The shattering explosion of broken glass was never the sound that anyone wanted to wake up to. Hailey Upton lifted her head from her pillows and moved her blonde locks out of her eyes as she scanned her bedroom to see what had broken. Had it been her window or her mirror? But no, there was nothing there. It had been loud, which meant whatever had broken had to be nearby. Had a bird flown into her living room again? That had been a mess to clean up the last time.
"You stupid bitch!" a muffled voice came through the wall on the other side of her bed. Then the sound of more glass breaking, as a dish, or a mug, collided with the wall that separated her apartment from her neighbours. The Sullivan's were at it again, it seemed. That's where the broken glass had come from.
Hailey groaned and pulled herself out of bed, tugging on her clothes from the day before. It wasn't until a scream of pain rang out that she really rushed into action. Smoothing down her blouse and snatching her star off the bedside table, Hailey raced out of her apartment to her neighbour's. Skidding to a halt at the door next to her own, she banged on it as hard as she could.
The muffled shouting stopped, and Hailey could hear the stomping of feet across the floor before the door was ripped open from within. Shane Sullivan glared down at her. "What do you want?"
Hailey didn't let his gruffness phase her. "I heard noises, through the wall, things breaking," she looked around the man and into his apartment. "Thought maybe someone had broken in, and I wanted to make sure everyone was alright."
Hailey saw the shards of broken glass littering the ground and a woman, Michelle, on her knees cleaning it all up. She must have felt Hailey's eyes on her because she looked up, and the blonde could see the red mark around her eye already. Hailey was sure that the bruise would show in a matter of hours if that. Hailey had seen that same bruise on her own mother years before and on herself in the mirror countless times when she was just a child. Shane cleared his throat and pulled the door into him more, cutting off Hailey's view of his wife. "Everything's fine."
Hailey glared and tugged her badge from her pocket. "Mr Sullivan, I'm an officer with the Chicago Police Department; I need to speak with your wife."
From inside, she could hear a noise, a gasping whimper from Mrs Sullivan. It wasn't unusual.
"You're kidding me," Shane scoffed. "No, you can't speak with my wife."
"You're a lady cop," he sneered at her. "Why don't you go measure a skirt or something? We're fine here. Leave us the hell alone."
Before she could say another word, Mr Sullivan slammed the door in her face. Hailey took a breath and tried to settle her anger. She wanted nothing more than to break the door down. To slap a pair of cuffs on Shane Sullivan and drag him into the precinct. To make sure he'd never be able to hurt his wife again. But that couldn't happen. Because Shane Sullivan was right, she had no authority to do those things. She didn't even have a set of handcuffs; lady officers weren't issued them.
Her job mostly entailed patrolling department stores for pickpockets. Or monitoring beaches during the summer to make sure women's swimsuits weren't too revealing and transcribing case notes for detectives who worked actual cases. Hailey huffed out a breath; it wasn't what she had wanted, what she thought it would be like when she joined the force. It was 1925; the world had lived through the horrors of the Great War and come out the other side. The economy was booming and showed no signs of slowing down, and women were gaining new employment every day. Shouldn't her job get with the times and afford her just a little more power? Like letting her arrest the man who was beating his wife just yards from her head. Not that it would amount to much. Domestic cases were usually just relegated to family therapy now. And from the stories she had heard, the onus was usually put on the woman anyway. With no other options, and as much as it pained her, Hailey turned heel and headed back to her own apartment to actually get ready for her day. Her shift was starting soon.
Hailey pulled her uniform from its hanger and pulled on the dark heavy wool, her mind still racing. She had joined the police department to help people, to make a change in her city, and after four years, it really didn't feel like she had done much of that. Still, it was better than the alternative she supposed, one that would have seen her follow her parents, or rather her father's, wishes. If he had things his way, Hailey would still be working in their family restaurant in Greektown. And she'd probably be married to their neighbour's simple son Elias by now. She winced as she straightened out her skirt; that last part wasn't exactly fair, but it still made her shudder. Yes, Elias was simple. He wasn't much for conversation, preferring to just agree with whoever was speaking, never offering anything more than a 'here, here,' or an 'I think you're right.' But he was still kind. Even after Hailey made it clear that she had no intention of agreeing to their parents' plans. Elias would still greet her with a wide smile, a cheery wave as he boomed out a jovial 'good to see you, Hailey,' whenever she could bring herself to visit her mother.
And it wasn't like Hailey thought that sweet, simple Elias could ever turn into a man like her father, a fear that lingered in the back of her mind with most men. Honestly, she was more afraid of turning into her mother, become the kind of woman who would just sit by and take the abuse, the yelling, the beating. The kind of woman who would then sit by and watch as the same violence was turned on her own children. One who would pretend that everything was fine as she played the part of doting housewife to perfection. That's probably why what was happening with the Sullivan's angered her so much. Hailey shook off the thoughts and pinned her badge to her overcoat. With everything set and in its place, Hailey raced out of her apartment to catch her train.
She arrived at the station in the nick of time and rushed up the steps of the 21st District. It was one of the busiest precincts in Chicago. It housed not only patrol officers but also three specialized detective units, so there was always a lot of hustle and bustle behind the doors. Hailey had worked there since she joined the force in 1921. She was barely through the door when someone called her name; it was Jeff Rafferty, a heavy set and kindly older detective from the Robbery Unit. Hailey smiled at the man and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she greeted him. "Detective Rafferty, how are you?"
"Upton," he nodded back. "I got a present for you."
He held up a file marked with the familiar Chicago Police Department seal. Hailey accepted it without question and started picking through the papers. "You want me to type these case notes up for you, Detective?"
"That's right, Officer," Rafferty gave her a wink. "You know I don't trust anyone else with my unit's paperwork. It's pretty high profile. Some of the who's who of Chicago are getting a little nervous, so I'll need you to let me know as soon as it's done.
Hailey recognized the code they'd developed not long after she had joined the force, so no one would really know what he was asking her to do. But still, Rafferty leaned in and whispered. "Just let me know if you think my guys are missing anything, alright?"
It was something she had done before, more times than she could count, really. Things she had spotted in crime scene photographs or the transcription of interviews with witnesses or suspects. Things his detectives had overlooked or dismissed because they didn't fit with their theories of the crime. It wasn't something his squad appreciated, of course, but Rafferty didn't mind. He would take a clue or an angle from anyone if it meant closing a case fully. Not that she ever got the credit, though the man tried to find other ways to let her know he appreciated it. A couple of nice pens or a bottle or two of good whiskey he'd had stashed away for years would make its way into her desk drawers. Under the table, and very hush-hush with the last one, of course. Hailey closed the file and tucked it tight to her chest. "I'll add it to the top of my pile."
Rafferty left her with another wink and took off down the steps out of the district. Probably on his way to another crime scene. Hailey wished she could join him. Shaking herself out of her wistful thoughts of doing actual police work, she opened the file again as she took off across the entrance on her way to the women's offices. It was a series of home invasions down in Kenwood, four in the last couple of weeks. Hailey even recognized a couple of the family names; Rafferty hadn't been kidding when he called it high profile. She wouldn't at all be surprised if the upper echelon of the Windy City was waiting on tenterhooks for the case to break. Praying that they wouldn't be the next one of their ilk to be robbed. She was just flicking through the pictures of one of the houses when she looked up from the pages in time to collide with the solid mass of a man, walking backwards across the floor. Their coffee splashed all over her as they twisted around to see what had thrown them off balance.
The careless man was tall, with deep green eyes and close-cropped dark hair. He had freckles all over his handsome face, no doubt brought out by the summer sun they had been enjoying for weeks now. It was only the frown on his face that marred his features as he looked between Hailey and the puddle on the floor that was his morning coffee. "You ever try watching where you're goin'?"
Hailey's glare turned into a glower as she brushed his drink off her uniform. "I could say the same to you."
The man actually took a step back, his eyebrows raised. It was clear he had been expecting a full apology from Hailey as she threw herself at his feet to beg his forgiveness and mop up his mess. "Excuse me?"
"Well, who walks backwards through a busy building?" She retorted.
The man's eyebrow quirked up, accepting her unspoken challenge. "If you were paying such careful attention and saw me walking backwards, why not get out of the way?"
"Why should I have—"
"There's coffee on my floor," a voice sounded from behind them, and it made Hailey gulp. Her sparring partner's face also paled as he locked eyes on the voice's owner.
Hailey turned slowly and saw her Sergeant, Trudy Platt, standing there, frowning down at the puddle on the floor.
"Sergeant Platt," Hailey straightened up.
"Ma'am," the man gave Platt a nod as he too stood at attention.
Trudy didn't even glance at them. "Why is there coffee on my floor?"
They both opened their mouths to speak when another voice cut across their jumbled explanations. "Halstead!"
The man, Halstead, whipped around so fast that Hailey was impressed that he didn't tip over. "Sarge?"
Hailey turned too and saw an older man poking his head out of the gate at the top of the stairs, another one of the offices used for the more specialized detective units. "I need you up here," the man's gravelly voice ground out. "Now. We've got a lead."
"Yes, Sir," Halstead nodded. He jerked forward like he wanted to race up the steps after his boss, but he didn't. The man stayed rooted to the spot as he looked back at Platt, his lips pressed tight together. This Detective Halstead might have been an ass, but at least he wasn't stupid. The other man might have been his boss, but he knew that Platt was the one who was really in charge of the district; he wasn't going to move until she dismissed him.
"Well," Trudy said after a minute's long staring contest. "You've been summoned, Detective. You going to do your job, or just stand here seeing how many flies you can catch with your mouth all agape like that?"
Detective Halstead didn't say anything. He just snapped his mouth closed and gave a little jerky nod as he turned and raced up the steps to his bullpen. Hailey had no doubt the extra hustle in his step was only there so he could evade the feel of the glare Trudy had aimed at his back. Hailey only wished she could command as much respect as her Sergeant one day.
"Upton," Hailey turned back around and swallowed hard. Trudy's stern eyes were now solely focused on her.
"I'll go and find something to clean this up," she said, already looking over her shoulder for the supply closet.
"Alright," Hailey looked up from her file to the desk beside her just in time to see her fellow officer, Kim Burgess, rise to her feet. "My fingers are cramping. I need a coffee break. Can I get you a cup, Hailey?"
Hailey leaned back in her own chair and shot her friend a small smile. "I'm good, thanks, Kim."
"Please tell me you're going to visit your mom soon," Kim said as she made her way to their small broom closet of a break room. "I think I would actually commit murder to get those little doughnuts she made again. Nothing goes better with a cup of coffee than those things."
Hailey laughed despite herself. It's not like Kim knew her family's less than stellar history. Besides, she wasn't wrong; Hailey's mother made the best loukoumades this side of the Atlantic. Hailey wouldn't accept any arguments saying otherwise. "Not sure, maybe in a couple of weeks, we'll see. But I'll pass along the compliment and tell her she apparently has an assassin at her disposal if she's ever so inclined."
Kim laughed as Hailey returned to the images of the crime scenes spread out over her desk. She had typed up the case notes that Rafferty had given her ages ago, but there wasn't much in them. The names of the homeowners and their families and staff. What had been damaged. What was been missing, not that it had been much. The only thing of any value that had been reported right away was a Remington model typewriter. None of the owners had actually found much of anything missing. Not the types of things you would expect to go missing in houses like the ones in Kenwood. Not yet anyway; it was too hard to tell immediately under all the destruction. And that's all that this seemed to be, Hailey thought as she took in the pictures again, the upturned and slashed furniture, the torn wallpaper, toppled bookshelves and smashed dishes and vases. It was all just…mess. Like it was more about making a scene, destroying property, and giving the various owners a good sharp shock rather than anything else. One of the detective's had made a note attributing it to bored area kids, and given what was there, Hailey had to agree with that assessment.
She gathered up all the papers and slipped them back into the folder to return to Rafferty when the office door swung open. The same sergeant from the stairs swept through the bullpen in a beeline to Platt's private office at the end of the room, closing the door tight behind him. It wasn't an unusual sight, though maybe a little abrupt, and so Hailey returned to her task. She picked up the receiver to call Rafferty and ensure he was back before heading up there when Trudy stuck her head out of her office. "Upton, in here, now."
Hailey put the telephone down before her call could connect and headed into her boss's office. She closed the door behind her as Trudy took her seat behind her desk. "Hank Voight," she gestured to the man across from her. "This is Hailey Upton. She's one of the best officers I got in this place. Hailey, this is Sergeant Voight."
Hailey tried not to let the pride she felt of Platt's statement show on her face. Trudy wasn't one for compliments often; she didn't like to get all mushy, as she put it, so it was always best not to react too much when she offered one up. "Officer Upton," Sergeant Voight extended a hand for her.
Hailey shook it and took the seat beside the man that Trudy had gestured to. "What can I do for you, Sir?"
"I need a lady officer to question a woman we have up in Intelligence," he explained as he held out a file for her. "She's the mother of the little boy patrolmen found in the dumpster two days ago."
Hailey had read about the case in the newspaper but took the file from Voight anyway. Before she could open it, the man put a hand atop it, stopping her. "It's pretty brutal; you might want to brace yourself."
"Hailey can handle it," Trudy assured before Hailey could open her mouth.
The man took his hand back and watched as Hailey slowly opened the folder, his piercing eyes on her the whole time. The wave of sadness that washed over her was undeniable as she took in the photographs. A little boy, no more than three or four years old, with cuts and bruises all over him, laid there, on the hard pavement, garbage all around him. Sadness, however, soon gave way to fury. She would never understand how someone could do something like this to a human being, let alone a child. Not only taking the life but casting it aside like garbage? It made little sense at all. She traced a finger over the boy's face. Under all the bruises, he would have been a sweet little thing. It was such a shame, such a waste. Hailey flipped through the rest of the photographs to the case notes and was surprised to see them already typed out. Duncan McManus, that was the boy's name. He was three, as she had guessed, and was found in a gangway off Racine the morning before last by a restaurant worker who had gone to take the mornings garbage to the dumpster. There was a coroners report as well. Despite all of the evidence of a beating, little Duncan's cause of death had actually been drowning. There had been water in his lungs. The bruises and cuts were days old, but there were older, faded marks as well, and scars, and even evidence of broken bones that hadn't healed quite right. The doctor had surmised that the poor thing had likely been abused for the entirety of his short life.
Hailey closed the file and looked up at the man beside her. He was still staring at her intently, studying her with his dark brown eyes. Hailey wasn't sure what he was looking for. "It's awful," she said, passing the folder back to him.
"You feel something?"
She narrowed her eyes at the Sergeant. "He was a little boy," she defended. "Of course, I feel something. Everyone should. That doesn't mean I can't talk with his mother; I'm sure she wants answers just as much as we do."
Sergeant Voight just nodded and stood. "Come with me then."
With a nod from Platt, Hailey rose from her chair and followed the man out of the women's offices. They didn't exchange a word as Voight led her down the stairs and through the entranceway dodging more detectives and patrolmen as they hurried about. Then they made their way up the same flight of stairs she had seen Voight on just hours before. They walked through the bullpen; it was empty of people and fairly sparse. Hailey noted that only one of the desks looked like someone used it as Voight led her through the room and to a long narrow hallway off the far side. Standing there, waiting for them, was a man with dark hair and too familiar sea-green eyes.
"Jay," Voight nodded man in greeting. "This is Hailey Upton."
"We've met," Hailey tried and failed to keep her voice devoid of emotion. She knew they could hear her irritation.
Detective Halstead didn't even spare her a second glance. "She up to speed?"
"As much as we need her to be."
Hailey hated how they spoke about her like she wasn't standing half a foot in front of them. "Where's Duncan's mother?"
Both men looked at her like they were surprised to find her standing beside them. Jay pushed himself off the wall and reached into his breast pocket, pulling out a notepad. "She's in there," he jerked his thumb to the door behind them. "Been in there for a while too. Voight and I have both tried talking with her, but no luck."
"Is she a suspect?"
Jay gave her an incredulous look. "Did you actually look at the photographs?"
"Yes," Hailey frowned at him. What did he take her for?
"Are you really telling me that you think a mother is capable of doing that to her own child?"
Hailey resisted the urge to roll her eyes. After all, if someone asked the same question of Duncan's father, they wouldn't have blinked, and the man would have likely been in a cell at the end of an hour. "Is that a list of questions you want me to ask her?" she gestured to the notepad in Detective Halstead's hand.
"It is," he passed them over to her. "Voight and I have both asked a few, but Mrs McManus is keeping pretty tight-lipped. We aren't sure if she's trying to cover for her husband or if she just feels too judged with men questioning her."
"And you think they might sound more sympathetic coming from a woman?"
"That's right," the detective nodded.
Hailey opened the pad and looked over the questions. They were all pretty standard, ones she had asked before in similar situations. When was the last time Mrs McManus saw her son? What about her husband? What was the relationship like between father and son? Is there anyone she can think of who would do this? Anyone with a grudge against his father, perhaps? "Alright," Hailey closed the little book. "I'll see what I can do."
"Voight and I will be watching from the room next door. We have a transparent mirror in there, so we'll be able to see and hear everything. Don't worry about notes. We'll take them."
Hailey gave him a nod and headed into the small room, where Duncan's mother was waiting. It was bleak, to say the least; dark walls, dark table and dark chairs, with a couple of lambs in the two of the corners. They might have provided some light, but the shadows they cast didn't help with the drear in the room, but then again, maybe it wasn't supposed to. Seated at the table was a young-ish woman, maybe a few years older than Hailey herself. She had stock straight black hair, icy blue-grey eyes, an upturned nose, and a scowl so deeply etched on her face that Hailey was pretty sure it was the woman's only expression. "Mrs McManus," she started as she took the seat across from the woman.
"Miss," the woman cut in quickly. "I ain't married. My name's Cora."
Well, that changed things a bit. "Ms McManus," Hailey corrected and offered the woman a reassuring smile. "I'm Officer Hailey Upton, and I was hoping —"
"I already spoke to your friends," Cora cut her off again. "They already asked me a bunch of things. And I'll tell you what I told 'em. I don't know nothing."
"Your son is dead, Cora," Hailey said slowly, gently. Maybe it just hadn't set in for her yet; it didn't always, not right away. "You don't have anything to say about that?"
Barely a minute in, and she was already off-book, Hailey was pretty sure she could feel Detective Halstead's eyes glaring at her through the mirrored window. The woman across from her sniffed. But it wasn't of sadness; it was of derision. "Nope. I don't know nothing about what happened to the boy."
Hailey took in the woman across from her again. Her arms were folded across her chest as she stared Hailey down with those ice-like eyes. It was curious. She had run into women before who were confused about why they were being questioned. Other's who were defensive because they thought they were being called bad mothers or wives. Then some just rejected the very idea that their loved one, their child, was dead. The reality was too hard, too terrible to grasp, so of course, the questions seemed pointless. But this was something else; this was indifference. "Ms McManus, don't you want to help us find out what happened to your little boy? Bring whoever did this to justice?"
"Well, that's your job, ain't it," the other woman slapped the table. "You're supposed to tell me who did it, not the other way 'round."
Hailey went silent as she thought through her options. It was clear that Cora McManus was not going to budge on answering the questions that Detective Halstead had come up with, so what was there to do. She thought and tried to formulate a plan when a tapping filled the air. Hailey looked around for the source of the noise and saw Cora drumming her fingers over the tabletop. That's when something familiar on the woman's finger caught her eye. Hailey grabbed up the file and flicked through the pictures again until she saw it.
She closed the file and set it on the other side of the table. Cora tracked the movement with those cold blue eyes of hers. "That's a very interesting ring, Ms McManus," she commented.
The woman's attitude shifted at once. She held up her hand, looking at the gold ring herself, and finally, her scowl turned into a small smile. "It is innit? It's the O-lympic rings."
"The Olympics," Hailey repeated, not stressing the 'O' like Cora had. "Are you a sports fan?"
The woman scoffed. "I was at the Games. I'm a swimmer."
"A swimmer? And you were at the Paris Olympics last year?" Hailey asked. It was an impressive feat.
"No," Cora's voice was harsh once again. "The one before that, in Belgium. Couldn't go to the one in Paris."
Hailey was on to something; she could feel it. She just had to hope that Voight wouldn't barge in and cut her off before she could spring her trap. "And why couldn't you go?"
"Well, I had to take care of the boy, didn't I?" the other woman snapped. "It's all I could do. Had to take care of him, so I couldn't train. No training means I couldn't compete, means I couldn't go back, doesn't it?"
"And why couldn't you train?" Hailey asked. "Surely Duncan's father would have watched him."
"That's the thing men don't always tell you, isn't it," Cora sneered. "They convince you it's all well and good fun to practice at how a baby's made. That it isn't just about making a baby. But they'll do a runner when you tell them it wasn't so much practice after all. He took off when I told him I was in the child way. I wouldn't be surprised if he was still running now. Left me to take care of the boy all by myself."
