TnT Ch. 06byslyc_willie©
(Author's note: this story deals with some very gritty and harsh subject matter. This is not for those looking for a straightforward sex story. There are many themes that some people might find objectionable, but to reveal them might give away parts of the story prematurely. If you continue reading, please keep this warning in mind.)
(This is the sixth of an eight-part series.)
"Talon!" Thorne called from the living room. "You gotta see this!"
The amused urgency in his brother's voice urged Talon to bolt from the bedroom. Over his twin's head, he saw the images displayed on the large flatscreen. A middle-aged man clad in a suit, standing before the impressive edifice of the downtown courthouse, was speaking behind a podium that sprouted microphones like porcupine quills. He looked very dour and businesslike. The legend upon the screen beneath his face read "District Attorney Tom Lyttle."
"I rewinded it for you," Thorne said, aiming the remote at the screen. "This is awesome."
The screen came alive, with the district attorney looking professionally annoyed. A woman's voice sounded from the background: "Why haven't any arrests been made in these murders?"
He answered quickly. "The police and DA's office are working together to insure that the perpetrators of these crimes be brought to justice. We anticipate an arrest within twenty-four hours."
"'An' arrest?" A man's voice asked. "Are the three murders related?"
Lyttle grimaced. "We're not at liberty to discuss the details of any ongoing investigations. Too much has been leaked already. But, evidence is being gathered and evaluated, and witnesses are being interviewed. I simply wanted to assure both the public and the families of the victims that those responsible for these murders are being watched very carefully. As I said, we anticipate an arrest – or arrests – within the next twenty-four hours."
Thorne grinned up at his brother. "They still don't have shit," he cackled. "Damn, we're good."
"Don't get cocky," Talon warned. "You heard what he said; we're being watched."
Thorne scoffed. "So fucking what? We covered our tracks. They can't do shit to us."
But Talon could not share his brother's arrogant confidance. He stared at the screen as the district attorney fielded more questions, thinking that there was some kind of hidden message there. It was as if the press conference had been staged for reasons other than to placate the public.
And that made him worry.
* * * *
The sly smile decorating her partner's face brought one of her own to June's lips. As Riaz approached her while she stood outside the Captain's office, she gave him a knowing look.
"You got some," she commented.
Riaz frowned upon her. "It's been known to happen."
"Hey, nice to know you old married peeps can still roll the sack," she said.
He sighed. Why don't I just tell her about the divorce? he wondered, then answered his own question: because she looks up to you, and if you're anything but the solid, stable married professional detective, she won't take you seriously anymore.
"Parande! Barret!" shouted the Captain, saving Riaz from the topic at hand. Following his partner, he stepped into the office.
"It's your lucky day," the older man rumbled. "East side cops found a car this morning. It'd been torched, but not completely. They found a black trenchcoat and a fake mustache inside. And they got prints."
Riaz grinned. "Tell me they were good ones."
"They were good ones. Go pick up your boys. Grab the warrant on the way; I've already called it in."
"About God damn time," Riaz said, then nodded to his partner. "Call CSI and have them meet us there. I want to process everything right the first time. No loopholes on this one."
June nodded firmly. "On it."
* * * *
Talon felt his heart thump in his chest at the sound of the doorbell. He stepped from the living room to the hall, staring at the front door. Behind him, Thorne was blissfully occupied with Gears of War.
"The cops," Talon replied in annoyance. "Turn the game off." Ginger steps carried him to the door. Just before opening it, he looked over his appearance. He wore broken-in jeans and a simple white T-shirt, like his brother. At least they would be comfortable for however long they would be in jail.
Taking a breath, he faked a casually innocent look and opened the door.
"Talon Tolomeo," the detective on the other side said, smug look decorating his face. Behind him stood his dyke partner and four uniformed officers.
"Hello again, detective," Talon said. "What's--"
"You're under arrest," Riaz interrupted, revealing a pair of handcuffs. "You and your brother both."
"For what?" called Thorne as he stomped from the living room, face indignant. "Hey! Get your hands off my brother!"
But as the more aggressive twin started forward, June stepped up, pistol held in her hands and aimed at Thorne's chest. Thorne stopped in his tracks, glaring.
"On the floor, face down!" June barked. "Do it!"
