It was late, too late for someone to be calling her phone this late at night. Even then, the sort of people calling would not be the kind she was particularly interested in. Leila Patterson was by no means asleep when her phone rang in the twilight hours of night, but out of pure ire was half tempted not to answer. Still, she figured it had to be important, and her anxiety wouldn’t allow her to not answer it. Manicured hands reached over for the buzzing and bright phone that danced about the marble top of her kitchen island, while the other hand held aloft a large glass of red wine and a cigarette. With a single glance at the name on the screen she slid her finger across the screen and answered. It was a number she had not expected to see.
[+purple “Leila Patterson speaking. You’re certain? His wife? She’s in Paris with their children. I will inform the Senator, yes. Yes I can come and verify the body. I will be there shortly. Thank you.”] Leila set the phone back down and continued to drink her wine where she was perched on a stool in her dark kitchen with no company but a lazy orange cat, her wine, and an ashtray in need of emptying.
Leila was the personal Secretary to Senator Wright and his Chief off Staff Ross... Ross was now dead, or so she’d been told. The number belonged to a detective with the Police department, but it would quickly become a federal matter once Leila verified the body. Leila supposed she should have felt bad, drinking down the last of her wine and breathing in nicotine without bothering to rush, but she didn’t. She never liked Ross... one might say this was a blessing in disguise for her. She knew she could do Ross’s job better. She wouldn’t be distracted by gold digging women, bribes and drugs. Ross, like most men, were easy to manipulate. Wright was on a path for presidency and Leila was determined to make it happen. She was young, on the cusp of turning 30 and from modest means. A graduate of The Ohio State University in Political Science, she attended law school at Duke University. She wasn’t Ivy League, but her resume impressive enough. She was Wright’s youngest, and only female aid, but she had been an Intern for a congressman from Ohio when they met. Wright had taken an interest in her and offered her a job. She could tolerate the pandering to her gender if it meant one day she’d be sitting pretty where the men where and calling the shots.
It took ten minutes for a car to come and get her. As a member of Wright’s staff and his personal secretary, certain privileges were awarded. One of those was not having to drive one’s self anywhere. Her driver also acted as a guard in any unforeseeable event. Not that Leila was one who believed she needed such a thing, but this was America, and shit could hit the fan at any moment. As Wright liked to tell her, she knew too much. That was a statement Leila couldn’t disagree with. Oh yes, she knew enough to make most people’s head turn, but she took pride in it, and in secret liked to refer to herself as: A Curator of Closeted Skeletons. So people like Thomas Luck made her nervous.
To kill time in her ride to Ross’ estate, Leila read from her news app on her phone. An expression of pure boredom was set into her face, and it never changed as she read over the newest article to become available. It seemed a little... [i beneath] a man like Luck, but she wasn’t surprised to hear about that particular CEO. He had come to Wright’s office a year or so ago, looking to ‘donate’. Leila had urged against it, not trusting the man, nor liking what she found when she researched the man’s past and his company; and while Leila wasn’t the most honest person herself, this was DC. No one can be trusted.
It was the flash of blue lights that finally caught Leila’s interest and she looked out the window as her car came to a stop out the front of the brownstone house. The Coroner was there as were several police cars, Forensics, and a steady collection of Press was beginning to form. Leila frowned at them while her driver spoke with an officer, who then let them through the small barricade. Leila stepped out of the car to the sudden shouts from two news anchors who tried to get her attention. She paid them no mind and instead followed an officer towards the house to see the grisly scene and the body herself.
The front door was wide open, but looked perfectly fine, there was no sign of forced entry anywhere. There was nothing out of place in the foyer, but as she was led further into the house, it seemed someone had turned up everything. Books were thrown to the floor, pictures torn from the walls, pillows and cushion’s sliced open. Leila frowned, and wondered if the upstairs looked the same, and what the culprit was looking for.
She smelled the blood before she saw it. The officer escorting her tried to warn her of what she would see, but Leila had seen her own share of horror in her life. Her nose wrinkled with discomfort from the smell and she looked to see Ross Davenport, still in his suit from the day, but sporting two gunshot wounds to his head at point blank range. Execution Style. Two officers looked up and eyed Leila suspiciously.
[+purple “Jesus, you sure you just don’t want his dental records?”] Leila asked, startling the Coroner who was bent over the victim’s body.
[i “Ah, you must be Ms. Patterson. Mr. Davenport’s... assistant?”]
[+purple “Yes. I’m Leila Patterson. I am Senator Wright’s personal Secretary, and Ross Davenport’s Assistant.”]
[i “Perfect, can you verify this body?”] Leila leaned over to look at Ross’ face... or at least what was left of it.
