Chapter Three


Olivia turned over in her bed as the sunshine streaming through the blinds beckoned her eyes to open. Sunday mornings were the only time throughout the week when she allowed herself an extra hour of sleep before she started her day. A nagging small voice in the back of her mind echoed something about dragging herself to a church service, but she ignored it and snuggled deeper against her pillow.

After a few more minutes of squeezing out the sunlight, Olivia slowly opened her eyes with the strange sensation that someone was staring at her. When her eyes finally fluttered open, she saw a pair of big blue eyes staring at her curiously from right beside her bed. It took her brain several seconds to recognize that the eyes belonged to Eli and several more seconds to realize that he was much closer to her bed than he should have been.

“Holy shit!” she yelled as she jumped out of the bed.

Eli stared up at her as he stood next to the bed holding his Paddington and smiled as Olivia shook on her feet. She picked him up and kept looking all over him to make sure he had not hurt himself and then held him tightly as her heart rate slowed.

When she saw him about to escape from his crib the previous day, she imagined it was a rare occurrence, as Kathy had suggested, but as she held a squirming Eli, her head spun with frantic of thoughts of what could have happened to him in the time he had made it over his crib to the time he stood standing next to her bed.

Oh my God! He could have fallen, she thought, Oh God! What if I didn’t wake up? He could’ve hit his head on something or drowned in the toilet or anything.

Eli shifted and fussed in her arms and she checked his head and down his sleeper again just to reassure herself that he was fine.

After changing him, receiving only a minor spraying this time, and putting him in the playpen with a few extra blankets to keep him distracted, Olivia cleaned up herself up a little and made some oatmeal for Eli.

The oatmeal was eaten in the same fashion as his other meals and, after an hour, Eli was in need of a wipe down and a new outfit.

“We’re just gonna hang out today, okay?” she said to Eli as she carried him into the living room. “Aunt Liv doesn’t really feel like leaving the apartment if she can help it. Sundays are best spent in pajamas.”

Eli jabbered to himself once she set him on his feet and, over a series of steps that alternated between unsteady and forceful, he walked towards the coffee table to bang his hands on it.

“What Eli? Do you want to colour some more or are you just making noise?” He shrieked as he laughed and banged the table again. “Okay…a little of both…”

After popping in a new Blues Clues DVD and creating a layer of printer paper over her coffee table, Olivia arranged herself on the floor next to Eli to review her notes and paperwork from her cases the previous week as he drew wayward marks over anything that seemed capable of holding crayon colour.

When the constant recounting of assault after assault seemed to wear on her quicker than normal, Olivia ran a hand over Eli’s curls and pulled him closer as she grabbed one of the large crayons he had scattered over the table.

“Let’s draw your name,” she said and wrapped her hand around his tiny grip. “Eee…Ehl…Aye…Yeah, fun right?”

He tried to put the crayon back in her hand and she helped him draw his name again, amazed at how focused he seemed while she did it.

After several guided drawings, Eli tried to repeat the motions, but only managed to make several zigzagged lines as he babbled to himself. The expression on his face as he kept making his “mark” seemed so serious and comical at the same time that Olivia found the camera Kathy had given her and took just a few pictures that she figured his parents would enjoy.

 Olivia watched him colour for a while longer until she thought he seemed hungry, but instead of just placing him in the high chair and attempting to feed him, she changed into a tank top and took him down to just his diaper to avoid having food smeared over every inch of their clothes.

“Oh, yeah,” she said as Eli speared spaghetti sauce across the high chair ten minutes later.  He was covered in spaghetti from head to toe, but at least there was not a new pile of food-laden clothes waiting to be washed.

“Yep,” Olivia said. “We’re just a trailer and a pair of daisy dukes away from being totally poor white trash.”

Eli just shrieked and banged his hands on the high chair table, splattering spaghetti sauce in every direction.

Once she gave Eli a bath and put him down for a nap, Olivia pulled Ian Byroms’ case again, giving the documents a harsh glare as she scrutinized them.

