They’re still there.
Of course they’re still there. Wishful thinking.
Peeking out the window I take in once again the couple on my porch. I don’t recognize either of them and I suspect the worse.
Well, Detectives more likely.
I take a deep, steadying breath and open the door.
The woman palms her badge, identifying herself. “I’m Detective Rusch. This is Detective Paulsen. We’d like to ask you some questions. Do you have a minute?”
“Sure, I guess. What about?”
“Can we come in? It would be more comfortable.”
I hesitate briefly, excuses running through my mind, but ultimately step aside and open the door letting them enter. I watch them scan my humble living room, IKEA furniture and hand me downs. Student loan debt is real my friends. And Med school isn’t cheap.
I gesture to the couch and then take one of the arm chairs for myself. The woman, Rusch, takes a seat across from me but her partner remains standing just behind her and the couch.
She smiles attempting to put me at ease. It doesn’t work.
“Can you tell me what this is about?”
Ignoring me, Detective Paulsen asks his own question. “Nice area. You live here long?”
“About two years,” I answer.
“No, I have a roommate.”
“Are they home?”
“Not right now, no. What is going on? Is something wrong with Brynn?” I know full well my roommate Brynn is fine. Home visiting her folks over spring break. But if they aren’t going to get to the point I’ll play dumb.
“No, no.” Detective Rusch interjects again, voice soothing. Her head tilts to the side as she studies me. “Ms. Hendricks, have you seen or spoken to Orion Quaid recently?”
“Ryan? Is he in some kind of trouble?” Please tell me what is going on, I beg silently. I know not to say it out loud.
“We’re not sure. When was the last time you spoke to him?
I pretend to consider the question, as if I don’t know exactly when we last spoke. As if I don’t remember every conversation I’ve ever had with Ryan.
“Probably about three months ago. He kind of pops in and out.”
“So you haven’t seen him in the last 72 hours?”
“No, sorry.” I shake my head, shrugging.
“Is that unusual?”
“No, like I said, he kind of pops in and out. Usually when he needs something.” I grimace. “What is this about? Is he okay?”
Paulsen responds, not even trying to be friendly like his partner, “He’s a person of interest in a suspected homicide.”
I don’t have to fake my shock at this information.
Homicide? Oh, Ryan. What have you gotten yourself in to?
“That’s crazy. Ryan wouldn’t hurt anybody.”
The Detectives exchange a look. “We just need to talk to him,” Rusch assures me. She continues the questioning, “He’s been missing for several days now. How do you two know each other again?”
“He was my brother’s best friend. I’ve known him since I was a kid.”
“Some of the others we’ve talked to implied you were more than that. That you may have been romantically involved.”
I feel my face heat. “We’ve… dated.” I don’t know how to explain our relationship to others when I don’t always understand what we are to each other myself. But I know I don’t want to explain it to complete strangers, and definitely not two police detectives that seem to think Ryan is connected to a murder. “It’s never gotten that serious. He moves around a lot.”
“Because of his work?”
“Has he ever mentioned any of his racing associates?”
I hesitate, trying to decide how much to tell them.
Detective Rusch seems to sense I’m holding back and leans forward, her expression earnest. “Please, Ms. Hendrix. If you know anything, you should tell us.”
I shrug. “He’s mentioned a lot of people over the years. He’s met a ton of people.”
“Any he’s ever mentioned any problems with?”
“Nothing serious. The usual rivalries and egos. I never got the impression it was anything more than that. Ryan isn’t the type to hold grudges. He goes with the flow.”
“It’s interesting you say that,” the male detective interrupts again. He glances at his notebook. “Wasn’t he arrested once for assault?”
I cringe. “We were just kids when that happened. He’s grown up a lot since then.”
“And five years ago? There was a complaint filed about an incident at a bar downtown.”
“Those charges were dropped.”
“You were there? At both these… incidents?”
He stares at me. Trying to intimidate me.
I stare back. I do my residency at a Chicago hospital Emergency Room, asshole. You aren’t that intimidating. And I grew up with two older brothers. I perfected the art of the silent treatment.
Detective Rusch breaks the silent game of chicken. “He seems very… protective of you.”
I nod shortly, still staring down her partner.
“Are there others he would… protect… the way he protects you?”
“He’s protective of all the people in his life.”
The name hits me hard. It always has. Perfect Olivia Peters.
Ignoring the pit in my stomach, I try to answer as neutrally as possible. “Yes, I suppose so.”
“They’re romantically linked as well, isn’t that right?”
Oh, this dude is an asshole.
“They have been. Yes. I don’t know if they are right now or not.”
“Are the two of you, right now?”
“Are we sleeping together?”
“Yes. Are you? Right now?”
“No. Right now, I’m here talking to the two of you. And I told you, I haven’t seen him for three months.”
I stand preparing to kick them out, but Detective Rusch, clearly trying to salvage the interview asks me quickly, “Do you know a woman named Carrie Reynolds?”
“We were told she was his most recent girlfriend.”
“I wouldn’t know.” The pit that formed at Olivia’s name gets bigger with this information. I glance at both of them. “Look, I don’t understand how our sexual histories are going to help you find him or solve a homicide. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
I walk towards the door, ready to end this.
Detective Rusch follows, but Paulsen doesn’t move from his spot by the couch. Looking around again he asks, “Would he come to you for help if he was in trouble?”
I inhale slowly, willing the pit in my stomach to ease. “Is he in trouble?” My voice sounds small.
“Yes, Ms. Hendrix. He definitely is.”
“I don’t know. It would depend, I guess, on what kind of trouble.”
“If he came to you, would you help him?”
My eyes narrow, glaring at this ass. “I guess that would depend on if he had Carrie Reynolds with him or not,” I say sarcastically and open the door. I’m done with this bullshit.
Finally he takes the hint, crosses my living room and walks out the door. Detective Rusch hands me her card. “If he does contact you, please let us know.”
I shut the door behind her, staring at her information and trying to process everything I’ve just learned.
Ryan, what did you do?
I wait a few minutes, watching them get back in their car and drive away. Then pocketing her card I go upstairs to my bedroom.
He’s leaning against the wall, carefully peeking through the drapes.
“They circled the block and parked down the street.”
I sit on my bed and watch him carefully. “Well, since you can’t go anywhere I guess you have time to tell me what the hell is going on, Ryan?”