The night was calm, the lights shining on the skyscrapers of Point Creek. It called every bohemian and ne'er do wells towards the center, the neon lights and pounding baselines beckoning whoever was on the outside of the many clubs in the city. Bars and pubs were packed full of people, both enjoying and suffering the night away. Fortunately, for Marcus, the night promised nothing more than a hot meal, a comfortable couch and binge watching whatever good series caught his fancy on Netflix. He looked through the window, towards the night sky, and saw the heavy clouds covering all but small patches of the night, promising a heavy rain, if nothing else. Markus frowned, but ultimately sighed. There was nothing he could do about the weather, no matter how much he tried, and even though he was promised by the 7 o'clock news that no rain would fall that night, the trip to the grocery store would wait. He hated to do that, claiming that it was unfair for the workers, especially in motorcycles, to work in such conditions, but he would need to order something later in the night. He always got hungry after midnight.
Setting his plate of pasta on the small kitchen table of his small home, on the fringe between the center of the city and the suburbs, he turned on the TV, watching the news before getting ready to take a shower and resume his night plans, taking the edge off of the current case he was working on. His mind started to grind the gears of the next steps on his investigation, but he pushed it aside, with difficulty, focusing on the 10pm news report. The news talked about the same: Crime rates rising, organized crime in an all time high. So called “specialists” blaming poor police work, while at the same time complaining why taxes are so high. A mere ten minutes has passed before Markus changed channels to something more stimulating than the news. A new episode of Spongebob started, and he calmly continued his dinner.
The crimson stained her fingers as she tried in vain to staunch the flow of blood. It was getting to the point where the wound was no longer sending coursing streams of pain down her body, rather numbing down to a throbbing ache. The petite woman staggered down the back alleyways, vaguely aware of the way her white silk dress tangled around her ankles. Her heels were gone, but she didn't feel the way the cold sidewalks stung at the soles of her feet, a bad sign if anything. Where was it? One street down, the third house...
Stella DeLano definitely didn't expect that she'd get shot that night, much less stagger down an alleyway in search of him. But she was, there was no hiding it. Her hair, usually set in perfect, neat curls, was in absolute disarray, strands of hair slipping down her shoulders from her pinned updo. The pearl colored silk was marred with blood as it slowly seeped through the fabric, coating her abdomen in the ghastly color. Stella could hear the pounding music of the clubs and raves a few streets away: it seemed close, but maybe that was simply her heart pounding in her ears. She could hear her breaths too, faint gasps of air that didn't seem to be taking much oxygen.
The first few drops of the rain began to drizzle down, coating the struggling woman in its dewey mist. Luckily, she didn't have to wait for long until she staggered up to the doorstep, her cheek pressing against the cold finish of the wood in relief. She raised her right hand to knock, then thought better of it when she saw her bloodied hand. She raised her left hand, only the tips of her fingers glistening with the sanguine substance, and used the heel of her hand to pound against the door. Once, twice, three times. She hoped the good detective heard her and was slow in opening the door--she wasn't exactly an expected visitor.
Stella leaned against the door heavily and waited, her eyes closing as the edges of her vision became fuzzy.
Markus finished his dinner the moment the second episode ended. The detective prized himself in having a tidy home, his small kitchen as clean as a whistle. He placed his plate on the sink, grabbing the sponge and detergent, but as soon as he started scrubbing, thunder struck. The patter of the rain slowly rose in volume, Markus taking a deep breath before closing the window. The smell of rain was always good on the first minutes. He finished on his dishes, dried up his hands and went towards the bathroom, when something else than the sounds of the rain reached his ears.
A knock on the door? He was pretty sure he didn't order anything yet, and nobody really visited. In the years he was in the city, he made nothing but acquaintances, and most of them on the precinct. His mind was still reeling from the sudden relocation, and he focused on his work. He grabbed his gun, resting on the table on his bedroom, and walked over the front door, turning the door with his left hand. As soon as the latch cleared from the hinge, the full weight of someone came crashing onto him, and he staggered backwards, letting the blood and rain soaked woman fall down in his front step.
He stared, his mind blank for a solid five seconds, when a rush of thoughts came at once. At first, he didn't recognize the woman, his main thoughts ranged from "Why is there a woman in my floor" to "Oh god she's bleeding" to "What the hell happened". As soon as he saw the woman's hand He took off his t-shirt, training kicking in at full force, staunching the flow of blood from the wound. "Hey, hold on, don't die on me! Hey, hey, talk to me!" He cleared the face of the woman from the hair, rain and blood, to better let her breathe, when everything in his mind stopped. He knew that woman. He saw her face countless times in reports, investigations, always near her father, always involved in something that caused Markus headaches.
