CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-SIX
Friday morning — 7:10 a.m.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
“Someone’s at the gate!” Nash said from the dining room.
“Someone’s ringing the. . .” Noelle said entering the dining room. Seeing Charlie and Nash, she said, “Oh.”
Charlie and Nash lifted a fork and pointed to her. Shaking her head at them, Noelle went to open two windows to give them airflow and moved to sit down.
“You should go get it,” Nash said with his mouth full, which sounded like, “Mu ff-ld mm rr m.”
“Ew,” Noelle said.
Mike poked his head into the dining room. Rolling his eyes at the children, he went to the closet where the gate controls were located.
“Hey! We have school!” Charlie yelled after Mike.
“Oooh school,” Mike said, sarcastically. “What?”
“Denver Police,” a woman yelled.
“So?” Mike asked.
“Can you let us in?” the woman asked.
“What do you want?” Mike asked.
A man’s face appeared on the monitor. He pointed at the monitor.
“Fuck you, Roper,” the man said. “Let us in.”
“Hey asshole,” Mike said. “I’m not letting you in until you put your masks on.”
He watched while the Denver Police detectives put on their facemasks.
“You want some coffee,” Mike said. “I was just making a pot.”
Mike hit the button and the two police detectives came into the Castle compound. Mike put on a facemask. He grabbed a stack of masks, opened the side door, and went to finish the coffee. The police detectives wandered into the building. They looked into the dining room.
Still chewing, Nash and Charlie pointed toward the kitchen.
“He’s in the kitchen,” Noelle said. “We’re just kids. We don’t know anything about anything.”
“Good to know,” the woman said.
The detectives went toward the kitchen.
“There’s some guys here,” Teddy said as he came into the dining room.
Teddy sat down next to Noelle. Jabari, Mack, and Wyn ran into the dining room. Maggie, Jackie, and Eddie ran in. The younger kids started arguing about which seat they were sitting in. Noelle got up from her seat.
“Jabari!” Noelle said. She pointed to a chair. “Here.”
“Mack, Wyn — go there and there,” Noelle said.
“Where should we go?” Maggie asked.
Noelle pointed to three chairs.
“Okay,” Jackie said.
Maggie, Eddie, and Jackie sat down. Noelle grunted. She closed the dining room door before she sat back down in her seat. After a few minutes, the only sound that could be heard was the crunching of healthy cereal.
“Who are you?” the male detective asked with a snort. “The fucking Goddess of Love?”
“Now that you mention it,” Heather said. “Yes.”
She cleared her throat and transformed into her goddess wear.
“Enough of that,” Blane said. He kissed her cheek and took a facemask from Mike. “No goddess wear before coffee.”
Mike turned around from the coffee pot. Mike looked from Blane to Heather and laughed.
“What do you want, Karowski?” Jacob asked as he jogged down the stairs.
Mike gave Jacob a facemask, and he put it on.
Katy, Bladen, and Tanner ran down the stairs behind Jacob. Once the kids hit the floor, they took off toward the dining room.
“Who are you?” Jacob asked the woman.
“Detective Joy Stone,” she said. She held out her hand for Jacob to shake. Jacob held out his elbow and they elbow bumped. “We’re here to talk to a Jacob Marlowe.”
“That’s him,” Detective Karowski said.
“Would you like some breakfast?” Jacob asked. “It’s my turn to make breakfast.”
“I want to know why the kids keep running into the. . .” Detective Stone said. “What’s over there?”
“Dining room,” Jacob said. “They have kid breakfast on Friday morning.”
“No parents allowed,” Mike said.
Valerie came down the second floor stairs wearing her silk pajamas and a silk bathrobe. She was carrying Grace. The detectives openly gawked at her as she walked around them to Mike. He poured her a cup of coffee. She kissed him, gave the detectives a little wave, and went back upstairs.
“Did you come to gawk at my sister?” Jacob punched Detective Karowski.
“Ow!” Detective Karowski said.
“Let me guess,” Detective Stone said. “You play hockey together.”
“How’d you guess?’ Mike asked.
“And you.” Detective Stone pointed to Heather.
Heather raised an eyebrow at Detective Stone.
“You are the goddess of love?” Detective Stone asked.
“What’s it to you?” Blane asked through his facemask.
“You’re Blane Lipson,” Detective Stone said. “Criminal, prostitute,. . .”
“What’s it to you?” Heather transformed into goddess mode and pointed at Detective Stone.
Detective Stone’s hands went to her throat as if she were being choked.
“That’s my husband,” Heather said in her husky and terrifying goddess voice. “Shut the fuck up.”
