Chapter Eight


Saturday January 20, 2007

Greenwich Village, New York


The cell phone that sat on Olivia’s nightstand chirped and buzzed from its flat position as the alarm clock next to it read 5:39 AM. She untangled herself from Jonathan’s grasp and swatted in the direction of phone for a moment before finally reaching it. She looked into the phone display that read “Elliot” and sighed.

“Benson,” she said into the phone.

Ten minutes later, she was dressed and tying her shoes as Jonathan lied lazily in her bed staring at her.

“Must you go?” he said in a soft voice.

She sighed. “Duty calls.”

“Does duty always have to call at six in the morning?”

“Oh, come now,” she said sardonically. “It’s not always at six. Sometimes, it’s three or four or sometimes two.”

Jonathan chuckled, but his smile faded quickly. They stared at one another in silence for a moment before she walked over to her dresser.

“Here,” she said, tossing him the extra set of keys that sat, unused, in her top dresser drawer. “You can have these.”

“Keys!” he said. Old keys! How wonderful!”

She rolled her eyes. “I guess, since I’ll be keeping you around for a while, you might as well have a set.”

“And I suppose the fact that I gave you mine after three months made no never mind to you.”

“Hey, I can’t go out giving keys to everyone I meet. Who knew you wouldn’t be an ass…all the time.”

Jonathan smiled wide and held the keys to his chest. “I’ll treasure them forever!”

She shook her head, unable to repress the smile was quickly spreading across her face. “Look, you can stay as long as you want. I’m not sure how long I’ll be, but just lock up when you leave.”

“Why, it’ll be the greatest moment of my life when I do!”

She rolled her eyes again and left the apartment to face the biting cold that accompanied the newest crime scene.

Elliot had called her that morning to tell her that yet another boy had been found, making it six murders in all. The young boy had been found in an alley on East Fifth Street and Olivia felt nauseated by returning to Alphabet City again simply for these murders.

As she got into a cab she knew that Kreider was responsible for the murder and she mentally prepared herself to be able to look upon the face of a boy whose murder could have been prevented. If only she had not been so preoccupied with everything else going on in her life, perhaps the victim might still be alive.

When she arrived at the scene, she ducked passed the news cameras and harsh reporters to view the body. Though, only a half an hour had passed from the time Elliot had called her to the moment she appeared at the crime scene, Elliot had managed to get a name for the victim from Queens, Dominic Hedges, thirteen-years-old, from the missing persons report that had been filed the previous night.

“His parents want to come down here and view the body for themselves,” Elliot told her as she stared at the lifeless body of a pale boy with grey eyes and dark hair.

Olivia shook her head. “They don’t want to wait until we at least get him to the coroner’s?”

“No,” he said. “They’ve been following the case on the news and they said they wanted to know immediately.”

“It’ll give the media plenty of fuel to light a bigger fire under us.”

“Tell me about it.”

She sighed. “This…is so wrong. It’s Kreider and he’s taunting us with a boy who looks like both him and Drover.”

“Maybe,” Elliot said walking away from the crime scene. “C’mere. I need to show you something.”

A moment later, they were standing at the opening of a police van set up several yards away from the body. Inside, an officer had a small television and VCR arranged on the van’s floor.

“What’s this?” Olivia asked, crossing her arms in front of her.

“Some of the store owners over here have been setting up security cameras since the murders began,” Elliot said. “Now, the guy whose shop that has a direct view of the alley said he’s selling his tape to the news, so we’re sitting on him for the time being until he decides to change his mind, but the man who owns the store next to him has kids in middle school and gave us all his tapes. Look at this.”

He pointed to the small screen as it began to display a fuzzy, grey video. On the video, a long, black SUV rolled through the screen and stopped at the screen’s left frame. A figure dressed in jeans and a black jacket could be seen running toward the vehicle’s back, opening the hatch and pulling out a large, cardboard box. The figure then dragged the box into the darkened alley and out of view. A minute later, the figure could be seen throwing the box back into the car and then driving out of the frame completely.

Olivia stared at the screen a moment more before speaking. “Do you think we can blow up the image of the guy’s face anymore? The whole thing looked blurry.”

“It is blurry,” Elliot said. “And it’s going stay that way because it was a cheap camera, but…we could make out the model of the SUV. It’s a later model Ford Expedition.”

“Let’s run Kreider’s info. I wanna know what kind of car he drives.”

“Munch is already on it,” Elliot said. “And Kreider doesn’t own one. But, I’ll give you one guess as to who does own a car that just happens to be a black Ford Expedition.”




“You people have to stop doing this me!” Drover yelled toward Elliot as he sat in the dim interrogation room once again. “People are starting to talk. They’re whispering about me. Me! All because I came here and talked to you people. And, what’s this I hear about you showing my picture to some of the parents?”

Elliot leaned back in the chair and shot a glance at Olivia who stood leaning against the far wall. “We’d like to stop looking at you for this, Jeff, but there’s just too much evidence trickling all the way back to you.”

“What evidence!” he shouted. “This is crazy. No, this is harassment! I didn’t do a damn thing and here I am again!”

The only sound heard once Drover stopped speaking was his own ragged breathing as he looked back and forth between Elliot in the light and Olivia who stood stoic and shadowed away from him. She was beyond aggravated by the entire ordeal, berating herself for not checking for Drover’s car earlier and wondering how many lives could have been saved if they had done it earlier.

Elliot sat in the chair across from Drover with a smug expression on his face as they were so close on Drover, with or without DNA, but Olivia could not allow even the faintest smirk. A part of her felt almost ashamed for putting up even the slightest defense for Drover and actually pitying him when he came under Elliot’s hardest fire. He was murderer and she had sympathized with him.

“I didn’t do anything wrong!” Drover yelled.

“Where’s your car, Jeff?” Olivia said, still leaning.

He squinted in her direction, trying to make out her expression in the darkened part of the room. “I-I…I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to it.”

“You don’t know?” she said, a mock surprise coating her voice. “You drive a 2006 Expedition. The thing must have cost you an arm and a leg and you’re telling me you have no idea what happened to it?” She scoffed. “If it was my car, I’d know exactly how many steps it would take me to get back to my parking space. I’d have my eye on it all the time or at the very least, have some kind of security in place…like an alarm system or cameras or something.”

Drover simply shook his head at her, mouth hanging wide.

“And, speaking of cameras,” Elliot said, waving some photos in front of Drover to bring back his attention. “Some of the store owners around Alphabet City have been taking some extra precautions seeing as how we’ve got a serial killer on the loose. Some of them set up video cameras in the area of your latest dump job and one of them caught someone who…well, who looks quite a bit like you actually…moving a body out of a black Expedition that looks strikingly similar to yours.”

“No,” Drover said, still shaking his head. “My car was stolen.”

“Stolen?” Olivia said. “Well, isn’t that shame?”

“I’m serious! Someone stole my car! You guys are cops! Check the damn police reports! I filed on Thursday! You have to see this from my side. I swear on my life I didn’t do anything!”

“So,” Elliot said. “Someone who looks like you, driving a car that you own, dumps the body of a boy, who as it turns out, played soccer in the same league where you coach, and dumps him right up the street from where you work. Can you see why we’re having a little trouble seeing this from your side?”

“And,” Olivia added. “Stolen or not, these murders began before Thursday.”

“Yeah,” Elliot continued. “You’ve had a couple of weeks now to be dragging kids’ bodies around in the car before you even reported it. And, people report their cars stolen all the time, even when they aren’t. Besides, you seem like a real smart guy, Jeff. I wouldn’t put it past you for filing a false police report to buy yourself some time.”

“You know what?” Drover said. “I’m not believing a damn thing you say! After that stunt you pulled the last time I was in here…Telling me that someone pointed me out of a line-up! That’s bullshit and I’m not taking his anymore! I think it’s time to get with a lawyer.”

“Oh, you don’t wanna do that,” Elliot said. “You talk to a lawyer, then we really think you’ve got something to hide.”

“Screw that! I stood in a line-up, I gave my DNA, and let you take my fingerprints even! I gave you everything you needed to stop looking at me for this…this horrible thing and you all are still riding my ass. I’m done! I want my lawyer and I want him now!”

Elliot glanced at Olivia and then at Drover whose skin had turned completely red as his breathing had increased into a steady pant. She nodded at Elliot and they both walked out of the room.

“Well,” Casey said, once they were both in the side room. “A first year law student could probably poke holes in the case that we have against him right now. We don’t have enough to arrest.”

“What about the video?” Elliot said. “That’s got to be at least enough to hold him for a little while.”

“It’s too blurry,” Munch said, “and we can’t even make out the license plate. Not even enough to tell if it’s a New York plate.”

Elliot shook his head. “If we let him go, he’ll kill another boy.”

“We have his DNA,” Munch said. “Warner’s still working on the kid. If he matches, we’ll have something more to go on.”

“But, if he doesn’t,” Casey said, “we have to let him go until we have something definite. Otherwise his legal aide will have grounds for some kind of harassment claim and that’s the last thing we need right now.”

Elliot walked out of the room in a huff and Casey followed closely behind him.

“We cutting him loose now or are we letting him enjoy our hospitality a little longer?” Munch asked Olivia.

