After the cops arrived at Dr. Morrison’s building after the gala shooting, the in-house security took some of the officers around the building to make sure it was clear. Jude waited patiently as paramedics checked Monica over, and her father insisted that he had things well in hand.

“I’m well aware of her condition,” he said. “And I’ve got my own personal doctor on the way to help.”

“I still think it would be best to move her to the hospital,” said the paramedic.

“And I think it’s best to keep her here. As you can see, I have my own private facility,” said Dr. Morrison. “I am a medical doctor myself, among other things.” He was more than qualified to diagnose her, medicate her, and create the medicine needed to heal her.

“Yes, sir. I know who you are. I just think your daughter might benefit from other medical testing, which I’m sure is not accessible here.”

“I have everything we need here,” he said. And that was true, but it was all the paramedic needed to know about the facility.

As he was trying to explain that he wasn’t letting Monica out of his sight, Jude was approached by a policeman. The man was short and stocky with a naturally mean mug and a less than friendly demeanor.

His name tag read Hinson. “Where did you say this shooting took place?”

“In the ballroom,” Jude said. “I can take you there if you want me to and show you what happened.”

Most of the police activity surrounded poor Mr. Collins, who lay dead in a pool of blood just outside of his room on the guest floor. Because of that, Thomas and Rosalynn were sitting across the room, speechless about the entire situation.

Jude glanced at Monica again, who had finally become stable after Jude brought her to her father for care. He wasn’t going to leave her downstairs, not knowing if the building was secure. And he hated to leave her at all.

“Thomas, can you come with us?” asked Jude. They had already given their statements about the incident and how it led to them finding Mr. Collins, so they wouldn’t be needed upstairs.

“Yeah, sure.” He got up and walked away without so much as saying a word to Rosalynn, who watched him go with a longing in her eyes as if she didn’t want to be left alone. Jude wondered how Thomas felt about the slide show and noticed a distinct difference in the way he was acting toward her since seeing it.

He led the men down the hall and to the elevator, where they went to the ballroom floor on the second level.

“And what kind of event did you say this was?” the cop asked as they stepped off the elevator.

The place was a mess, with most of the decorations having been knocked over and shredded during people’s panicked attempts to leave.

“It was a charity gala. Things were going great until the gunshots, and that’s when the crowd cleared toward the stairs. There didn’t seem to be any injuries there, and from what I could tell, the shooter left with the crowd.” Jude knew it was best to leave out the whole slide-show ordeal. The last thing he needed was for the images of Monica and Rosalynn with Nick Bonin to end up in police custody.

“Do you have any reason to think the shooter had a target? We already know that Mr. Collins was stabbed to death. I’m just trying to figure out how a gun plays a part in all of this.”

Jude shrugged. “I’m not sure if there was an intended target or if it was just supposed to disrupt or be a distraction so someone could get to the upper floors to get to Mr. Collins. Monica did notice he hadn’t come up.”

“Did anyone go and check on him?” the officer asked.

“No,” said Thomas. “Because Rosalynn and I saw him on our way to the gala. He had just picked up his suit. It had been left in the wrong room. Or at least that’s what he told us. We told Monica, and I guess she forgot all about it.”

“She was really busy,” said Jude. “And once the shots happened, I went to get Monica and Mr. Morrison to safety first, and I tried to find the gunman, but I never saw anyone.”

Officer Hinson looked at the computer set up across the room. “What was that for?” he asked.

“That was a slide show,” said Jude, giving Thomas a glance. “One of the guests had a presentation about their company and the charity.”

The officer nodded and glanced around at the ceiling. “Do you know if there are any cameras around? We’ll want your security footage.”

“That could take a while,” Jude said. “I’ll have to get it for you tomorrow if that’s okay?” Jude could see the card sticking out of the computer slot and wanted to get the officer as far away from it as possible so he could retrieve the photos of Monica and Rosalynn. “There are so many.” He glanced at Thomas and gave him a knowing look.

“That should be fine,” said the officer.

“I think there could be a bullet hole over this way,” said Thomas. “I’m not sure, though.”

As the officer followed him, Jude reached to take the card out of the computer and put it into his pocket.

“I guess I was wrong,” Thomas said. “I could have sworn it hit somewhere over here.”

“Over here,” said Jude, walking over to where he knew a bullet had struck the wooden table. “I think there’s a bullet still in it.” He looked to see a bit of it showing.

“We’re lucky no one was hit,” said Thomas. “That was close to where people had gathered.”

“Yeah, well, they all moved in when the speeches were about to be announced,” said Jude. “Maybe that’s why.”

The officer nodded. “We’ll have to get a team down here. I’m sure they’ll want to pick this place apart with a fine-toothed comb.”

“Well, we’re not planning to come back down here,” said Jude. “So, you can have at it.” It would take them a while to get things in order. By that time, he would have their security video copied so he and Thomas could do their own investigation.

