A few hours later, Natasha was discharged and true to his word, Nathan was there to take her home.
“I didn’t want to leave your car in the street so I’ll drive you home in it then my partner will pick me up from your house. Is that okay with you?” Nathan asked.
Natasha nodded as she followed him out of the hospital and to the parking lot. Nathan helped her into the backseat of her Toyota Avalon and got into the driver’s seat once she was settled in comfortably.
His gaze fell on the discarded groceries on the passenger seat as he maneuvered the car out of the lot.
“You big on baking?”
Natasha was momentarily confused before she remembered what she had been doing before Max’s attack.
“Yeah, I guess.” Her thoughts were churning up a storm rendering her less than sociable.
Nathan gave up trying to get her to engage in conversation and concentrated on driving although occasionally he would glance at her through the rear-view mirror. She sat staring blankly out the window, brow furrowed. Once in a while she would run her fingers through her golden brown hair and sigh. He was about to ask if she wanted to talk about what was bothering her when she shifted, folding her legs beneath her and leaning back on the seat. Memories of a different brunette hit him like a punch in the gut right then. He forced them back down and tore his eyes away from the mirror, not looking back until he drove up her driveway.
“Home sweet home,” he said, forcing cheeriness into his voice. When Natasha didn’t make a sound, he turned in his seat to face her.
Hazel eyes stared back at him and the look in them tugged at his heart.
Natasha looked down and busied herself with a loose thread in the seat cover, still silent. Some locks of her hair fell out of her clumsy pony tail, obscuring her face. Nathan waited patiently until she finally spoke.
“Where’s Max now?” she asked quietly, still tugging on the loose thread.
“He’s at the station. I have 24 hours to charge him and I fully intend to,” Nathan said, reminding Natasha of their prior conversation.
“If I’m not mistaken a slap counts as Simple assault?”
Nathan nodded, wondering where Natasha was going with this.
“Charge him with that,” Natasha said.
“You want me to charge him for a slap he gave you months ago and ignore today’s incident even though it was Aggravated assault and warrants a greater punishment?” he asked, surprised.
“I want you to present him with a deal.” Natasha finally looked up, hazel eyes almost matching the golden undertones of her hair. “If you charge him with Simple assault he’ll get community service at the very least or six months in jail, give or take three months for good behavior. Only if he signs a contract that says he won’t come anywhere near me, my friends or my family. If he breaks that contract then deal is off and he will rot in jail.”
“I’m not your lawyer Natasha and I don’t make deals with criminals,” Nathan said, shaking his head.
“I can’t go to my actual lawyer with this Nathan! Uncle David will tell my mum and then the whole ugly truth about what Max did to me all those months ago will come out and I just don’t want to deal with that,” Natasha argued.
“The best way to deal with this is to tell the truth so that he can be punished in full for all his transgressions.”
“That’ll only put my family and friends in danger!” Natasha yelled.
“What? How?” Nathan asked confused. Natasha realized what she had blurted out and immediately regretted it. She scrambled out of the car and headed for the door. She wasn’t fast enough though because Nathan intercepted her halfway.
He stood in front of her blocking her path. “You’re hiding something. What is it?”
Natasha stared up at him defiantly even though she only came up to his shoulder. “If you’re going to interrogate me Detective then I’d like to call my lawyer.”
“We’re back to Detective now?” Nathan raised an inquiring eyebrow at this and crossed his arms over his chest. Natasha imitated his stance, challenging him.
“Maybe we shouldn’t have dropped the titles at all. What kind of Detective gets chummy with an alleged criminal anyway?” she asked pointedly.
Nathan studied her as she stared at him. He wondered what had turned her so hostile all of a sudden. “I’ll make a deal with you.”
Natasha frowned. “You said you don’t make deals with criminals.”
“You’re an alleged one. Big difference.” He shrugged. Natasha eyed him dubiously.
“What do you propose?”
“I’ll tell you why you were arrested if you give a full statement, on the record, of what Max did to you. Past and present,” he replied.
Natasha’s arms fell to her sides and her eyes widened. That information could help her understand and possibly answer some questions about all the bogus things that had been happening surrounding Henry’s murder. But could she really face the consequences of speaking up against a Bandieer? She decided it was worth it for the information she was going to get in return.
“We have a deal.”
Nathan carried her groceries into the house and his partner arrived shortly after to take him back to the station. He left after assuring Natasha that he would contact her with news of her case against Max and asked her to get some rest so she would be ready to give her statement when she was fully recovered. She went into the house and climbed into bed, finally dropping her facade of bravery and acknowledging her true feelings with regard to what had happened.
Her phone lit up as a new text came in and she retrieved it from the bedside table. The new message was from Kelsey and upon further inspection she found a dozen more plus several missed calls. Natasha dialed Kelsey’s number as she sunk into her blankets.
“Did you fall off the face of the earth? I was trying to reach you all day! What happened to you?” Kelsey complained the minute she answered the phone.
Kelsey’s complaints were met by silence as Natasha tried and failed to form the answers to her friend’s questions on her tongue. Her eyes screwed shut as she remembered the feel of Max’s cold fingers on her throat and she felt like she was falling into a bottomless pit again.
