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Leila paced the foyer, her heels clicking against the hardwood flooring. Inside she was shaking, though no one would be able to tell. Leila had an impressively cold and melancholy disposition. Her eyes continued to look about the home, curious to see if anything else was out of place. Honestly she was hoping to find `a reason, because holy fuck! she’d be having nightmares of Ross’ brains all over his office, for weeks to come. It was obviously a hit, but Leila couldn’t say that out loud, instead she had to focus on the phone at her ear that rang. Wright would not be happy to get a call at this hour, but he’d be more pissed if he found out from the media and not her.
She heard the connection click and she steadied her pacing and her focus to a single point on the wall across from her. Mustard yellow paint. What an awful color.
[i ‘What is it?’]
[+purple “Bad news. It’s Ross, Sir.”] She answered with some difficulty, she tried to hide the tremor, but he caught it, and demanded to know what happened. [+purple “He’s dead, Sir. Two to the head. The house looks like a robbery, but this was clearly something else. Sir? What shall I do?”]
[i ‘Cooperate with the Police, we’ll have to prepare a statement for tomorrow morning. Get as much information as you can and meet me at my office first thing in the morning.”]
[+purple “Yes, Sir. I’ll see to it everything is arranged.”] The call disconnected and, she finally tore her gaze away from that awful wall color. Her phone still in her hand, she looked down and noted the late hour, she’d be getting no sleep this night. It was then she heard footsteps and looked up from her phone to see a reporter who managed to worm his way in. She kept her steely gaze on him, even as he approached. She instantly began to brace herself for what was subsequently to follow.
He was middle aged, scholarly, and carried himself with the unnecessary confidence of someone else she knew.... Leila would not let his age or his aura intimidate her. She was constantly surrounded by powerful men, older than her, more powerful, and she managed to hold her own. She held her ground as he drew closer, and caught the flash of his reporter badge bearing his name. if she had been a cat she might have bristled, but she kept her cool as none other than Thomas Luck of the New York Times asked for a comment.
Like any good reporter, his questions were rapid fire, desperate to get them out before he might be silenced. She remained melancholy, impassive and rather Vulcan. She was not Wright’s PR, just his aid and secretary. So it was rather surprising that the renowned, two time Pulitzer Prize winning Reporter knew the name of an unimportant secretary. She remained stoic as she regarded how best to answer, of course she could always remain silent and walk away. However, that would have been a terrible idea as well.
[+purple “Mr. Luck, I did’t realize the New York Times would have cared about a homicide, let alone send you for it. Perhaps I should be happy, if anyone will uncover what happened here today... I’m sure you’ll find a way to the bottom of it.”] She looked him over, though her tone left little to extrapolate from, if anything her remark would have been more of a scathing comment about Luck’s tenacity and annoying persistence, but she was also honest. She had no idea why Davenport was targeted. She took a quick breath and sighed, knowing she had to give him something at the very least, but her tone remained flat and unemotional. [+purple “I am in no position to make statements or divulge information to you, Mr. Luck. What I can tell you is that Senator Wright has been informed as of just a moment ago. I can also say that the Davenport family has our deepest condolences, but a formal statement will be made available sometime tomorrow by Senator Wright’s office.”]
Her comment left no true room for argument, and even if Thomas Luck did manage to come up with more questions, she was saved by the approach of two police officers, and a federal agent.
[b “Ms. Patterson? We have a few questions for you.”] The federal agent called to her. Leila gave Thomas Luck one final pass with her gaze and turned towards the officers with her stoic expression, and equally stoic words.
[+purple “Of course. I hope to help in any way I can.”] she left Thomas to approach the officers, but they were only looking for contact information for next of kin, and wanted to set up a time to visit with Senator Wright. All things Leila was easily able to give them on the spot. With that over Leila had no reason to remain, and truthfully she did not wish to do so. However, media had congregated in the short time after her arrival, and a crowd had gathered to see all the commotion. She hoped the other reporters were not as knowledgeable as Thomas Luck had been. Luck was his name, and Leila had none of it, for when she waked out a group instantly swarmed her with the same questions Thomas had. She gave the same answer: that she was in no position to make comments, that Senator Wright had just been informed and to expect a formal statement from his office tomorrow. By then her driver had stepped away from the car to escort her into its safe confines, away from the media and away from the crime scene.