"That must have been very difficult," Hailey had known a few single mothers over the years. Wives who had lost their husbands during the war or shortly after. Left to rear their children all on their own. It wasn't a job she envied.
"It was a pain in the ass, is how it was," Cora growled. "That little brat was—"
The door banged open, cutting off whatever Cora was going to say, and Detective Halstead stepped into the room. "Officer Upton, I need to speak with you please, outside," his tone brokered no argument. Her time was up. Hailey grabbed the file and followed him out into the hallway.
The door had barely closed behind her before the detective started in. "You literate, Upton?"
"Yes," she sighed. She wanted to be sharp, sarcastic even, but she had no way of telling how he would react to that. It was better to play it safe.
"You got any kind of memory issue?"
"So what? My list of questions turn invisible? Or were they suddenly written in Greek or something?"
A large part of her wanted to tell the man that she actually spoke Greek, so he'd have to try again if he wanted her to think he was clever and slick. But, again, that was potentially too dangerous a road to go down, so she refrained. "No."
"'No Detective,'" he insisted, his voice sharp. "So, my questions were there. You could read them. So what the hell were you thinking going off on her like that?"
"Well, Detective," she tossed back and pushed the file into his chest. "If you used those keen observation skills you accused me of lacking earlier, then you'd have noticed Cora McManus's ring."
Detective Halstead's shoulders were heaving, and Hailey could tell he was trying to keep his voice from getting too loud as his anger rose. "What's the big deal about some stupid ring that she probably got out of a box of Cracker Jacks?"
"Look at the pictures," Hailey poked the file hard and started away down the hall. "The bruising on Duncan's cheek. It matches her ring. She killed her son."
"And why would she do that?" Halstead called after her. "Why would any mother kill their child?"
"Because she didn't want him," Hailey turned around and glared. "Because she blamed him. For losing her career. For stopping her from swimming. Probably for his father running out on them. You men often forget that women are humans too. We have tempers, we hold grudges, and we are more than capable of lashing out, even at someone we're supposed to love unconditionally, just like men do. That means we're just as capable of committing murder. If you don't start realizing that, you won't amount to much as a detective. Not now, not in the 20th century."
The detective's mouth opened, but Hailey kept going. "You heard her in there. She never once used her son's name. It was always 'the boy', 'the brat' even, though you might have missed that one barging in like you did. It was never Duncan, or 'my son' or 'my boy.' It was always 'the,' he was always a thing. She didn't see Duncan as her child. Or even as a child. Not like you and I do. He was an obstacle. The thing that kept her from going back to the Olympics. The thing that kept her from her dreams."
"So she killed him because of that," the disbelief was clear on Halstead's face. "Because she couldn't play some sport anymore."
"Cora killed him because she wants the life she thought she could have had if Duncan had never been born," Hailey said. "She killed him because of ambition. Don't stand there and act like men haven't killed for less."
She wasn't sure what the look on her face was, but whatever it was, it made Jay Halstead take a step back. With that, Hailey walked away, leaving the man stewing over her words in the hall.
Hey all! Welcome back to Chapter Two! Thank you for the comments and kudos on the last chapter; they all mean a lot. Hope you enjoy this one just as much. If you are curious about any of the historical context of this chapter, check out the notes below. Happy reading!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hailey wasn't sure what her sergeant had been expecting, but if Trudy was surprised to see her back in the women's offices so soon, she didn't show it. But she also didn't come out to yell at her, so it seemed as though Halstead hadn't lodged a complaint. Not yet anyway. Maybe the man was still standing in the hallway in shock that he'd been dressed down by a woman. Hailey looked around to see who was kicking about, but the bullpen was empty. Kim and the other girls must have gone out to patrol the streets for truants, runaways and pickpockets. So Hailey stole her breath, took a seat and grabbed one of the files that had found their way into her in-tray and set to work.
It's what she did the rest of the day, typing up case notes, witness statements and photo descriptions. Hailey didn't even realize how late it was getting until Kim's voice broke through her daze. "You been here all day?"
Her head snapped up from the page she was proofreading. "What?"
The brunette chuckled. "That's a yes; please tell me it's at least something interesting keeping your head up in the clouds."
It wasn't. It was just some citation about a dispute between neighbours and a tree dropping leaves and acorns into the other's yard. Truthfully, she'd spent most of the time thinking about Duncan McManus and wondering just how long it was going to take for Detective Halstead or Sergeant Voight to file a complaint against her. But she wasn't going to put any of that on Kim. "How was patrol?"
"Alright, I suppose," the other woman rolled her eyes and pulled a couple of forms from her desk drawer. "Spoke with a couple of women about their manner of dress, the kind of company they were likely to encounter, but that was it. Didn't even issue them a citation."
Hailey frowned in sympathy. It was probably the most useless part of their job. After all, men certainly wouldn't accept it if they got citations for how they dressed.
"But what about you," Kim leaned forward eagerly. "How was your interview? It was about that boy, right? The one found in the dumpster?"
"Yeah," she winced. "I think I'm in for a lecture. I kind of ticked off the lead detective in the case, maybe even the sergeant."
Kim looked up to their boss's office, where the older woman was still sitting at her desk, flipping through her own files. "Think you'll need a witness?"
Hailey shook her head. "I'll be okay, whatever happens. You know how Trudy is, unless they blow it up, she'll begrudgingly tell me to be mindful of my mouth around the men to make the big bosses happy, and that'll be the end of it." At least she hoped it would be.
"Hey," Kim whispered and leaned further across the gap between their desks. "I was thinking of hitting up the Velvet Ropes tonight; wanna come with?"
Hailey's lips split into a wicked grin as she nodded. The Velvet Ropes was their favourite speakeasy, a little treasure trove of illegal alcohol, music and dancing. "Meet at the L, and we'll walk down together?"
Kim nodded and went back to her own desk as Trudy came out of her office. Hailey held her breath, but their sergeant just headed out of the bullpen tossing over her shoulder for them to wrap it up and head out for the night. So far, at least her job was safe.
Hailey smoothed her coat as she walked swiftly and confidently down from the platform of the train station. Kim was waiting for her as she made her way down the stairs to the street level. "Well," she teased and looked her friend up and down as the other woman clutched her own coat tight to her frame. "Show me what I'm up against tonight, Burgess."
Kim flushed, looked around to ensure they didn't have any eyes on them, and opened her coat to reveal her deep red dress. It had gold detailing all over it, the skirt stopped just at Kim's knee, and a black tasselled fringe hung down from there for a few inches. Hailey let out a whistle which only made Kim's blush deepen. "You got eyes on someone special tonight, Kim? Because you're gonna knock 'em dead when they catch eyes on you."
"Come on, Hailey, don't leave me hanging," the brunette insisted as she righted her coat.
Hailey peeled off her own, showing off her dark green dress. It was much shorter than Kim's, the skirt stopping about mid-thigh as her own fringe dangled down above her knees. Though her straps were wider across her shoulders than Kim's. "Pretty sure if we were on duty, we'd have to give ourselves citations," Kim snickered. "Just imagine the type of company we may be inviting dressed like this."
Hailey looped her arm through Kim's, tugging her down the street as she beamed. "That just means we're in for an excellent night."
The pair walked down the block chatting and laughing as they made their way to Chicago Knockout Gym, an up and coming boxing club. Cutting down the alley, they made their way to the steps that led under the building that hid the entrance to the Velvet Ropes. It was just a stone's throw from the district, a twenty-minute walk away at most, but neither were too concerned. After all, most of the speakeasy's clientele were officers at the 21st District.
Kim reached out and rapped on the door. The peephole slid open a second later. "Yes?" the deep voice behind the door asked.
Hailey pulled her club card out of her clutch and held it up for the man to see. "Eight count," she recited the week's password. The door opened at once, and she and Kim rushed inside.
"Hailey Upton," The man behind the door enunciated every syllable of her name, a wide smile on his face.
"Kevin," she grinned up at the large man and stepped into his outstretched arms for a hug after passing off her jacket. It was something that would likely get him arrested, or worse, outside the walls of either of his establishments. People didn't take too kindly to a black man being so familiar with a white woman.
"How are you tonight ladies," Kevin asked as Hailey stepped back and Kim stepped in, giving the man a hug of her own.
"Oh, you know," Kim shrugged. "Just another day in the paradise that is the women's unit of the Chicago Police Department."
Kevin had heard their complaints and lamentations about their jobs more than enough times to understand the sarcasm. "That beat cop still harping on you to let him take you out on the town?" he frowned down at her.
"What? Roman?" Kim asked and shook her head. "No. I think he's finally learned what the word 'no,' means after hearing it for the thousandth time. He's moved on to a different target."
Kevin looked to Hailey. "Not you, right?"
"God no," she laughed.
"Good," he nodded and wrapped an arm around each of their shoulders as he led them to the bar. "I'd hate to get arrested for assaulting an officer, but you two know if he comes back around, I got you."
Kim looked around and put a hand on Kevin's chest. "Look, Kevin, I know you're just kidding when you say those things—"
"Don't worry about me, Burgess," Kevin said, reading her mind. "I know when to keep a lid on it."
Hailey looked up at him. She knew that he was telling the truth about knowing when and where he could say things like that, but she also knew that Kim was wrong; he wasn't kidding. Not if he actually thought they were in any danger. Kevin Atwater had a protective streak as long as the Chicago River, and Kim and Hailey were well ensconced under its reach. They each leaned into Kevin's side for an extra squeeze.
"Now," he took his arms back and rubbed his hands together. "I gotta get backstage; we got some new talent tonight. But you two are in for a treat. Mouse!"
The bartender looked up. Hailey didn't recognize him; he must have been new. "You treat these ladies right tonight, you hear?" Kevin asked him. "These two are my favourite customers. Their drinks are on me tonight. Start 'em through your list, and we'll see what they think of you."
"You got it, Boss," the man replied cheerily before looking at Hailey and Kim. "You ladies like rum? We just got some in, and I make a mean Mary Pickford."
"Sounds great," Kim beamed at him, and they watched as he turned to get started on their drinks. "New hire, Kev?"
"Yup," the man nodded. "I'm giving him a trial as a favour for another friend. Mouse has been a bit down on his luck since the end of the war. Let me know your thoughts on him."
"I'm sure he'll be great," Hailey assured, and Kevin gave her a wink as he headed backstage. She turned her attention to the bartender, Mouse, and watched as he poured their drinks into a couple of high stemmed glasses.
"Here you are, ladies," he set the drink down in front of them and popped a maraschino cherry into each glass. "Enjoy."
Hailey and Kim picked up their glasses and clinked them together before they each took a sip. It was too sweet for Hailey's taste. Still, she did appreciate how the rum shone through, unlike other fruity drinks, which only seem to attempt to mask the alcohol. "I think I've found my new favourite drink," Kim smiled at the man behind the bar.
"It's nice," Hailey agreed and took another small sip.
Mouse looked at her like he was studying her. It wasn't the first time that day that a man had done it, but it was a lot less daunting under Mouse's friendly blue eyes than it had been under Sergeant Voight's. "But it's not the drink for you," he said a moment later.
It wasn't a question, and he didn't seem upset, but still, Hailey was curious. "How can you tell?"
"Just a thing I know about people," he mused as he made himself busy behind the bar. "I can tell their drink just by getting a good look at 'em."
Hailey gave him an amused smile and took another sip of the too-sweet cocktail. It wasn't bad, just that he was spot on; it wasn't the drink for her. "I'm game," she propped her chin on her hand and rested her arm on the bar. "What's my drink."
Mouse gave her a crooked smile. "You're a woman of simple tastes," he said simply. "You like the classic things in life. But you're more than fine if those classics take a twist from time to time. There is a drink I wanna try out on you, but I need some things for it first, so for tonight, we'll just go with this."
He plunked another glass down on the bar, and Hailey laughed in earnest. It was a whiskey. Double and on the rocks, just the way she liked it. Mouse raised his eyebrows at her, but his cheeky smile was all too telling. He knew he got it spot on. Hailey picked up the new glass, sliding her old drink to Kim, who had already finished her first and toasted the man with it. "I'll make sure to tell Kevin he's not to get rid of his mind-reading bartender any time soon."
Mouse gave them a flourishing bow and left them with a wink to go and take care of a couple other patrons. Hailey turned to Kim, her whiskey in hand. "To a well deserved night off."
Kim clinked her glass to Hailey's with a pleasant ping. "Here's hoping we don't see any of our colleagues." They dissolved into laughter as the stage lights went up and music filled the air.
Really Kim's words should have been an omen. For an hour, Hailey sat in the club, sipping her drink and listening as Kevin backed up his new singer on the piano. Hailey had missed her name while she'd been laughing with Kim, it was something flowery, though, but it didn't matter. She was fantastic. Talented, entertaining, witty and very pretty. A whole host of male patrons hadn't looked away from her the entire set. And it was much to the chagrin of some of the other female club-goers.
Hailey was just about to leap into the fray herself, find someone who would take her for a spin on the dance floor when someone took the seat next to her. Hailey turned, more out of habit than anything else, and couldn't stop the groan that escaped her lips. "Yeah, pretty sure I deserve that," Detective Halstead grinned sheepishly at her.
"What are you doing here?" she nearly barked. Why? This was supposed to be a fun night out. As much as Kim was teasing with her words earlier, Hailey knew they were likely to run into colleagues, whether they really knew them or not. But why, of all the cops at their district, did it have to be him?
"I come here at least once a week," the man answered with a shrug and accepted a drink from Mouse with a tip of his head. "I was actually pretty sure I recognized you today, but I couldn't place it. Must have been from here."
"Well, I'll tell you what," Hailey grabbed her drink and stood from the stool. "How about you keep on trying to place it, and we forget we ever saw each other."
She didn't get more than two steps away before Detective Halstead's voice tempted her back. "I'm pretty sure I owe you a drink."
That had been just about the last thing Hailey expected to ever come out of his mouth. She turned around and stomped back towards him. "What?"
"I owe you a drink," he said again.
Hailey narrowed her eyes at him. "Why?"
"Because you were right," he shrugged, now that was the last thing she ever expected him to say. "Voight pressed Cora McManus, picked up the thread you laid out. She confessed, she killed her son."
Hailey swallowed thickly. "Did she say why?"
Jay took a sip of his drink, a whiskey-like her's. "For exactly why you thought," he set it back down and turned to face Hailey properly. "She saw Duncan as the reason her career ended. It turns out Cora ran into his father the day it happened. He's married now. To one of her teammates from Antwerp. One who came back from Paris with a nice shiny silver medal."
Hailey sat back down, and Jay continued. "So she went home, saw Duncan and saw red. She was cleaning him up after the beating, but he wouldn't stop crying. So she held him under the water until he did."
Hailey drained the last dregs of her drink and set it back on the bar. She wasn't sure what to feel. The case was solved, and she had been right, but it didn't exactly feel good. After all, a young boy was still dead.
"So," Halstead's voice broke her out of her thoughts. "Far as I'm concerned, anything you're drinking tonight is on me. As an apology."
Hailey shook her head. "I accept your apology, Detective—"
"Jay," he cut in. "Call me Jay."
"Jay," she acknowledged. "But my drinks are already covered for the night, so I guess you're off the hook."
"Oh," he lifted an eyebrow. "You got a sweetheart or something kicking around here somewhere?"
Mouse popped back over that moment and set a fresh drink down in front of Hailey. "She's in tight with the boss man," he answered Jay's question for her. "But pretty sure you're batting out of your league anyway, Halstead."
Hailey snorted a laugh as Jay swatted playfully at the bartenders head. "Alright," he sighed as Mouse walked away. "Well, if my money's no good, let's try this instead."
Hailey watched him lift his glass and raise it in her direction. "Officer Upton," he continued. "You were right. You had good insights and good instincts, and I should have listened to what you had to say. I'm sorry. And I promise that next time I will."
She tapped her glass to his, and they both took a sip. "Do you actually mean that?" she asked as she set her whiskey back down.
"I do," he nodded.
Hailey searched his face, but there was no hint of a lie in his eyes. They were just deep green and genuine. But still, she didn't feel like she could just let bygones be bygones, not without a little bit of fun first, just to see how he'd react. "I'm not sure if I believe you," she smirked.
Jay's eyes shone with laughter, though it didn't bubble to the surface. "Is that so," he asked, his voice just as teasing as her's had been. "So, how do we fix that? How can I prove it?"
Hailey just gave him a coy smile and took another sip of her drink as she shrugged her shoulder, keeping the ball in his court. "Begging?" He asked, sliding his stool a little closer. "Grovelling? I can see if Kevin'll let me up on stage, announce it to the whole club."
Hailey laughed a that, but only because she could see Kevin actually making it happen if Jay put it out there. She bit her lip and gave Jay a once over as the music picked up a bit. Looking out at the floor and back to the man, she made up her mind. "Dance with me?"
This time it was Jay who was surprised. "I'm sorry, what?"
The look on his face was priceless. Hailey got off her stool and stood in front of him, her hand outstretched. "You want to make it up to me, then come and dance with me."
Jay took her hand hesitantly. "I'm not really much of a dancer."
Hailey tugged him to his feet. "That doesn't bother me," she dismissed as she led them out onto the floor. "It just means that I know I'll be in for a laugh tonight."
Jay was absolutely right with his caution. He really couldn't dance. He stepped on her feet and even his own several times, nearly sending them crashing to the ground. And Hailey was right when she predicted she'd get a laugh out of it; in fact, she barely stopped laughing as one dance turned into two and then three until she stopped counting. Jay chuckling right along with her. He was just so different from what she had been expecting.
"Alright everyone," the singer, was it Primrose, said into the mic. "Time for us to wind down the night, here at the Velvet Rope, that only means one thing. Fellas, it's time to hold those ladies close. We're gonna take things nice and slow."
Jay looked down at Hailey as Kevin, and the band started up a gentle melody. "What do you think? I promise I won't even step on your feet, I think."
Hailey laughed and stepped closer to him. "I guess you're never gonna learn if you don't try, right?"
She settled a hand on his shoulder as Jay pulled her in closer with one arm around her waist. He took her other hand in his and moved them into a gentle box step. "So," he murmured in her ear. "This has been great and all but with all the stomping on your feet I did, I'm not really sure if I've actually made it up to you. Kinda the opposite, in fact."
She looked up at him, clocked the flint in his eyes, the quirk of his brow and the twitch of his lips. It was an invitation. It was bold, and he knew it, but it was an invitation all the same. Her's to accept or deny. Hailey moved her hand from his shoulder around his neck to play with the fine hairs at the back of his neck; she wasn't sure, not yet. "You must really be trying to get yourself in my good graces there, Halstead."
"I just think that when you've screwed up big time, it's a good idea to go above and beyond in the apology. To make sure the wronged person knows that it was out of character," he explained. "And that's not an excuse, just an acknowledgement. One with full permission to smack me a new one if it ever happens again."
Hailey bit her lip as her fingers kept toying with his hair. Jay remained silent, watching her think it through with nothing but earnestness in his green eyes and a small smile on his handsome face. Decision made, she grinned up at him and teased her fingers a little further into his hair. "What did you have in mind?"
Hailey moaned as Jay pressed her closer to the wall outside the club. His lips had found that spot just under her ear that always made an extra shiver run through her. "If you want to continue this," she gasped, her fingers digging into the skin above his hips where she'd rucked up his shirt. "Then we need to take it somewhere else."
Jay groaned but stepped back. "Yeah, you're right," he roughly tucked his shirt back into his trousers. "Come on."
He took her hand and led her down the street; if their pace was a little fast, well, that wasn't really anyone's concern but theirs. And Hailey certainly wasn't going to complain. He stopped in front of a shiny green truck and dug through his pocket for his keys.
"This is yours?" she was shocked. She knew as a detective that Jay likely made a decent pay-check. And it was true that the price of cars was coming down every day. But still. It was a really nice truck.
"Yup," he smirked at her. "Voight was able to convince the big bosses that it would be prudent to issue the unit a few cars for things like undercover operations and stakeouts. Somehow he also convinced them that it was more practical if we used them as our daily vehicles. In case we have to respond to an emergency or something. We seized this beauty from one of Capone's boys last week. He was using the bed to smuggle in cases of vodka under bails of hay he was delivering to one of the firehouses."
Jay opened the passenger side door and ushered her into the cab as he raced around to the driver's side. Settling into his seat, he looked across the bench and smiled. "So, want me to take you for a spin?"
"Only if it's a spin home, cowboy," she teased.
Jay didn't miss a beat. "My place or yours?"
"Mine," she answered. "2800 North Pine Grove." The address was barely out of her mouth before he put the truck in gear and started on their way.
Jay let out a whistle as he parked at the curb outside Hailey's building. "This is where you live?"
"It is," Hailey got out of the car and started towards the tall white stone building. "You coming or what, Halstead?"
