Monday morning, Jeremy opened his eyes and looked around, confused for a bit until he realized where he was. He was conscious of the body next to him and looked over at his best friend Trevor. He thought to himself that Trevor was beautiful in his sleep. His mouth slightly opened as he breathed. His long light-colored lashes closed over the bright blue of his eyes. Jeremy watched him sleep for a little while and was suddenly startled by the sound of the music on the alarm clock going off. Trevor opened his eyes and stretched and then looked over at Jeremy, who was lying on his back with his hand on his chest, taking deep breaths. Trevor grinned.
"What's the matter?"
"The alarm scared the shit out of me. I wasn't expecting it."
"Sorry, I set it because of habit. I'm glad they let us have today off, so we can take care of things."
"Yeah. I hate to do it, but I guess we need to go over to my house. I need some clothes and my school stuff."
"Well, you know we'll be there to help."
"I know, and thanks, Trevor."
"For saving my life."
"You'd a done the same for me."
"Yeah, I would, but you did this time. I won't ever forget it."
"Well, like we said months ago, we got each other's back."
The boys quickly got up and put on some shorts for the trip to the bathroom. They brushed their teeth and peed.
"You want the shower first?"
"Naw, you can have it. Unless you want to share it; there's enough room."
"'Kay, I guess."
Trevor turned the shower on and set to the right temperature. When he turned back around, the boys blushed a bit, and then after hesitating a moment they took their underwear off. They blushed again before they got in the shower. They took turns under the shower head. They giggled as they took turns washing each other's hair and back. Each of them tickled the other from time to time, which caused more giggles to erupt. They finished and dried themselves off. They wrapped the towels around their waists. Back in Trevor's bedroom, they finished drying off, and Trevor gave Jeremy some underwear to put on.
"You can borrow whatever you want."
Trevor grabbed a couple of pairs of jeans from the closet and tossed one to Jeremy. Jeremy had grabbed a couple of t-shirts from the dresser; he tossed one and a pair of white socks to Trevor. They finished dressing; Jeremy wore an old pair of Trevor's tennis shoes. They went out to the kitchen where Sandy was making breakfast. She looked up from the stove.
"Morning, guys. Did you sleep well?"
"Yeah, mom. What's for breakfast?"
"French toast and sausage."
"Get some juice or milk and have a seat."
The boys got their drinks and sat down as Sandy dished up a couple of pieces of French toast each, and then sat down with her own plate. They ate quietly.
"Where's Jake, mom?"
"He said he wanted to go into work and get one of the company Suburbans. He'll be back in an hour, and then you guys can go over there."
Jeremy stopped eating and she saw the look on Jeremy's face.
"You know, hon, you don't have to go there. They can pick up the stuff you need."
"No, I'll be okay. I'll go."
"Okay, if you're sure."
"Yeah, I'm sure."
She nodded and continued to eat. When they were finished, the boys cleared the table and rinsed the dishes. They went into the living room to watch TV until Jake got back. Sandy waved as she left.
"I'm off to work, boys. I'll see you this afternoon."
"Bye, Mrs. Garrity."
Jake arrived about an hour later.
"Hey, guys, ready to go?"
They nodded and got up. Trevor turned the TV off, and they followed Jake outside and got in the Suburban, Trevor up front and Jeremy in the back. They drove over to Jeremy's house and parked in the driveway. They approached the door and Jake looked at Jeremy. There were remnants of police crime scene tape around the front door.
"You ready for this, bud?"
Jeremy swallowed and nodded. Jake turned to open the door when they heard a truck pull up. They turned around and saw Tom pulling his Suburban in next to the company Suburban. Zach and Jared hardly let him stop before they jumped out and ran over to their boyfriends and gave them quick hugs.
"Well, I guess the gang's all here. Let's get to work."
Jake unlocked the security screen door and they went inside. The house seemed so still and empty, like there was no life in it. Jake turned on the lights in the living room as they looked around. Jeremy had Jared's hand in a death grip as they moved inside. They left the security screen door and the partially broken door open behind them.
"Okay, you guys stay here. Tom and I will go in the back of the house for a moment."
The boys nodded. Jake and Tom made their way to the back and stopped before the open door of Jeremy's room. Looking inside, they could see the bed had been stripped and that there was a large brownish red stain on the rug near Jeremy's closet. They could see that there was a section of it that had been cut out of the rug. Jake looked at Tom and motioned for them to go back. The boys were waiting for their return.
"I don't think you boys should go back there. We'll bring your stuff out here and you can take what you want."
"Jeremy, it hasn't been, uh, completely cleaned up yet."
"I'm going. I have to go there. It's important."
Jake and Tom exchanged looks and shrugged.
"All right, but we're here for you."
"I know, thanks. Will you guys come with me?'
"Of course, need you ask? W've got your back."
Jeremy nodded and the three boys walked with Jeremy to his room; the adults were behind them. When they entered the room Jeremy stopped and looked down at the large bloodstain on the carpet. He let out a little cry and turned to Jared, who wrapped his arms around him and rocked him. The others stood silently by until Jeremy calmed down.
"I'm okay. It was just a little more of a shock than I thought it would be."
"Take your time, son. No hurry."
They moved into the room skirting the stain. Tom and Jake stood outside as the boys started going through things. Jeremy directed them in what to get. There was a knock at the door and Jake excused himself to answer. He saw Detective Graham at the door.
"Hello, detective. What can I do for you?"
"Mr. MacLaren. I heard from Sergeant Tratner that you might be here, so I came out to give you Mrs. Davis' cell phone. You said that you needed it to contact the boy's grandparents."
