#TUS 9. Not of her own accord

I’m sorry this is so late. I tend to forget to post here haha. I post more frequently on Wattpad though so if you have an account you can find The Untold Story on my profile @fatfaceheart.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Nathan asked again.

“Yeah. I’d rather not talk about it if you don’t mind,” Natasha said. Nathan looked like he wanted to argue but decided against it.

“I came to tell you we’re processing Max’s charges so we’ll need you at the station.”

Natasha felt sick at the mention of Max’s name. She fiddled with the zipper on her sweater trying to work up the courage to say what she knew he wouldn’t like hearing. “I’ve changed my mind about that.”

Nathan eyed her sternly. “This again? Really, Natasha, must we go round in circles all the time?”

Natasha couldn’t bear to look at him as he chastised her and she kept her head down, not saying anything else.

Feeling bad for what he’d said, Nathan switched to a softer tone. “Look, I know you’re scared but I just need you to trust me. I’m not going to let him hurt you. All you have to do is tell the truth.”

The truth, what a noble idea but in all reality, it was only a shorter path to the end of her life as she knew it. She still didn’t look up but Nathan continued to speak to her.

“You’re hiding something and it’s eating you up. I can help you but you have to be completely honest with me. Can you do that?” he asked her.

He seemed kind enough but could she really trust that anything she told him wouldn’t land her in jail? His duty was to uphold the law above anything else after all and he had no obligations towards her. Suddenly she felt a warm hand take one of hers and hold it gently. She looked up, surprised at the contact and met blue eyes filled with warmth and kindness that made her want to bare her soul and tell all her secrets.

Nathan dug something out of his jacket pocket and placed it in her hand before letting go of it. Natasha looked down at her hand and saw his badge. She looked back up at him, confused.

“As long as you’re holding that, you’re speaking to Nathan Henderson, a 28 year old guy who loves fishing and coaches’ baseball occasionally. Not Detective Henderson,” Nathan explained. “You can tell me anything and I promise it will stay between us. I just want to help you but I can’t do that if you’re not completely honest with me.”

Natasha stared at him and looked down at the badge again, turning it over in her hand. He was putting a lot of effort into getting her to trust him. Could she risk it?

“I can take off the formal suit jacket too if that helps?” Nathan teased flashing her a crooked smile.

“Uhh, no. The badge will do just fine,” Natasha laughed nervously.

“So what do you say to an off the record conversation?”

Natasha still looked hesitant so Nathan suggested something else.

“How about a little quid pro quo then? I tell you something and you do the same in return?”

“What are you going to tell me?” Natasha asked although she could hazard a guess.

“The reason you were arrested,” Nathan replied. After short deliberation, Natasha nodded her approval and Nathan gladly went on.

“Have you heard of Optography?”

Natasha racked her brain trying to remember if she ever heard the word. Eventually she shook her head.

“It’s a technology that is mostly still being developed and is very expensive. I don’t know most of the technicalities behind it but in simple terms it’s based on a theory that the image of exterior objects imprinted on the eye is conserved there and can be retrieved. So when a person dies, the image of what they last saw can be obtained by taking a picture of their eye and developing it. It doesn’t give a full picture but it provides a grainy image that you can work with,” Nathan explained.

Natasha listened attentively leaning her face into the palm of her hand, trying to appear calm even though apprehension bloomed throughout her body.

“After Henry’s death, his family’s P.I suggested Optography to find his killer and they flew in a team of scientists who are currently working on the technology. They managed to extract an image but it didn’t immediately pinpoint anyone except that the killer was possibly female. After further enhancement on some fancy computers, the image was close to a sketch of the killer. We showed the sketch to the family to see if it looked like anyone they knew and Max named you.” He paused, letting her take in the news.

If Natasha wasn’t convinced before that Max was behind some chicanery, she was now. He seemed to be at the center of every bad thing that had happened to her with regards to the case.

“So that’s when you took me in,” she stated quietly.