Jay got out of the truck and quickly caught up to Hailey, tucking her arm through his elbow as she led them inside. She gave a friendly hello to the doorman at the front desk, and Jay tipped his head to the man as Hailey started them up the ironwork stairs. His eyes darted around to see everything. The masonry on the outside. The marble and trim on the in. The wrought iron stairs and the doorman. It was all very swanky. "Okay, so now I'm the one who has to ask: the department pays you enough to afford digs like this?"
"No, no way," Hailey laughed, tugging him down the hall to her door. "My Grandfather was good with investments. He left me some money in a trust."
"'Some money,'" Jay pressed in behind her and brushed her hair aside. He laid slow kisses on her neck as she dug through her clutch for her keys. "My Grandfather left me a couple of fishing poles and a tackle box full of rusted out lures."
Hailey twisted in his arms and pushed open her door, pulling them inside her apartment. She walked them back to the nearest wall and spun at the last second so that it was his back that hit the surface as she pulled him down for another searing kiss. Hailey nipped at his lower lip as she drew back a moment later. "As fascinating as it is exchanging family history with you," she stepped out of his arms entirely, walking the steps backwards to her bedroom. Hailey let her words trail off as she moved the straps of her dress off her shoulder; the slinky fabric slid to the ground along with her chemise.
Jay groaned and pushed himself off her wall, stopping just in front of her, taking in all the skin on display. She reached out to fiddle with his suspenders. "You don't just have to look, you know."
Her words seemed to snap Jay into action. He pulled his suspenders off as she started in on the buttons of his shirt, feeding the little buttons through the eye as Jay's hands trailed over her skin. They were rough but warm, and the feeling sent a thrill through her as he finally dipped to capture her lips again. She abandoned his buttons to twist her fingers through his hair, changing the angle of the kiss, opening her mouth to him when he teased her lower lip with the tip of his tongue. They tripped over their feet again as they continued walking backwards on their journey to the bedroom, neither separating from the other longer than it took to draw a breath.
Hailey fell back on her bed as soon as her knees hit the mattress while Jay tugged off his shirt, revealing swaths of pale, freckled skin and muscles. He crawled up her, bracing himself above her as she leaned up to kiss him again. Hailey choked on a moan when Jay trailed his lips down her neck, nipping at the same spot behind her ear. She arched into him as he kissed a path down her chest and took a pebbled nipple between his teeth in a gentle bite. Her gasps filled the air as Jay found places on her body that Hailey hadn't even known existed, as he seemed determined to map her out. Places like just under her navel or along her hip where he grazed his teeth teasingly. When Jay wrapped his arms under her knees and tugged her to the edge of the bed, she let out a small yelp of surprise. He shot her a small, cocky grin as he kneeled between her legs. Hailey could see the mischief shining in his green eyes. He didn't drop his gaze as he placed slow, teasing kisses on the inside of her thighs. Hailey threaded her fingers through his hair as she relaxed back on the mattress, knowing she was in for a hell of a night.
So one of the things I love most about the '20s is that it was really a time for revolutions. I don't just mean politically or economically, though those did factor in; it was this shift in long-held attitudes. There were so many mini revolutions that are just not really taught outside of university now. But it was almost like a preview for what was to come in the '50s, '60s and '70s. One of the least taught of those mini revolutions is the sexual revolution.
We know that flappers are portrayed in a lot of ways as promiscuous, especially in media. And there is a kernel of truth to this. After all, Contraception was becoming cheaper and more readily available to everyone. But it wasn't so much promiscuity for the sake of it; it was this shift in attitude brought out by surviving the war. And moreover by so many people not surviving the war. People, especially those in their twenties and thirties, now really knew just how short life could be. So why not enjoy it? Sex was one way to do that. It was only made easier because of the larger revolutions and the economic boom. All of that together lead to a "free love" type movement in the post-war period. Though it was smaller, quieter and more private (maybe tamer?) than its 1960s successor. A great example of this in media is Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Or, if you're Canadian, at least, Frankie Drake Mysteries (which is honestly kind of a rip off of Miss Fisher, but whatever).
Welcome to Chapter Three. Hope you enjoy it! Everyone ready for the new season? I sure am!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hailey woke up early the next morning, her sheets were pooled around her waist, and Jay pressed up against her back. His breath fanned across her shoulder in a gentle, steady rhythm. His arm was heavy around her waist as he held her close. Her mind flashed back to the night before. A couple of men before Jay had gone down on her, but honestly, Hailey had never really seen what the fuss was about. They would spend a couple minutes fucking their tongues into her in until they felt they had done enough to get her mouth on their cocks for three times longer. Honestly, she always thought it was just something she could do without. But she got it now.
She wasn't exactly sure how long Jay spent between her legs. Alternating between broad licks and tight circles around her clit before he slipped one, then two long fingers inside her channel. Jay found places that no one ever had before and made her see stars. After that, he lingered, slowing things down before she had to push him away. Hailey gripped his hair and dragged him up her body to meet him in a heated kiss. She could taste herself on his tongue as she rolled them over and took him inside of her.
Jay didn't fight her being on top, not like other men sometimes did, though he was anything but still under her. His hands roamed her body as his hips met hers thrust for thrust. It wasn't until her rhythm started to falter that he sat up. Not to tip her over onto her back and take back control like she'd expected, but to help work her over him until they both fell apart. Jay eked two more orgasms out of her that night. And was working her up to another with his mouth again when Hailey had to push him away. It had been wonderful. But it was also too much. After making sure she was okay, Jay flopped down behind her. He traced his fingers up her sides and scattered gentle kisses on her shoulders and neck as they regained their breath. Hailey didn't usually encourage her paramours to stay the night. Still, she couldn't stop herself from pulling Jay's arm tight around her as they drifted to sleep.
"Do you always think so loud in the mornings?" Jay grunted behind her, his voice thick with sleep. Hailey chuckled as he pulled her tighter to him; she felt his bulge pressed up against the curve of her ass and ground back against it, stifling her laugh as he moaned. "And a temptress too, huh?"
She twisted in his hold so she could face him. "Are you really complaining?"
Jay squinted a bleary eye at her before his face broke out into a soft smile. "Not at all."
Hailey leaned in and met him halfway for a gentle kiss. "Good morning," she whispered when she pulled back, settling a hand in his hair and scratching softly at his scalp.
"Morning," he yawned. "What time is it?"
"Early," she supposed. "There's a clock on your side."
Jay craned his neck and snorted. "It's barely even six. What time do you have to be at work?"
"Shift doesn't start until eight-thirty."
"Same," he tugged at her waist gently. "Come here."
Hailey shifted closer and settled her head on his chest as Jay's fingers stroked over her back. She did the same, tracing invisible lines between the freckles that dotted his chest. They stayed like that until her fingers brushed over something rough near his collarbone. Hailey lifted her head and looked at what was under her fingers, a perfectly round scar. He'd been shot at some point. She traced her finger over it, feeling the different texture it had compared to the skin around it. "Did you get this on the job?"
Jay looked down at the old wound. "No," he cleared his throat. "The war. I was wounded back in '15. At St Julien."
"You went to Canada to sign up?" She pulled back from him.
"I did," he nodded.
"And you fought in Yprés?"
"That's right," he looked at her curiously. "How did you know that?"
"My brothers, they did the same thing," Hailey wasn't sure how the words got around the tightness clawing at her throat. She sat up against the headboard, pulling her knees up to her chest. "Sebastian, the oldest, was a member of the Princess Pat's. He died at—"
"Frezenberg," Jay finished for her, his eyes dark.
Hailey nodded. She couldn't find her voice to answer him with words.
Jay cleared his throat. "They held up that damn line, alright."
Hailey bit her lip, the sting there helping her hold back the tears that threatened to fall. Similar words had been in the letter the war office had sent her. "And your other brothers?"
"Phillip. He died at Gallipoli."
"I'm sorry," Jay pressed a kiss to her shoulder. It was comforting, sympathetic, and she hated it. And it wasn't what she wanted. It gave in to the sadness too much, and it wasn't what she wanted to feel anymore. She let herself linger in it for years, and it didn't do any good. It didn't bring them back. Hailey twisted her fingers through Jay's hair, tugging his head back up to seal her lips over his. It was hard, nearly frantic, but the feeling it sparked inside her burned at the sadness. She scooted back down the bed, pulling Jay on top of her. He went more than willingly.
Hailey was about ready to turn them over, to kiss her way down Jay's body like he did hers the night before when the unmistakable sounds of shouting filtered through the wall. She tried to block it out, but it just got louder and louder. Hailey groaned in protest. Of all the mornings. The Sullivan's were usually quiet for a few days after a big fight, like the one they had the day before. It was just like her parents. Shane would spend days, sometimes even weeks, plying Michelle with flowers and chocolates, offering false apologies and promises of it never happening again. Until it did. Because it always did.
The muffled shouts continued, getting louder and clearer and more and more distracting. Until finally, they couldn't ignore it anymore. "You'd think a fancy place like this would make the walls a little thicker," Jay groaned as he rolled off of her.
"They're plenty thick," Hailey retorted. "He's just that loud."
And it was always him, never Michelle. In all the time they'd been neighbours, Hailey had barely heard the woman make a sound outside of a meek 'hello' when she ran into her in the hall. The bed frame shook suddenly, but it wasn't from her and Jay like it had been the night before. Something hard had slammed into the wall that separated Hailey's bedroom from the Sullivan's living room. Something large. Probably Michelle.
Hailey flew from the bed, and much to her surprise so did Jay. "He hits her?" Jay asked as he scrambled to pull up his trousers.
"Yup," Hailey tugged her dress down. "He's a regular charmer."
There was a crashing slam, and it sent them both rushing out of Hailey's apartment. The Sullivan's door was wide open, and the sound of someone stomping on the metal stairs rang down the hallway. "You check on her. I'm gonna go see if I can catch him." Jay called as he took off after the man.
Hailey went into her neighbour's apartment and found Michelle crumpled in a heap on the ground. She skidded on her knees to the other woman's side. "Michelle, are you alright?"
The brunette's muddy green eyes were unfocused as she tried to identify the person in front of her. "Hailey?"
"That's right," she put a gentle hand on the woman's back. "It's alright, I'm here. You're okay."
Michelle's face was a mess. The bruise from the day before had darkened and swelled. There were new red marks on her jaw and forehead. Her lip was bleeding, so was her nose. And Hailey would swear that she could see fingernail marks on her neck. A shuffling noise from behind them made Hailey whip around, but it was just Jay. "Did you catch up with him?"
"No," he said softly and crouched down next to them. "Ma'am, can you tell us what happened?"
"Who's this?" Michelle's eyes darted between Hailey and Jay. "Is this your husband? I didn't know you were married?"
"I'm not," Hailey said quickly. "This is Jay. He's a friend, a co-worker."
"Who's here this early in the morning," Michelle pushed herself off the floor. "I didn't think the doorman let anyone enter the building before eight o'clock."
"Michelle," Hailey tried. "We just want to help you, please. If you would come down to the stat-"
"I'm fine," Michelle cut her off.
"Ma'am," Jay took a small step forward.
Michelle backed away quickly. "I think you need to leave."
"Ma'am," Hailey shook her head. "Please. If Shane is-"
"My husband told you yesterday," the brunette snapped at Hailey. "We're fine here. You and your friend," she sneered the word as she looked Jay up and down. "Need to leave. Now."
Hailey wanted to protest again, but Jay spoke first. "Alright, Ma'am," he nodded, his fingers tangling with Hailey's as he pulled her back gently. "We'll go. But if you need anything-"
"I won't," Michelle insisted.
This time Hailey didn't resist as Jay guided her out of the Sullivan's apartment. They were quiet until the door closed to her own unit, and Jay took his hand back to run his fingers through his hair.
"Can't you do anything?" She asked him. "I mean, you heard them; how long until he does worse than just bruises and cuts?"
But Hailey knew the answer before he said it. "You know that I can't, Hailey," he shook his head. "I wish that I could. But unless we actually see it. Or unless Michelle reports it, my hands are tied. And even if she did…."
"It's not going to do what I want it to," she responded, turning to look away from him.
"Or what I want it to," he assured and pressed a kiss to the back of her head. "All we can do is keep an ear out, find some way to let her know we're there."
Hailey sighed and nodded. She took a second to lean back against Jay's solid frame, to let the warmth he gave off comfort her before she looked at the clock on her mantle. It was nearly seven. Hailey moved out of his hold and offered him a small, grimacing smile. "We should probably get ready for work."
Jay didn't have much to do to right himself. He tucked in his shirt, put on his tie and suspenders and fixed his hair while Hailey freshened up and pulled her uniform from her closet. She stepped out of her room a short while later, just as Jay set two plates of toast on her table. Hailey was stunned, and it must have shown on her face because Jay looked abashed when he caught sight of her. "I hope you don't mind, I just…we work a long day, and you shouldn't do that on an empty stomach."
"I don't mind at all," Hailey grinned and took the seat he pulled out for her. "I just haven't got a lot of time. I need to catch the train soon if I want to get to the precinct on time."
"I can drive you," he waved her words away with a piece of toast he'd slathered with jam. "We're going to the same place after all."
She smiled at his offer and tucked into the small meal he'd prepared while they exchanged some small talk before they headed out.
"You sure you don't want me to drive you?" Jay asked as they walked up to his truck. Hailey had refused his offer of a ride over breakfast.
"It's probably not a good idea," she smiled at him. Cops were curious by nature. He knew that. And that nature quite often expressed itself in gossip that spread like wildfire. If she and Jay arrived together at the district, there was no telling the rumours that would go around. Mostly about her, while he would get shoulder pats and attaboys when their superiors weren't looking.
"You're probably right," he played with his keys, a frown on his face. It didn't feel done between them. Hailey felt it, and she knew he did too. But it had to be.
"Last night was nice, though," she said. They were words she'd said to men before, usually placatingly, but with Jay, it was the truth.
He shot her a wicked grin. "Nice enough to do this again sometime?"
"I wouldn't say no if we ran into each other again." That wasn't usually her style. When other's had asked the same question, she typically played them off with vague notions of 'maybe' and 'perhaps'. They seemed to clue in she wasn't keen quick enough. But with Jay, it had been different, and she wouldn't deny that.
"I guess we'll just have to see when we run into each other again. How often do you go and see our dear friend Kevin?"
"Often enough," she shot him a wink.
"Well then, I guess he's just going to have to get used to having my ugly mug around a little more."
Hailey popped up onto her tiptoes and gave him a quick peck on his lips. "I look forward to it."
And without another word, she turned and ran to catch her train. Leaving Jay at his truck, grinning like a fool.
When Platt called her name across the room, Hailey wasn't even two steps into the women's bullpen. Through the window, the blonde could see Sergeant Voight waiting for them inside the office. This was it, she knew it was coming, but finally, it was time to face the consequences of her actions the day before. Jay might have been fine with things in the end because of how it all worked out, but that didn't mean his boss would feel the same.
"Today, Upton," Platt called from her door. "What are you waiting for? A printed invitation?"
She took a breath, forcing her shoulders back and her head high as she walked across the room.
"Close the door and take a seat," Voight's gravelly voice instructed when she stepped into the small room.
Hailey did as he said. She took the same seat across from him as she had the day before and held his gaze when he levelled it at her. A small voice in the back of her head that sounded a lot like her mother told her that she should try and look demure, contrite and apologetic. That she should fold her hands in her lap and look down as she took his scolding without a word. But that wasn't her, not anymore, and she knew that Voight knew that.
"Tell me, Upton, how do you feel about transferring units," the man finally spoke after what felt like an hour's long staring contest.
Hailey swallowed hard. His words had immediately set her on edge. Something told her that Voight could easily transfer her to Siberia, actual Siberia, given half the chance, and he certainly had more than that. But still, she refused to let him know just how worried he had her. "I suppose that depends on where I'd be transferred to, Sir."
"Fair enough," the man mused. "As you may know, I've been running a two-man unit for the department for a few months. A specialized task force, so to speak, as an experiment. We take on bigger cases, ones that cause quite the stir both with people of the city and with the higher up muckety-mucks."
Hailey relaxed a little. If he felt so free to talk about their bosses that way, was he really that angry with her? "Well, I just got the go-ahead from them to recruit some more people to the unit. Closing out the Duncan McManus case is what tipped it in my favour."
"Congratulations, Sir," she offered genuinely, though she was still confused.
His dark eyes bore into hers. "I'm sure you're wondering what that all has to do with you and transferring?"
"I'll admit I'm curious."
Voight nodded. "I have full autonomy, full authority over the unit," he started. "I get to bring in who I want, no questions asked. And I want you."
Hailey's mouth dropped open. Her mind was spinning; what did that mean?
"I've spoken with Platt," he went on. "And Rafferty too. Told 'em I was looking for a lady cop, one who'd actually like to be a cop. Your name was first out of their mouths. They told me how you've been instrumental in closing out seven robberies and two homicides in the last few months. Rafferty couldn't even accurately count the number of times you've given his unit the solve since you joined the force. Trudy said pretty much the same. Now, I'm not going to lie to you; I didn't fully believe them until I saw you in action myself."
Hailey flushed a little at that. "What are you saying exactly, Sergeant?"
"I'm saying I want you to join Intelligence," he explained. "You'd be promoted to detective. But I'd expect you to be one in every sense of the word. You'll be working cases. Going to scenes. Interrogating suspects. Making arrests. The works. None of this policing hemlines and typing up other's notes crap you do now. Though you'd still be typing up your own," he added as an afterthought. "But you'd be doing real police work, kid. Making a difference, helping the people of this city."
"I've told him you're more than up for the challenge," Trudy gave her a rare smile from across the desk.
"I am," Hailey said quickly. "That's what I want to do. That's what I've always wanted to do."
Voight and Platt shared a nod. "Well then," Voight stood up. "Get your things together and head over to our bullpen. I got your badge there waiting for you."
"Thank you, Sir," Hailey rose from her chair. "I won't let you down."
"I'm sure you won't," he nodded and started towards the door. "Oh," he shot over his shoulder. "And you'll be partnering Halstead. Hope that won't be an issue."
Voight didn't wait for a response. He just breezed out of the office without another word, leaving Hailey standing there dumbstruck. Platt stood and put a hand on the younger officer's arm. "Good job Hailey," the older woman smiled at her. "Voight's been talking about this for weeks now."
"Weeks?" She repeated. "You've known about this for weeks?"
"I have," Platt nodded and handed her a box. "Now go, get outta here. Remember, I put my name on the line for you, don't make me regret it."
Hailey nodded jerkily and left the office. Her mind was racing. 'You'll be partnering with Halstead.' There was just something about the way he said it. Did Jay have something to do with this? Platt said she had known for weeks, but maybe her name was only one of the ones being thrown around. Had Jay saying something about her been the thing that tipped the scales in her favour? Given her the edge over someone else? Sure it was good for her; Hailey wouldn't deny that. But if what had happened between them the night before swayed him, made him convince his boss to pick her over another, deserving woman? That's the last thing she wanted.
Hailey went out into the bullpen and headed to her desk, opening the drawers and packing up the few personal belonging she had there. Kim was beside her at once. "Hail," her voice was laced with concern. "You haven't been fired, have you? Because of yesterday?"
Hailey shook her head. "Transferred."
"Transferred?" Kim echoed. "Transferred where? Not to Area Central?"
"Intelligence," Hailey could hear the awe in her own voice. She still couldn't believe it was real. "Sergeant Voight is going to let me be a real cop. He's promoting me to detective."
Kim's jaw dropped. "Really? You're serious?"
"Hailey," her friend breathed. "That's amazing. Congratulations."
That snapped the blonde out of her daze a little. Working real cases, she knew it was something Kim wanted too. As excited as Hailey was for herself, it was also bittersweet. "I wish I was bringing you with me."
Kim shook her head, though her eyes were tinged with a little sadness. "I'll get there."
"I know you will," Hailey put a hand on her shoulder. "Dinner tonight? At Lou Mitchell's? My treat."
"Yeah, it's your treat," the grin was back on Kim's face. "Go get 'em, Detective. I wanna hear all about it."
The looks aimed at Hailey's back as she walked from one side of the district to the other made it clear that word of her transfer to Intelligence had already made the rounds. She could feel her fellow officers glares as she made her way up the stairs. They were seething, asking why her? Why a woman? Why not one of them? What was Voight thinking? She supposed that the last one was a fair question.
"Let me help you with that," Jay's voice reached her ears as she crested the top of the stairs. He lifted the box from her hands and walked it right over an empty desk. One bumping up against his own. He took a seat at the edge of her desk and beamed at her. "Hi there."
"Hi," she gave him a tentative smile and looked around. Making sure they were alone. "I gotta ask you something."
"This wasn't because of you, right?"
"What?" Jay quirked an eyebrow at her.