“Let’s just leave him,” Olivia said. “I want to look into that stolen car story while we’ve got him. And maybe Warner will have something about the victim by then, too.”

“Hey!” Drover yelled toward the detectives through the two-way mirror. “Hey! Where’s the other cop. The lady. Olivia! I wanna talk to her!”

Olivia glanced at Munch with raised eyebrows, but quickly strode back into the room.

“I can’t talk to you, Jeff,” she said. “You’ve asked for a lawyer.”

Drover lowered his voice. “C’mon now. You know I didn’t do anything.”

“Seriously, there’s absolutely nothing we can say until your legal aide gets here.”

“Screw it then!” Drover shouted. “Let’s just…you and me talk for a second, okay?”

Olivia shook her head. “Not without your lawyer present.”

“Aw c’mon! You don’t believe I did this. I can see it in your eyes.”

“Regardless of what you think you see, we don’t have anything to talk about since you’ve asked for a lawyer.”

“And, I bet you all got right on the phones to call me one, didn’t you?”

Olivia sighed and Drover gave a heartless laugh.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” He ran his hands over his face and hair. “Look, that other guy has it in for me or something. You seem to be a little more reasonable to me than him, so tell me: What’ve I got to do to fix this?”

Olivia stared at him a long while before answering. “You’ve got to give me something, Jeff.”

“What? What could you possibly need? I’ve given you everything you need to get off my back!”

Olivia snatched the yellow legal pad and pen that sat at the edge of the desk in the room and slid them toward Drover. “Write out everything you did yesterday. Every single thing. From the time you woke up Friday morning, right up until this conversation.”

“What’ll that do?” Drover said, raising his voice again. “You’ve got my damn DNA!”

“Yes, and it could be a long time before we get those results. Besides there’s a millions reasons why you wouldn’t immediately be a match-”

“Including the fact that I didn’t do it!”

“…which is why,” she continued, as if he had not said anything, “you need to tell me every step you took yesterday and today so we can rule you out indefinitely.”

Drover stared at the legal pad and shook his head. “I still don’t see what that’ll prove when you have my DNA.”

“Look,” Olivia said softly as she sat in the rickety chair across from him. “I want to help you, but you have got to give me something. You screaming that you didn’t do it isn’t going to change any minds here. Half of our victims were found without any DNA on them except for their own. DNA isn’t going to rule you out of anything. Just tell me what you did yesterday and I can retrace your steps. If we can rule you out from talking to the same people you spoke to or saw yesterday, then we will.”

“And that other detective? What’s he gonna do?”

Olivia sighed again. “Just tell me where you went and I’ll see what I can do.”

Drover stared silently at her for another moment before reluctantly taking the ballpoint pen in his hand and began scribbling the past day’s events on the blue-lined yellow sheets.

Roughly an hour after he began writing, Drover set down his pen and gave a deep sigh. As Olivia stepped into the interrogation room, Drover stared up at her with sad eyes, red with strain from the past few hours at the precinct. Pity overwhelmed her as she took the legal pad from him and she wanted to give him some words of encouragement, but as she opened her mouth, a short dark haired figure appeared in the doorway across the room.

“Jeffrey Drover?” he said. “I’m Alek Warnoff, your public defender. Don’t say another word.”

“He’s already said a lot,” Olivia said, folding up Drover’s notes.

“I’m sure he did, Detective,” Warnoff said, “but I’m sure you’re aware that anything he says between the time he asked for a lawyer and the time I got here is fruit from the poisonous tree. Now, I’m certain that since Mr. Drover isn’t under arrest he’s free to go?”

“He’s been free to leave at any time,” Olivia said innocently.

“Fine. Mr. Drover, let’s go.”

Drover rose from the chair and followed Warnoff out of the room. Olivia rolled her eyes as she walked back to her desk, a full account of Drover’s day in her hands.

“Did he give you a statement?” Cragen asked her once she sat at her desk.

“Of sorts,” she said. “I told him to write down everything he did yesterday.”

Cragen glanced at Elliot who was now paying attention to the pair of them. “Why? Anything he has to say will be inadmissible in court since he asked for a lawyer.”

“Well, at least it’s a start.”

“Not if what he has to say leads us to the original crime scene and then we can’t fry him on this because of what you’ve got.”

“Even if he does, we can always go the route of inevitable discovery. The point is, he gave this up willingly and there’s nothing about him that shows he’d be confident enough in thinking he’d get off if he pointed me to where he killed those boys.”

“If this turns up nothing, then we’ve wasted valuable time.”

“If it’s nothing, we get to move on and focus on different suspects.” She looked at Elliot for a moment. “And, speaking of other suspects…I think we need to talk to Kreider again.”

“Now?” Elliot said. “No, we need to talk to the Hedges, then track down where Drover was last, then go bother Kreider again.”

“We need to talk to Kreider first, while it’s fresh. Dominic Hedges was killed at about two o’clock this morning. We should see signs of that still on Kreider today, if we talk to him now.”

“Signs of what?”

“Stress. He’s got the police talking to him and, if he’s involved with the strangulation of a thirteen-year-old kid, he’d be at the very least tired or worn out.”

“Liv, I’d rather prove Drover one way or another first before going after anyone else, especially since he’s lawyered up now.”

“Right, it’s going to be harder to get him back in here and I’d like to make sure everything we have on him is solid.”

“So, what’s to even argue about? We talk to the parents, then track down Drover, then-”

“No,” she interrupted. “We’ll have something solid on Drover if we can dismiss Kreider up front. If we don’t talk to him now, I think he’s going to run.”

Cragen frowned at the both of them as the row continued and just as it seemed to hit an event horizon, Fin cut into the argument.

“Look,” he said. “Liv and me will go see Kreider while Elliot and John go talk to the parents. That way, no ground’s lost on either one today.”

Olivia and Elliot both remained silent, glaring at one another a moment more before beginning to gather their coats. All four detectives walked to the elevator and Munch leaned toward his partner and whispered so that only he could hear.

“Sure,” he said. “Leave me with the one who’s fuming most.”

What’chu talking about?” Fin replied. “‘Least Elliot got some of his out already on Drover. Who knows what’s gonna come out once me and Liv hit the streets…”




Owen Kreider Residence

Lower East Side



Fin set two hard raps on Kreider’s front door as Olivia stood next to him just out of sight of the peephole’s view. After a minute of no response, he knocked again.

“Owen Kreider!” Fin said. “It’s the police. Open up!”

They heard rustling at the door before Kreider opened the door. His hair was tousled and he wore what appeared to be pajamas. He looked at Fin, scowled and then rolled his eyes when he saw Olivia in the doorway.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” he said. “I can’t believe you brought someone else with you this time.”

“Mr. Kreider,” Olivia said. “We just have a couple more questions for you.”

“I don’t have anything to say to you.”

“Are you sure?” she asked. “Because if you’d rather wait until we have enough evidence to drag you into our precinct, we can always come back.”

Cheeks red, Kreider squinted at her before allowing both she and Fin into the apartment. “Let’s just get this over with.”

“Place is a damn mess, Kreider,” Fin said, stepping into the apartment. “When was the last time you had company?”

Kreider glowered at him. “Is this really what you wanna know?”

“Yeah. We do.”

“Well, it’s been a while, as evidenced by the fact that it’s the maid’s day off.”

Fin glanced at Olivia. “Where were you last night around midnight?”

“See, this is why I didn’t want to talk to you people!” Kreider shouted.

“What’s the problem?” Fin said. “It’s a simple question. Where were you?”

“How the hell can I remember!

“You can’t remember what you were doing twelve hours ago?” Olivia said.

“Good God! I was home, okay?”

“See, that wasn’t that hard,” Fin said. “Mind telling us if you went out at all?”

“No, I didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t call anyone. Again. Apparently, that’s a problem?”

“It is if you’re involved,” Olivia said.

“I’m not.”

“You don’t even know what you’re supposedly involved in,” she continued. “There are a lot of crimes going on in the city. Who knows why we’re here…”

“I know how you people operate,” he said. “You figure, I’m a quiet guy who lives alone and because I didn’t want the cops in my apartment, clearly I had something to do with these murders with those kids. Well, I’m telling you, you’re wrong. I never touched those boys.”

“No one said you did,” Olivia said.

“But you’re insinuating it! And I take special offense to this because I know you cops already have another suspect in your sights. You’re just coming here to bother me.”

“What makes you think we’re looking at anybody specific?” Fin said.

“I have my sources. I know a lot about what goes on in this city.”

“Well,” Olivia said, “why don’t you save us all a load of time by coming down to the precinct and let us rule you out with a DNA test?”

“The hell I will!” Kreider shouted, rounding on them. “Like I’m going to voluntarily give you my DNA! So, you can do whatever you want with it? No, goddamn way!”

“We’re not gonna do anything with your DNA,” Fin said. “Just rule you out as a suspect. I don’t see the problem, if you say you ain’t involved!”

Kreider shook his head. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to willing give my DNA to the NYPD. If you want my DNA, you can get it when I’m good and dead. You two can leave now.”

“You’re not gonna let us have a quick look around?” Fin said sardonically.

“You can’t be serious?”

