Beginning Note:
I've always wanted to write a story that took place in Scotland and I decided that the Scottish Moors would be the best place for this challenge to take place. It's a murder mystery, but one of the quotes in the challenge is a dead give-a-way. I hope you all enjoy this and please, if you see any mistakes, grammar or otherwise, please tell me so I can fix it. Other then that please enjoy this hopefully mysterious romance-y story. I had to add the romance…it kinda just put itself in there…blame it on the muses if you want. But lately I haven't been able to write anything without at least an implied relationship so hopefully that's all that it will be in here, an implied relationship. -- Means there is a scene change.


Without Remorse

A scream broke through the still night air in the outskirts of the small town of Inverbervie, Scotland. Houses immediately became lit with light and the only pub in town suddenly had occupants streaming from its smoky depths. People were confused and started to head straight for the largest house in the town…an estate normally filled with laughter and light. But tonight there was no light but for a single light from a room on the third floor. It was painfully obvious that the scream had originated from that estate and people could see why the moment they passed through the gilded gates. A young male hung from the pole that proudly hung the Scottish flag. An older woman came running from inside the house and fainted when she saw the man who hung limp.

"'Tis horrible," people whispered to each other and a few moved forward to help the woman and bring her back inside.

It was obvious who had screamed; the woman's young niece Jasmine, an eighteen year old college student. She was painfully still and quiet in he bedroom window that overlooked the pole. Someone rushed inside and within a few minutes Jasmine was gone from the window as the sheriff pulled up to the house.

"Colin," the estate owner shouted as she ran out of the house. "Who could have done this?"

"That's what I'm here to find out Nan," Colin said to her calmly as he looked up at the hanging body. "Are you absolutely sure that guy hanging from the roof is really dead?"

A few people in the crowed sighed and one spoke out, "Please Colin, now is not the time to be a jackass."

"It's a valid question," Colin defended.

Nancy sighed, "Colin please can you just get him down from there, my niece shouldn't have to look out her bedroom window and see the body."



A Japanese male looked over at his phone in disgust and then back at the red light in front of him. With a sigh he grabbed his phone and flicked it open as he lifted it to his ear.

"This had better be good," he hissed without the formal 'moshi-moshi' used for answering the phone.

'Shinomori-san is that any way to talk to your boss?'

"No, but I'm on my way to Kyoto and-"

'We have a strange case. Well actually it's more of a request given to us by Interpol,' his boss sighed, 'Some guy was killed in Scotland and four people…including yourself…have been invited to investigate this crime.'

"Why me?"

'You're the best we have for this case. The best in your field. Only the best are going. You need to get to the airport; I assume you still have your passport in the car.'

"Who else is going?" Shinomori asked as he glared at the red light.

'I have no idea, but one thing I do know is that they're from all over the world, by the way, how is your English these days?'


'Your going to Scotland and chances are you'll need to know English. If you don't buy one of those handy phrase books at the airport. Your plane leaves in two hours from Tokyo International so I'd get moving. Have fun,' his voice suddenly grew grave, 'and don't make a fool of yourself…we don't want the other agencies thinking we're unkind and-'

Shinomori cut him off, "I'll see in a few days," and hung up.


A woman with her long brunette hair up in a braid calmly walked through the main command center of MI-5. Clenched tightly in her left hand were a laptop case and her handbag, both Prada even if they were knockoffs. She didn't look very happy to be the building and everyone could tell by her glare directed towards the man that walked in front of her. Instead of heading towards the front of the building they headed deeper and every once in awhile she glanced back at the front doors a little mournfully. Peaking out of her black Prada laptop case was a plane ticket. The man motioned towards a door and the woman glared at him before slamming the office door open. The older man behind the desk looked up and then smiled as he motioned her towards a seat, but she continued to stand in the doorway.

"Agent Martello," He said cordially, "I know you're mad but-"

She took a deep breath, "Mad? Mad doesn't even begin to describe it. I'm furious because I'm supposed to be on a plane in three hours on my way to Sicily, but now I'm here in your office instead of on my way to the airport." Her voice lowered finally and she slumped against the doorjamb, "So who do you need me to investigate?"

"Actually you and three other lucky individuals are going to Scotland courtesy of our friends at Interpol. There was a murder." Short and to the point.

"Three others from this agency?"

"No. From other countries."

"Joy, with my luck I'll be working with amateurs."

The man leaned forward, "And we all know how you hate amateurs."

