July 16, 2018 at 7:10am
The North Bureau, North Charleston, SC
Detective Derek Kyle
Derek sighed heavily, thankful that the bullpen was louder than usual following the morning shift change so that his sergeant wouldn't be able to hear the sound. The Cajun male wasn't known for taking sass before noon. At least not without an unhealthy amount of coffee.
"Yeah, Sarge!" He called back, pushing a hand through his fringe as he stood up to show he was at his desk. "I'm gettin' it trimmed tonight, I swear."
Sergeant Jace Mallon blinked at him, a small frown of confusion making lines between eyes the color of green Easter basket straw.
"What? Oh, I don't give no fucks 'bout your hair, DK." If the taller male rolled his eyes any harder, Derek was sure he'd see his own spine. "Y'see da paper s'mornin'?"
It was his turn to frown.
"Sarge, you know damned good and well I ain't read that shit anymore."
He hadn't read the local newspapers since he'd been a cop on the beat with the Charleston teams and let the Heartless get away. It had been five years and whenever a new body dropped with the Heartless' M.O. he remembered all over again having to deliver the news to Brianna that her mother had been attacked and that he was the reason the fucker who did it had gotten away with it.
And what he thought of himself was nothing compared to what the whole of the Lowcountry thought about him. And the papers channeled their readers brilliantly.
"Yeah, well, der's been a possible break," Mallon answered, tossing the morning's copy of The Post and Courier on Derek's desk. "He struck 'gain only dis time da vic got 'way an' mighta got some his DNA under her nails." Mallon's New Orleans accent only thickened as he kept speaking. It was hard to begrudge him the budding hope that this was the Heartless' work if only because that meant they had a chance to catch him once and for all.
"He hasn't made a mistake like lettin' one live in nearly six years," Derek muttered, picking up the paper to skim quickly over the article. "It says she reported he raped her? How the fuck did they even get that info, let alone be allowed to print it?"
"'Least they ain't printed her name. Guess dey got some brains," Mallon replied with a shrug, eyebrows raised. Derek squinted at him. He knew that look and what it meant.
"Nuh uh. No, Sarge. You put me on that shit at all officially an' this city'll riot full scale! They nearly did back when I was a rook."
"You're my best detective, DK," Mallon sighed, scrubbing a hand across his jaw, his stubble scratching loudly against his palm. "An' you know dis bastard better'n anyone on da force. An' he don' rape his vics. Dat ain't his style. So eidder he's added summin' knew or dis's a copycat. Eidder way, it's bad."
"So... I'm bein' assigned to confirm if it was him?" Derek asked, trying not to sound petulant and failing. But he didn't care. He may have been working the Heartless case on the DL and on his off time, but he knew better than to be assigned to it officially. Half the reason he was in the North Bureau in North Charleston was because transferring away from the Charleston teams was the only way he'd been given any peace.
"Yeah, we'll go wit dat f'now. I'll see y'all later. Take Irish wit you." Mallon says nothing else just turns and walks back to his office.
"Wait, what hospital is she at?" he called across the bullpen. "It don't say in the paper."
"She's at Trident Main on 78," Mallon replied before closing his office door behind him.
Derek hissed out a curse, grabbed his gun out of his desk and headed out of the building. He ran into his partner before the other detective could even make it to the front door.
"We got another one, don't we?" Liam O'Shaunnesy asked when he saw Derek's expression.
"Let's fucking hope not." Because if they did have another victim and she was one of the Heartless'?
Their lives will have gotten so much worse.