"Oh yes, thanks."
"Also, would it be possible for you guys to come over to the station this afternoon? We have that sketch artist that I mentioned lined up to talk with you guys about getting a likeness of Roger Smith."
"I think we can do that. We're just getting some of Jeremy's things and then we're going to head back home. We'll get some lunch and come by; does two o'clock sound okay?"
"That's fine; see ya at two."
The detective left as the boys started walking out with Jeremy's things in their arms. Jake snapped his fingers like he remembered something. He went outside and came back in with some collapsed boxes. He and Tom started putting the boxes together while the boys loaded the stuff into the boxes, and as one was loaded, Jake or Tom would take it outside and load it in a SUV. Before long they were done. Jeremy got his bike out of the garage and Tom loaded it into the back of his SUV. Jake locked the front door and they got in the SUVs and drove back to Trevor's. Once there they unloaded the boxes and put them in the guest room. Sandy had left a note before she had left to tell them that there were plenty of sandwich fixings in the refrigerator. They quickly got lunch put together and ate. The boys got everything cleaned up after they were done eating, while Jake and Tom went outside with some sandwiches for the security guys.
"Jake, I think I'm going to go on into the office and take care of things. You don't mind keeping the boys with you, do you?"
"No problem. I'll watch them. Call me if you need me for anything. We'll probably leave in a little bit for the sheriff's office and probably go to my place for some swimming."
"Good idea. I think I'll join you when I finish up."
"Fair enough, buddy, thanks."
Tom put his arms around Jake and hugged him.
"Any time. If anything happens, you call me right away. I'll be there locked and loaded and I'll bring friends."
"I know. Go take care of business."
Tom waved as he got in the SUV. Jake went back inside and found the boys helping Jeremy unpack the boxes and put his stuff away in the guest room as best that they can.
"Jeremy. We'll go back this afternoon and get your desk and dresser and whatever other furniture that you want from your room. First, though, we have to go to the Sheriff's station by two. They want us to give a description to their sketch artist. Okay?"
The boys nodded. He left the boys to their work and went out to the living room, turning the TV on to a news station.
"... .and in further local news. No leads yet reported on the woman found dead in her Lakewood home on Saturday night. The Sheriff's Department has not released any details at this time, other than it is a homicide and the woman's name was Denise Davis."
"Shit, I forgot to see if I can find Denise's parents' info in the phone."
Jake turned off the TV and went to the table where he had laid the phone. He turned it on and looked for the phone list. He found it and started scrolling through it until he saw an entry labeled Mom. He saw that it was an 805 number and pressed the dial button. After a couple of rings it was picked up.
"Denise, thank god... "
"Sorry, ma'am, this is not Denise."
"Oh, no, no... who is this?"
"Jake MacLaren. I'm a friend of your daughter."
"Are you with the police? I've been hearing on the news about a woman in Lakewood being killed and they said that it was Denise. Is that true?"
"No, ma'am, I'm not with the police. Like I said, I'm a friend of hers, and yes, I'm afraid it is true. Your daughter was killed Saturday night. The police are searching for the killer..."
"No, no, no... it can't be, it can't be."
There was the sound of the lady crying and the phone being dropped. Some heavier steps came near and a man's gruff voice came on the line.
"Hello, who is this?"
"Mr. Davis, this is Jake MacLaren, a friend of your daughter."
"So it's true then."
"Yes sir, it is."
"What are you folks doing about it?"
"Us folks? Oh, sorry, I'm not with the police. I'm a friend."
"What about Jeremy? Is he all right?"
"Yes, Jeremy is fine. He was hurt but he is fine and he's here with me."
"Let me talk to him."
"Of course, just a moment."
Jake took the phone with him and went to the bedroom.
"Jeremy, I have your grandfather on the phone. He wants to talk to you."
Jeremy got up and Jake handed him the phone. He took it.
"Jeremy boy. How are you doing?"
"Okay, Grandpa. I'm glad Jake found your number. I couldn't remember it."
"That's okay, where are you?"
"I'm at my friend Trevor's house."
"Give me the address and we'll be there later today."
Jeremy gave him the address and Mr. Davis repeated it as he wrote it down.
"Grandpa, we have to go to the Sheriff's office at two."
"Well, we'll be at your friend's house by six."
"Okay, Grandpa, how's Grandma?"
"She's feeling pretty sad right now, but she'll be okay. You hang in there, son, and we'll see you soon."
"Okay, Grandpa, I love you."
"I love you too, boy. Let me talk to, uh, Mr. MacLaren, is it?"
"Yes sir, bye."
"He wants to talk to you, Jake."
Jake nodded as he took the phone from Jeremy.
"This is Jake."
"Mr. MacLaren, we're going to come down this evening, probably by six."
"That sounds good, Mr. Davis."
"Okay, see you at six."
Jake put the phone back and walked back to the room.
"Okay boys, let's get going."
"Jake, do my grandparents know about what happened to me?"
"I don't think so. It wasn't on the news. Although they did mention your mom's name, there was no information about the attack on you, so I'm sure they don't know. We should tell them tonight."
"Right, let's get going. The sooner were done, the sooner we can get into the pool."
