Authors: K. A. Mitchell
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Gay, #Fiction
“Thank you, sir.”
Jamie waited for the other shoe to drop. Yeah, it had been a pretty big fish Jamie had hauled out of the river, but the chief had better things to do than to call up a lowly officer to thank him for doing his job.
“I understand you’ve filed your report with the state police. I’d like a copy sent directly to me.”
“Yes, sir.” The staties always handled this kind of thing, unless another crime had been committed before the jump. The sarge had told Jamie to follow procedure.
“Your precinct commander tells me you and your partner were off your grid when you found Montgomery.”
“Yes, sir. I heard something, a tapping underwater.” That’s what he’d put in the report. No way was he saying he went off grid on a hunch the jumper had changed his mind about the big sendoff.
“You have a keen sense of location, Officer.”
It wasn’t a lie if you didn’t get caught. “Thank you, sir.”
Jamie heard a shift on the other side of the phone and sensed that they were about to get to the reason for the phone call besides the chief poking holes in his report.
“The BCP is handling this investigation. Mr. Montgomery has requested you specifically be on hand for the initial statement.”
“The jumper? I mean—”
“The elder Mr. Montgomery. Lieutenant Franklin is the detective in charge. He will pick you up in thirty minutes.”
Jamie knew better than to ask questions. “Yes, sir.”
“Officer Donnigan, your precinct commander tells me you don’t play well with others.”
Jamie swallowed. There was no right answer here. “Sir?”
“Make an exception.” The chief hung up.
Jamie’s coffee was hot as hell without creamer, and the nicotine gum he ground between his back molars wasn’t helping for shit as he slid into the passenger seat of the Crown Vic. At least there weren’t two detectives, which would have forced Jamie to ride in the perp’s spot. With one glance at the driver, he could see why Franklin had caught the case.
Suit, shoes, even the fingernails and thin gold band on the hand on the steering wheel were polished, smooth. He’d make the department look good on camera, and there would be cameras. Gauging Franklin’s height from the gap between his tight fade and the car’s ceiling, if they were photographed together, Jamie would look like Franklin’s pet orangutan in cheap polyester.
Easy enough for Franklin to look camera ready from behind the detective’s barrier of gloves and evidence and interviews. When was the last time he’d frozen his ass off diving next to ice chunks to find a body, or had a drowner puke on him, or a girl bleed on him because her crazy ex had beaten the shit out of her before throwing their baby off the Key Bridge?
Who knew how much ass kissing he’d done to make lieutenant. Four ranks above Jamie and eight years younger. Jamie could see how this shit was gonna go down. Fuck the sleet pinging the windshield, he’d rather be on the river.
Other than a barely perceptible nod when Jamie got in, Franklin hadn’t spoken, but as they sped through Fells Point, Franklin decided to let Jamie know how much he was gonna regret finding rich boy on those rocks.
“I’m saying this once. No one wanted to get involved in this mess. The governor pulled the staties because of the connection. The city says the pylon where you found him is on the county’s side of the border. But I’m going to make this work for me anyway. I’m conducting a friendly interview, the family will pay the fines, and after a few days, it will all be over. The old man wants you there, Chief says I’ve got to bring you. Just don’t fuck anything up for me. We clear, Officer?”
Did the dick actually think Jamie wanted to be there? “Whatever you say, Loo.”
“Good. Your first job is to keep the reporters off my ass until after I talk to the family. And try not to look stupid.”
The room where they found Gavin Montgomery looked nicer than any hotel Jamie had ever stayed in, but the smell still said hospital, despite the flowers. So did the rails on the bed and the IV drip.
A silver-haired man in a peach golf shirt sprang forward to greet them. He ignored Franklin but shook Jamie’s hand vigorously.
“Officer Donnigan. Thank you. We owe you a tremendous debt for saving our son.”
It sounded like the royal
, but a slim pregnant lady with light blonde hair came forward and offered Jamie a cool, soft hand. “Yes, thank you very much, Officer Donnigan.”
“I was just doing my job, Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery.” Though this couldn’t be Gavin’s mom, unless she’d given birth to him at age ten.
“They tell me there were thirty men on the river, but you were the one who found him and just in time. That makes you a hero in my book.” Montgomery’s slap and firm shake of Jamie’s shoulder landed right on the line between reminding him who was really in charge and a brothers-in-arms friendliness.
