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The betrayal, p.10
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       The Betrayal, p.10

           Jerry B. Jenkins
 
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  14

  The Party

  Monday, February 8

  Boone felt silly pulling Mrs. Lamonica’s out-of-state car into a parking garage a block from his office. He didn’t want to be so obvious as to park at the CPD, but really, how much difference would a block make?

  Boone reached the Organized Crime Division’s suite of offices a tick before 11 a.m., when Fletcher Galloway’s party was to start. Everybody was there except the guest of honor and his wife and several of the upper brass. Even the mayor was there, but he surprisingly kept to himself and his entourage and seemed eager to speak his piece and get going.

  Haeley’s replacement proved to be a married woman in her midthirties who apologetically got herself a piece of cake and a cup of coffee and ferried them to her station. There she sat answering phone calls with seemingly no further interest in the festivities.

  Boone felt conspicuous as the only officer not wearing dress blues. Everyone else looked formal, with even their white gloves at the ready. Jack Keller stood in a corner alone, glaring at Boone. He knew what that was about. By now Jack was aware Boone had shaken his department-assigned cover.

  When Jack finally approached and shook his hand, he said, “You don’t have to accept protection, but I have to live with it if something happens to you.”

  “Let me make it official, Boss. I exonerate you.”

  “Oh, that makes it all better. That’ll help me sleep if you wind up on a slab.”

  “I can’t live in fear, Jack.”

  “No, you’ll leave that to me.”

  “So, where’s Margaret?”

  “My office. A little shy, you know.”

  “That’ll be the day.” Everyone who had met Jack’s girlfriend loved her.

  “I’m kidding. Just touching up her makeup. Here she comes now.”

  Margaret was the epitome of the Southern belle, somehow maintaining a tan, not even attempting to hide her freckles or the streaks of gray in her chestnut hair. She was ten years too old for the length of her skirt, but somehow she made it work.

  She kissed Boone on the cheek, then stepped back and seemed to study him. “Where’s your honey?”

  “Not invited.”

  “Oh, I knew that. Forgive me, sugar. Me and my big mouth. Well, I’ll let you make the rounds.”

  No one Boone had ever seen wore a dress uniform like Pete Wade. The Gang Enforcement Section commander may have been a bit thicker than in his prime, but he was still a dramatic-looking man with deep chocolate coloring and pure white hair.

  Boone tried to hide his unease when Pete approached and warmly shook his hand. “How’s our hero?” he said. “Coming along?”

  “Hanging on for dear life, Commander,” Boone said.

  Pete introduced Boone to his wife, Thelma, a small woman who offered her pleasantries just above a whisper. She showed a shy smile and was perfectly manicured and coiffed. She wore diamond earrings, a pendant, and a ring that looked like a set, and each stone was huge and radiant. Boone decided it must be nice to have as many years on the job as Pete Wade.

  Pete put a hand on Boone’s good arm and gently tugged him a few feet away. “Excuse us a moment, dear,” he said in his crisp baritone. “If we get a minute later, Boone, I’d like a chat.”

  “Me too, Commander.”

  At that moment, Fletcher Galloway, the man of the hour, breezed in. He helped his wife remove her floor-length coat, and she helped him with his. Finally the secretary emerged from behind her desk to hang up their coats and apologized for having already partaken of the cake and coffee.

  “But someone has to run this place,” she said, giggling.

  Galloway looked as if he would rather have been anywhere else. It struck Boone that if the day ever came when he was feted after decades of impeccable service, he planned to enjoy it.

  The former chief of the division appeared to paste on a smile when the mayor approached, and it seemed clear that the boss of the city was suggesting that he had another obligation and needed to move things along. Someone let the press in, and Boone immediately retreated behind Jack and Margaret. “I’ve had enough publicity for the rest of my life,” he said.

  “So you do still have a modicum of common sense,” Jack said.

  When the rest of the CPD brass arrived, the mayor did his thing, seeming to make every effort to take credit for the mammoth gang sting but finally praising the career of Fletcher Galloway.