-- When the door swung open, Stella had originally let a sigh of relief slip out from her lips, grateful that she had sagged against a body, propping her up. Of course, she had counted her blessings far too soon, as the next step that the person took was taking a step backwards, away, causing her to crumple on the floor, a soft cry of pain slipping from her lips. The jarring action shook her head far too fast and everything in her vision blurred. It took a few blinks of her matted, dark lashes for her vision to finally clear. Her hands had immediately come to cradle her wound, though the gesture did nothing to alleviate the pain.
Her hand was replaced by cloth of some sort, and a slight tilt of her head confirmed her suspicions: the detective was working to save her. Despite the direness of the situation, a small smile curved on her plum-lined lips, her eyes glazed over. The man was almost too good for this rotten, stinking city. She figured he knew her well, and well--she knew everyone in Point Creek: it was her business to. It was almost ironic, considering that the man had a healthy dislike of the circles she ran around in, and was known in her family for being a big pain in the ass. "Grant's back at it again, goddamnit," was a common grumbled sentiment in her family: the man was notorious for ruining their schemes.
"H-had--n-no--o-one--e-else--I--c-c-c-cou-ld--t-trus-st." She gasped out as the hair and blood matting on her face was cleared away by the man hovering over her. Her mouth opened once more for another statement, but the exhaustion and pain crashed over her, and the inky oblivion claimed her as she passed out.
"Are... are you fucking kidding me?" Markus exclaimed as his daze passed. "What the fu- Why th- Whe- What the hell is going on?" He sputtered, still frantically trying to make sense of the situation. Stella DeLano, the Ice Queen, daughter of the biggest mafia boss of the whole town, bleeding in his newly put carpet. He looked at the outside: The rain now heavy on the streets, and because of that, nobody could see the desperation in his eyes or the confusion ins his motions. "Hey, DeLano! Hey! I want you in jail, not dead, goddammit!" He exclaimed, hauling the girl in his arms and closing the door with his feet. Time was of the essence, and it would be a hell of a time explaining the precinct why she was dead on his house.
He rushed with her to his bedroom, carefully placing her on the bed, not caring about the blankets that his mother sent from New York. He rushed to the bathroom, claiming a first aid kit that was carefully placed on a cupboard under the sink. He was lucky to have things over the basic necessity, his carelessness made him buy needles and surgical thread along with lots of other things, making his small bag shying away from a EMT's unit. He checked for the things that he needed, but after precious seconds, he muttered a "What the fuck..." and rushed with the whole bag to the bedroom.
Stella was still immobile, the only telltale of her continued vitality was the soft movement of her chest, up and down, her breath faint but sure. "Okay, okay..." He shook his head while grabbing the surgical scissors, cutting the upper part of the silk dress, a large stain depicting various shades of red. He slowly peeled the cloth away from the wound, making her grimace in her unconsciousness. "Sorry, sorry..." He said, focusing on the gunshot. Taking a deep breath, Markus took the surgical pliers, shining some light with his phone on the inside of the wound. "Oh good, it didn't pierce through..." He sighed sharply and tried his hardest to not make it hurt more, but gasps and grunts of intense pain were elicited from Stella. "Almost done, hang in there!" He said, while finally pulling out the bullet from the hole. Sighing sharply again, he placed the bullet near the bag, on the blanket, and grabbed the needle and thread, before shaking his head. "Goddammit, I need to clean the wound!" He grabbed a patch of gauze and some saline solution, slowly cleaning the wound from the dried blood and rainwater. Stella grunted once again, still with her eyes closed, but it was necessary.
After cleaning the wound, he finished tying up the needle. "It's just a prickle. Or ten." He said, trying to ease up the situation in his own mind. He started with the arduous task of stitching the wound together. "You're glad I took first aid classes in New York, otherwise I'd have called the ambulance." He continued stitching, an obvious thought through his mind. "Wait, why didn't I call the ambulance?" Markus looked at the woman once more, shaking his head. "After I question her." He resumed his first aid, this time, silently.
After about an hour, he finished with everything. Plasters for the wounds and bruises, a large patch of gauze covering the bullet wound. Her breath had stabilized, and she almost looked like she was sleeping, if not for the blood all around her. Markus' hands, arms, pajama shirt and pants were stained with her blood, as he sat on the floor, exhausted. The rest was a waiting game.
She could hear his voice, desperate and with the same cadences she associated him with, but he seemed to be getting farther and farther away from her. As the warm envelope of unconsciousness wrapped around her, the last thing she remembered was Markus Grant working desperately for her life. Strange. The man should have detested her, should have sent her to the hospital and then to jail, but rather she was bleeding out on his bed. Strange, she thought, allowing herself to drift away.
