The sound of footsteps stopped at the top of the stairs then resumed as if the owner knew exactly where they were going. Opening the door the intruder entered the study. Walking carefully around the discarded papers and files as they lay scattered on the floor. Kneeling beside Jeff “I knew you wouldn’t survive long without me,” the individual muttered as he reached out to check for a pulse. “Looks like your hard head saved you” the man mumbled wiping the blood on his fingers onto a tissue he took from box that lay close by that may have been knocked to the floor during the haphazard search.
Jeff groaned loudly opening his eyes “what are you doing here?”
“Saving your butt as usual.”
“You’re supposed to be dead,” Jeff muttered attempting to sit up.
“Hey not so fast,” Zayne pushed him back “you’ve lost quite a bit of blood. I think you need stitches.”
“I’m fine,” Jeff said knocking his hand aside as he hauled himself up. Blinking he turned a ghostly white almost falling over.
“Here let me help you,” Zayne grabbed him and half carried him to the bathroom. “Let’s clean this mess up and see what’s what.”
Slapping his hands away Jeff glared at him “I don’t need your help.”
Ignoring him Zayne pushed him down onto toilet seat while he inspected his head wounds. “You should know by now that you need to open the window before sticking your head through it.”
“That’s not funny,” Jeff hissed as Zayne pushed and prodded at his head “Ouch that hurts.”
“Then sit still or let me take you to the hospital,” Zayne suggested without mercy.
“No,” he shouted “they’re probably watching the hospital to see if I come in.”
“You may not have a choice,” Zayne told him holding a towel to the back of Jeff’s head “you need stitches. I think you may have glass in some of those gashes as well.”
“Don’t push so hard” Jeff complained “it feels like your pushing the glass into my brain.” he leaned forward turning pale.
“Are you going to be sick?” Zayne asked taking a step to the side “if you are I’m not cleaning it up.”
“Shut up,” Jeff growled grabbing a nearby trash can heaving into it.
“That’s it you need to see a doctor,” Zayne grabbed his arm.
“No! I’m fine,” Jeff protested trying to clear his vision “call Jean Van Winkle. She’s an old family friend. She’ll come. She’ll know what to do.”
Not liking the idea Zayne didn’t know what else to do. They had very few options available to them. “What’s her number?” he asked giving in. While they waited Zayne had to keep reminding Jeff to stay awake as they younger man kept drifting off. When a blond older woman appeared in the doorway he sighed in relief.
Walking over to Jeff she lifted delicate fingers to his head inspecting the damage. “You need stitches. You should see a doctor.”
“No” Jeff refused.
“Ok ok calm down” turning to Zayne “I’m going to need you to hold him down.” Turning she fished in her kit “I’ve had to stitch people up before. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to hurt. I don’t want to give you anything for the pain because I suspect you have a concussion.”
“Just do it,” Jeff told her not wanting to know all the details. Shrugging Jean set to work and before she was finished Jeff fainted and slumped against Zayne.
“Good, this will go quicker now that he’s out,” Jean said to Zayne “you’ll need to watch him. He’s showing signs of concussion.” Her brows furrowed “he really should be in the hospital.”
“I know but we have people looking for us. Well him actually. I’m dead supposed to be dead”
“Then I suggest you remain that way until you catch the bad guys,” Jean told him “once he wakes up he can take something for the pain. He will have a massive headache for a while.”
“You mean he’s going to be in foul mood” Zayne quipped bringing a small smile to her face.
“He should take it each for a couple of days” she said washing her hands in the sink “you should probably find a different place to lay low for a while.” Drying her hands she offered “come and stay at my place until the worst of his headache is over.”
Looking at his partner Zayne nodded “thank you I think that would probably be best under the circumstance but I don’t want to put you or your family in danger.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ve been in danger before and will be again” she told him brushing off his concern.
A few days later Jeff stared sullenly at Zayne as he swam laps in the pool. “Why so sour?” Zayne asked once he noticed the almost angry look his partner and friend was giving him. “Just because your concussed doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy myself. I’ve been the one cooped up in the hospital you stuck me in for weeks. I was going stir crazy.”
As his friend made light of their situation Jeff’s frown deepened “you almost died….”
“But I didn’t,” Zayne said getting out of the pool to sit on the lounge beside Jeff. “I appreciate everything you did for me. Don’t get me wrong. I know how close I was to dying. I want this nightmare to be over just as much as you. I want to see my son again….”
“He misses you,” Jeff told him bringing a sad pensive look to the other man’s eyes.
“So what do we do now?” Zayne asked “If Junior isn’t our killer then who is?”