  Galloway mentioned everyone on his senior staff, including Boone. When the formalities were over, the press came looking for Boone, but Jack headed them off. Margaret and Mrs. Wade wound up together as Pete pulled Boone into his office.

  “We can kill two birds with one stone,” Wade said. “Get you out of the spotlight and have our talk.”

  Boone sat before Pete’s ornate desk, another perk after so many years on the job. While they were both officers in an elite division, Boone’s office was a concrete block chamber with gray steel institutional furniture and antiseptic-green walls. He was young and new and didn’t expect anything else. But Pete’s office was like Jack’s, which wasn’t that different from what Fletcher Galloway had enjoyed.

  A handsomely appointed office wasn’t the point of being on the job, but Boone could look ahead. It would be nice. Someday. Even if he took the Major Case Squad assignment, though the bank of offices in the 11th precinct station house would be new, they certainly wouldn’t be opulent.

  Boone expected nothing else from the appropriately self-possessed Wade, but the man made no attempt to level the playing field and join Boone at a side table or even in a chair next to him. Rather, the commander of the Gang Enforcement Section strode behind his desk and made a show of unfastening the row of gold buttons on his dress coat before settling in the tall leather judge’s chair.

  “You carrying a Glock, Commander?” Boone said. “That’s new, isn’t it? Thought you had a Beretta like mine.”

  “This? Yeah. It’s the 30.” He stood and deftly removed it from his holster, popping out the magazine. “Compact and takes the .45 GAP hollow-point ammo.”

  “Nice.”

  As quickly as he had removed and showed it, Pete snapped it all back together, holstered it, and sat. “We need to talk, Boone,” he said slowly and precisely, as was his style. “You need to know how proud I am of you and how deeply grateful I am for your personal sacrifice. We could not have asked more from you in this whole operation, and I’m just sorry I haven’t had the opportunity to express myself till now.”

  “Thank you, sir.”

  Wade shifted in his seat, causing his leather Sam Browne belt to squeak. To Boone it was one of the sweetest sounds in the world. He knew that made him weird. He also knew that others who shared the love of that sound were usually described as all cop.

  Pete folded his hands before him and seemed to be at a loss for words. That was out of character. His eyes darted and he cleared his throat. “Hey, I’ve got something else to show you. Have you seen the new M4?”

  “There’s a new one?”

  Pete stood again and moved to his gun safe, briskly spinning the dial. “It’s a lot like the one issued to you, but this has a high-capacity magazine. Check it out.”

  Boone had always loved the heft of the M4, a hybrid of the old M16. It was a short assault rifle used by the Marines, noted for its ability to shoot more rounds in less time than most handguns.

  “This the automatic?”

  “It sure is. Fully. A thousand rounds a minute, and this one has the thirty-shot magazine.”

  “Sweet.”

  “Thought you’d like it. Bet you wished you’d had it in the garage the other night.”

  Boone chuckled. “We were trying to be inconspicuous. You think an assault rifle might have given me away? Anyway, you’re stalling, Pete. You didn’t bring me in here to show me your M4.”

  Pete hesitated, then took back the rifle, wiping it down and carefully placing it back into the safe. He pointed to the visitor’s chair a
nd returned to behind his desk.

  “Do you trust me, Boone?”

  “Always have.”

  “But I mean now.”

  “I’m not sure.”

  “I appreciate that honesty. It’s no secret that I have brought charges against someone you care about.”

  “I’m in love with her, sir.”

  “All right, then. And my wife has long advised me to never bad-mouth a spouse or a loved one.”

  “Say what you need to say, Commander.”

  “Oh, I plan to. But I know this will not be easy for you.”

  “I need to hear it.”

  “Yes. You do. Detective, Haeley Lamonica is not the woman you think she is.”

  “I’m listening.”

  “Are you? Or are you just tolerating me?”

  “I didn’t say I was agreeing. But I am listening.”

  “It should not be a surprise that she is a single mother.”

  Boone fought to keep his cool. “She made a mistake a long time ago. That is no indication of the woman I know.”