"It's not my fault James got shot on his first day of work," Martello defended and she sighed in return, "So when do I have to catch the train?"

He glanced at a watch and then smiled sardonically at the agent, "You have fifteen minutes to get to King Cross Station."

It took her all of one minute to get out of the building and across the street to her car. King Cross Station was on the other side of London, at least thirty-five minutes away and she needed to make it in fourteen.


"This had better be damn well good," the Bostonian hissed as he walked into his editor's office. "I was in the middle of lunch with my mother."

His editor chuckled sheepishly, "Sorry about that. But this is important. I swear it to you. It's not everyday an investigative reporter is invited to Scotland by Interpol to investigate a murder. So please Damien, make us here at 'The Boston Globe' proud."

'Corny idiot,' Damien thought as he tried not to laugh.

The editor handed Damien a plane ticket, "Your flight leaves in four hours, have fun and don't forget to take notes and pictures."

"Yes sir," Damien remarked as he grabbed the ticket and made his way back to the office door. "Dammit, now I need cancel dinner with my parents for tomorrow," he muttered as he yanked his black cell phone from his pocket. "My mom is going to kill me."

A few of the reporters at their desks laughed in response to his comments. They always got a kick out of his laugh for his parents and the fact he was a proverbial 'Mommy's boy'. He still needed to go home and get clothes and his passport…could his day be any worse?


Mr. Nicholas Parker,

My name is Colin Tate. I'm a sheriff from the small village of Inverbervie Scotland. A murder occurred a few days ago in our small village and none of my deputies nor myself have been able to solve this mystery. It was not suicide, that much is certain. It would do me great honor to have you come to this village of mine and help solve this murder. More information will be given to you upon arrival. If you do come, you will not be the only investigator. Interpol has been fortunate enough to give us the help of a few investigators from around the world. You are one of four. I do hope that you will be able to make it. Thank you.

Colin Tate

The red head private investigator skimmed the letter briefly and then reread it more thoroughly. He picked up the envelope and glanced at the return address. Letters of this kind were highly regular. But this one stuck out in the entirety. Never before had a letter been given to him by care of an Interpol agent. This was something to be wary of. Not only that but maybe it would be in his best interest to help solve this murder…even if it was possible he wouldn't get paid.

His finger pressed a button on the intercom, "Cindy, I'm heading out of the office for a few days, I don't know when I'll be back."

"Yes-sir, should I inform the police that you won't be around in case they need your help?"

"I'm sure my partner can still help them. In any case, forward any calls to my cell. I'll call you in a few days to tell you when I should be coming back."

"Yes-sir, have a good time wherever it is that you're going," Cindy remarked and the shuffling of papers could be heard.

Nicholas smiled, "Take the rest of today and tomorrow off. There's nothing pressing for you to work on and James doesn't need help to take calls."

"Thank you sir."

'Scotland here I come,' he mused as he finished his search for a plane ticket.


Aberdeen, Scotland Five PM


Damien sighed as he hefted his duffel bag higher up on his shoulder. He was tired and his hair was messier then normal. But what made even more irritated was the fact that many people, women and men included, checked him out as he passed by them. Sure, he could claim that he was a handsome male, but this was a bit much…not to mention there was this interest of his back home that he was still after.

"Excuse me," Someone muttered with an Asian accent, "But are you by any chance that investigator from America?"

Damien turned to look at the man who had stopped him and raised an eyebrow, "I am."

"I'm Naoe Shinomori with the JIA, one of the other investigators is waiting for us outside," He was stumbling over his words with a bit of difficulty.

Damien smiled at him, "Damien Cassidy, I'm an Investigative Reporter with 'The Boston Globe'."

"Ah, well maybe you will be the first reporter I will get along with."

Damien resisted the urge to laugh as he responded in kind, "Well, maybe you'll be the first government agent that I'll get along with."

Naoe smiled at opened the door that led into the just darkening outside. Once they got outside a red head male started towards them with a backpack slung over a shoulder and two duffel bags in hand. One of which he handed over to Naoe when he reached them. Both Damien and Nicholas appraised each other while Naoe just looked at them with barely concealed confusion. It didn't help that his English was going to go down the drain pretty fast. He only knew a select few phrases and words for that matter.

"Well, I believe I just saw a man dressed as a sheriff," Nicholas commented dryly. "Maybe he is our ride?"