“If you’re not willing to talk to us,” Olivia said, “allowing us to look around now will…reflect well on you.”

“I don’t need anything to reflect on me because I didn’t do anything.”

Olivia smirked at him and the pink in his skin spread to his forehead and down his neck. “You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard that phrase today.”

“I…I don’t want you people rummaging around my place, trying to plant evidence.”

Ain’t nobody gonna plant any evidence on you,” Fin said. “We’re just tryin’ to clear you so we get on with our investigation.”

“I don’t care what you have to do,” Kreider said. “Get out, now. Both of you! And, don’t come back!”

“That was fun,” Fin said a few moments later in the corridor.

“He was actually a little more cooperative than I thought he’d be,” Olivia said.

“Yeah, but do you think he did it?”

“He looked like he was just rolling out of bed. Maybe he was up late last night.”

“Could be a million reasons he’s still asleep at noon on a Saturday. I’d be too, if I could get away with it. Besides, he seemed just annoyed about us more than anything. You really think he did it?”

“Still too early to tell. He seems awfully calm about us looking at him, which is a striking comparison to Drover.”

“Could be like Elliot said…Maybe Kreider’s just a little jumpy and just looks like Drover.”

Olivia nodded as they got back into the car, but said nothing as they drove back to the precinct.




“We just have a couple more questions,” Munch said as he and Elliot stood in the small living room.

“Why can’t you just let us be for a minute?” Mrs. Hedges said, her eyes red and bloodshot. “We just lost our son. Why do we have to do this now?”

“We can come back,” Elliot said.

“No,” Mr. Hedges said. “We’ll do this now. If this guy’s out there killing kids, I want you people to get on this now. Before another parent has to go through what we are.”

Munch took a deep breath. “Mr. Hedges, can you think of anyone who might have wanted to hurt your son?”

“Of course not,” Mrs. Hedges said. “Dominic…was just a boy. Why anyone would want to hurt him is beyond me.”

“Have you ever noticed anyone watching Dominic or paying him particular attention during his soccer games?” Elliot asked.

Mr. Hedges shook his head. “No, but I admit we would never even think to look. When we got the chance to go to his games, we watched him play, but everyone else who stood around the fields looked like a parent or relative of the other kids on the team. You wouldn’t question it if they just happened to look at your kid.”

“There would be no one to notice in particular, anyway,” Mrs. Hedges added. “There’s always so many people at the different complexes, but after you watch your son play for enough years, you seem to even recognize the faces of the strangers from seeing them from time to time. There’s never been anyone out of place.”

“Any of these men ever frequent the soccer complexes?” Elliot said holding out a picture array of six dark-haired men.

The Hedges’ stared at the array before Mrs. Hedges spoke.

“That man,” she said pointing to Drover’s face in the array. “I’ve seen him a few times. I think he’s an assistant or maybe a trainer for one of the teams. I can’t remember which one…the Sparks maybe?”

Elliot nodded retrieving the array from her. “Have you spoken to him before?”

“Maybe just in passing,” Mr. Hedges said. “A ‘hello’ or something along those lines. Never a real conversation, but I don’t know if Dominic ever spoke to him. At least, he never said anything to us.”

“You’re a contractor, aren’t you?” Munch asked.

Mr. Hedges gave him a blank stare for a moment. “Yes…how is that important?”

“Are you at all in debt to anyone?”

The question floated in the room a moment, dripping with its hidden meaning.

“What the hell does that mean?” Mr. Hedges said, taking a step toward Munch, eyebrows furrowed.

“Well,” Munch continued, “You’re a contractor in this city. We just need to make sure that every angle is covered.”

“Look,” Mr. Hedges said. “I know what I’m doing. I grew up in this city and I know what goes on. Mobsters didn’t do this. This was the work of some sick freak who you people can’t seem to catch. How many more children are you going to let this guy murder before you stop asking asinine questions and find him!”

“We’ll find the one responsible,” Elliot said.

“Be sure that you do, because if I find him first…”

“We understand.”




“I see all four of you have spent all day on this strangler even though I told you all efforts were supposed to be on the Fayden rape.”

Cragen stared at both Fin and Olivia while standing in between the two sets of desks.

Olivia glanced at Fin, eyebrows raised. “Well…”

“Forget it,” he said. “I’m glad you did. I just got a call. Helena Fayden’s acid stash was found in her new hotel room and, apparently, she’s now adapting her story on the rape. One of you needs to be down there to grill her again on her new story. Maybe this time we’ll get something accurate and we’ll have something to work with.”

Both detectives stared back at him, but neither said anything.

Cragen sighed. “Don’t care which one, as long as someone’s down there in an hour.”

As he turned to speak to another set of officers in the squad room, Olivia and Fin exchanged looks.

“Call it,” Fin said, taking a quarter out of his pocket.

“Tails,” Olivia said, as he threw the quarter in the air.

Fin caught it and slapped it to the back of his hand. When he removed his hand, the quarter lied with the eagle facing the ceiling. Fin shook his head and picked up his jacket as Olivia sat down at her desk, a wide grin set upon her face. The smile faded a moment later when she began to review the notes that Drover had made earlier that morning.

According to what he had written on the legal pad, Drover went to a movie and a bar that Friday and had simply gone home thereafter. There were plenty of opportunities to find someone who might have remembered him and could possible put his name to rest for the time being.

She sighed and picked up her own coat, mildly contented at the fact that she was not the one having to interview Helena Fayden for the third time. Cases such as hers, where a definite stretching of the truth was possible, turned SVU detectives apathetic and caused real victims to suffer in the process.

Starting with Drover’s workplace at Rohlman-Hayworth, Olivia began asking anyone who appeared to work at the specific premises as to whether or not they had seen Drover that day. She went to the sandwich store where Drover had said he had eaten lunch, his photo in hand, and the clerk at the window, confirmed that Drover had been by the restaurant the previous day. From the sandwich store, she visited the movie theatre where he said he went to see Letters from Iwo Jima and the bar, Icing, where he said he was not able to get a woman to go home with him.

The woman at the theatre’s ticket booth recognized him immediately and even asked if Olivia had his phone number and, with a bit of prodding and a slight threat into having the vice squad checking the bar’s liquor license, one of the bartenders at Icing finally confirmed that Drover was at the bar until three o’clock in the morning flirting flagrantly with the young woman next to him. At each location, she continued to ask if Drover seemed agitated or appeared troubled, but all those questioned said that Drover was pleasant and endearing.

Once back at the precinct, she was troubled that they had spent so much time on Drover. Melinda had confirmed that Dominic Hedges had been killed sometime between midnight and two in the morning, and with Drover at the bar until its closing at three, the likelihood that he was involved was now very low. Then, there was Kreider to consider.

Everything about his demeanor was distasteful and she briefly understood why Elliot had so fervently chased after Drover. Even at their first discussion with Kreider, Olivia did not like him and, with his lack of interest in assisting them, the only natural reaction was to look at him further for the murders.

She made several calls and pulled some of Drover’s phone records for the past week, noting that everything seemed to point to Drover being nothing more than an average person dealing with more stress than normal. She even pinpointed the time when Drover reported his car stolen that Thursday with calls to family and friends whom he had mentioned calling to see if any of them had taken his car.

At seven in the evening, Olivia pushed back from her desk and ran a hand over her face. A part of her felt that the entire day had been a waste as they had found no new information on their killer, but her more rational side knew the day had been well spent. She had managed to nearly prove that Drover was not remotely involved in these murders. All that remained was to convince Elliot and the others of the same, which seemed like the real task of the day.

Dominic Hedges’ eighth grade photo lied on Olivia’s desk and briefly caught the light as she rocked back and forth in her chair. His colouring had an uncanny resemblance to that of both Kreider and Drover and she could only shake her head as she pictured Kreider coming to his door as if he had done nothing wrong. He was the guy, and, now more than ever, she was sure of it.

As if suddenly struck by inspiration, Olivia moved her chair forward and began searching for any information available on Kreider. Nothing about him seemed normal and she knew that if she followed the paper trail just right, she would find something pertaining to what was in Kreider’s sealed records.

When seven became eight, she sighed and leaned backward once again. As she began to wish she had simply lied in the bed with Jonathan that morning, Elliot walked off the elevator and into the squad room. They simply stared at one another while he walked to his desk, neither sure of what could be said given that they had not spoken since their argument that morning.

Elliot hung up his coat and sat silently across from Olivia who had returned her attention to her computer screen. Though he sat perfectly still staring at her, his heart was beating wildly, knowing he had so much to tell her, but also dreading the argument that would most likely ensue once she heard his piece.

“So,” he began. “What’d you find out about Kreider this morning?”

Olivia’s typing paused briefly before she spoke. “Not much from just talking to him.”

“We found something about Drover,” he said nearly blurting out the words.

“Oh,” she said with an eyebrow raised.

Elliot pulled out his notes, including the arrays and pictures he had held during the day.

“We talked to some of the neighbors and one of them ID’d Drover.”

“From what? From where?”

“Well, we haven’t gone back to the parents yet because they’re either ashamed or hiding something since they failed to mention it, but the neighbor across the way from them remembered Drover bringing Dominic home a few weeks ago. The neighbor remembered because she thought it was odd that he was bringing Dominic home to an empty house.”

