The Second Degree - Maya Hart

03 – The Second Degree – Maya Hart

03

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“So what do we have to go see her for?” Rueben walks beside me across the car park.
“I’m not sure; I suppose she just wants to talk to someone…” I say, approaching our squad car, “It must be hard for her, she’s got nothing to do but think about what’s happened; she’s a police detective- she must feel completely redundant not being about to come to work and help out on the case involving her own daughter…”
“I suppose…”
I throw Rueben the keys which he catches effortlessly, “You drive,” I say, approaching the passenger door.
“How are you feeling today, anyhow?” Rueben asks me as we exit the precinct car park.
“I’m so tired,” I say, rubbing my eyes, “I just want this to be over…”
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“Likewise, I’m barely sleeping…”
I nod, “It’s awful, and Yves… I think he realises something is wrong with me…”
“How come?”
“I don’t know, I may just be being paranoid… he’s just so young sometimes… mentally I mean… I feel like I’m going to end up telling him what’s going on… just to stop him blowing his top…”
“You can’t Maya,” Rueben turns to me slightly, “You can’t tell anyone, promise me…”
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“I won’t,” I rub my eyes again, I have a headache brewing, “I just feel like it sometimes. I don’t know how Yves and I will get through this otherwise…”
“You definitely won’t if you tell him; you saw what happened to Michelle.”
I know he’s right, but I hate this – keeping a secret from the man I love.
“He’s very insecure,” I say after a few moments of silence, “he thinks there’s something going on with us…” After I’ve said it I feel I should possibly have held my tongue, I’m not sure how Rueben feels about me exactly, but Cassie has often mentioned that he looks at me with something more than friendship reflected in his eyes.
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“That’s ridiculous,” Rueben laughs, bright and warm, “Anyone can see how besotted you are with Yves Black – I’d be stupid to even attempt to woo you away…”
“Try telling him that,” I say, glancing out of the window.
We’ve left Maybury town centre and entered Park Drive which can only be described as the rougher area of town.
The large, detached houses of Kentford Road and Clematis Lane have given way to small single-floored trailers; they’re cramped closely together and share one large garden between them.
In front of many of the houses are discarded children’s toys and random items like shoes and work tools.
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Rueben whistles, “Wow, I really hate this area.”
I can’t help but agree, this place certainly has the largest crime rate in the town and I’m surprised Cassie still lives here.
We park up outside her trailer and I’m about to get out when Rueben grabs my arm.
“Hide your purse if you’re not bringing it, May May,” he points to my handbag which I’ve left in the foot well.
“Right,” I say, I push it under the seat, ensuring it’s completely out of sight – I’d like to think no-one would be dumb enough to steal a bag from a cop car, but in this day and age you never know.
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++++

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“Knock knock?” I call into the house, the door is open and I can hear the television chattering from the living area.
“Hey!” Cassie approaches me and pulls me into a huge hug, she feels thinner, frailer under my touch.
I pull away and stare into her brown eyes, they’ve lost their sparkle.
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“How are you doing, Cassie?” I ask, holding her at arm’s length and searching her face.
“Oh, you know,” I’m horrified as her eyes start to fill with tears – what a stupid question for me to ask, of course she feels like utter shite- her child is missing for god’s sake.
“I’m sorry,” I hold her arm and direct her towards the living area, “that was incredibly insensitive of me.”
As we pass the Kitchen I see various dirty pots and pan littering the worktops, a cheap fridge whirs loudly in the corner and fly trap hisses as it claims its latest victim.
Cassie sits down upon the threadbare sofa and smiles through her tears.