"I didn't get the pleasure of hearing your name," Came Damien's reply. "I'm Damien Cassidy…Investigative Reporter."

The red head smiled as he nodded, "Nicholas Parker, PI."


Isabella lifted the duffel bag from the floor as she looked around at the crowded Aberdeen Train Station. She was finally in Aberdeen after having taken two different trains. One from London's King Cross Station to Edinburgh and from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. Now she was doomed to drive eight miles to Inverbervie. It would be about a thirty minute drive she estimated as the keys to the rental rattled about in her hand.

"Ugh," she muttered as she walked to the small parking lot across the street. "A Mercedes. How interesting," she whispered as she walked around the car that had been arranged for her use. "Interpol loves to spoil people don't they?"

She slid behind the wheel of the car and smiled. It was all reminiscent of her high school racing days, when she had an older Mercedes that her brother had helped her turn into a very fast racing car. She hadn't raced since some idiot had crashed into her and totaled her Mercedes. She flicked the lights on and looked at the shift. It was a standard. Even better. While she loved automatics, standards were far better for racing. But for now she had a mystery to investigate and maybe if she was lucky she could make it there in fifteen minutes, enough time to have tea after dinner, since it was almost seven o'clock.


About fifteen Minutes later


The car moved smoothly through the gates of the estate and pulled to a stop behind a greenish colored car with a stripe of burnt rust along the side. A poor excuse for a sheriffs car. The colors were all wrong. It should be green or gold in place of the rust or rust and white in place of the green. She rolled her eyes as she parked the car and pulled the keys from the ignition. Oh well, nothing could be done for the sorry excuse for a sheriffs car. Isabella retrieved her bags from the passenger seat as she opened the car door. Scotland was in a way far beautiful then the place in Italy she had been headed for originally. But she would rather be in Palermo, Sicily sunning on the beach. Not in Inverbervie, Scotland to find whatever it was they had to find.

"You must be the fourth member of the team."

Her braid hit her in the face as she spun to the left to confront the speaker. Her green eyes appraised the man who was obviously American. His accent said all and his grammar spoke volumes; he was well educated. He had his hand out in front of him as if he was waiting for her to shake it, which she didn't.

"And who might you be?" Isabella asked as she slung the strap to her laptop case over a shoulder.

"Damien Cassidy, Investigate Reporter."

Finally she smiled as she took his hand and gave it a firm shake, "Isabella Martello, MI-5. So I take it everyone else has already arrived?"


"-Please, don't think I'm stupid or anything. You did say 'fourth member' which tells me that everyone else should already be here. If they weren't you would have said a different number like second in place of fourth."

"Yes," someone commented dryly, "definitely British."

She spun to face Naoe, "I was born and raised in Sicily," came her defiant reply.

Damien and Nicholas hung back as she appraised the Japanese agent. Both knew this wasn't going to be good. Her eyes caught sight of a shuriken that hung around his neck and she smiled slightly as her words changed into something the two Investigators couldn't understand. But when Naoe responded in the same language they both knew immediately that it was Japanese and not the Chinese or Korean they both thought it was. Finally the woman turned and smiled at them.

"Sorry about that, I'm Isabella Martello, Mi-5," she held her hand out to Nicholas.

He took it and shook it firmly, "Nicholas Parker, PI."

"Nice to meet you Mr. Parker and same to you Mr. Cassidy," Isabella said and didn't even look at Naoe.

Ouch, those two were not going to get along. Everyone could see it and even hear it in the way they spoke to each other. Damien smiled at Nicholas who only grew a little red in the cheeks. But Damien wrote it off as a bit too much beer. It was time to find out why they had come here.

"If you two are finished fighting, we need to find out why we're here," Nicholas spoke out and Naoe glared at him briefly before he crossed his arms and headed towards the building.

Isabella reached out and grabbed the back of Naoe's jacket. Before he could even take another step she had pulled him back towards her. Damien moved forward to try to get rid of any possible fights not that there would be any. Isabella immediately let go of the jacket and moved towards where Naoe had almost put his foot down. Both Damien and Nicholas moved forward to a get a look at what she found while Naoe reached into one of his jacket pockets and pulled out a pair of rubber surgical gloves and handed them to her; nothing had been said.


A Scottish voice sounded from behind them, "Yes, our gardener was hung from th' flagpole."