It was a few hours before she was able to stir and wake up, a soft whimper of pain slipping through her lips as the action jostled her newly stitched wound. Stella parted her lips, her tongue flicking out and moistening the chapped skin as her dark lashes slowly fluttered open. She pressed her hand against the wound, a wince crossing her delicate features. With much difficulty, she pushed herself up, vaguely aware that the bed was stained with her blood. Once her back rested against something solid--what was it, a headboard? A wall? Stella managed to relax slightly, the weight on her shoulders decreasing exponentially.
She turned her head, a wry smile tugging at her lips. "Grant." She called, trying to get the man's attention from where he sat on the floor. "Grant," She called again, her voice a bit hoarse from the two hours of disuse.
Markus stared at Stella, asleep on the bed. His mind was still processing everything that happened, especially with the DeLanos. What did she mean by him being the only one she could trust? Did a major fallout happened in the inner circles of the family? He thought about calling the precinct multiple times, explaining everything, asking for backup, but something in her voice, her eyes, made him refrain from denouncing her. Fear. Sorrow. Desperation. He kept mulling over it, the adrenaline filtering out of his bloodstream. He didn't even register the time he fell asleep, still sitting on the floor, the soothing sounds of the rain helping him slumber.
He woke up with a hoarse voice calling his name. A feminine voice, pulling him out of dreamland. "Hmng, huh?" He said, drawing a sharp breath while looking around, startled. The detective looked everywhere until his eyes met hers, and he exhaled heavily. "It wasn't a fever dream..." He said, closing his eyes. After some silent seconds, he opened them again, looking at Stella. Her visage was more lively, albeit a bit pale, probably because of the blood loss. An ironic smile was painted on her face as she rested her back on the khaki wall, well lit by the fluorescent light above her. Grant slowly rose from the floor, shaking his hands to try and get the dried blood from his hands, in vain. Stretching, he let his arms fall in front of him, curving slightly to let them hang. "I will go to the kitchen." He started, staring at the woman. "I will get you something to drink and eat, since you look like you're half an inch away from stepping into a coffin. Then I will sit down and you'll explain everything. Everything." He straightened himself, looking at the window. The rain raged on. "You leave this room, you leave this bed, and you'll be in handcuffs faster than you could say 'innocent'." He turned his back to the girl and went to the kitchen.
The trip was short, and soon, Markus returned with a big bowl, along with a tall glass of water. Markus placed them on the end table near her, close to the portrait of his family. Markus, his father and mother were in the picture, the three smiling in what looked like a Christmas celebration. "Cereal. It's what I had at the ready. Now talk."
Stella watched as his gaze seemed to gravitate to everywhere else but her, but soon, her eyes were captured by him. She met his gaze evenly, wondering what he possibly could be thinking at that moment. Her eyes followed him as he stood up, announcing that he was getting her something to eat and drink, but her smooth expression soon contorted into a frown at his threat. How had he known that she had been about to get up and follow him? The man's foresight was too uncanny for her to deal with at the moment, so she simply desisted, slumping against the wall. How was she even going to begin with explaining? She wasn't even quite sure why she came to him in the first place: what was she even hoping to get accomplished.
By the time he re-entered the room, she still hadn't decided on where she wanted to begin or talk about. She gave him a thin, tired smile as thanks for the accommodation, and reached over to grab the glass. At first, she sipped daintily from the rim of the glass, but her parched mouth won out, and the rest of the water was drained in a few gulps. As she pulled away to set the glass on the nightstand, something caught her attention. A family portrait. Beside the frame, her empty glass sparkled in the dim light, the smear of lipstick along the rim bearing a sharp likeness to the blood that coated her body.
Stella picked up the frame, studying the three figures. Her eyes caught on the happiness, the cohesiveness, and her heart panged: she had once had that too. She decided not to start at the very beginning--she didn't him to give that sort of leverage over her. Besides, it wasn't relevant in her opinion. "My father wasn't always the notorious man you know now, Mister Grant." She began. "With my mother's murder, he has changed, and not for the better. He seems to be pulling away from giving aid, and going towards expanding his drug empire. He's also expanded his rings into prostitution as well. I'm not sure whether or not you have a daughter, much less a significant other, but I'll offer some advice. Your loved ones aren't meant to be used as whores for you to lend out just for your business purposes." She said bitterly, her eyes sparking with a renewed flame of fury.
The woman, as defeated as she seemed, was angry. "I don't agree with what my father is doing, and have been trying to undo it since...an unfortunate incident." She hummed, unwilling to expand more. "He found out. He shot me. I need help to take him down. End of story." The woman said, meeting the detective's gaze evenly.