The boys followed Jake out of the house and piled into the company SUV. Jake went over to the security guards and let them know their plans. They nodded and let him know that they would keep an eye on things there at the house. Jake got in and they drove off. It took them about five minutes to get to the station. They parked in the visitor lot and got out. They did not notice a car pulling in across the street in the mall parking lot, facing the Sheriff's office. As Jake got out, he had a prickly feeling and he slowly looked around, taking in the area and across the street to where Lakewood Mall was located. His eyes narrowed as he scanned the surrounding area, and he put his hand to the back of his pants and under the shirt, where he closed his hand on the grip of his concealed automatic pistol. Getting out of the SUV on the other side, Trevor suddenly stopped and his eyes narrowed as well as he looked around. After a short time, Jake's feeling went away and he turned back to the boys. Trevor saw Jake relax and he did as well. Jake ushered the boys in front of him; he glanced around and behind him as they entered the station. Once inside he had the boys take a seat as he went up to the desk and pulled out his concealed weapon permit.
"Good afternoon. I'm Jake MacLaren of Spirit Wolf Security Services. This is my CCW and I am presently armed. We have an appointment with Detective Graham."
The officer behind the desk took the card and looked at it before handing it back.
"Thank you, Mr. MacLaren. I will let the detectives know that you're here. Could I ask you to surrender your weapon while you are here?"
Jake reached to his back and pulled the gun and holster out of his pants. He took out the pistol, ejected the magazine, and pulled back the slide, clearing the chamber. He replaced the gun in the holster and handed it to the deputy. The deputy took it and logged it in.
"Nice one. Browning Hi Power."
"Yep, got it from my Dad years ago. Always liked it."
"I'll keep it safe for you. Don't forget to pick it up before you leave. Or better yet, go ahead and forget about it. I've always wanted one, but they're kind of hard to find."
Jake chuckled. "Yeah, they are, but I don't think I'm going to forget about this one. My Dad gave it to me just before I went to the Middle East for Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and it came in handy."
"I guess it would. Okay, I guess you get it back. Thank you, Mr. MacLaren. I'll let them know you're here."
The deputy punched some numbers on the phone.
"Detective Graham, I have Mr. MacLaren out here... okay, I'll tell him."
The deputy hung up the phone and looked at Jake.
"Detective Graham will be out here in a few minutes. He asked that you have a seat and he'll come get you."
Jake nodded and then went to sit with the boys. Ten minutes later Detective Graham came out and greeted them.
"Glad to see you guys. Come on back and we'll get to work."
After he shook hands with everyone, they followed him back into the station. He took them down a hallway to a room where a man was sitting with a big sketch book, some kind of electronic equipment and some pencils. The man was talking to Detective Matsura. They stood as Bob entered the room. Introductions were made all around and they were directed to sit down. The sketch artist was introduced as Jerry Wilson. He explained the procedure to them.
"Okay, the way this works is, I'm going to work mainly with Jeremy, since he has seen him more than any of the rest of you. The equipment here is a camera that will show the rest of you what I am drawing, and you can watch it on the monitor behind me. If you think that I'm getting something wrong, go ahead and let me know and we'll talk about it, and if you all agree, then I will incorporate the change. Everyone understand?"
There were several "yes sirs" from the boys and a nod from Jake. They got started and Jerry asked Jeremy to describe Roger. He started sketching as Jeremy answered his questions. The work went on for about thirty minutes. From time to time, one of the others said something, but other than that, Jeremy did most of the talking. When they were almost done, Detective Matsura came back in with some cokes for the boys and pulled Detective Graham outside.
"Bob, Tom Browning, Jake's business partner is out front. He says he has something to show Jake.'
"Bring him up. I think we're about done. I want to talk to them for a bit before they go."
Jay left as Bob reentered the room. Jerry was just finishing up with his description.
"Is this a good likeness of Mr. Smith, Jeremy?"
"Good. Then we'll get this out to networks and get it posted by this evening's news. Hopefully someone will have seen him."
The door opened and everyone looked in that direction as Tom and Detective Matsura entered.
"Hi, Dad. What are you doing here?"
"Hi, guys. Jake, I've got something you're going to want to see. You guys too. Jake, do you remember Jeff Gant telling us that he had a lead on that picture of James Harvey?"
Puzzled, Jake nodded. Tom opened a large manila envelope that he was carrying and pulled out a picture.
"I present you James Harvey, AKA Roger Smith."
Jake took the picture and the detectives looked over his shoulder. Detective Graham picked up the sketch and compared it to the picture. In the picture you could see the person they knew as Roger Smith, standing with some other men somewhere in the city. He looked over at Tom.
"It looks like a match. Where did you get this?"
"A few months ago we were hired by a man back east to find information on a James Harvey, who was suspected in the disappearance of his daughter a year ago."
"Was this a child?"
"No, she had recently graduated college. He was apparently her boyfriend or something like that, and they were going out at the time. The police talked to him and couldn't pin anything on him, so they let him go. He disappeared after that. The man hired a private investigator but he lost the trail. However, he did get a lead that James Harvey had headed out here, and the man contacted us to see what we could find out, since we are local. We've had one of our investigators on the case for the past few months, and a week or two ago he got a lead on a possible picture of the guy. The police had no pictures of James Harvey since they did not find proof that he was a suspect, and no pictures of him were found among the young lady's possessions, so they just had a description to go on, and we were working from that until Jeff got this picture. As they say the picture is worth a thousand words. James or Roger, or whoever he is, is probably involved in some slimy stuff. The other guys in the picture are unknown, but they all look kind of slimy. Our man's contact said something about the porn industry. You can guess some of the kind of porn they are probably into."
Jake glanced at the boys and then looked at Tom, who nodded.
"Yeah, I can guess. Here, Detective, can you make a copy of it for my records so that we can make sure that this is the guy that our client knows as James Harvey."
