"It is going to be okay. You can do this.” Jess thought to herself.
She looked across the kitchen at her new boyfriend. He was cooking dinner for them. She took a minute to take him in. He was tall, tan, and muscular. Everything she had wanted in a partner.
She looked around at his place. It was an apartment in a high rise in New York. It was so modern and sleek. "I wonder if he comes from money. How does he afford this place?”, Jess thought. Suddenly, she realized that she didn't even know what Eli did for a living.
"You okay?” Eli interrupted her thought.
"Yeah, sorry, I was just thinking,” Jess replied. Suddenly feeling a little unsure about her plans for tonight. They had been going out for a few months now, and she was ready to take their relationship to a deeper level tonight.
"What's wrong? You look nervous.” Eli said reaching out to comfort her.
Jess looked up at him and was unsure how to respond.
"Would you like some wine?” he asked.
"Yeah, wine would be nice,” Jess said feeling saved from the rabbit hole of her thoughts.
Just then, Eli saw his alfredo sauce starting to boil. He raced over to the stove to take care of it.
"You can go into the pantry and pick out your favorite bottle,” Eli said pointing at the door.
Jess walked to the pantry looking back at Eli, before walking in.
She was not ready for all the bottles of wine she saw as she walked in. Sure, he might have one or two, but this was an entire wall of red wine. She paused for a moment. Jess was a fan of the white wines and didn't know much about red.
She started fingering different wine bottles. Please let me choose a good bottle.
Jess grabbed a bottle to look closer. Maybe I will see a type I recognize.
As she pulled the bottle out, a little black book fell off the shelf. What is a book doing in the pantry? She opened the book, but it just had random letters and numbers in the book.
"Find a bottle?" Jess heard Eli and realized he was close. She stuffed the book in her pocket, grabbed the bottle, and walked out of the pantry.
"Yeah... though I need to admit. I do not know very much about wine.” Jess embarrassedly said.
"That's fine!” Eli said chuckling. "This looks good. I will pour us a glass."
Jess saw that the table had already been set. The pasta looked delicious. She walked over and sat down at the table. She thought nervously about everything that was happening. Was this all happening too fast? Maybe she should wait a little bit longer.
"Hey, what is wrong?” Eli said putting down the glasses of wine. He sat down and put his hand on Jess's shoulder.
She looked down, "I'm sorry. I feel like with you inviting me here that you might be expecting something, and I don't know how ready I am." Her voice trailed.
He lifted her chin with his hand. "All I am expecting is to have a nice dinner with a beautiful girl".
Night of Surprise
Jess closed the door to her apartment. It had been a great night with Eli. She was finally home though. She walked into her bedroom to change into some comfy clothes.
She noticed her roommate wasn’t home yet. He must be working late at the Bureau. It was so nice to have the apartment to herself.
She took off her jeans and slipped into her pajama shorts. She reached into her jean pockets and found the black book was in the pocket. Oh no! I didn't mean to take it! I forgot to put it back!
Struck with curiosity, she opened the book again. On the first page was the logo of Moleskine. She ran her thumb over the logo.
She then started thumbing through the pages. There were all the letters and numbers again. What could this mean?
Suddenly, she saw two words that she recognized. Walter. Bronx.
Her heart dropped. She remembered those words. They had been all over the news.
Billionaire Regis Walter had been shot and killed last week in the Bronx.
Why would he write this down? Could Eli have been a part of the murder? Who am I dating?
"Jess, are you here?” Casey's voice carried into Jess's room.
Jess walked out of her room.
"Jess, what's wrong?" Casey rushed over to her side.
Jess just stared at Casey. She couldn't think of any words to say. Eli must be a part of the murder. Is Eli an assassin?
Casey saw the book in her hands. He grabbed it and Jess let go. He quickly looked over the book.
Casey grabbed her, "Jess, where did you get this? Jess. I need you to answer me. Where did you get this book?"
