Chapter 7 – A Lead
The next 3 days seemed to fly by. I had run over to my condo on Friday morning to pack some clothes and stayed with Eric helping him whenever I could. We spent most of the time together just talking or cuddling on his couch with Bubba in front of the TV. He was still in pain from getting shot, or “the incident” which is what I silently called it. I didn’t ask him about what had happened, but I figured if he wanted to talk about it, he would bring it up. And honestly, just thinking about it made me tear up.
I knew that I was falling for him fast. Bill’s betrayal was still fresh in my mind, but for some reason I didn’t worry about that happening with Eric. What scared me was the fact that I didn’t care about Bill half as much as I was coming to care about Eric. While Bill broke my heart, if anything were to happen with Eric I knew I would be utterly broken.
His partner Alcide showed up on Eric’s doorstep on Sunday afternoon with a case of beer. I took that as my signal to return to reality. I knew they would probably want to talk about “the incident” so after a departing kiss that I could feel down to my toes, I made my way home.
Amelia was waiting for me with my favorite Starbucks coffee when I got into the office on Monday.
Grinning, she said, “I figured you’d be REALLY tired from your long weekend and could use a pick-me-up.”
I blushed at the thought of what she was implying, but the truth was aside from that first night, nothing more happened. I WANTED to, but I didn’t want to push him knowing he was hurt.
“I’ll have you know that I’m very well rested Amelia Broadway, so you can just get your mind out of the gutter.” I put on my best indignant face and sat down. My southern manners kicked in a second later. “Thank you for the coffee though.”
“Are you serious? After all of that drama, you didn’t have “THANK GOD YOU’RE STILL ALIVE” sex? That’s gotta be WAY hotter than make-up sex. But maybe equally as hot as bar storeroom sex.”
My blush returned full force. “Stop it Amelia! He was shot for goodness sakes. I wasn’t going to attack him when he was hurting.” Again I added silently.
Thank God Pam walked into the office ending that conversation or we would have been going back and forth for the rest of the morning.
“How’s your, what is he to you, your ‘boyfriend’?” she asked.
Huh, what WAS Eric to me? He was definitely ‘something’ to me. We hadn’t discussed “us” at all. Everything just seemed to flow naturally when we were together. I guess that was a conversation we needed to have at some point.
Deciding to answer only half of her question I responded, “He’s okay. His chest has a massive bruise on it from the gunshot, but his vest held up. He’s going back to work today.”
“There was footage of you on the news walking him to the ambulance. You seemed pretty upset. Is there going to be an issue with both of you working on the DeCastro case together? This is too important to let personal lives get in the way.”
“No, there won’t be any issues. I would never let my personal life interfere with my job.” I meant it too.
Pam looked hard at me, before giving me a smile. “It’s nice to see you happy again.” Putting her ‘DA face’ back on she said, “I want updates on your progress with DeCastro. I’m in court most of the week so email me and I’ll check my blackberry when I can.” With that she was out the door.
Eric and I had made plans to meet up at the station at 10 o’clock this morning to go over his and Alcide’s notes. I’d been to the police station dozens of times, but I wasn’t sure where Eric’s desk was located. As I made my way to the second floor where the detective’s offices were I nearly got knocked down by a moving wall.
He managed to grab my arms before I fell on my ass. “Sorry about that babe. I didn’t see you there.”
Babe? Looking up, I saw he was a bodybuilder type with a bald head and what looked like purple eyes. Creepy.
Yanking my arms free I straightened my clothes and asked, “Can you tell me where I can find Detective Northman?”
His voice dropped and octave when he replied, “You can do better than Northman babe. How about I take you out for dinner? My name’s Quinn.”
My hackles raised at the complete lack of professionalism this oaf seemed to possess. Game on!
In my most scathing voice I said, “Well Quinn, first off, I’m not your ‘babe’, nor will I ever be your ‘babe’. I’m Assistant District Attorney Stackhouse here to see Detective Northman on a case. I have no interest in you or dinner with you, and if you ever speak to me in such a disrespectful and unprofessional manner again I’ll take it up with the Chief.”
Before he could respond I heard, “ADA Stackhouse. I see you’ve met Lieutenant Quinn.”
Looking over I saw Eric standing in the hallway looking mighty pissed at the oaf. I squeed on the inside thinking I must be ‘something’ to him too.
Smiling at him I said, “Yes Detective Northman, we have. ” I moved passed Quinn to stand in front of Eric. His gaze finally broke away to look down at me. As soon as our eyes met he broke out his lopsided grin. My panties dampened.