“How is that relevant?”

“We talked to some of their other neighbors,” he continued with a sigh, “and they all said the Hedges often forgot about their son.”

“Forgot about him? How could they forget about him?”

“Tell me about it. I’ve got four and I want to know where each one is at all times. What I was told is that they’ve been fighting recently and both have been working a lot. It seems that poor Dominic would just get set to the side since work and everything else came first. In the past year, he’s called several of the neighbors for rides home from soccer, basketball and baseball practices and such because his parents had simply forgotten about him.”

Olivia stared at Elliot for a long time, rocking back and forth in her chair. “You want to bring Drover back in based on that?”

“You make it sound like it’s a severe problem. We talked to Drover all morning and he didn’t even mention knowing Dominic Hedges.”

“That’s because we never brought up the boy’s name and even if we did, driving a kid home from a soccer practice once does not a criminal make. There could be a dozen reasons why Drover was the one to take him home, especially considering that the parents seemed prone to forgetting about him. If his and Drover’s teams were practicing at the same complex and Drover saw that Dominic was waiting for parents who were clearly not going to show up for him, it seems perfectly rational that Drover would’ve given the kid a ride home.”

“What is with you and this guy?” Elliot said. “Why are you so intent on making his defense for him?”

“What is it with you and Drover, Elliot? It’s like you’re hanging onto any shred of evidence that could possibly link Drover to these crimes.”

“Because we don’t know what shred of evidence it’ll be that convicts him.”

“Only if he’s responsible and I don’t think he is.”

“The neighbor was able to pick Drover out of a photo array from an event that took place weeks ago. She said that they talked in the car a while before Dominic got out. Does that sound like a reasonable relationship with a kid who’s practically a stranger?”

Olivia shook her head and reached across the desks to look at the photo arrays. “Kreider’s picture isn’t in here.”

“It didn’t need to be. We already know that Drover has a close association with kids this age and Dominic played soccer at the same places as all the other kids. Drover’s the one whose car was seen in that video and Drover’s the one who’s been ID’d.”

“It would have been a stronger ID if Kreider’s picture had been in the array. Besides, you didn’t see what he was like this morning when Fin and I talked to him. Aside from being more annoyed than he was yesterday, he seemed tired. Exhausted even. As if he was doing something all last night that wore him out.”

“We have more now on Drover than we ever will on Kreider. You can’t tell me I’ve got nothing on Drover when you’ve got even less on Kreider.”

“That’s because Kreider is behaving like a criminal. He refuses to talk to us for more than ten minutes or come here and clear his name, give us DNA or anything! Drover has been more than willing at every step of this case.”

“How…how can you think Drover’s not involved? Even with what we’ve got on these later murders?”

She sighed. “Elliot, I’m just not willing to believe that he’s responsible when Kreider is just as likely, especially considering what I just found out about him.”

“What’d you find?”

“Well, I’m still having a time getting his old records unsealed, but I did find something else. Kreider’s been requesting records from hospitals, precincts and from ACS for the past four years. As it turns out, Kreider was adopted and has been searching for his birth mother. All the requests, however, seem to stop about a month before Jacob Lewendale’s murder.”

Elliot shrugged. “So, he’s adopted. That’s not exactly the prototype for a child molester.”

“He told us yesterday that he didn’t have any family, but if he was adopted he obviously had someone.”

“Again,” Elliot said, crossing his arms in front of him. “So, he’s adopted. So, what?”

She opened her mouth to escalate the conversation, but hesitated. Growing up, Olivia had always felt a burning need to discover something about her father and she knew it was that need that had driven her life in its many directions. Looking at her partner at that moment, jealousy began to rise for the man who had known both of his parents and had grown up in a household full of siblings, neither of which she had had. There was no real way to explain to him how the search for one’s lineage could dismiss any hopes for a well-rounded life.

“Elliot,” she said. “This man, Owen Kreider, is obviously off-balanced and this search for his mother could have been exactly what was needed to light a fire under him. It could have been what compelled him to start murdering these kids. They all come from relatively happy homes. It’s like George said. They all have something that he would have wanted but never had.”

“The guy’s a freak, Liv. We know that, but there’s nothing that says he’s the one doing this.”

Olivia shook her head again and stood, shoving her things into her bag.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Home,” she said. “I’m calling it a night. I’ve been looking at this case from every possible angle and I’ve been giving you so much to get you to stop focusing on one individual for just one second, but I just can’t seem to get through to you.”

“Oh, come on, Olivia! You want to give up on Drover altogether. I’m just saying-”

“You’re not even willing to look at anyone else besides Drover and I can’t take anymore of this tonight!”

“I have a positive ID on Drover with one of the victims!”

“And you also have a false ID to counter that, as well as DNA and fingerprints that don’t match and a suspect who’s been more than cooperative this entire time! Kreider won’t even talk to us and he looks just like Drover and he’s got some kind of violent history that we can’t uncover because he was so damn young when he did it! But, you don’t want to talk about that! You wanna beat Drover into the ground instead of finding the real killer!”

“That’s bull! You know I want to find the guy!”

“Since the day we saw Drover, you liked him for this to the point that you weren’t even willing to hear about anybody else involved!”

“Because he’s the guy!”

“You don’t know that, you can’t prove it and quite frankly, I’m sick of arguing about it!”

Olivia grabbed the bag that sat atop her desk and stormed away from Elliot, propelling the door to the stairway open instead of waiting for the elevators. Elliot continued to stare at the door even after she had gone and he could not help but notice how their voices seemed to linger and echo minutes later in the empty squad room.




Sunday January 21, 2007

SVU Squad Room



The sound of Olivia’s sigh bounced off the walls of vacant squad room and seemed to magnify in intensity as it came back to her.

She had left her apartment that morning with the intention of working out some of her demons on the treadmill, but at the last moment decided to review a few more of her messages and e-mails on the off-chance she had received access to Kreider’s sealed records. After hitting dead end after dead end, she had pushed herself away from the desk and let out a long sigh laced with both frustration and fatigue.

She had spent the previous night tossing and turning in her sleep to the point that Jonathan took one of her bed pillows and left her room to sleep the remainder of the night on her couch. They had shared a quiet dinner on the East Side and she had initially wondered how long he had held the restaurant reservation and if he was planning to add to her stress by introducing her to his parents.

At no point in any relationship had Olivia ever enjoyed meeting the parents of a beau. Many times she accepted dates once she learned that said suitor’s parents were already dead. Always overly nervous, she never thought that she made a good first impression and would wind up ending the relationship out of sheer anxiety a short while later. It was only with Jonathan mentioning that he got their table in the booked restaurant on whim since he had gone to equestrian school with the owner that she began to relax.

Relaxation at dinner notwithstanding, Olivia was tense throughout the night over the way she and Elliot had left things Saturday evening. She wanted to chalk everything up to hormones, but she knew there had to be more to it. Their arguments, once few and far between, were becoming an everyday occurrence and she knew that sooner or later Cragen would tire of them and either reassign them or simply fire them both. Every bone in her body wanted to both slap Elliot and kiss him at the same time, though she knew that neither would solve any real problems.

For the second time in the past seven days, she wished that she had someone stronger and wiser to go to about her problems. Maya was always good for making her feel better when she was down, but she was often spastic and, at times, showed signs of adult onset ADHD to the point that they could not have a real conversation without her constant teasing and jokes unless the situation was dire.

Jillian was solid and could be depended upon to dispense advice on any issue, but she had never met Elliot and held a strong dislike for him as well. She could also come across as forceful and end up stressing Olivia further.

Her friend, Sarah, she called too infrequently to be able to understand the situation, Adam was both too young and naïve to be of any help and, as Jonathan was part of the problem, he could not be turned to either.

She leaned back in her chair and rested her hands atop her head as she closed her eyes. The roadblocks to the case had been set and it seemed that as long as Kreider’s old records remained sealed, Olivia was not going to get what she needed to persuade Elliot to see her point of view. Finding it suddenly funny that Elliot could come down so hard on his son for being stubborn when that feature was clearly inherited and passed down onto his children, she laughed out loud and shook her head as she gathered her things.

She walked to the locker rooms on the same floor and quickly changed her clothes to go workout at the gym nearest her apartment building. It was not that she disliked the gym at the precinct, but of all the few times she felt inadequate next to her male counterparts, she felt it strongest when attempting to lift weights or run next to them.

As she closed the door to her locker, she heard footsteps coming up the corridor and saw a familiar shadow. Elliot passed by her aisle so quickly that when he glanced in her direction, he continued walking, his brain not having time to recognize her. He had just come up from the precinct gym and still appeared slightly wet with sweat from his morning workout of trying to vent his own frustrations about their partnership. When he realized whom he had seen, he took several steps backward and stood facing Olivia in the aisle.

They stared at one another, neither sure what to say to the other given the way they had separated the previous night. Each felt like an awkward teenager approaching a flame with whom they had recently ended a relationship. Olivia opened her mouth to speak, but when she saw Elliot do the same, she paused and Elliot did as well.

A smirk crept across his face and he sighed.

“Liv…about yesterday…,” he began. “I’m…I’m sorry.”

