Thanks to Kamibi for the review and alert/favorite add! I'm glad to know at least one person is interested in this story. And thank you to the few people who read the last chapter and are reading this one as well.
Please be kind enough to leave me a review, even if you hated it. I'd really love opinions on this and I'm open to suggestions and ideas as well.
Also, I'm sorry I took so long to post this. I've been busy writing FanFiction – still am, actually – and my muse is far more interested in that than this, apparently. Forgive me.
Zoey left the morgue almost immediately after Florence gave her copies of the autopsy results for each girl, smoking her fifth cigarette of the evening. Neither Michael nor Florence pointed out that smoking inside the hospital was illegal. It was the morgue anyway; who was she really going to hurt down there?
"Did she really look alright to you?" Michael asked, frowning at the doors that had closed behind his former partner a few moments ago. Florence looked up, a tiny frown on her face as she put Renee's body back in its drawer.
"She looked better than she did the last time I saw her," she said, frowning, "I wouldn't say… alright, but definitely better."
The detective sighed, "That's what I thought," he said somberly.
Florence sighed and moved over to her fiancé, putting a hand on his shoulder and shaking her head. "Don't do that, Mike," she said quietly, "You and I both know what she's like. Zoey has never looked 'alright' in all the years I've known her, but you start treating her like some breakable doll and she'll go from 'better' to almost dead faster than you can blink. Let her work this out."
"I shouldn't have called her," he said, more to himself, ignoring her almost entirely. "It's too soon, she hasn't had enough time to adjust. What if she relapses, Nicole? What if she starts using again because I –"
"Did you even hear what I said?" Florence frowned, putting her hands on her hips, "Zoey can handle this. She's good at that, remember? Cases distract her. She'll be fine…. It's you I'm worried about."
"Don't think I forgot who it was picking her up at three in the morning, cleaning up her vomit, covering her ass when she came to work high," she shook her head, "You can't help it when it comes to Zoey. So I'm telling you now, Mike, do not go there. You'll only piss Zoey off and me in the process. Leave her alone."
"I'm not gonna do anything –"
"Good," Florence nodded, looking somewhat satisfied, "I'll be a little while here, okay? Go home, I'll meet you there."
She leaned up and kissed him lightly before turning back to another body, this one a young male, and snatching up her chart and Dictaphone. Michael smiled at her and shook his head, walking briskly from the morgue. He was amazed that she handled this so well, having Zoey around again. They'd been friends, of course, but Zoey was his ex… And yet they'd both handled that better than he'd expected. It was apparently just him who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He didn't think he could bear having to see Zoey spiral out of control a second time. He hoped to whatever god was out there that she'd stay clean and sober, for all their sake's.
Zoey glanced at her watch and sighed as she fumbled with the key in the door, trying to balance the files she carried awkwardly in her arms. Before she could turn the key all the way, the door was pulled open and a tall dark haired woman stood there, arms crossed, green eyes semi-angry as she stared down at her. Zoey made a face and straightened the files in her arms.
"What, you couldn't have opened the door before I had to juggle the files?" she muttered, pushing past the woman and into her apartment.
"It's two in the morning, Zoey," she sighed exasperatedly, "What were you doing out so late?"
"Working," Zoey said, "Which you'd know if you bothered to answer your damn phone… What are you doing in my apartment anyway, Angie?"
Angie pulled her cellphone out of her pocket and began reading from the screen, "'Got a case, meet me at my place at 12.' 'Never mind, I'm meeting Mike, make it 1' 'You know what, be there anyway, it won't take long'."
She stopped, looking up at the redhead and raising a brow, "So 'won't take long' is you're way over saying over an hour?"
"Got caught up, not my fault," Zoey said, dumping the files on the table and glancing over at her friend, "I would've called, but seeing how you were avoiding me anyway, I figured it wouldn't matter."
"I wasn't avoiding you, Zoey!" Angie sighed, "I was working. It's that thing people do when they need to make money to pay the bills. Maybe you've heard of it before?"
Zoey rolled her eyes and sat down, "Working does not mean you can't answer your phone when your friend calls you, does it?"
"It does when you're meeting with clients, Z," Angie shook her head, taking the seat opposite her friend and sifting through the files and papers that Zoey had deposited there. "What's the case anyway? Anything interesting or is just another boring, illicit affair?"
"No," Zoey cringed, "I am never taking another affair case. I'm just going to tell them that they're right, their spouse is cheating on them and they should leave before they take them for everything they've got. Less messy that way and I don't get caught in the line of fire."
Angie grinned, "So what is it?"
"Renee Black's family wants me to find out what happened to their daughter," Zoey said, a sparkle in her eyes as she tugged her laptop from underneath a precarious tower of books which immediately tumbled to the floor.
"Renee Black… That teenager who was found dead? …That's what you meant by meeting Mike! You didn't try to pry information out him, did you? Please tell me you didn't?" Angie eyed her friend worriedly and Zoey made another face at her, shaking her head.
"Oh, ye of little faith," she muttered, "Of course I didn't. I'm not stupid. I was going to call Florence, but Michael called me instead. He wants my help on the case. Apparently, it's my area of expertise."
Angie frowned, "Biter or Bleeder, then?"
"Neither," Zoey's eyes were sparkling again as Angie's brows furrowed and she tugged the files toward her, glancing over the autopsy reports.
"Then what –?"
"What could take someone's heart out of their body without leaving a single mark on them?"
Angie blinked, "You're joking, right? There's no way that's actually, physically possible."
Zoey smiled, "Well, apparently there is because that's what happened to both victims. No heart, but also no bruises, not cuts. Absolutely nothing to even indicate foul play. Just the heart, completely removed from their chests without one single mark on them."
Angie frowned, "So… what? You're going to go to Google and type in 'ripping a human heart out without cutting them open'?"
Zoey rolled her eyes, "Don't be stupid, Angie," she said, spinning the laptop around and displaying the glowing screen, "You're going to do it."
Angie snorted, "Me?"
"Yep. You're a very good researcher, plus, I'm gonna be busy," she said, standing and shrugging back into her jacket, "It's a good thing you showed up, otherwise I'd have been stuck in front of the computer for hours sifting through pointless information. Now, if I hurry, I can get some real work done."
Angie sighed and pulled the laptop closer, shaking her head. "Busy doing what, exactly?" she asked curiously as her friend snatched the keys to her motorcycle and headed for the door.
"Interviews!" Zoey called over her shoulder, "Even if this isn't a Biter or Bleeder, Kier might know something and you know how he gets cranky when the suns shining."
The brunette smile faintly and rubbed her tired, aching eyes. She hadn't actually had much sleep and wasn't entire sure why she was doing this for her friend in the first place. "Be careful, Z!" she called, "Kier doesn't need to sun to be cranky when you're the one talking to him!"
A/N: I know that chapter was short. But it's been a while since I posted the first chapter and I hated to leave it hanging for too long. So there it is. Hopefully chapter three will be up much sooner.
Please, please let me know what you think! Any and all opinions/comments/critiques/suggestions are appreciated and welcome!