Jamie felt Franklin’s eyes burning into the back of his neck. Jamie didn’t want to be in the spotlight any more than Franklin wanted him there. Ducking and nodding, Jamie backed off to let Franklin do his bullshit.
While Franklin was trying to make himself sound important in the introductions, Jamie studied the man in the hospital bed.
When Jamie had found him, he’d been wearing a tuxedo. The hospital gown wasn’t much of an improvement over soggy formal wear. But the rest…maybe people this rich had a beauty salon on call because the guy’s longish hair was swept back in brown waves and he looked ready for a photo shoot barely eight hours after he’d been hauled out of the river. Hazel eyes, heavy on the green side, studied Jamie like there was something on his face, forcing him to raise his hand to wipe at the corner of his mouth, across the parts of his jaw he’d missed with his super-fast shave.
“Lily, would you please let Mr. Atcherson know that we’re ready for him?” Old Man Montgomery said.
Gavin Prescott Montgomery, whose information Jamie had entered on enough forms to be able to also recall the guy’s birthday and driver’s license number, stopped staring at Jamie long enough to look at the Mrs. “And then will you—”
“Yes, Gavin, then I will go home and rest.” She gave her husband a quick peck on the cheek. “I’ll send the car back for you.”
It didn’t take a snobby label queen like Jamie’s friend Terry to tell that the suit on the guy who’d been called in was obviously ten paygrades over the one that made Franklin seem so polished. Mr. Atcherson oozed expensive lawyer from every pinstripe.
Franklin’s tense greeting indicated he was pissed, though he had to have expected it. Maybe he was just pissed because in a room full of people this rich, even super hotshot Lieutenant Dick looked schlubby.
For the first time since he’d hauled it out of the closet, Jamie was glad to be in his patrol uniform. He didn’t need suits or back slaps to establish anything. The uniform put it all out there.
Montgomery and Atcherson took a chair on either side of Gavin’s hospital bed, leaving Franklin at the foot, Jamie behind his shoulder like an escort.
He was just fine acting as wallpaper while everyone else compared
. When it came down to it, money talked, walked and held everyone by the short hairs. There was no reason for the elder Montgomery to be there. Jamie wanted to see Franklin try to budge him.
“Why don’t you tell us what happened last night?” Franklin flipped open his notebook.
Gavin shrugged. “Where do you want me to start? I was with my stepmother at the Mardi Gras fundraiser for—”
“What time did you leave there?” Franklin asked.
“I escorted my stepmother to our car at 10:30.”
“And then where did you go?”
“I’d run into my friend David Beauchamp at the fundraiser. We decided to go to a house party in Riviera Beach.”
“How would you describe this house party?” For someone who’d been talking friendly interview, Franklin was coming on strong.
“It was a party. In a house.” Gavin’s mocking explanation drew a cough from the lawyer and a scowl from Franklin.
“What time did you and Mr. Beauchamp leave this house party?”
“Did you have anything to drink?”
“Enough to know I couldn’t drive. What did my blood screen tell you?”
Franklin’s lips thinned. “Your BAC was point one two.”
Gavin shrugged. “That’s why I asked Beach to drive.”
“Had Mr. Beauchamp also been drinking?”
“He said he’d only had two beers.”
“The toxicology report also found 50 milligrams of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid in your blood. Are you in the habit of using GHB recreationally, Mr. Montgomery?”
Friendly, my ass.
Jamie wondered exactly what power trip Franklin thought he was on. Yeah, the evidence might be all on their side, but a lawyer like Atcherson would make hash out of a police report.
After a murmur from the lawyer, Gavin said, “I don’t mind answering the question. I didn’t knowingly consume anything but alcohol, Detective.” The words flowed so easily Jamie knew it had been rehearsed. Though the younger Montgomery couldn’t seem to stop himself from adding, “I thought the stars looked kind of spinny.”
The father shifted in his chair, and the lawyer leaned in to mutter in Gavin’s ear again.
“What about Mr. Beauchamp?”
“I don’t know. He said he could drive. I told him he could stay at our home after he drove me there.”
“What time did you stop on the Key Bridge?”