"Sure, Jake, give me a few minutes, and we'll scan it and get you a copy. Thanks for this. It's going to be a big help. Oh yeah, Jake, can you come with us? We can talk while I scan the picture."
Then Jake and the two detectives left the room as Tom took a seat with the boys. Once they were back in the squad room, Graham motioned to a seat, while Jay went to scan the photo.
"Jake, just so you know, since you are taking care of the Davis kid. We have kept the rape secret. It may come out eventually, but we've kept it out of the news."
"I appreciate it.'
"There is one thing: the rape charges are part of the arrest warrant, so at some point some enterprising asshole reporter is going to get that information, and everyone is going to know about it. I just want you to know so that you aren't blindsided."
"Thanks, he's going to go back to school tomorrow, so it's good to know."
"I have a son whose a few years older and I'd hate for something like this to happen to him and then let it get sensationalized."
"Yeah, me too. When I think how close Trevor came to having something like that happen to him... I don't know, that would have been too much. I would make it my life's work to find the son of a bitch and revive some of the old tortures my people used against enemies for several days, before I let him die. The Cheyenne could be inventive when they wanted to be, just like any other tribe."
"I hear you. Well, let's get back to your family."
Jay came back with the copy and they returned to the room.
"Jake, we'd like to talk to this investigator of yours and see what else he may have that could help us find this guy."
"Sure, come by tomorrow and Tom or I will make sure that Jeff is available with his research."
"Great, thanks a lot. We'll be by tomorrow. Okay, we're done here, so have a nice day."
They handed Tom the picture, thanked them for their help and escorted them back out to the front. They shook hands and the detectives went back into their office. Jake retrieved his pistol from the front desk, loaded it, and put it back in place as they went back outside following the boys. As they were walking to the SUVs, Trevor stopped and looked around. He looked at Jake. Jake looked around and got that prickly feeling again. The others looked at the two of them who were stopped and looked around. Jake's hand was at his back holding the grip of the gun, ready to pull it. After a few more moments both he and Trevor relaxed.
"It's gone, Dad."
"Yeah, I know. I felt it too."
"What are you guys talking about?"
Trevor looked at Zach for a few moments as Jake explained.
"Tom, I think both Trevor and I felt someone watching us for a few moments and then it was gone."
"Okay. I remember you in the teams when you would get like that when the enemy was near. You always said it was Indian intuition. This the same thing?"
"Yeah, it felt something like that."
"All right, let's get everybody loaded up and head back to Jake's. I think some swimming is in order."
"First, let's stop by Jeremy's and get the furniture that he wants out of his room and then swimming."
They hurried to the trucks and left. After a quick stop at Jeremy's to get his desk, chair, computer and dresser, they headed to Trevor's, where everything was quickly unloaded and put into Jeremy's room. They went over to Jake's after they changed into their swim shorts and they hit the pool. That was where Sandy found them when she got home.
Later that night, Roger picked up the ringing phone in his living room.
"Mr. Smith? Dion here."
"Yeah, I followed them to the sheriff's office in Lakewood. I was parked across the street. There was the guy with the long hair that you told me about and four kids. When he got out, the long haired guy, kinda stopped and looked around like he sensed something and was looking around, so I faded back out of sight, 'cause it made me kind of nervous the way he was lookin' around. Then they went inside. About thirty minutes later another guy drove up and went in."
"I mentioned him because about fifteen minutes later he came out with them and two of the kids got in the truck with him. Again when they came out the long haired guy stopped and started lookin' around again, and I think he put his hand to the back of his pants, like he was reachin' for a gun or something. I faded back out of sight again and they drove off."
"Okay, I know who the other guy is. Good work, Dion. Call me tomorrow and I'll get the rest of your fee to you."
"Sure, thanks, Mr. Smith."
Roger Smith hung up the phone and walked back over to his laptop and got back to what he was doing.
That evening Jake and Sandy and the two boys had just finished dinner when the doorbell rang. Jake opened the door and saw an older couple in their sixties standing before him. The woman looked very worn and sad. She was holding a handkerchief. She was of average height and weight. The man was just a little shorter than Jake. Both had gray hair and the resemblance between Denise and the woman was apparent. The two Spirit Wolf people were standing at their car, and he nodded to them and they got back in. The older man looked back when he noticed Jake's nod and turned back as Jake greeted them.
"Mr. and Mrs. Davis? I'm Jake MacLaren. I'm sorry we have to meet like this. Come on in."
Mr. Davis nodded as they shook hands and they came inside as Jake closed the door behind them.
"Grandma, Grandpa, you're here!"
Jeremy jumped up and ran to the outstretched arms of his Grandmother. She hugged him and started crying. Mr. Davis came up and enfolded them both in his arms as the three consoled each other for their loss. Jake motioned for Sandy and Trevor to follow him to the kitchen, where Sandy got some coffee going before they sat down and talked quietly, giving the Davises some privacy. After several minutes, they heard some talking coming from the living room. Jake and Trevor got a tray and cups down while Sandy poured the coffee into a carafe, and they rejoined the others in the living room. Jeremy was sitting on the couch between his grandparents; their arms were around him. All of their eyes were a little red and puffy. Jake and Sandy each took a chair and Trevor sat on the arm of Jake's chair, leaning against him. The Davis' looked up when everyone was settled.
"Thank you for what you have done for Jeremy. We really appreciate it."
"It was our pleasure, Mr. Davis... "
"Call me Ben."
"Sure, Ben. We care a lot about Jeremy. He's one of Trevor's best friends, and we didn't know about you guys and didn't want him to be left to the care of the state, so we took him in."