Markus sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for Stella. As soon as her thirst overpowered her, he raised a worried hand. "Don't... don't drink too fast." He retracted to a neutral position as quickly as possible, continuing to watch the woman. He examined her expressions when she got the picture, suddenly vulnerable. "I'm having one of the most dangerous individuals of Point Creek in my house at this moment. What the hell am I doing..." he thought. Finally, she began to talk. Of course, about her father.
He knew that he wasn't the criminal mogul that he contested so much in the past two years. Markus studied the DeLano family's actions extensively, learning what he could about them, to see if there were any legal cracks he could pursue. The man was a steel wall of legality loopholes, and if Markus pursued something that was short of perfect, they'd have his head. However, Markus agreed that the Boss was more ruthless as of late. Operations on hard drugs rose in quantity and intensity the last six months, and escorts were commonly seen in the outer roads of the Plaza Strip, something that the rival families weren't as bold in doing. Of course, this revenue swelled DeLano's business, and his crusade to take over the city's underground was going well, too well. And wi-
Markus stopped his trail of thought when he heard a particular string of words."Your loved ones aren't meant to be used as whores for you to lend out just for your business purposes." He stared at her, his eyes widening with realization. "Her father... sold her? His own daugh-" He exclaimed in his mind, then corrected. "His own adopted daughter?" He remembered from the files. Stella wasn't blood related to the DeLanos, but she was in there since the dawn of the family's business. "That's... that's not an excuse..." He continued, taking up a chance in the lull in her talk to process this information. Did DeLano descend into madness?
As soon as Stella finished, he shook his head. "I..." He started, faltering, looking down to her wound, then back to her face. "I need more than that. I need to know exactly what transpired here, and why did you come for me, of all people in Point Creek, for help. I remember last year, your promise to either chase me out of town or make me wear cement shoes down the Crystal River." He frowned, looking up in thought. "Wait, maybe that was someone else. I get a lot of death threats." He shook his head. "That's not the point. You could've gone to a hospital, asked the police for cooperation in exchange of a light sentence, or maybe even Witness' Protection. Why did you decide to drop on my door?"
She watched as the news hit him. Stella remembered the night all too well, with a clarity that the worst memories were tinged with. She had been wearing a red, cocktail dress as per her father's wishes, sitting at the mahogany tables. He had been insistent about her appearance, her hair had to be curled in a certain manner, earrings were a yes, demure, submissive perfume was also a yes. He had been all aflutter over her, and she had had the feeling that this was more than him trying to use her to win the favor of someone else, that something greater was involved. She hadn't realized how far her father intended to take it when the man she had been ordered to meet trailed a line of poisonous kisses up and down her neck.
"You're a good man, Mister Grant. You have morals and ethics that I simply cannot begin to comprehend. Any other officer would have either allowed me to bleed out, or would have arrested me immediately. Besides, you might as well be a part of the family, your name is a common swear used within my family." She said, the last sentiment expressed clearly being a tease. She sobered quickly, and moved on to answer the next parts of his question.
"Let me make this clear. I don't intend on going to jail, nor do I intend on leaving Point Creek. I simply need to take my father and his web down, and I will ascend to power. The DeLano family hasn't been a true representation of itself for a long time, and I intend to change that." She said, studying the other man's face carefully. This was like a poker game: she needed to be careful about which hands she let him see.
Markus had a smug grin on his face when she talked about him being a common name in her household. It meant that he was doing good work. It didn't leave his face until she started talking again, when it faded towards a worried face. "But you came to me. By the way you talked, I'm probably the biggest threat that your father has." He raised an eyebrow. "And now you're asking me, what, to help you destitute your father from the leadership of the DeLanos, just so you can take his place and continue to blight the city?" He rose from the bed. "I'm confused. What are you trying to accomplish here? Do you seriously think that I'd jeopardize my entire career, no, my life, to help you in taking down DeLano? Give me one good reason. One!" He said, a tinge of irritation reaching his voice. What she asked was ludicrous, yet at the same time, it could be the chance he could to dismantle the DeLanos. He was thinking a million thoughts at the same time, and it probably showed in his face, the conflict between helping Stella DeLano and doing his job.
He shook his head, walking towards the dresser in the west side of the room. "I can't help you. I'll give you a grace period, since you are unfit to leave. 24 hours. Nobody will believe me if I tell that you came to my door, and if I arrest you, you'd just slip thro-" The sounds of fist on wood made him lose his trail of thought. More visitors?