“Sometime after two, I think.”
“And Mr. Beauchamp was driving then?”
“Yes. He was driving. He stopped the car and said something about swimming. I think he meant to Fort Carroll.”
“What happened next?”
“He got out of the car and climbed on the concrete barrier at the edge. I got out and told him to get back in the car. I started to call 911.”
“Did Mr. Beauchamp jump?”
“I don’t remember. I remember trying to stop him, reaching for him—”
“You jumped in to save him?”
For the first time, Gavin broke eye contact, looking at the sheet across his lap. “No. I fell over the concrete barrier when I reached for him.”
“Were you conscious when you were rescued?”
“I was conscious the whole time. After I came to the surface, I looked for Beach. The ass—uh—he was actually swimming away from the bridge. When I grabbed him, he fought me for a second then passed out. I dragged him to the rocks and tried to get us out of the water.”
“Do you have training in water safety?” Franklin made it sound as if Gavin was making it all up in order to ruin the detective’s day.
“I took lifeguarding at summer camp. I guess it stuck. I tried to yell and signal when I saw the boats, but I couldn’t let go of Beach. I tapped SOS on the rocks with my heel.”
“More summer camp instruction?”
“Is there some problem I’m not aware of, Detective? A point to your line of questions,” the lawyer said.
Jamie wondered that himself. The chief must have been out of his head sending Franklin to do this. The guy might look good on camera, but he had a jones for humiliating the Montgomerys.
“I guess camp was a good investment on my family’s part,” Gavin answered.
“Did you complete the 911 call?”
Gavin shrugged again. “Since I assume the dolphins are now using my phone to text their relatives in the Adriatic—”
“Gavin.” His father’s warning cut off the rest of his smart-ass remark.
Jamie felt the corner of his mouth twitch, not at Gavin’s attempt at humor, but at the way Franklin’s neck bulged over the collar of his suit.
Gavin’s gaze flicked dismissively over Franklin before finding Jamie’s eyes again, the quirk of Gavin’s lips mocking and inviting Jamie to join in.
“Do you have any further questions?” the lawyer asked.
“Anything you care to add, Mr. Montgomery?” Franklin said.
Gavin shook his head.
Franklin flipped his notebook closed. “We’ll be in touch.”
The lawyer stood. “With what, exactly, Lieutenant? Gavin Montgomery did not violate any statutes. His fall from the bridge was due to an attempt to render aid, which he continued to do until more advanced care arrived, as is set out in the Good Samaritan law in Maryland. If you require further contact with Mr. Montgomery, you can do so through my office.”
“We’ll need him to sign a statement.” Franklin stood his ground.
“Well, then.” The old man rose and shook Franklin’s hand. “I appreciate you coming down here to clear this up. Better sooner than later, wouldn’t you say, Lieutenant?”
Jamie watched Franklin experience the receiving end of that comradely shoulder slap-shake. Impotent fury looked good on the puffed-up dick.
Mr. Montgomery held Jamie back with another “Thank you for saving my son” and some handshaking, so Jamie had to double-time it to catch up with Franklin, who was pacing stiff-legged in front of the elevator.
“Not even a fucking ticket. Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on party boys screwing around, and I can’t hang so much as a parking violation on him.”
“You new to Balmer, Loo?” Because not knowing exactly who the Montgomerys were would go a long way to explaining what the hell Franklin had been trying to pull.
“Did I ask you for something, Officer?”
Jamie squared his shoulders and stared at the elevator buttons. Five years to a pension.
“Officer Donnigan,” a voice called from behind them.
Jamie turned to find the older Montgomery striding toward him.
“My wife will never forgive me for forgetting this. We plan to have a little gathering in recognition of your heroism, and Gavin’s in saving his friend.”
“Gathering?” Jamie said.
“A party.” Montgomery gripped Jamie’s shoulder again. “My wife will be in touch with the details.” He strode back down the hall.
Franklin gave a soft snort of disgust. “Looks like you get to go to the ball, Cinderella.”
The Cinderella jokes did not stop. Franklin decided he’d pass on his humiliation at being unable to arrest a Montgomery by telling everyone in the Baltimore County Police Department—and probably the Baltimore City cops too—that Jamie’s frog prince had invited him to a ball.