Nathan nodded. “Honestly, it wasn’t conclusive so you were only arrested as a suspect because you’re one of very few young women fitting the sketch, known to be associated with the Bandieers. And there was also the matter of Max swearing you had a gun and had once threatened him with it so we brought you in for questioning.”

Natasha stiffened at the mention of the gun and her heartbeat picked up a faster pace. She feigned indifference and Nathan continued.

“You recall that we took you for a line-up at the station? The optogram highlights certain features like eye color and hair color and the computer optogram allows comparing of the optogram with a real live person to get a close enough match for those two features. So while you were in that room, the computer scanned all four of you who were in the line-up and only two of you came close to matching. Further scans eliminated both of you as a match because of discrepancies in eye color which deviated from that of the killer’s picked up from the optogram. So we let you go.”

Nathan sat silently when he was done with his reveal, waiting for Natasha’s take on it. She was still trying to wrap her head around all of it and figure out a way to tell him about the gun. Doubt crossed her mind for a split second but she pushed it away, clutching his badge tightly like it was her lifeline.

“Do you know why the Chief was here?” she asked him. Nathan nodded and she went on. “He didn’t find anything though.”

“I’m not surprised. Although I am curious how he got that warrant,” Nathan remarked.

Natasha wiped her free hand across her face before linking it with the other, keeping the badge cradled between them. “He didn’t find anything because it wasn’t there for him to find.”

Nathan’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Okay?”

“I mean I had a gun. It just wasn’t where he was looking for it. And I don’t know where it is,” Natasha clarified. Nathan, stunned by her words didn’t say anything and Natasha took it as a cue to keep talking, so she did. She didn’t hold back a single thing about the gun, threatening Max and her suspicions that Max had somehow worked with the Chief to get the warrant for the gun so he could stop her from pressing charges. After she was done, they sat and stared at each other quietly until Natasha couldn’t take his burning blue gaze anymore and she looked away.

Nathan finally cleared his throat and spoke. “How did you get the gun?”

This was the question Natasha dreaded the most because if there was anything Nathan wouldn’t be willing to overlook, on or off-record, it would be how she got the gun.

Nathan sensed her hesitation which confirmed what he feared. Now he wasn’t so sure if he’d made the right call promising to keep whatever she told him between them.

“I was studying Political Science at Pinehive Varsity and for extra credits we usually helped out with political campaigns especially in the Capital. I’m sure you’ve heard of Governor Ludevich’s campaign on gun control. While we were working with her we found out about illegal gun sales happening through social media sites. We managed to contact a few of the sellers in our efforts to shut down the business and some weapons were confiscated. I was helping with the logging of the guns and with everything that was happening with Max at the time I didn’t think twice about omitting one of the guns from the log and stealing it.”

Natasha waited nervously for his judgement but Nathan didn’t say anything else. He wasn’t staring at her anymore but she could see that he was bothered by everything she’d told him. He rubbed the back of his neck as he stood then extended his hand to her.

“My badge please,” he said in a cool voice that gave nothing away about what he was thinking or feeling. He wore a matching passive look and Natasha’s eyes filled with tears. This was it, the minute she handed back the badge he would whip out his handcuffs and she could say bye-bye law school. She pried her hands open, looking sadly at the badge that had given her false hope then placed it in his hand. Standing, she extended her wrists to him, eyes cast down to hide the tears silently falling.

A few moments passed and nothing had happened so Natasha looked up again and met Nathan’s worried gaze.

“I should go,” he said and his cool, indifferent demeanor was back.

“You’re not…” Natasha trailed off, baffled as Nathan turned and left the kitchen. When she realized that he was actually leaving, she hastily followed him. He got as far as the door before she finally found her tongue.

“Aren’t you going to say something?” she asked frantically as he opened the door.

Without turning back to face her he said, “I’ll call you.”

“But you don’t have my number,” Natasha said but by then she was talking to the door that Nathan had shut in her face when he walked out.

***

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