She had noticed previously that the name Byroms had an unsettling familiarity to it and it was not until she studied his case file that she remembered from where she had seen his name. Almost a decade earlier, a then twelve-year-old Ian Byroms had sat in her very precinct after allegations had been made that he had been inappropriate with one of the girls in his gym class. Even though the young girl had recanted her story once in the squad room, Olivia had not believed Byrom’s assertion that “they were just playing around” and, years later, the idea that she could have stopped a predator before he had really got started made her nauseated.

Sighing, she left her desk and walked towards the window to watch the sky beginning to turn to orange. Throughout her time in the SVU, Elliot’s hatred for rapists and child molesters had always seemed to trump her own, but as she listened to Eli shift in the next room, she finally saw what drove Elliot’s point of view.

They were not even hers, but she loved Elliot’s children simply because they were his and the idea that some monster was lurking in their schools, on college campuses or simply on the streets pained her as much as she knew it pained Elliot. It was a pain she had never before experienced, but in the moment she connected the twenty-two year old Ian Byroms with his baby-faced visage that still haunted her memory, Olivia understood why Elliot hated every perp who crossed their paths more than most SVU detectives.

The orange in the sky became interlaced with purple and, just as she realized that she had probably let Eli sleep for too long, something moved sharply from the corner of her eye.

Olivia crossed her living room and bedroom in four steps to catch Eli just as he was about to get his other leg over the crib.

He fussed and squirmed in her arms, but she could only marvel over the fact that he could even think to stack all three stuff animals and his blanket in the corner to aid his jump over the crib’s edge.

“You know,” she said as she settled him on her hip, “Aunt Liv thinks you’re really quite bright. Wise beyond your nine months on this planet.”

Eli continued to fidget and shift until she let him walk around the apartment. She moved her sofa, coffee table and desk towards one another and made a pen in which Eli could move about, using her closed bedroom door as a fourth wall. She watched him toddle around the space, clearly enjoying his newfound freedom, and had to take a wide step around her coffee table to catch her phone before it stopped ringing.


Liv! It’s Elliot!”

“Hey! How’s Hawaii?”

“Beautiful, but hot as hell. I’ve got on SPF 60 and I’m still sunburned!”

Elliot proceeded to tell her about how the hotel did not have a reservation on record for them and how he had nearly had an argument with a gentleman at the car rental counter over a reneged upgrade agreement, but that overall, he and Kathy were enjoying themselves.

Olivia joked about having to result to feeding Eli in just his diaper to avoid the mess and about his rampant escapism. Elliot suggested she put Eli in the playpen with an extra blanket to sleep and then Kathy came on the phone asking that Olivia put the phone near Eli so he could hear her voice. By the time she had them off the phone, Olivia was drained again and Eli was fussing as he rubbed his eyes.

In a last effort to keep from having to move even more furniture that day while still soaking wet from giving him a bath, she put Eli into his crib and watched from the doorway as he lay still for a few minutes. He then slowly maneuvered to a stand, placed his blanket and his bear on top of two other stuffed animals in the corner of the crib and began to pull himself up and over the edge of the crib.

Sighing, Olivia took Eli from the crib to his playpen, pushed the crib into the living room, switched him back to the crib and, with Eli now watching her intently, moved the surprisingly heavy playpen across the floor and into her bedroom. She had got it halfway through the doorframe when the playpen would no longer budge. After several hard heaves and a giggle from Eli, Olivia realized that a leg of the playpen had stuck on the raised floor staple and, feeling quite sheepish, she managed to get the playpen situated in her bedroom.

She watched him sleep for five full minutes before falling into her bed and hoping that she would have the energy for him when she picked him up from daycare the following evening.

The alarm clock ripped her from sleep an hour earlier than usual so that she would have time to get Eli and his things ready for daycare. Thankfully, he was still asleep and there were no indications that he been trying to escape from the playpen.

She showered quickly and found Eli preparing to escape as she was trying to dry her hair. She took the dryer in her bedroom again where they made a game out of Eli trying to get out of crib and Olivia gently nudging Eli back into it with her leg; he got to laugh, she got to dry her hair. With so many opportunities to dress and re-dress him over the weekend, Olivia got Eli dressed with ease and they were out the door a few minutes after six in the morning.