Isabella had a funny look on her face as she tried imagine that scene and everything she came up with wasn't funny…she didn't even know what the guy looked like. The woman who had spoken had that grandmotherly feel about her. Her red hair was graying while her brown eyes were dull and she was not underweight but not highly overweight either, just plump. The investigators of the group, Damien and Nicholas, logged her in their minds as a possible suspect. Isabella placed whatever she had found into a small plastic bag and placed it into her jacket pocket.

"I don't mean to sound rude," Damien spoke up, "But is there any way we can see the body tonight?"

Sheriff Tate came towards them from the door of the house, "Of course. Th' county morgue is in Aberdeen. I'll have to call the place t' tell t'em."

"Then do that," Nicholas remarked and it wasn't hard to tell he despised the guy.

"Is anyone hungry?" The woman asked. "You can ask m' niece and I questions as you eat because I assume you will be asking questions right?"

Naoe rolled his eyes, "Of course we will…it's one of the best ways to tell if people are lying."

Isabella hit him over the head quickly, "Don't mind him. Would it be alright if I talked to your niece instead of one of these guys? I ate on the way here…on the train."

"I don't see why not," the woman paused, "how stupid of m', I never introduced myself to you. Nancy Egan."

"Isabella Martello," she replied as she shook the woman's hand, "Your niece's name would be?"

"Jasmine Bran, she's in th' living room lyin' down, her boyfriend will be here tomorrow if you wish to talk him also. He's in Edinburgh doing research for school."

'Figures,' Damien thought, 'that a possible suspect is out of town…that almost immediately writes him off the list if we can't break his alibi.'

Damien caught Nicholas's eye and smirked slightly as they followed Nancy Egan into the large house. Maybe this case wouldn't be so bad…apart from the repetitive fighting between Isabella and Naoe. They entered the house and Isabella was pointed in the direction of the living room while everyone else followed Nancy into the kitchen.


Isabella entered the large room and took a brief look around before she walked steadily towards the girl lying on the floor in front of the fireplace. There was a book in front of her and the girl didn't seem to be interested in it. A shame, the book was Lord of the Rings. One of the best works of literature ever written apart from the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. She smoothed her pants and took a seat in a high backed chair. The girl had angular features, a nose that was slightly to big and a mouth too small. Blond hair was pulled back into a stylish braid but that was all that could be really seen. A red sweater was draped over her and a small tear in the cloth could be seen but was easily discarded.

"Jasmine, my name is Isabella Martello. Is it alright if I ask you some questions?"

Jasmine turned to look at her and nodded, "Of course…go ahead."

"What can you tell me about the gardener?"

"His name is Lawrence Shannon, he's, I think, in his early twenties. Mr. Shannon started to work for us about a year ago when my uncle died. He is…was…a wonderful man; he always helped me with my history homework and math homework."

Isabella wrote everything that was said down into a small notebook, "Do you know why someone might want to hurt him?" Jasmine shook her head. "Alright, close your eyes and think back to when you first met Lawrence. What was your first impression?"

"That he was desperate for money, but that he loved flowers and trees."

"Do you remember any arguments Lawrence may have had with someone at any time?"

"Well he's argued once or twice with my boyfriend, Jason; over what I have no idea. You'll have to ask him."

Her voice was quiet and the tone slightly troubled. If she was lying she was very good at it, but a few more questions would make it easier to tell if she was lying. Isabella calmly wrote down everything that was said in her notebook and rarely if ever paid attention to Jasmine as they spoke. Act indifferent when questions, don't force answers…be reasonable with your wording. All things that made a good investigator, even if Isabella wasn't an investigator she sure knew how to question like one.


"Did Lawrence have any problems?" Naoe asked Mrs. Egan once they were settled in the kitchen.

The woman appeared to be thinking before she answered, "Well, none that I recall, but I remember him asking m' if he could get his pay in advance. I never asked him why. It didn't seem appropriate."

Nicholas spoke up, "Do you think he might have a gambling problem?"

"It's always possible, but he hardly ever goes out and when he does it's to buy supplies."

"Alright, so when was the last time you saw him?" Damien questioned and left the lie detector bit up to the others.

"Around noon today when' I brought him some lemonade and a sandwich. He was working quite hard on the rose garden, it was his baby in a manner of speaking."

There was some small laughter that filtered out of the kitchen but then the questioning resumed. Questions just like those that Isabella was asking Jasmine, but maybe with different wording.