-- She had misjudged him. Stella had sought him out in the first place because of the potential: he would get something and she'd get something, it would have been a mutually beneficial compromise. But she had severely overestimated him--he was flat out denying her, and the small sliver of hope that she had had slipped away as quickly as it appeared. She had already been poised to move when he offered her a grace period, but the sounds of the harried knocking made her pale slightly in fear. Her time had run out: they had found her.
"They're here." Stella whispered, her expression terrified. Her father had found her, her father had sent his men to complete the job. She pressed a hand firmly against her wound as she used her energy to surge upwards, pushing herself off the bed and onto her feet. The pain nearly overwhelmed her, but she bit her tongue and straightened, unwilling to be a sitting duck. She glanced towards Grant and thought better of it. The man wasn't going to do anything in her favor, especially when his asylum was being yanked away from her.
A few more knocks sounded, and after a short pause, loud banging could be heard, the heavy blows that sounded like footfalls. They were kicking the door open--furiously, based on how the door seemed to groan in protest. She needed to take matters in her own hands, and now. She took the glass that she had sipped water from earlier, and slammed it against the nightstand, allowing most of the glass to fracture in small pieces, a long, jagged shard in her hands. There, she had a weapon.
"Find her, and now." the men, who had now broken the threshold, could be heard. Typical of her father's goons: she wasn't particularly surprised. She limped over to the doorway, biding her time as the sounds of frenzied feet could be heard through the house. Grant's place was quite small, it was only a matter of time before they found her.
"Spread out. We better get this done fast." One man grumbled to another--close, very close. Were they in the kitchen?
One, two, three. There were three men sent after her. A part of her laughed, only three men to take her down? The other part of her shivered, faced with the imminent pressure of her impending death.
The second the tip of a boot crossed the doorframe, Stella lunged upwards, the glass shard circling in a deadly arc.
Markus widened his eyes when Stella claimed it was her father's goons. "Why does everyone fucking know where I live?" He said in a hushed tone. He looked around frantically, before slapping his forehead: He had left his gun on the floor of the living room, near the door, when getting Stella to his bedroom. Before he had time to react, Stella was already on her feet, grimacing terribly. "Hey, hey! You can't leave, you're risking breaking the stitches!" he said, to no avail. She was dead set in defending her own hide. The thumping of the door turned into kicking, and Markus gritted his teeth, mentally preparing for the conflict. He shielded his eyes in reflex, when Stella broke the glass cup on the nightstand, and shook his head, incredulous. "Stay here! DeLano!" He whispered, unmoving. She opened the door of the bedroom, and he peered towards the corridor, seeing only the broken door hanging limply from the frame. Stella limped towards the door frame of the kitchen, and as soon as someone crossed it, her hand already flew towards their face, glass connecting with skin.
A sharp cry of pain came from the kitchen, and it was enough to spring Markus into action. The goon who was on the receiving end of the improvised weapon staggered back, bumping on his colleague, but soon lunged to tackle the wounded girl to the floor. Markus ran towards the scuffle, just in time to intercept a Glock coming out of the kitchen. He hit the hand holding it with his right fist, making the man fire the weapon on the ground. Markus made no time for him to recover, driving an elbow on his face and rushing with his left hand towards the gun on the attacker's hand, trying to wrestle it out of him.
-- Markus intercepted her would-be assailant, but before she had a chance to truly escape the grasp of the goons, a colleague came to take the former spot, pushing her into the ground. He was soon to follow next to her, and she wondered if the wild glint of his eyes would be the last thing she saw that night as his hands closed around her throat. Almost immediately, she gasped quietly, her hands clutching at the firm grip around her neck, her body flailing in a panic as it realized that no air was being let through. Her hand spazzed out and caught a shard of glass that she had broken earlier, and in a fluid movement, she drove the jagged edge into her attacker's neck, rewarded with a spurt of blood from the man.
Stella pushed the body off of her, gasping loudly for breath. Meanwhile, the man who had shot a round into the floor was struggling with Markus, the gun tilting dangerously towards Stella. She could see the third man breaking into the fight to aid his companion, and knew immediately that they had the potential to be outnumbered. Stella surged upwards, making a neat cut across the third man's abdomen, before jamming the shard of glass into the first attacker's ribs.
The man let a howl out in pain, and relinquished his hold on the gun he was struggling with.
Markus was still wrestling the man for his gun when Stella rushed in with the broken glass. A howl of pain went out on Markus' ear, and it gave him the momentum to get the weapon, taking the opportunity of his opponent's confusion. He took a step backward and in a swift motion, pointed to the man's head and squeezed the trigger. The bullet struck true to the man's head as he instantly dropped to the floor like a ragdoll, dismounting upon himself. Markus didn't give luck a chance and squeezed the bullet again, this time, pointed towards the one that Stella attacked. A bullet to the chest made him reel back inside the kitchen and fall near the sink, blood seeping from the wound rapidly, following a fast fading beating heart.