“Let her go,” Blane said.
Heather’s eyes flicked to Blane. She nodded and transformed back into human form.
“You’re getting good at that,” Jacob said, taking a sip of his coffee.
“Thank you,” Heather said in her normal human voice.
Detective Stone gasped for breath.
“That’s assault,” Detective Stone croaked.
“Sure,” Heather said. “You go ahead and arrest the goddess of love. You’ll never figure out why the love of your life is acting so weird.”
Blane and Jacob laughed
“Wha. . .?” Detective Stone asked in a desperate voice. “I mean, do you know why she’s acting so weird?”
“She’s pregnant,” Heather said. “She doesn’t want to tell you because she’s afraid that she’ll lose it.”
Detective Stone began to cry.
“What’s happened?” Delphie asked.
She came into the kitchen wearing a facemask. Ivy ran past the kitchen to the dining room.
“Why is the detective crying?” Delphie asked.
“Her partner’s pregnant,” Heather said.
“Did you strangle her?” Delphie asked.
Heather gave a slight nod.
“She was talking crap about Blane,” Heather said.
“I deserved it,” Detective Stone said in a croak.
Mike put a cup of coffee in Detective Stone’s hand, and she drank it down.
“Put a facemask on,” Delphie said. “No reason to show off.”
Heather nodded in a kind of bow.
“Thanks,” Detective Stone said. “Good coffee.”
“Why are you here in my home, Detectives?” Delphie asked.
“This is your home?” Detective Stone asked.
“It is,” Delphie said. “Jake’s mom bought it for me. Now, we have a lot going on today, so you should spit out what you want. There are a lot of people will be here shortly.”
“It’s the first day of Harvest Weekend,” Mike said.
Detective Karowski nodded.
“What’s ‘Harvest Weekend’”? Detective Stone asked.
“We get together to harvest gardens,” Alexandra Hargreaves said through her facemask as she came in the door from the backyard. “Go ahead.”
Her children — Joey and Máire — ran off toward the dining room. Alex’s husband, also wearing a facemask, came in behind her. He touched Alex’s shoulder and started toward the dining room.
“Children’s breakfast,” Jacob said.
“No adults allowed,” Heather said.
“Ah.” John stopped short. “Might I have some tea?”
Mike reached over and turned on the electric kettle.
“Breakfast?” Jacob asked from his position at the stove.
“Sounds good,” John said with a nod. “Need help?”
“Nah, I’m just making eggs,” Jacob said. “Bacon. Sandy made muffins.”
“This year, we’re harvesting here, at Alex’s house, and the big garden at the Marlowe School,” Delphie said. She clapped her hands. “Some of us are cooking and canning all next week. Alex, her brother, I, and some of the kids will harvest from our bees and then Alex’s bees while they cook.”
“Oh good, you’re here,” Sandy said as she came in the room.
She set down Rachel, who ran toward the dining room. Mike gave her a facemask which she put on.
“Can you help?” Sandy asked Heather.
“Sure,” Heather said.
Sandy and Heather left to Sandy’s apartment.
“Why are you here?” Mike asked.
Jill came down the stairs. She looked around the room.
“They went to Sandy’s,” Alex said, drinking coffee.
John fixed a pot of tea and went to Alex’s side. He put his arm around her. Jill went off to Sandy’s apartment.
“We’re here on a cold case,” Detective Stone said.
“What cold case?” Jacob asked.
“Lieutenant said that we should work on cold cases while crime is down,” Detective Karowski said.
“Crime is down?” Delphie asked.
“Not really,” Detective Stone said. “Most crime now is between family members so it’s not the challenge the lieutenant wants for our professional growth. At least, that’s what he said.”
Mike ground coffee beans for another pot of coffee and then started a pot.
“Why does this bring you to us?” Jacob asked with his head in the oven.
“What?” Detective Stone asked.
“With the facemask and the oven, she couldn’t hear you,” Mike said.
“Oh.” Jacob stood up and closed the oven door. “Why are you here?”
“There are seven cold cases related to this address,” Detective Stone said. “Karowski said that we should just come here and clear them up.”
“Okay,” Jacob said.
They heard the dining room door open just before Sandy and Heather arrived with plates of muffins. Jill arrived a moment later without anything.
“I dropped some in the dining room,” Jill said.
“How are the eggs?” Sandy asked.
“Almost done,” Jacob said. “But the bacon needs a bit more time.”
“Perfect,” Sandy said.
Sandy set down a large plate of muffins on the kitchen table.
“We should eat outside,” John said. “Covid? I don’t want to see you in the ICU.”