Eli was fussing harder than she had ever seen him fuss once the cab rounded the corner to his daycare center and by the time she was attempting to sign him in with the smiling woman at the center’s front desk, he was in a full, red-faced scream.

While she wanted to simply pull him off of her, Eli only cried louder each time she would start to pull or when the assistant, Gina, started to reach for him.

It took another ten minutes of walking him around the hallway and rubbing his back to get him calm enough to be held by Gina and, even then, he was still crying as Olivia backed away from him.

“I’ll be back later,” she said, trying to soothe him with her voice. “I promise. I’ll be right back here to get you later.”

Cragen was waiting for her with a case file in hand the moment she stepped off the elevator at the precinct twenty minutes later and took a deep breath before delivering the news he had been waiting to give since it had come to him.

“Just got a call from a frantic father saying his five-year-old son Tristan Matterson wandered away from the preschool his mother runs. The father figured the boy had run away when he showed at his office saying he wanted to play. Now, the father’s calling us and any connections he’s got as well as his attorney trying to get the mother’s school shut down. We already know it’s an acrimonious divorce with a big custody battle that’s just getting heated, but now the father’s saying that Tristan ran away from the school because someone there was hurting him. We’re still not sure how Tristan got across the park all by himself since his mother’s school is on Central Park West and his father’s office on 5th, but by the end of the phone call the father was claiming that someone must have simply grabbed Tristan and then left him on 5th where he just found his way back his dad’s office. Right now, I’d like to get the boy checked out so we can see if there are any signs of trauma and talk to both parents to get the full story.” Cragen paused to take a breath. “Sorry. I take it your weekend with Stabler’s kid went well?”

“Things with Eli went fine and I’m on Tristan as soon as I down the rest of this coffee.”

To her word, as soon as Olivia had set down her previous cases and finished her coffee, she was back in the elevator to the ground floor to get a department car.

The drive up to the West Side went quite quickly despite the traffic; her thoughts, though she knew she should have been preparing to speak the potential victim, were completely on Eli and his reluctance to leave her that morning.

While one part of her wanted to brush away the incident as Eli just suffering some mild anxiety about being separated from someone who had spent every waking moment of the past two days with him, Olivia’s other side, the maternal side that had been heightened to ten times its normal ferocity since Eli had been left in her care, worried that there was more to Eli’s tears about daycare.

During the two hours that followed her arrival at David Matterson’s office, Olivia had approached David Matterson about his son’s alleged abuse, been screamed at through the suggestion of taking Tristan to a doctor to be examined, been yelled at by Katrina Matterson over the idea that she would allow someone to hurt her child while under her care, and had backtracked to David’s office to talk to Tristan alone.

Tristan was buoyant in his chair as Olivia tried to talk to him, bouncing in his seat like a normal child with too much energy.

“Tristan,” Olivia said. “Why did you run away from daycare?”

“I didn’t runaway,” he said, still bouncing in his seat.

“But, you came all the way here to your dad’s office.”

“I went for a walk.”

“All by yourself?”

“I did it before. It’s not hard.”

“Tristan…why do you go for walks? Is somebody hurting you at daycare?”

Tristan shook his head. “No. School is boring. I like to walk in the park like we did when we all lived together, but Daddy doesn’t live with us no more…so we don’t get to take walks.”

Olivia spoke to Tristan for another thirty minutes, but was unable to find anything out of the ordinary outside the fact that the little boy was not taking his parents divorce very well. After some hard persuading, she accompanied Tristan and both parents to the hospital where he was examined by a doctor, who later told Olivia that she saw no signs of abuse.

Once she had stressed to both parents the importance of helping Tristan understand what was happening to their marriage, Olivia drove back to the precinct thinking that as much as loved having Eli with her, if she ever got Michelle at ACS to see her point of view and she adopted a child, she would want to start with a little boy about Tristan’s age instead. It was not that she did not like babies, but for as long as she played with the idea of adoption, she had always imagined she would do much better as a mother with an older child.

