Chapter no 42

The Coworker

I STAND at the door for several minutes, shaking too hard to work the lock and get it open. Part of me wants to make a run for it. I could go out the back door and then…

Well, what could I do? My car is parked in front of the house. There’s nowhere to go. And I’m hardly the type to be on the run from the police.

Finally, I turn the locks and crack open the front door. It’s no surprise that Detective Santoro is standing in front of my door. It’s hard to remember a time when I used to be able to open the door and he wasn’t standing there. “Hello, Miss Farrell.” He doesn’t even crack a grim smile. His lips are a

straight line. “We have a warrant to search your house.”

I don’t doubt that the warrant was obtained after my stupid boyfriend informed him that I did not, in fact, have an alibi.

“I see.” I feel like I’m choking. “I guess then… come in.”

I step aside to allow the detective and his crew into my house. This seems like the deepest violation. These police officers are in my home. But what can I do? They obviously had enough evidence to get a warrant to search the place. I don’t know how though. I mean, half of Boston probably doesn’t have an alibi for last Monday night.

“Should I wait in my car?” I ask in a tiny voice.

“We gotta search your car too,” he says, without a hint of apology in his voice. “I need you to open the locks on the door.”

I don’t have much choice but to cooperate. I grab my car keys, point them in the direction of my car, and I hit the key fob to unlock the doors. The lights flash as the doors unlock.

“Where am I supposed to go?” I ask Santoro.

He looks at me thoughtfully. “You can sit on your couch in the living room. I’ll stay with you.”

“Can I stay with a friend?” I could call Kim and crash at her place. If she’ll let me.

“I’m afraid not. I need you to stay on the premises.”

We head back into my living room, Santoro leading the way, and I follow wordlessly. I searched the house pretty thoroughly last night, but not as thoroughly as these officers seem to be looking. I can hear loud noises coming from upstairs in the kitchen. The sound of a dish breaking.

Thank God I got rid of that ceramic turtle. I even ran all the clothing in the laundry hamper through the wash.

I sit gingerly on the sofa, and Santoro sits beside me. His black eyes are trained on mine. The room feels unbearably stuffy, like I can’t even breathe. I wish I could go outside, but it’s really cold out. Still, I’d rather be anywhere but here.

“How long will this take?” I ask him. “Depends on what we find.” “There’s nothing to find.”

“I guess we’ll see, won’t we?”

I squeeze my knees together. It hits me that even though I know Caleb told him the truth about Monday night, he doesn’t know I know. Maybe I could play dumb and pretend I’m fessing up on my own free will.

“Listen,” I say, “I just… I wanted to tell you that I was mistaken about Monday night. I remembered my boyfriend did go home before bedtime. I got it wrong.”

“Funny. He just told me the same thing.”

I’m too late. I should have told the truth while I could.

“You know,” Santoro says, “I got bullied when I was in school.” I pick at a loose thread on my skirt. “Oh…?”

Even though I’m not looking in his direction, I can feel his gaze washing over me. “It got pretty bad. Those kids made my life miserable.”

“Kids can be really cruel sometimes.”

“Kids don’t know any better.” He cracks his knuckles. “But adults— they do. They ought to know better, at least. But plenty of adults out there are still bullies.”

I keep my eyes down. I don’t know what to say.

“I’m sure you know all about that, Miss Farrell.”

There’s another crash from the kitchen. These people are destroying my house, but that’s the least of my problems. After that ceramic turtle turned up in the laundry hamper, I don’t know what those people are going to find. But there’s a decent chance I could leave this house in handcuffs.

This is the point when I should be calling a lawyer. For reasons I don’t quite understand, I’ve become a suspect in Dawn’s murder. But lawyers cost money that I don’t have right now, and also, I still feel like getting a lawyer will make me look guilty.

I didn’t do anything. I’m innocent. I don’t need a lawyer to prove that.

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