[+purple “That’s definitely Ross. He wore that suit today... fuck... excuse me, I need to make a phon call...”]
[b “Oh Ms. Patterson, please don’t go anywhere too far, we would like to ask you some questions.”] An officer called. Leila glanced back, her expression still melancholy, but gave a nod of her head. She wouldn’t be running off. So instead she made her way back to the untouched foyer and took her phone out to call Wright and deliver the bad news.
Thomas had finished typing several minutes earlier but now he was staring at the computer screen, reading the article one more time before he published it. It was solid, he knew it was, he had worked months on this story and knew that everything in it was both important and true. Tom hit one last key on the keyboard and the story was submitted, Tom idly wondered how many death threats this particular story would give him, he always seemed to get a few even if what he wrote wasn't always a matter of life and death. This particular story was about to make a lot of people lose a lot of money. It was a story about a Fortune 500 company CEO who had been embezzling company funds to line his own pockets, in many ways it was a tale as old as time; the tale of human greed. It wouldn't take long for Tom's article to attract attention, anytime a two time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist posted a story people took notice, and as a result the stock of the company in Tom's article would plummet. Shareholders were about to lose a lot of money. With the article published Tom finally relaxed and slumped in his chair, he glanced at his watch, he knew it was late but he hadn't realised that it was after midnight now although looking outside his office you wouldn't guess that it was the middle of the night. A national newspaper was a job that didn't really conformed to a normal working day, and after working here for 20 years Tom knew that all too well and so did his wife. Juliet had never been overly fond of the many late nights but she knew that it was necessary and that this wasn't just a job to her husband, it was who he was. If Tom had to choose between the news and his wife Juliet knew which he would pick, and she had made her peace with that. Even so they had a good and happy life together.
It had barely been a minute since he had published his article and his phone was already ringing, and he was only marginally surprised to see that it was his brother calling. [b "Jack? What are you doing up this late? Haven't you got a meeting in the morning?"] [+red "I just saw your article, it's good, not your best work but still pretty good..."] Even through the phone Tom could practically see his brother's smirk. [+red "...and I really do have to thank you for this. I just a made a speech about how these big businesses only look out for themselves. My support from small business owners was on the up and this only confirms my position. That support will skyrocket now. You've just expanded my support and with a very influential group as well."] [b "I didn't do it for you Jack, I did it because it was the truth, the and the story served the public good. They deserved to know."] It was always a balancing act with Tom and his brother. Jack was a career politician and was on the rise to proper power. He had recently been elected to the House of Representatives but was already working on becoming popular enough both inside political circles and with the public to run for the Senate. The only thing that matched Jack's ambition was his skill. he was a formidable force but Tom had decided long ago that he was having nothing to do with his brother's career, if his stories hurt or helped his brother so be it. Let the let the chips fall where they may. [+red "I know that Tom, but still it puts me in a strong position moving forward. That's not why I called though, It's been a while since I've seen you. We've both been busy so what do you think about coming round for dinner on Saturday? It would be nice to catch up."] [b "I'll check with Juliet and get back to you but I think that it will probably be fine. I'll see you then. Goodbye Jack."]
Tom grabbed his jacket and was almost out the door when a staffer caught him and told him that Emily wanted to speak with him. That took him by surprise, Emily Daniels was his Editor and why she was here at this hour Tom wasn't sure but if she wanted to speak with him it was probably important. He made his way across the floor and into his friend and boss's office. [b "What the hell are you doing here at this time of night, you should be at home."] Emily looked at Tom with a look on her face that clearly said that he was being an idiot. [+blue "I'm here because you're here Tom. I know well enough by now that if you're here at this hour then you're working on a story, and a reasonably important one at that. That means that I've got to be here."] At least Tom had the decency to look sheepish, of course his editor would want to check what he was writing, likely she already knew, there was nothing that went on at this paper that Emily didn't know about, it was uncanny. [b "I'm sorry Emily, but at least now you can go and get some sleep, I know it's what I'm going to do."] [+blue "Not quite yet it's not. I know it's late but I think I might have just found you a new story. It's being kept quiet for now but it won't last until morning. Senator Wright's Chief of Staff Ross Davenport has just been found murdered. An old friend in the Police Department gave me the tip. I know it's a little mundane considering what you normally report on but would you check it out as a favour to me?"] Tom looked at his Editor, he had been friends with Emily almost as long as he had been at the paper, they had joined around the same time and he knew she wouldn't ask unless thought it was the right thing to do. [b "Of course I will Em. I'll see what I can find out and let you know. Sleep is overrated anyway."]