By noon, she had finalized her report on Tristan Matterson and was about to delve into her other open cases, when she perused her e-mails and saw a message from Grayleck about Legal Aid being backed up and unable to assign anyone to Ian Byroms yet, let alone prepare him to be arraigned. As much as she wanted to let the proverbial sleeping dogs lie, her nerve got the better of her and she headed for the cage.

Olivia walked towards the bars and glared at his forlorn and sulking form. They stared at one another for a few minutes before Byroms shook his head.

“What more do you want from me? I’ve already given you everything you want.”

“I remember you,” she said. “I know you don’t remember me because it was so long ago, but I definitely remember you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. When’s that other chick gonna get here. I thought was going through that…‘rainment or whatever it is.”

“Courtney Rauscher…Does that name ring a bell?”

Byroms shivered and his eyes dropped towards the floor.

“She was the first person you assaulted,” Olivia continued. “You were just twelve years old and you were already attacking girls.”

“I didn’t mean for it to happen. Back then we were…we were just kids. Just playing around.”

“And, that’s what you’d said, but somehow all these years later…all that playing around sounds like a whole lot of bullshit, doesn’t it?”

Byroms only shrugged.

“Did you know they’ve dropped the statute of limitations on rape in New York?” Byroms’ eyebrows shot towards his forehead. “Oh yeah. And, I’m pretty sure…in fact, I’m almost certain if I called Courtney Raucsher tonight, she’d be more than prepared to account for what you really did to her ten years ago, too.”

Olivia began to walk away, but Byroms finally shifted from his stoic pose.

“You…you can’t,” he said.

“Why’s that?” Byroms went silent again and Olivia took a step closer to cage. “If you think I’m bluffing about bringing up ten-year-old charges on you, you’re losing it.”

“If I…,” Byroms began, “if I tell you what happened, will you promise not to ask for life?”

“Why would I do that?”

“Because I just want to set things right. She deserves that much.”

Olivia stared at him for a moment before pulling a set of keys out of her back pocket and ushering Byroms out of the cell. She brought him into an open interrogation room and glared at him as she paced in front of the small table in the grey room.

“So…what is it? Why can’t I talk to Courtney Rauscher?”

“I’m not really sure how it happened.”

“Tell me anyway.”

Byroms sighed a rubbed a hand across his face. “This night about a year ago…I was on campus just walking home minding my business and she walks outta this store and she starts pointing at me and yelling. She just kept saying that I ruined her life and she shouldn’t have changed her story. I tried to get away from her, but she just kept following me everywhere I’d go. So, then I went down this alley and I grabbed her and told her that I didn’t mean what happened back then, but then she just started screaming and screaming and-and-and…I just didn’t know how else to shut her up.”

“What happened?”

Byroms shrugged. “I don’t know, but she’s…she’s…she didn’t make it.”

“She didn’t make it,” Olivia repeated. “Normally when people don’t make it, they were in a car crash or had a heart attack. You killed her.”

“My hand just…on her throat, but really I didn’t mean to.”

“Just like with all those other girls? You never mean to do anything, do you?” Byroms’ sat stoic and Olivia shook her head. “Where is she?”

“There’s a shed at my uncle’s house in Poughkeepsie…I buried her under there.”

Olivia paced in front of the table for a full minute with her arms crossed, attempting to avoid “Pulling a Stabler” on the young man who sat at the table. After another minute of silence, she sat back down at the table with her hands clenched.

“I’m not promising you anything, but I’ll notify the DA. Maybe she’ll show you some leniency once we find her…though I know I wouldn’t.”

“I just want to set things right.”

Olivia shut her eyes for a moment and began to leave the room, but Byroms gently grabbed her forearm. She glared at him and he sighed.

“I never wanted my life to be like this. I swear…this isn’t what I wanted out of life.”

Her scowl never wavered and she snatched her arm away from him quickly. She then stepped into the corridor and nearly ran into Cragen as she tried to regain her composure.

“You took out Byroms again?” he said. “What happened with the Matterson boy?”