Sandy nodded in agreement. She and Heather picked up the muffins. Alex held the door open and they went out into the backyard. Sandy set a plate of muffins down on one picnic table and Heather put her plate down on another. A few minutes later, Mike arrived with a fresh pot of coffee. Jacob came out with two plates of eggs and went back inside to monitor the bacon. Alex arrived with plates and silverware. John arrived with napkins. The detectives wandered outside.
Making sure that they had six feet between them, they took seats at the tables or in the chairs around the backyard. They started eating. After a few minutes, Jacob went inside and returned with the bacon. He set a plate down on each picnic table.
“I have carpool,” Jacob said.
“We need to walk through these crimes,” Detective Stone said. “See the locations of each event.”
“I’ll take them,” Sandy said.
“You have work,” Heather said. “I’ll take them.”
Heather finished her coffee. She picked up her plates and silverware, stopped to say a word to Blane, and went inside. As if it were a trigger, everyone slowly went back into the Castle and off to school or work.
“Well,” Jacob said. “What would you like to see? What can I do for you?”
“We have cases that range from the 1920s to the 1990s,” Detective Stone said.
“Does this include the eight bodies we’ve already discovered?” Jacob asked. “Three in the ballroom earlier this year.”
“Good question,” Detective Karowski said. “No.”
“Saint Jude?” Jacob asked.
“That’s right.” Detective Karowski pointed at Jacob. “You found some remains here as well.”
“Why so much death on this one property?” Detective Stone asked.
“Old house?” Jacob shrugged. “It was run down for a long, long time. When we moved in, we had to chase people away for months. It took me a long time to get it to even a livable state.”
The detectives looked at each other and didn’t respond.
“Why do you think?” Jacob asked with a sigh.
“We’re not sure,” Detective Stone said. “There’s a lot of people who live here. I mean. . .”
She flipped open her notebook.
“You’ve got prostitutes and drug dealers and. . .” Detective Stone’s hair caught on fire.
Detective Stone squealed and Detective Karowski jumped up to help her. Under the table, Jacob gestured with his hand. The fire went out.
“If I could make a suggestion,” Jacob said and cleared his throat. “Why don’t we look at whatever you’re looking for and you can get out of here?”
“Did you set fire to my hair?” Detective Stone asked.
“I believe that you set your own hair on fire,” Jacob said. “When a goddess gives you instructions, you’d be wise to follow them.”
“You mean that bitch was serious?” Detective Stone sneered.
Shaking his head, Jacob sighed.
“Excuse me for a moment,” Jacob said getting up from the picnic table. “I’m calling my lawyer.”
“Hey, now!” Detective Karowski said. “There’s no need for that.”
“Sure, man,” Jacob said. “I’ll be right back.”
Shaking his head with irritation, Jacob walked into the kitchen only to find Valerie’s best friend and their lawyer, Samantha Hargreaves, sitting at the table eating a muffin and drinking tea with his sister.
“How?” Jacob asked.
“I called her when I got back upstairs,” Valerie said. “That detective seems like a real asshole.”
“She is,” Jacob said. “Thank you for coming, Samantha.”
“Thanks for letting Sasha go to the Marlowe School,” Samantha said. “Heather even dropped her off. And these muffins. . .”
“Sandy’s baking is amazing,” Jacob said.
“Yes,” Samantha said. She stood up from the table. “Let’s see what they want.”
“I should tell you that Detective Stone’s hair just caught on fire,” Jacob said.
“Okay,” Samantha said. “How?”
“Heather warned her not to talk shit about Blane,” Jacob said.
“Well, then, the detective is lucky that it wasn’t worse,” Samantha said. “I mean, that was Athena driving the other SUV right?”
“Probably,” Jacob said. “She’s been here a bunch lately. Some project that she and Heather are working on. But I didn’t see her today.”
“What’s she like?” Samantha asked.
“She doesn’t speak to men,” Jacob said. “You’d have to ask Val.”
Samantha turned to Valerie, who shrugged.
“She’s nice,” Valerie said with a shrug. “Tough, but kind. I like her. I’m sure that she’ll be back. Jill and Honey have classes this morning and then they’re all hanging out this afternoon. When you’re done with whatever the detectives want, you should just stay.”
“I might do it,” Samantha gave Valerie a bright smile. “Come on.”
Jacob followed Samantha out to the backyard.
“Detectives?” Samantha asked. “My client informs me that you have some cold cases from before they took occupancy of this property. Is that correct?”
“Yes, but. . .” Detective Karowski said.
“Yet, you’ve insinuated that my clients had something to do with these events,” Samantha said. “You even included people who weren’t even born prior to taking occupancy of this property.”