The fight ended as soon as it started. Three men were on Markus' living room and kitchen, the three dead. Markus was holding a Glock .40, while Stella still had her broken glass, the both of them triumphant. Markus looked around the room, shaking his head. "I... Do you have anywhere safe to stay? I need to call this in. You can hide in the guest room, but I don't guarantee that they won't find you." He said, looking at the broken door. "Hell, even I need somewhere else to stay after this, given the fact that there'll be more to fill in their place." He dropped the gun near the dead goon. He was truly lost on what to do, for the first time in a while.
-- She was done for. Now there was absolutely no hope of redemption from her father nor the police force of the city. Stella knew damn well that they'd look at the dead bodies, then at her, and immediately point fingers, even if she had been the accomplice to their untimely demise. But the truth of the matter remained: she was absolutely stuck, and was regretting her course of action anyways.
"Your people will find me. They're too thorough." Stella mumbled, her hand massaging her neck. Already, purplish blemishes were starting to show, bruises that shared a striking likeness to fingermarks. "I'll have to run. There's no other option. I'm borrowing a shirt, I hope you don't mind." Stella gestured haphazardly at her state of partial undress before stepping over the bodies, disappearing back into the bedroom where she had stayed. God, she should have just stayed silent and continued sleeping: she would have been dead and things would have been much easier.
Stella slipped the shirt from a hanger, then with great difficulty, pulled it over her head. How was she even expected to run when she was injured and was well known in this damn city? She reappeared in the kitchen, looking as exhausted as she felt. "You can tell your people the truth. If I'm honest, I'm not quite sure what to do here either, but I have to leave."
Markus silently saw Stella slin kaway, with difficulty, towards his bedroom. She grabbed a plain red t-shirt - smart, hiding any occasional bleeding - and asked him to tell the truth. He sighed heavily and slowly walked to the table that was near the TV on his living room. The familiar jangle of keys was heard and he threw the bunch to Stella. "My car is in the garage, and tell me where you'll stay, in the event I have to question you. I won't arrest you. Yet." He shook his head. "There is a truth to this, but someone leaked my address to you AND to your father. I'll probably have to relocate, and I'd rather stay in an empty cell than to crash in Bob's couch again..." He scratched his head. "Oh, Bob's another detective, he helped me with a place to stay until I could buy... well, here. But now my house is a crime scene, and I'll have to hit up a hotel or something." He pointed around. He looked at the outside, the rain still raging, but now the lights on the surrounding houses were lit up. "Look, you might wanna leave, unless you wanna be arrested. You can give my car back another day, just... Just get outta here." Markus grasped the opportunity in front of him. It was probably a mistake, aiding such a notorious criminal, but in his mind, it was probably the only way to finally make the breakaway in the case, to finally destroy the biggest face in organized crime of Point Creek. His questions now changed if he was up to the task.
-- Stella's fingers nimbly did the buttons of his shirt up, neatly adjusting the collar of the shirt from where it was tucked under a strand of hair. She watched him carefully, her hand raising in response to neatly catch the keys thrown at her. Her dark eyes widened in surprise: he was letting her go? So easily? She had truly underestimated him. Stella was quiet as she stepped past him, fingers grasping for the mail that was sitting on his kitchen counter quite haphazardly. A quick stretch of her fingers rewarded her with a pen, and in her elegant script, she scrawled a few words on the back.
i see a chance, i take it slow - 3904
The words were a cleverly veiled address. The lyric, taken from one of her favorite songs, was a reference to her location. The number was her door number. The eight words would point him to an apartment in the southeast sector of Point Creek, a small little studio shack that was meant as a rendezvous point for her in the event that she needed to run.
Lord, it was hard to imagine that they were already at the point of having to run from the people that were supposed to protect them. "You know where to find me." Stella said, handing him the envelope. "Sorry about defacing your mail and your home." She said sheepishly, a hint of a smile on her lips. "You might want to dispose of my dress--unless you're planning on telling them the truth, of course." She said, before giving him a little wave of her fingers. "I'm off," She hummed, the keys jangling with her movements. She pulled her hair down from its messy updo to provide her some cover, and slipped out the front door to where his car was.
Her lips pressed into a thin line. "We're gonna have a conversation about your terrible taste in cars, Grant." She muttered, partly to herself, as she unlocked the vehicle and got into the car. Less than thirty seconds passed before she started it up and was out of the driveway and down the road.
