Juliet O’Hara looked at her phone, wishing it to ring. She wanted to hear from Shawn. She knew the Doctor wouldn’t let anything happen, but she just wanted to hear his voice. He always could make her smile no matter what stupid little piece of trivia he uttered.
She sighed and looked back at the file on her desk. Men had been going missing in the general area. The last had been reported missing from the Harbor View Inn in Santa Barbara just four days ago, not long after Shawn had left in the TARDIS. She looked at the photos of the men spread over her desk. They were all of a similar build and features. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a clear picture of the man from the hotel and the name given was an obvious alias. There was something about all of them, something tugging at her memory.
Juliet looked up at her partner’s bellow.
“I think we got a lead on the missing person’s case!”
Juliet gathered the photos quickly and pushed them into the folder as she stood and rushed after Lassiter. “What is it?” she asked as she got into the car.
“A couple was walking their dog – one of those little ankle-biters – and it got away from them and ran into a neighborhood yard. They followed it in and found it barking at a basement window. The guy looked in the window and swears he saw a man bound to a chair with bodies on the floor.”
Juliet didn’t know which was worse; the idea of being tied to a chair in a basement with dead bodies, or the way Lassiter described it. “Is there anyone else inside the house?”
“McNab said no one was there when they entered. The bodies look to be all the missing men.”
“And the man in the chair?”
“Alive, but barely. Apparently, he’s lost a lot of blood and been heavily drugged…”
It wasn’t like Carlton to actually feel for a victim like this. “What? What else?”
“He’s been paralyzed. Damaged spinal cord.”
“He was left alive. He must have been the one the kidnapper wanted.”
“All the men looked alike. It’s like the kidnapper was looking for someone specific but only had a basic description. The others weren’t right, so he killed them.”
“But who is this guy? Why was he singled out?”
“I don’t know, but he’s familiar. I just can’t figure out why. Plus, he was staying at the Harbor View.”
“So it could just come down to money.”
They pulled up in front of the house and were met by Buzz at the front door. He handed them masks. “Even though the place has been airing out for a couple hours, it’s still really rank.”
Juliet took out the small jar of vapor rub and dabbed some of the gel under her nose before placing the mask over her nose and mouth. She took a deep breath before stepping into the house. The stench made her gag involuntarily. If it was this bad here, she really didn’t want to know what it was like in the basement. She had to do it, though. She couldn’t let them think she was too weak for this. She followed Carlton down the stairs and nearly vomited. Her eyes teared from the effort it took to keep control of her stomach. She scanned the room quickly and her mind pictured the bodies. The chair remained in the center of the room, bits of duct tape still attached to the arms and legs. She tapped her partner on the shoulder and nodded to the stairs. He waved her on.
Juliet quickly escaped upstairs and went outside for fresh air. She took a few deep breaths before returning inside to check the rest of the house. She found no traces left behind that would point to the occupant.
Lassiter came up from the basement looking green. “Okay, O’Hara. Let’s go see our victim in the hospital.”
At the hospital, they showed their badges and were directed to the man rescued from the house. The presiding doctor filled them in on the damages. Aside from the damaged spinal cord (could possibly be temporary) there were three broken ribs and numerous deep cuts and burns on his torso.
“Is he conscious?”
“He is awake but we’re trying to wean him off the drugs he had been on so he is in and out with the pain. I can give you no more than ten minutes.”
“Ten minutes? What kind of information can we get from him in ten minutes?”
“Carlton, if he’s going between pain and drugs, we probably won’t get much out of him no matter how long we have.”
The detectives follow the doctor into the ICU and see the man wrapped in numerous bandages, his face bruised, a long cut neatly stitched running from his right eyebrow to jaw. He turned his head so he could see them with his good eye. It was those green eyes that made it fall into place. “Oh, my God!”
“You know this guy?”
“You do, too. He came here a couple of years ago and wanted to recruit Shawn. Col. Kelly.”
“Right. The crooked lawyer.” He looked at the man on the bed. “He took a bullet for Spencer.”
The colonel motioned with his hand and Juliet went to his bedside and sat in the chair. “Colonel, you’re okay.”
“I tried to stop him. He’s coming, but I couldn’t...” His voice choked as he kept muttering over and over how someone was coming and he couldn’t stop him.
“Sshh,” she soothed. “You’ve warned us and we’ll keep an eye on the house. When you’re better, you can tell us more.”
The man gave in to his sedatives and slept. Juliet brushed his forehead before heading back to Lassiter and the doctor. “We’ll keep an eye on him and call you when there’s a change.”
“Thank you, doctor.” Lassiter handed the man his card. As they walked to the car, he played her a rare compliment. “You handled him well, O’Hara. I wonder what he went through to turn him into a gibbering fool like that.”
“I would think the physical torture played a part in it as well as being left in a room with dead bodies.” She sighed. “I wish Shawn was back.”
Lassiter groaned. “I don’t need to hear how lonely you are.”
“Carlton!” She could feel a blush coming on. “I just meant that he’d be able to get into the colonel’s mind and find out what he means. He’d be able to tell us what we’re up against.”
“Well, he’s not, so we had better find out what we can. I was solving cases long before Spencer showed up and I’ll be doing it long after he gives it up.”
Juliet didn’t think Shawn would give this up. According to both Henry and Gus, this was the longest he had ever held a job. She just had to hope that the life he had here was a stronger pull than travelling through space and time. She got into the car and had barely fastened the seatbelt before Lassiter drove back t the station.