Yellow markers littered the small interrogation room. A flash went off every once in a while. Marie Corbin surveyed the chaotic scene around her. Her hair disheveled and the smokiness that once filled the room still occasionally burned when she swallowed. Beneath the stony exterior, anger simmered. Gray powder smudged her white blouse. The black jacket over it had long-since been collected for evidence.
Her shirt would eventually follow. However, two officers were picking through her hair for any particles that may be helpful in their investigation. Corbin had given the best description she could of the person who burst into the room. None of the shots fired were meant to kill. Not for lack of experience either. She had worked on enough crimes to know the difference between an amateur and a professional.
Every shot had missed, but not by much. The bullets had come too close. They were meant to incite panic and fear—to create separation between them and Terrah. The shooter had succeeded. Their only connection to Jaynes taken from their custody.
By one of our own.
Corbin itched to get in on the action, to begin the investigation with a renewed vigor. Yet she was stuck in the room, being picked clean for residual particles. Logically, a part of her knew the importance of every detail in this crime. The desire for revenge burned through her veins. She spared a glance at her partner, Brendan Rose, hadn’t fared much better.
His anger was barely concealed, just like hers. Their eyes met. A silent vow to hunt down Jaynes and Terrah went unspoken, but their resolve wouldn’t waiver.
For ten years, they had led the investigation into Jaynes McConnell. He had grown up under their radar and would never stay on it long enough for him to get caught. New charges popped up every month. The only oddity in the familiar pattern came around the time the infamous couple got married. Terrah Johnson had only popped up on their radar a couple of weeks ago almost a year after their “wedding.”
Corbin didn’t know why, nor did she particularly care. All she knew was that this attack was orchestrated by McConnell. He had broached their grounds, solidifying their conviction that he needed to be brought in. An investigator walked up to her after taking Rose’s statement.
“What do you think, Marie?” he asked.
She had two options: lie about who she suspected or tell the truth. One would take her and Rose off the investigation. The other would steer them in a different direction. At least long enough to buy her time to track down McConnell’s latest plan.
“Revenge,” she answered. “Terrah Johnson had many enemies. She probably made friends with the wrong one.”
“I thought she was mostly harmless.”
Corbin took in a deep breath. “Normally, but she’s a drug dealer. God knows how many innocent lives she’s taken indirectly. Or who she got her products from.”
The other agent looked less than pleased with her answer. She wasn’t going to hand over her investigation on a silver platter.
“That all you got?”
She shrugged. “I’d look into undercover operations. We’ve planted many agents in local gangs to try and track her operations. I’m sure you’ll find an answer there.”
The investigator left her alone. After all the particles were recovered from her hair and skin, she was given a set of clothes to change into. Corbin handed over her singed outfit for further examination without question. After that, she was free to go.
Rose caught up to her not too long afterward. He was also dressed in borrowed clothing. They didn’t say anything about their next move until they got into a car. He had driven her since they lived near one another.
“So,” he began. “He’s made it personal.”
She hummed. “Not the first time.”
“I doubt it will be the last either.” Rose prepared a cigarette, offering her one. She refused as always.
Corbin ran through the events from earlier. “No. This was a different level of destruction though.”
Rose exhaled. “Trying too hard or panicked?”
It was hard to tell without seeing the photos and evidence collected. McConnell very rarely acted on such a large scale for no reason. Panicked would be her initial reaction but something felt different about the scenario compared to run-ins in the past.
“I need the file.”
Rose shook his head, “They won’t let us near it.”
“I know!” She didn’t need him to tell her the obvious. They wouldn’t solve anything today. Corbin hated feeling helpless, hated this wasn’t her investigation. Most of all—she loathed that they weren’t any closer to McConnell. They needed him.
The drive to her house was silent. Her brain looped the moments before and during the interrogation. No one appeared out of the ordinary. They were all familiar faces, people she had trusted.
How long has McConnell had a spy in our ranks?
It was the only explanation that made sense. She thought of the newest faces amongst their ranks, only going back to a year. There were a handful of them present. Corbin’s thoughts broke when the car jerked to a stop. Her neighborhood slowly came into focus.
“See you tomorrow.”
Rose waited until she got inside her home before he drove away. She should have told him of her suspicions, but it could wait until tomorrow. He needed the evening to rest. Corbin had no intention of doing so. Not when came to McConnell and Johnson.