"You didn't make this happen somehow, right," she asked. "I don't know, maybe you said something to Voight. Put a word in that convinced him to pick me or something. Because of last night?"
"Hailey," Jay looked at her and shook his head. "I wouldn't do that. And Voight doesn't work like that. I didn't even know what he was planning until he shouted it over his shoulder this morning on his way down to get you. This was all you."
She let out a sigh of relief. "Good"
"Yeah, it is," he moved off her desk and sat at his own, shooting her a little wink. "The only thing last night is going to make me say is that I won't complain about the improved view."
Hailey shot him a sly look. "You'd a been thinking that anyway."
"But last night makes me feel okay saying it to your face," he teased.
She opened her mouth to retort, but the sound of stomping on the steps stopped her. "Good," Voight said as he caught sight of them. "Seems like I don't have to worry about you two killing each other. Halstead, show Upton around the joint. Help get her settled in."
"Will do, Boss," he nodded as the man walked back to his office.
Hailey waited until Voight closed his door to his office before she turned back to Jay. "So, we're going to be partnering up," she started. "At least that's what Voight told me."
Jay leaned back in his chair. "He told me the same thing this morning."
"That probably means that last night shouldn't have an encore after all."
Jay nodded solemnly, pursing his lips in thought. "Doesn't mean we can't get a drink together on occasion, does it?"
Hailey's face broke out in a grin. "I don't think that would be an issue."
"It'd probably be a good thing too," Jay continued. "For the partnership, I mean. If you think about it, the more comfortable we are around each other, the more trust we have, the better we work together. It's really a win for the unit."
Hailey laughed. "I don't think I can argue with that logic."
"Alright," Jay clapped his hands together and stood up. "It's sorted. Now come on, partner, let's show you around. We'll start with the filing room and work our way out."
Hailey stifled a laugh as she followed Jay out of the bullpen and down one of the narrow hallways. He was her partner. She had a partner, a real one. She was finally a real cop. Not a lady officer, but a detective who just happened to be a woman. She was still in disbelief. They weren't one and the same anymore, not for her and not for her team. Voight had allowed her the opportunity to prove that to him and to the department. And she wasn't going to waste the chance.
Thanks for reading. Check out some of the history mentioned below if you're interested.
So America didn't join the war effort, as a nation, until 1917. But some Americans did go north of the border to Canada to join the war effort. Pretty much from the outset.
The second battle of Ypres (or the second Ypres Defensive) was broken down into six separate battles, fought from April 22nd - May 25th, 1915. It marked the first mass use of Chlorine gas by the Germans. Approximately 57,000 Allied troops died in that one month alone, most of them because of the gas. The battle of St Julien, where Jay was injured, was the second battle in that defensive.
At Frezenberg, where Hailey's one brother was killed, was the third battle. It took place about a week after the assault in St. Julien. The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (or simply the Princess Pat's) held a 2-mile line on the ridge preventing the Germans from gaining ground there, but a steep cost to the unit. Of the 700 men, the had only 150 survived. Most were killed by the gas. "Holding up the whole damn line" became their unofficial motto, inspired by the battle's events.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
How's everyone doing after that first episode? Surviving? Good, then have a chapter to celebrate! Be sure to check out the notes for some historical context and even some fashion history. (Though why the guy who lives in jeans, hoodies and gyms clothes decided to research that I have no idea, but I did, so it's there. Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Drinks with Jay became a frequent thing in the months after Hailey joined the Intelligence Unit. At least once a week, they'd go to Kevin's speakeasy together. Sometimes to celebrate. Sometimes to commiserate. More than once, a drink even led to a dance or two, though that was always it. Jay would drive her home at the end of the night. He would wait in the truck until he saw the door close behind her. And Hailey would always stay just inside, waiting until his taillights disappeared down the block before she headed up to her apartment.
And Hailey loved the work. The cases were tough; the things people could do to each other was hard to stomach sometimes. But each solve, each closed case, the feeling that gave her was indescribable. Finally, after years of dreaming about it, it felt like she was making a difference in her world. Sure, she was still met with scepticism on the streets. People who spoke to Jay or Voight when she asked the question or just flat out refused to talk until one of them repeated it. But at least in the confines of the 21st district, the whisperings had stopped.
So far, it was still just the three of them in the unit. Hailey did what she could to try and get Voight to see the merits of having another female officer around, pulling Kim in whenever she could. Usually, during big cases, when they needed an extra hand with the paperwork. Voight had been impressed with Kim's efficiency, but it had been their last case, just the week before, where Kim really impressed the man like Hailey knew she could. It had been a mess of a case, five bystanders and three mobsters dead in the streets after a shoot out between Capone's crew and another gang. And it was going nowhere, fast, just like all the rest of them, when Kim spotted something. One of their suspects, Tommy Drake, had a note in his file. He'd been the lead suspect in a burglary a few months before, but no evidence was linked directly to him. Only a vague eyewitness report and a scene littered with prints, not that the police were ever able to get Tommy's to compare. The man was careful. His boss had taught him well.
It was Kim who had the idea. To sweet talk him a bit, offer him a drink. And if he took it, run the glass to the print lab to see if there was a match to the open case. It worked like a charm. Kim showed the man to their interrogation room, smiling and chit-chatting away about the weather and the Sox before she offered him some water while he waited. Tommy gave her his best charming smile and said how he couldn't resist an offer from a pretty lady like herself. The trap was sprung, and the smile on Kim's face when they broke Drake, and he flipped on his colleagues, was the brightest Hailey had ever seen. They were able to make nearly a dozen arrests, though they couldn't tie anything to Capone himself. But still, their bosses had been happy. And Voight had been impressed. It was a great showing for Kim, who Hailey was sure now more than had her foot in the door for the unit.
"I'm telling you, Hailey," Kim said over drinks that night, joining her and Jay in their post case ritual. "It's going to be something small they catch Capone on. Not one of these big busts. He's too clever for that. But the small things, smart people let the small things slip."
And Hailey had to agree with her friend. People, including some of their fellow officers, like to think that criminals were stupid across the face of it, but that just wasn't the case. Capone was smart, it was dangerous to think otherwise, but Kim was right. He would make a mistake, eventually, but how many more bodies would drop before that happened?
It was the end of October when Hailey woke up to a booming roar; a thunderstorm had rolled in sometime overnight, and the sky was alive with streaks of lightning. She opened her living room window to let the fresh smell of rain into her apartment when a chilly blast tore through the room. It seemed as though the storm had pushed out the last of the lingering summer warmth Chicago had been enjoying. Hailey went into her room and swapped out the pair of knickers she'd pulled out the night before for a pair of palazzos instead. It made her smile. She never thought that the perk she liked most about her new position would be her clothes, but ditching the heavy wool of her old uniform had been a godsend in a lot of ways. She pulled on the pants, smoothed out her blouse and grabbed her star, clipping it to her belt. It still made a thrill of pride run through her every time she saw it on her waist; it felt like it was a dream.
Jay was already in the squad room when Hailey arrived an hour later. Sat at his desk, a steaming cup of coffee right beside him. "Morning," she greeted and draped her soaking jacket over the back of her chair to dry. "If it gets any wetter out there, we're going to need a boat to get around."
"Mmmh," he grunted. "I got another pot of coffee brewing if you want some."
"Another pot?" she questioned. "How long have you been here?"
"I don't know," he shrugged. "An hour, maybe two."
Jay looked up at her; his eyes were bloodshot and rimmed with dark bags. "Everything's fine," he dismissed. "I couldn't sleep. Decided to come in and be productive."
Another boom echoed outside; it was even louder in the district than it had been at her apartment. It felt like it shook the walls. The lights flickered as lightning flashed through the windows. "Wow, it is nasty out there," she looked over at her partner. "Jay."
"What?" his eyes snapped open. "I'm fine."
Hailey watched him pick up his mug and drain it in a long gulp. But Jay refused to look at her as he dug in his drawers for some files.
"I'm going to go and check on that coffee," she came around beside him. "Can I get you a refill?"
"Please," he nodded, refusing to look up from the papers now scattered across his desk.
Hailey headed back to their break room and gave the coffee pot a little shake to make sure all the water had drained into the carafe. She took the filter off the top, disposed of the grounds, and gave it a quick rinse in the sink before setting it to dry. Then it was time for their coffees, black for her and a splash of cream for Jay. It wasn't the first time Hailey had gotten him a coffee since joining the unit, but she wasn't the one who started it. Jay surprised her by depositing a mug on her desk as he sipped at his own on her first full day. After that, it became an unofficial rule between them: if you got up to get yourself a coffee, you brought one back for your partner.
Hailey stirred the cream until it looked the right shade of beige and took both drinks back out into the bullpen. She set the mug down next to Jay. He grunted his thanks and passed her a sheet of paper. "This a new case," she squinted, trying to decipher their boss's quick scrawl.
"Yup," Jay took a sip of his coffee.
It was a lead from an officer, Rudnick, or was it, Runion? Hailey swore Voight's handwriting was worse than her own. But at least she was a lefty who tended to smear the ink under her hand as she wrote. It was a tip. About a large shipment of not only alcohol but also cocaine coming up the river. But they weren't quite sure of the when and where. Voight had gone off with the officer who brought in the information, but wanted them to do some digging on their part, see if there was any validity to it.
"We could talk to Kevin," she suggested, putting Voight's letter on her desk. "I mean, drugs aren't his style, but he gets gangs in all the time trying to get him to take part in their racket."
"That's what I was thinking, too," Jay rose from his chair. "Maybe he can even put some feelers out for us."
Hailey swept up her jacket as Jay dug through his own pocket. He pulled out his keys and held them out to her. Her eyebrows shot up to her hairline. "You're gonna let me drive your truck?"
Jay's truck was his baby. He barely let other people look at it sometimes.
"I'm tired," he shrugged. "Better you drive than me fall asleep at the wheel and put a scratch in her."
"Or, you know," Hailey rolled her eyes. "Kill us."
"Yeah, that too, I guess," Jay mused and gave her a wink as he started down the stairs.
He only kept his eyes closed tight for as long as it took Hailey to back out of his parking space. Much to his surprise, she was a fine driver. By the time they pulled up to the curb outside of Kevin's gym, he couldn't contain his curiosity any longer. "Alright, where did you learn to drive?"
"A friend taught me before the war," she shrugged. "It was a trade for providing him with a good cover."
"Cover?" Jay gave her a knowing grin. "Now, what would two young teens need a cover for?"
Hailey hesitated, but really there was no harm in telling Jay the story she supposed. Douglas was dead after all, and so was Philip. "Because the reason you're trying to tease me about, only would have happened if my name was Henry."
"Oh," his face flushed red.
"Yeah," she nodded. "I was not the Upton he was after."
Jay cleared his throat. "I see."
"But letting people think what you did," Hailey shrugged. "That he was courting me or whatever was exactly what he wanted. And I was happy to do it for him. For them."
Technically she should have reported it all those years ago when she walked into the restaurant's kitchen and found Douglas and Philip kissing passionately against the counter. But she couldn't bring herself to. She honestly didn't see what was wrong with it, why their love was against the law. After all, who were they hurting? But Hailey knew her brother would be hurt, maybe even killed, especially if their father ever found out. So she kept quiet, and they cooked up their little scheme. Douglas would pick her up, right at the door like a proper gentleman, then they would drive around the city. He gently and calmly taught her how to operate the car in empty parking lots and quiet streets. Until it was time to pick up Philip from the University of Chicago campus when his classes let out for the day. They'd leave her there with a dollar or two. Then spin by and pick her up at the end of the night. Hailey missed those days, missed being surrounded by that much happiness and love.
Kevin's gym was full of noise, just like the club it sat atop of, a different kind of music. Grunts and groans. The tapping of jump ropes on the floor. The thuds of fists hitting bags. Kevin himself was up in the ring, working some combinations with one of his boxers. "That's right, Young Blood," he said as the boy jabbed the pads in his hands. "Get it, get it. Good."
"Kevin Atwater," Jay announced as they stopped at the edge of the raised platform.
Kevin turned to look at them, his head quirked to the side in confusion when he caught sight of them. But that worked in their favour.
"How can I help you," he asked, playing along like he had no idea who they were. "You looking for some boxing lessons? I've never coached a couple before, but I have trained a few women in the past; we meet up before opening."
"That's not why we're here," Hailey showed him her badge, and Jay did the same. "Mr Atwater, we're hoping to ask you a few questions in connection with a case we're working on. Is there someplace private we can talk?"
"Take a break Warren," Kevin said to the young man as he ducked under the ropes.
"You sure, Coach," Warren asked as he eyed the two detectives apprehensively. "I can stick around."
"Nah," Kevin shook his head. "It's all good. Go hit the bag for a while. I'll deal with this. I won't be long."
Warren gave Hailey and Jay one last suspicious look but walked away as Kevin pointed them down the hallway. They followed him back to his office in silence and watched as he closed and locked the door behind them. Then he broke out into a grin. "Damn, Girl! Detective looks good on you," he pulled Hailey in for a tight hug.
"Kevin, gross," she pushed him back at once. "You're all sweaty."
Kevin let her go with a laugh and chucked an equally sweaty smelling towel to her. "Halstead," he held out his hand for Jay to shake. "You both alright? I don't need to be worrying about some bust-up in the basement or anything, do I?"
"Nothing like that," Jay assured as Kevin took a seat at his desk. "But it is about the club, at least a little."
"There have been some rumblings," Hailey started. "About a big shipment coming up the river sometime soon. Booze and Coke. You heard anything about it?"
"Now you know I don't fuss with drugs, Hailey," he crossed his arms over his chest.
"We know that," she said. "But I also know that you get all types coming to you trying to pinch you away from Otis and Cruz."
He sighed. "I had some of O'Banion's boys in the night before last. Trying to offer me a better deal than what I already got. I shut 'em down."
Jay leaned forward. "They let anything slip?"
Kevin grabbed a pen and pad of paper and started to write. "They told me to meet them at this address if I changed my mind. But you didn't get this from me."
Hailey read the location over Jay's shoulder. "They give you a time?"
"Nope," Kevin shook his head. "It's a little too dangerous to get into specifics like that, sorry."
"It's alright," Jay tucked the note into his pocket. "We understand. It's appreciated, Kevin."
"That's it," Hailey said.
"Well then," he got up from his desk and curled an arm around Hailey's shoulder, squeezing her tight to his side. "You stay safe out there, you hear? Both of you. Keep each other safe."
"We will," Jay nodded, shaking the man's hand again. "Thanks, Kevin."
They left the gym with all eyes on them as Kevin made his way back the ring, and she and Jay left through the front door. "Didn't realize you and Atwater were so close," he said as they walked the short distance back to his truck.
"You know," Hailey shot him a sly look. "This is the second time today that you're sounding a little jealous, Halstead."
"I'm not jealous," he denied.
"You sure," she teased. "Because you sound a little jealous."
"I just didn't realize you were the hugging type of friends," Jay explained. "That's all."
"Only around people we trust," Hailey said. "So you should consider yourself lucky."
Hailey settled into the driver side again but turned on the bench to look at Jay. "I've known Kevin for years. He used to work in my parent's restaurant, sweeping up, cleaning tables, washing dishes, that type of thing."
"I thought you were from Greektown?" he questioned.
"Isn't Kevin from Englewood?"
"He is," Hailey sighed. "But he always said it was worth the time it took to get there. Because it was the only job, he could find that didn't try to withhold his pay for one bull reason or another."
Really it was one of the few good things she could say about her father. He wouldn't stiff a man for an honest days work, regardless of the colour of their skin. For Kevin, getting paid and the eight dollars a week salary made it more than worth the long ride in.
"Alright," Jay nodded. "I'll stop. But you know-"
"We're careful," Hailey cut him off. "And just a friend. A brother, really. And I'm not going to ask him to stop being one."
Jay raised his hands in relent, and Hailey started the car. "I'll try and get a call into Voight when we get back to the district," Jay said a few minutes later. "If he's not already there."
Hailey looked over at him as she turned the corner. His head was leaned against the window, his eyes closed, the dark bags under them much more prominent than they had been when they left the district. "Was it the storm?" she asked. If he got to ask prying questions, then so did she. She just wasn't going to try and be subtle about it.
His head whipped over to her. "What?"
"The storm," Hailey asked again. "Is that what kept you from sleeping last night?"
He didn't say anything. Hailey looked over at him quickly; he had a frown on his face, his eyes locked on his hands, as his fingers picked at each other. "Jay," she reached out and took one of his hands in her own. "It's okay, you can talk to me."
"I-I don't mind the rain so much," he said, clearing his throat. "But the thunder and the lightning, they uh…they…."
"Remind you of being over there," Hailey finished for him. She saw him nod out of the corner of her eye. "Does it keep you up every time it storms?"
They had had a bad stretch of them earlier in the summer. Thunderstorms that had gone on for days and days. Including all night the day before they met.
"Yes," there was a hollowness in his voice now. "And I know that it's been years, nearly a decade. People have said we should all be over it by now, but—"
"Hey," she interrupted, shaking her head. "Anyone who's said that they can take a long walk off a short pier, alright? They don't know what you saw. What you went through. So they don't get to judge."
Jay finally looked up at her. "You really believe that?"
"Yes," she nodded. "And I'm here. If you want to talk about it."
"No," he sniffed sharply. "No, I'll be fine."
Hailey just nodded. "It's a standing offer, though, okay?"
Jay swallowed thickly. "Thanks, Hailey."
Voight was already in the office by the time they got back, pouring over pages of maps and building plans with a uniformed officer at his side. "Good, you're back," he grumbled when he caught sight of Jay and Hailey at the top of the stairs. "This is Officer Ruzek," he gestured to the man beside him. "Adam, my detectives: Jay Halstead and Hailey Upton."
"Good to meet ya," Adam gave them both a nod and a crooked half-smile.
"You two catch anything on this shipment that supposed to be coming in?" Voight got right down to business.
"Oh, it's coming, Sarge," Adam puffed out his chest. "My guy guarantees it, you heard him, he was-"
Voight silenced him with a stern look. Ruzek looked at the ground, biting his lip to stay quiet.
"We got this from our guy," Jay handed Voight the slip of paper with the address Kevin had scribbled down for them. "Apparently, it's some of Dean O'Banion's boys. They told him to meet them at this address tonight if he wanted a look at their supply. No more specifics than that, and they didn't give a time."
"O'Banion?" Voight repeated. "You sure?"
"His boys at least," Hailey offered. "We trust our guy, Sarge. He's never let us down before."
The older man looked at the address and then the map. "Well, it's right along the river. That's something. We might even be able to catch them with their importer, cut the operation at the knees for a while."
"Want us to stake the place out?" Jay asked.
"Let's do some drive-bys first," Voight grabbed his coat. "See what the lay of the land is first, might need to pull in a few more resources."
Hours later, it was nearing midnight when Jay and Hailey pulled his truck up to the east side of the building. They could see the warehouse and the river from their location, while Voight took a similar position to the west. Kim and Ruzek were in the factory across the road, keeping a watch on the front entrance. All day long, they made sweeps, in Voight's car, in Jay's truck, on foot. They even commandeered an office space up the block for a few hours and watched the place through a telescope. But it had been quiet. A few people had gone in and out, even a couple matching the description Adam's CI had given them. But it was too generic. Medium height, medium build, dark hair, dark eyes. They must have seen half a dozen men who matched that. But there hadn't been any movement in hours.
So now it was a waiting game. Hailey squinted through a pair of binoculars for any signs of movement out on the water. While Jay kept a wide eye on the place. "Shit," he jumped a quarter of an hour later. "We got company."
Hailey put the binoculars down and looked up the street. There was a figure approaching the car. She felt Jay's fingers dig into her hips as he pulled her across the bench and onto his lap. It was a cover they had planned out in case they got caught. An amorous couple just looking for a little privacy. He pushed her jacket off and teased his fingers through her hair as Hailey tugged the suspenders from his shoulders and made quick work of some of his buttons. Jay's tongue had just brushed over her lips, seeking entrance when someone rapped on the window.
They'd been expecting it, but it was still sudden enough to make them both start. Jay rolled the window down to look at the man standing there, peering in at them. He looked more like a teenager than a criminal with his red curly hair, round freckled face, and bright blue eyes. Red gave them a yellow-toothed sneer, and Hailey could smell the wad of tobacco he had tucked against his cheek.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he gruffed out at them.
"Who's asking," Jay shot back.
"Maybe we should go," Hailey forced a simpering tone to her voice, playing the part of the scared girlfriend. "Baby, we can find somewhere else to be."
"No," Jay shook his head. "We're not going anywhere. He doesn't own the street."
"Tonight I do," the man glowered. He moved his coat to the side, so they could see the butt of a gun in his waistband. "So why don't you move along before I introduce you to a friend of mine."
They were armed, it was something they were expecting, but it was good to have confirmation. "Hey, man," Jay raised his hands. "I'm not lookin' for trouble, alright? Just trying to spend a little quality time with my girl."