“Well, I guess that’s it for now,” said Officer Hinson. “They should be here any minute to take your associate to the morgue.”

“Yeah, I already told them the next of kin.” Mr. Collins didn’t have much family, but Jude told them what he could.

The officer went on his way. Thomas and Jude headed upstairs, and Thomas went to stand near the window. Jude walked over to join him. “They want the security tapes, so we’ll have to get copies of everything.”

“That could take all night,” said Thomas.

“I know. And I’m sorry, but I think that’s going to be our next job. We have to see who this was before they do. And with any luck, we’ll catch them first.”

“I know. I’m on it.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” said Thomas. “I think tonight was just a big wake-up call, is all.”

“Well, I know it was for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do if Monica doesn’t get better. I should go back up and check on her. But I’ll call Edmond and make sure they get us what we need as soon as they are done with the sweep.”

“Sounds good.”

Jude walked to the elevator and went to check on Monica, but from what he could tell by looking at her, nothing had changed. She was unconscious, and her father had finally gotten the paramedics to leave her alone.

“When will she wake up?” he asked.

“I’m going to keep her sedated for the time being. I want to find out what caused this problem.”

“She wasn’t herself. She’s been really irrational lately, and it got really bad after those photos were shown. She’s been hateful. And that’s just not her.”

“The hormone fluctuations were bad, and I had told you I would do the tests again, but I haven’t had a chance to see the results. So at least I have something to compare them to.”

All of a sudden, there was a knock on the door, and Jude turned around to see Thomas and Rosalynn standing there.

“Is she okay?” asked Rosalynn.

Dr. Morrison let out a heavy sigh. “She’s going to be fine. I’ve got her stable, but I will have to run some tests.”

“I still need to have a look around,” said Jude. “We’re going to get to the surveillance before the cops do.”

“Good call,” said her father. “I want to get to these sons of bitches before they do.”

“Sir,” said Thomas, getting the old man’s attention. “Is it possible that someone slipped Monica Precision-X at the party?”

“I guess that could be. Why?” He narrowed his eyes at Thomas, but Jude already had a feeling he knew why he had brought it up.

“It’s just that my wife, Ella, had a bad seizure like that, and so did a few other students at the university. All of them had been given or had taken Precision-X. If they are trying to use Precision-X against you, it’s possible that they did that to her at the party.”

“She did drink some wine,” said Rosalynn. “It could have been spiked. And she wasn’t herself just before she had the spell.”

“I’ll know with the blood tests,” said Dr. Morrison. “At least then, I’ll know what I’m dealing with and just how much trouble she’s in.”

“Will it be worse with Clarity already in her system?” asked Jude. “Is there a way to dilute it in her system if it is?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll see what I can do. Precision-X was never designed or approved for female use. I couldn’t even get the dosage right to be safe. Even Clarity has taken some time to get right. And I’m always improving it.”

“Well, she wanted another blood test. I guess she’s going to get it after all.” Jude shook his head. “I better get going. She’s in good hands.”

“The best,” said Dr. Morrison.

“I’ll come with you,” said Thomas.

“I’d like to stay here with her,” said Rosalynn. “I don’t know if she’ll want me here when she wakes up.”

Dr. Morrison nodded. “I think that would be just fine. I could use a hand in keeping an eye on her.” He turned his attention to Jude. “Any word from Meredith?”

“No, sir. She hasn’t turned up. I saw her at the party, and she was supposed to be finding her boyfriend, but I lost track of her after that. I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. But I would like you to try and call her again.”

“I have, but she’s not answering.”

“I’ll try her too,” said Rosalynn. “She might just answer for me.”

“Surely she knows what happened,” said Thomas. “You don’t think something happened to her? What if they got her? Whoever came here may not have stuck around if they got what they wanted. Maybe they saw an opportunity and took it.”

“I don’t like that,” said Jude. He hadn’t even considered Meredith could be in trouble. “But dammit, you could be right. I’ll check everywhere,” he said to Dr. Morrison.

“I’ll try again, too,” he said. “Let’s hope that she got out in time.”

“I saw her head to the doors,” said Rosalynn. “After she talked to you. I’m pretty sure she was gone before the big presentation.” The tone in her voice showed her embarrassment.

“I took the copy they used, by the way. I’ll see if I can’t get a fingerprint or figure out where it came from.”

“I’ll help,” said Thomas. “I have a kit we can use. I keep it in my car.”

“Perfect. We should get that footage first. As long as there are cops crawling around here, we’ve got to watch our backs and protect our interests first and foremost.”

“Yeah, and as long as they are around, I have a really good chance that I’m going to be recognized. I already saw one cop that looked familiar.”

“You’ll be fine,” said Jude. “Just lay low when you have to.”

“No worries,” said Thomas.

Jude nodded. “Let’s go. The sooner we get on it, the better.”


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