dropped.”

  “Really?” If he could, that would significantly reduce the amount of shit I was in—well, until they linked me to the millions of dollars’ worth of cars that I’d boosted!

  He nodded. “As for the firearm,” he stated. “You had that on you at the time of arrest?” I nodded in confirmation. “You had your weapon drawn?”

  I shook my head quickly. “No, I didn’t draw it the whole time. It was tucked down the back of my pants.”

  He raised one eyebrow, looking extremely pleased. “So you didn’t take part in the gun battle?”

  “No.”

  He smiled. “Ballistics reports will be able to confirm that you didn’t fire upon the police. Resisting arrest should be easy enough to dismiss, too. But there’s only so much I can do. I’m going to have to give them something in return.”

  “Meaning what?” I asked, confused.

 
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