“Natasha? Natasha! Are you okay? What’s going on?” Kelsey asked in a panicked voice.
Natasha finally managed to choke out a single word. “Max.”
Kelsey wasted no time after that. “I’m coming to your house right now. You are home, right?”
Natasha nodded, then realizing Kelsey couldn’t see her through the phone, whispered, “Yes.”
Not long after, Kelsey parked outside Natasha’s house and made her way inside and up to her room. She didn’t say anything when she reached her, knowing her friend needed her comfort more than anything so she climbed into bed with Natasha and hugged her. Natasha sobbed into Kelsey’s chest while Kelsey cradled her and whispered comforting words. Before long, she had fallen asleep.
A loud knock startled Natasha out of her sleep and her eyes sprang wide open in alarm. Kelsey climbed out of bed, telling Natasha to go back to sleep while she went and attended to whoever was at the door. Natasha’s erratic heartbeat had just began to calm down when she heard Kelsey shouting then several footsteps making their way up the stairs. A moment later, two men clad in uniforms walked into her room with Kelsey hot on their heels.
“I tried to stop them and they just pushed past me. They say they have a warrant or something,” Kelsey explained to Natasha who was now sitting up in bed, blankets pulled right up to her chin.
“A warrant?” Natasha’s voice was scratchy and hoarse. She cleared her throat and spoke again. “Who issued it and on what grounds?”
“The district Magistrate of Pinehive. We have reason to believe that you are in possession of an illegal firearm.”
Natasha’s blood ran cold as she took in this news. The man who had spoken moved further into the room, past the uniformed officers. Natasha recognized him as the Chief of Police which only served to add to her confusion. Why would the Chief be leading point on a search-and-seize?
“Gentlemen, search her closet. Our intel says that’s where the gun is kept,” the Chief said nodding over to the huge closet in Natasha’s room.
“This is ridiculous!” Kelsey fumed. “Natasha, tell them this is ridiculous.”
Natasha didn’t respond. She held her breath as the officers dug through her closet. Her heart beat more rapidly with every item that was removed from the closet. She pushed the blankets off, suddenly feeling very hot and sweaty but she didn’t dare stand from the bed for fear that her shaky legs would give away how terrified she felt. As the minutes passed, Natasha’s grip on the sheets tightened till her knuckles turned white and her eyes began to water from her unblinking stare at the two officers.
“Clear,” one of the officers said a few minutes later. Natasha, who had practically stopped breathing let out a surprised, shaky breath.
“Your intel was bogus, like I said,” Kelsey said, hand on her hip.
“Search the rest of the house. In case she moved it,” the Chief barked to the officers.
“Stop.” Natasha finally snapped out of her fear locked state. The Chief eyed her inquiringly.
“Your intel said I have an illegally obtained firearm in my bedroom closet. Correct?”
The chief nodded and Natasha went on.
“So you obtained a warrant specifically for that location as per your intel?”
Chief nodded again.
“Then according to the Fourth amendment, you can only search the place specified when you obtained your warrant which is my bedroom closet. Anywhere else is off limits.” Natasha stared hard at the Chief, as he mulled over what she said.
“In case you need a refresher, the Fourth amendment states: ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’ “ Natasha added. She swallowed, willing him not to put up a fight and poke holes in her defense.
Kelsey slow-clapped from her position at the bedroom door. “That girl is going to be a kick-ass lawyer one day.”
The Chief’s jaw clenched as he gathered his wits about him. “You’re right Miss Evans. We’ll be on our way.” He indicated the door to his two officers but before he could walk out with them, Natasha stopped him again.
“I believe that remains with me.” She held her hand out for the warrant and he dropped it on her bed reluctantly.
Natasha put the document aside while Kelsey went downstairs with the Chief. Once she heard the door close, she leapt out of bed and made a beeline for the closet.
“That was amazing! Do you like have the whole law book memorized in that…” Kelsey trailed off when she entered the bedroom and found Natasha on her knees by the closet frantically throwing clothes all over.
“What are you doing?” she asked eyeing her friend worriedly. Natasha ignored her and continued her search until there was nothing left in the vicinity of the closet and her clothes were strewn all over the room.
She slumped down, despairingly, leaning against the closet door. She drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them as she whimpered. “It’s gone.”
“What’s gone?” Kelsey asked confused, staring at Natasha’s pale face.
“It’s gone. It’s gone. It’s gone,” Natasha repeated, rocking back and forth, seemingly oblivious to Kelsey’s presence.
“Natasha!” Kelsey snapped, grabbing her arms. Natasha finally looked up at her, snapping out of her trance.
“What is it?” Kelsey asked, urgency filling her voice.
“The Chief’s claims weren’t bogus Kelsey. There was a gun in that closet but it’s gone.” Natasha whispered and she paused, taking in her friend’s stunned look. “And I’m not the one who moved it.”
What have you been up to Tasha?
I know there are so many questions now and I promise you’ll get all the answers soon (maybe hahaha). If you feel like you’ve figured out what the hell even is going on, feel free to air your views. I’m curious to know what you’re thinking.
Hope you all had a great Easter!