  Pete Wade looked away and licked his lips. “This is not easy for me, Boone. But I need to tell you that it is an indication of the woman I know.”

  Boone flinched. “I was unaware you knew her that well.”

  “I know her well enough. You know she had a relationship with Garrett Fox, not only while he was on the staff here, but even after he was reassigned.”

  “I have heard that charge.”

  “It’s true. In fact, it’s the reason I sent him back to the 11th.”

  “You’re telling me that while he and I were on patrol together, he was in a relationship with Haeley?”

  “I’m sorry.”

  “So am I. Or I would be if I believed it.”

  “You may believe it.”

  “Because you say so?”

  “Don’t make me show you the evidence. Take my word for it.”

  “Why would I do that?”

  Pete sighed and ran a hand through his short hair. “I need to ask you to keep my confidence. Can you do that?”

  “Of course.”

  “For the sake of my wife, I hope I never have to testify to this, but for the sake of our friendship and—I hope—our continued professional relationship, I am going out on a limb.”

  Wade paused as if waiting for permission, but Boone wasn’t biting.

  “To my shame, I have not always been a model of marital fidelity. Does that surprise you?”

  “It’s none of my business, sir.”

  “But does it surprise you?”

  Boone shrugged. “As a matter of fact, it does.”

  “I’m not proud of it. But this will surprise you too. On more than one occasion, I and a woman other than my wife double-dated—for lack of a better term—with Garrett and Haeley.”

  Boone realized he had been sitting without moving for several minutes. He was overheated, sweating, and wishing he were anywhere but right there right then. His voice broke and he had to clear his throat midsentence. “And where exactly, uh, would this have taken place?”

  “Well, we were not honorable men,” Pete said, “but we’re not stupid. It was out of state. Indiana. At a little-known club where people didn’t know us and didn’t ask questions.”

  Why would Pete be saying this if it weren’t true?

  “So you and Fox were buddies off the job?”

  Pete cocked his head. “Buddies may be overstating it. Partners in unsavory activities, let’s say. But it all went down the toilet.”

  “Yeah, I’m curious about that,” Boone said. “How far down could it have gone for Fox to later be in line for the job I got?”

  “Sadly, that was my fault. I knew better, but I felt pressured by Garrett. He had gotten sloppy and noisy. You know confidentiality and humility were never his strong points.”

  “Do I.”

  “The sad fact is, I demoted him back to the street, and at first he seemed to take it all right. Undercover is a stressful deal. But then he applied for the job you got, and when I at first said no way, he threatened to go to my wife or to Fletch with the news that I had condoned his dalliances with a coworker. I couldn’t have that.”

  Boone stood and paced.

  “I’m not done,” Wade said.

  “Neither am I. I just can’t sit still.”

  “I understand.”

  “I’ll bet you do.”

  Wade held up a hand. “I know. I know, okay? Believe me, I am trying to protect you. And you need to know exactly who you’re dealing with.”

  Here was the second man in just a few days to warn him to tread lightly with Haeley Lamonica.

  “So,” Boone said, “you’re telling me that Garrett getting caught trying to lie for me and winding up prosecuted by Internal Affairs himself is the only thing that saved you from having to give him my job?”

  Pete nodded. “Happiest day of my life. And relief? I don’t mind telling you I recommitted myself to my marriage and have never looked back.”

  Good for you, Boone thought, but he couldn’t say it aloud and mask his sarcasm.

  What a mess.

  Boone was suddenly weak-kneed and had to sit again. Pete seemed to take that as his cue to stand. “You can see that Garrett had all kinds of motives to do what he did. Not only did he have significant issues with me, but you seemed to have taken his girlfriend from him too.”

  “So what’s her motive, Pete?”

  “Maybe she was intimidated. Maybe she needed the money. Five grand can sound like an awful lot to a clerical worker. But she also didn’t want you to know about her and Fox.”

  “Do you realize what kind of a hypocrite she would have to be?”

  “I don’t follow,” Pete said.

  “An awful lot of our time together is spent in church.”

  “Oh, well, come on!”