She nodded. “Me too.”

He took a step toward her, but she quickly closed the gap between them and wrapped her arms around him. Olivia could feel his arms envelope her and could smell the scent of light sweat mixed with that which made him Elliot and she closed her eyes, cutting off one sense to make the former all the more strong. He seemed so powerful and secure as they embraced and she wondered if they could remain like that forever.

Elliot wondered if she could feel his heart beating through his chest. He had only wanted to move a bit closer to her, but when he threw her arms around him, he could not resist. His arms surrounded her so effortlessly that he felt compelled to pull her closer into him.

“What’s wrong with us?” she said into his shoulder. “Why can’t we get back to where we were?”

He said nothing, but simply squeezed her tighter in reply.

A footstep cracked from behind them and they jumped apart, turning toward the noise. Another detective was bending down to pick up a piece of paper, but upon seeing them, put up his hands defensively, as if to say he had not seen anything and slowly backed out of their aisle.

Olivia knew rumors would soon be flying around the precinct, but she did not care. It was not the first time rumors about her and Elliot had floated among their peers and it would not be the last.

“Well,” Elliot said once the other detective had left. “We both’ve dug our heels in pretty deep with each of these guys and we both’ve got evidence for and against both. I want to focus on Kreider too, but I’m not willing to just let Drover off so quick…not until we’re absolutely certain what’s going on with him and these kids. He just rubs me the wrong way, Liv.”

“All right,” she said. “We’ll look at both with an open mind.”

He nodded and an awkward silence fell over them.

“So,” Olivia asked after a minute. “You wanna go get breakfast?”

He slowly shook his head. “I’ve gotta get a shower and I’ve got church at eleven. You’re welcome to join me, though.”

“For what?” she said smiling. “The shower or church?”

Elliot laughed and she shook her head. “I’ve got to hit the gym, anyway. It’s been more than a week.”

“Okay,” he said. “See you tomorrow, then?”


She left the locker room and he watched her walk down the corridor. There was something in the way that she had asked him to breakfast that made the innuendo seem not all that innocent. He shook his head and wondered what kind of rumors would be flying about the two of them on Monday, especially if they had been seen at breakfast together after their hug.

For what…the shower or church? The words rang through his head as she had never thrown that high of a flirtation in his direction previously and he was sure that he had blushed when she said it.

He turned on the cold tap in the locker room’s shower and, as the cold water flowed over him, he realized it was going to take a lot of church to drive these iniquitous thoughts from his head.




Greenwich Village, New York



Chopin echoed from the muted instrument that stood as its owner sat near the eighth floor window. Snow and January winds blew against the window, but Olivia barely noticed as she continued to play. Much of the day had been spent either running or cleaning her apartment and she decided that her evening was going to be for her. No thoughts concerning her job, her boyfriend and especially her partner were going to plague her thoughts as her bow grazed the steel and nylon stretched across hand-crafted maple.

Her telephone had rung twice since she picked up her bow, but unlike with any other day of the week, she did not answer it. She knew that if it were urgent her home phone, cell and pager would all be ringing and buzzing. Yet, when the phone rang twice within a few minutes, she sighed, pulled her fingers from the instrument’s neck and begrudgingly reached for her phone.

“Hello?” she said softly.

“Uh…hi, Olivia?” Kathleen said on the other end of the phone. “It’s Kathleen. Are you busy right now?”

She looked down at the cello whose neck lay against her shoulder, but resisted a secondary sigh. “No, sweetie. What’s up?”

“Oh, well, I…uh, wanted to start taking these tonight and I didn’t know if there was anything special I should do.”

“Nope. They’re just like any other pills, but just remember what I told you about waiting a month before anything.”

“I will.”

“And what I said about getting tested.”

“We’ll do that too. Thanks Olivia.”

“It’s no problem.”

When she hung up the phone, Olivia realized that she had not reopened the subject of Kathleen telling her parents and she wondered if she should simply jump the gun on the issue.

The phone rang in her hand as she thought in her chair and she half-hoped that it was Elliot so that she could put the issue to rest once and for all.


“Yes, Olivia?” a voice said. “This is Philip.”

“Hi Phil,” she said. “What’s up?”

“Oh nothing…I just…uh, wanted to know if you were free for dinner to tomorrow.”

“As friends right?”

“Well…yeah, I guess so.”

“Okay, Phil, well as my Jonathan would tell you, I’m not good at keeping dinner reservations. Something always comes up, but how ‘bout I give you a call in a few days when I think I’ll be free?”

“Uh…okay…are you free for a movie or something right now?”

She sighed into the phone. “I’m in depth with my music. Tonight’s Olivia’s night.”

“Oh…okay, I see.” Disappointment flowed through his voice. “Well, do give me call when you’re free.”

“Will do. Bye.”

As soon as the word “bye” had left her mouth, she pressed “End” and then *2 on the phone.

“Livia?” Maya’s voice answered a moment later.

“Yeah. I got a question for you,” Olivia said. “How do you let someone down, but really down so that they stop calling?”

Maya laughed. “Who’s bugging? The twenty-nine year old?”

“Who else?”

“Well,” Maya said, still laughing, “we could be here all night if you wanted me to list all my kiss-offs.”

“Not all of them, just some of the better ones because the ‘you’re a nice guy’ and the ‘let’s be friends’ ones aren’t working. Besides, you’ve always been better at blowing off guys since you had so much more practice than me.”

“Oh, come on. That’s not true. You dated way more than me growing up.”

“That’s because I was terrible at letting guys off easy.”

That’s because you want to do it the easy way. It’s a two-step process: first step is the nice way, with the ‘let’s be friends’ and the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ and if that doesn’t work, you have to start with the ‘look, I’ve told you already’ or the ‘the next time you call me, I’m getting a restraining order.’”

Olivia laughed remembering a time long past when Maya had actually made good on her threat. “What was that one kid’s name…Ronnie Something…?”

“Ronnie Wallace and he totality deserved it. He was crazy!”

“He wasn’t crazy. He just had a crush.”

“He was certifiable! I can always tell the ones who are. They start asking all these questions about India right off the bat.”

“Maybe he was just really interested.”

“No one could possibly care that much.”

“I still say you jumped the gun on him. He only called twice after you dumped him and he just had a little crush.”

“Yeah,” Maya said. “A little crush. That’s how they all start and then before you know it, you’ve got them jumping out from behind buildings, showing up at every moment and stalking you all over the damn city. I don’t need that.”

 “Oh my God! I just remembered!” Olivia said, half jumping out of her chair. “I gave Jonathan keys to my apartment yesterday.”

“You bitch!” Maya said. “And you waited until just now to tell me?”

“I just remembered…”

“How could you forget something like that? You kept telling me three weeks before you gave your partner keys to your place. I can’t believe you just forgot about it.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s weird.”

“Something else on your mind?”

“No…well, aside from Elliot and his daughter, no.”

“Ah! So, the other shoe drops.”

“What other shoe?”

“The Elliot Shoe! What happened today with him that pushed out the fact that you gave Jonathan a set of keys?”

“Nothing’s happened.”

Maya laughed into the phone. “Yeah, I bet nothing happened.”

“I’m serious,” Olivia said. “We didn’t fight or anything. In fact, I just barely saw him today and that was for just-” Olivia paused, suddenly remembering the feel and smell of Elliot all around her.

“For just?” Maya asked. “Just what?”

“Nothing…just a hug. You know an ‘I’m sorry’ sort of thing.”

“Oh…I see. Just a hug, eh?”

“Maya, there was nothing to it. It was just a hug.”

“Okay, sure. So, tell me how often do you and your partner participate in these sordid embraces?”

“All right, I’m hanging up now.”

“No wait, just tell me…was it the muscles or those baby blues that pushed away those thoughts about keys?”

“Okay, g’bye!”

Olivia shook her head as she pushed “End” on the phone. All teasing aside, Maya had hit a nerve that Olivia was not prepared discuss, even in jest. The fact was, all it took was a simply hug from her partner to wash away all thoughts of anyone else and, that fact, more than anything, frightened her most of all.




The Eaststone

43 East 34th Street

Midtown, New York



The canorous fusion of jazz and folk music floated through the small restaurant, piquing the ears of all those present and Elliot smiled across the linen-covered table at Diana who sat with her chin resting on her folded hands.

He had called Diana, after fervently avoiding her for two days, and asked her to dinner at a small restaurant in Midtown, as he knew he could not evade her forever. The decision was made after he had come home from mass feeling unnerved rather than at peace.




“Can we go get ice cream?” Lizzie had said to her father as they walked out of the church.

“It’s the middle of January,” Elliot had replied. “Where could we go, Lizzie?”

Elizabeth and I dunno. Guess I’m just in the mood for some ice cream.”

He laughed. “Maybe next week…So, what’d you do last night?”

“Nothing really. I kind of caught the kitchen on fire.”

“What? How’d that happen?”

“Well…I was cooking spaghetti and the sauce sort of spilled out of the pan and into the stove, but it wasn’t on the grill itself, so I thought it’d be fine. But…when I put the big pot back on it to cook the spaghetti, it sort of caught on fire.”

“How a big a fire?”

“Just a little one. I kind of burned myself when I was trying to put it out, but it’s okay.”

