LFAM – Chapter One


Chapter One

Monday: February 22, 2016

Through the car’s speakers, a woman shared a conversation she had overheard in the grocery store, something about the odd things young children tended to say, especially when out in public. Detective Hilo Granger didn’t much care for the stories on the radio, but he did care about the weather, and if he had to listen to a thirty-second story to receive it, so be it.

According to the radio host—Jordan Powers—the temperature had dropped several degrees in the last hour, but it was still something one could consider nice for a New York winter. The sun was out and the wind was blowing around four miles an hour. Hilo couldn’t help but be thankful for that. With the snow that had come in the night before, it was certainly nice to know it wouldn’t be blowing all over the damn road immediately after they plowed it. Not only did it make the daily commute safer for his fellow brothers and sisters in blue, but it also kept things safer for the civilians they were set out to protect.

Hilo let out a breath and lifted his brown eyes to the rearview mirror. He hadn’t styled his hair quite as well as he had thought. Styling it wasn’t all that difficult of a task, either. It fell just below the tips of his ears in length, and he usually styled it just enough to keep it out of his face without slicking it back entirely. But to his credit, he hadn’t expected to be picking up his partner that morning. Not that he minded. Tahki Harris was like a sister to him. He just preferred more than a half-hour warning if he needed to make an extra stop on his way to work.

He fixed his dark brown hair as best he could before grabbing the coffee cups from the center console and sliding out of the car. He closed the door with his elbow, suddenly more than aware of the cold. A smarter man would’ve grabbed a coat before walking out of the house in a short-sleeved button-up near the tail end of winter, but his daughter had gotten it for him, and his stubbornness for showing his support of children-given gifts far outweighed his intelligence.

Looking both ways beforehand, Hilo jogged across the street. He walked up the snow-dusted stairs of his partner’s home and rapped his knuckles against the door. The lock clicked a moment later before the door opened.

A short Native American child stared up at him, a smile on her face. “Morning, Uncle Hilo.”

He smiled. “Morning, Emma-bear. Your mom out and about?”

“Mmhmm. She’s in the kitchen.”

“Thank you.” Hilo stepped into the house, kicking the door closed. He wiped his shoes on the doormat and made his way to the kitchen.

Tahki stood at the island, hands on the counter, eyes on her laptop. Her shoulder-length black hair had already been done up in a braid, as it was most days. Despite her hair being done, she hadn’t put on much more than a dress shirt, one that wasn’t even hers.

Hilo cleared his throat.

She lifted her head, her shoulders relaxing. “Hey, Hilo.”

“Hi.” He set the cardboard cup holder on the counter, grabbing his coffee from it. “That caramel BS is yours.”

Tahki snorted. “Thank you.” She grabbed it, raising an eyebrow. “What about number three? Emma’s a little too young to start giving her coffee.”

Hilo chuckled, though the actual reasoning behind the third cup was less than humorous to him. “You’re right. But Bossman is not too young for coffee.”

She let out a harsh breath before looking down at her shirt. Realization sparked in her eyes. “Aww, Christ. Guess there’s no reason to pretend he’s at work, huh?”

“Nope.” Hilo shook his head. “You two have to be more careful. If people at the station start finding out you’re sleeping with him, things aren’t gonna go over well.”

“I know,” she said quietly. “There’s a reason he doesn’t park on this block. We’re smarter than that. He is smarter than that.” It wasn’t long before the ‘he’ in question finally walked into the kitchen, freshly showered and dressed in a suit and tie.

Lieutenant Andrew Knott flashed a smile. “Morning, Granger.”

“Morning, Loo. Brought you coffee,” Hilo said, nodding toward the cardboard holder.

“You’re a lifesaver, Granger.” Andrew grabbed the cup and pressed a kiss to Tahki’s temple. “Change before you come into the station. I’ve got a meeting today, and neither of us needs to get our asses fired.”

“I’m not planning on wearing your shirt outside of the house, but thanks for the heads-up,” Tahki said. He only smiled his response. “Don’t have too much fun at the meeting.”

He chuckled. “I’ll do my best. You, too.” He saluted Hilo. “See you at the station, Detective.”

“Sure thing, Loo.” Hilo returned the two-finger salute before their lieutenant walked out of the room. Over the course of the last six months, Hilo had done his best to keep his mouth shut on Tahki’s relationship with Andrew. They had been dating for closer to a year, but she had only managed to hide it from him for the first half. Though Andrew was a damn intelligent man—intelligent enough to have made lieutenant when he was only twenty-nine—Hilo considered it beyond dangerous for a detective to date their superior. Tahki, however, didn’t see it the same way, and Hilo didn’t dare bring it up to their lieutenant.

A few months away from turning fifty-one, Hilo was already at risk of being forced out to a desk job or early retirement. Pushing Andrew by suggesting his relationship was dangerous seemed like nothing more than a great way to move his retirement date much closer than expected.

Hilo took a sip of his coffee and leaned down, crossing his arms over the counter as he focused his eyes on his partner once more. Five years Tahki’s senior, the woman had felt like a little sister to him for a damn long time. That morning, the part of his brain that masqueraded as anything but an only child said he needed to find out what had her so troubled.

Clearing his throat, he nodded toward Tahki’s laptop. “What were you looking at on there?”

“Grandson’s in the hospital again. I think I’ll need to leave work early, make sure I can get in there and see him before visiting hours are over,” Tahki said.

“I’m sorry to hear that, sweetheart. Are you gonna need a ride?”

“Maybe. I’ll let you know?”

“Works for me.” He watched the woman for a moment, unable to ignore the obvious worry on her face. It was a stark contrast to her usual soft expression, and talking about her grandson hadn’t lessened the worry whatsoever, which was worrisome, to say the least. “Is everything okay, Tahki? Besides the little one?”

“It’s the anniversary of that damn bank robbery slash mass murder we worked in the nineties. That mass shooting?” Tahki asked. Hilo let out a sigh, closing his eyes. “I know. I don’t wanna think about it, either. But it’s been twenty damn years as of today, so it’s on every news station, every online news source. I even saw a video or two about it posted on YouTube today. Makes me sick to my damn stomach, knowing we never caught that sick bastard.”

“Yeah,” he murmured. “Thirty-seven people gunned down and not a lick of justice. I don’t like it, either, Tahki.”

She nodded. “Those articles spend most of their time insulting our intelligence. Did you know that? They act like the only reason we couldn’t catch him is that we’re stupid. Like that’s the logical reason why,” she said. “It’s not my fault we aren’t that over-credited detective in California. We can’t all get bonus points for shit we don’t deserve the way she does.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Hilo said softly. He reached over and squeezed her hand. “Other cops in the department are looking into that case all the time. And now that it’s the anniversary, they’ll do what they can to up the ante on progress. They’ll do their best to find something—anything—because it’s in the news right now. It’s all right.”

Tahki sighed. “Yeah, we can hope, anyway. Thank you.”

He nodded. “What can I say? These five years I’ve got on you are filled with wisdom.”

She snorted, reaching over the island to shove his shoulder. “Don’t be a dumbass.”

Hilo chuckled. “Whatever. You’d miss it if I wasn’t one.” He looked down at his watch. “Ready to head on out?”

“Yeah. I’ll be good in five.” A pause. “Would… you mind bringing Emma with, dropping her off at school? She can take the bus if you don’t want to make the extra stop.”

“I don’t mind. Just let her know we’re leaving in five. I’ll be here.”

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