Thomas drove through the city, towards the address that Emily ahd given him and towards the undoubtedly grisly scene that awaited him. It dawned on Tom while he drove throught he mostly empty streets that his Editor had played him, there was no way that Emily would ask Tom to look at a simple murder, even if he the victim was a prominent politician's aide. They had a night staff for a reason and Tom knew for a fact that Gary, Lucy and Sean were working tonight and any one of them could handle this in their sleep. The only reason that Emily would send Tom to a story like this was that she had a hunch and she wanted him to find it and confirm her suspicions, or at least recognise that there was something to be find. Thomas had always been funny that way, tell him for a certainty that a sheet of ice on a lake would hold his weight and the journalist wouldn't care a bit, but say that the ice had a 50-50 chance of falling through...then Tom would have to go out on the ice and find out for himself. Tom needed to know things and if he found a puzzle himself then there was nothing that would stop him from solving it.
The police presence outside the house was sizeable for a simple murder, it was to be expected given who the victim was but even so there were more than necessary. Tom could also see the beginnings of press like himself gathering, trying to be the first to the scoop and break the news to the world. Tom got out of his car and made his way over to the other members of the press, some faces he knew, others he didn't but he exchanged greetings and pleasantries trying to figure out what they knew. No one knew that much, they had mostly been given tips that some politician had been found dead, there were a few other details scattered around but none seemed to corroborate each other so it was most likely here say. Tom made his way up to one of the officers at the cordon, this was Emily's old friend, the one who had tipped her off to the whole story. He explained quietly explained that as a favour to Emily Tom could have 5 minutes to look around the scene as long as he didn't disturb it in any way. Tom didn't need to be told twice, he knew the drill, but as he stepped through the door and saw the scene even a veteran like Tom took a moment to collect himself. In his younger more thrill seeking days, Thomas had been attached to a unit of US Army Rangers and covered them during the war in Iraq and then later with the Marines in Afghanistan. He had almost been tempted to go out a third time but his wife Juliet made it clear in no uncertain terms that there was no chance of that happening again. During his time an as an embedded journalist Thomas had seen some pretty nasty things and the state of Ross Davenport's corpse would have been out of place during his time with the military.
Davenport hadn't just been murdered, he had been executed, a botched burglary was one thing but any idiot could see that that Chief of Staff had been targeted. The obvious question's were by whom and why? He glanced around the room making a few mental notes, no signs of forced entry, the rest of the rooms didn't seem to have been touched which meant beyond doubt that this had been a professional job. Unfortunately Tom didn't really have enough time to look around properly before Emily's cop friend ushered him out the scene. That was when his eye was caught by another figure, one that was neither police nor press but politician. Tom knew Leila Pattterson by reputation only, he had never actually met the women but he knew that she was capable, his brother had had a few meetings with Senator Wright and had been impressed by the brief interaction that they had shared. Impressed enough to consider trying to poach her for his own staff, although nothing had ever actually came from that thought Tom did wonder how Jack would react if he thought that he would be able to poach Leila away from Wright because of this unpleasantness with Davenport. Tom knew that Emily would never let him live it down if he didn't at least try to get something out of Leila.
The journalist made his way over to the political aide and as he approached he cleared his throat, announcing his presence. [b "Ms Patterson? Thomas Luck, New York Times. Do you have any comment to make regarding the death of Mr Davenport? Is Senator Wright aware of the situation regarding his Chief of Staff? Do you have any idea why Mr Davenport would be targeted in such a way?"] Tom didn't actually expect Leila to actually give him any answers that would actually be useful, she was far too clever than that but Tom wasn't really interested in the answers, he was interested in her reaction to his questions. It was slightly underhanded, he was betting on the fact that she would be emotionally distressed at having to see her colleague dead and would give something away that she otherwise wouldn't have let slip. It wasn't the kind of tactic that Tom particularly liked to use but sometimes it was necessary. Regardless some things were absolute, the Chief of Staff to a Senator with presidential ambitions had been the victim of a targeted killing and the odds were that it had something to do with Wright himself. This was going to be a big story and Tom wondered if Emily knew just how monumental this story was had the potential to be. Whatever was happening Tom knew that he couldn't walk away from a story like this, he had to follow it to the bitter end and find out just what where it led and what was going on.
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."]
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