"Thanks for that. He tells me he wants to stay here with you guys, instead of moving out to Simi Valley and living with us."
"I've told him that that is up to you, since you are his next of kin, but we would love to have him live with us, if that is what he wants and you don't mind."
"Well, Evie and I will talk about it tonight when we go home, and let you know."
"Ben, why don't you guys just stay here tonight, or you can stay across the street at my house."
"You don't live here? This isn't your house? You're not married?"
"No sir, well not yet anyway, but that is next month. We are getting married next month."
"Oh, congratulations are in order then."
He looked at his wife and she nodded.
"Okay, that sounds good. We'll stay instead of going back."
"Good, I have a couple of extra rooms at my house."
"That sounds good, thank you."
"Let me know when you're ready, and I'll show you folks the room."
"Why don't I walk over with you right now?"
"Uh, sure, come along."
The two men got up and Ben patted Jeremy on the back as he left to follow Jake. They made their way across the street and Ben eyed the men in the car as he followed Jake. They went in and Jake started to walk to the back to show him the bedroom.
"Wait, Jake. Do you have any beer?"
Jake turned around in surprise. "Uh, yeah, sure."
He went to the refrigerator and looked in, finding nothing he went out the back door and opened it. He was immediately mobbed by Dee. He petted him while Ben waited behind him. Jake settled him down and walked to the outside refrigerator and grabbed a couple of beers. He opened one and handed it to Ben, who had followed him outside. He opened his and they saluted each other before taking a drink. Jake met Ben's gaze and waited.
"You're no dummy, that's for sure."
"I figured you didn't really need to see the room, but you had questions."
"Yeah. I heard the report, but there was not a lot of detail. You mind if we have a seat and talk for a bit?"
"Not at all."
They walked over to the patio furniture and sat down. They took a few more swallows before Ben spoke again.
"So what really happened?"
"Okay some of it is pretty gruesome, so prepare yourself. It involves Jeremy."
"Jeremy? They didn't say anything in the news about him. What happened?"
"Yeah, they have kept that part out of the news. Jeremy was also attacked..."
Jake told him everything that had happened, as they knew it. Before he finished he got them both another beer and continued. Ben only interrupted to ask a few questions; other than that he said nothing.
"So that's the reason for the muscle out front."
"Yeah. They work for my friend and me at our security firm."
"So you think that Jeremy is in some danger still."
"I hope not, but I'm not taking any chances. Until I'm sure, I'm paying those guys to keep an eye on him and Trevor. They are going to be keeping an eye on them at school as well. So I'm doing everything I can to keep them safe."
"Thank you for that. Do you think he's still around?"
"I do think it is very possible Roger is gone, but I'm not taking any chances. I care too much for Jeremy, and if something happened to Trevor, I don't know how I would bear it."
"So you and Sandy are getting married next month?"
"Yeah, we want to be a family."
"Good, she seems to be a very nice lady. And Jeremy likes you folks."
They were silent for a few more minutes. Dee came over and sat by Ben and he absently scratched his ears.
"Ben, I gotta know. Are you going to take Jeremy to live with you?"
"I don't know yet. Evie and I will talk about it tomorrow while the boys are at school. He's all we have left of Denise. We know we're getting on and he's almost a teenager, but we need to talk about it."
"I'd just like to say that we really care for Jeremy and would like him to be part of our family, and he has some very close friends here besides Trevor. It will be pretty hard for him to leave."
"We understand that and we're going to talk very seriously about it tomorrow and we'll let you know."
"Well, shall we get back?"
Ben nodded and handed Jake his empty bottle. Jake put the bottles in the recycle bin and they headed back across the street.
The next day at the Sheriff's Office, Detective Graham received a call.
"Homicide, Detective Graham."
"Detective, this is Deputy Villar from San Bernardino County Sheriffs."
"How can I help you, Deputy?"
"I'm calling because of an APB that was put out on a Ford Mustang by your office. I called and was directed to you."
"Do you have the driver in custody?"
"Sorry no. I was just calling to report that we found the car abandoned and burned out near Twentynine Palms."
"Have you verified the license plate number?"
"No, sir. No license plates were on the vehicle; we had to find the VIN and we found out it was for the car that you were looking for. It is registered to a Roger Smith."
"Yeah, that sounds like the car. Where is it now?"
"We have it at our impound lot."
"Good, when you did a check on the VIN, did you get an address for Roger Smith?"
"Yes, give me a moment... here it is... 1500 East Pacific Coast Highway, apartment 210, Long Beach."
"Got it, thanks. I'm going to have someone from our Forensics department come out there and take a look at the car, if that's okay?"
"Sure, here's the address."
Detective Graham wrote the address down and thanked him. He made a call to Forensics and gave them the information. His partner walked in and he got up and motioned for him to come along. They went to their boss's office and knocked on the door. He looked up and motioned them in.
"Sir, we have a lead on the Davis case. I just got a call from the San Bernardino Sheriffs and they found an abandoned car that appears to be the one owned by Roger Smith. I called Forensics and asked them to send someone out there to look it over."
"Good, let me know what they find."
"We've also got an address in Long Beach."
"Even better. Where is it at?"
"Pacific Coast Highway over by the traffic circle."
"Okay, I'll contact Long Beach Police; you get a search warrant and get over there as soon as you can. I'll let you know what Long Beach says."