"It's okay," Talon told his twin as he was being handcuffed. "We'll call the lawyer."
"I'm sure you will," Riaz drawled as the uniformed officers took Talon away. He approached Thorne as the younger man assumed the position on the floor. "But for now, you two are going to be having lunch on us."
The remaining pair of officers handcuffed and pulled Thorne to his feet. The defiant young man sneered at June before he was taken away. The look he gave her was unmistakably predatory. She stared back, refusing to back down from his gaze, even as she felt a chill course through her. She hoped her reaction to it did not show.
"Part one done," Riaz remarked as the twins were carted away. "Now we get to go through their stuff."
June shuddered. "Did you see the way he looked at me?" she asked. "Like I was hanging from a hook and he was about place an order for a side of detective."
"Don't let him bother you," Riaz affirmed. "He's a piranha in a pool who just hasn't seen the shark yet. You see the tattoos?"
"I find that a little interesting, don't you?"
"Kind of a stretch to think they just happen to have them, like it's coincidence or something."
"I'm willing to bet it isn't. Now, be diligent. Clinical. Look for anything we can use against them."
"Right. Okay. Focus on the present, right?" June looked around, assessing everything in the twins' home as the two of them entered the living room. "Damn. You were right; these kids have money. Look at this stuff! That TV's as big as my bed! Bose surround sound system . . . holy hell . . . ."
"Money only goes so far," Riaz cautioned, casting his gaze around. "You take the bedrooms; I'll start out here. Don't forget gloves. CSI should be here shortly, so don't move anything out of place. Just look."
"Don't worry about me; I'm walking on eggshells," June replied, heading down the hall from the living room. It ended in three doors. One was open, revealing a standard bathroom. She opened one of the doors past it, finding a king-sized, four-poster bed within an impressive master suite. Then she backtracked, opened the other door. She frowned.
"Uh . . . Riaz?"
". . . yeah!"
"Come take a look at this," she said.
A moment later, Riaz came down the hallway. "What's wrong?"
June had an unsettling expression on her face. She gestured to the bedroom on the left. "What do you see?"
Riaz peered in. There was a weight bench, a rack with cast iron free weights going as high as thirty pounds, a treadmill, and an exercise mat. "Looks like a workout room."
"And, over here," June directed, indicating the master suite.
Riaz stood in the doorway, taking in the sight of the large bed, oversized dresser, two nightstands, the flatscreen atop a small media center. His eyes lingered on the single bed, the only one in the entire apartment. He grimaced at the implication.
"A two bedroom apartment – " he began.
"With only one bed," finished June. "There's more to these two than we thought."
"That's an understatement," Riaz said. He approached the bed, which lay unmade. That two bodies slept upon the mattress regularly was obvious. "They aren't just brothers. They're lovers."
June gritted her teeth. "That's beyond sick."
"Push it away," Riaz told her. "Stick to evidence gathering."
She nodded after an involuntary shudder. "No problem . . . ."
* * * *
Once the CSI team arrived, digging through the apartment became both easier and quicker. They had to be careful to look for things that would tie the twins to the murders, which limited them greatly.
"Not a fucking thing from any of the victims," June lamented as she and Riaz stood in the apartment's living room. "They aren't keeping trophies."
Riaz agreed with a somber nod. "No, they aren't. So, junior detective, why are they killing people?"
June thought a moment, aware she was being put on the spot. "The kill isn't a means to an end," she said carefully. "It's its own end. They do it for the rush."
"Why?" prodded Riaz.
She huffed. "'Cause they get off on it?"
Riaz shrugged his shoulders, watching the men and women in their blue coveralls as they carefully detailed every section of the twins' abode. "Could be. But I think it's deeper than that," he said.
Riaz glanced toward the hall leading to the master suite as Manny emerged. "What you got?"
"Think it's better if I showed you."
Riaz and June followed after the man as he returned to the master bedroom. A small wooden chest lay on the floor, having been pulled out from beneath the foot of the bed. It lay open, revealing the coiled form of a taxidermed rattlesnake laying between two books. One was obviously a Christian Bible; the other was a simple, leather-bound journal.
Riaz crouched by the chest, looking the contents over before touching them. He took up first the Bible, and flipped through it. Several of the pages had hand-written notes in the margins. A woman's handwriting, he assessed.