Olivia rubbed a hand across her forehead. “I spoke with Tristan and I think he’s just taking his parents’ divorce a little harder. Byroms, however, is a different story altogether.”

“What d’you mean?”

“He just confessed to a murder from a year ago.”

Cragen hung his head. “It happened in the city?”

“Yeah, but he dragged her to his uncle’s house in Poughkeepsieso he could bury her under the shed.”

“Aw, Christ.”

“It gets worse.”

“Why? Who was it?”

“Courtney Rauscher. She was the first girl who reported that he assaulted her. She recanted and I’ve never been so sorry to hear about a victim recanting.”

“You’re right. This just keeps getting worse and worse.”

“I suppose the upside is that Grayleck doesn’t have to worry about the amount of time he’s been in the cage anymore since now we’ve got to do some fact-checking into his story.”

Olivia brought Byroms back to the cage and, after only two searches, was able to find the Missing Persons report on Courtney Rauscher. It dated back over a year with the claim that Courtney was just going to the store and back to her apartment when she disappeared off the street. Her family, her friends and her roommates were all interviewed multiple times, but no one had any news of what could have happened to her. The only lead at the time was that she and her boyfriend were having some problems, but once that trail ended cold, the case was set aside as unsolved.

With Byroms’ story corroborated by the Missing Persons report, Olivia called Grayleck, took a statement from Byroms and made the two-hour trip to Poughkeepsie with Fin.

The local police department was already at the home of Paul and Edna Byroms by the time Olivia and Fin arrived and, from the direction given by Byroms himself, an excavation team had descended on the small shed that sat towards the end of the large the lot and the area around it.

The dig was already underway by the time Olivia and Fin had found their way through a maze of mixed overgrowth and harried pruning to the shed and it took close to three hours of assisting the local crime scene investigators pull up boards and organize the site before a cry of “We got something over here!” echoed across the yard.

Olivia and Fin hurried to the edge of the vast yard where officers had surrounded a portion of the yard where a second dig had begun. The recently dug earth was well away from the standing shed, but there was no mistaking the grey bones sticking out of the ground; Byroms was not aware that his uncle had moved the makeshift shed closer to the house four months earlier.

“Oh my God,” Mrs. Byroms whispered with a hand over her mouth. Her husband stood beside her, shaking his head as they both surveyed the scene.

“Mr. And Mrs. Byroms,” Olivia said as she hovered near the site, “please stand back.”

“We had no idea he did this!” Mrs. Byroms shrieked. “I swear on Christ Jesus we didn’t know what he’d done.”

Olivia sighed as the team prepared to continue lifting the remains from the ground and, bringing about an old defense mechanism, she let her thoughts drift as she let the horrific scene play before her.

God, I’ll be up to my ass in paperwork for the rest of the week on this one…should go quick since Melinda’s pretty good about calling us…Crap! Not Melinda…it’ll be a local examiner…there’s no way he’ll be as good…I wonder if we could manage to get Melinda up here to do the autopsy instead…autopsy…autopsy…Collins case…Grayleck said something about discussing the autopsy again with Melinda, Collins…Collins wasn’t that what that woman said in the park…Collins…Colin…Uncle Colin…I should’ve done more with that woman…too bad I had Eli with me or I –

“Oh Christ,” she whispered as her heart jumped in her throat. It was 5:58 and she was at least two hours and a toll bridge away from Manhattan.

She turned to find Fin. “Fin. Fin! I gotta get back to the city. If I don’t pick up Eli on time, I’m gonna be in big trouble with Elliot.”

“You’re good, Liv,” Fin said. “I never seen Stabler run outta the precinct to get his own kid.”

“Yeah, well,” she said walking towards the street. “This is different. If he’s late, he just sleeps on the couch. If I’m late, they’ll both gang up on me and leave me with broken fingers and a concussion. You mind if I take the car?”

Fin nodded at her. “S’ok. I like the train.”

“Thanks. Let me know if you dig up anything else…no pun intended.”

Olivia was speeding towards the city within minutes and voice dialed Cragen as she hit Route 55 going eight-nine miles an hour.