The redhead gave them a once over, taking in their rumpled clothes and Hailey's messy hair. "Well, do it someplace else," he relented, dropping his coat back around the gun. "Unless you want to give my boys and me a run at her."
Jay tensed as the man leered at Hailey. "What do you say, Sweetheart?" He spat the juices of his chew on the ground. Hailey's nose wrinkled in disgust at the grey-brown trail of saliva that clung to his chin. Red wiped it away. "Bet me and my friends could show you a real good time. Teach you things that Straight Lace over here never could."
"Hey Geordie," a new voice broke in before Hailey could respond. "What're you doin'?"
The man, Geordie, looked over his shoulder at the newcomer. Medium height, medium build, brown hair, just the type they were looking for. "You'll thank me in a minute, Sam," he grinned. "I might have found us a little after-work delight."
Geordie leaned against the window and looked at Hailey. "What do ya say, Doll? You like to party? We got some work to do, but then it's all about that play. No dull boy Jack's around here."
"Geordie," Sam stormed up, grabbing the red head's arm. "We gotta go. Stop playing grab-ass and come help."
"Alright, alright," Geordie grumbled. "I was just looking out. Sheesh, no need to throw a gasket."
But without a word or even a look back at them, both men walked away. Hailey let out a sigh of relief as they disappeared around the side of the warehouse. "This is about to go down," Jay said, starting the truck. "Time to get everyone ready."
They circled the block, double-tapping the breaks as they passed Voight, and doing the same as they reached the corner to signal Burgess and Ruzek from the factory. They pulled back to where they started but tucked the truck down a gangway and made their approach on foot. "You ready for this," Jay whispered as they crept along the fence. "You haven't been in anything like this yet. It could get messy."
"I'm good," Hailey assured, pulling her gun out of its holster. If she had triple-checked the magazine before they'd even started the stakeout, well, Jay didn't need to know that. He pulled a pair of wire cutters from his coat pocket and snipped a hole in the chainlink, just big enough for them to slip through quietly. Hailey could just make out the dark shadows moving in from the other side, Voight, Adam and Kim, getting into position.
Out on the river, there was a quick burst of light. And the men on the dock straightened up as a boat pulled up in front of them. Hailey could hear the beating of ropes on wood as they moored the barge to the dock. And there was indistinct chatter as the men set to work, pulling crate after crate off the boat. Across the way, there was a small flash. A mirror catching what little light there was. It was the signal. Time to move in.
Jay gave her one last look, silently asking if she was ready. Hailey nodded, and together they moved out of cover. She, Jay and Voight kept their eyes on the men at work while Adam and Kim watched the factory behind them. As they closed in, Voight raised his gun and pressed the muzzle into the curls of Geordie's red hair. "What do we have here?" his rough voice sounded even more so in the dark of night.
Geordie froze, and so did his friends. But only for a second. Then chaos broke out. The brown-haired man, Sam, Hailey recalled in the back of her mind, reached under one of the tarps. But he didn't pull out a bottle or a brick. It was a gun. A Tommy gun. One that could turn them all into swiss cheese in a matter of seconds.
"Cover," Jay hollered just as Sam squeezed the trigger, spraying bullets in their direction. All of them dove to the ground, but Geordie hadn't been so lucky. His body jerked and thrashed as the bullets ripped through him before he dropped to the dock in a crumpled heap. But Sam and the boatman gave it no mind as the gun rattled to a stop. Voight recovered quickest, returning fire as the gangsters reached under the tarps for more ammo. That snapped Hailey out of her daze as she too got back to her feet and took aim at their suspects, forcing them to take cover on the boat.
"Careful of the boxes," Voight warned as one of Adam's bullets tore through the traps. "We don't know what's in there."
"Oh, all sorts," one of the men's voices rang out. "Go ahead, Copper, take the shot. See what happens."
"You're surrounded," Jay reasoned as they all approached the boat, stepping over Geordie's fallen body. "Come out, save yourselves from winding up like your friend here."
"You think we're afraid of you," the other's voice called, but it sounded further away from where they had seen the two men duck down. They were moving, using the mess of containers to try and flank them. "I mean, you brought girls with you. How tough can you really be if you need women to fight your battles."
"Well, you're the ones hiding from women," Kim taunted. "So, what does that say about you."
Adam chuckled, and even Voight grinned as he nodded at them to keep going. "I can just imagine the look on O'Banion's face," Hailey continued. "When he finds out about this. Two of his crew, cowering from some lady cops. Not a good look for him, especially when he's trying to build a reputation up against Al Capone."
"Oh, Scarface will have a field day with this," Kim picked up. "It's fodder to bring Dino down for years at least. Tell me, Upton, what do you think he's going to do? I mean, he has to make an example out of them, right?"
"Absolutely," Hailey nodded as Jay and Adam converged on the centre most boxes. "I think we'll find them at the bottom of the river come spring. When they've finally made their way out of those concrete shoes, O'Banion's gonna give 'em."
"I'm more curious," Jay started as he turned the corner sharply, but there was nothing there. "Does the boss man even know about this?"
"I've been thinking that too," Hailey said as they spread out. "Is this you trying to start your own racket? What's a crime boss going to say about a betrayal like that."
"I'm sure he'll understand," Sam popped out from his hiding spot at the far end of the boat while his partner did the same from the opposite side. It was a rain of bullets as they all scrambled for cover, the group of cops returning fire. Hailey let out a hiss of pain as a burning stung at her arm. Before she could look to see what the damage was, the bargeman rushed her tackling her to the ground.
Her gun skidded over the side of the boat as the man wrapped his hands around her throat, squeezing tight. Hailey slammed her fists into the crook of his elbows, driving the top of her head into his nose as he dipped forward. The gangster let go of her throat, but he kept coming. She was able to dodge the worst of his blows as they wrestled back and forth for control, giving as good as she got. Neither realizing how close they were to the edge of the barge until they started to go over.
Hailey yelped as the ground disappeared from under her and was just able to hook her arms around the rail. Stopping herself from fall into the water. She tried to pull herself up, but it was no use. The man had a hold of her waist, and she couldn't support them both. "Climb up!" Hailey grunted as her arms slipped. But the gunman either didn't hear her or didn't care. He just clung tighter, kicking his feet wildly. "Climb! Or we're both going in."
"Hailey!" She looked across the deck and saw Jay lurch forward from where he had taken cover. His hands outstretched as he reached for her. But it was too late. The last thing she saw was the panic in his green eyes as her arms gave way, and she tumbled into the cold waters of the river below.
Thanks for reading.
So Kim's little line about catching Al Capone on something small is based on true events of the notorious mobster's arrest and conviction. Despite all that he did, he was eventually busted for tax evasion and sentenced to prison, where he did a stint in Alcatraz. Also, O'Banion, is Charles Dean O'Banion (sometimes Dino, but he reportedly hated being called that), one of Capone's biggest rivals. But I am fudging with the timeline because he was killed in 1924 by some of Capone's boys.
As to some fashion history, while we now consider knickers to be underwear, at this time, they were kind of like shorts. They were usually linen or cotton, or tweed, tapered around the knee, with socks were pulled up high to cover the lower leg. Imagine like an old-timey golfer. Palazzo's were a flowy pair of pants, a little bit more feminine than knickers were, both were deemed somewhat acceptable for women to wear, but still definitely drew unaccepting looks.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Welcome back everybody, sorry this one’s a little late; the brain just did not want to cooperate yesterday to finish the editing. Who’s excited about this Wednesday’s episode? I’m always curious to know more about Jay (or any of them, really), so I’m eager. I’m especially curious about what he’s “keeping” from who is presumably Hailey. A little bit of a shorter chapter today; it was just getting way too long, so no historical notes in this, but there will for sure be some in the next. Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hailey gasped for air as soon as her head broke the surface of the river. Her lungs were burning from being underwater for so long. Her injured arm, which had been painful before the fall, now made her want to scream in agony. It only got worse as she swam her way towards the shoreline. As she crawled her way up onto the marshy bank, she could hear the others calling her name in the distance. "Here," Hailey called out hoarsely. "I'm here."
"Hailey!" She could just make out Adam's voice over the pounding of their feet. Or was that just the blood rushing in her head?
"Call out," Kim shouted right after him.
"Over here," Hailey tried again, lifting her arm to wave. But it flopped back to the ground a second later; it was too heavy. Her whole body felt like it weighed a ton. Was that normal? That didn't seem normal.
Jay got to her first. "Hailey," he dropped to his knees beside her. "Are you okay? Did you take in any water?"
Did she? Hailey wasn't sure. "I don't think so," she muttered as Jay wiped her hair off her face, scanning for signs of injury. "My arm."
She felt more hands on her, prodding at her right side, gentle hands, Kim's hands.
"You're bleeding pretty good," the brunette said as she tore a part of her coat and wrapped it around the wound. "Did you catch it on something in the water?"
"No," Hailey gritted her teeth as Kim tied off the makeshift bandage tightly. "I'm pretty sure I was shot."
"What?" Jay asked. Hailey could see the panic in his eyes. "When?"
"Something hit my arm before that guy got the jump on me," she sat up slowly, Jay moved behind her to help prop her up. "Anyone got eyes on our friend who took me for a swim?"
Adam shook his head. "Seems like he didn't know how to. He hasn't surfaced yet. Maybe the current swept him away."
Hailey looked up at Voight. "What do we do about that, Sarge?"
The man looked out over the water with a cold glare, like he could make the bargeman surface if he stared hard enough. "We'll tell the river cops to keep an eye out, get them a description. It's all we can do."
Hailey started to her feet. But Jay tugged her back to the ground. "You shouldn't move," he advised.
"I'm fine," she insisted. "We got work to do."
"You're bleeding," Jay shook his head. "You've been shot. Not to mention getting into it with a suspect and going into the water. You need to go to the hospital."
"Can we get an ambulance here?" Kim asked.
"The factory we were staked out in has a phone," Adam recalled. "I could get an operator on the line, connect me to a hospital, which one's closest?"
"That's not necessary," Hailey tried to get up again, but Jay held her firmly to him.
"No, Halstead's right," Voight shook his head. "Get to the hospital, get that wound looked at. We'll check in when we're done here."
"Sarge, I'm good," she insisted. "Really."
He just frowned at her. "That wasn't a suggestion, Upton. Go."
Hailey kept up her protests as Jay drove. "I have bandages at home," she said. "All I need is one of them, a nice glass of whiskey and my bed. I'll be good to go by morning."
But Jay ignored her. She then voiced her confusion as he drove past not only Mercy Hospital but also Passavant. "We're going to Med," he explained. "I have a connection there. You'll be seen right away."
Once at the newly opened Gaffney Medical Centre, Hailey waited in a chair while Jay had a quick word with the nurse on duty. She was taken back to a bed immediately and was surprised when Jay came back with her. "You got shot Hailey," he crossed his arms and frowned at her. "I'm not just going to dump you here and leave."
She wasn't really sure what she was supposed to say to that. Jay had looked off since he got to her side on the river bank. So while Hailey might have thought there wasn't a point in being there, for Jay, if it would make him feel better, she could deal with it. "Thank you."
He offered her a weak smile and a little jerky nod of his head, and they fell into silence. They didn't have to wait long for the doctor to come in. Hailey wasn't sure what put her more on edge, the man's white coat or his deep red hair. "Hailey?" he asked, looking up from the clipboard in his hands.
He gave her a large smile that eased some of her nerves a bit. There was just something so familiar about it. "I'd say nice to meet you, but this isn't how anyone likes to meet a doctor," he approached the bed. "I'm Will Halstead."
"Halstead?" Hailey's eyes darted between the doctor and her partner.
"My brother," Jay answered. That's why Will's smile helped her relax. The two didn't look much alike, not like Hailey and her brothers had, except in their smile.
"His older brother," Will teased. "Though, according to Jay, you should already know that."
Hailey wrinkled her nose in confusion. "I'm sorry?"
"I'll admit I was shocked when Nurse Doris came up to me and said my brother and his wife were in the treatment bay," Will mused. "But I would assume my sister-in-law would at least know generally who I am, even if my invitation to the wedding was lost."
Her head snapped to where Jay was standing so fast a crick when down it. Will's laughter filled the air as his little brother stumbled over his words. "I just…I mean, I-I wanted..."
"To make sure you could come back here?" Will finished for him. "So you could see I'm doing my job right? Or do you actually have something you need to tell me?"
"No," Jay glowered at his brother and turned Hailey. "I just wanted to make sure you got the best care. As much as it pains me to say it, that's him."
"And on that note," the elder Halstead shoved the clipboard into his younger brother's chest. "Shut up and let me focus on my patient."
Will asked Hailey some questions; could she remember what happened? Did she hit her head at all? Was she experiencing any double vision or memory lapses? Did she take in any water? Then he listened to her heart and lungs. "Alright," he sat back. "All that sounds good. Now, are you hurt anywhere else?"
Hailey shook her head. "Just my arm."
Will carefully undid the scrap of fabric Kim had tied on. She let out of hiss of pain as it pulled away. "I won't fault you for that," Will shook his head as he inspected the wound. "This is pretty deep."
"But she's going to be okay right?" Jay asked, chewing his lip.
"Stitches for sure," Will responded. "And if she was in the river, then I definitely want to give it a thorough cleaning. But it's just a graze. We'll get it cleaned, patch you up, and you'll be on your way in no time, Hailey."
She let out a sighed relief; Jay did too and finally let himself sit in the chair beside Hailey's bed.
"Doctor Halstead, sorry to interrupt." A nurse stuck her head behind the curtain a few minutes later as Will prepared the cleaning solutions. "Mr Halstead, there are a few people out here asking about your wife."
"It's probably just the team," Jay rose from the chair as Hailey fought off her blush. "I'll go give them the update."
"So you're the infamous new partner," Will asked as Jay's footsteps faded in the distance.
"I am," she nodded. "Hailey Upton."
"You sure about that," he gave her a teasing smirk. "I mean, Hailey Halstead does have a pretty nice ring to it."
Hailey just frowned at him.
"Alright, alright, I'll stop," Will relented and sat by her injured arm. "You're going to want to brace yourself, Hailey. This is going to sting a bit."
Sting had been an understatement. Whatever Will used to clean out her wound hurt more than the bullet did, though maybe the adrenaline had something to do with it. Still, Hailey did her best not to shout out in pain, but she knew she wasn't fooling anyone. It wasn't until he was tying off the last stitch that Jay walked back into the room. "Everything going okay in here?"
"It is," Will said as he wrapped a fresh bandage around the line of sutures. "Hailey is a much better patient than you are, that's for sure."
She smiled as Jay let out an indignant huff. "So I'm good to go? I can leave?"
"Yes," Will rolled his eyes. "But I want you to rest. Take a day or two; if you thought your limbs felt heavy coming out of the water, wait until tomorrow. If you're awake before noon, I'll buy you a roast dinner."
"That's fine," Jay said. "Voight's given her tomorrow off."
Hailey's mouth dropped open. "I don't need that."
"Yes, you do," the Halstead's said together.
"Besides," Jay continued. "It's not just you. Voight's given all of us the day off. The unit's been so busy lately, he wants us all to have some time to recover before the next one."
Jay grinned. "He's pulling Ruzek and Kim in. It's another reason for the break, so he can get everything squared away."
"Well, I guess I can't argue with that then," Hailey was beaming. Kim had done it; she had made it. Hailey was thrilled for her.
"Good," Jay offered her his hand and helped her off the bed. "Then let's get you out of here."
"Just a second," Will said. "Hailey, do you have anyone who can stay with you? You shouldn't be alone tonight. We've had cases of people who didn't think they'd taken in any water be released from care only to display drowning symptoms later on. If that happens..."
"I'm staying with her," Jay cut in sharply. "If anything seems wrong, I'll bring her right back in."
"Good," Will nodded. "Well then, Hailey, I hope to see you someplace other than a hospital bay soon. It was good to meet you."
"You too," she smiled. "Thanks, Doctor Halstead."
"Please," the man's teasing smile was back. "It's Will; we're family after all."
Hailey let herself laugh as Jay swatted at his brother's head. When they were alone again, Jay offered her a sheepish look. "It's okay, right? Me staying with you? I'm sure we can still catch Kim if you'd rather."
"Nah," Hailey shook her head. "Kim would just hover and worry all night. No need to put her through that, not when she's got so much celebrating to do."
Hailey was asleep against the truck's window by the time Jay pulled up to her apartment. He tried his best not to wake her, intending to carry her, but she jerked awake when he opened the door. "Sorry," he apologized and helped her out of the vehicle. "You okay?"
"Yeah," her voice was soft and tired. "Pretty sure your brother was right about me sleeping until lunch tomorrow. I can't remember the last time I felt this tired."
Jay grinned. "He does know what he's talking about, sometimes."
Hailey's chuckle was interrupted by her stumbling over her own feet. "Careful," Jay caught her around the waist. "You good?"
Hailey steadied herself and looked up at him. "You're not going to stop asking me that anytime soon, are you?"
"Not likely. Can I just," Jay made a vague gesture. "Just trust me, okay?"
"Alright," she agreed, and before she knew it, Jay was lifting her off the ground. Hailey clung to him quickly. "Okay, I wasn't expecting you to do that."
"Sorry," he chuckled as he settled her in his hold, his one arm under her knees, while the other settled around her back. "I just don't feel like having to take you back to the hospital if you decide to trip down the stairs."
"Funny," Hailey rolled her eyes. "I'm tired, Jay, but I can walk, I swear."
Jay quirked an eyebrow at her. "Humour me."
"Fine," she caved and settled her hands around his neck. "By all means, lay on MacDuff."
"Isn't it lead on?"
As Jay trekked up to her building, he debated the best way to juggle holding Hailey and opening the door. But whatever he was thinking of doing was unnecessary. He wasn't two steps away when the front door burst open. It was the doorman. "Hailey," he looked at the woman in Jay's arms. "Are you alright?"
Jay remembered the man from his last visit to Hailey's place. The doorman wasn't a young man, but Jay wouldn't have called him old either. Heavier set with sandy blond hair and a large moustache that he styled down to his chin. His clear blue eyes had a watery look about them that Jay was sure never left, but he could see genuine concern for Hailey on his face.
"Mouch," Hailey gave the man a small smile, though it was really more of a grimace. "I'm alright. Just had an accident at work; it's nothing to fuss over. Really."
Mouch looked Jay up and down suspiciously. "This is my friend," Hailey went on. “Jay Halstead meet Randal McHolland. Mouch, this is Jay."
"Yeah, I recognize him," the hidden meaning behind Mouch's words were not lost on either of them. "You sure everything's good here?"
"Yes. Jay's just being cautious," she insisted and shot her partner an amused smile. "And maybe a little overprotective."
"You just about face planted on the sidewalk," Jay argued. "If this place had an elevator, maybe we wouldn't be having this conversation. But if you're tripping over flat ground, I don't even want to think about what a set of stairs will do to you."
Hailey scoffed, and Mouch offered up a small laugh. "Well," the portly man clapped his hands together, suddenly cheerful. "Give me a second to square things away down here, and I'll come up. Get her door unlocked for you, so you two don't have to juggle around each other."
"Oh, Mouch," Hailey protested. "It's fine. You don't have to do that. Jay and I'll manage just fine."
"It's no use arguing, Hailey," Mouch said from the desk, where he placed a placard explaining his absence and opened the cage to get a copy of her key. "Making sure you're all safe and sound is a part of my job."
And it was a job he'd done well for as long as Hailey had lived there. Always looking out, and not just for her but for all the people in the building. He knew all the residents by name. Always had a kind word and special greeting for each of them. Even the more pretentious amongst them, the ones who ignored Mouch's existence until the need arose to order them a car. But Hailey liked him very much; Mouch reminded her of her grandfather, who always had the same kind nature.
Together with Mouch taking the lead, they headed up the stairs to Hailey's apartment. Jay made it up the first couple of flights with little problem. But by the time they crested the third floor, she could hear his breathing pick up. It fanned across her face in sharp puffs as his chest rose harder against her side. "Jay, I appreciate this," she said as they started on the next flight. "But I'm really feeling a lot more awake. I can make it up the rest of the way on my own."
"No," the word came from both the men, and Hailey rolled her eyes.
"Will said to take it easy," Jay countered. "And walking up five flights of stairs isn't taking it easy."
"Well, now we're down to one and a half flights," she grinned. "I'd say that's pretty easy."
"We're supposed to be getting an elevator installed soon," Mouch looked over his shoulder at them. "The big boss is looking into it now. But it'd be a godsend to people like old Mrs Moreton up on six. The poor old thing is always huffing and puffing up and down these steps."
"What's it like being a doorman, Mouch," Jay asked. "The hours and expectations, I mean?"
Hailey looked at him curiously. "You thinking about a career change or something, Halstead?"
