Chapter 24

AN: Oh man, it's been so long! I'm sorry about that. School, combined with personal things and just general busy-ness got in the way, but hopefully not anymore! :') Enjoy, guys! I'm so thankful for sweet and loyal readers like you.

Lynwood Apartments

1525 South Park Avenue

Chicago, IL

(Apartment 35 C – Frederick James)

"Jesus…" Laila sighed into Fred's shoulder as they moved together in bed. What first began as slow, deliberate movements quickly lost all sense of sweet and gentle. Fred's grip tightened on Laila's hips, the pads of his fingertips probing hard at her skin. Still the small detective didn't seem to mind. Her own nails were digging into Fred's back, and her legs locked tight around his waist.

With every harsh thrust, she rocked her hips and arched her back, desperate for more, while Frederick had plenty to give. The small bed squeaked and thumped against the wall with their frantic pace, but neither could pay much attention. Their gazes were locked, each set of eyes peering eagerly into the others, watching for a breaking point.

"Mmphf…" Laila whimpered something unintelligible.

As she nudged her face closer to Fred's, he couldn't help but crack a little smirk. Somewhere along the line she'd lost the ability to speak coherently, and he just loved watching Laila in pleasure. The way her hair stuck to the side of her face with sweat and how her skin flushed under his touch, to the breathy tone her voice took as she approached climax.

He too was flushed all over, and could quickly feel the heat pooling in his stomach, screaming at him to take – take everything Laila had to offer.

"Frederick…" Laila breathed his name in a way that made him blush, and that was it. He knew she was done.

Half smiling, half panting, Fred leaned in to kiss her when a rapid, high-pitched tone disturbed the motion. It went on for a few seconds before Fred registered what was going on.

"Shit!" he slumped, pausing in movement altogether. Laila's eyes snapped open and she looked up at him, desperate and horrified.

Fred slanted his eyes to the side, but Laila kept her legs wrapped around his waist, moving at the same rhythmic pace as before.

"D-don't-don't stop," her voice cracked as she spoke. "Y-you can't I-I…"

Fred listened for the tone again, but was relieved when there was nothing.

"It's okay…" Fred started to kiss her shoulder and settle back into their pace, but wiped a hand over his face in frustration when the tone sounded off once more.

"It's…it's your pager?" Laila's voice was still heavy with lust.

"Fuck I…" Fred looked over to the floor where his pager lay shaking. "I-I gotta…"

Laila whimpered, but then nodded to herself and unlocked her legs from around Fred's waist.

"Go," she sighed out, still breathing heavily.

With a frustrated grunt and sheets bunched up around his waist, Fred shuffled over to his pants to dig out the pager. There was a short message scrolling across stating, "WORK, NOW. SOPHIA ISSUE."

"Shit I…" Fred sighed loudly. "It's work…Sophia…"

Laila said nothing. She was still dazed and staring up at the ceiling. When Frederick looked at her, he couldn't bring himself to draw his gaze away from her bare form.

"Sophia?" When she finally spoke, her tone was raspy. "Motherfucker…"

Fred wanted to chuckle, but he was aching. Still holding the sheets to his waist, he leaned over Laila's form and pressed a quick kiss on her cheek.

"I gotta go and—

"Work? Sophia?" Laila, seemingly regaining her senses, shot up from bed and smacked her forehead against Frederick's.

"Ow!" Fred staggered backward.

Laila clambered onto her hands and knees on the bed, "You mean the case? What's going on?"

Frederick shook his head to clear the pain, but then remembered the page and scrambled for his slacks in the darkness.

"Freddy…" Laila let out a moan that made the hairs on the back of Frederick's neck stand on end.

"Quit it," he tried his best not to look at Laila as she writhed on the bed. "Seriously, if you don't knock it off, there's no way I'm going to be able to zip these up."

Laila, smirking at the situation between his legs, ignored her own state of undress and tossed Fred his shirt.

"Oh come on, I'm your partner! What was the phone call about?"

"It's Sophia," Fred focused on his shirt buttons instead of Laila's nude form. "Jules tipped us that she might try to head off on an impromptu vacation to the Bahamas, so they put a rush on the warrant. I have to hurry if I want to get to the dorm and help Martinez search it."

"I can't believe this."

"I know. She's making things easier by trying to scram on us."

"No!" Laila found her underwear on the bedpost and yanked it on. "I mean the fact that Martinez is subbing for me! Fred, this is so fucking bogus. I feel fine and I'm going to work with you."

Fred finally secured his tie and shoes, and then took along look at Laila's exposed body. There was still visible bruising on her abdomen and under her eye. Even though she didn't wear the arm brace anymore, her wrist was slightly swollen.