They left the office and returned to their desks. They contacted the DA's office to get the search warrant approved. A courier delivered the search warrant to the office an hour later. The lieutenant met them and told them that a Long Beach patrol car would meet them at the location. They got a look at an aerial view of the apartment complex on the computer and saw that there was one driveway entrance. After printing out the map, they left the station.
It took about fifteen minutes to get to the location, and they contacted the patrol car and arranged to meet it a block away. They met with the two police officers and made their plans for entering the apartment. They gave them a copy of the photo of Roger Smith. They decided that the officers would wait near the rear driveway, while they went to the manager. The detectives pulled up in front of the apartments. The apartment building looked to be a more upscale place, nicely taken care of. Graham went in and found the manager's apartment. Detective Matsura waited outside in the car. Bob quietly identified himself and was invited in.
"Mr. Clappen, I have a search warrant for Apartment 210, Mr. Roger Smith's apartment. Do you happen to know if he is at home?"
"No, I haven't seen him for a couple of days."
"I have a picture here; can you tell me if this is the person that you know as Roger Smith?"
The manager looked at it and nodded.
"Yes, that's him."
"Good, may I borrow your master key?"
"Sure. Can I ask what this is about?"
"Sorry, I can't tell you. Here is the search warrant giving us the authority to search."
The manager looked it over and handed it back along with the master key.
"Looks like it's in order. Here's the key."
"Thank you Mr. Clappen." He took out his radio. "Jay, come on in. It appears that Smith is not here. I guess that was too much to hope for. Long Beach, suspect may not be here, but stay where you are and keep an eye out for Smith in case he comes out that way or comes in."
There was a knock at the door and the manager opened it. Jay Matsura was standing there.
"Thank you for your help, Mr. Clappen. If you will stay here, we will take a look. Jay, Mr. Clappen told me that he hasn't seen him for a couple of days, but let's be careful. Mr. Clappen, do you have a map of the complex, so we can see where the apartment is located?"
"Sure, come on over to the desk."
They followed him and he pulled a map out showing them the location of the apartment. They thanked him and made their way through the complex to the apartment. They separated and carefully walked up the stairs on each side of the balcony that led to Smith's apartment. As they neared the apartment, they drew their guns and advanced cautiously. Bob carefully put the key in the lock and then nodded to Jay. He turned the key and the doorknob while Jay moved in and yelled. "Sheriff's Department!"
Jay quickly pushed the door open and entered with his gun braced and pointed it around the living room that he entered just inside the door. He saw no one and moved in. Graham followed him. The yell got the attention of some of the neighbors who were not at work and they looked out their windows and doors. The two detectives moved from room to room, looking for any sign of Smith. All the room doors were open; when they got to the bedroom that had obviously been Smith's, they entered and saw that drawers had been pulled out and the closet was empty of clothes. Smith was definitely gone. They relaxed and called it in. A minute later the two officers came into the apartment.
"Nothing here, officers; he appears to have left in a hurry. Not too big a surprise. We're going to have our Forensics people look it over. Give our thanks to your sergeant for loaning you two to us."
"No problem, detective. We'll write our report and get going."
The officers left and the detectives called it in and carefully did a preliminary search of the apartment. Jay brought the master key down to the manager and returned to the apartment to help search. An hour later the Forensics team showed up and the detectives left them to it. They returned to the station and made out their reports. Once they were done, they contacted Spirit Wolf Security Services and made arrangements to meet with them at one.
At one they showed up and were directed to Jake's office. In the room at the conference table were Jake, Tom and Jeff Gant. Everyone exchanged greetings and they sat down and got to business.
"Thanks for making time for us. Mr. Gant, can we see what else you have on this guy."
"Not too much. My investigation has found that Mr. Smith, or whoever he is, may be involved in the underground porn industry, particularly child porn, boys and girls. I haven't found whether they have done any filming anywhere around here. But I'm still looking. From what I've found, he apparently has made a good living at it. He likes nice things, but is not overly flashy about it. He seems to try to put forth the façade of a moderately successful import/export person. I suspect, from what I have learned, that he makes trips overseas and down south into at least Mexico, and probably farther."
"Any proof of these trips?"
"No, just that I have heard this from the few contacts that have given me information. I'm still looking, but that's about it."
"Any word on who the others are that are in the picture that you obtained?"
"No, I haven't found anything yet, but if I find out anymore, I'll let you know."
"Thanks, let us know."
"Yeah, thanks, Jeff. Can I get you guys something to drink."
Jeff left and they continued talking.
"We have some news. We got a call this morning from San Bernardino Sheriffs that Mr. Smith's car was found out near Twentynine Palms. We also found the apartment he was apparently living in."
"You say was?"
"Yeah. The car was abandoned and burned and left out in the desert. The apartment was in Long Beach, and we conducted a search today. It looks like he's cleared out. He is probably long gone either out of the country or at least out of the state. We will be showing his picture on the evening news tonight, so maybe we'll get some more leads."
"Good. We're going to have Jeff continue his investigation and we'll let you know anything he finds out."
"That works for us. Let us know anything he finds ASAP."
"You got it. It's nice to see you again, and thanks."
The detectives left; Jake and Tom got back to business.
At school that day during lunch, the four boys were joined by Gary and Lucas. Lucas kept stealing glances at Jeremy and was quiet. Several times he seemed about to say something, but stopped. Finally Jeremy put his food down and looked at him.
"Don't give me nothing; you keep looking like you're going to say something, then stop. You're killin' me here. Just say it, we're friends."
"Sorry... but, uh, was that about your mom that they were talking about on TV this weekend? I saw the picture and heard the name and..."
Jeremy got a sad look and he nodded. Jared put his arm around Jeremy.