“What kind of burn? Let me see it.”

“It’s fine, really Dad. It’s no big deal.”

“Is that what the band-aid on your arm is for?”

“I put some Vitamin E oil on it and it’s fine.”

Lizzie showed him her small arm and Elliot could see a blotch of red spreading in an array from the small band-aid on her forearm.

“I can’t believe this. Why were you cooking alone?”

“I’ve got to learn eventually. Besides, I’m sure lots of people burned themselves once or twice or set their kitchens on fire before they learned to cook.”

Elliot sighed. “Why didn’t you ask for help?”

“There wasn’t any. Dickie was at Jessica’s drooling over her and Kathleen was…busy.”

“Well, where was Mom?”

Lizzie shrugged. “I dunno. Out, I guess.”


“Yeah. You know, out.”

Before he could inquire further about what “out” meant, Lizzie changed the subject.

“Did you ask Olivia about her music?”

“I did, but we got busy and I’m sure she forgot about it. But, I’ll ask her again.”

“Thanks. The recital is at the beginning of March. I just want to get it so I can practice before then.”

“I’ll definitely ask her first thing tomorrow.”

“Okay. Are we still going to the ballet next month?”

“‘Course. I can’t wait.”

Lizzie smiled and shook her head. “Okay. I told Meaghan about it and she said it was really cool.”

“Well, as long as Meaghan says it’s cool…” Elliot said, his voice teasing.

Lizzie opened her mouth to say reply, but he saw that she could see a friend of hers. “Oh, there’s Katie. I need to talk to her about Monday.”

“What’s happening Monday?” he asked.

“I’ll tell you later. Bye Daddy,” she said and ran down the steps to catch up with her friend.

Elliot found his son again in the small crowd and asked him how the after-game party went.

“It’s was okay,” Dickie said in a low voice.

“Just okay? I thought Jessica was there?”

“It was at her house, so she was there, but…”


“But, we lost so everybody was kind of down and not talking a lot. The whole thing was okay overall, though. Thanks for letting me go.”

“Thanks for finally apologizing.”

“I won’t do it again. I swear.”

“Don’t swear,” Elliot said with a smile. “You just got out of church.”

Dickie rolled his eyes, but returned the smile. “Yeah, I know. I know. Hey, I need to ask Mrs. Murphy if she still wants me to shovel her sidewalks today. Bye, Dad.”

He gave his son a nod, as he quickly walked toward an elderly woman holding a large, floral print, woolen bag.

Elliot then caught sight of Maureen standing with her boyfriend out of the corner of his eye. She had brought him with her to the morning service and Elliot had made sure to sit right next to them, staring down Justin Wheeler with every errant movement he made. Any time he appeared to kneel too close to Maureen, Elliot threw a look in his direction and Justin made certain to include an extra space between him and Maureen.

He caught up with them and gave his daughter a long hug. Justin stood by nervously looking between the ground and Elliot’s stern glare in his direction.

“How’d your paper go?” Elliot asked.

“Okay, I guess. I haven’t got it back yet. We’ll get them Monday.”

He nodded. “How ‘bout the other classes?”

“The E-con is kicking my butt a little, but everything else is fine.”

“Very good,” he said and he turned toward Justin who held a very worried expression on his face. “And how are you doing this morning?”

“G-good, sir,” Justin said. “I’m doing good.”

“Doing well you mean,” Elliot said.

Wha-yeah. Exactly. Sorry! I-I meant well. I…I normally say ‘well’ it’s just that…uh…well…um…”

Maureen took Justin by the hand and rolled her eyes. “It’s fine, Justin. We’ll see you later, Dad.”

As the pair walked down the stone steps, Elliot could hear Justin whisper to Maureen, “Your dad kinda freaks me out, you know?”

Once they were out of an earshot, Elliot saw Kathleen slowly walk out of the church, the last of the remaining stragglers and well-wishers. She had her arms crossed in front of her and her eyebrows were furrowed to the point to cause a small wrinkle to appear in the middle of her forehead.

He felt tense upon seeing her expression as he was “allowed” to spend time with her this coming Friday and worried that whatever was wrong might explode during the precious little time they had together.

“You have anything in mind for Friday?” Elliot asked her.

Kathleen shrugged. “Not really. I guess maybe a movie or something after dinner.”

“Well, I’ve got some tickets to a play. That sound good?”

She nodded silently.

“You okay?” he said after staring at her a moment. “You look kinda bummed about something.”

“Everything’s fine,” she said quickly. “I’ve just got a lot on my mind.”

“Anything you want to talk about?”

“No,” she said shaking her head. “It’s nothing. Just school and stuff.”

“About where else you want to apply?”

“No…just other stuff. It’s fine. I don’t think I want to talk about it now.”

“Okay,” Elliot said, nodding his head. “Maybe later?”

“Yeah, maybe.”

He could not help but notice how throughout their conversation, Kathleen refused to raise her eyes to meet his and her normally buoyant and amenable demeanor was disguised by a despondent expression. Of all the things that could be wrong with her, Elliot could not imagine what could have disheartened Kathleen to the point that she did not even raise the issue of her parent’s divorce while both he and Kathy were present.

Instead of continuing to push the question, he decided to save it until Friday when he would have time to speak to her alone.

“So, what’d you do this weekend?” he asked. “Do anything fun on Friday?”

She visibly tensed and stared at the ground. “Nothing much. No one really wanted to do anything since it was so cold out Friday. I mean, I kind of went to dinner and the movies after, but that was it.”

“Oh…okay. How ‘bout yesterday?”

“Nothing really. Just hung out with Mike.”

“Mike…” Elliot repeated, though he had a very clear and distrustful image of Michael McThomlin in his head.

“Yeah Mike. You know Mike, Dad.”

“Tall kid…spiky, gelled hair?”

Kathleen rolled her eyes. “See, I told you, you knew him.”

“Where’d you hang out?”

“Am I trouble or something?”

“Why would you think that?” he asked, taken aback by her assumption.

“Because you’re grilling me pretty hard. Like you know something and you’re just fishing for information until I spill.”

“Well, are you hiding something that needs to be spilled?”


‘Cause that sounds like the assumption of a guilty conscience.”

Kathleen shook her head at him. “I’ll see you Friday, Dad,” and she began to walk down the steps.

“Hang on a sec,” he said, grabbing her by the arm. “I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on. Mom’s been saying that you’ve been down lately. What’s going on?”

“Nothing, Dad,” she said after taking a deep breath. “There’s nothing wrong. I told you, I’ve just got some things going on right now.”

“You can tell me about them.”

“No…I mean it doesn’t matter. It’s not a big deal and it’s nothing to get all worried about.”

“Okay, fine…But, you’re moping around and that’s just not like you.”

She sighed. “I know, but it’s fine. It’s just…nothing.”

Elliot nodded without believing a word she said. “All right.” He then decided to change the subject again. “Was, um, your mother home when you and Mike were hanging out?”

“No, but that doesn’t mean anything happened.”

“I didn’t say anything did, I was just curious.”

He stopped trying to pull information from her about Kathy’s Saturday night outing and spoke to her a few moments more, before the cold got to them and he watched as his family piled into the car and drove back to his former home.

As he watched the car head into the Sunday traffic, he could not shake the residual feeling of shock and anger at the idea that Kathy had simply gone “out.” It had previously occurred to him that Kathy could start dating, but the thought sickened him and made his stomach burn.




“…but, seriously. Kids today can just be so outrageous. But, being a father, I guess you already know that.”

Diana’s continuing diatribe in her always-seductive voice broke Elliot’s trance and he tried to pay attention to her again.

“There’s something about high school kids, you know. They’re always acting out.”

Out. She just went “out.”

He attempted to focus on her, but his thoughts kept drifting back to Kathy. Until she actually filed the divorce papers, she was still technically his. She had no business being “out.”

The frank nature with which Lizzie had stated it was what hurt him the most. I dunno. Out, I guess. As if it was an ordinary thing for her mother to be dating. He set down his fork and restrained from shaking his head at the thought. Who knew how long she had been seeing other people? She could have been dating for months and he would never have known. What if that was really the problem with Kathleen? With her mother dating, Kathleen was facing the reality that her parents may never get back together?

Diana laughed out loud at her own joke and Elliot chuckled with her, not knowing whether she had said something witty or completely asinine, but the questions continued to stir. What if there had always been someone else? He was barely there and Kathy was a woman with needs. What if she had being going “out” for ages and served him with papers so that she could run off with her new lover?

“How’s your penne?” Diana asked with a smile.

Reverie broken, he returned her smile. He found it fantastic that he managed to wonder how Kathy had the audacity to see other people, while he sat having dinner with a woman who was neither his wife nor a close friend.

 “Fantastic. I love it here.”

As the words left his mouth, a distant memory jumped into Elliot’s mind. Less than a year earlier, he had been watching television with Kathleen who insisted that they watch the broadcast version of a Sex and the City airing. He obliged only because he simply enjoyed spending time with his daughter, but the episode’s story was what piqued his mind.

In the episode, it seemed apparent that the main character’s boyfriend was taking her out to dinner at the same restaurant all the time, but it was a restaurant in a part of the city they never visited otherwise and looked to be the type of place that men took dates they were too embarrassed to take to nicer places where they would be seen by other people they knew.