"Yeah right." He finally came to her side. "The only thing you're going to do is rest up."

"But I'm fine," Laila came close and fingered the lapels of Frederick's coat. "Didn't I just show you how fine I am?"

Fred pulled back to avoid Laila's kiss. "Don't even try it. I need to be out of here right now."

Laila attempted to pin Fred's arm, but he reversed the tactic and used a gentle hold to keep her small frame glued against the mattress.

"I'm a cop too, you know…" he hummed on her ear. "Now do me a favor and spend today relaxing, okay?"

When Frederick loosened his grip, Laila turned over in his arms and stared up, frowning.

"What am I supposed to do? You know what this case means to me. What this job means to me," her gaze softened.

"Call Delilah up," Fred pulled the sheets up around Laila's body. She was still frowning, but he could see her eyes fluttering closed as drowsiness began to set in. "Have a girl's day. Talk, laugh, buy some…sexy lingerie."

"You wish," Laila swatted at his arm, but missed.

Laila was asleep by the time Fred left for work, and swaddled under two more blankets and an extra pillow. He'd scribbled a lovey-dovey note on a post-it and stuck it to her forehead before heading out with a smile. Even if he had to deal with creeps like David Clark on a daily basis, coming home to her would make it all worth it.

'Oh Man, when did I start thinking like such a —'

Fred stopped thinking altogether when he saw a familiar face being pushed into a squad car. It was Brad, the rotten little fuck. A primal urge to beat his face in took over, but before he could even think of making his way over, a heavy hand settled on his shoulder.

"Fred, don't." Martinez was stern. "Brad's going to central, and it'd be best if you stayed away from this whole thing."

"And why should I?" Frederick was livid. "He hurt my…my partner!"

Martinez eyed Fred carefully before speaking. "He's claiming you used excessive force to provoke a confession."

Fred pulled out of his friend's hold and scoffed. "He's lying! I-I mean, you saw the photos of Laila they took at the hospital, didn't you? He—

"—I know, Fred, but I also saw the gunshot in the carpet of Laila's apartment. You said it was a misfire—

"—it was."

"Why did you have your gun drawn in the first place?"

Fred stiffened up. "I felt threatened."

"Was Brad armed?"

Fred put his hands up and stepped away from the man. "Look—what, am I a suspect? Are you interrogating me right now?"

"Fred, as your friend you know I'll do everything in my power to protect you—

"—hey," Fred scoffed. "Don't worry about protecting me. I'm not the one who's going to need protection if that bastard gets off."


"—fuck off." Frederick shoved his hands deep in his coat and pushed open the station door with his shoulder.

Inside, he knew his anger toward the fellow cop was irrational. Martinez didn't have anything to do with Laila getting hurt, and if Brad got off, Fred knew it would be his own fault. He'd just gotten so angry that night…

"Shit," Fred muttered to himself and nearly jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Fred?" Abby gave him a concerned look. "Are you doing all right? How's Laila?"

Frederick shook his head and tossed his jacket on the chair. He was at work and he had to focus. Although Laila had quickly become priority in his life, Francis and her case was number one at the office.

"She's fine; I'm fine," he forced a smile. "Knowing Laila, she'll be pressing to get back to work in a few weeks."

"Good to hear," Abby squeezed Fred's shoulder and then tapped him on the shoulder with a file folder. "You're a go with the search warrant for Sophia's dorm room."

That was all Fred needed to hear.

Chicago University

Dorm # 117, East Side

(Sophia Lindeman)

When Frederick arrived at Sophia's dorm, there were already two other officers at the doorway, talking to a rather belligerent Sophia Lindeman. As soon as the young blonde spotted Frederick coming up the stairs, she turned on him.

"You! You did this, didn't you?" she screamed. Fred just averted his eyes. Down the hall he could see a few students leaning out of their rooms, whispering eagerly.

"We were informed of a little trip you were planning on to the Bahamas. The last thing we wanted was a suspect running off to a place we—

"—suspect?" Sophia scoffed, almost laughing. "Are you kidding me? It-it was just a vacation!"

"In the middle of the semester?" Fred deadpanned.

Sophia's cheeks lit up with blush, and she fumed as the officers pushed open her room door and began to go through her things.

"You're humiliating me," she lowered her voice and gestured to the peeking, gossiping students. "You waltz in here with all this shit, and you can't even prove I've done anything wrong."

"Someone called Francis the night she was murdered," Fred lowered his voice and gave Sophia an icy glare. If Laila had seen, he knew she would have been proud.

"That someone made her get out of her bed in the middle of the night and lured her to that fountain where David Clark got his hands on her. You told us yourself you were there when it happened. You said you saw it happen, and goddamnit, I believe that—

"—Fred, we've got something." One of the other officers lifted a gloved hand and dropped something into a plastic bag.