I watched as his eyes took in what I was wearing. All weekend long he had only seen me in t-shirts or tank tops paired with jeans or yoga pants.
Knowing I would see him today, I put on my black pencil skirt that had a high waist along with a crisp white button down shirt that was fitted on the sides, tucked in. It had three-quarter length sleeves and the top button sat just where my cleavage started, framing the girls nicely. I had put my hair up into a French twist with just a few wisps on each side at the front and a pair of black stilettos completed the look. I dubbed it my “slutty librarian” look.
He leaned in to me whispering, “You’re killing me. And I’m going to have a HARD time concentrating with you wearing that.”
Hearing the husky tone his voice had taken made my heart rate speed up and my girly bits twitch remembering just how well he knew how to take care of that problem.
Steeling myself against finding an empty store room in the police station I took a deep breath and smiling at him I said, “I would say I’m sorry, but it would be a lie. Where are we going to go over your notes?”
His eyes were smoldering at me with a silent promise that he would make sure I wouldn’t be sorry at all. He turned around and directed me to an empty conference room. Alcide joined us and we spread everything out and started going over all of it.
Going over the written transcripts from the phone taps I said, “This is the one we got the warrant for his computer for, right?” I held up the transcript where the unknown person mentioned hacking into the armory files at Barksdale AFB. “Did anyone contact the base to see if they could trace the hack from their end?”
Eric looked at Alcide and responded, “No. At the time, tech was working on getting into the encrypted files on DeCastro’s computer. We wouldn’t need them to trace the hack when we would’ve gotten the files from his computer.”
“How about I give their JAG office a call and see if I can get us in to see them?” I was hopeful this could be our way back to getting DeCastro.
An hour later the three of us were getting our visitor’s pass and entering Barksdale AFB. Colonel John Flood met us in the lobby of the Judge Advocate General’s office and escorted us to his office.
After being seated I handed him copies of the phone transcripts and gave him an overview of what happened with the DeCastro case.
Colonel Flood listened to everything we had to say and then made a few phone calls. The first was to his IT Security person telling them what we were looking for and the general time frame when we think it would’ve occurred. He assured the Colonel that he would look into it immediately and would report his findings. The next call went to the Security Forces Commander requesting they do a complete inventory of the armory. All weapons on the military installation are kept in a central armory that is manned 24 hours a day. All weapons are logged as they’re removed and returned along with ammunition.
Colonel Flood assured us he would call as soon as he knew anything. After thanking him, we decided to stop for lunch at Lafayette’s Diner on the way back.
I sat in the same booth as the week before with a sense of déjà vous. Only this time I had Eric with me instead of him being in harm’s way. We had Alcide with us too, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Arlene, my waitress from last week brought over our menus. She made an extra effort to lean over while handing them out trying to get Eric’s attention. I wanted to bitch-slap her.
“Can I get you anything to drink?” she purred at him. Alcide was snickering looking back and forth between Eric’s obliviousness as he studied the menu at my side and my murderous glares at her.
“I’ll have a lemonade,” I said with a triumphant grin. He’s MINE bitch. They each ordered a coke and she FINALLY left with a little too much sway in her walk.
“So Eric, ” Alcide began, “are you going to the Chief’s retirement dinner?”
“It’s not like it’s an optional event. Yeah, I’m going.” Eric turned to me with an expression like a light bulb had just appeared over his head. “Do you want to go with me? It’s tomorrow night. I know it’s last minute, and I would’ve asked you earlier but I forgot all about it. ”
I could feel the huge grin on my face when I said, “I’d love to go. Is it a ‘cocktail dress’ or ‘formal dress’ kind of dinner?”
“Well, I have to wear my dress uniform, so a formal dress would be good.” His eyes seemed to dance at the idea of it.
I had the perfect dress in mind. “Sounds great.” I was still grinning like a fool when Arlene brought back our drinks and took our orders for 3 ‘Burgers Lafayette’, which Eric assured me were to die for. Arlene was going to die if she didn’t stop trying to shove her chest in Eric’s face.
As we ate I listened to Eric and Alcide tell stories about one another, bantering back and forth like brothers. I liked Alcide a lot more now than I did the first time we met. He didn’t leer at me or give me any unnecessary attention. It was as if he decided I was off-limits now that he knew something was going on with me and Eric.
Just as we were walking out of the diner my cell phone rang. It was Colonel Flood.
“I just heard from the Security Forces Commander that their inventory came up missing a dozen M-16’s and a case of C-4. They just did an inventory 3 days ago and it was all accounted for. OSI has the three airmen that were on duty the last three days in a holding room. If you want, you all can sit in on the interrogations.”