"Yeah, it was."
"Oh, we... were you there when it happened?"
"N... no, I was with Tr... Trevor."
Jeremy hung his head a little and Jared pulled him into a one armed hug. Trevor rubbed his back, while he composed himself before looking up again.
"You don't have to be sorry."
"Do... do they know who did it?"
"They think it was the guy she's been going out with who did it."
"It's okay, Luke."
"Are you going to have to move away?"
"I don't know yet. My grandparents are here and they have to decide whether they're going to have me live with them or not. I hope not; I want to stay here. All my friends are here. If I stay here, I'll be living with Trevor. I mean I love my grandparents, but they're kinda old and everything I want is here. I'd have to start over at a new school and you guys won't be there."
"We won't be there or is it one of us that won't be there?"
"Shut up, Trevor."
Jeremy blushed and smiled as the mood changed when the bell rant to signal the end of lunch. They headed back to class.
That afternoon, Trevor and Jeremy got home and looked for Jeremy's grandparents. They were nowhere to be seen. So they got some snacks and got to work on homework. Later the phone rang and Trevor answered it.
"Hi, this is Trevor, right? Is Jeremy there with you."
"Sure, Mrs. Davis. I'll get him."
"Why don't you boys come over to Jake's house and join us? We're in the back."
"Okay, we'll be right over."
Trevor hung up and looked at Jeremy.
"Who was that?"
"It was your Grandmother. She said they are over at Jake's and want us to come over."
"Okay, I guess we can finish this later."
They closed up their books and put everything back into their backpacks. They left the house and went across the street and into the backyard. When they opened the gate, Dee bounded toward them and they played with him for a bit before continuing into the backyard. They saw Jeremy's grandparents sitting in the spa. As they neared the two adults, they could see the smiles on their faces.
"Hi, boys. I guess I should have told you to change into your suits, so you can join us."
"Hi, Grandma, no problem. We'll be right back."
They hurried into the house and went to "Trevor's" room, and quickly stripped down and changed into their spare swim shorts that they kept at Jake's. They finished changing and made their way outside and got in the spa.
"So how was your day at school."
"Nothing special, Grandpa. Just another school day. A friend of ours figured out that it was my mom on the news and we talked a little about it, but other than that, regular school stuff."
"When did you two boys meet?"
"Last year, Mr. Davis, when my mom and I moved here."
"Trevor, I want to ask you something and I hope you'll give me an honest answer."
"If Jeremy lives with us, would you want to come visit him?"
"Yes, sir I would. He's one of my best friends, like a brother. I don't ever want to lose his friendship. I love him."
"That's very sweet, dear. I hope you two are always friends then. You seem to be a very good friend to him."
"I'd do anything for him, ma'am."
Ben Davis put a hand out and squeezed Trevor's shoulder, looking him in the eye.
"I know you would, son, and I'm very grateful to you for that."
Trevor looked at him and saw the slight nod that Ben gave him. Ben released Trevor's shoulder and smiled at him.
"Why don't you boys go jump into the pool for a while? I'm sure you'd rather do that than sit in the spa with a couple of old fogies like us."
"Watch who you call old, Old Man."
"I of course don't mean you, dear, I meant me.'
"Yeah, sure. Go ahead, boys, I would like to talk to this old man about how to treat a lady."
"Okay, Grandma. When you finish teaching him manners, why don't you join us?"
"Go ahead; maybe we'll join you in a little while."
The boys got up and jumped right into the pool. Both quickly shot to the surface as the temperature change hit them.
"Sh... oot, that's cold! I forgot."
"Yeah, me too."
The boys heard the laughter of the two adults and they started to swim around, chasing and dunking each other, or splashing water at each other. They noticed the two adults watching them and smiling. Sometimes they talked with each other and other times just watched the two boys play. The boys' backs were turned when a large shape came flying through the air.
The resulting tidal wave knocked Trevor off balance. Before he could right himself, he felt himself lifted out of the water and thrown to the deep end, giving out a boyish scream of delight. Jeremy launched himself at the beast who had jumped into the water, and was immediately grabbed and launched to the deep end as well, causing him to scream as well. Both boys headed towards Jake as he crouched to take them on. They were all smiling as the boys separated and came at him from two sides. Trevor tried to dive down and tackle him as Jeremy jumped at his back. Jake grabbed a handful of Trevor's shorts and lifted him up to the surface while he grabbed Jeremy. Once Trevor was on the surface, he grabbed him around his waist and did the same with Jeremy. With his hands around their waists, he dug his hands into their sides and tickled them, causing them to start squirming and laughing.
"He, he... stop, no fair, you can't... ha, ha... tickle... ha, ha."
"This is my only defense; there are two of you.'
"Yeah... ha, ha... but you're as big as two of us."
"What are you saying, I'm fat?"
"No... ha, ha... no, no, never."
He stopped tickling them and lifted them both up and pulled them against him in a hug. They both wrapped their arms around his neck and hugged him back. He relaxed his grip and let them go.
"How was school guys, everything go all right?"
"Yep. Luke asked about Jeremy's mom, but no one else said anything."
"Good. Are you doing okay, Jeremy?"
"Yeah, I feel okay, Jake. Thanks for taking care of me."
"I know, thanks."
Jeremy hugged Jake again.
"Dad, can you throw us a few times? That is, if you're not too worn out. I know you're old and all.'