As Diana smiled at Elliot again, the episode played in his mind and he considered The Eaststone. The small restaurant sat in a part of Midtown that he rarely visited and the only reason he knew about it was because he brother had mentioned it to him some time earlier, after taking a “not-so-attractive” woman to dinner there. He knew few people on the east side of the city and The Eaststone seemed attractive to him because of that. No good could seemingly come from someone catching him having dinner with Diana, regardless of his marital status. Dinner with Olivia at an intimate setting would raise an eyebrow, but Diana would cause family and friends to whip out cell phones and talk would fly. The restaurant served as the perfect getaway to have dinner with someone without any accusatory looks and glances.


He snapped back to his senses, realizing that she was asking him a question.

“You okay?” Diana asked. “You seem like you’re miles away.”

He shrugged. “Just preoccupied. The case and…my kids.”

“I understand,” she said, taking his free hand in both of hers. “Tell me about your kids, Elliot. You don’t talk about them enough, but I know they’re your whole world.”

“Yeah, they’re my life.”

“Now, there’s Maureen and then the twins…?”

“Maureen, Kathleen and the twins, Dickie and Lizzie.”

“Oh, I bet they’re close. My younger sisters are twins and you couldn’t pry them apart with the Jaws of Life.”

“Well, they’re growing apart a little now that they’re getting a little older. Lizzie insists she’s going to be called Elizabeth and she doesn’t want to do anything that’s not feminine and Dickie’s busy falling over himself for a girl with big brown eyes and thick hair.”

Diana laughed. “That’s how kids are. They grow up. A little too soon for most parents…”

They talked throughout the rest of the meal chatting about Elliot’s children and Diana’s one son who, since she had him when she sixteen, was older than Maureen and about generalities in their respective careers. All the while he spoke to Diana, Elliot’s thoughts were on other women.

He was still unnerved by Olivia’s hug, having never previously touched her in such a way and he thought his arms and chest still tingled from the embrace. When he was honest with himself, he did not like the fact that Olivia dated either. In his eyes, she was practically his as well, but she was off dating million-dollar jerks, for whom he knew she was too good and the very thought of it seemed painful.

What if she married Jonathan? Would they ever hug like that again? Would he have to put up with that smug face for the rest of the time that he knew Olivia? How was he going to cope if Jonathan decided to retire at a young age and took Olivia off to live in Europe or the Caribbean? What was he going to do with his ex-wife and former partner lying in the arms of other men?

Between Kathy’s outing and Olivia’s hug, his head was spinning and as he came to the realization that he was not going to be able to focus on Diana with any amount of effort, his cell phone rang from his suit pocket.

“One second,” he said, cutting Diana off in mid-sentence.

He looked at the phone, gave Diana a quick nod and walked to a quiet corner of the restaurant.

“Kathy?” he said into the phone.

“El, hey,” Kathy said. “What…uh, what have you been up to.”

“Nothing really. Just out.”

“Oh, I see,” she said and Elliot could hear a frown sliding across her face. “Well, I saw you and Kathleen talking today and I wanted to know if she’s told you anything about what’s going on.”

“She wasn’t spilling.”

“Well, she’s been acting even stranger lately. She was leaving to go out with her friends on Friday by the time I was getting home at five and then, she wouldn’t even look at me all day Saturday. I tried getting her to talk, but she won’t talk about it.”

“Kath, I don’t know what to tell you,” Elliot sighed. “You know if she’s not opening up to you, she won’t with me.”

“It’s just that she’s been so…off lately.”

“She’s eighteen. When has she not been ‘off?’”

“Elliot, I’m serious. I’m worried about her and I just wanted to let you know about it, so that when she’s over there Friday, you’ll know to look for it.”

“Okay,” he said. “I will.”

“Yeah…well, I don’t know if Dickie showed it or not, but he was really grateful for you letting him off punishment yesterday.”

“He told me.”

“Good, ‘cause-”

“Kath, um, I hate to do this, but I’m kind of busy and I have to go.”

“Oh, okay. Well, I’ll talk to you later.”


“Say ‘hello’ to Olivia for me,” she added.

He repressed a sigh. “I’m not with Olivia.”

“Oh…all right. Well, bye then.”

He stood in the corner a moment more, wondering if he could simply leave the restaurant and never go back to the table. When he did several minutes later, his mind was spinning even faster than earlier.

Of all the women in his life: his wife…ex-wife, who went “out” on Saturdays, his partner who gave long hugs that left him more confused than comforted, his daughters who were considering careers he did not want for them, hanging around people he did not want them to and growing up faster than he wanted them to, Elliot wanted to be with Diana the least. As she smiled at him from across the table, green-grey eyes shining and light brown hair catching the candlelight, he realized that not wanting to be with her was not going to stop him from going home with her that night.




Using the glow from neighboring buildings and the glare from her large computer monitor as her only light, Olivia sat at the desk in her apartment and scrolled through her personal e-mails. Maya had been sending her “Dirty Joke of the Day” e-mails for weeks and Olivia spent a fair amount of time deleting each of them. She half-wondered if she could block Maya from sending her junk, but decided against it. Every once in a while, Maya had something important to say via e-mail and the dirty jokes were humorous, sometimes.

After her conversation with Maya, Olivia found it too difficult to continue playing her cello and took to cleaning again. She had scrubbed and polished every part of her apartment, all to keep from returning to the haunting faces of the murdered boys.

The case was ever at the forefront of her mind and though she knew she needed a break from it to be able to approach it with a clear head, her eyes would continually dart to the open files that sat in her bag.

Having cleaned every other orifice in the apartment, Olivia turned to her Inbox to perform a final cleaning before she would go out to surprise her workaholic boyfriend at his office.

With last junk e-mail deleted, she began to browse her favorite world news websites as a small box appeared on her computer screen. “OliveOyl569” received a message from “MJlotusflowr” asking “r we gonna talk abt this key thing or not?”

Leaving Maya’s message unanswered, Olivia signed off of AOL Instant Messenger, but heard a knock at her door as she rose from her desk. She opened it expecting to see Jonathan and found Adam in her doorway instead. From the look in his eyes, she could tell immediately that something had gone very wrong in his life.

“Hey,” she said. “What’s wrong?”

He shook his head. “Nothing. I…uh, just came by to return this book of yours.”

Adam handed Olivia her copy of the book she had given him earlier, but she held up her hand.

“No, no. That’s yours now. I told you. It’s a gift.”

“Girl, it was terrible,” he said with a weak smile. “It was a damn shame and I don’t want it in my house.”

“I told you it was bad.”

“But, I work for a publisher and I help ‘em toss bad books all the time. This was the kind of crap that we woulda tossed.”

She rolled her eyes. “I told you.”

“You know, I was raised in the church and all, but I could deal with the blasphemy. But, it wasn’t even written well. That’s what pissed me off. And the bad guy at the end? Come on now!”

“You should’ve known better. I figured you would’ve guess what was up when I handed it to you. You should’ve known what was coming.”

You shoulda known what was coming. You bought that damn thing.”

“It was a gift and I couldn’t just say ‘no.’”

“Well, gift or not, you can have this back.”

“You can’t give it back to me. It was a gift. You gotta do the same thing I did. Re-gift it.”

Adam shook his head. “You played me with this book, Liv.”

“Hey, I was just being nice. Give it to your girlfriend. You’ve been trying to expand her horizons for a while now. Not that that book will do it, but it’s a start.”

The smile faded from Adam’s face and he lowered his eyes to the floor.

“What?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Me and uh…Me and Taysia broke up.”

“Oh no. When?”

“Today…right after church.”

“What happened?”

“She just…I don’t know.”

Olivia beckoned Adam into the apartment and they sat down on her couch.

“Did she say what was wrong?” Olivia said.

Adam shrugged. “She just kept saying she was tired of me. Tired of the fact that I lived too far away, tired of me telling her she needs to acts her age, tired of me not doing more to help her out. She said she was tired of all my mess. Like, she don’t have problems or something. She’s the one who’s living with some guy she says is just a roommate.”

Olivia rose from the couch, took two tumblers from her cabinet and poured each of them a Scotch.

“You sure it wasn’t just a bad fight?” she said, handing him the glass. “I mean, I’ve thrown Jonathan out loads of times and, eventually, we both calm down and everything’s fine.”

“She made it real clear that she was done with me. But…is there something wrong with me? Does it make sense that she would just say this to me out of the blue? She…she musta been into something ‘cause I’m just not feeling this.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re a good-looking guy with a great job. She’s still struggling through her first year of law school. She’ll be kicking herself come Monday.”

Adam nodded, but Olivia was unsure if he heard her.

“I think I’m getting tired of this city,” he said with a sigh. “The way people treat each other up here…it’s just not right. And, all this damn snow is getting too much for me. I’m fit’na go back home.”

“‘Cause of her? Oh come on, Adam. You make it sound like she’s the only woman in all of Manhattan. And, you’ve been living through the snow for years.”

“I’m a country boy, Liv. I can’t handle all this cold.”