“Liv,” Cragen’s voice rang from the phone in the dashboard cradle. “What have you got for me?”

“We think we found her. She was a ways from the shed Byroms mentioned, but that was because his uncle had moved the shed a few months ago.”

“I assume I’ll have a 61 signed by you and Fin by the end of the week?” Cragen asked.

“Probably earlier if we can get their ME’s office to cooperate, but Cap, I had to leave. Fin’s holding down the fort right now and he’ll be in contact if anything else develops.”

“What’s going on?”

“I’ve gotta to get Eli. If I’m late to pick him up from daycare, Elliot will have my head.”

She heard Cragen snicker. “I’m just glad Byroms was as forthcoming as he was so we could put Courtney Rauscher to rest.”

“Yeah, I just wish we had been able to prosecute when he was still young. Maybe we wouldn’t have anyone to put to rest at all…”

Olivia drove for another hour on cruise control until she hit the vast traffic going into the city, shaking her head and sighing the entire time.

 My first night trying to get him and I’m going to be late. How am I ever going to manage this?

She slowly approached the soul-wrenching gridlock at the toll plaza for the George Washington Bridge and, as she thought about simply ditching the car on the bridge and running the rest of the way to the Upper West Side, the name “Maureen Stabler” appeared on her cell phone display.

“Maureen?” Olivia answered.

“Olivia. Yeah, it’s me. My mom called me a half hour ago and asked me to pick up Eli. I just now realized I hadn’t called you yet.”

Olivia suddenly felt very queasy as she relaxed her clenched hands on the steering wheel. “Oh?”

“Yeah, she said she tried you at the precinct, but there was something going on about Poughkeepsie, so she called me and asked to pick him up. I’m really sorry. I should’ve called you earlier.”

“Yeah, I’m still about a half-hour away with the traffic. Maureen, I’m so sorry I inconvenienced you like this.”

“No, don’t even worry about it. Half the time I get a call from Dad at five minutes ‘til seven begging me to get up there because he’s out in the field with you. Besides, I hardly get to spend any time with Eli nowadays and it’s a nice break from studying.”

Olivia thanked Maureen, feeling glumly nauseated that Kathy had known Olivia would not have been able to pick Eli on time and turned her radio to a classical station as she tried to let her heart rate slow as she drove in the traffic that grew worse and worse the farther she drove into the city.

She stopped by the precinct to grab some of the files she knew would need to be updated that evening and then arrived at Maureen’s apartment by a quarter past eight.

“Hey,” Maureen said brightly as she opened the door. Olivia heard loud banging in the apartment. “I’m really sorry, but he seemed kinda tired when I got him, so I put him down for a nap and sorta just let him sleep until now…”

The banging paused for a moment as Eli’s shriek echoed through the apartment and started again a minute later.

“Yeah…,” Maureen said. “He’s up now and he’s probably gonna be wired for a while.”

Olivia sighed, but smiled. “It’s okay. I’ve got a long night ahead of me and he can keep me up better than a double espresso.”

She took the car seat that continuously traveled back and forth between Maureen and her parents, took Eli in her other arm and within minutes was walking towards her apartment after the quick drive several blocks to her street.

She struggled to carry Eli and her files from her parking space two blocks away from her building and sighed as she opened her mailbox and piece after piece of coloured paper fell out of the narrow box: offers for siding for her home, GOP invitations, breast cancer awareness walks, pizza coupons, concert flyers, running group flyers, DNC invitations, flyers for the new artists’ gallery hop, a Saks bill for the shoes she didn’t know where or when she was going to wear, but had looked so good on her that she just couldn’t leave them in the store…

Letting Eli hold her mail as he toddled in the corridor, Olivia pressed the button for the elevator and felt more drained than she had since the day she first took him. The elevator doors opened a moment later and she had to beckon Eli to step into the lift for a full minute, half wondering if she would have to chase after him if he got too excited and started to run.

As her mind went through the mounting items that remained her on list before she could even imagine a shower and sleep, she almost winced when she realized she still had to make sure Eli got something to eat, got his bath and was put to bed at a decent hour.