Markus saw Stella leaving his house in his simple 2005 Honda Civic. It was a small and old car, but it got the job done, and it was a memento of his time in New York. The rain finally started to dwindle, the people brave enough to leave their houses to see what happened in the usually quiet street. Markus went to the bedroom, wrapping the blankets and the dress and shoving them on a black plastic bag, putting them on the backyard near the other bags of trash. There was no chance of anyone trying to look at them, and luckily, he could diverge the investigation away from his own trash. Marcus stopped his line of thought, smacking himself on the forehead. "Now I'm purposely hiding evidence. What the fuck is wrong with me?" He thought. He slumped on the couch, the wailing sirens on the distance rapidly approaching.
He thought back to Stella. Markus was trying to think why he would help her so readily like that. He could even call her and her father as their "archnemesis", if he wanted to be overly dramatic. However, he saw something else on the girl when he opened the door. A terrified girl, afraid of dying, heartbroken that her only safe haven tried to kill her. He saw nothing more than a person wanted to survive. That didn't excuse the crimes she had committed, and he was still adamant in dragging her to the Precinct in handcuffs, but at the same time, he wanted to help her, just like he would help any other civilian in a predicament. He then looked at his house. Blood was pooled in two places, right below two bodies.
One was on his back, his glazed eyes staring at the ceiling, blood slowly seeping from the large gash on his throat, staining the light blue social shirt. The second was bent in an unnatural shape, his mouth agape in a silent scream, a hole in his forehead displaying a bit of gray mass from his brain. The third one was sitting near the sink, his red suit managing to hide the blood streak quite well. Markus' door was broken, splinters streaked across the floor. The door itself hanged by a limp, one of the hinges was torn off of the frame, and the white paint tainted with the marks of several shoes. A bullet mark ruined even more his newly put carpet, but luckily, nothing else was broken. "I'll just have DeLano pay for it." he said, chuckling. Markus shook off his thoughts once again when the sirens stopped in front of his house. Grabbing his badge, he met the two officers in the broken doorstep. "I'm Markus Grant, poli- Oh, Hey Williams, hey Telly." He relaxed a bit. Luckily, he knew the two officers.
Williams, a tall, blonde man, gave the Grant a smile. "Hey, man. Heard things weren't going so hot for you." He said, his usual cheerful persona slipped on tight. Despite his calm and enthusiastic persona, Williams' personal pay check didn't come from the precinct, but rather from the pocket of the mob bosses. With his eyes, he gestured Telly, the young woman standing next to him, to be alert. She wasn't as cheerful as he was, sticking to a short, terse nod rather than indulging Grant in a hello.
"We should take a statement as to why you called." Telly said briskly, and Williams appreciated the way his partner moved things along. She too, knew what they had to do: they had to be on the lookout for the DeLano brat. Her father sincerely wanted her dead: the man was almost going crazy at the thought of her life. Telly could understand why: Stella DeLano was a key chess player in the greater scheme of the DeLano family. She herself could raze the entire group with a raise of her hand, or build them up to great heights.
But to her father, she was currently a dead end.
"What happened? Why did you call? And if you don't mind, can we come in?" Williams murmured, saving Grant from his partner's attitude.
Markus chuckled at Williams. "You could say that again." He nodded at Telly, who was as stoic as ever. She seemed like one of those officers who wanted to impose respect, rather than deserve it, but for Markus, it wasn't really a problem. He rarely dealt with her. "Yes, of course. I want to report, well, this." He stepped inside, letting the two officers survey his destroyed living room, the bodies in full view. "Come on in, although one of you might wanna call the coroner." He approached one of the bodies, beckoning Williams to come closer. "These three individuals broke into my house, apparently looking for something or someone. I heard one of them talking about 'finding her', so I presume it's a woman. God knows why they decided my house was the place anyone would be hidden." He crouched, looking at the face of the dead man. "I'm not sure who these gentlemen are associated with, but if my luck is any indication, it's probably with some organized group. Were there any incidents on this night that I should know of?" He said. He dealt with enough liars in his career to know how to lie properly. "Also, if this isn't a coincidence, someone must've leaked my address to the mafia, and i would need to relocate. With taxpayer money." He smiled. "Maybe an apartment or house close to the precinct? It'll save me gas money."
Williams nodded briskly at his partner, who immediately called in the coroner. It wasn't as though they weren't expecting to see the earlier henchmen sent in incapacitated in some way or form, but Williams was most definitely not expecting to see them dead, sprawled across his colleague's floor. "Man, you really didn't give these guys any wiggle room, huh?" Williams joked, earning himself a disapproving look from his partner.