Jake grabbed Trevor and tickled him a bit before he lifted him up and launched him into the air. Jeremy was standing nearby waiting his turn, and Jake grabbed him and threw him as well. They continued swimming over to him and letting him throw them. Dee ran back and forth along the edge of the pool joining in the fun with some excited barks. They swam around and raced each other for awhile until Jake went to the edge and pulled himself out.
"You're wearing me out. I'm going to go over and join the smart people in the spa."
"Awww, well, I guess you old people need to rest to keep your strength up. Hahaha."
"Yeah we do, so that we can teach you young whippersnappers a lesson or two."
The boys continued their play as Jake made his way over to the spa and got in. The older couple smiled as he joined them.
"Hi, folks, did you have a nice day?"
"Yes thank you, Jake, it has been very relaxing."
"Jake, you care about those boys, don't you?"
"I love them very much. A year ago, here I was, just me and my dog, now I'm getting married and have a couple of boys around who I consider to be like sons."
"I can see that. After you get married, which house are you going to live in?"
"Neither. I've put in an offer for a bigger house a few miles from here, near where my friend Tom lives, and it was accepted. Only Trevor and Sandy know about it, no one else does yet; we're kind of keeping it as a surprise for our friends. When I saw the house was located near my friend's house and how nice it was, I had to have it. At least as long as Sandy and Trevor liked it as well, that is."
"What about these two houses; what are your plans?"
"Sandy and I have talked about it, and we've decided that since they both have gone up in price since we bought them, we would go ahead and sell them. We didn't want to have to mess around with being landlords."
"Probably a good idea. You have a nice place here."
"Thanks. I like it and if I never had met Trevor and his mom, I could very easily have spent the rest of my life here."
"I can believe that."
Ben looked over at his wife and she nodded. Jake watched the silent exchange.
"Would you be interested in accepting an offer from us on this house when you're ready to sell?"
Jake was taken aback at the request, and he looked at them, getting confirming nods from each of them.
"Ye... yes, of course. That would be great. Especially for Jeremy. I guess then he can still be with his friends while he lives here with you."
"No, you don't understand."
Jake got a confused look on his face.
"We've been talking all day, and we were thinking about taking over Denise's house so we could be down here for Jeremy. However, it might bring up some bad memories for him when he comes to visit, so we were thinking about looking around for another house in the area."
"Well, I'd be happy for you to buy this hou... wait... you just said when Jeremy comes to visit. Does that mean...?"
They were both smiling at him. Ben reached his hand out and Jake took it and they shook.
"If you are still interested in raising Jeremy, then welcome to the family. We would be proud for you to be his father. From everything we've seen and heard, you are a really good man. And watching you with those two boys, neither of whom you are related to, shows us how much you love them both. We really are too old to be taking on the raising of a teenager. I don't think our hearts could take it. But if we are living down here, we could get to see him a lot, and that would be more than enough time for proper grandparent spoiling duties, to suit us. That way we can spoil him and then give him back when he wears us out, and let you deal with him."
"I... I, uh don't know what to say. I would be honored to be there as a father to Jeremy; he's a great kid. Even with all he's been through, he's doing real well. I promise he will not want for anything. I will treat him as I would a child of my own. He will never feel loved any less."
"That is more than acceptable. We're going to go home tomorrow, but we'll be back in a few days to take care of Denise's affairs, funeral and all that. We'll contact a lawyer to get all that straightened out and have them get the paperwork taken care of so that you and Sandy can be his permanent guardians and if you all would like we would not stand in the way of full adoption, if you choose."
"Wow. Thanks. I'm sure Sandy and I would both be happy to adopt Jeremy if that is what he wants."
"Good, then that's settled."
Jake and Ben shook hands again and Evelyn leaned forward to kiss Jake on the cheek. Ben hollered to the boys.
"BOYS! Come on over here"
They got out of the pool and walked over to the spa. They sat down on the edge on either side of Jake, their legs dangling in the warm water.
"What d'you want, Grandpa?"
"Well, I have a question for you. How would you like to live with Jake and Trevor and his mom?"
"Really? I wouldn't have to move away? I could stay here with them?"
"Yes, if that is what you want. We would be happy to have you live with us, if that is what you want."
"No... uh, I mean, of course I would be happy to live with you, but living here with Trevor would be the best. I have my friends here and school and all that. I'd visit you as much as I can, but yeah, I'd like to live with them."
"Good, then that's what we'll do. And I expect you to visit a lot, since it won't be so far from your new home."
"What do you mean?"
"We're going to buy this house from Jake when he sells it."
"Oh, so we're going to be living right across the street?"
"Not exactly, Jeremy. After we get married, we're moving to another bigger house and selling both of these houses."
"Oh, where is the new house?"
"Well, and you cannot say a word of this to your bo... to Jared, but we are moving into a house just down the block from them. It is in a cul-de-sac and is actually two house lots put together, with a large two-story house. I have not told Tom and his family yet. We want it to be a surprise to them."
Jeremy scooted over and hugged Jake. Trevor got up and came around to Jeremy's other side and hugged him. Jeremy let Jake go and moved over to his grandparents so he could hug both of them.
"Thanks a lot. This is great. I promise, I'll visit a lot."
"I expect that. And you too, Trevor. I just welcomed Jake to the family and I want you to come over whenever you want, even if Jeremy doesn't, okay?"
"Sure, I'd like that."
"Then get over here and give your Grandpa a hug."
Trevor went over and did just that and then did the same thing with Evie. Both boys moved back over and sat on either side of Jake. The five of them talked a little longer before they got out and dried off.
The next morning the Davises left to return home and plan for their eventual move to Jake's house. They returned a couple of days later to get Denise's affairs in order.