The journal really captured him after reading only the first page. As with the notes in the Bible's margins, the journal was written in a distinctive female flair. Each entry was prefaced by a date. The first harkened back nearly twenty-four years.
"It makes me sick that I miss him. I don't love Noah. I can't love Noah, not after everything he did to me. So why do I miss him? Because he told me I was beautiful? Because he wanted me so much he had to take me away from my life and put me in a dungeon? Is that supposed to mean he loved me? I wasn't fucking Rapunzel, locked away in a tower waiting for Prince Charming to show up.
"But still. He never raped me. I can't call it that. Not even that first time, when I was so fucking terrified of making him mad that I gave in and didn't even get off. And he knew I didn't get off, and I guess that's why he stopped. But then he came back later, and again, and again. And I started getting off.
"Maybe if he wasn't dead I wouldn't feel like this. Maybe if a bunch of fucking cops were around me telling me what a bastard he was I wouldn't miss him. Maybe, if they convinced me I was just a victim, that I never got into it when he wanted me, I'd just let it go. Maybe.
"But then I'd still be carrying his child."
Riaz stopped reading, brow furrowed in thought.
"What is it?" June asked.
Riaz closed the journal, his mind whirling with thoughts. "It's Christie Tolomeo's diary," he said. He met June's gaze. "They know who their father was."
* * * *
Pulling the car into a spot in the parking lot beside the precinct building, Riaz cursed at the vulture-like gathering of reporters outside the stately building.
"Hooray for the sound-byte brigade," June commented sourly.
"Comes with the territory," Riaz remarked, jerking the key from the ignition. He gave her a hard look. "Don't say anything to them, no matter what. Okay? No matter what."
She nodded back. "Not a word."
Satisfied with his partner's compliance, Riaz pushed open the door and stepped from the sedan. June did the same, steeling herself as she gazed upon the flock of reporters. They had not noticed them yet. She fell in behind Riaz as he walked purposefully toward the white-walled structure, content to let him lead the way.
As they approached, a few of the reporters noticed, and within seconds, they were descending like mosquitoes. They charged like a clumsy battalion, each trying to reach the detectives before the others. Even with his dark mood, Riaz found the scene humorous.
"Detective! What do you have to say about the arrest of the Tolomeo brothers?"
"Is there a connection between Kaylee Mills, Sylvia Gonzales, and Hollister James?"
"Are there political motives behind the murders?"
"Is it true the Tolomeo brothers are lovers?"
Riaz said nothing to the barrage of questions, not even bothering to look at any of the reporters or the cameras. Thankfully, June did the same. Once beyond the front doors of the precinct, and away from the mob, Riaz turned to his partner.
"You hear that one reporter?" he asked, glaring toward the closed doors.
June snorted derisively. "Which one?"
"The one that asked about the brothers being lovers," he clarified. His eyes were hard. "Something we just now found out."
June thought, then narrowed her eyes. "Someone's talking to them already."
Riaz nodded. "I'm guessing one of the CSIs." He sighed through his nose. "Don't share info with anyone, got it?"
"I got it."
"Good." He headed toward the stairs. "Which one do you want?"
"I think I'll take Thorne," June said. "I got a feeling he doesn't like me."
Riaz glanced back over his shoulder with a wry smile. "Use the diary," he suggested.
* * * *
Talon looked around the small room. The obligatory picture window mirror along the far wall was conspicuous. Beyond, he was sure, stood a room full of cops and a video camera, watching his every move. He made sure to appear as composed and relaxed as possible. The chair upon which he sat, however, was hard. He had to shift a few times to stop feeling like his pelvis was being bruised. There were no decorations in the room; the walls were colored a sickly hue of grey-green. The fluorescent lighting was harsh. The air was chilly, a few degrees below what he would consider comfortable.
He had been brought a bottle of water and something that resembled a ham and cheese sandwich, but that was it. He pushed the sandwich aside but had been nursing the water for over two hours. Nervousness began to enter his mind as he thought about all the things the detectives would find in the apartment. They had not kept anything from their victims, and there would be no clues to be found amongst their clothing. But, at the least, they would note the presence of only one bed in the apartment and make the logical deduction concerning his relationship with his brother. They could use that against him.
I can handle that, he told himself. But Thorne . . . he's so volatile. He could blow up if they . . . .