I relayed the information to Eric and Alcide and told the colonel we were on our way, and I sent Pam an email from my phone telling her about the new development.
Once we were back at the air force base we found the building that housed the Office of Special Investigations and found Colonel Flood waiting for us. He took us inside and introduced us to Special Agent Weiss. She had the airmen in separate interrogation rooms and gave us a brief history of each of them. All of them were members of the Security Forces squadron, all were the rank of Senior Airmen, and none had any disciplinary infractions. None of them stood out from the others.
She led us into the first interrogation room and gave the airman her rights advisement. While the military has a Uniform Code of Military Justice that military members are subjected to, it was the same rights advisement civilians received except they have the option to have a military lawyer if they want one.
The first airman we spoke to was Senior Airman Adabelle Yancy. She had worked the day shift from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. from the day the inventory was last done until today. She seemed very straight forward, if not a little nervous, but that was to be expected. She never faltered when giving her answers or gave any signs she was being deceptive.
Leaving SRA Yancy we walked into the next room where SRA Calvin Norris sat waiting. He got the same rights advisement and the questions started all over again. SRA Norris had all of the same reactions as SRA Yancy, and seemed to be telling the truth. He worked the swing shift from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. My hopes were diminishing minute by minute.
The last airman in line was SRA Franklin Mott. He was older than both Yancy and Norris who were 22 and 23 years old. Mott was 30, but I guessed he had joined the military later in life rather than straight out of high school like the other two.
SRA Mott worked the mid-shift from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. When SA Weiss asked him about his shifts over the last three days he immediately looked down at the table in front of him. His left leg was bouncing up and down and he was sweating profusely. When she mentioned the missing weapons and explosives he crossed his arms in front of himself and crossed one leg over the other, attempting to quell his bouncing. He denied having any knowledge of the missing items, but his body language was telling us differently.
SA Weiss then introduced Eric and Alcide as Shreveport PD and myself as the ADA. Weiss started talking about how there would be both a civilian trial and then a military hearing with sentences running consecutively instead of concurrently with the subject serving time in a Louisiana State Correctional Facility only to leave there to serve time at Fort Leavenworth.
Weiss then looked to me to offer my two cents. Looking at Mott I said, “If you had anything to do with the missing weapons and explosives and cooperate in this investigation I can assure you there will be no charges filed against you in the civilian courts. We just need to know what you know.”
He contemplated my words for a few minutes before letting out a sigh. “Three weeks ago I was approached by a guy while I was out at a bar in Bossier City. He offered me five thousand dollars if I would let him and a friend come into the armory and take the M-16’s and C-4. I have a little bit of a gambling problem and I have to pay up to my bookie. He already knew what we had in the armory because he knew we hadn’t received those M-16’s yet and he knew they were being shipped out to the OIF/OEF from here. He told me his guy would hack into the armory records to make it look like the weapons were shipped out so no one would know they were missing. We received them 3 days ago and he called me the next day saying they would be by that night. I let them in around 2 a.m. and they took the stuff and left after paying me.”
His body visibly relaxed. You could see the weight lift off of him once he told the truth. After a few more questions we learned that both men were average height and build and they were both in air force uniforms when they showed up at the armory. He gave us a description of the van they were driving and that was all he knew.
Walking out of the room, we followed Weiss to her office where she pulled up the camera feed at every check point on the base. Everyone entering the base has to drive through a check point and have either a visitor’s pass or a military ID card. They have to exit through one of the check points as well. After a few minutes of scrolling through the video she found a grainy video of the two men coming in through the main check point in the van Mott had described and then leaving through the same check point 30 minutes later. The video wasn’t very good quality because it was night time.
It was the best lead we had so far and I didn’t want it to dead end because we couldn’t make anything out in the darkness. Then an idea came to me. “They seemed to be pretty well prepared. They knew of the shipment before it ever got here and where it was supposed to be going. They knew to come dress up as a military member to blend in. They knew who was working in the armory and when. They sound like the types of guys that have a plan. They come prepared. Do you think they would have scoped out the drive onto the base to the armory before the night they took the weapons?”
SA Weiss gave me a knowing smile and with a soft nod of her head she reviewed the video further back. Sure enough, both of them had driven onto the base earlier that day and we had a perfect shot of their faces as they entered through the check point. We also had a perfect shot of their license plate when they left. All of us were high fiving each other as Eric called and got an address for the plate number. It came back to a EEE Caterers and Events. The address for them was in Shreveport. I called in to get us a warrant and as we took off back to town I emailed Pam the good news.