She leaned against into the corner of the elevator momentarily regretting her volunteerism and nodded to herself as she agreed with Michelle’s previous soft, but poignant words.

The elevator slowly creaked past the sixth floor and Eli flapped her junk mail in the air, simultaneously enjoying the air current shifts and the gravitational pull on his little legs. As she continued to watch him happily waving and laughing to himself, the weight of all that she still had to do seemed to melt and Olivia could not help but return Eli’s smile when he stared up at her.

Once in the apartment, she left the Saks bill on the table and tossed the remainder in the garbage as she ran to catch up with Eli who had made a beeline for her sofa.

Knowing that she was too exhausted to feed Eli and clean her entire kitchen that night, she pulled out more paper and large crayons and fed Eli small bites of spaghetti over the course of an hour as he coloured over every surface available. He was still full of energy by nine o’clock, but it was not until she was giving him a bath that Olivia’s sense of fatigue faded.

He looked so happy splashing and trying to catch the smiling yellow duck that floated in the water that the aches in her back and in her knees did not matter and no amount of paperwork could keep her from laughing when Eli finally caught his Rubber Ducky.

You know, I could do this, she thought as she carefully poured water over his head. I think I could do this by myself.

She would need to find childcare that used a little common sense after seven o’clock, but there was a chance that she could do it on her own. Even if it was just a little “whoops” with a man who was attractive and intelligent, she could do it.

My own mother did it…and I’m not even a drunk…

Olivia dried off Eli and put him into his sleepers, but he was still a bundle of energy. Each time she tried to put him down to sleep, he would jump back up again and rattle the sides of his playpen.

“Oh, you’re gonna go to bed,” she said as he stood up laughing after the third time. “Aunt Liv is really, really tired and Little Eli has to go to sleep so that Aunt Liv can function at the precinct tomorrow.”

She picked him up when it was apparent that he was not going to go to sleep in his state and tossed him in the air a few times before tickling him and chasing him across the apartment until it looked like he was finally beginning to tire. She then sang him the only lullaby she could remember as she rubbed his back and his eyes finally began to close.

She had just laid out all the documents she needed to begin her casework when the phone rang.


“Liv? It’s Elliot.”

“Elliot, I’m so sorry I couldn’t get to the daycare center on time.”

“Don’t worry about it, Liv. We had a back up plan. How’s my boy?”

“Doing just fine, I just put him to bed though.”

“I figured. We keep forgetting what the time difference is. At least I do.”

“Still having a good time?”

“Absolutely. We’re going on this ATV thing a little later. We may not get back to the hotel until tomorrow.”

“That’s sounds fun.”

“Yeah. I think I’m gonna be grumpy when I get back. I’m getting used to all this sunshine.”

“As long you’re making the best of the trip.”

“Oh, we are. Just outta curiosity though…what was going on today? Anything I should know about?”

“No, not really. You’re on vacation.”

“You’re right, I’m on vacation, but I also know when you’re lying to me. Is there something going on with one of our open cases?”

Olivia sighed. “Yeah. It occurred to me today that this wasn’t the first time we’ve had Byroms at the house.”

“When was the first time?”

“About ten years ago. He’d been accused of assaulting one of his classmates, but then she recanted. You remember her name? Courtney Rauscher.”

“Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Well, I threatened Byroms with the fact that there’s no more statute of limitations on rape and then he spilled that he’d already…resolved issues with Rauscher.”

“Resolved?” Elliot went silent for a few moments. “How bad is it?”

“That’s why Fin and I were in Poughkeepsie. We’d just found her body when I had to leave.”

“Oh Jesus.”

“He’d lead us straight to her, though. At least, he didn’t let her stay there for someone else to find fifty years from now…”

Olivia spoke with Elliot for another twenty minutes before pausing to check on Eli and the making a large cup of coffee. Munching on several chocolate-covered coffee beans as she worked, she completed the first ten pages of the necessary paperwork to document what had led up to the discovery of Courtney Rauscher’s remains and finally fell into her bed a few minutes after two o’clock in the morning.