Jess hadn't even processed what had happened. Now, she sat in an interrogation room. After looking at the book in her hands, Casey quickly brought her and the book back to his work … the FBI.
Casey knows what is in the book. What happens if Casey knows where I got the book? What will happen to Eli? What did Eli do?
"Jess, you need to tell us where you got the book!" Casey's voice interrupted Jess's thoughts. "Do you know what is in the book?"
Jess shook her head. She had no idea what the book was.
Casey pulled up a chair. "Jess, you are one of my best friends. I know that this book is not yours."
Casey's head dropped. "Jess, this book contains plans for multiple murders. I need to know where you got this from, or my bosses are going to charge you with these murders."
Jess looked up. She didn't know what to say. She didn't do anything wrong.
"Eli” Jess whispered.
"Eli. Who is Eli?” Casey interrogated Jess. "wait... your boyfriend Eli?"
"What is Eli's last name? Where is he?" Casey snapped.
"What did he do?” Jess looked up for the first time. Tears were streaming down her face. "Who am I dating?"
It was the same questions that had been stuck in Jess's mind since she saw those words: Walter. Bronx. Those words spell the end of my relationship.
Casey saw the hurt in Jess's face. He softened his tone. "Jess, please tell me where Eli is?"
Eli. He had been so sweet to her. He was comforting when she felt awkward. He did not seem like he could hurt anyone. I thought he was different.
"Jess, we just need to talk to Eli. We need to find out what he knows.” Casey calmly said.
Jess unlocked her phone, pulled up her text messages with Eli, and gave her phone to Casey.
Casey quickly looked at her phone. He saw the address that Eli had texted her and left the room.
The Painful Reward
She saw Casey walking Eli through the hall in handcuffs. She shrank into the corner. She didn't want Eli to know she was there.
She just let the tears fall. She pulled her knees up and laid her head on them. Suddenly, the exhaustion hit her.
"Jess... Jess. Let me give you a ride home." Casey woke Jess up.
Jess lifted her head. She didn't realize she had fallen asleep. For a second, she thought maybe everything could have been a dream. Then, she looked around. It wasn't a dream.
"What did he do?" was all Jess could say.
"Jess, let's go home." Casey calmly said trying to get Jess to leave.
"Casey. Where is Eli? What did he do?" Jess responded.
Casey sat next to Jess. He put his hand on her shoulder. It reminded Jess of Eli earlier that evening.
"Eli is an intermediary. He manages assassination jobs." Casey said wishing he did not have to be the one to tell her.
"Ms. Miller, here is your reward." an FBI agent suddenly interrupted their conversation.
Jess looked at Casey quizzically then reached her hand out and took the envelope from the agent's hand.
The agent walked away. Jess just stared at Casey and then back at the envelope.
"What is this?” Jess asked Casey.
She opened the envelope and pulled out a check.
$20,000. The check was for $20,000 and it was made out to her.
She looked back at Casey.
"There was a reward for any information about Mr. Walter's death. Since you found the book that led to Eli divulging the murderer, you received the reward." Casey answered as softly as he could.
"Let's go home."
Jess finally landed in her bed. It was almost 5:00 in the morning.
She thought about how her life had changed in just 12 hours. Her boyfriend was in jail for his part in multiple murders.
I put him there. What if he finds out that it was me?
She thought about if she would have turned him in if Casey never found the book.
What if she had never found it?
Is it wrong not to turn him in? How could he had been involved in these murders? That must have been how he had so much money to live in such a nice place.
Questions swirled in her head.
Money. The check. What would she do with that money?
She felt guilty for even getting the reward. Should she donate the money?
She could really use the money to pay off her student loans and set herself up for the future.
Her eyes slowly closed. Answering all these questions was tomorrow's job.
For right now, all that mattered was sleep.
Text Message rang in the quietness. She lifted her phone to see a message from an unknown number.
“I know it was you. Sleep tight.”