The medical examiner pulled back the white sheet that covered the body of Lawrence Shannon. His neck was very red because of broken blood veins in his neck and the fact the rope had irritated the skin. None of the inspectors looked sick at the image of this dead man but Sheriff Tate had already left the room and the top half of the body had only been uncovered for less then a minute. The medical examiner was explaining how he had died even though it was painfully obvious. Someone had shot Lawrence Shannon when he was hanging from the noose. The bullet hole was in the center of his forehead. Whoever had killed Lawrence knew how to use a gun…that wasn't very good news.

"This case is getting a bit strange," Naoe said as he looked away from the body. "We need to figure out if anyone in that town has a gun license or has experience with a gun."

Nicholas sighed, "Which is harder then it sounds."

"Why?" Naoe asked.

"People aren't going to want to talk to us and even if they do are they seriously going to tell us they own a gun illegally? I don't think so," Damien replied and Naoe nodded as he brushed some of his dark hair out of his eyes. "Do you understand?"

Naoe nodded, "What should we do then?"

"Every town should have some sort of roster that says who lives there. We cross check the names against a database that has listing for all guns sold and licenses administered and see what we find," Nicholas told Naoe.

"Hate to break up your conversation, but I just found a piece of red cloth clenched in his left fist," the medical examiner announced.

"Red cloth? Why does that seem like it should mean something to me?" Isabella asked quietly.

"What was it you found in the lawn?" Nicholas asked.

She pulled the plastic bag from her pocket and raised it up to the light. Smeared on the plastic surgical gloves was what looked like blood. It was a good amount of blood too, which meant it was either the victims or the killers. Two possible explanations and about a hundred if not more possible suspects. She handed it over to the medical examiner who examined it.

"The only place th' blood could come from is th' gunshot woun', but th' splatters of blood woul' b' larger from th' distance that Mr. Shannon was hangin'."

"Is it possible Mr. Shannon was killed while he had two feet on the ground and then was hung with the noose?" Damien asked as he observed the medical examiner examine the body.

His answer came quickly, "Mr. Shannon was hun' from th' flagpole before he was killed," he turned to Isabella, "I'll compare DNA and if it doesn't match I'll search th' police database for matches."

"Thank you."

"There is somethin' else," the ME lifted Lawrence's shoulders up from the table and showed everyone his back. "Someone' marked up his back, I think this is a gang's signature."

Naoe perked up, "What makes you think that?"

"We've gotten a lot of bodies lately with this symbol tattooed onto their backs. But this looks like it was done with a knife aft'r th' fact."


About an hour later everyone stood around outside the medical examiners office. Isabella was leaning against her rental while everyone else just stood around and tried to understand what went on and who murdered Lawrence. They needed more clues but no one was about to be the first to mention it. Finally Isabella opened the car door and then slammed it shut which got everyone's attention.

"Can we please go?" She asked quietly, "I'm about to fall asleep just listening to you."

"Sure we can, but are you going to drive or would you like one of us to do so?" Damien asked.

She looked shocked, "I didn't realize that all of you knew how to drive a standard," her tone was mocking and very sarcastic.

"Fine you can drive."

"Thank you so very much."

Naoe quickly stole the front passenger seat before anyone else could get to it, his reason being that-'My legs are longer.' Isabella seemed at home in the front seat as she sped away from the office and shifted gears in the blink of an eye. While a silent argument was going on in the front between Isabella and Naoe, a silent appraisal was going on in the back seat. Nicholas and Damien couldn't stop taking glimpses of each other. It was quite cute and a little freaky.


The Next Day


Naoe stepped out of his room around dawn and headed down the stairs. Jet lag never really bothered him and he had slept on the plane so he was well-rested. Not to mention he was the only one who had to go through so many different time zones. Isabella went through none, Nicholas at most only went either an hour ahead or an hour back. Damien, well he had to go back by six hours.

His first was the kitchen where Nancy Egan sat with the newspaper and a mug of tea in front of her. He waved away her offer of a plate of eggs and bacon and instead went out into the back yard with only a bottle of spring water. But he wasn't alone. Standing in the middle of the rose garden was Isabella. Her hands were raised above her head and in her hands was clenched a long wooden stick. She just stood there.

"Someone…thing bothering…you?" Naoe asked and stumbled over his words as he moved closer to her.

She smiled at him vaguely, "No…nothing is bothering me, I'm just trying to remember some things that I learned when I was younger."

"What thing?"

"Martial Arts…Sadly, I've been focusing more on the karate aspect then the kenjutsu. Normally training helps me relax enough to figure things out for a case. And right now I'm trying to figure out what we're missing."