Sophia's eyes went wide and Frederick pushed past her, into the room. The mattress had been flipped up, and the officer stood next to it, smiling.

"We were looking for a ring, right?" he offered the plastic bag to Fred, who held it up to Sophia. The young woman seemed to sweat at the sight of the dazzling diamond.

"That-that's mine," she insisted. "Why would Francis even have a ring like that? She was poor; she couldn't afford it!"

"Because I gave it to her, you lousy bitch."

All heads turned toward the staircase, and the young man standing at the top of it, fuming. It was Mark, hair perfectly coifed, dressed in a stylish black peacoat and slacks with bright red cashmere scarf. His face looked pale, but his eyes were steely with hurt and anger.

"Mark…" Sophia clasped her hands in front of her chest and approached him slowly. "This is- this is all a misunderstanding! It's my ring!"

"Mark," Fred nudged Sophia out of the way and handed him the plastic baggie. "Is this the ring you purchased for Miss Francis Blake?"

Mark took off a dark glove and fingered the ring through the plastic, carefully. "This is it. Three stone princess, fourteen-karat white gold. Around the inside…"

He paused wistfully and then cleared his throat. "…On the inside, I had 'my love, Francis' engraved."

Mark handed the ring back to Frederick for him to check, and on closer inspection, he easily verified the engraving. Sophia stood, stunned.

"She-she let me see it! I-I was just holding it for her!"

"You'll have to make up your mind, Sophia. Is the ring yours or were you just holding it for Francis?" Fred smirked.

"I…" she took a breath. "What I meant was…"

"I suggest you choose your words carefully before we find anything else incriminating in your room, Sophia. Mark had this ring in his room the day before Francis was murdered. How did it suddenly come to be in your possession?"

Sophia's eyes darted around the hall frantically. She looked like a mess standing there in a school sweatshirt and track pants, her long, blonde hair frizzed and uncombed. Frederick could see in her eyes that she was running through the possible scenarios – the lies she could tell, but nothing was locking down.

"Okay I…I called her," she whispered "She'd told me earlier that day she found the ring in Mark's drawer, and she wanted to show me it. That night I…I called her saying it was an emergency and we had to talk."

"You're disgusting," Mark interrupted. Before Fred could stop the young man, he was in Sophia's face.

"No, Mark, no!" she pleaded. "I only wanted to talk to her!"

"She trusted you!" he shouted. There were tears on his cheeks, but Fred could only see anger. "She trusted you and you stood there and watched while Clark—

"—what was I supposed to do! I-it wasn't my fault! He pushed her and she fell into the fountain!"

"You bitch!" Mark spat. "You bitch; you saw…you saw her…"


"—why didn't you call for help?" Mark grabbed her again and though Fred wasn't eager to intervene, he put a hand on his shoulder, urging him to ease up a little.

"—she wasn't right for you!" Sophia grabbed onto the lapels of Mark's jacket. "She was just a kid! She was taking up all your time and making it so you couldn't see me! You couldn't see me, Mark!"

Mark shoved her back, hard, sending the blonde tumbling to the floor.

"I've always seen you," he sneered. "Seen you for the worthless piece of shit you are."

The officers helped Sophia to her feet and she began to bawl, crying out for Mark as he headed for the stairs again. Fred caught his eye and Mark stopped just before descending.

"I don't give a fuck what you do to her. She'll rot in hell, regardless."

Sophia was still crying out for Mark even after he left, and the scene attracted more onlookers. The other officers were quick to properly close off and secure the area before cuffing Sophia, reading her rights, and pushing her in the back of a squad car.

Fred ran over the situation in his head as they approached the station. Sophia hadn't said anything explicitly about harming Francis, but she admitted to being the one to calling her that night, and that she'd stolen her engagement ring. But why? Sheer jealousy?

When they were finally in the interrogation room, it was just Sophia and Frederick alone – the chief and a few other officers watching outside through the two-way. The sniffling blonde had clammed up suddenly, and Frederick felt a little uneasy. She wasn't a minor and certainly wasn't going to gain anything from having her parents available, but he hoped she didn't try anything funny.

"Sophia," Fred started, but the girl turned her head away.

"I want a lawyer," she announced. Fred's mood dimmed, but he knew that legally, he couldn't deny that option. Without standing, he made a motion to the glass with his hand and stood.

"You're certainly entitled," Frederick headed for the door, but leaned against it at the last moment. "But Sophia, whatever the truth is…"

He paused for emphasis and Sophia finally lifted her head. Her eyes were wide and scared.

"…it will come out. And then, no lawyer in the world will be able to save you. "

AN: A little short, but... ooooh, drama! :D