Wednesday, July 4, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde
A knock interrupted Jennifer’s intense conversation. From the light tapping, she knew instantly it was her assistant. Within seconds Kass’s head popping through the doorway confirmed her guess.
“I’m just saying that Mrs. Stamford might not have a fair chance if the clerk made a significant error in the courtroom transcripts…” Jennifer motioned for Kass to shut the door. “Thank you Judge Warren. I appreciate it… alright… have a good day.”
She placed the phone back on its cradle, and let her cheeks fill with air before blowing it out in frustration. “You’d think he didn’t want the error corrected.”
“Problem with the Stamford case?” Kass inquired.
“Just that the clerk left off an extra zero to the dollar amount that Mrs. Stamford is suing for…probably an innocent error. I just spent forty-five minutes trying to get through to the judge for a three minute conversation to amend the paperwork,” Jennifer explained and shook her head.
“That sucks,” Kass remarked.
Jennifer stretched and yawned. “I got word a package is at the front desk. Will you go pick it up and send out the rest of the mail?”
“Sure,” Kass replied, her eyes lighting up. “A certain disk maybe?”
Jennifer smirked. “You should be a private investigator.”
“You seem to know or guess everything,” Jennifer added. “Yes, it’s the disk. I set it out to a videographer expert friend of mine to clear up the tape for us even more than you amateur friend at Big Box. I rushed the request.”
“Thank you! I’ll be right back, Boss,” Kass exclaimed, her heels clicking respectfully behind her as she exited the legal aid office.
Kass threw her bag over her shoulder to carry the mail. As she approached the front desk, she recognized the security guard. Blair Wainwright. Madison’s temporary roommate. The one whose room Kass searched with Ayesha at the Sun U campus. She hoped the woman wouldn’t recognize her. Kass neglected to tell Jennifer how she obtained the DNA records. No one ever filed a complaint about the ‘breaking and entering.’ Even so, guilt crept around her heart.
“Ahem,” she cleared her throat.
“Yes?” the security guard said, shrilly, barely glancing up from her computer screen.
“Don’t I know you?” Kass leaned against the desk. “You were friends with Madison VanWatson didn’t you?”
“What’s it to you?” Officer Wainwright snipped. “Do you need something?”
“Oh um… Legal Aid… I’m picking up a package, and…” she reached into her bag. “…dropping off the mail.”
“Do I look like the postal service?” Officer Wainwright rolled her eyes.
“Uh…” Kass pursed her lips. “I was told that’s how the building’s mail system works.”
“See that…” Officer Wainwright tilted her head to her left toward a medium-sized brown chute door. “…that’s the outside mail drop. You can put your letters in there.”
“Okay, thanks,” Kass forced a smile. “And the package? I’m picking up for Jennifer Martinez.”
“Package… package… package…” Officer Wainwright muttered as she clicked a few keys. “ID please.”
Kass handed the woman her identification card for the office and Officer Wainwright shook her head and said that packages had to be retrieved by the addressee.
“Really?” Kass’s voice jumped an octave. “I’m her assistant. Shouldn’t that be enough. My ID proves I work here.”
Officer Wainwright lifted her head and frowned. “Now please go get your boss and have her come sign for this… I’m very busy, little girl.”
Kass huffed. Little girl!? Officer Wainwright wasn’t that much older than she was. What was her deal? As she whirled, she nearly collided with a familiar detective.
“Hey there,” Hank grinned. “Don’t mind Blair. She’s just pissy at people in general.”
Officer Wainwright shot him a death glare. Kass smirked.
“Blair, I can vouch for Kass,” he continued.
“Fine,” the other officer conceded begrudgingly. “But you’ll need to sign for it.”
“No problem,” Hank took the clipboard and grinned at Kass while he scribbled his signature in the appropriate box.
“Seems like half the SVPD works here,” Kass commented. “And thank you…” she collected the package from the security guard.
“I got Blair the job here,” Hank explained. “The mayor keeps promising the police pay raises every year, but we’ve been out of luck every time. And half the guys are forced to moonlight for other security gigs. You’re working for that lawyer, Martinez, right?”
“Yeah,” Kass replied, licking her lips. “I mean, yes.”
“Heard she’s good. You’ll learn lots from her,” Hank said.
“What’s it like working security for Bert Alto?” Kass inquired, trying to make her question sound as innocuous as possible.
Hank chuckled. “Pay’s good. I’d quit the day job, but…” he winked over Kass’ shoulder at the rookie.
Officer Wainwright rolled her eyes.
“He’s got an ego the size of the whole state of Valverde but he can be kinda small minded,” Hank motioned with his hands. “He brags about how open he is and how he wants to know what you think, but really only if it’s in line with how he thinks.”
“Yowza!” Kass exclaimed. “Doesn’t sound like the best boss to work for.”
“But the pay’s good,” Hank repeated.
“Do you ever accompany him off site?” she asked.
“Sometimes,” he bobbed his head.
“I heard he’s got the reputation for parties,” Kass remarked.
Hank grinned. “Yeah, the man likes his fiestas and margaritas.”
“And maracas,” Officer Wainwright snorted, and puffed out her relatively flat chest.
Kass flushed at the double entendre.
“And the casinos?” she continued. “Ever go with him there?”
Hank’s face darkened. “Uh no… why?”
She smiled, much too brightly. “Oh my dad’s birthday is coming up,” she said, hurriedly. “…and I’m thinking about getting one of those casino packages, you know. The kind with the steak and potato dinner, and the starting chips. Just wondering if it’s worthwhile.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Hank said, his expression turning serious. “Look, I should go. I have some paperwork to finish on this latest…” he rubbed his neck. “…arson case.”
“I was sorry to hear about your informant,” Kass said.
“The informant… Joel…Astroman? Er…Elton? He died in that homeless shelter fire.”
“Oh, right,” Hank nodded, awkwardly. “Didn’t really know him. He was Eugene’s informant. Well…duty calls. Good luck, Kass.”
She offered a half-smile and dropped her mail in the chute. Officer Wainwright rudely pushed past Kass, approaching the front window. Kass frowned and turned. Hank was halfway out the side door.
“Good luck? With what?” she asked.
“Oh…” Hank stopped, his hand gripping the door handle. “…working for Jennifer. I hear she’s relentless.”
“Yes, she’s good at her job,” Kass responded.
“Just be careful.”
“Those who make killings in court are likely to make enemies.”
Author Notes: Thanks for reading. I had these images stored up but never used them before so here are some never before seen images (and of course, this chapter didn’t exist in the originally published story), but it seemed like a good place for it. Hope you enjoyed.