  “What?”

  “You think I’m not a churchgoer too, Boone? I’m a deacon! That’s why nobody suspected me.”

  Boone lowered his head. “So she’s hiding her real self behind some phony piety.”

  “I can speak only for myself. That’s what I was doing.”

  Boone rubbed his eyes with his good hand. “What am I supposed to do with all this, Pete?”

  “Just don’t jeopardize your career by backing the wrong horse. I know what’s on the horizon for you, and I’d hate to see this get in the way of that.”

  Again it occurred to Boone that if Haeley proved to be other than he believed, even the Major Case Squad assignment would lose all appeal.

  Pete came around the desk, extending his hand. The last thing Boone wanted was to shake it, but he offered a weak hand. He staggered into the hallway, fearing with everything that was in him that it was true. Pete brushed past him to join his wife, and Jack motioned to Boone that it was time he should say something to Fletcher Galloway.

  Boone found Fletch looking for him. “You got a minute?” the former chief said. Boone followed the man into his empty office, wishing he could be done with all this.

  It was strange to see Galloway in his cavernous space with nothing on the desk or credenza, pictures down from the wall leaving faded squares of color. “Sorry for the way I look,” Boone said.

  “Don’t give it a second thought. I don’t know how you get dressed at all.”

  “I have to be a contortionist. Listen, Chief, let me talk first, okay? I don’t want to neglect to say what I need to.”

  Galloway’s face appeared to fall, as if he had heard enough accolades for one day.

  “I promise to keep it short. I just want to say it’s been a privilege, an experience I won’t forget. And if I wind up at Major Case, I’ll owe a lot of it to you.”

  “Nonsense,” Galloway said. “You owe your whole career to Jack Keller, not to mention that you lived up to everything he said about you. Get healthy and get back in the game, hear?”

  “That’s my goal.”

  “Now let me tell you something, Drake. I don
t like what’s going on here, and you need to know I don’t believe a word of it.”

  “You don’t?”

  “’Course I don’t. You learn something with as many years as I’ve spent on the job, and I think I know people. Garrett Fox is poison; I saw that from the beginning. If I couldn’t have gotten in the way of his taking the job you got, I would have quit then. And Haeley? Everything in me tells me she’s good people.”

  Boone had to suppress a laugh. That phrase was not one he had ever expected to hear from Fletcher Galloway.

  “Now I know you’ve got a thing for Haeley, and you know that because she’s a coworker, you have to be very careful. And if anything comes of your relationship, you also know you have to check with downtown on whether it’s okay. I tend to think it will be, if you’re in separate divisions.”

  “You sound like you think she’s going to be exonerated.”

  “I do.”

  “That’s a huge relief, sir.”

  “It won’t be easy, but I don’t believe this Fox thing for a second. I can’t tell you the number of times she complained about him being inappropriate with her. And I warned him. I thought all that was over when he was reassigned. Now I don’t know what he’s got on Pete, but you didn’t hear me say that.”

  “That’s why you’re leaving? Because you don’t want to see Pete fall?”

  Fletcher shrugged. “That’s part of it. But my time is past anyway. I’m never going to see better than what you accomplished, so, you know. . . . But I thought I knew Pete. Jack tells me there’s some evidence that may justify all this, and you know Pete has been tops for years. But I just don’t know.”

  “Chief, you have no idea how this encourages me. I was about to throw in the towel.”

  “Don’t do that.”

  “Don’t worry.”

  “Just do me a favor, Drake. Leave me out of it. I’m old, I’m tired, and I’m through.”

  “You know I hired Fritz—”

  “I know, and I like it.”

  “He wants me to look into some of this stuff for him. You think that’s a good idea?”

  “If I was still your boss, I’d tell you to run as far from that as you can.”

  “But now?”

  “Like I said, just leave me out of it.”

  Leaving, Boone was not as confident as he felt he should have been. It wasn’t like the old man to go on feelings. It wasn’t like Boone either, but right then his feeling was that he would be investigating Haeley as much to know the truth for himself as for any other reason.

 
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