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“It’s OK.”
“You asked to see us specifically?” Rueben enquires from the door way.
Cassie nods and wipes her eyes, “Yes,” she manages, “I know you’ll keep me updated, I know you’ll tell me what’s going on.”
I glance over to Rueben who looks to his feet, he peels himself from the door frame and drags his hand through his red hair whilst frowning. “You know we can’t tell you anything, Cass. Not even if we wanted to… you don’t have any fresh information?”
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I match his expression and fold my arms across my chest.
“Please,” Cassie says with desperation, ignoring his question. “I hate this, being kept in the dark – being treated differently – I’m one of you.”
I flinch as she grabs my arm and stares into my eyes imploringly.
Blonde unwashed hair escapes from her messy bun and the dark circles under her eyes add another 20 years to her 27.
“May, you’re one of my best friends. I can’t just sit here and wait, I need to do something, I need to be part of the investigation.”
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I shake my head, “I’m sorry Cass but Rueben is right and you know how confidential all this has to be – think of Michelle. I won’t risk putting you in danger.”
Cassie looks away and I can tell she’s not satisfied with my answer but I know she’s best off staying at home and waiting for news. When Michelle was found murdered I think it hit her the hardest, it was almost like she felt responsible.
“Please,” Cassie murmurs after a few moments, her head is in her hands and she rocks slowly from her position on the sofa, “I need to do something,” she goes on, “I need to…”
I glance at Rueben who closes his eyes and sighs – he looks about ready to leave and I know how he feels.
“Cass… I want to help -“.

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“No you don’t!” Cassie interrupts me and suddenly stands, her hands are fists at her sides and her entire demeanour screams of aggression.
“You don’t care!” she yells and I back away from her, “You’re not a mother! You don’t know what this is like- not knowing…not knowing what’s happened to your-your-” she sobs and collapses to the floor.
Dashing forth I kneel on the floor beside her and pull her into me, stroking her hair and hushing her sobs.
“Have you heard from Lucas?” I whisper, “he might know something…”
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Lucas Vale, Cassie’s long term partner disappeared shortly before Isabella was taken and no one has heard anything from him since, he’s a prime suspect in the 5 year olds disappearance.
Cassie shakes her head, “I’m sorry,” she whispers, “I’m sorry for yelling, I’m just so scared, you know?”
Holding her like this, feeling her tears soak my uniform and her sobs vibrate through my chest breaks my heart. This is so unlike her. Cassie Grant has always been the party girl – the centre of attention – the likable, outgoing, bubbly one.
“I understand,” I say, “I’ll speak to Wilkes…”
“Maya-” Rueben interjects.
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I glance pointedly at him and he stops speaking, I know we can’t involve her but I don’t know how else to quell her unease.
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“You shouldn’t have said anything about speaking the Serge,” Rueben chides as we pull into the precinct car park.
“Why not?” I stare ahead, avoiding his eyes.
“You know why,” Rueben continues, “You know the less people involved the better.”
“What are you talking about,” I feel frustration creeping in, “Cass is already a part of this- it’s her daughter who’s going missing, surely she’d be an excellent asset to the entire case?”
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Rueben pulls into a free parking space and shuts off the engine.
“Maybe at one point she would have been,” he says starring into his lap, “but not now.”
I unbuckle my seatbelt and exit the car.
“Cassie’s an amazing officer,” I mutter as we cross the parking lot.
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“Was,” Rueben says, “Cassie was an amazing officer… recently she’s been… lax.”
“What do you expect?”
“This has been going on longer than Isabella’s been missing.”
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I know he’s right, but I want to stand up for my friend.
Cassie’s been different since her on and off partner Lucas has been back on the scene, he’s like an emotional vampire – he sucks the soul out of her, a real no good guy.
“I don’t care,” I say as we enter the building, “I’m speaking to serge.”
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Rueben opens his mouth to respond.
“You two!” Sergeant Wilkes approaches us and looks as flustered as ever, “What are you doing back?”
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“We finished speaking to Cassie,” I say uncertainly.
“Obviously,” Wilkes narrows his eyes, “But what the bloody hell are you doing stood here like a pair of retards?”
“Um…” I begin.
“Um…? UM?! I told you to take the afternoon off!”
“Actually sir…” Rueben begins.

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“Bah!” Wilkes gestures to the door, “You’ve been working too bloody hard and I want the both of you the hell out of my station this second!”
I glance uncertainly at Rueben who just shrugs and turns on his heel, Wilkes starts to walk away.
“Um, Serge -” I dash to keep up with him.
“What is it Hart, don’t you want to spend the afternoon with that buffoonish writer boyfriend of yours?”
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“I wanted to speak to you about Officer Grant…”
“Bah!” Wilkes practically yells in my face and I can’t help but jump, “Forget it! Talk to me tomorrow, now get out of my sight!”
I know there’s no point in trying to speak to him when he’s in this frame of mind, I watch his departing back hopelessly before doing as I’m bid and leave the station.
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