The door creaked open, interrupting his thoughts, drawing his attention. The big, muscled, Persian-looking guy entered, carrying a manilla folder. He made sure the door was closed behind him, then drew out the chair across from Talon and sat down. His dark face was impassive, stoic, as he wordlessly studied Talon's face.
"About six years ago," Riaz said at last. "I arrested this kid. He'd killed his girlfriend because she fucked some other guy. He figured he'd covered his tracks pretty well, and when I came in here, into this very same room, he had a look kind of like yours on his face."
"What kind of look is that?" Talon asked casually.
"Like you think you're going to get away with it," Riaz answered. "But see, here's the thing: you make it into this room, and it's all over. See, this is that defining moment in your career as a half-assed criminal. It's just a matter of time before you're sharing a cell with some big, greasy lifer who won't be as gentle on your ass as your brother."
Talon gritted his teeth, fighting down the urge to snap back. "I don't think my relationship with my brother has anything to do with anything," he said calmly. "And as for why I'm here, I know it's just a matter of time before our lawyer gets us out. And that'll be because we haven't done anything wrong."
Riaz chuckled, giving Talon a condescending look. "Yeah, you're the smart one, all right. Can't say the same for your dim-witted brother, though. I figure he'll last five minutes, tops, before he blows up on my partner."
Talon stared into Riaz's face. "In that case, I feel sorry for your partner."
Riaz shrugged his shoulders. "I don't. She's had more combat training than anyone I know. He goes off on her, he's going to be getting pretty damn intimate with her boots." He laughed for effect. "At any rate, back to your 'we haven't done anything wrong' claim. See, you have. Everyone here knows it. You and your brother have killed three people. You tried to throw us off with the last one, but you didn't."
Talon made the dramatic gesture of rolling his eyes. "I really don't know what you're talking about."
The dark smile did not leave Riaz's face. "See, the first two were strangled, using the same basic weapon: a pillowcase rolled up and wrapped around the neck. But the third . . . well, to look at the photos, I would have to say that murder was committed by someone else. The body was hacked to pieces. Hell, the lower jaw was just about completely severed and one of the hands was chopped off. Pretty damn brutal, don't you think?"
Talon stared back. "Terrible," he replied flatly.
Riaz winked and snapped his fingers. "Proud of that one, aren't you?" he asked rhetorically. "But you made a serious mistake."
Talon sighed as if bored. "And what was that?"
"In a word, or two, actually . . . Big Head," Riaz responded, enunciating carefully, watching the young man's reaction. He was not disappointed.
Talon visibly tensed, then frowned, then forced out a short laugh. "Uh, what does that mean?"
"It means your dog," Riaz said. "You know, that faithful basset/dachshund mix you and Thorne grew up with? That same dog you took out into the woods near your house and hacked to bits? That one. Man, I can only imagine what was going through the dog's head, after being your constant companion for eight full years, as you chopped and hacked it to a bloody fucking mess."
Talon's eyes were hard. "The dog was sick," he claimed. "What the hell does that have to do with anything?"
"Because you killed Holly James the same way," Riaz said. He chuckled. "You know, we really have you over a barrel, here. Got your fingerprints on a stolen car, we know you were in that hotel, we've got witness testimony, and above all that, we have reliable character references that attest to the general state of mind of you and your brother."
"So why the fuck are you talking to me?" Talon barked. "You say you've got all this shit on us, but here we are, sitting in a God damn interrogation room instead of being arraigned before a judge. I'll tell you why: you don't have shit on me and Thorne, that's why."
Riaz sighed. "You watch a lot of prime time TV, don't you?" he quipped. "See, the whole point of this is to make my job easier. You confirm what I already know, you get a lighter sentence. You make me work harder, you get the needle. Simple as that."
Talon folded his arms defiantly and looked away. "I don't have anything to say, because Thorne and I didn't do anything wrong."
Riaz leaned back. "Guess we're going for the needle, then."
* * * *
Thorne stared at the diary upon the table before him after the dyke detective had set it down. He had become restless beneath the harsh light of the interrogation room, staring at his own angry countenance in the large mirror on the far wall for more than two hours. He had forced down the sandwich and bottled water he had been given; the empty plate and bottle sat to the side of the table.