“Like who?” Detective Stone asked.
“Charlie Delgado?” Samatha asked. “And what exactly is your issue with Blane Lipson?”
“He has a long sheet,” Detective Stone said.
“I see,” Samantha said. “And when was his last arrest?”
“Uh. . .” Detective Stone said, thumbing through her phone.
“Might it be around the time that the Marlowe-Lipson family taking possession of this property?” Samantha asked.
“Yes,” Detective Karowski said while Detective Stone said, “I’m checking.”
“Let’s be honest with each other,” Samantha said. “Besides eating some of the best muffins I’ve ever had, what exactly are you doing here this morning?”
“The lieutenant set up a contest where the partners. . .” Detective Karowski gestured between himself and Detective Stone, “. . . who solve the most cold cases wins Broncos tickets. We saw that there were eight cases attached to this house. Since I play hockey with Jake and Mike, we came over this morning hoping to clear cases.”
“And the insinuations about my clients?” Samantha asked.
“I. . .” Detective Karowski started.
“You can’t blame us for looking up who lives in a house,” Detective Stone said. “You live with criminals then crimes are bound to wind up on your doorstep.”
“Even though there have been no cold cases attached to this property since prior to their occupancy and ownership?” Samantha asked.
Detective Stone gave Samantha a steely look.
“It’s a simple question,” Samantha said. “You look at any of these people and what you’ll find is an abused child who did the best they could in their situations, who has grown into a functioning member of society. You want to hold their abuse against these children?”
Detective Stone never flinched. Samantha shrugged.
“Good luck with your contest,” Samantha said. “Given that none of this has anything to do with my clients, I’m going to recommend that they not let you inside.”
“We’ve already been inside,” Detective Karowski grinned.
“I’m revoking your access,” Samantha said in a stern voice. “Good day, detectives. You can see yourselves out.”
Samantha threaded her arm through Jacob’s elbow and encouraged him toward the back door.
“We’ll just stay here,” Detective Stone said.
Jacob opened the back door and whistled.
“Shit,” Detective Karowski said.
“What?” Detective Stone asked.
“He called his crazy dogs,” Detective Karowski said.
The detectives ran out of the back yard and down the driveway. The dogs nearly caught them at the fence, but the detectives managed to make it though. Once on the other side, the dogs headed back to the backyard.
“You fucked that up,” Detective Karowski said as they got into their vehicle.
“How did I fuck that up?” Detective Stone asked. “I’m going to call for a warrant. We’ll take that house apart room by room.”
“No,” Detective Karowski said. “You won’t.”
“Why’s that?” Detective Stone asked.
“In the first place, you won’t get a warrant,” Detective Karowski said.
“Why’s that?” Detective Stone asked.
“Because they haven’t done anything,” Detective Karowski said. “And their lawyer is Samantha Hargreaves. There’s no way she’s going to let a warrant slip by her.”
Detective Stone started the vehicle and they drove to the intersection of Race Street and Colfax Boulevard.
“What’s your beef with them?” Detective Karowski asked.
“What do you mean?” Detective Stone asked.
“You wanted to come here,” Detective Karowski said. “You have to know that you were a complete asshole in there.”
“I was stating facts,” Detective Stone said.
“No, You were talking about crimes committed when these adults were children,” Detective Karowski said. “Any jury is going to see them as abused children whose crimes were a long time ago. Why are you so zealous here?”
Detective Stone sniffed.
“Fine, don’t tell me,” Detective Karowski said. “But you’d better be prepared for the lieutenant to ask you.”
“Why’s that?” Detective Stone asked.
“Because if I know Samantha Hargreaves — and I went all the way through Catholic school with her — she’s talking to him right now,” Detective Karowski said. “You ever notice that tattoo on the lieutenant’s wrist?”
“I asked him about it once,” Detective Stone said. “He didn’t answer. Some military thing.”
“It means that he’s owned by the Hargreaves,” Detective Karowski said. “What do you think he’s saying to Samantha Hargreaves?”
“No idea.” Detective Stone shook her head.
“More than all of this,” Detective Karowski said. “Samantha was right. They invited us to breakfast, no questions asked, even after you were an asshole to Blane. You know what Blane’s doing right now?”
He continued when Detective Stone did say anything.
“He’s running an acupuncture clinic,” Detective Karowski said. “On the weekends, Blane and a couple of medical docs see indigent people, mostly elderly, and people with long haul Covid. You think that your petty jealousy, or whatever is going on with you, will stand up to that?”
Detective Stone didn’t respond. Lost in their own thoughts, they drove to the station in silence.
Denver Cereal continues next week...