"Asking for a friend," he shrugged. "He's had trouble finding steady work."
"Well, it's not a bad gig, really," Mouch explained. "Some of the people are a piece of work. The 'ignore you until something goes wrong, and then it's all your fault and the end of the world until you deal with it for them' types. But most of the others like Hailey and Mrs Moreton, are good people. Plus, it fits in well with my other job, so I really can't complain."
"You work another job?"
"Mouch is a fireman," Hailey explained. "He works here on his off-hours."
"That's right," he said as they finally arrived on Hailey's floor. "It's got pretty flexible hours."
"Interesting," Jay mumbled.
"If you got any specific questions," Mouch said as he unlocked Hailey's door. "I'm more than happy to answer them, or maybe I can meet your friend for a coffee, explain the job to him myself."
Jay smiled down at the man as he eased Hailey through the door. "I appreciate that."
"Of course," Mouch dismissed with a twist of his head. "I take it you're staying the night?"
Jay nodded and set Hailey onto her feet. "Just on the couch."
"Well, alright then, I know not to look for you," he headed back to the door. "You take care, Hailey. Give me a shout out front if you need anything."
"I will, thank you, Mouch," she smiled as the man closed the door behind him, leaving her alone with Jay. Hailey locked the door and headed to her room, Jay on her heels.
"Can I do anything for you ?" he asked as she pulled a nightgown from her closet. "Do you want some water, or are you hungry?"
Hailey gave him a small smile as she sat on her bed. "I'm okay, Jay, really. I think I just want to get some sleep."
He nodded. "Good, sleep is good. I'll just um," he trailed off, gesturing over his shoulder as he walked out of the room.
She changed quickly into a simple nightdress and headed out to her living room to find Jay contorting himself, trying to find a way to fit on her small sofa. "I don't really think they designed that thing for sleeping."
He jumped at her words, and Hailey went on like she hadn't seen it. "I mean for sitting, it's all well and good, but I'm pretty sure some part of you is going to be hanging off that thing no matter what."
"I've had worse."
"And you've had better," she inclined her head towards her room. "Come on. We can share my bed."
"Hailey," he hesitated. "I don't think that's such a good idea."
"We're adults Jay," she pointed out. "Nothing's going to happen unless we want it to, and I am telling your right now, I am too sore and too exhausted."
"All the more reason for me to stay out here," Jay said. "I wouldn't want to roll over and hurt you on accident or something."
"Well," Hailey plopped down beside him. "I guess we're at an impasse. You'd be in there worrying about me, but if you stay out here, I won't get any sleep because I'll be too busy worrying about you."
"Hailey," he groaned. She just propped her feet up on the coffee table. Jay sighed in defeat. "Fine. We'll do things your way."
Back in her room Hailey slipped under her covers while Jay took off his belt, suspenders, and shoes, and he crawled onto the other side of the bed. They lay facing each other, Jay on his right side, like he had the last time he'd been in her bed, Hailey on her left side because of the wound to her right arm. "So who's this friend you have?" she asked as he punched a pillow into place.
Jay laughed. "I thought you were tired." Hailey just shrugged. She was, but the curiosity she felt outweighed it. "It's Mouse."
"Mouse," she repeated. "The bartender? Kevin didn't fire him, did he?"
"No," Jay said quickly. "No, Kevin's been great. But a speakeasy isn't exactly the most stable of jobs. Or the most legal. The issue is that for most jobs that are, Mouse is just…too twitchy. He can't handle them for long."
"The war?" she guessed.
Jay nodded. "There was a mortar blast. Mouse was the only one who made it out alive. Physically he's all healed up, but…."
"His mind isn't there yet," she finished.
"That's right," he said. "I mean, it's not a bad job at the Ropes. But prohibition won't last forever, and there's no guarantee that Kevin will keep the place up after it ends. I want Mouse to have something more sustainable…and less likely to get him arrested."
"Well, I'll talk with Mouch in the morning," Hailey proposed. "Maybe it'll help if we can set up some kind of shadow placement. That way, Mouse can experience it before making any kind of commitment. And if he needs to get away, Mouch can just let him in here."
Jay didn't say anything; he just had a stunned look on his face. "What?" Hailey asked.
"Nothing," he cleared his throat. "Thank you."
Hailey gave him a small smile and shook her head. "Thank you. For being here."
Jay leaned forward, threading his fingers through her hair and pressing a kiss to her forehead. "I'm just glad you're okay."
They fell into silence as Jay's fingers carded through her hair, his nails scratching at her scalp. Hailey allowed herself to relax under his touch until it lulled her into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Hey everyone! Sorry, it's been so long between updates. Unfortunately, and due to idiotic co-workers, my life has been chaos for the last month or so and fandom had to be put on the back burner. Hopefully, this is me being back on schedule, but I'm not making any promises.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hailey woke up slowly the next morning. The bed beside her was empty, the rumpled sheets the only sign that someone else had been there. That and the sweet smell that filled her apartment, along with the faint sounds coming from her kitchen. She eased herself out of bed carefully and pulled on a robe to see what was going on. Jay was at her stove, frying something in a pan. He was so caught up in what he was doing that he didn't hear Hailey come into the room and take a seat at the table. She watched as Jay grabbed a slice of bread from her bread box, dunked it into a bowl, shook off the excess liquid and popped it onto the frying pan with a sizzle. "You're making french toast?"
Jay jumped and whipped around to face her. "Sorry," she chuckled. "Didn't mean to scare you."
"It's fine," he breathed. "Uh, yeah, french toast. I woke up starving, pretty sure the last time I ate was lunch yesterday. I figured it's probably the same for you. So…."
Hailey shot him an amused smile. "I could eat."
"Good, because french toast is my specialty," he grabbed a plate from the cupboard and loaded it up for her.
She looked at the meal Jay placed in front of her. It was quite a sight; golden brown eggy bread piled high with macerated berries and topped with powdered sugar. "Impressive," she whistled. "This looks delicious. Thank you."
"I'm just going to finish off the last couple of slices, but you get started," he turned back to the stove and flipped the pieces of toast he had still cooking.
Hailey watched him while he worked absentmindedly, cutting off a bit and eating it. She let out a hum of surprise as the flavours flooded over her tongue. It tasted even better than it looked.
"Told you," Jay gave her a cocky grin as he sat down across from her, his own plate stacked high with the meal. "It's my specialty. Never had a complaint yet."
"Well, speaking from experience, just because someone says that doesn't guarantee it's actually any good. Or even edible," Hailey mused as she took another bite.
"Touché," he nodded as he tucked into his own meal. "So I guess I'm not the first guy to make you breakfast, huh?"
"I was talking about Kim," she teased. "If she ever offers to make you her perfection salad, run away as far as you can, as quick as you can."
Jay laughed. "Noted. Thanks for the tip."
"But to answer your question, no, you aren't. But you are the first one who's done it successfully," Hailey told him. "Twice, in fact. And I haven't even made you dinner yet."
Jay grinned. "Well, there's plenty of time for that."
"I don't know; I think I got to collect my winnings from your brother before I do that," she looked at the clock on her mantel. "I seem to recall him saying I'd be out until noon, and it's barely even eleven yet."
Jay raised an eyebrow. "You really want to spend your day off with my brother?"
Hailey just shrugged innocently. "I haven't had a day off in forever. What do people usually do with them again?"
"Oh, you know," he leaned back, stretching his arms behind his head. "Scale mountains. Traverse the Grand Canyon. Swim across Lake Michigan. All those normal, boring, everyday type things."
"Oof," she shook her head. "I don't know if I'm up for all of that. Maybe one of them, two if we're lucky. But after yesterday, I think I'm gonna give Lake Michigan a pass."
"How are you feeling?"
"Alright, I guess," Hailey shrugged. "Arm hurts a little, but only when I think about it. And I was a bit stiff when I woke up, but that seems to have worked itself out."
"Not surprising," he tipped forward, leaning his elbows on the table. "We'll change the bandage in a bit, make sure it's not infected or anything."
"Sounds like a plan," she smiled and took another bite of food. "What about you? What are your plans for the day?"
"That kind of depends on you," Jay shrugged.
"I want to take you out, Hailey," he said in a breath. "If you're feeling up to it."
Hailey bit back her grin. "What did you have in mind, Halstead?"
"Comiskey Park," Hailey questioned an hour later as they pulled into the stadium's lot and got out of the car.
"Not a baseball fan?" Jay guessed as he leaned across the hood of the truck. "I just figured a game ticked all the boxes. It's a nice day, so sunshine and fresh air, but we're sitting and watching others do the activity, so it's not too strenuous. Pretty much everything the doctor ordered."
"Not too strenuous," Hailey repeated. "I don't know, Halstead. Have you ever seen me at a baseball game? I get pretty into it."
"Oh," he grinned, coming around the car and taking her hand as they made their way into the stadium. "So it's not the sport you have an issue with; it's the team. What do you have against the Sox, Upton?"
"Oh no," Hailey shook her head. "I am a huge Sox fan. The original Sox. The Cubs."
Jay groaned as they headed down to their seats, just a few rows back from home plate. "You Cubbies are always so quick with that one. You got to let it go."
"I'm a North-sider, Jay. What did you expect?"
"Nothing less, I suppose," he sighed dramatically. "But just remind me again, where are the Cubs going to finish this season?"
Hailey shot him a mock glare and gently nudged him with her good shoulder. "Alright, I'll make a deal with you."
"Listening," he said as they sat down.
"I will sit here. I'll watch the Sox play," she started. "For you, I'll even cheer."
Jay let out a faux gasp. "You'll cheer? For the Sox? How you ever be able to show your face at Cubs Park again?"
"After this season, please," she scoffed. "Besides, I haven't finished yet."
Jay put his hands up in surrender. "Alright, continue. I'm intrigued already."
"I will sit here, I will watch the Sox, and I will cheer," she repeated. "If you do the same. What do you say? Once a season, every season, I go to a Sox game with you, and you come to a Cubs game with me. And if either of us complains about the team, drinks are on them for a week."
"Once a season, every season huh," Jay raised an eyebrow. "Sounds like you're planning on keeping me around there, Hailey."
"Maybe I am," she retorted. "You complaining about that?"
"Not at all," he smiled. "But what if the team really sucks that day? Like to the point I'm groaning about the Sox or, more likely, you're moaning about the Cubs? Does that override the no complaining rule?"
Hailey shook her head. "Nope, you gotta suck it up. Umpire and opposing team complaints only from the non-fan."
"You play hardball," Jay sucked at his teeth and held out his hand. "But you got yourself a deal partner."
Hailey took it and laughed as Jay gave her a hearty shake, and they both settled in as the teams took the field.
In the end, the Sox beat Cleveland ten to eight, and Hailey kept her word and cheered. But nowhere near as enthusiastically as she would have had the team been wearing her preferred red, white and blue, but Jay didn't need to know that. They grabbed a quick lunch of hotdogs and sodas before he dropped her off back at her place to rest. "I'll swing by later," he said, leaning across the bench to talk to her through the truck window. "Maybe we can hit up the Ropes if you're feeling up to it."
"Sounds like a plan," Hailey agreed.
Once she was in her apartment, Hailey called Kim on the party line. She told the other woman that she was meeting Jay for dinner that night and asked if she would like to join them. "Meeting for dinner" was the code the two of them had come up with not long after they started working together. Sure it was a simple code; anyone else on the line probably could have figured it out if they really wanted to. But it still gave them the cover they needed. Kim agreed and said she'd meet them "at the usual place" later that evening.
After she hung up with Kim, Hailey decided to heed the doctor's advice and get some rest. What was supposed to be a twenty-minute nap turned into a few hours, and it left her scrambling to eat dinner before she got ready for the night. Hailey wanted to avoid questions about her arm, which was still wrapped with a bright white bandage, but her long-sleeved options were lacking. It wasn't until she reached into the very back of her closet that she found it. A black fringed dress with sheer black sleeves that ended just past her elbows. It would be perfect.
Hailey pulled the dress on and checked herself out in the mirror. The sleeves did their job and hid the bandage well enough that anyone who didn't know it was there probably wouldn't notice it. Then she sat at her nightstand to apply a light layer of make-up. Hailey had just started to fuss with her hair when someone knocked on her front door, and she hurried to answer it. Jay was waiting on the other side, leaning against the door frame. He had also changed since he dropped her off earlier. Gone was the simple slacks, suspenders, shirt and vest he usually wore, replaced by a dark green three-piece suit. It made his usually bright green eyes just a little bit darker, and Hailey let herself get lost in them for a moment.
"Hey," he greeted, breaking her out of her trance.
"Hi," Hailey opened the door wider. "Come on in, I'm just finishing up."
Jay followed her inside, closing the door softly behind him. "I take it that means you're feeling up to going out?"
"That's right," she called from her room as she grabbed a shawl from her closet. "And, I hope you don't mind, but I invited Kim to join us. She's going to meet us there. Figured we could celebrate her promotion."
"That's perfect, actually," Jay smiled as Hailey tore into the living room, grabbing a few things and throwing them into her clutch purse. "Maybe she'll bring Adam along. It'd be nice to do this as a group."
"Getting drinks?" she asked. It wasn't like that was anything new, at least for her, Jay and Kim.
"Well yeah, that," Jay reached into the inside pocket of his blazer and pulled out an envelope tossing it to her. "But also giving Kevin this."
Hailey peeked inside and let out a gasp. The envelope was filled with money. Lots of money. "What is all this?"
"It's Kevin's cut," he shrugged. "A bit of the value of what we seized, as a thank you for his intel."
"I think we're in the wrong line of work," she teased and passed back the money.
"And we like to tell people that crime doesn't pay," Jay tucked the envelope back in his pocket. "You ready to get outta here?"
Hailey swept her keys off a side table and closed her purse with a snap. "I am now," she grabbed his hand and tugged him out the door. "Let's get moving."
When Hailey and Jay arrived, Kim was already at the club, sipping on a drink as she laughed at something Mouse had said. The man behind the bar caught sight of them and waved. "Double whiskey, on the rocks, times two. Coming right up."
Kim beamed at them as they came up beside her. "Nice of you two to finally join me."
"I feel like that should be my line," Hailey teased. "Told you, you'd make it."
The brunette dipped her head to hide her wide smile. "Thanks."
"Do you know if Ruzek's coming, Kim?" Jay asked.
"He's not," she shook her head. "I got ahold of him after Hailey called me. He said he had plans to celebrate with his girl tonight."
Hailey quirked an eyebrow; that was new information. Information that her friend seemed to be more than a little upset about, not that Jay noticed. Mouse called him down to the other end of the bar to get their drinks, and it gave Kim more than enough time to school her features into a happy smile again before he returned.
"A toast," Jay said as he passed around their drinks. "Burgess, it's going to be great to have you on board. Congratulations."
"Thanks, Jay," Kim smiled, clinking their glasses together.
"And what is it, my three favourite people raising a glass to," Kevin came up behind them. "And why are y'all doing it without me?"
"Voight's bringing me into Intelligence," Kim told him.
Kevin broke out in a grin. "Aww, Burgess, that's amazing. I'm proud of you."
"Proud enough to comp my drinks tonight?"
"You know what," Kevin laughed. "I am. Consider it done. I'll let Mouse know."
Kim let out a small whoop of excitement as Kevin signalled to the bartender.
"Well, maybe this will help take the sting out of those dangerous words," Jay pulled the envelope from his pocket and passed it over to the larger man.
"What's this," he asked.
"Consider it a token of appreciation from all of us," Jay winked. "And our bosses."
They all watched, sharing a secret grin as Kevin looked inside the envelope, and his jaw dropped open. "Well," he cleared his throat after a minute. "You guys can tell you're bosses that I certainly do feel appreciated."
"We'll pass that along."
Kevin tucked the money into his own pocket and wrapped one of his large arms around Kim and Hailey. She tried to hide her wince as her injured arm pressed into Kevin's side, sending a sting of pain all through her. But she was too late; Kevin had felt her stiffen and shy away. "Everything alright, girl?"
"Yeah," she dismissed, putting a little space between him and her arm. "All good."
Kevin gave her a look and reached out his hand for her, but Hailey flinched out of the way. She knew he wasn't going to hurt her, that Kevin was probably just going to give her arm a reassuring squeeze, but she couldn't let him. The pain would probably send her jumping through the roof. Kevin straightened up with a frown. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," Hailey took a sip of her drink and looked anywhere but at him.
"Kim," Kevin turned to the brunette, but she also refused to meet his eye. "Nah-uh, we're not doing that. What happened?"
Hailey shot Kim a look as Kevin frowned down at them both. She could see Kim's nose wrinkle and watched her shoulders shrug up to her ears, all the signs that she was about to break under the pressure of Kevin's stare. Hailey shook her head sharply, but the brunette just gave her a little grimace before she caved. "Hailey got shot yesterday."
"What?" Kevin yelped, his head darting between the three of them.
"During the bust last night," Kim continued. "There was a shoot out. Hailey got clipped."
"It's not a big deal," Hailey cut in.
"'Not a big deal,'" he repeated. "You got shot."
"It was a graze," she tried to soothe. "I was treated and released right away. It's just a little sore."
"And where were you during all this," Kevin glared at Jay. "You're her partner. Aren't you supposed to have her back?"
"Hey," Jay protested.
"No," Kevin cut him off with a hard poke to the chest. "You're supposed to keep her safe out there. That's what partners do. That's what you promised me you'd do. So where were you?"
"Kev," Hailey grabbed his hand and pulled him back from her partner. "Calm down. It's not Jay's fault."
"Then who's fault is it?"
"The smuggler's doing the shooting," Kim offered. "If you're going to blame Jay, Kevin, then you're going to have to blame me. I was there too."
"And me," Hailey put in. "For not paying close enough attention."
Kevin went quiet, refusing to meet any of their eyes. Hailey watched his jaw twitch as he tried to process everything. Kevin had a protective instinct a mile wide, and her getting hurt was a fear he'd had since she joined the force. "I'm alright, Kevin," Hailey said softly. "I promise."
He swallowed thickly a minute later. "Alright," he nodded and turned to Jay. "Sorry man, I—"
"I get it," Jay dismissed. "I'd feel the same way if the roles were reversed."
Kevin sniffed and nodded, clapping Jay quickly on the chest. An awkward silence fell over them all as they sipped at their drinks. Hailey and Kim traded a silent conversation through looks and raised eyebrows, each begging the other to find something to say that would break the tension.
"Kevin," a woman called from down the bar, drawing all their eyes to her. It was the singer.
"Violet," a wide grin spread across Kevin's face, and Hailey could have kissed her for giving them the distraction they needed. "What can I do for you?"
"Gallo's overdone it on the rum, again," Violet rolled her eyes. "Wanna do me a favour and take his place on the keys? I don't think he's going to be able to sit upright in a minute, let alone fumble his way through our entire set."
"Of course," Kevin beamed at her. "It'd be my pleasure."
Hailey hid a smirk behind her drink as Violet gave Kevin a grateful smile and made her way back to the small room off the bar that he housed his entertainers in. Kevin watched her the entire way, a small, soft smile on his face. Hailey knew that smile well; someone had a crush.
"Well," Kevin said as he kept his eyes on the door that Violet had disappeared behind. "I guess I have a performance to get ready for."
"Sounds like you do," Kim gave him a knowing look. She was just as familiar with the smile on his face as Hailey was.
"You all have a good night now."
"You too," Hailey called to his retreating back. And the two girls dissolved into laughter as soon as the man was out of earshot.
"What's the joke," Jay asked, looking between them. "Am I missing something?"
"Nothing," Hailey shook her head, still laughing. "It's nothing. Come on, we still have some celebrating to do."
The trio shared a few drinks together, talking and laughing as Kim regaled them with story after story of all the things she wouldn't miss from the Women's Unit. But when the band took the stage and the music finally started, Kim moved her way onto the dance floor at once. Jay and Hailey hung back at the bar, slowly sipping their drinks as they tracked Kim through the club. The brunette never stuck with a partner for too long, finding a new guy to dance and laugh with after a song or two. Hailey was sure it was Kim's way of trying to forget about a certain officer who wasn't with them.
"You wanna dance?" Jay asked a few minutes later.
Hailey tore her eyes away from Kim and looked him up and down. "Aren't I in enough pain?" she smirked teasingly.
"Come on," he pleaded. "I've gotten better. I didn't step on your toes once the last time we danced together."
Well, that was true enough. Besides, toe stepping or not, a few dances with Jay always made a night out feel just a little more complete. "Alright, Halstead," Hailey took his hand and started pulling him out to the floor. "If you're gonna insist on it."
They made it through three songs before Kim caught up to them. Cutting in and spinning Hailey away from Jay for a minute, she let the blonde know she was calling it a night. "You sure?" Hailey asked, looking over the brunette's shoulder to where one of her partners was waiting with her coat.