"What we're missing is the murderer."

"And a motive," she pointed out.

He smiled, "There is that. But what more is there?"


"We have the blood that you found and the piece of red cloth clenched in his hand, what more would we need for clues?"

"Clues, evidence that will tie the murderer to the victim. The red cloth could be from anywhere, a rag or a piece of red cloth that he found while in the garden."


Naoe and Isabella were sitting in the kitchen a few hours later when Damien and Nicholas first appeared. Naoe was picking at the food placed in front of him and Isabella stared at the newspaper that she held. They both offered the others eggs and bacon from the stove with a motion of their hands. As they sat down with cups of coffee or tea and plates of eggs and bacon Isabella slammed the newspaper down on the table.

"Well, we have two ways of going after this investigation," She said.

"Okay," Nicholas remarked.

She explained, "We can work in pairs and take on different angles of the investigation or we can work together and get in each other's ways. I personally think it would easier to work in pairs according to what we're good at for different parts of the investigation."

"That is a good idea," Damien replied and looked around. "So who can do what exactly?"

Naoe spoke up, "Well I'm good at getting information people don't want known."

"Then we have more in common then I first thought," Isabella said and there was a frown on her face."

"So Naoe, Isabella you'll work together and Damien and I will also. We'll meet back here at the end of the day to converse on what we find. Any objections…No? Good. Let's get to work then after we finish eating."


"So, what should we do?" Damien asked as they exited the house.

Nicholas smiled, "We need to go around the property and try to find where he was shot. Remember the ME told us that he was shot first and then hung?"

"Should we try the guest house? That was where he was living. Then we can check the garden and the shed."

They walked across the back yard and entered the small guest house that had been occupied by Lawrence. Nothing seemed to be wrong with the place. It was just the normal bachelor pad with an expensive music system and lots of black leather furniture. But the furniture was probably all original to the place. Clothes littered the floors as did bottles of beer. Other then that there was no evidence that the murder could have taken place here. There was no TV which was surprising. Damien crossed the room and peered into the bathroom as the answering machine started to play a message.

'Hey Lore, it's your brother. Haven't heard from you in awhile and your sister-in-law was worried. Give us a call back. Bye.'

"He has a brother?" Nicholas asked aloud as he scribbled this down on a pad of paper. "Try to find an address book or something. I'll call the phone company and get a copy of the records." He walked over to the window as he looked through the pad for the number.

Damien started to pick up the clothes from the floor in his search for the book. He looked under chairs, under couches, under the bed, in the bed, even in the bathroom, but he found nothing that could be a number for a brother. What he did find though was bank stubs that showed just how broke he was. How could a man with less then five dollars in his bank account afford to wear designer jeans and own that expensive music system. There weren't many possible explanations. He could have the jeans for a few years, but they were brand new and one of the newer styles. The exact pair he had gotten from his mother a month ago because they were too big for his brother.

"I'm thinking that he must have hidden money somewhere, there is no way he could afford all these designer clothes on a gardeners salary," Damien commented as soon as Nicholas joined him. "Even I can't afford all of this on my salary."

"There are two things that could be going on here. First he's from a very rich family and gets an allowance or he's been blackmailing someone," Nicholas commented dryly as he surveyed the apartment.

"Only two? I can think of a few more. He's dealing drugs, got these things as gifts, he invested in something and got tons of money back, etc," came Damien's quick reply.

Nicholas smiled, "Point taken."

"I knew you'd see things my way."


The shift of a gear and the car moved faster towards Aberdeen. Naoe stared out the passenger side window as Isabella continued to race through the backs streets that led towards their destination. Neither had said a word to each other since they left the estate awhile earlier. They were on a mission, albeit a strange one, but a mission anyway. Find out everything and anything about Lawrence Martello, including his birth records, family records, and his grades from high school. Nothing was to be left unturned.

"You raced?" Naoe asked finally.

"I'd like to leave it all in the past," She replied cryptically.

"Okay, just wondering."

She sighed as she shifted to a lower gear, "In some instances it was the best time of my life, in others it was the worst. Hence why I want to leave it all behind."

"No other reason?"

"No, not at all," she smiled at me, "I'm sure you also have things you want to leave behind in the past."

