Chapter 28

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Mike was shaking his knee almost uncontrollably as he waited impatiently in the all-too-familiar office of Dwight Moss. Whatever was keeping his attorney was taking way too long. He was already finishing his second soda and was tempted to ask Jenny the receptionist for a third.

It had been a long 24 hours for Mike to get to this meeting. He had scheduled it not long after his incredible morning with Dwight and his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Dwight called to say to meet at the office the next morning and to "stay out of trouble" until then. What it really meant was Mike had to drive back to Santa Cruz and lock himself into his motel room with the shades drawn. He had reluctantly agreed.

The door finally opened and Dwight waltzed in, his head high and a swagger to his step. To Mike that indicated good news. Then Pat walked in behind him, the same shit-eating grin on his face he always had.

"Sorry for the wait," Dwight said as he reached out his hand. Mike rose to accept it as his lawyer passed by to sit at his desk. Until then Mike had never noticed how much larger the desk was than Dwight. He looked like a little kid behind it, but he quickly corrected that by raising his office chair a solid foot. Suddenly he loomed over the rest of the office like a king looking over his squires. Pat took a more subtle approach and just leaned against the wall between the two men.

"You were short on the phone," Mike said excitedly. "Did you talk to Detective Givens?"

"I sure did," Dwight said. "She's meeting us here any second now. We've been busy beavers while you were in Santa Cruz." Dwight then waved his pen and squinted at Mike. "You have been staying out of trouble, right? Because the last few days you've become Magnum P.I. or something. If you get caught breaking into backyards of the daughter of the people you have been suspected of murdering or following her around a busy amusement park where hundreds of people can see you, well, that's not helping your case."

Mike had to smile at the comment. "I sat on the bed and watched game shows. Seriously. Who knew Drew Carey was hosting Price is Right?"

Dwight nodded and glanced over at Pat, who had a file in his hand. He leaned forward and handed it to Mike. "I've been up all night working on this," Pat sighed.

Mike opened the file and glanced inside. Inside were blown-up photographs of the apartment on Cadillac Drive they had staked out, only these photos were taken later in the day and evening. There must have been twenty photos showing a variety of people coming in and out of the residence. After flipping through a couple Mike stopped and peered hard at the third picture. There, in full color, was Stella Coleman. She was walking out with the same man she had been hanging on at the Boardwalk last Friday.

Pat pointed at the photo. "She came in and out a couple of times. They left around 2pm and I followed them. They went to Westgate Mall and the liquor store, then came back. He bought booze so he is either over 21 or has a fake I.D. With a mustache like that I'm guessing it's the former. That's statuary rape right there is he's banging her. How old is Stella again?"

"Fifteen," Mike muttered, lost in thought as he continued going through the pictures. "There must be fifteen or twenty people coming in and out of this place. Were they having a party or something?"

Dwight and Pat shared a glance. "Really, Mike?" Dwight said with a chuckle.

Mike frowned and then realized what was going on. "Drug den? Is that the term?"

"That works," Pat said. "These photos are for Detective Givens and the gang task force guy she's bringing with her. Hopefully he will recognize someone."

Mike still couldn't believe what he was seeing and hearing. "This is Stella Coleman, daughter of the woman I was sleeping with and my own daughter's supposed best friend. How did I not know about this?"

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