"Yeah," Kim nodded. "I'm good, Hailey, really."
The blonde gave a small nod and dropped a quick kiss to her friend's cheek. "Call me later?"
"I will," she promised and spun the blonde back over to Jay. "I'll see you both tomorrow."
"Have a good night Kim," Jay called as the brunette made her way across the club. He gave Hailey a gentle nudge as they watched Kim disappear with her new friend. "Maybe it's time I took you home too."
"That's probably a good idea," she agreed. "It's been a long day."
"But a good one?" he asked.
Hailey nodded. "A really good one."
They didn't say another word as they left the club. Or as they settled into the truck, and Jay started the trek north back to her apartment. It wasn't until they turned onto her street that Jay finally broke the silence they had fallen into. "Can I tell you something?"
Hailey turned her head from where she'd been staring out the window and took him in. His eyes were focused on the road in front of them as he stared resolutely ahead. While his hands gripped the steering wheel in a white knuckle. He was nervous, and for whatever reason, it made her smile. "You know you can."
"I thought you were dead," he said thickly. "Until we heard you call out, I thought we'd lost you. That you'd been swept away with the current, and I wouldn't see you again until the river cops called us in to identify you. I know it was only a minute or two, but I'm pretty sure they were the longest of my life."
"I'm sorry," she put a hand on his arm.
"It's not your fault," Jay shook his head. "It just made me think, that's all. You're important to me, Hailey. I don't have a whole lot of people in my life anymore. But somehow, over the last couple of months, you've crept up on me. And now I'm not sure what I'd do if I lost you."
"You're important to me too, Jay," Hailey admitted softly, her nails tracing the leather of the bench. And it was true, she wouldn't have thought it when they first met, but now a life without Jay was unimaginable.
"Hailey," he breathed. "It's not the same. I'm not asking for more. I know that we can't. Why we can't. But, I don't know, I guess I just wish—"
She cut off whatever he was going to say with a kiss. Jay melted against her at once, his fingers coming up to tangle through the long waves of her hair. He leaned them back as Hailey undid the buttons of his jacket, then his waistcoat as Jay pushed the shawl from her shoulders.
Hailey trailed kisses over his jaw, his stubble tickling at her lips. She pressed open-mouth kisses along his neck until she reached the spot she'd found their first night together, just below his ear. Jay shuddered as soon as her lips teased the skin there, and it made her grin. "I think we should take this inside," she breathed and nipped at his lobe.
Jay pulled back. "Hailey," he looked down at her, his green eyes blown wide. "Are you sure?"
"I am," she nodded and kissed him again, soft and gentle, before she reached out to the door. "Come upstairs, Jay."
Thanks for reading!
Google perfection salad. Go ahead, I dare you.
So that line about the Cubs being the original White Sox is true, kind of. When the team was first created in 1876, they were the Chicago White Stockings. They went through a few name changes (the Colts and the Orphans) before finally becoming the Cubs in 1903. The White Sox, as we know them today, were formed in 1900. Like the Cubs, they also used the White Stockings name before taking on the new monicker in 1904. During the 1925 season, the White Sox finished fifth in the American League with 79 wins and 75 losses. The Cubs finished bottom of the table with 68 wins and 86 losses. Also, note, while the Cubs most famously play at Wrigley Field, and it's been that same location since 1914, the club didn't take on the Wrigley name until 1927. In 1925 it was known as Cubs Park.
Party lines were a system of phone calls where you might be wanting to talk with one specific person but could have up to ten others sharing the line with you. So when you're trying to make plans to go to an illegal speakeasy, codes are a great idea, even if they're simple. This type of phone line remained popular well into the 1950s.
Happy Thursday, everyone! How was everybody's first CPD-less night of the season? Did you watch the re-run, or are you taking a break to reset after all the drama and angst?
I think my goal right now is to update once in a calendar week, so sometime between Sunday and Saturday, each week, until I get myself back on track.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hailey was warm when she woke up the next morning, but not unpleasantly so. It was that perfect kind of warm, like cosy blankets on a cold winters morning. The kind of warm that made you want to burrow under the covers and hibernate like a bear until you were sure the snow was finally gone. And Hailey knew that feeling was all down to the man tucked tight against her back. Unlike the last time they had spent the night together, this time Jay had woken up before her. His fingers traced a delicate pattern from her hip, down to her thigh, and back up again. She stilled his wandering hand with her own and brought it tight around her waist, pulling him even closer.
"Good morning," Jay leaned in and pressed a lingering kiss to the curve of her jaw.
Hailey hummed in reply and snuggled back against him. "No."
"No?" he chuckled. "It's not a good morning? Really? Not sure how I'm supposed to take that after last night."
"I don't want it to be morning," she rolled her eyes and twisted in his hold, tucking her head under his chin. "Morning means we have to go to work. Going to work means leaving this bed. And I definitely don't want that to have to happen any time soon."
"That is a shame," Jay dropped a kiss to the top of her head. "But luckily, it doesn't have to happen quite yet."
Hailey threw a leg over Jay's hip rolling them over until she was on top of him. "I think we should call in sick today," she whispered, leaning in so her lips brushed against his.
"I do feel a little something in my throat," he teased as her lips moved down his neck.
"Well, we can't have that," she soothed and grabbed his hands from where they were tickling her sides and pinned them by his head. "We wouldn't want to pass whatever you have onto the others. Much better to stay here, in bed, all day."
Jay's grin bloomed into a full-blown smirk. "I think I like this plan."
Hailey nipped at his bottom lip. "Plan hasn't even started yet, Jay," she brought his hands up to the iron bars of her headboard and wrapped his fingers around the spindles. "Keep them there."
"Yes, ma'am," he winked.
Hailey gave Jay's hand an extra squeeze, trusting him to keep them there while her lips glided their way along his skin as she worked herself lower and lower down his body. She could feel Jay twitch and strain as she explored. A teasing bite at his collar bone. The gentle scratch of her nails over his ribs. The skipping of her lips over his stomach as her hand worked further down.
Jay rutted up when Hailey wrapped a cold hand around his cock, moaning her name as she stroked over him slowly. He looked down at her, and she held his gaze as she drew level with his now aching cock. "Keep your hands where they are," she whispered again, and without another word, she drew him between her lips.
Jay's head slammed back onto the pillows. He wanted to reach down, thread his fingers through her hair, keep it off her face so he could watch her as she worked him over. But he didn't want to think what she'd do if he took his hands off the bars. Like she could read his mind, Hailey swept her hair over one shoulder, and he could see his shaft disappear into her mouth as she bobbed in a steady rhythm.
A particular drag of her tongue around the head of his cock made his hips buck. Hailey smoothed an arm around his hip, keeping him in place as her nails scratched gently at his skin. Her other hand joined her mouth, pumping and twisting where her lips couldn't meet.
"Hailey," Jay choked out a groan, a warning, as a familiar warmth burned through his stomach.
She moaned in response, and that's what pushed him over the edge. Hailey kept her mouth moving over him slowly until he sunk back onto the mattress, overwhelmed but sated.
She kissed her way back up his body, settling on top of him and taking his hands off the headboard. Jay wrapped his now freed arms around Hailey tightly, and she tucked her head into his shoulder, relaxing in his hold as his chest rose and fell under her. He craned his neck and pressed a soft kiss to her temple. "Can't say that was something I was expecting this morning."
Hailey propped herself up so she could look at him. "I told you yesterday I plan on keeping you around Halstead. That means I got to keep you on your toes."
"Well, I definitely look forward to that," he brushed a piece of hair out of her eyes. "As long as that means I get to keep you on yours."
Hailey grinned. "Of course. I can't wait to see what you have in mind."
Fell into a comfortable silence, Hailey's thumb smoothing over his ribs, while Jay's fingers toyed with the ends of her hair. "So this keeping each other around thing?" He broke the silence a short while later. "How is that going to work?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are we just sleeping together?" he asked. "Or—"
"Or," She cut him off. "I want it to be or. And all that that could mean."
Jay smiled and tried to hide it in her hair. But he knew she could feel it, just like he could feel her's pressed into his neck. "Good."
"Good," Hailey repeated and leaned in to give him a gentle kiss. "As much as I hate to say this, we should probably get moving. The others will ask questions if we're late."
Jay nodded and let her climb off of him. "Should we tell Voight? About us?"
Hailey paused in pulling on her dressing gown. "No," she shook her head. "I think we should keep things between us. For now, at least."
"Are you sure that's the best idea," Jay grabbed his shorts from the floor.
"I don't know," Hailey shrugged. "It's not like I have a lot of experience with this kind of thing. But I think we need to see how this is all going to work, you know? How this affects work and how work affects this. Once we got everything all figured out, once we've proven that neither is going to interfere with the other, then we can go and talk to Voight together. How does that sound?"
Jay came up behind her and hooked his chin over her shoulder. "Sounds like a plan to me."
Jay dropped Hailey off a few blocks away from the district later that morning before he headed back to his place to grab a change of clothes. Kim was already there setting up her desk alongside Adam. "Damn Burgess," Hailey whistled. "You sure do brighten up a room!"
"What about me?" Adam asked.
Hailey wrinkled her nose. "You're alright, I guess."
The man feigned offence as Hailey settled at her desk, pulling out the papers and forms she'd need for the day. Jay came up the stairs a few moments later. He acknowledged them all with a small wave and headed to the break room. When he came back into the bullpen, Jay had two mugs of coffee in his hands. He dropped one off on Hailey's desk and took a seat at his own, digging through the files waiting there for him.
"Hey, hey," Adam spotted the mugs. "Where's our coffee?"
"You got legs," Jay shot back, not looking up from the page he was feeding into his typewriter. "Pots in the back. Fill it up if you empty it."
"I wonder," Adam rolled his head over to Kim, his eyes wide and pleading. "What a partner's got to do to get service like that."
"I don't know," Kim mused, her eyes not looking up from her desk. "Maybe you should try following Jay's lead. Then you can let me know."
Hailey tried not to laugh at the dumbfounded look on Adam's face as Kim walked off to the storeroom with her empty boxes, leaving his behind. She shared a look with Jay across their desks, but the man just shook his head. Neither knew Adam well enough to tell if he was just teasing or trying to test a boundary. After all, being equal to a lady officer, as he was now expected to act, was a Voight rule, not a department one. Still, one thing was for sure, Kim could hold her own no matter which it was.
When Kim got back, they fell into the monotony of paperwork. Chattering away as they made sure all their ducks were in a row before they officially turned the smuggling case over to the states attorney's office. Hailey was just debating getting up for another coffee when Voight came flying out of his office. "We're on the move," he barked over his shoulder. "Adam, Kim, you're with me. You two are on my hip today. Hailey and Jay wait five minutes, then follow. We can't all arrive at once. Meet us at 4921 South Ellis Avenue."
"Kenwood," Hailey's eyebrows shot up at the ritzy address. Could this be about the home invasions Rafferty had looped her in on just before she joined the unit? No, a robbery wouldn't make Voight act so quickly. Not unless they had finally escalated.
"Leave your guns," Voight continued as though she hadn't spoken. "Make sure your badges are out of sight. Play it like we're just visiting."
"What's going on Sarge," Kim tugged on her coat.
"There's been a kidnapping," the older man explained. "Beckett Ferris."
"Ferris," Jay repeated. "Like the department store?"
"His son," Voight replied. "And also superintendent Crawford's nephew. He's called us in specifically. Five minutes."
"Then we leave," Hailey repeated his earlier instruction.
Hailey tried not to let her jaw drop when they pulled up to the massive red brick house a half-hour later. She always thought her grandfather had a large home, but it could have fit inside this one three times over easily. Jay parked on the street, right behind Voight's car. Neither their boss nor Kim or Adam were anywhere to be seen. "You ready to do this?" Jay asked, opening her door. Hailey nodded and let him help her out of the truck, keeping her hand tucked in the crook of his elbow as he led the way up to the house.
A familiar face to them both answered the door, Superintendent Jason Crawford. "Good, you're here," the man ushered them inside. "Follow me. Everyone's in the solarium."
They followed the man through the house to a back room off the kitchen. Voight Adam and Kim sat along one side of a table while three others sat across from them.
Voight gave them the briefest nod as they walked in. "Mr and Mrs Ferris, Mrs Crawford, these are the last two members of my team, Detectives Jay Halstead and Hailey Upton."
Mr Ferris rose from his chair. He was a tall, weedy man with dark hair and grey eyes. "Thank you for coming," his voice was as frail as he looked as he reached out to shake their hands. Though with everything he was going through, it was understandable.
Mrs Ferris, however, didn't even spare them a second glance as she looked between the Superintendent and his wife. "Jason," her voice was as shaky as her husband's. "Are you sure this is a good idea? The letter said—"
"You received a letter?" Voight cut in. He fixed the Superintendent with a look. "You never told us that."
"I was waiting until your all of team arrived to delve into things," Crawford stammered. "I didn't want to waste time repeating the details."
"So instead, we wasted time just sitting here," Voight lifted an eyebrow. "We could have-"
"Can we see the letter," Jay interrupted the fight before it could really get started. "Please."
"Of course," Mr Ferris lifted his placemat and passed the envelope laying underneath to Jay.
The team all rose from their chairs and gathered around to read.
As you are no doubt aware by now, your child has been kidnapped. Rest assured that they are, at present, alive and well. You need not fear this change in so long as you follow our instructions to the letter. The penalty for deviating from our instructions, even slightly, will be your child's life.
1. Make no attempt to contact the police or private agency. Should they already be involved, do not inform them of this letter.
2. Secure before noon tomorrow a sum of twenty thousand dollars ($20 000). This money is to be comprised of only old bills in the following denominations:
$9,000 in hundred dollar bills
$6,000 in fifty dollar bills
$4,000 in twenty-dollar bills
$1,000 in ten dollar bills
Any attempt to include new or marked bills will result in the immediate death of your child.
3. Place the money in a suitably large briefcase, and keep this with you at all times.
4. Remain at home, further instructions will be delivered to you by telephone tomorrow at one o'clock P.M.
Sir, take note, to us, this is little more than a business transaction. The life of your child is nothing more than a means to an end. We will not hesitate to execute them should we have the grounds to believe you have violated any of our instructions. Do as we say, and upon receipt of the money, your child will be returned to you unharmed within six hours.
Yours ever watching,
"When did this arrive?" Hailey asked. She took the ransom note from Jay's hands and read it again. There wasn't much to it on the surface other than the content of the letter. Two pages, no markings, typewritten, even the signature. But still, there was something about it that made her brain scream an unknown warning.
"Last night, with the evening mail," Mrs Ferris said. "I wasn't sure what to do. My sister only convinced us to talk to Jason this morning. He called your boss right away."
Last night. They were twelve hours behind the kidnappers, at least. For kidnappings, despite the promises of the letter, that was never a good thing.
"And how did you find out about this, Mrs Crawford?" Kim asked the other woman.
"I was here," the red-headed woman replied. "I was visiting my sister when it arrived. I heard Helen scream and came running. I begged her to tell Jason right away, but what they said in the letter shook her."
"It shook us both," Mr Ferris added.
"Should we be worried," Mrs Ferris asked. "They said no police, but Marie insisted that we call Jason, and—"
"They probably don't know the connection Helen," the Superintendent put a hand on the frantic woman's shoulder.
"And we played it safe in coming here," Voight assured. "It's why we came in groups like we did. And with women on the team, to anyone who might be watching, it just makes us look all the more like visitors."
Mrs Ferris nodded, but she still looked doubtful. "We're going to divide up," Voight continued. "Mrs Ferris, Marie, if you two would please go with Officers Ruzek and Burgess, they're going to ask you a few more questions. Mr Ferris, I want you here talking with my detectives. Jason, a word?"
Voight didn't wait for a response from any of them. He just walked out of the room, the Superintendent hot on his heels.
"Mrs Ferris, why don't we go to the parlour," Kim suggested. "It's more comfortable there. Officer Ruzek and I just want to know a little more about Beckett and maybe the happenings of the house the last few days. Would that be alright?"
The woman nodded. "If you think it would help."
"It would, ma'am," Adam nodded. "Lead the way."
Jay and Hailey waited until the group had left the room before sitting at the table with Mr Ferris.
"Sir," Jay started.
"Please," the man waved a hand. "Call me Jacob."
"Jacob," Hailey nodded. "Did you have any suspicion to believe that something had happened to Beckett before the letter arrived?"
"No, but he was late, and he wasn't home. We were getting worried," Jacob thought back. "I was just about to go out and look for him when the letter arrived."
"And what time was that?" Jay asked, his face buried in his notepad.
"Around seven-thirty, I believe."
"And it's usual for Beckett to be out that late?" Hailey went on. "On a school night?"
"Usual no," Jacob shook his head. "But we knew that he was going to the sailing club after school. He was helping them tear down for the winter. Bringing in the buoys, getting all the club gear stored away, things like that. When he wasn't home by dinner, Helen and I figured it was just taking a little longer than he expected."
"Alright," Jay nodded. "And what about school? Where does Beckett go?"
"The Harvard School," he replied. "It's one of the top-rated private schools in the city, and it's only a few blocks away."
"Does he walk to and from," Jay pressed gently. "Or does someone drive him?"
"Usually, he walks," Jacob responded. "But on occasion, my chauffeur and I will drop him off on the way into the office. If the weather's bad, or if he's dawdled a little getting ready."
"Have there been any issues at the school?" Hailey took over. "Any fights with other students, anything that a boy would be more comfortable talking about with his father, rather than his mother?"
"No," Jacob shook his head. "No, nothing like that. Beckett is a popular boy. He's always just been able to draw people to him. I don't think he's ever been in a fight in his life. Not even an argument. He's too charming a lad for that."
"There's nothing you can think of?" Hailey pressed. "Nothing at all, nothing out of the ordinary."
"He has been struggling in his English class for the last few months," Jacob said after a moment. "A few missed assignments, a failed test or two. It's never been his best subject, and the material has only gotten harder. But his teacher Mr Donovan was helping him make it up."
"Helping him how?" Jay questioned.
"Tutoring. At lunch mostly, occasionally before or after school," the man explained. "And giving Beckett a few extra assignments, letting him take a makeup test."
"And it's been working?"
"Oh very much," the man nodded. "Mr Donovan has been a godsend. A teacher that really cares, they're rarer than you'd like them to be."
"Do you know if Beckett had a session with him yesterday?" Hailey asked.
"Not that I'm aware of," he sniffed. "But Mr Donovan would know, of course. I'm sure he'd be more than willing to help. Will you be speaking with him? And the school? Or would that be too big of a tip-off?"
"No, Sir, it wouldn't," Jay shook his head. "We'll talk to the school, find a way to be discreet."
"Mr Ferris," Hailey continued. "Have you noticed anything odd around the house the last few weeks? People you don't know in or around the property? Any workers in and out of the house, maybe?"
"Not that I've realized no," Jacob replied. "I think the gardener has pulled in a few extra hands to help with all the leaves. It being fall and all. But he usually just brings his sons."
"A house like this," Jay looked around the room. "I assume you have other staff as well?"
"We do," Jacob breathed. "Besides the gardener, there's the head housekeeper. She also doubled as our governess when Beckett was a boy. There are a couple of maids, a cook and our chauffeur. But I, we, trust all of them implicitly. None of them could be involved in something like this. We treat our staff well. Pay them well. We think of them more as part of the family, really."
"Of course," Hailey gave him a reassuring smile. "But we would like to talk with them. With you at work, and Mrs Ferris busy with her charities, you two are out of the house for hours at a time while they're still here. They may have seen things around the home that you haven't. Things that are out of the ordinary."
"Yes," Mr Ferris nodded. "Yes, that makes sense. I'll make you a list, give you their addresses."
"That would be a great help, Mr Ferris," Jay passed the man a sheet of paper from the back of his pad. "Just a few more questions."
The man nodded for Jay to continue. "Your work, it makes you high profile," he started. "You're one of the richest men in Chicago. Everyone knows Ferris Department Store. Everyone shops there. I assume you've received threats before, maybe ones you haven't told your wife about."
Jacob looked down at his hands. "Yes," he whispered. "I didn't want to worry her."
"Did you keep a copy of those threats?"
"I did," he nodded. "I wanted to burn them. The things people will say in a letter that they'd never say to your face. Like the written word provides some kind of freedom or anonymity. But my lawyer advised against it. They're all at the office. But not one of them has ever mentioned my son. And I haven't received one in over a year."
"We'd still like to see them," Hailey said. "Assess them for ourselves."
"I'll have them sent to your office right away."
"Have them sent here," Jay told him. "With your permission, of course. But it makes the most sense for us to run the investigation out of here. We're in and out of the house less that way. Makes a stronger appearance of us being visitors. Some family or friends visiting from out of town. If they are watching, it gives them no reason to suspect anything."
Mr Ferris nodded again. "I'll make the arrangements. Anything you need, anything at all. Please, just find my son."
