A/N: If you don’t follow me elsewhere, you probably haven’t heard that I lost my sweet boy, Willie, last week. I got Willie all the way back in 2009, and we had just over 13 years together before his heart and kidneys finally couldn’t take it anymore. If you ever donated to Willie’s med fund, bought a book, or bought some merch, you helped me keep him alive for over two years after his diagnosis.
I expect my writing to take another hit, but I have a few more chapters I wrote before his passing that I’ll still be uploading in the meantime. Thank you for your patience and understanding as I deal with losing another fur baby.**
While JJ worked to hack into the databases of the storage lockers within a sixty-mile radius, Elias did his best to read through his dad’s case file. The first couple times he flipped through the pages, his brain didn’t absorb anything his eyes scanned over. Somewhere around the dozenth time through the damn thing, he finally started truly processing what he was seeing. The basic information about the crash was there, but so much afterward had been blacked out or entirely replaced by ‘REDACTED’.
“Like it wasn’t suspicious enough before,” Elias mumbled. Gordo glanced up at him before dropping his head back to rest on his front paws. From what he could discern from the bits that weren’t blacked out or rewritten, it seemed like the cops had interviewed at least three or four witnesses to the crash. The second interview held the most redacted sections. Elias couldn’t help but wonder if the second witness had seen the motorcycle too.
Later, he’d ask JJ if there was anything they could do about the blacked out sections in the file. For now, he’d already asked her to spend far too much of a Friday morning hacking into things she legally shouldn’t touch with a thirty-foot pole. Getting his best friend locked up in prison so he could prove his dad had been murdered wasn’t exactly on his itineary.
“I found it.”
Elias lifted his head. “The… the storage unit?”
JJ nodded. “Her name’s registered with exactly one of them two towns over.” JJ held up her hand, car keys danglnig from the key ring looped around her thumb. “What do you say we go check it out?”
“It’s probably locked. We’d have better luck breaking into my parents’ house and trying to find the key,” Elias said.
JJ raised both brows. “I mean…”
Elias snorted, shaking his head. “I appreciate your willingness to go along here, JJ, but I can’t ask you to commit too many crimes in one day.”
“Is it really a crime if there aren’t any victims?” JJ asked.
JJ shrugged before pocketing her keys. She crossed the room and sat down beside Elias. “If you change your mind or wanna take a look at the place, I wrote it down.” She stuck a sticky note on the thigh of his jeans and smoothed the sticky part down with her thumb. “What’d you find in the file?”
Elias held it out to her, his gaze on the floor. “It’s redacted and scratched out all over the place.”
“Jesus. The crash was suspicious enough without them going back in to cover it up.” JJ flipped through a couple pages before turning toward him, her brow furrowed. “You think… the police did it?”
“Someone in the department is definitely on the take with whoever did it, if nothing else.” Elias leaned forward on the couch, dropping his forehead to his palms. “I’ve never heard of them doing this… level of cover up for anyone other than the mob. And redacting names of minors, I guess. But… to edit a whole entire file like this after the investigation? Even in their own database? I didn’t even know they did stuff like that.”
JJ stayed silent for a moment. “Do… do you think your dad was involved with the mob?”
Elias lifted his head just enough to scrub his hands down his face. “He was in a motorcycle group thing. An MC? But it was legal. Just a group of guys that liked to ride bikes.” Elias let out a long breath. “Well, as far as I ever knew. I guess if I was in an illegal MC, I probably would lie to my kid about it.”
“Did you ever meet any of the guys in the club?”
“Yeah. My dad used to bring the club president over for suppers all the time before he remarried. He might’ve attended a couple charity events too.”
“So maybe that’s our next step. We track down the club president and question him about a couple things, legality of the club included.”
Elias pressed the heels of his palms into his temples, vision blurring as he stared at nothing on the wall across the room. “What if after all these years, I find out my dad’s a monster? I-I mean, we’re in Kansas. Those Minetti thugs they always talk about run through here as one of their many operations states. What if… what if Dad was a part of something like that?”
“I don’t know,” JJ said, her voice soft. “You might have to decide what’s more important to you here. Do you want your dad’s memory perfect and untouched? Or do you want to risk it to find out who killed him? Who almost killed you?”
Elias sat with the question for a moment, finally blinking to bring the room back into focus again. “I’ll always be a nosey reporter.”
JJ gave his arm a tight squeeze. “Then let’s go find us an MC Prez.”
The good thing about bothering JJ on a Friday morning was that Elias’s parents were at work, which made getting into their house without interference a million times easier. They lived in a rich enough part of town that they felt safe to leave their front door unlocked at all times. It was about the only thing they had ever done that made his life easier.
Elias headed upstairs to their bedroom, JJ at his heels. He stopped at the top of the stairs, dragging his fingers over the scuffs at the end of the banister. “Do you think I could convince them to sell me this place someday?”
“With enough money offered? Probably. They care about that a hell of a lot more than they care about memories or sentimentality,” JJ said.
Elias nodded. She wasn’t exactly wrong. With how quickly his mother had hidden away everything that had belonged to his dad, he had always been surprised she hadn’t sold the house too. Maybe there were simply too many secrets hidden within these walls for her to part with it. Secrets were about all it seemed to be filled with since Dad died.
With a small sigh, Elias pushed open the door to his parents’ bedroom. “It should be in here.”
“You don’t think there’s any chance she moved it?” JJ asked. “Or stuffed it in the storage locker with the rest of his things?”
Elias offered a shrug. “She must think it’s important. I found it only a couple years ago, and I didn’t let her know I found it. But if she still had it a couple years ago, I doubt she’s gotten rid of it since.” He pulled open the second dresser drawer and lifted a few pajama shirts out of the way. There, exactly where it had been when he’d seen it last, was his dad’s black book of contacts. He picked up the book and let the shirts fall back into their place in the drawers. “For her to keep this in the house, it has to be… so important. I just…”
“Don’t know why?” JJ filled in.
Elias nodded. “Not a damn clue.”
JJ stepped into the bedroom and closed the dresser drawer. “Let’s get you home, look for the MC President’s name in there, and maybe he can shed a light on why it’s so important. But let’s start with getting the hell out of here before your step mother senses we’ve taken the damn thing. Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Elias whispered. “Yeah, let’s get outta here.”
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