She frowned as she took a particularly harsh turn around a corner. It must have rained the previous night as the streets were slick and she almost had a hard time keeping the car on the road in some spots. Strangely, neither Naoe nor Isabella remembered there being rain the night before. Finally she pulled into the parking lot across from the Medical Examiners office and next door to the library.

"We should do the library first," Naoe commented as they left the comfort of the car.

She looked over at him, "I wanted to check with the ME first. But I guess that maybe going to the library first would be a good idea."

A cell phone rang suddenly and both Naoe and Isabella both reached for theirs, but the one that was ringing turned out to be Isabella's. She stared at the number for a minute before she opened the phone and listened to what someone said from the other end. She spoke quietly to the person on the other end and when she hung up she had a frown on her face.

"What wrong?" Naoe stumbled slightly over his words.

"It turns out that Jason Nickerson, the boyfriend, is in a gang. The same gang that uses that symbol that was cut into Lawrence's back. I think it would be a good idea to track Mr. Nickerson down and interview him." She said all of this in Japanese so it wouldn't confuse Naoe.

"We know nothing about him," Naoe pointed out also in his native language.

She glared at him, "That is where my friends at MI-5 are involved, and if you wish you could use your connections…whatever connections you have."

He returned her glare tenfold and then pulled out his own cell phone as she entered the library with her laptop case in one hand, cell phone in the other. Neither realized they were being watched, nor did they realize just who was doing the watching.


"Jason was in a gang?" Damien asked as Naoe explained it all to him. "Okay, no it's alright. Nicholas and I can handle Jason…No, he's on his way here…Don't try to kill Isabella. She's just pissed that she's not on vacation. Alright, bye," He hung up his cell phone and turned to Nicholas.

"Jason is a gang member," Nicholas pondered, "That just makes you wonder just why Jasmine is dating him."

Damien smiled, "We'll just have to find out won't we?"

That brought a smile to Nicholas's lips and they both left the quest house moments later. This whole case was getting more and more confusing. There was nothing in the quest house that could virtually make Lawrence a part of a gang except for the things he obviously couldn't afford on his salary. There was that and the fact there was no black book or address book anywhere in the place. Sure, some people can have really good memories, but a guy without some kind of black book is like a Police Officer without a badge…or a gun.

"Do we know if Jason owns a gun?" Damien asked suddenly.

"Isabella said she was going to find that out didn't she?"

"You're right. She was also going to check Jasmine and Nancy," Damien replied. "When is Jason getting in again?"

"Tonight," Someone commented from a few feet away. "He just called, so I thought I would inform you. He's visiting a friend in Aberdeen and was forced to stay for dinner."

"Thank you Mrs. Egan," Damien replied stiffly.

She smiled, "Please call me Nancy."

As soon as she was gone Damien joined Nicholas over by the far end of the garden. Something caught his attention as he moved closer. There were footprints in the dried mud. Dried mud and it had rained a few days ago. The same day as the murder if what the newspaper was saying is true. It had only really sprinkled last night and that wasn't enough to make mud thick enough for footprints to be embedded into.

"Are they Lawrence's?"

"How should I know?" Nicholas asked in return.

"I thought maybe you had seen his work boots."


"Well," Isabella said when she walked into the house a few hours later, "The footprints do not match the tread on Lawrence's shoes."

"I think it's the killers," Naoe commented from behind her.

Nicholas looked up, "What did you find out about Jason?"

"He doesn't have a gun permit, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have one. Also, he was in the bookstore getting those books he needed, but the store was closed at the time of the murder," Isabella told them.

"He's unaccountable for two hours, the two possible hours the crime was committed," said Naoe.

"Well," Damien replied, "We talked to Jason and he claims he had nothing to do with the crime, but when we told him what Jasmine said about him he blew. Claims that Jasmine doesn't know what she's talking about."

"Do we know where the murder was committed?" Isabella asked.

"Behind the shed, we followed the footprints and found blood that matches the same blood type belonging to Lawrence," Nicholas responded and handed over the information and crime scene pictures.

She took the paper, "Did you find anything out about the red cloth in his hand?"

"All the rags in the shed are either green or black, there is no red," Damien told her.

She frowned, "I need to talk to Jason is he still around?"

"He's in the den with Jasmine. Last I checked they were talking," Nicholas commented and took the folders from Naoe.

"Thank you," She turned to Naoe, "Wait ten minutes before you and Nicholas come in. Oh and can one of you send Mrs. Egan in? Thank you."