"We'll do everything we can, Sir," Jay assured. They weren't the words Mr Ferris wanted to hear. They both knew that. But still, they were far better than a promise that they might not be able to keep.
"Mr Ferris has received threats," Jay relayed as the team gathered in the solarium, alone this time. "He's going to have copies brought here for us to go over. But he says it's been a year since the last one came in."
"Good," Voight grunted.
"Mrs Ferris didn't know much," Kim checked her notes. "They've not had any work done on the house or property since they finished putting in the tennis courts two years ago. There's staff, they gave them all the day off when the letter came in. The chauffeur, a mister Thomas Deerhurst, lives above the garage, but everyone else lives off-site. She's sending out word, asking them all to come in."
"And Mr Ferris gave us their addresses," Hailey supplied. "In case any are hesitant, we can go get them ourselves."
"Beckett was helping at the sailing club, or he was supposed to be anyway," Hailey added. "He was going to help them close out for the season, but we don't know if he made it there. But that's why Mr and Mrs Ferris didn't call it in earlier. They thought he was just delayed at the club."
"What about school?" Voight asked.
"Nothing," Jay replied. "He's been working with his English teacher, Mr Donovan, getting some extra help, but that's it. No fights with other students, no disciplinary actions, at least none that's been reported back to his parents."
Voight shook his head and looked around at them all. "Any early hunches? We're way behind these guys. I'll take anything you got."
"There's something about the letter," Hailey spoke up. "I can't put my finger on it yet, but there's just something about it that's making my gut twist."
"Give it another look over on your drive to the school," Voight ordered. "I'll make the call, inform the principal, have that teacher waiting for you and Jay when you get there. Swing by the sailing club too, see if Beckett ever arrived. We'll interview the staff as they arrive. Keep your heads on swivels, see if you can make out anyone tailing you. Try and get the drop on 'em if you do."
"Got it, Boss," Jay nodded and grabbed his and Hailey's coats off their chairs as they headed towards the door. They were already two steps behind their kidnapper, there was no more time to waste.
Thanks for reading!
So this is the start of what was promised in the description. We're finally delving into the storyline that takes its inspiration from the infamous Leopold and Loeb case. The ransom letter here has some excerpts from the actual ransom note they sent. It is a pretty intense and honestly horrific case, so do pay attention to potential trigger warnings in the coming chapters. Those will appear in the top note, and if I ever don't include them when you guys think maybe they should be, please let me know, and I'll make the change.
Hey all! Welcome back to another chapter! It's late again; I know I'm sorry! I'm gonna stop putting any type of schedule out there and just promise to get the next ones out as quickly as I can. Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"So you didn't have a session with Beckett Ferris yesterday," Hailey questioned the man in front of her.
"No," Neil Donovan, Beckett's English teacher, pushed his glasses higher up his nose. "We've been scaling back on those. Beckett has been doing much better in class, seems to be grasping the material more easily. Though, given what's happened, now I'm wishing we had."
"One last question, Mr Donovan," Jay looked up from his notebook. "What were you up to last night?"
The man before them startled. So far, all of their questions had been solely focused on Beckett. How was he at school? Did he have many friends? Had he been involved in any fights with other students? Were there any behavioural issues that hadn't been reported back to his parents? "I'm sorry," Mr Donovan straightened up and crossed his arms over his chest. "How is that any of your business?"
"It's a standard question," Jay shrugged. "A child's missing. We want to know as much as we can about the movements of the people in his life."
"It's meant to be an exclusionary question, Mr Donovan," Hailey explained to the teacher. "Not accusatory."
Neil sniffed and rolled his shoulders. "Of course, I understand. We had a faculty dinner last night. At The Willow, over on Clarke."
Jay scribbled that into his notes. "What time were you there?"
"We all met at the restaurant for a five o'clock reservation. Stayed for a few hours," the teacher started. "Then we went onto Mr Barton, the headmaster's, house for a nightcap. I think it was around ten o'clock when I called it a night and hailed a cab."
"Is there anyone who can confirm that?" Jay asked.
"Well, the entire staff," Mr Donovan frowned. "We were all there last night."
"What about at home," Jay pressed. "Is there anyone there who can confirm what time you got back?"
"Does there need to be?" The man was back on the defensive again.
Jay frowned at him. "You tell me."
A muscle twitched in the teacher's jaw. "I have a roommate," he ground out finally. "He can vouch for when I got home. Didn't leave the house again until coming to work this morning."
"Alright," Hailey nodded at the man and nudged Jay down the hall. "Thank you, Mr Donovan. We'll be in touch if we have more questions."
"I hope," the man said as they turned to walk away. "You find him. Beckett is a good kid. He's got a bright future ahead of him. He's not just going to be another one of those privileged kids, you know? Living off of the family money. Pretending to be a part of the family business. He's going to make something of himself, do some good in this world."
"Thank you," Jay gave the man a small nod. "You have a good day Mr Donovan."
They talked with a few more teachers and the principal, getting more information about Beckett's life at the school and confirming Mr Donovan's alibi before they headed out to the sailing club. But that had been a fruitless endeavour. The club president told them that Beckett had been expected but never showed up. No one had thought anything of it, really. Beckett was a kid; kid's forget things. They all went about their clean up and finished around six before going their separate ways. He gave them a list of all the club members, pointing out who had been there the day before, but Beckett had been the only one expected who didn't show.
From there, they went to the restaurant Mr Donovan had mentioned. The Maitre d' remembered the group and confirmed that they were all there from five o'clock until nearly eight. And no one had left the table for more than a few minutes at a time. On the drive back to the Ferris home, Jay mulled over the information they'd gathered while Hailey went over the ransom note again. A few things in it jumped out at her, things that screamed wrong, but there was still something about it that she couldn't quite figure out, and it made her stomach twist.
Voight was waiting for them back by the garage when they arrived.
"We think we've narrowed down the window," Jay said as he got out of the truck. "The school's final bell is at two-thirty, and it takes about twenty minutes to walk from there to the sailing club."
"Give Beckett another ten maybe twenty minutes," Hailey took over. "To get his things together after the last bell. Maybe talk with his friends in the yard before heading off. He should have gotten to the docks between three and shortly after."
"So we extend that out," Voight nodded. "I'll get the word to patrol, tell them to ask people in the area what they saw between, let's say, two-thirty and three-thirty, just to cover our bases. What about the note, Hailey?"
"There are a few things," she passed the letter over to her boss. "For starters, they don't refer to Beckett once in the whole letter.
"That's not that unusual," Jay countered. "It disassociates them from him. Not using his name makes it easier to see Beckett as a thing, not a person or a child. So they can do whatever they're doing to him."
"But that's just it," Hailey argued. "I'm not just saying they aren't using his name. I'm saying they aren't using anything specific at all. They don't use 'he' or 'him.' They don't say 'your son' or even 'your boy'. It's 'your child'. Throughout the entire letter, not once is there anything identifying Beckett in any way. That's too impersonal."
"It lets the parents disassociate," Voight nodded along. "Makes them think it could all be a mistake."
"Exactly," she shrugged. "It's not even addressed to the Ferris's. They could have slipped this into any mailslot at any house on the street and gotten the same result. They just happened to pick the one whose brother in law is the superintendent of Police."
"So what," Jay asked. "You're saying you think this was completely random? They saw Beckett on the street and just said, 'yeah, that's the one?' How would they know the ransom could be paid?"
"Look at the school, Jay," Hailey argued. She knew he didn't doubt her, not really. He was just asking the questions anyone else would, trying to look at all sides of things. "Look at the area. Any one of the families on this block could afford it without blinking an eye. It'd be a drop in the bucket for them. It's actually a little strange they're not asking for more."
"Alright," Voight broke in. "Anything else?"
"The use of plurals."
"What do you mean?"
"Look," Hailey pointed out several lines in the letter. "They say 'we' and 'us,' all throughout the letter. But look at the signature. It's only signed by one person. George Gregory."
"You think it could be a misdirect?" Jay guessed.
"Yeah," she nodded. "We waste resources trying to find this George Gregory, and it—"
"Sends us on a wild goose chase," Voight concluded. "While they get away with the money. What about the teacher? Should we be keeping an eye on him? Or anyone else at the school?"
Jay took in a breath. "Not sure. I think he's hiding something, but his alibi is solid for the night. It doesn't mean he isn't involved, but..."
"He doesn't seem the type," Hailey finished as Jay nodded in agreement. "He seemed genuinely upset with the news, and he seems to really care about Beckett. It could just be an act, but it doesn't feel like it. What about here?"
"All the staff came in," Voight said. "They didn't really give us anything useful. Beckett wasn't even expected home before most of them left for the day, so nothing was amiss to them. But for now, we have a bigger wrinkle to deal with."
"Is that wrinkle why we're parking back here all of a sudden?" Jay asked.
"It is," Voight crossed his arms over his chest. "There are some visitors, the Lloyd family. They live up the street; Ferris and Lloyd are cousins. Apparently, there were plans to pop by for some tennis and tea."
"Do they know what's going on?"
"Only that Beckett's missing."
"So we're still playing into the letter's demands then," Jay asked. "Not letting these people know we're cops."
"Jacob and I are old college friends," Voight explained the ruse. "I'm here to discuss business. Jay, you and Kim are my kids, Hailey and Adam are your spouses. It seems to be working so far."
"Got it," Jay nodded. "Are we trying to get information out of them?"
"Only if you think it won't tip your hand," he looked over his shoulder at the house. "You ready?"
It was amazing watching Voight flip the switch from himself to whatever character he had been playing as they made their way into the mansion. "They're finally back," he beamed as they entered the drawing-room. "Robert, this is my son Jay and his fianceé, Hailey. Jay, this is Robert Lloyd."
"Mr Lloyd," Jay took Hailey's hand in his and offered his free one to the man standing by the mantle. "How are you, Sir?"
"I'd say well," the man, Robert, shook Jay's hand. He wasn't a tall man, but Hailey wouldn't have called him short either, with a solid build gone slightly to seed. His light blonde locks hid the greying at his temples, and his brown eyes swam with sadness. "But this news. It's absolutely dreadful business."
"It is," Hailey nodded solemnly. Robert put a hand on her shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze. "So you're related to the Ferris's?"
"Distantly," Robert nodded. "Jacob and I are second cousins. But we live nearby, and my son," he gestured across the room to a young man talking with Kim and Adam on one of the sofas. "Is only a few years older than Beckett. They were supposed to play tennis today. Beckett beat Russell quite badly the last time out. He came today hoping for a rematch."
Hailey watched the young man, who looked very much like his father, as he gestured wildly as he spoke. If the look on her face was any indication, Kim was less than impressed with whatever the younger Lloyd was saying. While Adam looked ready to leap across the coffee table at him.
"… I'm only saying," Hailey heard him say as they approached. "That if we, as a society, are going to truly overcome our current constraints and grow as we should, then we must return to the natural order of things. We need to become great men again, or at least rediscover the path to doing so, and not be afraid to take it. Be the warriors, the thinkers, the artists we once were. Women don't have a place in those spheres of the world. It's was admirable, of course, the way you all stepped up while the men fulfilled our warrior aspect during the war, but even you must see that you all are far better suited—"
"Russell," Robert interrupted his son's lecture sternly.
The young man seemed little more than a boy up close as he looked up at them with wide eyes. Unlike his father's dark eyes, which were twinkled with warmth even in his sadness, Russell's were just dark and cold. "Father, I'm only stating the teachings of—"
"Nietzsche," Hailey cut in, less than impressed. "And his idea of the übermensch."
Russell looked up at her in surprise. "You?" He looked Hailey up and down and she had to suppress a shudder under his gaze. "You've read Nietzsche? And you understood it?"
"I did," she gripped Jay's hand tighter. "Though I believe he's overlooking an important detail in his vision of the ideal world."
Russell sat up straighter. "And what would that be?"
"The traits he says are so virtuous to man," Hailey stared the boy down. "Temperance, humility, resilience, a ferocity to protect. Those are already traits that women have in abundance. Ones we've longed been praised for. You only need to look back to the war if you need an example. So tell me, Russell. Why should women, who by Nietzsche's own outline, already meet the definition of great, lower themselves to reproduce with the lesser men that currently populate the earth?"
Russell Lloyd didn't say anything, but his face grew redder and redder as Jay stifled a snort beside Hailey. Russell looked down at their linked hands and his mouth twisted. "This is your wife?" he asked Jay, but his dark eyes were glaring at Hailey.
"She will be," Jay bit back a smile.
"Maybe you should start minding what she reads," Russel rose from the sofa. "Or at least make sure she's able to grasp the concepts written before you allow her to form opinions on them. Excuse me."
"I apologize," Mr Lloyd looked between them all as Russell stormed from the room. "My son is a very bright young man. He graduated from Purdue two years ago at just sixteen. He's been taking graduate courses at the University of Chicago and plans to sit for the bar soon. But I'm afraid despite all that intelligence, his social graces are sometimes lacking."
"It's fine," Kim dismissed, though the look on her face said it was anything but. "At least he's passionate about something."
"Still," Robert took the seat vacated by his son. "Today of all days, he should realize it's neither the time nor place for his latest obsession."
A shrill ring echoed from down the hall, and the room fell silent. "Hello?" they could just make out Mr Ferris's voice.
Russell came back into the room with Mrs Ferris and another woman, his mother, Hailey assumed. "Yes," they heard Mr Ferris choke out. "Yes, I understand. I'll be there."
A moment later, he came into the drawing-room, with Voight on his heels. "Was that them?" Mrs Ferris looked to her husband tearfully.
"It was," he nodded shakily. "I'm to take the money and go to a pharmacy on Lower Wacker and Van Buren within the hour. They're going to call there with further instructions."
"I'll drive you," Voight offered. To the Lloyd's, it would look like a friendly gesture, an offer of support. But really, he was going to keep an eye out. To see if there was indeed a tail on the Ferris's, or if anyone was staking out the pharmacy, waiting for the man to arrive.
Robert stood from the sofa and pulled Jacob in for a strong hug. "We'll be on our way," He said softly. "Don't want to be a distraction to you, but you'll be in our thoughts. And if you need anything, please just ask."
"Thank you, Robert," Jacob nodded and turned to Voight. "We should go. I don't want to miss that call."
"Lead the way."
Mrs Ferris's balled her hands into her skirt as they watched Mr Ferris, Voight and the Lloyds leave. Once she was sure they were alone, she looked to Hailey and Jay, her eyes full of desperation. "Did you find anything?"
"We've narrowed down the window of when Beckett could have been taken," Jay explained softly. "It had to have been right after school."
"He never made it to the sailing club?"
"No, Ma'am," Hailey shook her head. "Patrol officers are going to talk with people that live in the area, see if anyone saw anything suspicious at the time we believe he was taken."
"Is that safe," Mrs Ferris looked between them all. "Won't that alert the kidnappers if they're there?"
"The officers won't give details," Kim soothed, taking the woman's hand in hers. "They'll just say that there's a missing person in the area. And ask residents if they saw anything. The less information they give out, the more sure we can be of the answers."
The woman breathed a sigh of relief. "Mrs Ferris," Hailey stood. "Why don't we get you some tea? Maybe sit outside a minute for some fresh air?"
It felt like a lifetime before Voight and Jacob walked back into the house. The sun had long set, and there was little else for the officers to do other than go over their notes for the hundredth time and make sure Mrs Ferris wasn't going to go over faint. Finally, they heard the sound of a door opening and the shuffling of feet in the hall. Just as Kim and Hailey had supported his wife to the kitchen earlier, Jacob Ferris leaned against Voight as the men made their way into the drawing-room. They weren't more than two steps into the room before Mrs Ferris was on her feet, clutching at her husband's jacket.
"Did they say anything," she begged. "Did they tell you where Beckett is?"
Jacob shook his head and guided his wife back to the couch. "They just gave more instructions. They wouldn't even put him on the phone."
They all watched as the woman broke down in her husband's arms, each of them looking to the others in the hopes one of them would know what to say or do. Voight jerked his head towards the door, a gesture for them all to follow him out of the room. They all went without hesitation.
"They want Jacob to deliver the money tomorrow night," Voight whispered as they huddled together in the hall. "Six o'clock, at a factory on North Seely."
"And that's all they said," Kim chewed at her lip. "Just bring the money to this factory?"
"That's pretty much everything," Voight pulled off his tie.
"So what do we do now," Adam shrugged. "Interview the staff again, or that English teacher? He doesn't actually have an alibi for when Beckett was taken, right?"
"For now," Voight said. "We get some rest. Go home, be back here tomorrow morning, seven a.m. We'll see what patrol has dug up, run down any leads they find, and dig into this factory. I'm going to call the desk Sargeant on duty tonight, have them increase patrols in the area."
"Boss," Adam tried, but Voight held up a hand.
"The Ferris's are done," he shook his head. "They need to rest, and so do we. We're no good to them if we're too tired to think clearly. Patrols doing their work. They'll let us know if anything major kicks off. So go home, rest, come back in the morning with fresh eyes and a clear head."
"Sarge," Adam's frown deepened.
"It's an order," Voight cut him off. "Go home. All of you."
Hailey watched the city flick by as Jay drove them back to her apartment. "Are you sure you want me to stay," he asked hesitantly once they were out of the truck. "A day like today, I'd understand if you'd rather be alone."
Hailey reached out and grabbed his bag from the truck bed. "I want you here," she shrugged. "But if you'd rather be alone, then I'd understand."
Jay wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Let's get inside. It's getting cold out here."
Hailey let out a breath and wrapped her free arm around his waist as they made their way inside. They didn't let go of each other the entire way up to her apartment. Once inside, they only separated long enough to take their coats off before Hailey stepped back into his arms. "You hungry?" He asked, his voice muffled from where his lips were pressed against the top of her hair.
"Not really," she shook her head against his collarbone. "You?"
"No," he chuckled. "But we should have something. We haven't eaten since breakfast."
Hailey nodded and pressed a kiss to Jay's chest before, reluctantly, stepping out of his arms. She went into the kitchen and checked the fridge to see what she had; it wasn't much. But she did have bread, cheese and butter. "Grilled cheese sandwiches sound good to you?"
Jay nodded and leaned against the counter. "Sounds perfect, actually."
With that, she set to work, warming the pan on the stovetop, buttering the bread, slicing the cheese, and gently slapping Jay's hands away whenever he tried to help. "It's my turn to cook for you," she insisted. "This isn't exactly the dazzling display of culinary skills I was planning to wow you with, but it'll do for now. So just go sit, would you?"
"'Wow me,' huh?" Jay shot her a tired smirk as he slumped into a chair at the table. "Sounding pretty confident there, Upton."
"Well," she popped two of the sandwiches on the frying pan and started to assemble the next. "I was practically raised in a kitchen. Those aren't skills you forget."
"Oh yeah?" he propped his head onto his hand and watched her work. "Your mom teach you all the family recipes then?"
"My dad," Hailey replied, flipping the sandwiches. "My parents own a restaurant in Greektown. Have since I was little. My brothers and I worked there from the time we were able to hold a broom."
"You didn't want to take over the family business?"
"God no," she snorted. "Philip might have if he'd lived. He was really good in the kitchen. Cooking or baking, it didn't matter; if he made it, it was going to be the best thing you ever tasted. And he loved cooking for a crowd. Thought it was the best thing ever."
"But not you?"
"Nope," she shook her head and popped the sandwiches in the oven to keep warm while the next two cooked. "I mean, I can cook, and sometimes I even like it. But not for a faceless crowd. For me, and my friends. People I know and like, whose company I actually get to enjoy."
"Like me?" Jay grinned.
Hailey smiled softly and walked over to him. "Yeah," she pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. "Kinda like you."
They fell into a comfortable silence as Hailey went back to finish cooking their meal. Then she sliced the sandwiches and popped them on the table, sitting across from Jay as they tucked into the food. Hailey must have been hungrier than she thought because she all but inhaled the first sandwich and quickly reached for a second as Jay did the same.
"It's been a long day," he said around his last mouthful of food. "Do you wanna head to bed or stay up a little longer?"
"Definitely bed," she sighed tiredly, pushing herself up from the table with a groan. "You coming?"
Jay reached out and took her hand in his, letting Hailey tug him to his feet as she led the way back to her bedroom. They changed quickly and slipped under the covers, seeking each other out in the middle of the mattress. Hailey rested her head on Jay's chest and slung her arm across his waist while his fingers trailed up her back to toy with the ends of her hair. Between that and the sound of his heartbeat, Hailey felt herself drift closer and closer to sleep.
"Jay?" she asked softly, fighting to keep her eyes open.
"Do you think we're going to get him back?"
Jay dropped a kiss to the top of her head and let out a hard breath. "I don't know."
Thanks for reading! Also, remember Nietzsche was a sexist dick! So don't read his shit unless you're forced to!