Finding her. Yeah, both officers knew damn well who they were looking for. Stella DeLano had to have made it to this house--there would be no reason for them to trespass otherwise. Williams glanced around the house, as though he was doing a routine inspection, but in reality, he was looking for a place that the DeLano brat could be hiding--she was always able to adapt and conform to the situation--he'd have to look harder.
"I called the coroner and dialed in your request for relocation." Telly said, sliding her communication device into her pocket. "Let's take your statement--so tell me what happened, from the beginning." Good, it was a good way to see whether or not he was lying to them.
Markus nodded. "It was roughly 7PM when I had dinner in the kitchen. After washing my dinner dishes, I went to my bedroom with a glass of water to read my cases. I have a box on the side of the dresser with copies, I like to read them over at my days off to see if I could pick up something different." That part wasn't a lie, he definitely had a box on his bedroom. He just changed the reason why he was in the bedroom. "Ended up sleeping for about three hours." He moved his head towards the kitchen, looking at the clock on the wall. 10:48. "I woke up with hard knocking on my door, along with the heavy rain, so I figured it was someone needing help with their car or whatever. As soon as my feet were on my flip-flops, the door was destroyed open. I hid, waiting for them to move towards the kitchen, grabbed my glass cup and smashed it on the end table, making a makeshift weapon. My gun was on the table next to the door, I usually leave it there when I arrive home." He pointed at the end table, with a large door splinter on its top. He then motioned to the floor, where his state-issued Glock .40 was lying. "I crept on through the corridor and waited for someone to return from the kitchen, and struck." He pointed to the glass shards. "The man lunged at me, startled. I was wrestling with him and ended up being pushed to the ground, while the other two tried to shoot me without shooting at their companions." He pointed at the man with the slit throat. "I slit his throat, and kicked the second man in the leg, making him lose his aim and shoot the carpet in front of him. I managed to get up and elbowed him in the face, then jabbed the glass on his abdomen." He motioned to the second dude in the floor near the first. "I grabbed his gun, pushed him away and shot him in the head, then, before the third one managed to get a hold of anything, I shot him in the chest." He pointed at the third man, sitting with a chest wound. "The last one is young. Probably the first - and last - fight like this."
Markus sighed, tired. "I want you guys to ID these three and see if you can grab any connections of them with any organized crime, and turn back with the results." He looked around. The doorframe was luckily devoid of any blood, thanks to the rain, and he doubted any fingerprints remained on the glass inside the man's stomach. They would only find out something if they knew what to look, and Markus had no suspicions from either Richard Williams or Marissa Telly. The two were officers before Markus even arrived in Point Creek, and Williams helped Markus a lot during his first months in the force. He felt really bad on tricking them like this, but he figured out that it was for the greater good. Soon those two wouldn't have to deal with the DeLanos anymore, and Markus justified his actions with those thoughts. "Don't need to bring the autopsy report, I know quite well how they died and how it went out." He scratched his head. "Oh fuck, I forgot. Don't give me anything, I can't be a part of the investigation since I'm involved directly. Just filter through the Captain and he'll sort who's going to take the case. If there's anything I could help tell me now, because I'll have to get an Uber to an acquaintance's friend. My house is a crime scene now. Dammit." He was really looking forward the series night, but a lingering thought kept on his head. Was he doing the right thing? Stella would clamp up as soon as a handcuff touched her wrist, and the lawyer army from Vincent would free her extremely easy. Then they would kill her. And then him. He agreed internally: He was doing the right thing.
No mention of Stella, but that was to be expected. It seemed as though Grant was protecting the DeLano heir, but his motives and reasonings were largely unknown. Williams would have become suspicious if the man had stayed attached to the case, wanting to know everything about it, but instead Grant called out his affiliation, something that no other cop would do. "Telly's already ordered an autopsy, we've got guys coming right now." He said, and gently clapped the man's shoulder. "I'm sorry that this happened to you, man. I know you had a day off." Williams murmured reassuringly.
Telly interrupted them, her critical blue eyes scanning over the crime scene. "Just another thing, Grant, before we send you off. Could you tell us why you think the guys are related to organized crime? I'm trying to look over the entire fact situation, and there's nothing that might indicate a relationship between these guys and the crime families. And besides, why would they send three men for you? I'm not quite sure that's how the families have worked historically. I mean, we've heard of the ones that have turned over to them, the cops that were working for the families. They were always officers who were on the tail of the families, and the second they got to something close, the families didn't kill them, but gave them an offer. So this being related to Santarossa or DeLano seems rather....unfounded." Telly raised a brow.
Damn. Williams' partner was better at this than he was.