“It’s not the cold that’s getting to you. It’s just the fact that you’re missing her. And, you shouldn’t because you’ll meet somebody new…somebody better.”

He shook his head again. “Finding a good, Christian woman in this city? Please. I might as well start digging for oil on Times Square.”

She laughed and they both took a drink.

“You know anybody? Why don’t you set me up with one of your friends?”

“Which ones? The married ones?”

“What about your girl Maya?”

“No way,” she said shaking her head.

“How come?”

“Well, first, she’s not a Christian.”

“I could…I could give on a couple things.”

“Yeah right. But, anyways, she’s too old for you.”

“I don’t mind older women. They cain’t be crazy like my old girl.”

“And, she cheats. A lot. I mean I love her to death, but I wouldn’t throw Maya at anyone I cared about.”

“That bad, huh?”

“Trust me, if it’s bad enough that you have to consider dating Maya…you may want to consider simply taking a vow of celibacy.”

They shared another laugh and Olivia turned quickly toward her door as the handle began to shake and turn.

A moment later, Jonathan stepped into the apartment; a loose leather briefcase slung over one shoulder, a dusting of snow in his hair and a surprised, but sour expression on his face.

“Hey!” she said with a smile. “I’m glad to see that the keys work, but you can still call, you know.”

Jonathan nodded and stared at Adam. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Adam said, setting down his glass and standing to shake hands. “Good to see you again.”

“Yeah,” Jonathan said, slowly.

“Sit down,” Olivia said, a cheerful spirit in her voice. “Have a drink with us and help me keep Adam from moving back to Texas.”

“Thinking of moving back home?” Jonathan said, his eyes never leaving Adam.

“It’s the cold, you know. I don’t think I can take another winter of all this.”

“Well, New York’s not for everyone,” Jonathan said. “If the people don’t get to you, the cold definitely will.”

“Tell me about it. But, uh, I was just on my way out.”

“You don’t have to leave ‘cause I’m here.”

Naw, I’m fine,” Adam said. “I’ll catch ya’ll two later.”

Olivia walked Adam to the door and turned toward Jonathan.

“Did you come straight from your office?” she asked looking at the bulk of his briefcase. “Or have you brought all this stuff here to make me help with your work?”

Jonathan remained silent as he took off his coat and hung it over the back of her desk chair.

“Jonathan?” she said. “What’s up?”

“Do you always have other men running in and out of your apartment?”

“What? Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Why was he here?”

“Because he’s a friend and he just broke up with his girlfriend. He needed a drink.”

There’s a million bars in the city, but he needed a drink from you?”

“Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”

“He just broke up with his girlfriend and you’re the first person he comes to see?”

“He lives just two floors up. I’m sure it was just out of convenience more than anything.”

Jonathan shook his head and a familiar smug smile spread across his face. “You know, it’s absolutely fascinating.”


“Jillian told me about this when she first told me about you.”

“About what?”

“How you can be so intelligent one minute and a complete idiot the next.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Olivia! When a man comes to see you after he breaks up with his girlfriend, he’s coming for pity sex.”

“No, not Adam.”

“And what? Is he somehow immune to his own hormones? He’s a man, isn’t he?”

“You must be joking.”

“He came here, got you to get the drinks out and figured maybe one thing might just lead to another.”

“You’ve lost your goddamn mind! Adam is not like that. He’s a friend!”

Jonathan laughed. “Yeah, a friend. I’m sure that’s all he thinks he is too…just a friend.”

“I’ve known Adam a lot longer than I’ve known you and I’m telling you, he’s just a friend.” Jonathan stared at her silently and she continued. “If I was going to start something with Adam, why on Earth would I start now?”

“Because he’s coming to you with those sad, big, brown eyes now that his relationship is over!”

“We’ve known each other when we were single at the same time, but nothing’s ever happened. There’s nothing going on. We’re just friends. Why are you so jealous? Do you really think I’m cheating on you?”

“Are you?”

Olivia rolled her eyes. “You know what? I can’t listen to this tonight. Maybe you should leave.”

“No. Why don’t you just tell me what’s going on?”

“Jonathan! There’s nothing going on!”

He glared at her for a solid minute that seemed to stretch for hours. “Who’s Philip?”

Her eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped. “Please…please don’t tell me you’ve been going through my voice mail.”

“Who is Philip?”

“What the hell does it matter? I can’t even believe you!”

“It matters because when I was leaving yesterday, that crazy old bat next door asked me when you were going on another date with ‘her Philip.’ Why would she even bother asking that?”

“Because she’s lonely and she doesn’t have anything better to do!”

“Then, why would you assume that I’d gone through your voicemail when I brought him up? Has he been calling? Have you been expecting messages from him!

She shook her head. “Fine. Fine! You wanna know who Philip is? Philip is a twenty-nine year old kid who thinks the world of me, whose crazy mother hounded me into having dinner with him last week. Okay? I admit it! I confess! I went to a chain restaurant, wearing jeans and an old sweater with someone I didn’t even like on a Thursday just to shut his mother up and now he’s leaving me messages everyday even though I let him down as easy as I could, because I’m with you!”

Jonathan looked down at the floor, but a stern expression remained on his face.

“Well,” he said after a moment. “Since you’re in a confessing mood, tell me this…You’ve got twenty-somethings chasing after you, guys upstairs and across the hall itching to get their piece and I’ve seen the way your partner looks at you. God only knows how many others look at you the same way any given day. Tell me…look me in the eyes and tell me: Is there something going on?”

She sighed. “Where is this coming from?”

“Olivia…I don’t get to see you that often and it’s like every time I do, I have to face all these other guys.”

“What other guys?”

“Well, if it’s not Adam coming down to chat about his girlfriend, it’s Mark across the hall checking in on you and, if it’s not him, then I gotta hear about Elliot this and Elliot that. You know? Almost every night it’s ‘Elliot and I had to eat here today’ or ‘Elliot said this to a perp.’ And if it’s not all about him, then it’s about his daughter who’s coming to you about birth control or the one asking questions about what it’s like to be a female cop or it’s another one asking for cello or piano or violin lessons or whatever. And when we’re all done talking about your partner’s family, it’s onto his marriage and how it’s falling apart, and then it’s back together, and then it’s divorce papers and so on and so forth. All I want is you and all I seem to be getting is other men, especially your partner.”

Olivia crossed her arms in front of her unsure what to say. “There’s no one else, Jonathan. It’s just you. Adam is a friend; nothing more, nothing less. He is just a friend. Philip is…I don’t know…going though some kind of crush right now, but I assure you there’s absolutely nothing going on there. And Mark…God, Jonathan. How could you be jealous of Mark? I mean honestly! Mark? He’s the guy across the hall. I don’t know if he works for a living or if he’s living off his parent’s money…I don’t even think I know his last name! He’s nobody to me.”

“And your partner? He’s somebody to you.”

“Jonathan…I’ve known Elliot a long time.”

“Right. And that whole, long time, he’s always been the married partner with the kids and the house and the American dream and I know you well enough to know that you’d never do anything to break up a happy home. But now…now his wife has left him, taking the kids with her. He’s all alone and he’s hurting. Any guy would give up something to be with you, but a man who has no one left who cares about him but you? I just don’t know…”

“Do you really not trust me at all?”

“I don’t…I don’t trust him, Liv. I don’t like him around you. And…I know he’s your partner and I trust you, but…I feel like…all he has to do is reach out for you and…and eight years of friendship just trumps me any day of the week.”

She rubbed a hand over her face as the memory of her moment with Elliot that morning came flooding back to her.

That was purely platonic, she thought. Wasn’t it?

“I can’t believe I’m even having this conversation,” she said taking a step toward him. “You want a confession? Fine. Here goes: yes…I care about Elliot. He’s my partner and, in the past eight years, we’ve been through hell and back more times than I can count. But, he’s my partner. My friend. There’s nothing going on between us. If anything, his marriage breaking up and this case especially is moving us farther apart, not closer. I’m not sleeping with him…and how dare you even suggest it.”

Silence fell over the pair of them and Olivia looked toward the ceiling to keep the tear that had welled in her eyes from moving down her face.

“I’m sorry,” Jonathan said. “I don’t…I don’t know what to do.”

“About what?” she whispered. “What do you have to do?”

He sighed. “I’m so used to women, who when they look at me, I think I’m seeing love in their eyes and all I’m really seeing is dollar signs. Other…other girlfriends have been so pretty, but when I think everything’s fine, I come home and find them in my bed with some random guy. I look at you and I know money doesn’t matter, so all that’s left for me to worry about is the other thing, which is really easy to do when I see men coming at you from every direction. Lately…it seems like we’re almost drifting apart and in the past distance has always led to me spending every waking second at my office because I can’t bear the fact that I’m alone again.”

Olivia took a step forward and wrapped her arms around him. “Jonathan. You have absolutely nothing to worry about. I’m not doing anything and I’m not going to. If I seem distant, it’s because I’ve got a million things on my mind right now and half of those are all about work. But, I promise you, I’m not planning anything, especially with my partner. I love you and you’re the only one I want to say that to.”

Jonathan lifted her face to meet his and though they were in her bedroom a moment later, Olivia could not lose the feeling that she had just told the most grievous of lies to someone she cared for very much.