“Not the captain unless we count you,” Jeff mumbled “how did that idiot become captain? He didn’t have sense enough to verify the facts. He’s made the case harder to solve then it should be.”
“I shouldn’t have mentioned the discrepancies and all the circumstantial evidence piling up against his son.” Zayne rubbed the scars on his torso and chest “he was a little too capable of killing me for my comfort.”
“I know” Jeff nodded remembering how he thought his friend had died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. That was when it came to him that Zayne was better off being dead then lying helpless in a hospital room where the captain could finish him off. He had used a large chunk of his inheritance to pay the doctors and to arrange private care. It more than paid off. His friend was alive and his god son would have his father back once they solved this case.
“Have you considered how the victims relate to each other?” a female voice asked joining them beside the pool.
He had almost forgotten his sister was staying with Jean while Peter and Emit looked for Chase. “We have. The only thing they all have in common were being parents of two year olds.”
“Don’t you find that a bit odd?” she asked rubbing her expanding stomach “did they have the same day care provider?”
Jeff shook his head. He hadn’t felt well enough to search into that idea yet. He looked over at Zayne who had cleared his throat like he had something to say. “Since Jeff sent me the files I’ve been looking into that and it seems that they all did.” Frowning he rubbed his eyes “and I don’t want to believe what I found out either.” Everyone turned to look at him “Mike Wilson who had a direct link to some of the victims is also the son of the daycare providers husband.”
“So they all did have the same daycare provider?” Jeff asked sitting up straight finding it hard to concentrate over the headache building behind his eyes.
“Yeah” Zayne muttered “Mrs Reynolds.”
“I don’t believe it,” Jeff muttered.
Looking from one man to the other Jennifer asked “what’s wrong?”
“Mrs Reynolds was my daycare provider for Charlie,” Zayne explained pushing his hair back from his face “the captain may have done me a favor.”
“I’m not following” she gasped suddenly “you don’t mean you may have been next on the killers list do you?”
“Stands to reason,” Jeff nodded “you hadn’t been with Mrs Reynolds that long were you?”
“No I had a problem with my last daycare provider because of our crazy work hours. Mrs Reynolds was recommended to me as someone with flexible hours. I remember thinking it was odd she had an opening for two year olds. Now I know why.” Standing up Zayne turned to Jeff “we need to go back to the city.”
“Hold on,” Jeff said standing up too “we need a plan first.”
“We can’t wait. Someone else has already filled my spot or will be filling it soon. If we don’t move quickly victim number 13 will be dead.” Zayne told him pacing the beside the pool.
“What you need is someone to find out if there’s an opening.” Jennifer looked up at both of them laughing at the stunned expressions “I can make the call…”
“No absolutely not,” Jeff bristled at the idea.
“That’s actually not a bad idea.”
“What?” he yelled whirling around to glare at Zayne “I’m not putting my pregnant sister in danger.”
“Calm down and listen,” Zayne told him ignoring the scowl and the fact that Jeff looked ready to explode. “Mrs Reynolds will recognize our voices if we called. Jennifer can go it for an interview without raising suspicions. She’s a young pregnant woman whose husband has just gotten a promotion and moving to the city.”
Rubbing his chin Jeff listened “you want to set the killer up don’t you?”
“All we need is someone to play the part of the husband.”
“How about me?” a voice said interrupting them.
“Uncle Michael,” Jeff smiled as the older man pulled him close “why are you here?”
“Shon called Gene and he called me. I said I’d come and check on you.” He glanced over at Zayne “who are you?”
“Jeff’s not so dead partner” he quipped “are you sure you want do this? It could be dangerous”
Waving his concern away Michael sat down “tell me what I need to do.”
Exchanging glances with his partner Jeff sighed “I’m not comfortable using civilians as bait for a killer.”
“What other choice do you have?” Michael asked “I’m here. I’m offering. You told me the dangers so I’m not going into this blindfolded.”
“I still don’t like it,” Jeff frowned “I’m the cop. I had the training not you. I can take care of myself…”
“Ha” Michael said shaking his head “who has stitches in his head and who almost died? Not us civilians. So quit acting superior an accept our help.”
“Alright alright I know when I’m beaten,” Jeff shook his head “but you better listen carefully an do exactly as your told.”
“I wouldn’t dream of doing anything else,” Michael said with a twinkle in his eyes “do you need me to swear on the Bible or something?”
“This isn’t funny?” Jeff grumbled.
“You’re right it’s not but if you don’t loosen up you’ll die of a heart attack before you get a chance to live” his Uncle told him. “Now let’s get down to business.”