Yellow markers littered the small interrogation room. A flash went off every once in a while. Marie Corbin surveyed the chaotic scene around her. Her hair disheveled and the smokiness that once filled the room still occasionally burned when she swallowed. Beneath the stony exterior, anger simmered. Gray powder smudged her white blouse. The black jacket over it had long-since been collected for evidence.
Her shirt would eventually follow. However, two officers were picking through her hair for any particles that may be helpful in their investigation. Corbin had given the best description she could of the person who burst into the room. None of the shots fired were meant to kill. Not for lack of experience either. She had worked on enough crimes to know the difference between an amateur and a professional.
Every shot had missed, but not by much. The bullets had come too close. They were meant to incite panic and fear—to create separation between them and Terrah. The shooter had succeeded. Their only connection to Jaynes taken from their custody.
By one of our own.
Corbin itched to get in on the action, to begin the investigation with a renewed vigor. Yet she was stuck in the room, being picked clean for residual particles. Logically, a part of her knew the importance of every detail in this crime. The desire for revenge burned through her veins. She spared a glance at her partner, Brendan Rose, hadn’t fared much better.
His anger was barely concealed, just like hers. Their eyes met. A silent vow to hunt down Jaynes and Terrah went unspoken, but their resolve wouldn’t waiver.
For ten years, they had led the investigation into Jaynes McConnell. He had grown up under their radar and would never stay on it long enough for him to get caught. New charges popped up every month. The only oddity in the familiar pattern came around the time the infamous couple got married. Terrah Johnson had only popped up on their radar a couple of weeks ago almost a year after their “wedding.”
Corbin didn’t know why, nor did she particularly care. All she knew was that this attack was orchestrated by McConnell. He had broached their grounds, solidifying their conviction that he needed to be brought in. An investigator walked up to her after taking Rose’s statement.
“What do you think, Marie?” he asked.
She had two options: lie about who she suspected or tell the truth. One would take her and Rose off the investigation. The other would steer them in a different direction. At least long enough to buy her time to track down McConnell’s latest plan.
“Revenge,” she answered. “Terrah Johnson had many enemies. She probably made friends with the wrong one.”
“I thought she was mostly harmless.”
Corbin took in a deep breath. “Normally, but she’s a drug dealer. God knows how many innocent lives she’s taken indirectly. Or who she got her products from.”
The other agent looked less than pleased with her answer. She wasn’t going to hand over her investigation on a silver platter.
“That all you got?”
She shrugged. “I’d look into undercover operations. We’ve planted many agents in local gangs to try and track her operations. I’m sure you’ll find an answer there.”
The investigator left her alone. After all the particles were recovered from her hair and skin, she was given a set of clothes to change into. Corbin handed over her singed outfit for further examination without question. After that, she was free to go.
Rose caught up to her not too long afterward. He was also dressed in borrowed clothing. They didn’t say anything about their next move until they got into a car. He had driven her since they lived near one another.
“So,” he began. “He’s made it personal.”
She hummed. “Not the first time.”
“I doubt it will be the last either.” Rose prepared a cigarette, offering her one. She refused as always.
Corbin ran through the events from earlier. “No. This was a different level of destruction though.”
Rose exhaled. “Trying too hard or panicked?”
It was hard to tell without seeing the photos and evidence collected. McConnell very rarely acted on such a large scale for no reason. Panicked would be her initial reaction but something felt different about the scenario compared to run-ins in the past.
“I need the file.”
Rose shook his head, “They won’t let us near it.”
“I know!” She didn’t need him to tell her the obvious. They wouldn’t solve anything today. Corbin hated feeling helpless, hated this wasn’t her investigation. Most of all—she loathed that they weren’t any closer to McConnell. They needed him.
The drive to her house was silent. Her brain looped the moments before and during the interrogation. No one appeared out of the ordinary. They were all familiar faces, people she had trusted.
How long has McConnell had a spy in our ranks?
It was the only explanation that made sense. She thought of the newest faces amongst their ranks, only going back to a year. There were a handful of them present. Corbin’s thoughts broke when the car jerked to a stop. Her neighborhood slowly came into focus.
“See you tomorrow.”
Rose waited until she got inside her home before he drove away. She should have told him of her suspicions, but it could wait until tomorrow. He needed the evening to rest. Corbin had no intention of doing so. Not when came to McConnell and Johnson.
Orange danced with red and yellow, illuminating the small area in which she sat. Snapping resounded in the quietness around her. Warmth enveloped her, twisting itself around her slim figure to keep her the perfect temperature. Edith turned a ragged paper over. Her brown eyes drank in each dark letter on the page. Tension spread throughout her delicate body, building as each sentence painted a vivid picture in her mind. It was almost too much. Her breath hitched in her throat.
“Madam, are you listening?” she heard.
Edith jumped at the sound of the tired voice that had spoken. All the tension that she had felt before changed into adrenaline within a small amount of time. Irrational thoughts came to her mind before she could properly identify the one who had spoken. After taking a few deep breaths to collect herself, she finally looked at the weathered man standing before her. His well-groomed features and proper attire made her feel guilty at her own sloppy look.
“I apologize, Weston. I was otherwise engaged.”
“I could tell,” he replied with a small smile. His wrinkles smoothed instantly. If she did not know better, she would have thought him ten less years than his actual age. “Your father sent you a letter.”
The elderly man stretched out his hand, trying his best to control the visible shakes. Edith reached for the yellow envelope quickly and pulled out the letter ensnared within. Hastily, she scanned the first note from her father since his departure six months ago. The rush that she once had felt fled from her.
“May I inquire as to its contents, Madam?” Weston asked.
“Father wishes for me to rejoin him in the country. He said that you should receive your letter of instructions a few days in regards for my departure,” she answered. Quickly, she rolled up the letter, no longer interested it. Stinging in her eyes attacked without warning. She was familiar with this feeling; however, this was his longest absence, and there was no warmth in his writing. All the words scrawled upon the page read with sharp, biting instructions. How she once found comfort in knowing that he still cared, but it had changed.
“I apologize, Madam.”
“For what, Weston?” she asked.
“Your disappointment,” he replied.
“Weston, you do not need to apologize for my father’s shortcomings. I honestly should have expected this since his departure.”
“It does not bring me comfort in knowing that you are accepting this.”
“Then I suppose I will have to bring you comfort in some other way. Thank you, Weston, for being the father that still loves me.”
Edith rose from her spot on the floor. She walked to the elderly butler and embraced him gently. When she pulled away, she smiled gently. He returned her smile.
Restoration is a historical fiction novel featuring Edith Huey, a woman who was raised to take over the family business. Her life is turned upside down when her father decides to leave their secure life behind and venture into a new business in the south. Troubles come one right after another as Edith struggles to cope with the new changes. Eventually, she discovers the truth of her father’s new business and vows to restore what he has destroyed in the process.