One Week Later...
Lights and sirens surround the lighthouse, men in uniform calling out orders are partially lost in the crashing waves. "What happened here?" asks the lead detective.
"A body was found by a photographer." Responds the officer who first arrived at the scene.
"A body?" He looks around, "Well where is it?"
The officer looks up towards the top of the lighthouse and the detective follows his gaze. "Up there? Well, how did the photographer find it?"
"He climbed up to the top to get a better shot, he was about halfway up when he smelled something. He slowed his climb and when he got to the top saw the body swinging in the wind."
"So it would appear, sir."
The detective lowers his gaze and slowly shakes his head, "that's a damn shame." The officer nods in agreement.
"O.k. so we're assuming suicide why all the personnel?"
The officer looks over to him and says, "Because it's Jackie."
His eyes widen and he whispers, "Jackie? Are you sure?"
He nods slowly. The detective looks back towards the shoreline, "For over a week we have been looking for her and she was here the whole time. Matt's going to be devastated."
The officer lets out a slight grunt followed by a roll of the eyes. He turns back towards him and says, "You got something to say, then say it."
"Matt hasn't been devasted yet by Jackie's disappearance. He wasn't even the one who first reported her, it was a co-worker and that was after two days had gone by."
"He gave his explanation for that and at the time it made sense."
"Yeah at that time. Now we've found her hanging from the beam of a lighthouse and I have to say..." he stops short before finishing his sentence.
"You don't think this may be a suicide." finishes the detective.
"No, sir I don't."
The detective nods his head slowly, "well, I'm sure you're not going to be the only one but before we start accusing anyone of anything let's get her over to the coroner, document the scene, and do everything by the book. Once all that has been completed, call me with the full report and we'll go from there."
He hands the officer a card and he takes it with a nod. "I appreciate this sir."
The detective puts up both hands in a defensive mode, "I'm not promising anything you understand. If the report comes back that it was a suicide and I agree to the findings I'm done, and I don't want any grief from you. Understand?"
He lowers his hands, "all right then. You finish up here and keep me posted." He turns back towards the shoreline and begins walking towards it.
"What are you going to do, sir?" He calls out after him.
The detective turns around and continues walking backward toward the shoreline, "What do you think I'm going to do? Notify Matt that we've found Jackie so I can see how devasted he really is."
"You'll find him at the open house on Shoreline Road."
"Thank you." He turns to face the shoreline and in a few short strides, he is walking through the parking lot and towards his car.
The officer turns back towards the lighthouse watching the uniforms move quickly and swiftly through their duties. He lets out a low, slow sigh and looks up to the top. "I'm sorry Jackie."
His thoughts are broken when he hears, "Officer Slade?"
"We're ready for you now."
As he walks over towards him, the group surrounding the gurney breaks apart, and there lies Jackie, partially covered by the black bag with only her head showing. He leans over her, staring down at her for a long moment before someone finally says, "Sir, we have to go."
He steps back, nodding and they finish zipping the bag before carrying her off to the coroner's van. It's as if everything is in slow motion, the wind blows cold against his face and stings his eyes. She was his best friend, and briefly a lover, and of all the men in town, she could have gone with she chose Matt.
Slade's teeth clench together and he knows somehow, someway he is involved with this death. But as Detective Bridges had said we do this one by the book in every way, shape, and form. If Matt is the reason for her death, he wants him to go away for a very long time and his personal feelings aren't going to do anything to jeopardize that.