Five minutes later all the suspects were together in the room. Jasmine was siting on the couch with Nancy but Jason was at the window. Damien was near the door just in case someone decided to try to leave. Both Nicholas and Naoe were in the kitchen waiting for the ten minutes to be up.

"I think I know who the murderer is, but I need to ask you all a few more questions," She started and everyone looked over at her.

"Effin' A, mate," Jason replied enthusiastically.

Isabella choose to ignore his strange response, "Jasmine, there is a note in your school records that you had slept with a teacher and were doing drugs. Is there something you wish to add to that?"

"I'm kind of done with that, so I'd like to leave it all behind."

"Are you sure?" Isabella asked, "I thought I saw you in Aberdeen today buying drugs."

The girl paled, "You must have seen wrong."

"By the way, who belongs to these boots?" Isabella held the pair up.

"They're mine," Nancy replied.

Damien and Isabella exchanged a look and Damien finally spoke up, "I notice you've been wearing long sleeve shirts all week Jasmine, is there a reason for that? After all it's been in the high eighties and low nineties for the past few days."

"I just like long sleeved shirts."

"Jasmine, do you have that red sweatshirt you were wearing when we met? I'd like to see it."

She motioned behind me, "It's on the chair."

Isabella stood and grabbed the sweatshirt off of the chair. There was a tear in the shirt and so Isabella pulled out an evidence bag and held up the scrap of red fabric to the sweatshirt. They were the same color. A look at Jasmine showed she was even paler then before. It was all coming together after only three days in the country. Two minutes passed where nothing was said and finally Naoe and Nicholas showed up in the room.

"Mrs. Egan, Ms. Bran. Do you have anything to say?" Naoe asked quietly.

"About what? We didn't murder Lawrence," Nancy hissed in anger.

Nicholas smiled, "Actually you did. Lawrence found out that Jasmine was sleeping around with people in town and that she was doing drugs. He was going to blackmail you or he would tell everyone."

Damien continued, "Jasmine you told Nancy and both of you conspired to kill him. The gun used to kill Lawrence was borrowed from someone-"

"It was your drug dealers gun," Isabella told Jasmine, "He will testify against you saying you borrowed it from him for three hundred dollars."

"He'll also testify," Naoe said, "That Mrs. Egan returned the gun not Jasmine."

"By the way Jasmine, if you think the reason he was blackmailing you was because he wanted the money for himself, you're wrong. His nephew has cancer and his brother and sister-in-law have no money to pay for the treatment. The money he took from you was going to his family to pay for the treatment," Damien told her with a frown.

"While he did choose the wrong path to get the money at least the money was going to be used for something good and not drugs like you were using it," Nicholas commented dryly.


Aberdeen Airport


"So where are you heading?" Damien asked Nicholas as they spoke away from the rest of the group.

"Back home to Amsterdam, I'm sure I have tons of cases to finish," He replied. "What about you?"

Damien smiled and brushed his blond hair out of his green eyes, "Back to Boston. I have articles to write and a mother to visit."

An announcement came over the loud speaker, "Flight 916 to Amsterdam is now boarding at Gate ten."

"That's my flight," Nicholas said.

"I hope we meet again," Damien replied and Nicholas blushed.

"So there you two are," Isabella said with a smile, "I hope we get to work together soon. It was fun."

"Where are you going? I thought you'd be at the train station by now," Naoe asked as he joined them.

"Sicily, I still have a week left of my vacation," She replied and hugged Nicholas as she spoke. "Have a good flight. You have my email so you use it if you ever need help from the government. Same goes to you Damien."

"I should go," Nicholas commented after he shook hands with Naoe. "We should all email each other and maybe have a reunion in a few years."

"Good bye and good luck," Naoe said.


A Year Later


"Isabella, a group of Agents are missing in the US. Create a team and go find them."

She looked up, "Do the members only have to be from the government?"


She smiled as she grabbed her address book and flipped to the Cs. Within minutes her phone was connecting with one in the United States.

"Damien? It's Isabella…"

End Note:
Well…I hope you all enjoyed it. There is really nothing left for me to say…I just hope that there wasn't anything you hated about it even an implied relationship. The end seemed a bit rushed, but since there are only two weeks until the deadline it will have to do. I have other stories that need to be worked on and well I'm glad with how this came out. I'm also going to be posting the outline for this story in another chapter. And who knows, I might make a sequel that has to do with what happened at the very end of this story. But only if people will read it. Anyway, please review and make my day brighter.